Posts Tagged ‘india’

Stop!!

Posted: January 30, 2017 by Arushi in Thoughts
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What are we doing??

Can you not hear the screaming? The shouting, the wails? The voices going hoarse and yet not stopping?

History repeats itself, they say. But it is not history. It is us. We are making the same mistakes again.

There are so many of us, screaming, shouting, fighting, every way we can to make it stop! Stop!!! We cry, but so many others have turned deaf, mute and blind. They think this is the way. They have forgotten what history tells us. Maybe they have an alternate-history as well.

This is how it started. The pogroms, the segregation, the slights, the insults – veiled at first – but gaining momentum. It started with a few but it went on and and on and on… until it was no longer murder – until it became genocide.

How can we not see it coming? Once it starts, it does not just stop. You have to stop it. YOU have to MAKE it stop!

How did we forget our history so quickly? It has not even been a century since we let millions be murdered and swept it under the rug of genocide – because that word is still easier on the ears than the reality of the brutal, terrible deeds that were done in the name of the greater good.

For any who think it is not our problem, I say, not yet. But it will be.

The holocaust happened. It did.

War crimes still occur. Child soldiers still exist. Rapes are so common that I have no words. There is probably a mass grave being filled with rotting unclaimed bodies right now – no one left alive to even mourn.

This is happening.

Do not think we in our ‘sacred land’ will be safe. Do not forget. We have endured this too. Do not say we are natives while they are interlopers, we were interlopers once too.

First there was someone, then others came and pushed them down. They ruled, they crushed and centuries passed. We say we are of this earth – but we were interlopers. There was someone here before us. So we have no right to say it to others. When others came and conquered us – they did so with their might. We lost and they ruled. Why quibble about it now when more centuries have passed?

Now when we are a democracy – when we all rule – none of us is an interloper. Everyone we welcome, we gain something from. Giving home and hearth, welcoming someone who comes seeking aid – this is something embellished in EVERY ancient text, in EVERY religion.

It is now when we have to stand strong. Standing against a breeze is easy, but now the gale is coming and we have to stand up to it before it becomes a cyclone.

A cyclone does not pick and choose its victims, it brutalizes all in its path.

The Indian Constitution guarantees six fundamental rights to Indian citizens as follows:
(i) right to equality,
(ii) right to freedom,
(iii) right against exploitation,
(iv) right to freedom of religion,
(v) cultural and educational rights, and
(vi) right to constitutional remedies

Please note that these rights are for ALL Indian citizens. Gender, race, religion and even age, do not make a difference when it comes to these rights. They are the FUNDAMENTAL rights of all Indian Citizens.

The reason I am repeating it over and over again is because some people seemed to have forgotten this recently and might need to reacquaint themselves with the basic core of the Indian Constitution.

When broken down to the basics, the Constitutions treats all citizens as the same. Every aspect of it that in any way makes a distinction among these citizens is not because the Constitution sees them as different, but because they are the ones who are different from each other and the Constitution is trying to give them fair and equal treatment under the law.

Please note, that these fundamental rights include the right to an education. Everyone and anyone who prevents that, by word or deed, is unconstitutional. It can be the people banning girls from studying, the people who employ children and prevent them from going to school – I am sure everyone can think of at least one example of this. Did you know that a few centuries ago it was thought that the more a woman read, the less her husband’s age would be? And this was a belief held by many Hindus. It’s a surprise men aren’t dying out like flies after a HIT spray these days, considering how many have highly educated wives.

I digress. Back to the point in hand, sort of, we are all equal as per Indian law. In fact, there is a whole section devoted to ensuring basic human rights to ‘aliens’ as in foreigners while they are on Indian soil. So, the Constitution even ensures that ‘aliens’ are treated as humans. If actual aliens ever show up, we are prepared. And I am not kidding when I say this.

We are lucky to have a Constitution, no matter how lengthy, which tries to cover everything under the sun. It is a living document – with the use of the judgments of the courts, especially the Supreme Court and the Amendments made by the Parliament – it has done its best to stay up to date with the times. We are lucky, and if do not use it well, then that is on us, not the Constitution or even the Judiciary.

