02
Jun
09

Kamala Surayya (Das) .

Kamala Surayya(Das)

(31 March 1932 – 31 May 2009)

To many she was a shameless bitch to others she represented the fearless Indian woman who wasn’t ashamed of expressing herself and questioning the orthodoxies of Indian society.

When I read her for the first time, I have to admit, I was both stumped and scandalized by her poetry.

The long drugged male chauvinist in me suddenly woke and questioned the morality of her works, “how dare she write something like this?”

Further reading only made me admire her courage, what might have it been to write feminist and erotic poetry in her time;to question male supremacy?

Her death is sure to leave a vacuum in Indian Feminist Poetry for a long time to come.

I leave you with two of my favorite Kamala Surayya poems.

THE OLD PLAYHOUSE

You planned to tame a swallow, to hold her

in the long summer of your love so that she would forget

not the raw seasons alone and the homes left behind, but

also her nature, the urge to fly, and the endless

pathways of the sky. It was not to gather knowledge

of yet another man that I came to you but to learn

what I was and by learning, to learn to grow, but every

lesson you gave was about yourself. You were pleased

with my body’s response, its weather, its usual shallow

convulsions. You dribbles spittle into my mouth, you poured

yourself into every nook and cranny, you embalmed

my poor lust with your bitter-sweet juices. You called me wife,

I was taught to break saccharine into tea and

to offer at the right moment vitamins. Cowering

beneath your monstrous ego I ate the magic loaf and

became a dwarf. I lost my will and reason, to all your

questions I mumbled incoherent replies. The summer

begins to pall. I remember the ruder breezes

of the fall and the smoke from burning leaves. Your room is

always lit by artificial light, your windows, always

shut. Even the air-conditioned helps so little,

all pervasive is the male scent of your breath. The cut flowers

in the vases have begun to smell of human sweat. There is

no more singing, no more dance, my mind is an old

playhouse with all its lights put out. The strong man’s

technique

is always the same. He serves his love in lethal doses

for love is Narcissus at the water’s edge haunted

by its lonely face, and, yet it must seek at last

an end, a pure, total freedom, it must will the mirrors

to shatter and the kind night to erase the water.

THE COBWEBS

Do not look into Radha’s eyes O friends

For her soul lies dead inside

As cobwebs block the doorways, unused,

Grief now mars her lonely eyes

He has been gone for years, that Krishna who

Once was hers alone. Perhaps

Another holds him now, a lovelier and

More fortunate one. And yet

Poor Radha must live on, for life is long.

25
Mar
09

Break in the Continuum

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22
Mar
09

IPL Blues.

This is one time of the year when journalists are most busy – the transition from winters to summers. I am unaware of the reason but newsrooms overflow with news this time annually and most of the time editors are forced to make a hard decision about whether or not a news report ought to be shelved, whether or not a journalist’s intelligence ought to be undermined. The relationship between information inflow and public memory is best illustrated at such times – that there exists a direct proportion between the two;everyone’s forgotten Varun Gandhi the focus has now shifted to IPL, and for a change Congress is facing the heat.

Anyway. Everyone is going ga-ga over IPL being shifted out of the country, people are in mourning and political parties and politicians are trying to shift focus from the main issues and divert the attention of the public. Its a pity that Indians were forced to a situation where they had to choose between democracy and cricket. And its disgusting to see that Indians, in general, prefer cricket over democracy.

What I fail to understand is, that a private sports extravaganza be held in the country or outside the country, how does it matter? I mean do we create such a ruckus over where our politicians and actors celebrate their birthdays? Why doesn’t the general populate realize that BCCI does not represent India and that it has been evoking our emotions and fooling us all this while.

And what on earth is wrong with the losers in BJP? Why are they turning this into a political issue when it is not just the congress led states that are against holding matches before the elections? BJP’s poster boy in the south Mr Yedurappa clearly stated that providing security is impossible before the elections. BCCI authorities say that Maharastra’s and Andra Pradesh’s refusal to hold matches in the respective states is what has forced IPL to move out of the country despite the thrice revised schedule. Are these losers even aware of the problems in these states? I mean Andra Pradesh is a naxal hit state where booth capturing and kidnapping is a well known phenomenon during the polls and Maharastra in the wake of the recent Mumbai attacks is on a security high even otherwise. Don’t these bastards ever read the newspapers? That the fates were rescheduled is another joke that people are forced to believe the Ministry of Home Affairs wanted the dates to be shifted and what Mr Modi and his foolish cronies did was make a cosmetic change in the dates. Do they even know about the logistical issues that the government faces when it comes to mobilizing security?

