Thursday, September 21, 2006

How Women can win Men and Men the respect of other Men

Advertisement in the Hindustan Times
Friday, April 28, 1944

“How Women can win Men and Men the respect of other Men”

“Until two pints of bile juice flow daily from your liver into your bowels, your food decays in your bowels. This poisons your whole body. You get yellow tongue, yellow skin, pimples, dull eyes, bad breath, bad taste, gas, dizziness, headache. You have become an ugly-looking, foul-smelling, sour-thinking person. Everybody wants to run from you.

Laxatives can’t help, for they only moveout (sic) the tail end of your bowels and that doesn’t take away the decayed poison.

Only a free flow of your bile juice will stop this decay poison in your bowels. The one mild vegetable medicine which starts off your bile juice is ‘Carter’s Little Liver- Pills’.

No calomel in Carter’s… Only fine, mild vegetable extracts. If you would bring back your personal charm, start taking ‘Carter’s Little Liver-Pills’ according to directions today.”


Expert advice, isn't it? Please do try and testify to its amazing powers!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Blog Gag

Okaeiyy!
So, a certain uncouth element has made Wolf and myself shake ourselves up from our warm summer slumber. In a startled, electrified, yawn-still-stuck-in-throat shake up, mind you. The moulting of his winter fur and my dead brain cells still incomplete. And that, we do not appreciate. Growl. The criminal shall pay.

The perpetrator? The Indian Government. Their wake-up call to us- an order given to Internet Service Providers to block, among other sites, Blogspot and Geocities- two of the world's premier blogging sites. Their logic- these websites are anti-India! Right. And those who use, visit, browse these technology-driven portals of freedom of expression, would, by their super-competent analogy, be anti-india. Terrorists, taking their line-of-reasoning to its natural conclusion.

The icing on the cake, a quote in today's Hindustan Times- the babus "defend their decision" by asking those who access these "radical sites" to come forward "and please explain to us what are they missing from their lives in the absence of these sites."

oooooooooh! The government daring us, the citizens of a democratic country, to answer to them on how a curtailing of one of our fundamental rights- the right to freedom of expression- would translate into a viable loss in 'real' life! This is audaciousness to say the least! Wolf and I are positively smoking from our erect ears now- rain and all. And we have also run out of suitably sarcastic words.

There is something we would like to say to you- No democratically-elected government holds the right to ask its citizens to explain itself to them, especially not for actions that fall within the book of personal freedom and constitutional rights. The explanation for this blatant disregard of democracy and individual liberty needs to come from your side. We hope that that, as too a repeal of your decision, comes soon.

Until then, Wolf and I stand with shackles raised, ready to defend our territory-both virtual and realworld- from threats to our civil rights and liberties.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

P.S.-We have much more to say...keep looking for updates, and links to other blogger sites following this development. For now, we must to rush to college.

*Update 1:
Neha Vishwanathan tracks the issue with regular updates on Global Voices, Within/Without and DesiPundit.
Read posts by various bloggers protesting the censorship (yes! that's what this ban is!) at Bloggers Against Censorship Wiki.
Also check out the Blogger's Collective on Google Groups for active discussion threads on the issue.
Newspapers and news channels have begun running stories on the blog ban: Indian Express, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, CNN-IBN, CNN-IBN again.

*Update 2: Keeping track of and giving updates on seemingly inexhaustible (and growing!) mounds of information is, I have realized, a slice of cake- of the Death-by-Chocolate kinds. Too much news, too many views, too much mud to plough through and disseminate on my currently shoestring schedule. So I most happily give you some more links (here, here and here) to bloggers/blogsites that are following the issue with noses tight to the ground, while I unclog my mind and prepare an RTI letter for submission to the Department of Telecommunications tomorrow.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

This book is my book, this book is your book...

.... no, wait! it's my book... no, wait- it's your book!
And all around me, a voice was calling,
this book is made for you and me...

According to this and this, men and women have surprisingly (!!!) opposite favourites as far as books are concerned. While women prefer books about passion and attachment, men prefer those that talk of - hold your breath- detachment and alienation.

