This is a note about my recent visit to India. I have been away from home for about 6 years now. I have visited India 5 times in a span of 4 years and yet every time I visit, I see the country in a completely different way. I truly believe that traveling frees your mind from perceptions and stereotypes. This blog will attempt to be a different experiment in what passes off as creative writing.
Recently there has been a lot of talk about the feminist movement in India and how we are warming up to the idea. I wanted to outline the evolution of feminism and how with age my opinion has changed about the movement.
For the record, I am not a feminist. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in equality for women. I don’t have to be an archeologist to deny fossils. For that, I’d have to be religious.
Most of the recent wave of feminist movement are on the lines of “Ladke rulate nahi hain”, “Dear Men, stop beating your wives”, “Dear Men, don’t discriminate against women with dark complexions” etc…
Now I am quite comfortable with the first two agendas, even though the second one seems to be a little antagonistic. To draw a parallel, it is like telling “We should inform Islamists that they shouldn’t terrorize people”.
The message in its basic essence, isn’t inflammatory and no one should indulge in anti human practices. But it somehow leaves a bitter after taste.
The whole Delhi rape incident was a catalyst that probed deeper questions in our society about safety of women. A lot of not so intelligent ideas were thrown about and most of them must be rightly ridiculed. For example:
Home Minister: Well, women should not wear revealing clothes and wander about after sunset. You are an affront to our culture and inviting trouble.
Female Reporter: Sir, this is SEXIST.
Home Minister: (Whispers to his aides) Oh ho she is also looking quite sexist in them jeans.
My effort in this blog space is to bring to attention some of the ideas which seems righteous but are down right daft.
Stop with the metaphors:
If you ask any politician, what a woman means to him. It would be almost impossible for him to describe without metaphors. He would go on an eulogy such as “Our culture is quite respectful of women, they are our rivers, our oceans, lakes and mountains”
Right off the bat, this is down right daft. Drawing a comparison between the contours of a river and a woman is well, just soft core pornography. It was the valmiki’s way of saying, Wiggle wiggle wiggle. I consider myself to be an avid connoisseur of Indian history, so let me elucidate how the River Jamuna got its name
Poor peasant girl: Oh mighty king, our master does not allow us our fair share of access to the bunds. As a result, our farms suffer and we always remain in a debt.
Macho dude King: That is outrageous and I will implement a practical solution. From now on, the river would be called Jamuna and be given a feminine identity. So that, the evil slave owners become answerable to conscience before treating women unfairly.
Poor Peasant Girl: Oh noble king, thank you, that is a spectacular idea. Also while you are at that, could you pass on that joint?
Analogies and metaphors are nice, but if we refuse to humanize a gender it would be difficult to emphasize with their tribulations. Metaphors should be used to describe not justify.
No Means Not Yet
One of my favorite pastime after getting hammered is to watch old cheesy indian movies. The common theme in the movies is something like this.
Guy: Hey, that girl looks cute.I just saw her feeding cookies to puppies and buying balloons for slums kids. This proves that she has a heart of gold, because logic. Hence, I think i am in love with her and I am going to win her heart.
Hero approaches the girl
Girl: Fuck off, don’t harass me!
Hero: Challenge Accepted.
Also the common themes of these movies are that, a girl doesn’t dislike you. It is just that she doesn’t know it yet. No shouldn’t mean not yet. Ideally, you could cut your losses and move on. But again that is not seen something that the culture encourages.
As shocking as it is to believe, in my yore I have been rejected by a couple of girls. But I wizened up and moved on, because I knew there were plenty of fish in the sea who could reject me later.
Even our epics such as Ramayana are filled with ridiculousness.
Ram: Sita, babe, I think I Am the most suitable guy for you and I am in love with you. So will you please take my hand in marriage?
Sita: But there are other dudes who are good looking. That arjun fellow looks like an abercombie model for pete’s sake.
P.S: If you study Ayodhya’s history closely, you can clearly see that Abercombie & Fitch outlets used to exist in Ancient India. They were dimly lit and played jagjit singh melodies at 150 db.
Ram: But I have mad archery skills.
Sita: Swoons, I am all yours.
Mother- Sister Analogy
The other day, on a Indian sitcom it is shown that a couple of roadside juveniles, glance mischievously at a girl. An elderly man passes by and reprimands them by asking “Don’t you have any mothers or sisters”?
