Friday, November 15, 2013

Thank You Sachin!

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I was one of the many millions who hung a cricket ball from a sock and practiced my straight drives the way I saw him do it. Was glued to the television set for endless hours and patiently watched that flawless cover drive and once in a while a cheeky lofted shot where the ball sped past the bowler to the boundary, even that slight movement of the back-foot just before the other one fiercely chased the pitch of the ball and thrashed it out of the stadium.
I have put harmlessly stupid statuses on facebook (and orkut?) when he missed out in a big game and questioned if he should have retired long ago, only to come back and cry tears of joy a few matches later when I saw him improvising a paddle sweep and making it look classy!
I have seen my frail frame swell up with pride when who's who of cricket from across the world called him the 'master'. I have seen the fear of anticipated decimation in the eyes of bowlers from Pakistan, Australia, England and seen that glimmer of hope in the eyes of the millions watching the game when India is in a terrible situation and the spectators whisper in each other's ears - "Abhi Sachin hai!"
I'm glad I've seen the days when the younger generation of cricketers have restored the faith of their fans in the Indian cricket team even when we all know all too well that no one is ever filling those shoes! I've shared and liked those youtube videos of Sachin's son displaying some cricketing shots during a net practice in a controlled indoor stadium environment and hoped that he's the chip of the old block.
I've tried to imitate his voice on drunken nights and realized that the falseto of my timber has only the quality of an old, drunk Lata doing an alaap from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
I've fought with random people on the streets when they questioned his shot selection, people who know nothing about cricket but yet watch it ball by ball only because Sachin is playing! I've dampened my cheeks when I read stories of small school kids imagining a great future for themselves because their hero has inspired them enough to at least have that dream.
I've cursed him for collaborating with lousy brands and for getting into those controversies about the export duty on sports cars only because I've thought of him as an infallible human being.
I've pointed fingers at the likes of Virat Kohli when they've shown absolutely no consideration for their fans and asked them to learn more than just aggressive batting from the seniors like Sachin. 
I've had that old poster of his that came along with 'Sportstar' on my wall (next to that Kapil Dev's poster that has him levitated in air, a shining red ball in his hand held by the seam) when I was a kid and still have cricketers posters.
I've always known that this day would come when he would gracefully carry that heavy bat of his out of the ground and we would see it in action again only in recorded highlights in DVDs stacked on that old shelf by the computer table. But, somehow this does not feel too bright. He's just a cricketer for God's sake as some would say but I don't quite know why my eyes have swelled up, my brains is refusing to think more and my hands fail to punch more letters on this keyboard.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Why Chennai Needs A Hindi Lesson

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This blog post is in response to this one (please read it first) - Why Chennai can't and won't speak Hindi

Tamil is a beautiful language. Just like any other language that is old enough to have the privilege of being cured over generations of poets, writers, etc. One should learn Tamil to be able to understand the beautiful poetry that can only be understood in the language in which it was written - I have been read translations of a few by my friends and even those are a joy to listen to. A lot of other languages have beautiful words, poems and writers. Tamil has many more of these because it is that old - compare this to a library, the older the library the more chances of it having more valuable knowledge.
It is absolutely legit for a tamilian to take pride in her own language. It is in fact absolutely necessary to do so. If our future generations are to gain from the knowledge that has been collected over so many centuries, we need to protect the medium in which that knowledge flows forward. However, while pride is welcome and necessary, ego is NOT. And quite a few ignorant tamil folk that I have interacted with seem to be flirting with the pride-ego border quite a lot when it comes to Tamil (the language and the culture), even when they are such humble and modest people in all other respects.
So, why does 'Chennai need a hindi lesson'? There are 2 reasons:

#1. Chennai needs to become more accepting of other cultures in the country. If you have ever been to Chennai, you would know that as a city it is not very accommodating of others' cultures. While I agree with the said blog post that there is no need for Hindi in Tamil Nadu, one must understand that being instantly rude and judgmental of a person because she speaks in Hindi is not something that any city should be proud of. It is NOT OK for an auto driver to cheat a person because she would not be able to speak Tamil. And it is NOT OK for the others observing this to play along (the cops included) because the person being looted is a Hindi speaker. Chennai, my dear friends, is hostile to Hindi speakers and this makes me sad because I love Hindi.
Also, there are quite a few people (like me) who try to pick up Tamil when they come to Tamil Nadu. Trust me, we make a very genuine effort but it is a tough language to learn. We give it a try but it takes time, effort and a good amount of support from the native speakers of the language - the support that Hindi speakers rarely get. I have been lucky to have found friends who could lend me that support and encourage me to learn the tiny bits of Tamil that I know.