Go on, go on, check out the links. Then, come back here and tell me your favourite books- fiction or non-fiction- those that moved you, spoke to you, saved you, meant the most to you. In short, books that changed your life.

And maybe, I shall compute the results of this survey and put them up on the blog later. At any rate, it would be interesting to know which literary productions move Indians.

My own 'watershed' list will be up in the next post.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Please don't take down the posters in my room

"No well-behaved woman has ever made history".

So, some DU academics think this, among other scribbles, is obscene and disparages women.

Of course it's obscene- the student who wrote it got the quote wrong! That aside, I thought that this highly-respected professor and Mormon feminist had something else in mind when she said such 'ganda' things. tch tch. Maybe I've got my feminism wrong.

Oh, and freedom of expression? Huh what?


* to open the first link, you'll have to register with the site...that should not take more than a couple of minutes. If you still have problems, look up the April 4 Hindustan Times, Delhi Edition, Page 5.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I'll get by with a little help from my friends

Girlfriends, they are the salt of the earth. Especially those who make you feel happy and good merely by being themselves. And who wake you out of your self-imposed slumber into a pepped-up-raring-to-go (-and-exercise) self.
Love you all- Aka, S, Parul, Dee...
And thank you especially, Aka, for the great lunch yesterday :)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

All I need is just a little love

I've been tagged by the Walrus to list 8 things that I want in my mate. This would be easy, I had thought. It actually required 3 days, much thinking and loads of procrastination before I could come up with this list. Wish there were something like a computer-generated match!
*sigh*
That said, here are 8 things that I want in my mate:

1. Must have beautiful, artistic hands. Masculine, but beautiful.

2. Must respect women. Not because he has to or has been taught to, but because he feels it in his heart.

3. Must be spontaneous with plans, hugs and compliments. A spur of the moment trip to the ice-cream parlor is always more enjoyable than a planned-to-death one.

4. Should understand and respect my need for independence. Which includes endless days on which I keep to myself and long travels alone.

5. Must, must love animals and nature. Be willing to live on a farm.

6. Must not have any rigid centres of belief. Should be open to and accepting of various frames of reference.

7. Should have own set of hobbies and interests that I am not a part of. That said, must also share some of my hobbies and interests. Among them, adventure sports, travel and theatre.

8. Must have a witty sense of humour. Not self-derogatory, not sarcastic, just plain witty.

9. Must be an optimist.

10. And borrowing Walrus's own words, he must be magickal. With the k.

That's not 8 things, but it's the best I could do!

It's a 1000!!

Thankyou, thankyou, one and all. Hugs to you. Yes you ;).
Such bliss. Such joy.
A 1000 visits. O.n.e. t.h.o.u.s.a.n.d ! As in 'tum jiyo hazaaron saal'. And 'hazaaron khwahishein aisi'. Oh, and 'hazaar chaurasiya ki maa'...Eh...no, not the last one :D
Whatever.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

No man is an island, entire of itself


for the Blank Noise blogathon against street harassment


The Blank Noise blogathon has generated a number of eloquent, stomach-churning accounts of street harassment in cities across India. Women and some men, too, have concretised their experiences and raised their voices against a crime which transcends geography, cultures and financial and religious backgrounds. There has been an outpouring of responses to these posts- expressing sympathy and solidarity by women, and shock and support by men.

However, and this is what my post is about, there have also been those (few) comments which have questioned the regularity and pervasiveness of street harassment. Which, though expressing shock at the incidents, have shrugged them as one-off. Responses that are quotidien from many other men as well, who refuse to believe in a truth staring a half of the population in the eye (and other areas too, if you excuse the pun).

My post is for such self-deluding men. It is also for the men who choose silence over action, who profess helplessness while watching a woman being molested, and who take voyeuristic pleasure in crimes enacted before their eyes. You may not yourselves have indulged in harassment- good for you- but uninvolvement does not equal remedy.

For, you see, you are undeniably and inextricably a part of both the problem as well as the solution.

By choosing not to identify it, you magnify the crisis and reduce the scope for its resolution that much more. By not acting or speaking out against it, you render futile the efforts of other men and women who do, and at the same time give a tacit nod of approval to molesters. You tell them, " I was too sissy to grab her ass, but you did great, brother. Way to go!"