The BJP claims Congress is admiting defeat at the hands of the terror organizations and that it ought to move ahead and hold these matches irrespective of the threats. Two things now – First, the subcontinent is the second most politically unstable and dangerous place in the world after the Middle East and security concerns raised by the Ministry of Home Affairs are genuine and second what is more important a bunch of fools running around a ball and a crowd of fools clapping hands at that absurd thing or Democracy and freedom – something that lets these fools do what they please and others to criticize them.

What all these fools are missing is the kind of money that is involved and the kind of profits the IPL organizers stand to make at the cost of these fools. Unofficial reports claim the profit involved is more than 10000million $ through merchandise, sponsorships, telecast rights and other such things. Mr Mallaya and Madam Ambani ought to respect this democracy, something that let them rise to such position instead of criticizing it and defaming and demeaning the democratic process.

Jaagore Bharat. Jaago

21
Mar
09

Shut Up And Vote

India is a Hindu Nation and no one can deny that – Mr Mohan Bhagwat made a brilliant start at his new job today as he took over the leadership of RSS. First day’s first utterance got him instant headlines. While many of you might be disgusted at that statement he made, I on my part totally agree with what he said – India is indeed a Hindu nation. There’s nothing wrong in what he said except that he failed to define what Hinduism is and who Hindus are. Hinduism is NOT a religion its a philosophy, a way of life and each one of us is a Hindu because we consciously or unconsciously have embraced this great culture and its way of life. This country belongs to us and not some uneducated fools who have no clue what they speak or stand for.

Its rather depressing to see that the world’s largest democracy happens to be the dirtiest, the least participatory and the most religiously polarized one. Like it ot not sixty years of freedom and democracy hasn’t ensured that none die of starvation and that none is exploited. More than half the country is illiterate, and an even greater percentage uneducated, Muscle and Money power still rules, Criminals still get elected, Clergy is still more or less in power and People are still not a part of the process, except once in five years.

Education I have always held is different from being literate. You might study at LSE or Oxford or SOAS or Yale and yet be uneducated, Varun Gandhi is the perfect example. All his foreign degrees failed to educate him, failed to stimulate his rationale and failed to pull him out of the bliss of ignorance he lives in. What he said reflects not just his point of view but that of an extremist organization that he is a part of. But then there’s nothing that we can do. Just like Muslim fundamentalism is legitimate in a Muslim dominated country so is Hindu Fundamentalism in a Hindu dominated country, and don’t you dare raise your fingers at them for the likes of Varun, Togadia, Modi and Advani would chop off your hands and label you as the enemy of the state and a communal force.

From times unknown religion has played a rather important role in polity and modern India is no exception, the only problem being that unlike in the US or Iran there are too many religions and all of them command power be it Hindus, Muslims or Christians. I mean take a look at the statement that Varun made after he landed in the controversy – I am a Hindu, a Gandhi and an Indian in the same measure. Note the use of language – A Hindu first, and then a Gandhi and after all that an Indian. His statement points out two important problems with Indian Polity, first there is widespread communalism and hatred being spread my mainstream political parties and second you cannot dream of joining politics or making it big unless you have a lineage to back on – a look at most young Indian MPs proves that.

Its not just the Hindus who spread hatred and polarize our communities, a look at the rather silent christian community shows how efficiently it has turned into a big political force in the south. Priests and Bishops shamelessly urge the communities to vote for a certain candidate, write letters to the centre to place candidate of their choice and come out strongly against people who oppose them or their tryst with politics to an extent where people descent to the streets.

Is this what our constitution calls secularism? Is this what our forefathers’ had envisioned? Who is to blame for all this? Savarkar? Muslim League and Jinnah? Bal Thackery? or Togadia?

