Sunday, 23 December 2012

Delhi Rape - Are we a nation of misogynists?

The shocking incident in Delhi  has shaken the morality of the nation. What was defining in this incident that forced a billion people out of their slumber and galvanized sections across the nation? Was it the lack of a chauvinistic explanation by the moral safe keepers deriding the incident while extolling the need to remain restrained to the cultural roots?  An explanation, of provocative dressing, presence in an unsuitable place for a woman, meandering alone unescorted by a male of the species, indulging in acts unbecoming of our culture, or the act of a sick mind have not been forthcoming from the sentinels of our society as  justifiable arguments in this case. Here was an average middle class woman, dressed modestly, accompanied by a male friend, returning after a socially acceptable act of watching a movie, heading home in a government recognized transport at a decent time, raped by a gang of hooligans who were looking for some money to buy extra liquor.

That brings me back to the question "Are we a nation of Misogynists"? Though the dictionary definition of the word means a woman hater, it has acquired a new meaning ever since Ms Julia Gillard, Australia's first woman prime minister used it in her fiery speech in the parliament accusing the opposition leader Tony Abbott, of being a misogynist. The dictionary meaning is now being changed to also mean "prejudiced to woman".  So are we misogynists?

So can Mr Sanjay Nirupam, the congress MP be called a misogynist, when he taunted Ms Smriti Irani in a TV news debate of being a nautch girl who danced to make money and hence should not carry an opinion on national politics? Are Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav misogynists when they oppose the 33 % reservation bill for women? Or is the entire judicial machinery a herd of misogynists who would examine the character and past behavior of the woman before putting the accused on trial?

Medical practices and research have added their bit to subject the woman to further prejudice. Strong voices are already clamouring to do away with the prevalent finger test, which tends to further denigrate a vicitim after abuse.  An appalling research that is being formulated into acceptance tends to constitute over indulgence of sexual acts as mental illness.  This would only add to the defence of a rapist and to the repudiation of justice to the victim.

The laws can to an extent act as a deterrent to this abject paradigm of gender equality. The true shift can only occur when this culture of misogyny and condescension evolves into one of respect and a belief that the woman is a collateral descendent of the same progenitor.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Shall WE tell the President!! - A SWOT analysis


                The IPL Season 5 is over, but the bookies have their hands full with the next big season. There is another exciting match coming up, where quite a windfall awaits them.  The bettings are on,in full swing for the next President of this cricketing nation.  And here are the contenders.

  • Dr APJ Abdul Kalam - Chennai Super Kings
  • Somnath Chatterjee  -   Kolkata Knight Riders
  • Pranab Mukherjee -     Delhi Dare Devils    (Dada was never considered by the Kolkata team owner and has always been a part of Delhi Dare Devils, but his heart is in kolkata and still remains a favourite with the ever volatile Kolkata fan)
  • Dr Manmohan Singh - Kings XI Punjab

        Dr Hamid Ansari and P A Sangma's teams have not been recognized, as yet, by the governing council due to lack of clarity in ownership and funding. They have not been ruled "OUT" and the decision is pending with the Third Umpire (Front).

The SWOT analysis of the main contenders released by the bookies for public information and participation has been reproduced below.

1. Chennai Super Kings:
Strength: Good Technique and strong fundamentals, Experienced. Large fan Base.
Weakness: Inability to read the Googly, face the bouncer and reply to sledging.
Opportunity: Previous winner, Opportunity to excel further and leave a lasting impression on young minds.
Threat: Dominant Opposition, Search by Team Owners for new Talent.

2. Kolkata Knight Riders:
Strength: Gentleman Player, Disciplined, Plays by the rules.
Weakness: Inability to play on the "Left" side
Opportunity: Dark Horse. A chance to establish supremacy over the left attack.
Threat: Unreliability of the Team owner.

3. Delhi Dare Devils:
Strength: Veteran of many finals, Genuine all rounder. Strong ability to face the bouncer and read the googly
Weakness: Over dependence by the team affects performance and result
Opportunity: To cap a long career with crowning glory
Threat: Emerging Players, Bugs!!