There is a problem. Believe this. There is a slimy undercurrent in every public space of every city (and I'm not even entering the private sphere right now). You might not notice it because you lack the requisite optical capacities. Women develop a finely-tuned, state-of-the-art, all-pervasive sensory apparatus which gives them a view of the world much more different, much more dangerous than yours. It is a survival tactic required of every girl who wishes to reach womanhood safely.

I speak from over a decade of personal experience. I'm overqualified, in fact. I have stayed my whole life in a city that has a public transport service called The Blue Line, for crying out loud.

If you still don't believe it, picture this- that you are like the beings in the city outside of the Matrix; and we, the women who suffer from street harassment, its inhabitants - Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, the gang. We move through the self-same city as you do, but know that the vision of calm that it projects is but a false illusion. The only difference is, there isn't going to be any One who will save humanity.

There is a solution. One in which you may be able to have a larger impact than any of our efforts combined. Being a problem which highlights an acute polarization of genders, it seems valid for the solution, too, to be gendered- that men speak out against and punish offending men. Men condemn molestation in every degree and form, telling their fellow sex that their deeds and habits are inexcusable, atrocious, horrible, criminal. Men ostracize members of their clan, even those who wear the badge of 'friends'.

Molesters expect some retaliation from women. But instant and forceful condemnation by men might just act as the high voltage fence preventing them from ever trespassing again.

Which is why I commend the few male bloggers who have spoken out against the menace of street harassment. To all the rest of you, I say- Look around. Open your eyes. Accept the problem. Speak up. Hit out. Because for every woman who suffers this hell, a son/husband/brother experiences its invisible but certain corrosive ripple effects.

You are a part of a delicate societal matrix which, with each blow to its members, gets even more tattered, leaving them with only that much more space to cling safely to. Which is why, if not for anything but selfish reasons, you have the perfect excuse to take a stand now and speak out against sexual harassment.

............................................................................................


No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine own were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.


-John Donne (Meditation XVII of Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions)


Monday, March 06, 2006

A dream and a million mutinies, now

All I want right now is an Enfield to fly away on...and someone to come back to, always.

To be happy, even when alone.

To dream, and not have to compromise dreams with reality.

To live in Goa.

To be accepted without being judged.

To get drunk and party, in that order, every evening.

To start a little book- and- chocolate shop.

To trek through mountains and forests alone.

To camp in a forest with a book, a dog and a horse for company.

To be carefree and wild.

To explore the city at nighttime.

To be safe from words and touches. And glances.

To have a little patch of uncultivated, free-growing land, where my dogs and I can seek refuge and an afternoon nap whenever we want.

To drive alone to Spiti Valley, Rohtang Pass, Ladakh, Leh, through Europe...

To have a family of close, loving, wild and funny friends.

To live alone.

But above all, all I want right now is an Enfield to fly away on.

And the strength to believe I will do and be all this, one day, soon.

Am I asking for too much?

The Moment

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

-Margaret Atwood


Thank you for finding me.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Chhey hi aayega bhaanjey.......

Bush, Shakuni Mama ishtyle.

No, it's not the angle. Don't believe me? Then check this out, too.

Uncanny, no?


*update: there seems to be a problem with the second link. When you open it, jump to the last photograph in the series.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Hindustan Times, Sunday, March 3, 1946

Wanted: Very handsome, white-complexioned, non-Goel Bisa Agarwala bachelor boy, highly placed and well-settled, for very beautiful Matriculate, highly accomplished girl of 18 of U.P. family, very rich, educated and cultured. Marriage first class with cash dowry of rupees twenty thousand. No objection for poor persons of high education and special talent, but none without beauty and charming personality need correspond. Apply with full particulars and recent photo at the first instance.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Do not fear death so much, rather the inadequate life

How do you feel when you hear that someone whom you've known since toddlerhood, who was once upon a long time ago your best friend, who studied the hardest at school because for her it was a way of silent rebellion, has 'agreed' to get married- to a man she has met only a few times? This, at age 22, when the world is at your feet begging for you to explore it, play with it, taste it, conquer it?