Unfortunately the blame lies with Gandhi, the pre independence Indian National Congress and their vision for the country. Gandhi and INC’s excessive use of Hindu symbolism in the freedom struggle alienated the minorities and that led to the formation of Muslim League and other such religious political parties.

While on one side we have all this, a rather grim picture of the Indian Politics on the other side there is hope. For once educated people are joining politics, the latest in fray being Shashi Tharoor and Mallika Sarabhai. Not many have lost hopes. There is a new wave of optimism. People want their share of power and say in the governance. Jagore Campaign has done wonders. The ever complaining Indian youth is up in arms against the warlords of Indian Politics. They want to vote for a change. They want to be a part of the revolution.

The murky waters of Indian politics, it seems, would clear up for good soon. Or would it?

The fact is that most Indians are still uneducated they’d still be influenced by the clergy and muscle power. All these war cries for responsible voting can be heard only in our cities. Shut Up And Vote is written in English a language that more than 80% of the country cannot speak. Who are we fooling? India still is in its villages. If we want a change then that ought to start at the grassroot level.

Anyway Shut Up And Vote.

13
Mar
09

Breaking News!!!!

BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

News and newspapers have always been central to my daily life, but it wasn’t until I started working for media houses that I began looking at the process of delivering news as a form of art. There is speculation, quite often followed by a conformation, followed by fact gathering and then the delivery either in print form or in audio visual form. Now, that is the basics of reporting – speculation, conformation and fact gathering – or at-least that was what I was taught and that is what I have practiced all this while. But that form of news reporting is on the wane. That form of news delivery is now classified as boring and often mundane. What people want is action, breaking news – sansani tez khaber!

The sober and classy act of news reporting over a period of time has undergone a sea of change;gone are the days of idealism, intellectualism and sincerity. Gone are the days when journalists wore ragged clothes and sported a beard and toga/jhola. Gone are the days when journalists made a hand to mouth living. Gone are the days when confirmation and fact gathering was done. Everyone’s an expert.

News reporting is the next big thing after bollywood, every failed actor/actress who knows a word or two of English makes is making it big in media. And why not, even though they are dumb they look good, and they are confident – they can hold a mic, face the camera and speak in English. Well that’s not all that has changed, the art of news delivery has undergone an even drastic change, news rooms are no longer sober looking rooms, they’ve gone hi-fi – big plasma screens, hundreds of acrobatics trained camera men, lights, computer generated graphics, music directors, choreographers, art directors, script writers and what not. News delivery is turning out to be even more difficult than making a B grade bollywood flick and leading the pack are India TV, Aaj Tak, Headlines Today and Times Now.

Its hard to believe that a crucial and perhaps the most powerful and autonomous pillar of democracy, the media, is undergoing such drastic degradation. I mean what is the logic of showing tantra vidya on news channel? Of showing the existence of a goat who people claim is the descendant of some long dead emperor? I mean for days I been seeing news anchors predicting Islamabad being captured by Taliban any minute, all this while foreign security experts politely call these claims stupid. What shit are these guys on? What on earth have they been smoking?

I have always held a firm belief that reporting ought to be dispassionate and in such a manner that the reporter’s opinion are not reflected on the report that is to say that a news report should not in any way be biased, it is the public that ought to ponder over a news report and formulate its own opinion. Well, what we see here is a bunch of uneducated, superstitious freaks on a drug trip of their own. I mean, what are they contributing to the society if not their own fears and beliefs, with exaggerated fears. They are as dangerous as the Taliban or Al-Queada. Look at this, every Muslim to us is a symbol of terror. Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia are terror centres.

We often say that one thing that the British left behind when they left India was the divide and rule policy – a policy that we often associate with political parties and politicians. Its not just the politicians who have been using this, media too has been using this, for quite some time now.

Media has created stereotypes – you can identify a Muslim with his beard, a Hindu with his right hand, a christian by the manner of his speech and what not. I was denied two houses on rent because the owners were wary of my beard and because I spoke Hindi.