First of all that is a terrible logic, unless you are Tywin Lanninster. Wait, especially if you are Tywin.
Hypothetically any male can be attracted to any woman, you could have all the sisters from an Alok nath family and still heave if Gisele Bundchen walks by you at Bandra. It is perfectly normal. Let us criminalize harassment not sexuality.
This is going to be a controversial topic because I am going to raise a speculative yet scandalous allegation that teenagers will try to get laid. In India, apart from a few select metropolis, segregation of sexes is often rampant in smaller communities.
As a teen you can’t officially ask a girl out and most relationships have to be discrete affairs. And funnily enough, parents flip the fuck out when teenagers exhibit interest in the opposite sex.
Mom: Enna da, talking to that girl from your class ah?I see you always glued to the phone! You want to be a skirt chaser or what rascal! Focus on your studies
Me: Mom, but she has my homework.
Mom: Why did you give it to her? I know you want to discuss homework only with girls, don’t you have any guy friends? What about that vikram, he always gets first rank.
Me: Sigh! Whimpers But vikram doesn’t have boobs.
As a teenager all you care about is getting groovy. If you can ignore the sex aspect of it, juvenile relationships teach you a lot . You learn that there is no perfect one and accountability is more reliable than just impressing someone. And you become quite tolerable as a person in your twenties. Case in point
And in the event that the girls family finds out that their daughter has been dating, the father hilariously slaps the shit out of the mother, spouting the glorious phrase.
“Is this how you raise a daughter”?
Look, I understand that sex education might still be tricky topic, so if you want your kids to embrace celibacy I have two suggestions.
1. Wean them on a diet of quiz shows such as Bournvita quiz contests. So that your kid grows an allergy to silence and vomits them upon the earliest opportunity possible.
Cute cashier girl: Sir, here is the remaining balance 34.50
Me: Hmm, Did you know that Camels have 3 eyelids to protect themselves from sandstorms.
Cute cashier Girl: Next in line please
Me: God Dammit! These dumb girls will always go for losers.
2. Axe deodarant is available for Rs. 140 at your nearest Sakhari Bhandar.
Vigilante Feminism: There was a recent viral video (Rohtak Bravehearts)which went around. In which a couple of girls are caught on camera bashing two guys in the name of justice. Of course the mob joined in, without any questioning. It was later proved that, their claim was completely false.
The same with dealing with people who harass in the streets should not be dealt with vigilante mob justice. It just reeks of jingoism and misplaced patronage for women.
Sadly the new age feminism sounds divisive and accuses men for all problems women face. If you look up the news, you could always find one or two groups being officially offended because they found a sound byte inflammatory. Being offended doesn’t mean you’re right. It means that you cannot deal with your emotions.
False rape accusation, false dowry harrasment case, alimony claims, child support, eve teasing, you name it. It seems that the claim alone is enough to frame a guy, again, because logic. The court views men as guilty unless proven innocent.
Dear feminists, the world isn’t against you nor are men sitting in smoke filled rooms conspiring to stifle your progress. The world, simply put, is indifferent. As Kurt Vonnegut put it brilliantly, “So it goes”.
It is widely acknowledged that women’s emancipation through education is the surest way to eradicate poverty. Both the sexes must be symbiotic in the society to move ahead.
Allow me to set the premise, you’re having lunch and you casually open up your favorite social media site, you see two types of posts
1.Pretty girl you used to hang out in college just got married. You click on the profile of her husband and observe that his profile picture only has 10 likes. You secretly think, what a loser! He has no friends and an uneventful life. Lol! I have 76 likes, everybody adores me.
2. Lists such as:
-Five reasons why School days are the best.
-Five lists why we will always miss home cooked food to the more exhaustive yet unoriginal -Ten reasons why your cat is secretly working for Putin or 27 reasons why you’ll never be able to date Lana Del Rey( P.S: She is not bengali)
If any of those topics remotely made you chuckle or interested enough to scramble your thumbs to click. Congratulations! you’re successfully a victim of click bait.
1.When is it okay to create a list: Lists are useful, for grocery shopping, taking a count of friends who you will invite for a dinner or an element of Computer algorithms which still gives you nightmares as you realize you’ll never be a competent software developer( Linked Lists).