I could only respond with a silent 'congratulations'.

........................................................................

While the above occurred on Sunday, on Monday I learnt about the death of a forty-year old 'friend'. We were friends who never knew each other's names, whose only interaction was a 'hi' and a smile as we passed by in hallways or met in the library. Everyone at Alliance Francaise de Delhi knew him. Everyone. He was that kind of a guy. The one everyone loved. The kind who loved everyone. A theatre activist. I will miss you, Umesh. May you rest in peace.

Strength to you, Anna.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Faded pictures in my scrapbook/ just thought i'd take one more look

In my last post, I had mentioned that I'd follow up with my thoughts on Gloria Steinem's parody...well, right now, I don't wanna.

Nope. Pas du tout.

Today is (drumroll)..... Valentine's Eve. And I'm feeling all lovey-dovey and warm and smiley and lonely and grumpy mixed. Of course, it doesn't help that I've downed 2 glasses of nice Chateau Indage wine. And have watched an advertisement-free hour-long V Day special on VH1....all '80's and early '90's love songs (after a loooooooong time have switched on the idiot box). Had forgotten half of these numbers- 'Two steps behind' by Def Leppard, 'That's the way love goes' by Janet Jackson, and ohhhhh, that song which brought back memories of Class 10 n 11, of cool summer days spent inside a semi-dark room at home, singing along with cousin C to 'You're the Inspiration' by Chicago. ahhh....

So then, I'm feeling nostalgic on top of everything else too. (To those among you who are saying 'eww' as your read the names of the songs, back off right now...grrrr....i stand by them till death us do part)

But no, hold on girl, I am telling myself. Nostalgia can be a dangerous route to slide down, especially when you have spent the last few years looking strongly ahead, trying to forget some painful memories of the past, scared that looking back might hold you back.
But for once, today, I have decided to indulge myself with my memories- not with fear of what the remembering might bring, but with a strong urge to dip into the smells of yesterday- for the only reason that they made me happy when they did happen, and shall always be a part of me.

These are then strands from my past, in no linear order.

................................................................................................................

When I was little, about 8 or 9, my dream destination was London. A cold n grey 1970's London no less, with red brick houses warming the landscape and green fields with horses spread about in the background. I would picture myself sitting inside the open doorway of my own little house, sipping coffee and looking smart in brown woollen trousers, sexy knee-length leather boots and a beautiful cream-coloured top... The more I flipped through Mum's old St. Michael's' 'New Winter Collection' manuals, the more my dream I dreamt :)

When I was even littler, 6 to be exact, I decided I wanted to be a writer when I grew up and that was THAT.
At 10, I wanted to be a writer, a doctor, a veterinarian and a tennis player.

In Class 3, there was in our english textbook a story about a wise old man to whom everyone in the village would come to for advice. The wise man knew everything. I thought that my grandfather must have been a wise old man. I decided I would be a wise old woman when I grew old.

'Another Day in Paradise' by Phil Collins was the first English song I really really loved and tried to learn the lyrics to. I was 8 years old then, and I remember it was summertime and I was having lunch when I first heard that song. I still hold a special place in my heart for the song and the singer. Thank you daddy for introducing me to him and other great artists.

I remember dad teaching me how to climb trees at age 4, swim at age 3, to be strong and brave and not cry at even the most painful cuts.

I remember my first crush at age 10 on a cute classmate- S. Liked him for 6 more years. He had beautiful artistic hands. He's studying to be an artist now and is still rather cute.

I remember crying when, at D's tenth (or was it eleventh?) birthday party, above-mentioned classmate remarked off-handedly to my brother after a game of cricket - 'Your sister's such a tomboy' (I'd batted and fielded too). Not something you want to hear from someone you're trying to impress.

I remember summer holidays in classes 5-9, hot sunny days spent with cousins inside water-cooler'd cool rooms. Of playing endless games of scrabble and pictionary and cards with C. Of sporadic games of chess with Uncle A. Of ice-creams and aam panna and watermelons and mangoes. Of making beautiful school projects with help from C. Of feeling young and free and wild and happy in a timeless time that those 3 months were.