All of this leads to my main point. Since we all equal under the law, and since there is a surprising amount of homogeneity that we have come to expect from the law when it comes to our dealings with it – why should we think it should not extend to personal law?

If there is a property dispute and the people belong to different faiths, they expect to be treated equally. Same if there is a breach of contract. Then why should women (or men) who want a divorce be treated differently just because of their religion? Everyone has heard of how easy it is for Muslim men to divorce their wives, but do you have any idea just how difficult it is for the wife to get rid of a bad husband? And, if she wants to re-marry her husband, she has to first marry another man, sleep with him (consummate the marriage in nicer terms – but why to sugarcoat reality) and then divorce him. Only then can she remarry her husband.

Then, of course, there is the Hindu Act. A marriage is a ‘sacred bond’ as per Hinduism which lasts for seven generations. So the laws governing divorce are really stringent – no matter the reasons for said divorce. But, did anyone give the memo of ‘sacred bond’ to the husband and his family? The Supreme Court recently had to pass a judgment that a daughter-in-law could not be treated like a maid by her in-laws. They had to pass a judgment about this because that is how sad the condition of this ‘sacred bond’ is in our country.

How about equality – if a wife has to live with her in-laws because that is a ‘pious bond between son and parents’ – yet leave her own family for her husband – let’s make marriage illegal? After all, a daughter is the same as a son right? And what of people who only have a daughter(s)? Their daughters leaving them for a husband should definitely be illegal. After all, al offspring should be held liable towards taking care of their family – not just the one gender. And what if that daughter, who is an only child, does not earn? Should it not be mandatory then for her husband to financially take care of her parents? In fact, it should be mandatory for him to treat them as he does (would) his own parents.

Or you know maybe we could have communal housing with the families of the bride and the groom living together. No? If he cannot live with her parents, he has no right to ask her to live with his, especially when they treat her like ‘in laws’ and not a member of the family.

You remember all those movies where the heroine says ‘Is ghar me meri doli aayi thi aur yahan se meri arthi hi jaayegi.’ But frankly, why should one die rather than leave? Life is the most precious thing on this planet. Is a husband mightier than life? In that case, why are there no stories of a husband granting life to his wife? All the stories are about the wife saving the husband – just look at our mythology – every fast possible – a woman keeps for the long life of her husband. Let me know if there is even one time that a husband has to stay hungry for the long life of his wife.

I digress, again. I think the point is that we finally have things going in the right direction. We have people raising questions and not getting killed for it (for the most part). We have people trying to bring about a change. We have a judiciary that is standing up for the people. We even have a government that is cooperating. Let us make full use of it, just in case we lose this chance. Let’s speak up, let us make people hurry, let us help them open the road – one that will eventually lead to us all to possess our fundamental rights in actuality.

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‘Death is certain for all who are born…or is it?’

Professor Bharadvaj is more than just another whisky-loving, gun-toting historian-for-hire. Behind the assumed identity of the cynical academic is a man who has walked the earth for scores of years. He is Asvatthama – the cursed immortal, the man who cannot die.
When Professor Bharadvaj is approached by the enigmatic Maya Jervois to search for a historical artefact unlike any other, he is reluctant to pursue it. The object in question, the Vajra, is rumoured to possess incredible alchemical powers, but the Professor does not believe it exists. After all, he has spent many lifetimes – and identities – searching for it, in a bid to unearth the secret to his unending life.

Yet, as the evidence of its existence becomes increasingly compelling, the Professor is plunged into an adrenaline-fuelled adventure that takes him from the labyrinthine passages beneath the Somnath temple to the legendary home of the siddhas in the Nilgiris, and finally into the deserts of Pakistan to solve a confounding puzzle left behind by the ancients.

But who is behind the dangerous mercenaries trying to thwart his discoveries at every step? And is the Professor – a legendary warrior in a long-ago life – cursed to walk the path of death and bloodshed forever?

I am not really a reader of Indian urban fantasy. Or even Indian fantasy, in general. Call me a snob, I don’t mind. It is definitely true when it comes to picking what books to read. This book has converted me if the rest in the genre are just as good.