Lists make it a mission to sound innocuous and in most cases are, as they try to make a case that they shouldn’t be taken seriously. But in reality, they are the bastions of sponsored content which is stripping the fourth estate (online) of any dignity that remains.
Because as enriching as it is, humor is seen as the ultimate lubricant to pass on ideas to the new generation. Oh, you don’t understand why you suck at relationships? Maybe you should read:
–Ten reasons why you should never date a guy who wears crocs.
–27 reasons to prove that your ex was a crazy bitch
These lists validate stupidity and intolerance, which is not a bad thing. Every now and then we need to be reminded that may be we are wrong, callous or overly judgmental. But online, you can always find articles that foster your ego, even if it is flawed.
And not to forget sensationalist tripe headlines like “Does Obama want your take away your egg muffin sandwich? Click here to find out.
Enters website: No, hahah. But hey while you are here watch this funny gif of fat people falling.
2. Click-baits: Buzzfeed, Scoopwhoop and other websites of such ilk don’t pretend that they are suave or intelligent. But any criticism of such sites will make you sound like a Grinch or a kid who slaps you with your own hand while laughing “Why are you hitting yourself, why?
The articles are so unoriginal but people still fall for it, all the bloody time. Remember the first time you clicked on an ad which said “ Single girls near you, hot moms want to date you”? I knew that it was Bullshit because I was living in Saudi Arabia.
I don’t know if you know Saudi Arabia well, but transparent tank tops and mini skirts are not in vogue over there.
How about more original pop up ads such as:
OR 40 year old hot women need help in picking groceries at whole foods.
Now, won’t you click on those ads?
3. And I was like: Let me describe this phenomenon. There is a lot to admire about United States and its people, there are the occasional sour apples but a majority of my experiences with them, have been rewarding.
But I never understood why they would add “And I was like…” whenever they had to recount anything in the past. Let me give you an example
Me: Hey man, how was your weekend.
Friend: Dude, it was amazing.
Me: Nice, what’d you do?
Friend: So, i met this girl at the bar right. And we were having a couple of drinks. I said something like how I like pastas and she said “Oh, but they contain gluten”.
And I was like: “Do you even know why gluten is bad for you’’?
And she was like: Oh, I don’t know
And I was like: I bet you think gluten causes ebola too.
And she was like: Omg, you’re so rude.
And I was like: Hell yeah, I am funny.
Then we exchanged our phone numbers and forward each other gifs from Buzzfeed.
IF you notice, people are always witty in introspection.Like, ALWAYS! Like an Aaron Sorkin tv show where all the characters are witty and filled with one liners. It always begins well, but by the time they are done, you want to punch them in their self righteous auras. Looking at you Newsroom
4. Meme’s everyone!: There is a self indulgent subreddit called r/reactiongifs. Basically it is a collection of gifs from various sources such as movies, viral videos or TV shows. And whenever anything of importance happens in the news, some jackass posts a meme on Facebook. It weans me down because if foreshadows that nothing that would ever happen to me in the future would be new, it would always be relative to an experience and be reduced to a meme, or a gif.
Our reaction when rahul gandhi is being interviewed
Our reaction when US is 13 trillion in debt but yet refuses to wean on war against drugs by exaggerated incarcerations, or over militarization of Israel or refusal to invest in education while fucking the students with ridiculous student loans.
Try to create a meme for that.
And anytime someone comes across a real life (or fake situation) you share the gif to show how you feel.
For eg: My reaction when my single friends spend all their savings on a wedding
Things are fine and dandy when you get the references, but if you don’t it is so easy to get flustered and take offense. I always feel like an outsider when my American colleagues joke around me, I just don’t get it. But they insist that they are funny. There is a sudden need for everyone to be funny, in way it is almost Michael Scott-ish
So, Dhanesh that was a terrible report you made the other day. I think you should be reprimanded.
Boss: Lol, I was just kidding
Dhanesh: Hey Mike, how did you spend your thanksgiving
Mike: Hey, it was brutal man. I stabbed your entire family, created a hula hoop with their intestines and played it with my asian adopted daughters
Dhanesh: What the flying fuck?
Mike: Oh, that line is from a movie, I didn’t mean it literally. It is okay man, you have to watch the movie to understand the context.
