Sunday, December 23, 2012


The last time i remember such mass hysteria over a rape in Delhi  was almost a decade back, while I still lived there. And I remember, even back then I had wondered, this and a lot more, happens every frigging day, why this mass hysteria ?

Ah yes, the victim was a good Indian middle class girl from a medical college no less. And yes, it wasn't like it was some family member who'd done it.. it was some uncouth ruffian. And it wasn't just your daily cat-call, boob - grab, using mother-fucker as punctuation, no no, it was that most horrific of crimes - a rape! Of course in this case, as the details have emerged, we've had leisure to let out a lot more shocked ewws at the extent of the brutality.

I remember feeling angry, years ago, back then, less on the crime, and more on how the media picks certain cases, ah only those certain cases.

Firstly, how the class of the victim will dictate the importance of a crime.

And secondly, how the millions of daily assaults on women, on Delhi's roads and buses are largely ignored, and only the rape is picked up for hue and cry.

So, for the first part, my anger on the social class dictating our news has long since dissipated. I've grown inured to the fact that this is how media works, it is of, from and for the middle class. It will take 20 Nithari children killed, perhaps cannibalized over years, to equal 1 fluke forgettable Arushi murder. This Delhi rape will always always be orders of magnitude greater than more horrific stuff that has routinely happened in our villages, in our police stations right in Delhi, dammit even in our good middle class homes, where domestic helps, often kids, have been brutalization systematically over years in manners much worse than this. YES, I will repeat this, in manners much worse than this, and do not tell me that you cannot compare. But those things are not for sustained ( meaning fortnight or month long) outrages.. Those are for occasional reporting and forgetting. No candle light vigils for them of course. So be it, this is the economic and social system we live in, and that is never going to change. So like I said, it has ceased to anger me, but I can't help but find the selective outrage amusing. Yes, we're like little idiots with no IQ, the media tells us, this rape was the pits, the last straw, the absolute rock bottom of humanity, and we say aye aye. Go figure.

Its the second bit, that still gets my goat of course. How the whole system of patriarchy and misogyny is sustained by each one of us, daily, and then how we act surprised, when in the hands of the fringes, that culture finds expression in rape. Sure better policing and better justice would act as deterrents, but guess what, those police and judges, they haven't come down from utopia. They are parts of the same patriarchy. We want to sustain our so called culture, keep the women locked inside, secondary, servile, in a world where its just not going to be possible to do so, and then we're surprised at the things that are the natural outcome of a changing order? Of course there will be a pitched battle, which will be ugly and no holds barred. And yes I realize , that it will be we women who will face the harsher punishment, but also realize , that society as you know it,will crumble as we fall. It takes two to tango.

If we want to rethink, here's the deal. The next time we see a girl smoking or drinking, suspend  judgement. Replace her with a guy and realize how much more muted the reaction would be. The next time we hear of a girl out with her boyfriend, or sleeping around with multiple men, suspend the anger and think that if we replaced her with a guy , would we respond the same way? The next time a girl chose to keep her maiden name after marriage, think, would we like the guy to change his name after his marriage to the girls name? The next time we see the want-son-at-all-cost whining by the family ( including women in the family), think of the long term impacts of this. Think of why they want the son in the first place. The next time we see this ridiculous movies and ads which talk about women making sacrifices to keep society functioning, think, would we want the guys to make the same sacrifices? ( and if you do think so, then let them make the sacrifices instead. Move into the girls house after marriage, follow the girl to her place of work, keep the house running for no money.)

And  to all those dads, husbands, brothers, best friends out there ( including my own) . Women in Delhi ( specially Delhi, although of course gradations of this occur worldwide) face daily humiliations on buses, metros and roads. SEE IT. If you can't do anything else, at least see it and acknowledge it. Do not act surprised when they say that they are groped, stared at, commented on, on a daily basis. Do not say that maybe its because you dressed unusually  or walked faster than usual, or were out at an 'indecent' time, or were laughing too loudly. Because I've been there, had my share of book-grabs, dick brushes, cat-calls. And they happened even though most of the time I was clad in ill fitting salwal kameezes, shuffling slowly, eyes downcast, in the morning and afternoons, mostly just trying to get an education. It happens no matter what we do.