Immortal by Krishna Udaysankar is the story of Asvatthama. Yes, that Asvatthama – the one who was a part of the Mahabharata. The son of Dronacharya. Duryodhana’s friend. Disgraced at the end of the Great War and cursed with eternal life.

Of course, I am sure I will learn a lot more about him when I get to The Aryavarta Chronicles – Govinda, KauravaKurukshetra – by the same author.

That being said, let’s talk about this book. Asvatthama is alive and well and has now been ‘roped’ into a search for the Vajra. Something we think is a mythical weapon. Or is it? It is definitely mythical, even to Asvatthama – who is extremely skeptical. After all, if he could not find it in centuries – it must not exist, right?

We move with this man, this undying man, as he follows the trail from the temples in Dwaraka to the deserts of Balochistan. What he is doing is truly interesting, but who he is now, that is even more interesting. Here is the man who was there with Genghis Khan, with Subhas Chandra Bose – who fought in battles all over the world – who, in his own words, is now that rare breed – ‘a soldier by profession’. It is him as a person who truly intrigued me – his fear of his body rotting – of losing his mind due to this horror – but not being able to die, his terror at the thought of forever drowning – and the fact that he overcomes all this to do what needs to be done. I liked the other characters too. There are no caricatures – but real people. All with their own machinations, desires and failings.

An extremely interesting read, the book is filled with well-researched references, characters that feel real in spite of their ‘magical’ realities, and a story that keeps you hooked and guessing till the end. I personally really enjoyed all the name dropping Asvatthama does.

Definitely, a read I’d recommend.

 

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You can even see an itty bitty me in the corner…

To be very honest, I do not really have words to describe this place. It was so exquisitely beautiful, that I do not think I can do it justice.

As part of our tour (these guys – LetsGoKerala.in – planned everything ), we spent almost 20 hours on a houseboat in the backwaters. First there was the cruise, then lunch, then cruise, then mooring at this gorgeous spot somewhere in the backwaters, dinner, then the night on a boat amid all the comforts, then a morning with a view, breakfast and then a ride back. Then we went to Alleppey beach and from then, drove on to Munnar.

Except for the bare facts (stated staccato like above), I really do not have words. But then, I do have pictures. And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

 

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I have no idea where that proverb initially comes from, but I do know it has been there for a few centuries. For good reason.

At their very heart, I do think that most people believe they are good – whatever form of good they believe in – and that their actions are correct.

They might, later on, realize that they made the wrong choice and feel remorse, or might not. But, the cartoonish villains who revel in their ‘evilness’ are not really all that common. We do have psychopaths and sociopaths, but then they fundamentally do not feel right or wrong. Even Hitler, I believe, must have thought he was doing the right thing while committing genocide. But just because he thought it right, obviously, does not make it right in the least.

With such an obvious example, I should be able to rest my case. Except that is not all that I am talking about. The general public, thankfully, does not get to commit genocide. But, they do commit violence on a micro scale. We do it. All of us.

Don’t believe me? Indifference and apathy can be just as cruel as actual cruelty, and words can cut just as deep as a knife – not to mention hurt far longer than any physical wound.  Here’s a few things to think on:

  • When was the last time you paid attention to the people who serve you – gave them a smile or even a thank you? Waiters, porters, ticket sellers – all those people who make your life easier?
  • When did you last protest when someone was being mocked for what  they had no control over – their looks, their education, their hometown, their color, their gender, their accent? Did you ever stop how you would feel in their place?
  • When did you say a word when your family/friends/associates last did/said something sexist/racist/classist?
  • When did you last question the conservative practices around you that degrade women? Did you ever stop and ask why a biological process that is the reason we are growing (at a rather alarming rate) as a species makes women impure? Yet the same women might have to face hell if they do not have children?
  • Did you ever tell someone that to treat someone as untouchable is not just harsh and cruel, but inhuman? After all, we are the same species. There is no stamp on our bodies at birth that makes one better than the other.
  • When did you last speak out when gender instead of merit played a role in the decision of someone’s future?
  • When was it that you spoke out against anything that you thought was wrong? Anything?