And I was like…
I wouldn’t say that I am a huge fan of Sidin Vadukut, but i found his latest book “The Skeptical Patriot” to be mighty interesting. The book is about a skeptical look at the claims that Indians make about our past and rating it on accuracy. Surprisingly, a lot of the claims to our past have some merit to it. And this came as a surprise because growing up, I didn’t look at India’s past with such reverence.
I have always looked at patriotism with suspicion. I think I lack the passion that most people do when it comes to defending their country. Because, I felt every citizen in every country would obviously argue that despite their faults, they have it good.
After spending close to 6 years outside of India, I have come to a depressing realization that nobody despises Indians more than ourselves. I found this sub culture to be interesting. Students pretty much stuck with their clan when they arrived and apart from a forced acquaintanceship I didn’t see people becoming friends just because we hailed from the same country. The term “Desi” was a pejorative verb unless it referred to cuisine.
It seemed more like we had this collective moment when where we said to ourselves “Phew we are out of India, we can finally pretend we don’t like each other”.
Back home, patriotic emotions were limited to Cricket and the occasional times when Pakistan would ‘allegedly’ bomb the shit out of Mumbai. It is a phenomenal task to view our country as one.There are so many languages, sub cultures casts beneath the canvas of polytheism which ensured that all of us were walking on egg shells. But you know that, don’t you?
But, now as cliched as it may sound. I think I like my country more than I thought I would. I have gradually become that obnoxious “desi” who swears as “son of the soil” but refuses to acknowledge reality.
This summer, I visited New York for the first time and it was quite eventful. We had sometime before disembarking from the flight and I struck up a brief conversation with an old lady next to me.
Old Lady: Where are you from?
Me: Well, basically i am from India.
Mentally thinking “I have lived for about 21 years in India, But now that I have spent close to three hours in NYC, you could say that i am still searching for my roots”
When you read books such as Origin of species, Guns, Germs and Steel and Cosmos you realize that we(human species and some parts of France) have undergone tremendous evolution culturally, religiously and politically. There are few things which were achieved in complete isolation and the flux of people in search of livelihood made sure that the cultures underwent a slow but sure metamorphosis from time to time.
I find inclusivity to be rewarding which unfortunately is fast becoming a controversial opinion. After US blocked the move for immigration reform, I felt a little sad for the people who couldn’t make it in the land of the big apple.
The people who argue against immigration constantly throw loaded yet baseless allegation that we, the immigrants are the prime reason for
• Cultural/Religious Decay
I have based my opinions on fact from sources who i consider reputable and they are available in the appendix. But before diving into them let us look at the logic behind these statements
Don’t you hate it when the immigrants from Mexico, India and China throng the wall street and run away with all the profit? Well I do. Don’t you hate it when these foreign bodies play with the derivatives and sub prime mortgages which left a huge economic ripple across the world for short term benefits. Don’t you hate it when the immigrant lawmakers lobby against the senate to have any discernible regulation on how industries such as Banking, Energy and Education and Healthcare must be conducted.Well I do. Damn immigrants.
I have always found this claim that the immigrants whether local or across borders contribute to a siege in unemployment to be a bit farcical. The immigrant workers can be either
- Skilled: Such as doctors, scientists, engineers, farmers, tradesmen, daily wage laborers, cooks, taxi drivers etc…
- Non skilled: Such as technicians at Best Buy, Apple store and customer support at Comcast.
To use an analogy. Let us think of a hypothetical organization, let us call it Chevron.
Now when it uses its advanced technology in trade for natural resources in Nigeria, they effectively killed labor unions, undermined democracy and created economic gap to get more profit. They do so without any hurdle or tuppence for international law, because that is the root of capitalism. Profit at any cost.
But when profit doesn’t proceed to building infrastructure and instead is diluted among the political cabals the citizens are naturally frustrated and seek to migrate to greener pastures.
Now when they come to the shores due the policy of the afore mentioned companies,which out of pure coincidence reside in US and UK, they suddenly become frisky immigrants. These people seem to be taking your job only because the local companies and mega companies are willing to pay them the minimum wage with little benefits rather treat them as locals. They find a cost benefit in hiring the immigrants who have little understanding of the local labor laws nor are ballsy enough to question authority which would risk their employment. And how dare do I question capitalism. I am not, i am merely outlining the disadvantages.