I remember middle-school days spent swimming at the Talkatora Stadium after school hours. Trained by Mr. Gogia- my mentor, guide, friend and father-figure. The one who believed as much in his girls as in his boys, if not more. The one who pushed us all to excruciating limits in swimming, athletics and basketball. The one who made me stretch myself to the max and shouted at me whenever I slowed down. Who made me jump from the 10-metre dive board, run the 400-m in an athletic meet even though I hadn't qualified, taught me how to shoot hoops, dribble, kick the football. Who would put his arm around my shoulder while talking as he did with the 'guys'. Sometimes, with all bones in my body aching and my breath gone, I kept going only to make him proud. I looked up to him. He taught me how to live with dignity, courage, self-confidence, self-respect and pride. Thank you so much, sir!

Ages 13-16 were happy times. Happy happy happy times. They shall forever be slotted in my heart under the sunny/springtime/fresh/cool/happening categories.
In those 3 years, I grew much. I learnt lots. I made new friends. Was part of a cool 'gang' of 4 at school, which included me, my bro, N and A.
Had my first sleepovers. Trekking trips from school.
Started 'hanging out' at the coolest place of the time- Priya Complex in Vasant Vihar.
Heard my first 'non-veg' jokes and grew red at hearing them. Heard my first non-veg jokes and had to have my brother or N explain them to me!
Went alongwith girl friend alone to have sundae at Nirula's. Went bowling with her too. Proudly learnt to assert my independence. Even if that meant major fights and silent rebellions.
Discovered great music. The Beatles, Boney M, Abba, Demis Rousseau, George Michael, Celine Dion, Trisha Yearwood...stuff that still brings back good memories each time I hear it.
Went for school dance parties.
Got scolded for talking for hourrrrrrs together on the phone.
Learnt to drive the scooter and the car. Drove a bike once too.
Had my first major crush, on a handsome fella whom I'll call GK. He had just joined school in class 8 after living in london for a long while, had an amazingly throaty bri-iish accent, played the guitar and even shaved regularly for god's sake! This when the rest of the boys in the class were still developing toad-voices.
Walked straight into a huge pillar when one day, walking in opposite directions down the school hallway, and when I thought he wasn't even aware of my presence, GK said Heii Girrrija, just like that, to me. Bam! went my head against the black pillar.
Got woozy in the knees when he called up once (the only time he did!), so what if only to know about next day's history homework.
Got my first pair of Nikes.
Lived a lifetime.


ahhh....so that's that. Nostalgia-time's a-over...for a while atleast. So is feeling low and lonely and grumpy. I feel good, no wait, i feel great already! yeeaaa

Happy Valentine's Day to me. To me, me, ME! So there. and there. AND there!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

If men could menstruate...

....history would be a lot less bloody.


I chanced upon this wonderful wonderful parody by Gloria Steinem.
(merci Anusheh...read the umbrella topic 'When Religion Seeds Guilt' by
Shubhosree Pal here).

Enjoy this piece. I shall let my thoughts on it remain the subject of another post.

--------------------------------------------------

A white minority of the world has spent centuries conning us into thinking that a white skin makes people superior - even though the only thing it really does is make them more subject to ultraviolet rays and to wrinkles. Male human beings have built whole cultures around the idea that penis envy is "natural" to women - though having such an unprotected organ might be said to make men vulnerable, and the power to give birth makes womb envy at least as logical.
In short, the characteristics of the powerful, whatever they may be, are thought to be better than the characteristics of the powerless - and logic has nothing to do with it.

What would happen, for instance, if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?