Muslims are terrorists, Hindus are black magicians and trouble makers, Christians are loose characters and Punjabis are gossip mongers and trouble makers. What kind of idiotic shit are we being told? And why are we taking this shit?

The once forgotten concept of ghosts and evil spirits are back in fashion. Why? Well where else do all these evil spirits go? After-all villagers no longer want them. Everyone talks about nimbu mirch. Chicken pox is mata ka aashirwaad and family troubles is padosi ka jaadu tona.

Where the heck is our rationale? Where is our intelligence?

Oh! I am sorry, intelligence’s death is what we’re celebrating here. Sorry.

Well, ladies and gentlemen due to the untimely demise of our dear friend Intelligence, we have but no choice, we are heading back to the good old medieval times and you, each one of you, is heading this journey.

11
Mar
09

My Crime? I Am A Woman…

He took my rib to make the most dumb thing ever

He took my rib to make the dumbest thing ever

Marxists view the world as a society composed of classes, the clergy view it as a society of sinners and puritans, the philosophers as a society of the observers and the observed, historians and sociologists look at this mortal world as a mixture of cultures, different people look at the world through different eyes. Through the glasses their roles require them to look at this absurd human drama, and yet somewhere we’ve forgotten to look at ourselves as human beings as man and women.

Women in Mangalore are attacked because they are women, moral brigade is up in arms against Frieda Pinto because she is a woman, Fiza is denied justice because she is a woman, acid is thrown on a child on her way to school in Afghanistan because she is a woman, houses are denied to single women and why not? Born out of a man’s rib bone women are to blame for all the miseries in the world. It was Heva or Eve who brought sin to the world, Eve was the reason man was thrown out of Eden and had to face the hardships of the real world. It was Pandora’s curiosity that brought sorrow to the world and Helen’s defiance and love that brought war upon Troy, Draupadi’s Vastraharan that caused Mahabharata, Sita’s beauty that caused Ram to declare a war on Lanka. Women have for centuries been blamed for everything that goes wrong, a child becomes spoilt because of mother’s love, a family looses honor because of a woman’s emotions or love and is often termed as defiance. Man is righteous and hence man will forever be free of blame.

What kind of losers are we to believe in that crap? I mean seriously!?

Our society is fundamentally made of two kinds of people not capitalists and laborers not laymen and clergy, but of man and women. And both have their importance, importance that cannot be denied. A man is nothing without a woman and woman is nothing without a man and this society is nothing without either. And yet women are placed below men when it comes to social hierarchy, why? Well that’s what the Bible teaches us, a woman was made from a man’s rib bone and not from the soil like man, the doomed city of Babylon is represented by the famous whore who sits on a beast. Is our history biased? Or is it that we’re wired that way, wired to accept that women are lesser of a species?

I dunno, but I would like someone to answer that? Why does history portray women as a lesser being? Why do religious texts portray them as whores and gossip mongers? Is it not because men are ready to pay for their carnal desired that women become prostitutes? Is it not because our society has resigned them to the four walls of our homes and kitchen that they find time to gossip and spread rumors?

I mean a man can remain a bachelor if he chooses to no one says a word but why isn’t that the case with women? A man can sleep around with whoever he wishes to but the moment a woman does we call her a woman with a loose character, a slut or a whore? Why are women looked upto as keepers of morality, do men have no share in that?

It’s depressing to see how our societies have evolved over a period of time. Women who once were deities and commanded respect are now beaten up on the streets, acid is thrown on them, their dignity questioned and above all paid lower wages!

I too am a victim of the above mentioned stereotyping, I believe that most, if not all, women are dumb and would prefer to spend my time with men than with a woman.

We seriously need a total brainwashing, we need to erase all the pre-fed data in our brains.

We need change.

I need some grass.

07
Mar
09

Mother do you think…???

He ran into the loo clutching a book in one hand and a pack of cigarettes in the other. ‘Aaah!’ he said, ‘Finally’. His stomach had been giving him trouble lately – ‘Improper eating habits’ – his mother had told his driver, the only channel of communication to his parents, who stayed just round the corner. ‘I don’t remember when was the last time I saw them’ he’d told his friends. He hadn’t seen ’em for years, neither them nor him had made any effort to disturb the tranquility and illusions they lived in. ‘He’s too far, beyond our reach’ his father had once told his friends, soon after his only beloved son had decided to set on his solitary journey to find his life, ‘he blames us for everything, for all the ill that has befallen upon him’, his father often said with tears in his eyes.