So in essence you face the sweet repercussions of capitalism where the economy goes along with the ones who are profitable and not sustainable.
But when their people go to UK or US they aren’t exactly welcome with the same enthusiasm.
This is by far my favorite accusation. They come here, don’t speak our language and don’t respect our values. While this extends from religious grounds more than anything else, I have little energy left in me to sympathize with people who justify their hate on ignorant bigotry.
The problem arises when we view culture as a monolithic edifice which was magically built by one person and we promised to preserve it for years to come. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way. I would like to refrain from controversial examples such as evolution of language, influence of literature, music, science or textiles.
I believe, the best medium for communication is English because that is what i have been taught from age 1. Our parents encouraged us to learn it as it was like getting a passport to the better quality of life. English is often more marketable than the local dialect in most asian countries, so affliction towards the victorian language was merely a commercial choice.
However, friends and family never miss an opportunity to call us as cop outs when we are critical about something that happens back home. They associate us as unpatriotic and cowards who forgot Indian roots in exchange for some dollar bills.
So lets take a pause, you send me to an English speaking school, enforce me to be good at it, take pride when I put on a fake accent, insist that I take up GRE/GMAT/LSAT and get an american degree. And when I am about to embrace adulthood, and all of a sudden, Epiphany! Now, you are struck by fleeting paranoia that our culture is about to die?
The more I read about our eventful past both Indian and global, the more evidence i find in support for multiculturalism and harmony. I don’t want to enforce anyone to learn my culture or be respectful of it. I feel like the world is an unlimited buffet and with the license of education, I have the ticket to taste it all.
And that is why I am proud to be a “Desi”. Historians often look at India as a continent than a country. *A land mass extending from current day Pakistan to as far as Indonesia. When you read about the advances in Education (Takshashila), Medicine (Ayurveda), vedas (mathematics) and military (Chola navy) occurred in societies that were open, turbulent yet peaceful, well administered and curious.
*These innovations were children to amicable curiosity and spirit of enquiry. Jataka tales, tell us that students at Takshashila were often taught for free, and students from places as far as China and Arabia travelled by foot to get a chance to study there. The advancement in these fields were not divorced from faith but energized by it.
We were nailing science eons ago when the church were burning books and heretics for challenging their ignorant beliefs. I am proud that i am a descendent of an institution that promoted enquiry, criticism and skepticism. And I hope with time, I encourage people to be more harmonious with each other despite our cultural/political/religious differences.
– This article was penned by a Proud Indian. Wait, no I mean south Indian, I mean Tamil, fuck the kannadigas, goltis and mallus. Lol. And when i say Tamil i mean I am proud to be a Brahmin, not SC or ST. Lol coz their great grandfathers used to clean toilets and give really bad haircuts. LOL
*- P.S: Excerpts from Sidin Vadukut’s “Skeptical Patriot”
During one of my travels, I was seated next to an elderly Indian couple. They seemed to be in their mid fifties and they were in US to attend a wedding. As our flight was a couple of hours long, we spent the time, talking to each other about ourselves. So after the customary interchange, the conversation went like this.
Before I begin, any Indian person who is 10 years older than me is considered an uncle/aunty. Jokes apart I quite like this cute avuncular culture !
Uncle: So, how old are you?
Me: I am 27.
Uncle: You are married?
Uncle: It is the right time, you should get married. What are you waiting for?
Me: I still have some distance to go before I think I am mature enough for that.
Uncle: What nonsense, you seem to be in the IT industry. How much do you make?
I disclose my salary after which he felt sorry for me and suggested he will put in kind words to his nephew who owns a start up company in SF.
Aunty interjects: What is your caste, beta?
Me: Uhm, I am not sure.
Aunty: Well, what is your last name? I can deduce your caste from your last name.
Me: Mind – Blown!
So here is the thing about Indian Aunties, they come pre-programmed with “ancenstry.com” database. So they can spell out your ancestors, what they did for a living, where they lived etc… all by just learning your last name.