#2. Tamil is a lovely language and that is why Tamilians must learn Hindi and other Indian languages. There is so much that Tamil can contribute to literature. Why must we build a cultural wall around something so beautiful? Culture is curated by being assimilative and inclusive. A culture that closes it's doors to outside influences would eventually suffer. I'm not asking the Chennai folk to integrate the rough and rude attitude that Delhi brings into their culture. I'm asking them to integrate the 'attithi devo bhava' of a punjabi home, I'm asking them to add the sweet smell of the gujarati kitchen to their homes, I'm asking them to add the nascent enthusiasm of a Bihari youth into their culture. How can one enrich their own culture with a closed mind and a repulsive attitude towards anyone who would not speak their language?

I compared Tamil to an old, invaluable library earlier. What good is a library if it closes it's doors and only those who are inside can make use of it? A good library let's the curious mind to step inside its doors and let's the enlightened step out to spread the knowledge!
I'm very thankful to my friends who could help me in understanding the Tamil culture (to a certain extent) by letting me explore, by letting me question, by letting me fail so many times with supreme patience. But, I must tell you that most of these were people who understood other cultures themselves. They understood Hindi (as a language) and wanted to learn new things themselves. These were people who were curious to know how my part of the world worked. We both gained tremendous knowledge and this is how things should function. Inclusivity must prevail, even if it comes at the cost of a rotting ego that fuels political ambitions and cultural divides that all of us have come to love so dearly that we would go to any extent to protect it.
Let's open up and be more accepting of each other. Let the ignorant UP wala bhaiya live in Chennai and learn a thing or two about computers and let the lungi clad Chennai anna teach delhi how to make good sambhar. This is the only way we all can progress as a nation!

PS: Comments are welcome. Please do not be hateful. Please be logical.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What Has Delhi Rape Taught Us About India And Her People!

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The news of the delhi rape shook the world. I'm still not sure why this particular incident woke so many of us up and made people think about women security/respect in India when such incidents keep happening by hundreds everyday in India. Sad thing is that the poor girl suffered a lot and died, the good thing is that an issue of primal importance came to light!
Here's what this episode taught us about India and her people:

  1. Indian Politicians: The politicians of India are a true representation of her people. We are insensitive to women and are apathetic towards women rights and our politicians gave many statements that cement that fact. Few politicians cried in the parliament but failed to check their own party members from making statements that show that they view women as objects of carnal use only.
  2. Rahul Gandhi: We learnt that when the going gets tough, he tucks inside his bed under warm blankets woven by his mother and her admirers. There was, yet again, no statement from the Prime Ministerial candidate of Congress party.
  3. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: Theek hai?
  4. Sadhus of India: We learnt that the Indian sadhus want their fair share of prime time on news channels. When most intellectuals on the telly were condemning the heinous crime committed in the capital city, Shri Aasa Ram Bapuji decided to blame the victim to make sure that his statements are not overlooked. The news channels instead of ignoring such stupid comments took his bait and gave him the prime time slot that he has earned through rigorous tapasya. Which brings us to the next point.
  5. Indian Media: Indian media is probably the second most immature media of the world (no points for guessing the number one!) Day in and day out all the news channels broadcasted news about protests. First, they went after Delhi administration, then they went after the protesters when one policeman was killed on the streets of Delhi. The inevitable "aap kaisa mehsus kar rahe hain?" question was also thrown at the brother of the policeman who died. And for some reason, they could report rape cases and cases of molestation of girls only when the nation started burning. Rapes and women rights infringement is nothing new in this country but till now the media decided to play it mum.
  6. Indian Police: Indian police is just a bunch of illiterate, insensitive, thugs who come into this profession for primarily 2 reasons - failure at every other career, lure of ill obtained money! For more details you can read my previous blog post.
  7. Son Of The President Of India: Nothing new here. It was expected of a son of a typical politician.
  8. Social Media: No matter what people say, social media has come to stay! The amount of information and idea exchange that happened over the Internet over the last few weeks is simply unprecedented. 
  9. People Of Delhi: We kept blaming the people of Delhi for being responsible for rapes but the true story emerged when crime stats of other states were pulled out. Delhi may be leading in number of 'reported' cases but, no other city is far behind!
  10. Indian Law: Indian law is helpless, meek and to an extent impotent when it comes to punishing the real criminals. The only use of law is in putting innocent girls behind bars for what they say about a dead person on Facebook! Lawyers of India are no better breed of people. The kind of statements that the defense lawyer gave to save the rapist were enough to judge the mentality and idea of justice they have.
  11. Average Indian Male: The average Indian male is sex starved.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Who Wants To Be A Policeman?

