Saturday, December 25, 2010


I have hardly missed a Christmas in my life so far. As a kid and as a teenager I never wanted to miss one; in later years, especially when life was taken over by the typical family guy’s inevitable routines, I was not allowed to. However it seems that in all these years I have been part of not more than just a single Christmas. When I look back at these Christmases they all look alike. Despite my bodily growth and cognitive progression, how insignificant the latter may be, year after year, the three decades and more years of Christmas celebrations were one and the same.

The darkness of midnight and late December night’s dew adds to the allure of Christmas. Christmas is synonymous with midnight, dew and darkness here, if not with carol, cakes and Christ. The whole village is awoke at midnight; decoration lights, shining paper stars dangling from a treetop or an antenna on the terrace, people in new clothes. In the backdrop of subtle darkness, more than the lights it is the delight that illuminates faces. For many the joyous delight is necessarily not emanating from the festivity marking the birth of someone called Jesus centuries earlier. May be it is the pretext.

The aroma of Christmas also is unique. The smell of new clothes blended with that of talcum powder and perfumes with added pep from an occasional fart caused by a stomach disturbed in the middle of its night work. Women and girls wear that extra beauty in Christmas night. It is like a dream. As the choir goes on singing, always the poor girls complain of sore-throats the next morning, the midnight service progresses. When the service ends the revelry begins. It is ruckus revelry at its religious best; Santa Clause, fire-works, mutual greeting of ‘happy Christmas’, ‘merry Christmas’ with shaking of hands.

Worshipping the nativity model comes next in the order. The nativity crib is the main attraction of Christmas night. Every year the youngsters work overtime to bring the Bethlehem flavour to their work. The hill, huts, plants –cacti never give it a miss- and the country date tree as the Christmas tree. Every year they make it memorable. Inside the cowshed infant Jesus is flanked by holy Mary, Joseph, angels and some cattle looking startled at the blinding lights and the uninvited guests in their place. From the manger the newborn graciously smiles and blesses his flock with just a small loin cloth in place of a modern day diaper.

Then the revelry shifts to streets. Loudspeakers blare and as they find the decibel inadequate the youth help themselves with their own singing and sloganeering. Booze aided light brawls rear their heads and disappear in no time. By the dawn of 25th December our Christmas is almost over. I hope I will go on with going to church and be part of Christmas in all the years to come. It is not any religious compulsion that drives me to do so, Christmas is  ingrained in me as it is with a lot of my fellow villagers many of whom travel hundreds of miles to come to the village and celebrate Christmas. Even in the time of my atheist leanings I had no qualms celebrating Christmas. I found my own way of coping with the guilty of being a Christian; Detaching Christ from Christianity. From Dostoyevsky to Martin Scorsese I think I have learnt some fine lessons.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Dragon Ticklers

“If you can't take the heat, don't tickle the dragon.”- Anon.

For me this is a burning issue and even though I wanted to put it in the cold storage I was only able to keep it in the back burner for some time and now it has come out simmering. This summer the heat is unbearable as it was in the last and in the previous one and in the summer before that and… as our beloved ancient Freak philosopher, oops, Greek philosopher Thermalonics quipped, we never sweat it out for the second time in the same summer. Every time we step out of our house it is not the same old sun over our head.

The other day there was a heated argument between me and Mimya over the causes for this ever increasing level of heat. She accused me of releasing above normal amount of Green House Gases into the atmosphere. Bamboozled I told her that I do not own  a Green House, let alone a small house of any other colour and due to the acute shortage in LPG bottles supply the only gas  I release into the atmosphere is what that goes off when I use the loo. Dejected and angry she went out vrooming her bike and saying that I was such a moron who could never be taught the reasons behind the soaring mercury nowadays. I was so baffled to hear that Mercury is soaring; I guessed it is going to go up, up and up and into another galaxy thus leaving our solar system with just seven celestial bodies (I am not that bad a moron to have not known of the recent demotion of Pluto). If Green House Gases could drive a planet away from its place I thought it is indeed a matter of great concern.