4. Kings XI Punjab:
Strength: Ability to evade the bouncers, ignore spin and remain immune to sledging
Weakness: Inability to appeal for a wicket even of his own bowling. Lets his team do the batting and prefers to be the runner/twelfth man.
Opportunity: To be able to finally remain Speechless for prolonged duration if elected.
Threat: Unwillingness of Team Owner to relinquish their saving grace.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

A Pricely 'Commode'ty


                 I am surprised at the hullabaloo about the thirty five lakhs spent by the Planning Commission for their toilets. In these hard times of policy drought and the falling rupee, these are the men to whom we look upon to put on their thinking caps and come up with life changing ideas. And then we grudge them, when all they ask for this monumental job, is a decent office where they could shed their clothes and don their thinking caps.
                 History has been witness to the fact that great men think hard and find solutions when they are bereft of the burden of garments.  Great discoveries have found their origins in the bath or the modern day bathroom. How can we ever forget 'Eureka' - the cry of joy, by a similarly vilified Archimedes who sought refuge in the bathroom when he was facing the same desolateness which the country is facing today. If at that time, the Sicilians had raised a hue and cry about the gold rim around his bath, then neither would there be a 'Eureka' Forbes today, who keep our house clean and give us safe drinking water, nor the spectacle of a thousand ships launched for Helen of Troy.
              It is a well known medical fact that a man thinks best under pressure. And it is also a well kept secret among men, that the maximum pressure ever experienced by a man in his lifetime is during the time spent in private, in his bathroom.  So, if we are to expect earth shattering ideas from the very men who we have assigned to plan the destiny of this nation, then it is our duty, as responsible and concerned citizens, that they are provided the best of commode-ties where they could sit and think under pressure. So in the nations interest, I implore my fellow countrymen, that we support this initiative for spending this measly sum of money in the larger interest of creating the right pressure atmosphere for effective functioning of our intellectual politicians.
               After all, it is in these very ornate offices of the Commission, that the members have an elaborate sitting, followed by noisy exchanges and reports, and finally the entire matter is released to be served to the nation!!!  Like the tag line of Delhi Belly,  "(sh) It happens" !

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Air India - Saare Zameen Par


             I was speaking to Arun after a long time. We had not spoken since we last went on the vacation to Manali together along with the family. And the vacation was all so sweet since we were not sure if we could make it together as Arun's leave from work was not sanctioned till the last minute. Arun was a pilot with Air India and the school vacations were always a time of great stress to him. The kids want to go for their vacation to some place, far away from home, the wife needed to take a break from her daily chores, but getting leave from work during this time was like a war within. It was during these times that he wished he was a fighter pilot, or atleast a fighter trained as a pilot, so that he could advance his case for leave to the management, shooting down the simultaneous thrusts of his colleagues with deft maneuvers. Everybody wanted leave during the school vacations, and the management took on the role of a trapeze artiste delicately balancing the various vacation plans with the flight plans.

             I was therefore a little pensive when I called him to plan for the next vacation. I was sure he would come with work related excuses trying to avoid this one. The kids enjoy each others company and they were at my throat egging me to coax Arun and his family to join us. So I was a little taken aback when he bellowed into the phone 'Hey buddy, I was just about to call you, we should plan our next trip”.” I thought he was pulling my leg. “ Dont you have to apply for leave? And considering that you had taken leave during the last school vacations, do you think they will grant you leave this time around? Arent there other people waiting for their chance”? I asked incredulously. He guffawed “Ha, we have solved this perennial problem. The Pilots Union has considered our case sympathetically and we have reached a consensus. Now on, we do not have to worry about work during the vacations, the Union will take care of it”. I was speechless. The Unions taking so much care for the welfare of their members! I thought they only offered lip service and shouted slogans. I asked him about the brilliantly ingenious plan, that the Pilots Union had devised. I was sure that we could implement it across the sectors, and may also improve worker productivity by improving their morale and the employee satisfaction with the establishment. He laughed “ Hey, it is not that ingenious after all. We have decided that we will go on strike during the vacations, so that all of us can enjoy time with the family, rather than a few of us having to sacrifice their happiness in driving around government servants across the sky. After all, they are the only people who travel by Air India nowadays, since the government has left them with no choice but to travel by the national airline.” I said, “But, What will you strike for? How do you know that you will have a reason to strike during the school holidays? Isn't that being over optimistic”?  