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When I was a kid studying in a regular school in Allahabad, quite a few teachers had a policy of appointing the most troublesome kid as the 'class monitor'. The policy worked well. Give the biggest goon in the class a responsibility to sober the rest of them, give him authority, a boost to his ego and things would go smooth.
This technique worked perfectly well till we all were small kids. As we grew up, the system somehow failed - the experienced teachers knew that well and the goons started going back to where they belonged - which was not in any responsible position whatsoever.
The police, across the world, does a dirty job. They are the ones interacting with the bad guys, they are the ones who are taking bullets while assuming authority of shooting them when needed.
Imagine a civilized society. Now imagine a regular person living in that society. She would never hurt anyone, even if it is required by law to do so. I'm assuming that the readers of my blog are a relatively civilized bunch of people, in that case should I ask one of you to shoot a bullet into the head of an evil person, chances are that you would not be able to do that (God save us if civilized people have the guts to shoot people around!) We need a class of people to do the dirty work for us, for that we must be thankful to each and every member of the police departments of the world.
The Hindu mythology has many examples of Gods assuming powers to kill and punish the evil. I've often asked this question to myself, why do the Gods have to do that themselves? It would be a lot simpler for them to pass on special powers to some human and let him carry out the execution. Why does a God take the pain of taking birth in human form, live the life of a human till it is time to take out the bad guys? There would be many reasons, I'm sure but, one of them has to be the fact that power corrupts. Give a corrigible guy enough power and chances are that he would not be able to live within the code of the civilized world. A great responsibility should come with great power but, that rarely happens in the real world!
So, here's the catch - we need to give enough power to the bad guys to do the dirty task but we want them not to misuse it! Tough call.
In my experience, there are two types of cops in India. Type A are the ones who perform poorly in academics, are invariably college dropouts, get 'farzi' certificates and hook on to a police job by producing large sums of money as bribe that they hope to get back soon after they join their office (the bribe for getting a post of sub-inspector can go up to as high as 50 lakh in some cases!). Type B are the ones who crack tough competitive examinations like the PCS entrance and get the top jobs within the police department and eventually break down to the system of corruption and power misuse.
Indian policing system is archaic, unjust, inefficient and ineffective. The common people are most afraid of the police than any goon. Going to a police station is one of the worst experience in a person's life in India. The regular policeman is a 'danda' wielding, abusive, fat, reluctant frog who is too deep down in the corruption mantle to do any good to the society. To try to justify that we need such an abomination for the smooth functioning of our society is a shame that India has to live with. It is a shame that such people 'run' our society!
A very comprehensive police reform must be introduced at the earliest if India is to have any hope of becoming a civilized society one day! This is perhaps asking too much. How can we expect the ugly beast that wishes to engulf us to self-destruct! Other parts of the world have had similar realizations recently. Places where the problems arising out of a police state were not too pronounced have gathered and shown a resolve to stand up against the evil that hides itself under the pseudo-name of 'governance'. We have much bigger problems because standing up against the police is much harder here. We would need a non-cooperation movement in a scale bigger than the one we had for our independence. And who would want to volunteer for such a cause when things seem 'normal' on most days! We have accepted our tormentor as a master, it is much harder to break the chains of acceptance.
The first step to breaking out of the vicious chains is to realize that we are not free. That thought alone would be powerful enough to lead us to the next logical step - that of organization!
--More soon--