Eating meat is one thing that adds to the planet’s temperature, I came to know. The reason is so gnarled and crooked like cankered ivy. It takes about some 20 kilos of plants to add a single kilo of flesh in a slaughter house animal. So whenever you have a mouthful of juicy beef or mutton it is actually 20 mouthfuls of green plants that goes down and vanishes into you. As we eat the cattle that eat the plants that protect our planet from heating…. you got it. So behold meat-eaters! You are all culprits and you are always denied a warm welcome into our eco-sensitive world. (‘To give up meat or give a fillip to the global heat’ is what our eco-friendly meat-eaters are contemplating hard now.)

If the sun goes on baking us folks at this rate we better equip ourselves to get prevented from being grilled like pepper bacon. The electrical gadgets like fan and air-conditioners are of no use in our land of never ending power-cuts. Our scientists (not the ones who involved in making cryogenic engines, Cry-O-Genic?) should come out with appliances which would not require power to run. Huge windmills at whose sight Don-Quixote drew his sword to fight will come handy. Windmills not only have wings like fans which would facilitate the blow of wind but also help in grinding flour and drawing water  from well. We can produce even electricity with the help of a windmill. The problem is we need enough wind to move the huge wings. This too can be solved by felling the remaining, sparse trees in our habitats to pave way for the free blow of wind. (If some political party, taking a cue from me, announces in its manifesto for next year’s assembly elections to issue free windmills to all Family-card holders, I won’t be responsible for that. Yet, the sight of having windmills strewn all over the Tamil landscape will indeed be a sight unmatched. This will eventually lead to the sprouting of Cervantes’ and Marquezes in our literary arena and branching of magical realism in all spheres of life.)

As I go on typing this note Mimya reads from behind and murmurs, unscrewing an imaginary nut from her temple… ‘The heat has got its first victim here….’.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

‘Madam, February Is Longer Than March!’

The above sentence is a proof that how euphemistic we Indians are and how carefully we try to avoid a situation where a woman’s modesty could be outraged for no fault of her. I hope some of our friends might have come across this expression and I am obliged to explain to friends who haven’t. You are traveling in a bus or pushing the trolley in the corridors of a mall or stepping out of a crowded lift or just waiting for train at the station. Then you notice this woman who is so deeply absorbed in her thoughts or what she is doing that only a blast could bring her back to this world. Her inner-wear, a very small portion of her brassiere is showing. The very sight of it makes you nervous and you begin to worry that what would happen to her modesty. You are so anxious to tell her about this delicate situation which she is apparently unaware of. You badly want to tell her about that small piece of cloth protruding out but you are afraid that it would amount to outrage of her modesty which you are supposed to safeguard here. You are really at a loss for words. How I can tell her that a little portion of her inner-wear refused to be inner-wear?

From time immemorial or the time from which our eves started wearing these inner things, there were incidents of these things trying to show their whereabouts that too in the presence of gentlemen who would never tolerate the slightest dishonour to women. All those gentlemen went through this awkward predicament of ‘To say or not to say’.Finally at some point in the past century some gentleman at the very high of his linguistic knack found this expression and bailed out all men from the worst predicament. All men need to be grateful to this guy until there are woman and inner-wear on the planet. I believe this guy was an Indian because his fetish for feminine causes is unmatched to that of any man in this world even though the crime records speak otherwise (1 crime against women every 3 minutes,1 case of abuse by family every 9 minutes,1 dowry death every 77 minutes) and we need to overlook them. After all we have found euphemistic ways to help women in their time of great distresses like the one illustrated above.

Our upbringing in our unique cultural values has also taught us to how to buy or sell a sanitary napkin or a condom pack. Buyer: Approaches the shop located some 3 or 4 streets away from his/her own. Makes sure no one is around. Asks for a pack of condom in a husky voice with his face twitching in unease. Seller: His face reddens at once he hears the word ‘condom’. He reaches for a secret hiding in the cupboard and brings out the pack. Tears the outer cover with explicit erotic illustrations and throws it away. Puts the content in a plain cover as if it were a strip of Aspirins. Tenderly hands it over to the buyer.