The answer is clear - menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event:
Men would brag about how long and how much.
Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed-for proof of manhood, with religious ritual and stag parties.
Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea to help stamp out monthly discomforts.
Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. (Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of commercial brands such as John Wayne Tampons, Muhammad Ali's Rope-a-dope Pads, Joe Namath Jock Shields - "For Those Light Bachelor Days," and Robert "Baretta" Blake Maxi-Pads.)
Military men, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation ("men-struation") as proof that only men could serve in the Army ("you have to give blood to take blood"), occupy political office ("can women be aggressive without that steadfast cycle governed by the planet Mars?"), be priest and ministers ("how could a woman give her blood for our sins?") or rabbis ("without the monthly loss of impurities, women remain unclean").
Male radicals, left-wing politicians, mystics, however, would insist that women are equal, just different, and that any woman could enter their ranks if she were willing to self-inflict a major wound every month ("you MUST give blood for the revolution"), recognize the preeminence of menstrual issues, or subordinate her selfness to all men in their Cycle of Enlightenment. Street guys would brag ("I'm a three pad man") or answer praise from a buddy ("Man, you lookin' good!") by giving fives and saying, "Yeah, man, I'm on the rag!" TV shows would treat the subject at length. ("Happy Days": Richie and Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still "The Fonz," though he has missed two periods in a row.) So would newspapers. (SHARK SCARE THREATENS MENSTRUATING MEN. JUDGE CITES MONTHLY STRESS IN PARDONING RAPIST.) And movies. (Newman and Redford in "Blood Brothers"!)
Men would convince women that intercourse was more pleasurable at "that time of the month." Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself - though probably only because they needed a good menstruating man.
Of course, male intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguments. How could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense of time, space, mathematics, or measurement, for instance, without that in-built gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets - and thus for measuring anything at all? In the rarefied fields of philosophy and religion, could women compensate for missing the rhythm of the universe? Or for their lack of symbolic death-and-resurrection every month?
Liberal males in every field would try to be kind: the fact that "these people" have no gift for measuring life or connecting to the universe, the liberals would explain, should be punishment enough.

And how would women be trained to react? One can imagine traditional women agreeing to all arguments with a staunch and smiling masochism. ("The ERA would force housewives to wound themselves every month": Phyllis Schlafly. "Your husband's blood is as sacred as that of Jesus - and so sexy, too!": Marabel Morgan.) Reformers and Queen Bees would try to imitate men, and pretend to have a monthly cycle. All feminists would explain endlessly that men, too, needed to be liberated from the false idea of Martian aggressiveness, just as women needed to escape the bonds of menses envy. Radical feminist would add that the oppression of the nonmenstrual was the pattern for all other oppressions ("Vampires were our first freedom fighters!") Cultural feminists would develop a bloodless imagery in art and literature. Socialist feminists would insist that only under capitalism would men be able to monopolize menstrual blood . . . .

In fact, if men could menstruate, the power justifications could probably go on forever.
If we let them.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Rage

Having been busy being busy and busy being lazy, I haven't had time to update my blog. I still don't.
So here's a short piece of poetry I wrote a few months back as compensation- the most honest writing I have ever done.

Rage

Rage never inflicted upon me sermons from history,
It was never a tool for transcendent Truth.
Rage got me a primal revelation
of an own history
and
final vision.
Rage was the catalyst of my revolution.

Monday, January 16, 2006

came across these beautiful lines

'Parindon mein kabhi firqaparasti tak nahin hoti
Kabhi mandir pe ja baithe kabhi masjid pe ja baithe'

--From 'Apni Masti' by Hamsar Hayat; derived from Kabir

Thanks swati!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Most adventurous thing I have ever done…discounting others carried out in drunken stupor