             He was silent for a while. He sounded surprised. “ Are you serious, Who is worrying about a valid reason to strike. This is the problem with you people working in these big MNC's today. You have forgotten the basics of work life. Remember the good old trade union days, when our father's used to have regular strikes, lockouts and we would all go on picnics. We are only reinventing the wheel. We just make an issue of nothing, go on strike, and then negotiate with the government for returning to work after our vacation. So this way, everybody benefits. The management do not have to worry about their flight plans. The Pilots need not fight amongst themselves for leave and can enjoy their vacations which also helps in building team spirit. The air hostesses get time to undergo botox treatments or check in at any ayurvedic treatment centre to treat their ageing knees. The government servant, can for a change, fly onboard private airlines and enjoy their excellent service. The media can fill their prime time slots with inane debates and increase their TRP's. The government also at the end can take the credit for talking tough and solving the crisis. And we all live happily ever after, till the next vacation!”


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Unreliable Narrator

(This was part of a Write Club exercise, which i found quite interesting. The brief for the exercise is appended at the end of the story)


          Arun pleaded with me to accompany him to the boss's chamber. He was nervous and now when he confessed to his crime, there was nobody else whom he would want to be with him, than his best friend. We had grown up together, been to the same college and even managed to land jobs in the same company. He still could not come to terms with his unreasonable transgression and had thanked me profusely for consenting to accompany him. He knew the worth of the painting that hung on the wall behind the large ornate desk  and the plush leather recliner in the boss's chamber. He was also aware of the pride of place it held in the heart of Sujoy our temperamental boss, who was gifted the M F Hussain, by the legendary artist himself, during the award ceremony for the most enterprising entrepreneur of the year. It was a regular sight to see him stand and stare at the painting with his head held high as if to draw inspiration, and then turn around to the cowering subordinates lined up in front of his desk for the daily harangue, on how unworthy they were, and extolling his own patience and generosity in tolerating such incompetence that surrounded him.
         But then, Arun felt Sujoy shouldn’t have admonished atleast him, the topper of the most prestigious management institute in the country, who was handpicked for this job and who was now in line to head the most crucial new business department of the firm. It was humiliating to take the full blame in such language, when his full team who looked upto him for advice, was standing along with him, and that too, for a mistake that was commonplace in the investment sector.  He had, after all, helped the company in reaping the windfall profits in the last financial year, and all these cowards, the partners, who now smirked along with the boss had enjoyed the fat bonuses that accrued from his contribution.

              Arun wanted to drown his embarrassment in the depths of his favourite whiskey, and when he beseeched me to join him for the drink in his cabin after work, I couldn't refuse. We sat down at 6 after everybody had left, with the Black Label which Raju,the peon, our Man-Friday had smuggled in, with the pizza boxes.  I could see that Arun was emotionally strung and had started viciously bad mouthing Sujoy by the end of his fourth peg. I could also see that he was smarting under the humiliation and desperately wanted to get even. I had reminded him that he was due for his promotion as Vice President in a few days, and that he should not even contemplate doing anything stupid that would put his promotion and career in jeopardy.  He had asked me what would hurt Sujoy the most, which would compensate the hurt he had felt in the morning, as i poured him his fifth large peg.  The only thing that had come to my mind which Sujoy valued the most and which was within our reach at that moment was the painting.  I had seen the evil glint in Arun's eye when i told him this, and heard him muttering  "Thats it, I wont let him have this pleasure anymore" .  He finished his fifth peg,  and then had asked me to pour him a large one on the rocks. He was slurring and incoherent.  He downed the sixth peg, neat, in one gulp, had looked me in my eye and said, 'I am going to destroy his most prized possession".  Before i could say anything, he had got up, and staggered towards the boss's chamber.