Nevertheless, enough of this David Copperfield stuff. For Joseph crapping was a important part of his life, not because like us he sought to excrete out his bodily wastes but because to him nature’s calling was a passport to a different world, and his loo, his dear loo was a sort of teleportation machine that took his mind off all the absurdities of daily life and took him to a world of finely crafted world of words, a magical land of stories and philosophy. His loo, unlike ours was a place of meditation a place of learning – a reading room to be precise.

As he positioned himself on the pot and lit a cigarette electricity went off, and instead of cursing his reached for the candle on the ledge and lit it, electricity in India is as erratic as trains, and lately like his disturbed stomach, you never knew when it’d come or when it’d go.

As he sat smoking and concentrating on his book a drunk moth flying in a rather erratic manner hit him on the back of his neck. He swung his arm, startled, in an attempt to kill the moth but in vain.

The moth flew towards the candle and suddenly the lines from an old forgotten poem rose from the depths of his heart.

why doth a moth fly to the hot candle flame,
aware of the fact that this obsession with light will kill him
this my friend is passion

And just as he finished reciting those dreaded lines of passion, the candle flame consumed the moth and its passion. He looked at the ventilation and said to himself,’need to put up a net there’ and returned to his book, oblivious to the fire that that consumed the moth. Afterall it was a just a moth.

He washed himself and rose with the book in his hand and walked to his room scattered with clothes. ‘Stephen should be here any minute’, he said looking at the wall clock that greeted him with palms joined together, announcing the beginning of another day. But the clock greeting him had a special significance today – the 9th of March 2009. He had turned 40.

I won’t live a day beyond 40, he’d claimed, it’ll either be cancer or drug overdose. Neither cancer nor drugs came for his life.
40 and still alive. What a waste!
As the clock struck twelve, electricity made a surprise comeback.

He changed into a pair of clean clothes and packed everything that was required for the trip.
He paced downstairs to make himself some tea, as he waited for his faithful driver to arrive he reached for the television remote on the table.
Life had been reduced to switching between television, internet and books. Inferring and writing.

As is flipped through channels trying to locate something interesting he heard the much awaited knock on the door. Stephen, he said to himself and looked at his watch. Quarter past one.
He ought to be taught a lesson.

He rose from his chair and walked to wards the door thinking of ways to reprimand this illiterate beast;a beast he had trusted his life with for five years now. He opened the door. And before words of anger and frustration could fly out of his tea stained mouth. The driver started pleading. He was drenched.
-forgive me sir, but… but… but the rain…

The rain? All the brooding had drowned he sound of rain.
He did not speak instead directed Stephen to the luggage kept near the door. The driver knew that for the moment he’d been forgiven. He took the luggage and walked towards the car on the porch and as he hulled the luggage into the trunk he head Joseph shout at him.
-Stephen. Get here. Fast.

He ran to the doorsteps, trying his best not to anger his master. Joseph was gathering some papers into a folder, and without looking at Stephen told him
-There are some old clothes in the store room. Get changed. And while you’re at it have this tea here.

Stephen gave him a puzzled look as he walked with the cup to the store.
What kind of a strange man is he? Forever ill tempered and immersed in books and papers, never interested in the pain of others. A selfish bastard straight from a movie. And yet he calls himself a writer. What can he possibly write if he cannot see the miseries in the world?
Stephen hated and at the same time loved Joseph. For five years he had been with him and never had he seen him smile.

He changed and walked back to the porch with the empty cup inorder to wash it clean, something Joseph was very particular about. As he reached the porch. Joseph waited for him there.
-No time for cleaning. Leave the cup on the table. Lock the door and come fast, Joseph roared.

