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.