          Sujoy stared at us, but words failed to escape his frothing mouth.  Arun had confessed and had told him he was willing to bear the consequences.  Seething with rage, Sujoy barely managed to say "You are fired, now get out. I dont want to see you in this office anymore".  As we turned to leave, Sujoy gestured me to stay back. I patted Arun on his back and whispered that i will join him outside, as soon as i finished with Sujoy, and help him with packing his belongings.  After Arun had left the room, Sujoy shook his head, looked at me and asked "Why did he do it? And the timing? I was planning to give him the good news today, that he had been promoted to vice president, and he had to spoil it". I kept silent. He continued, "Anyway, work has to go on, and this new business cant afford any delays. And right now, the only person, who can fill in this new position of Vice President for this business is you.  I want to you to start immediately and give me a presentation by the end of the day on the current status".  I shook his hand, smiled a thanks and walked out.

          Arun was waiting by his table for me. He had already packed his things and was ready to move. I walked silently with him to the front door and hugged him. I could see the tears in his eyes.  I could not bring myself to tell him, that I had been promoted in his place, and the position for which he had worked so hard was now mine.  I could not tell him how i had secretly envied him for his brilliance and had always wished that i had his talents. I could not tell him that I had always desired the popularity he enjoyed, the power he wielded, and the attention he garnered.  I could not tell him, that though he was my best friend, how i wished that we had not joined the same company after college, where i would be constantly compared with him.  

          I would also never have the courage to tell him, that he had stumbled and blacked out in the corridor just outside his cabin that evening, when he staggered out with the intention of vandalizing the painting.

(The theme of this exercise at the Write Club, was "The Unreliable Narrator".  The wikipedia entry is at  In this style of narration, the author carries his reader along with him, gaining his trust in his narrative and finally breaks that trust.  He makes him believe the narrator, only to discover in the end that he had been deceived.  So the exercise was to write a short story as an unreliable narrator and this was my submission. The time allotted was 20 minutes.)

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Petrol Carticide - A societal menace


             I wish i too had a diesel car like the next door IT guy. Every day, i would watch my neighbour, religiously bathe it in the morning, and towel dry till it sparkles, and its metallic armour reflects the glint of envy from my prying eye. All those who own a petrol car can understand this angst, we the unfortunate feel, who have been selected by the almighty to bear the burden in this life for the sins committed in their past lives. The discrimination is embedded in our society, and the bias deep rooted, where a diesel car owner struts about displaying his prize, while the petrol car owner, walks with his head hung low in shame and his shoulders drooping with the burden of a lifetime. The petrol car owner faces a life of humiliation and is an outcast within their home and community.  He has to face the nagging at home for the monumental blunder committed after a carefully researched analysis and the condescending pats from his friends, on his back with a reassurance that 'God only selects the most brave to bear his heaviest burden'.  
         The social fabric has also disintegrated. The cases of Petrol Carticide is now rampant in the society, with the law cracking its whip on the losers who could no longer take the burden and had taken the easy way out of their misery by taking their car to the crusher and watching the painful destruction.  There were some, according to unconfirmed reports, who couldnt even manage a decent crusher and had gone to a deserted field in a nearby village, doused their painful possession with diesel (oh, how cruel can that be!) and put a match to it.  
            This is atrocious. We have to educate our society of this evil, and create awareness, that taking the easy way out is not the only option. A petrol car should not be considered as a burden and is in no way inferior to the diesel car.  Whatever a diesel car can do, the petrol car can do and sometimes even better.  We could explore alternate ways to ease the burden, like, asking the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh to carry petrol from their country whenever they sneak in, where it is available at a measly 43.50 per litre. We could even marry them into our households wherein you can demand it as a right. We could then sponsor their distant and not so distant relatives and hide them in our various cellars, thereby increasing our quota.  A new organisation has also come up called 'Save the Petrol Car'' which is now doing yeoman service in creating this awareness. Amir Khan has recorded the latest episode of Satyameva Jayate, which talks about the travails of a petrol car owner, and will prod the government to enact a law to provide 30 percent reservation to petrol car owners not only in government jobs but also in the private sector (for the first time in independent India).  He will appeal on his programme to the viewers to sign the letter and send it to their respective MLA's.  This will then be passed in the next Parliament session.  
                I have already put in my papers in my current job!!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Butt Seriously!!!