I personally think they would have made very good Nazi’s as racial profiling comes easy to them. Don’t be offended, in India, ethnic cleansing looks something like this:
I watched an interview of George Harrison, the fabled Beatles man. When asked about his cult status in the music industry, he said how he felt trapped under the limelight. Everyone around him thinks that he is a genius, but he alone knows that he has no idea what he’s doing.
I am officially an adult and I am really not sure how why this is the case.
Growing up, I was very excited and looked forward to the day when I would become an adult. I wanted to do what the cool people did, like go anywhere they want, eat anytime they want and talk to strangers as if they knew each other.
But more importantly as a career move, I never knew how people figured what they wanted to do. I mean, I am okay with computers I guess but I never understood why would anyone pay me to do stuff which seems fun and quite easy?
So I asked a friend who went to IIT because I thought that he would surely know how to decide on a career. He said something brilliant.
“The world loves mediocrity, if you are average, people aren’t threatened by you. So they would accept you, as a peer. And you would never be over-qualified for a job. So you can gradually make progress and be at a stage in your career. I mean imagine, if you were a genius at an entry level job. Wouldn’t that guarantee depression?”
We all adore people who are brilliant but I feel most of them lead turbulent lives. Especially the ones who made an impact in history. And I am not talking about insecurity, I worship intelligence. When I listen to a Brahms composition, or read “Edward Bernays “Propaganda” or watch a performance by Martha Graham, I go numb. I am awestruck but at the same time sad that I would never be able to reproduce that. Ever.
I hope I didn’t come across as a douche with my choice in entertainment. I just wanted to sound eclectic! I am a regular guy with regular choices. And I think I am comfortable with that, because I know things that I am not.
Which brings me to another theory that I find fascinating -Peter’s Principle.
Peters principle: “Members of an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability”.
What it means is say you are an excellent programmer, you’d be promoted to an average senior programmer, then if you do stick on and hit the targets, you’ll become a manager. But since you were promoted for your technical skills and not people management, you’d end up becoming a terrible manager. But you can’t work on the same pay check years after working in the team. So getting promoted to a job you’ll be terrible at, seems to be the only logical way!
This might have been a demotivational article so far but look at the bright side. I think there is a reason why Indian and Asian students thrive in the western economy. We are number one in IQ and intelligence and shit last in self esteem. So we ride this hamster wheel of hard work without realizing that, we have achieved our goals.
We seem to have an enforced sense of humility that prevents us from selling ourselves. I am tired of smart people complaining that “I do my job and expect rewards. I can’t go around prancing and announcing how terrific I am at what I do. That is just not me”.
And don’t even start about the inflated self purpose that us STEM folks have. We are just more relevant at the current time stamp in history that is all.
I would really recommend everyone to watch “Dirty Jobs” produced my Mike Rowe. He educates us about vocational education and it’s relevance in the job market today. You don’t have to cut it out as a marketing manager or a software analyst or an investment banker to become financially independent.
You could still lead a comfortable and a fulfilling career while being an electrician, crane operator or even a plumber. Those jobs won’t be automated. At least not in the near future. If my parents waited for their perfect job, they would never have provided me the opportunity to pursue what I wanted to do.
During my time in the middle east, I came across a lot of immigrant workers from Nepal, India, Philippines and Sri lanka. They would scourge and live minimally and send all the money back to their homes. And hopefully channel those resources to pay for their kids tuition’s. Unfortunately, due to their poverty they don’t think free will exists for their children.
They won’t allow their kids to become electricians or plumbers or a mechanic. They want them to be engineers and doctors. And if chips don’t fall the right way, they are just carving a very expensive tomb for their children in the form of student debts.
I am still trying to understand why paychecks are seen as a barometer for ambition? I just don’t get it. When people my age push their limits to get a better job and an upgrade in quality of life, I get it. Totally, but what is the answer to the question , what’s next?
Surely it can’t be just a better car, an expensive house or an exotic vacation. It just seems stupid and narrow to me.
In my own naive opinion, I feel we should measure our lives by experience rather than achievements. I am 27 now and frankly I have no idea how I got here. And I am pretty sure that when I become 40, I still would not have a clue where to go.
But I don’t want to extinguish this stupid addiction I have for experiences. I may change my opinion in the future, but isn’t having an evolving concept of what I want, an experience in itself?
But at present, I am comfortable with ambiguity. It doesn’t keep me up at night :-)