If you did speak out, thank you. You and those like you are the reason we have made some progress as a species, as a society. If you did not, try. It is hard. You will get hurt. But maybe, you will be the reason someone else will not have to face the same situation.

I know you mean well. We all mean well. We all can feel when something is not right – even if cannot put our finger on it immediately. I know it’s uncomfortable and so so hard to stand up for yourself, harder still to do so for someone else.

But isn’t it time we did so?

That 10 lane highway to hell is definitely paved with good intentions. After all, intention does not amount to much. It is your actions that count.

To be honest, I do not truly believe in Hell or Heaven. I think that what we sow, we reap in the here and now. While eternal fire may hurt terribly, facing the same hurt that your sent someone’s way does have a ring of poetic justice. It is a lesson brutally learned. And to be very honest, usually that brutality is well deserved. I guess that is the circle of karma.

I do not think it should be just about that, though. Maybe it should also be about being better people. About being humans in fact, not just Homo sapiens. Maybe if we step up, the next generation would face different problems and not be bogged down with the ones we were too cowardly to fix.

Many of us have heard the song by Louis Armstrong. If you haven’t, I strongly suggest doing so. It restores your faith, makes you feel humane and above all, helps you believe in the goodness inherent in our world. Of course, for every act of goodness, there are many so terrible, that you do need something to boost your faith. The Orlando shootings are indeed only the latest of these terrible events.

But ask yourself this – while condemning the shooter and showing your support for the victims and their families – when was the last time you did anything? When was it that you stood up for a maid being abused by her ‘masters’, when did you last help a friend accept her gay son or lesbian daughter? When was it that you condemned the ‘moral police’ who thrashes, abuses, and sometimes even murders heterosexual couples in India? Yes, the LGBT community exists in India but why should they have any faith in us? We have not been able to protect the so called ‘normal’ couples – who are killed over differences in caste, area, money – you name it. We have not been able to protect people from our own country who are abused, hurt and biased against just because they look different (remember the North East anyone?). We cannot protect our women. We tell women to cover up, but not men to, you know, respect them as human beings. We cannot even protect our own children – who are raped, abused, kidnapped – who work in factories, in homes and at tea stalls.

What happened in Orlando is beyond terrible. Sick, in fact. What happened in Paris was also terrible. What happened in Mumbai was horrific. And just as horrific were the bombings of schools in Pakistan. And did you ever see the news coverage of the Gaza strip? Lives are lives and every single one of them is extremely precious. Ask someone who has lost a child and then you might, maybe, begin to understand just how devastating the loss of a single life can be.

The life of a man, a woman and a child are equally important. Their race, their education, their color, their religion and their nationality does not in any way lower the value of their humanity. I am as important to my family, to my friends, as you are to yours. Even if I have no family, no friends, I am still just as important. I have every right to be myself just as you have every right to be yourself. It is only when we stop trying to force our viewpoint on others and understand that we are all human beings, that at our core we are all equal, is there any hope for humans to become humane. Until then, at least there is still the song.

Indian Marriages

Posted: March 31, 2016 by Arushi in Thoughts
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Everyone gets married.

In fact, we are raised to believe that it is the sole aim of everything we do. Study hard, get a good job, look good, speak well, don’t drink/smoke (or at least don’t be found out), learn to cook, otherwise how will you find a good match?

Not only does everything eventually lead to a good ‘biodata’ that allows your parents to find a life partner for you, you’re led to believe said partner is perfect for you.

Why? Because marriages are made in heaven of course. And heaven does not screw up.
Riiiight.

But what if heaven does screw up? What if the people are right, good, decent, but totally wrong for their partner who is just as right, good and decent? What if being in love is simply not enough?

What if… You can either be together or be happy? In that case, is it the heaven part that was a lie, or does heaven just hate you?

The two words that a person should kick out of his life are ‘what if’ but when they are all that you are surrounded with, how do you stop yourself from drowning?

Don’t look at me. I have no relationship advice, but I wonder what if…