Stephen did as he was instructed. Got into the car. Handed the keys to Joseph and turned the car on.
-Keep the keys. Give them to amma in the morning.
-And what should I tell her?
-Nothing. Just give them to her.
Stephen did not say or ask anything instead as he drove stared wondering about the strange relationship Joseph shared with the people he called his parents. Joseph did not look anything like them. And neither Joseph nor them never met each other or spoke to them although they lived in the same city.
If you teach them too much they’ll no longer like you. They’ll leave you alone in your old age and live off merrily with their educated wives.
May be that was the case with  Joseph and his parents too. They taught him so that he’d earn good and be with them in their old age and here he was, living away from them immersed in a world of his own. Kaka was right, should not teach kids too much, lest they forget where they come from.

-Would you mind driving a bit faster? We’re already running late.
-But sir the road… It is slippery. It is raining.
-Oh! Come on! Its quarter to two in the night. Delhi is sleeping for Christ’s sake! what kind of traffic do you expect on the road?
Stephen did not argue.

Joseph’s patience was running out.
First he comes late. Then argues for no reason. Nevertheless, good that I told him my flight’s at three, otherwise he’d have made sure I miss my flight.
If only I could get some sleep before I reach the chaos that is known as Delhi airport.
Does that even resemble an airport with all the construction on 24×7, 365 days of a year?, he often lamented.

Stephen switced on the radio in a bid to shake off the disturbing silence that had crept in. AIR, Joseph’s favorite channel.

AIR. Nothing beats AIR. Soulful music and sensible news for the connoisseur’s.
Joseph had been hooked to AIR and it’s late night classical music programs since his school days. And now a day into his fortieth year of existence and he still loved it.

Hmmm… Aida… ActII… Fu la sorte dell’ armi a’ tuoi funesta

The part where Aida tells Radames that her heart belongs to him eternally…Beautiful…
Long forgotten memories of her crop up in his heart and with them a bittersweet feeling, feelings and memories that often threatened to drown him in a sea of sorrow.
No. Thats not the case. Look. I do not believe in the Indian system of arranged marriages. And I haven’t had the time to seek the one that’ll complete me. Thats it. Nothing more.

The truth is, once long back, in the days of his youth, the spring of love flowed in his heart too. He too walked into the magical world of love and with him his dearest. But destiny was not on his side, for the journey ended far too soon. They parted ways unaware of what had hit them and while they walked their ways he resolved to make a shrine for her, a shrine for the most joyful days of his life. In a bid to preserve the memories and the life giving spring of love that once flowed through his heart.
Years later the spring dried up and the shrine was turned to nothing but a ruin, a rubble he shunned away from.
And she’ll promise you more
Than the Garden of Eden
Then she’ll carelessly cut you
And laugh while you’re bleedin’
But she’ll bring out the best
And the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself

I should have gone back for her.

-Stop it, he shouted.
Stephen caught unaware, obliged.
-When would you be returning sir, what should I tell ammaji?
-Nothing. I’ll give you a call a day before I arrive. Get the keys from her. And make sure you reach at the airport on time.
-Yes sir.
-And please put on that Pink Floyd CD.

Stephen hated everything Joseph liked, music in particular, for English was a language which was beyond him and the music with all the loud guitars and drums made no sense and above all the screams and cries, nothing made sense. And they called this music.
Anyway, this torture will last just till he reaches the airport and then holiday till the beast gets back.

Hmmm… Mother. By Pink Floyd
Joseph’s favorite. He hated his parents. But never knew why. And this song gave him reasons. But wasn’t that what all parents did? Feed you with their ideas?
What have I become? All these years. Haven’t spoke to them. What have I turned into? A machine that  feeds on words, combines them in a particular fashion and spit out stories. A real Grammatizor imagined by Roald Dahl. They hurt me, I hurt them. Tit for tat. I am nothing but a beast that feeds on pain. Damn I should get in touch with them when I get back.

He saw a strong beam of light heading his way followed by a loud crashing sound and a sudden sense of paralysis as his eyes shut in pain. Blood oozed only to be washed away by the rain.

Hush, my baby. baby, dont you cry.
Mommas gonna make all of your nightmares come true.
Mommas gonna put all of her fears into you.
Mommas gonna keep you right here under her wing.
She wont let you fly, but she might let you sing.
Mommas gonna keep baby cozy and warm…




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