Yesterday morning, my best friend S and I were sitting inside the Aurobindo Market Barista, having some coffee and rolls. While we were the only ones inside, the glass-separated patio outside was quite full of people enjoying the sunshine with their coffee. A bunch of twenty-something serious-looking youngsters, all smoking cigarettes, and listening intently to a much-older fellow (their professor?) also smoking a cigarette. Two nattily dressed men (I love nattily dressed men!) playing a game of chess, who were very soon joined by two others of same fashion quotient. A blonde working feverishly on some papers. And up in one corner, sketching away with a charcoal pencil, Delectable Dude.
Qualification: he wore red sneakers with panache. And was tall, lean, with mop-like hair and serious artist look.
S decided it was time to pep up my non-existent love life. She dared me to go up to him and ask the ‘whether he wasn’t A from X place coz I have seen you before’ question. Many threats from S and excuses from me later, I finally did.
‘Excuse me. *Smile* Are you Aditya from Springdales School?’ (He looked like an Aditya)
‘Umm, no. I am ljsdisld from asdflsdjf’. *cute smile* (Great. Delectable Dude had an indecipherable accent)
Oh. I thought you looked like an old friend.
Uh.
Uh. Anyways, bye.
S was laughing when I came back. ‘Gawd! You should have commented on his sketch atleast’. And then, in a super adventurous mood, she decided that ‘we’ must make him aware of my presence. So, when he left his table to visit the loo, she wrote down my name and telephone number, complete with a smiley, on a napkin, and got up to drop it at his table. But she was nervous (yay) and didn’t. Instead, she handed the napkin to a Barista worker and instructed him to put it on DD’s table, then jumped with joy of mission-accomplished and turned to me. Only, she found DD walking past her, having seen the entire exchange.
As he went towards his table, S and I burst out in hysterical laughter. From the corner of our eyes, we saw Delectable Dude open the napkin, take a look and laugh a sweet laugh at us- only, he would have seen two girls guffawing their not-so-dignified heads off. Great.
Atleast I now understand the part in the ‘Friend’s’ title track which says- Your love life’s DOA.

He hasn't called. In the meanwhile, S and I have decided to visit above-mentioned café more often.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Animal Welfare II

"IF I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain."

That's Emily Dickinson. And my mantra. Here's how I believe we can help pets and wildlife in distress. This is a small first step, but an important one(see last post)...to give a voice and a home to those without them.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

What Incentive for Animal Welfare?

This afternoon, the maid left the door to our apartment open by mistake. Imagine our surprise (pleasant for my brother and myself, not quite so for mummy) to find a stray desi dog curled up in a corner of the sofa, looking for warmth and solace- a striking contrast of white against the maroon of the sofa. It was Cheeku, one of the dogs I feed daily. A Scooby-Doo lookalike who is usually the strongest and most ferocious-looking animal in the block, he has been sick since yesterday. The uninterrupted exposure to the harsh cold has given him fever and the chills.
Of course we had to shoo him out, as my mother is averse to having animals in the house.

My darling baby! My heart went out to him. All I could do was make him a hot dinner of milk and bread, mixed with some honey and a finely crushed tablet of Oxalgin DP. And I laid out a small bori for him to sleep on and a shawl to cover him with.

My mind once again turned to a question that has been haunting me for a long while now- what kind of an incentive-based structure would it take to induce people to voluntarily help animals? I think of all government-funded and private animal hospitals, shelters, and NGO's in the city that I have visited/volunteered /networked with. What drives them to take care of sick/injured/homeless animals? All I can think of is charity...and love for animals. I admire and respect the work they are doing, and what they have already achieved. Because each life matters. But in a market-driven economy, and in a country home to millions of stray animals, that in itself does not seem enough.

And it is indeed not enough, I think. In order to really incorporate animals into our market structure, we must have mass-participation from people....not merely a trickle of well-intentioned welfare. And people always need an incentive to work, whether that incentive be monetary or something non-quantifiable . What such a structure might be, I am still unenlightened about. It would need to be innovative, creative, practical and participatory in nature, in order to reform the animal rights and animal welfare movement in India. Because we need to give voice to those who do not have any. Perhaps you have ideas.

This is just the beginning of a series of posts, hopefully. For now, I must go out and check on Cheeku.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

U.S. vs. Iran

Vikram Sood writes a wonderful editorial in today's Hindustan Times ('Wild, wild West') in which he analyses U.S.'s position viz-a-viz Iran. His analysis reaffirms what 'the rest of the world' (i.e. the not-U.S., not FriendOfAmerica, not FriendOfBush/FoeOfIran/MadForOil...world) fears-- that an American-led strike on Iran with possible use of nuclear weapons is imminent, if not immediate.

"And now, after a bruising experience in Iraq, the US administration cannot just retreat to the relative safety of the White House and glower at the rest of the world. It has to assert itself as the arbiter of the destiny of the world and show what the American Century is about — unchallenged US primacy."
Read the rest of this article here.

Wonder what might stop the U.S. and its allies from launching such an operation? Perhaps, if someone, or something, renders oil as an energy source irrelevant.

Spinach....?