 Bobbie Gentry said ‘Euphemism is a euphemism for lying’.  It’s time we stopped lying.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nithyananda and the case of pseudo morality coupled to incurable voyeurism.

“Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.”
-Oscar Wilde.

It was big sensational news in a long time. Video clippings of a famed godman in a compromising position with a woman (an actress, so the sensation doubles) beamed in a leading channel in its primetime news. Scandalous godmen or their exposed exploits are not new to us. From a humble fortune-teller to an internationally renowned holy man, we have seen them all being brought down from their thrones of sanctitude and celebrity because of their unholy deeds. The media had been so ruthless and unsparing when dealing with such men and they know that news of a scandalous godman is always more sellable than of a politician making crores fleecing the general public.

If you want to settle a score with your rival or to improve the TRP rating of your channel or to increase the dipping circulation of your periodical, all you need to do is to clandestinely fix a video camera in a vantage angle in your enemy’s or any celebrity’s bedroom (unless your enemy is a celebrity the scandal is not going to get the media attention it requires). Naturally men could hardly resist biting the bait called woman and when the amorous acts of the person goes public you triumph with your hands down, and it is the end of that person’s public life.

The incident involving Nithyananda raises many a discomforting questions and most of them point to the sheepish psych of our community which could be ignited and exploited at the slightest pretext that evolves around pseudo morality. One is numbed at the acts of the media (electronic) which stoops too low to serve the people with materials of voyeuristic quality in the disguise of news and ‘warning’ on the sole purpose of improving TRP ratings. If it had been a scandal involving money or other things, except woman, our media wouldn't have paid much attention.

The phenomenon is dangerous. Readers and viewers who are gullible are taken for a ride and they are spoiled for good to be eager for more such filth. And thus we ruin a reader or viewer who could otherwise have been nurtured to become a neutral, rational onlooker to the happenings around him. In the case of Nithyananda it is up to the people who believe and follow him to deliver the judgment. He is not an elected representative of people or a public servant. He hasn’t breached any of the canon laws of Hinduism(at the first place is there canon laws in 
Hinduism?). As for as I understand, the argument that he has disgraced the religion of Hinduism is a tall claim. I don’t know whether this guy had preached celibacy and publicly vowed to adhere to it. If it isn’t so what he has done is nothing to complain about. (Celibacy is not a must for Hindu sanyaasis as it is for Roman Catholic priests and nuns, and we all know that Protestants do not adhere to celibacy too). After all, it seems he shares his bed with a willing partner only. If we are prepared to forgive someone who had peeked into a man’s bedroom and took video of him having sex with a woman, we should also be prepared to forgive that guy who is more of a victim than a perpetrator here.

The anger is not because that this man has brought disgrace to the religion. It is the wealth he has amassed and the fame he had earned in India and overseas in the name of religion. If this man is a pauper sanyaasi we would have no qualms whatever he does. What Nithyananda has earned might have come to him as voluntary offerings and possibly not through coercion or threaten, so it is legitimate. His spiritual means,right or wrong, might have offered solace and guidance to some people and that was why he had a huge following. If we argue that these aren’t fair we should have said that when this man was doing them in broad daylight. If we had preferred to wait until some television channel to broadcast his amorous acts, it is solely our fault.

Sex scandals exposed through video footages have become effective tools of vendetta nowadays. People who indulge in such ‘sting’ operations and the media that give prominence to such news have immense faith in the voyeur in us. They know that voyeur is always ready to pick the cue and act upon it. He portentously invokes morality to prosecute the culprit while secretly takes delight in that supposed act of immorality. In the long run the harm such deadly cocktails of moral policing and voyeuristic pursuit can cause could be immeasurable and unimaginable.

(This is a reproduction of my Facebook note which I published on 04-03-2010.