And finally to all those women out there, fight back dammit. DO NOT listen to those telling you conform, I've tried it, and I tell you it doesn't work. It took me a decade to figure it out, but fighting back is the only thing which gives some returns. When you raise a shout, most probably no one will support you, but 8 times out of 10, the perpetrator will back off. And hopefully most of them will rethink before raping anyone. Its our silence, even before the sad state of police and judiciary , which gives these people the strength to go from stares to cat calls. From cat calls to shoves and brushes. From shoves and brushes to public propositioning and dick showings. And finally of course to rape, mutilation and murder. Yes the fight back will mean that some of us will die bloody unpleasant deaths, buts its better than the deaths we've suffered so long anyway.

Maybe we'd have found a little life at least in the duration, before we land up raped, with our intestines removed, while women in parliament dismiss us as 'walking corpses'. Fight back and live while you can. On your terms.

Friday, December 07, 2012


Went for the inauguration of the lit fest. The reminders about our slowly dying languages, the repeated assaults on freedom of speech, the importance of metaphors, the problems of translations..

Between all the speeches, which weren't bad, the one shining thing, was Gulzar's poetry. From the man himself, in the original ..

मुझको भी तरकीब सिखा कोई .. यार जुलाहे 

अक्सर तुझको देखा है एक ताना बुनते 
जब कोई धागा टूट गया या खतम हुआ 
फिर से बांध के.. और सिरा कोई जोढ के उस में 
आगे बुनने लगते हो 

तेरे इस ताने में लेकिन 
एक भी गांठ गिरह बुन्तर की देख नहीं सकता है कॉई 

मैने तो एक बार बुना था एक ही रिश्ता 
लेकिन उसकी सारी गिराहे साफ नजर आती हैं .. मेरे यार जुलाहे 

मुझको भी तरकीब सिखा कोई .. यार जुलाहे 

Somehow I wasn't really blown away by the translations, but for what its worth, this was the one which Pavan Verma , who was in conversation with Gulzar.

Teach me too trick or two, my weaver friend!
I have often seen you work the wrap
when a thread snaps or ends
you tie it
to some other
and begin to weave again
but in your weave
no one can see the knot
I had woven a relationship only once
But all its knots are clearly visible, my weaver friend !

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Secrets - Ruskin Bond

Delightful little read!

Its a slim collection of short stories from Ruskin, the effortless style of writing ensured that I finished the book in a single sitting in the evening.

These stories have been mostly set in Dehradoon where Ruskin grew up, and written in the first person account, largely keeping settings intact, and as he says in the foreword, with the characters often modeled on real people.

I'm struggling to quantify why the simplicity of the language and the story appeals so much, and I can't really say why, it just does...

Talaash - Reema Kagti

Rather disappointing.

Began promisingly, I thought the opening credits and the first car crash scene were brilliant, but very soon it lost its moorings, and rapidly degenerated into what looked like dragged out sequences serving no purpose. By the second half, I was itching to have the damn thing over and done with so I could walk out, and nn and I passed time, by passing snide remarks, to stifle our yawns.

A car takes a sudden veering turn and goes straight into the sea. We see this opening sequence, and we're assured that there was indeed no reason for it to turn. Apparently this has happened before. No rational explanation emerges, so whats the mystery? Sure, there's much ado about the missing money, the proximity to the red light area, call girls, potential black mail, etc. And there's the policeman walking about, still grieving at his sons death, his wife attending seances.

I don't have a problem with the story, and what some people feel was a cop out. I think one can make decent movies with all manner of improbable cop outs(prestige, truman show, kahaani, mulholland drive), I'm willing to suspend belief, I'm willing to play along with sudden twists which aren't about 'realism'.

But the point is , does the movie hold your attention? As a thriller, it just didn't maintain the pace, and in those silly long boring unnecessary where-was-the-editor sequences, we had all the time in the world to figure out the answers and ponder over the plot holes.

Its a pity really, there was some very promising stuff here, but alas!