        While I celebrated my sequel, created to tide over my bouts of intransigence, by visiting the nearest Ganesh mandir and breaking a coconut (gathering the pieces carefully later), the UPA decided to celebrate the anniversary of their sequel by having a 'Dine and Dias' show (they decided against a sound and light show due to austerity measures).  So I had the opportunity to watch the glee on Arnab's face while Navika was incessantly driveling on the position of Mulayam's Butt at various time lines during the show (a la the new profile page of Facebook). She screamed into the camera, that at the beginning it was next to Chidambaram, and then voila, during dinner it was next to Sonia! (I happened to catch Arnab just managing to sit back after he had fallen of his chair in excitement, when the camera panned onto him)
             Now, I must confess, that though I am not an intellectual, who being a song writer or sports journalist, could come on Arnabs show and comment on multifarious subjects ranging from the new BPL benchmark to India's preparedness of the nuclear triad as a deterrant,  I do understand the importance of Tashreef Rakhiye in Lucknow parlance.  But what i failed to understand was that, how the tashreef, which Mulayam had so graciously brought  from Lucknow, was a matter of national importance and interest, and how its position in the national capital during an event, which the whole nation was following with bated breath would decide the fate of this great nation.
           I was then enlightened by the intellectuals on the panel, that this tashreef assumed great significance as it was carefully positioned as a countermeasure to a bong who had gone bonkers (now i thought bongs dont have to go bonkers, they are just manufactured that way, but that is another story).  I was also informed by this elite panel that it even had the powers to decide the next President of India! 
         (Now this reminded me of an old joke, where the different parts of the body argued as to who should be the Boss. The brain said that since he controlled the entire operations, he should be the boss. The heart said that since he ensured regular supply of blood to the brain, he should be the boss. The stomach said that since he provided the energy for both the earlier contestants to perform he should be the boss. The lungs argued that since they are the ones who decided whether the entity should be alive, they should be Boss. The asshole wanted to contest, but then the others laughed at him so much that he felt offended and decided not to function any more. In no time, the stomach couldn't do his job, the brain got clogged, the heart felt weak and the lungs found the going difficult. So they all decided to let the asshole decide the future course of action and anointed him as the Boss.)

     So we now have a Tashreef who will decide the Head of this poor Nation!!!!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

UPA II :Three Years of Kitsch


        The UPA anniversary celebrations has provided us with an interesting insight. A peek at a partner change. A whiff of displaced loyalties.  I thought Ekta Kapoor had a copyright to this plot. A meaningless charade that never ends with an overdose of overt and covert flings, surreptitiously changing partners, dalliances with the villain who would then support the heroine to seek revenge on her boyfriend, blackmail.....all woven together by a "K"! She would call it KKKahani UPA II ki.  How do i know all this? Aha, you see, when i have been raving to my friends how i enjoyed watching the recordings of the ULFA cup or the Ryder cup, I was secretly watching prime time Ekta ( Now this would be a scandal if it comes out and so i would appreciate if you could keep it a secret)

        Let me now see what we have in common. I am doing this as a favour to Ekta, so  that she can use this carefully researched data to sue UPA II for stealing her ideas. (and maybe offer me a role in her next project)
  • An elderly head of the family who hardly gets to speak and when he speaks nobody listens, for the house is controlled by the all powerful Saas.
  • A daughter-in-law who has found refuge in the house after her father had been thrown out for criticizing the saas of the house. She is now torn between the love for her sasural and devotion to her father who desperately needs the support of the Saas for becoming the headman of the village.
  • An educated 'Swami' who is the villain, who keeps digging up dirt on all the past affairs of the household and then publicly releases them making falooda of the khandaan ki izzat.
  •  A revenge of the spurned loyalist who had faithfully amassed wealth for his masters and is then unceremoniously thrown out of the House.
  • A social crusader and an idealist with a band of young followers, who tries to put some sense into the family by encouraging them to mend their evil ways and follow khandaan ki maryaada.
  • A couple of loud mouthed, arrogant and vocally polluting damaads who berate all and sundry, who would dare question the Khandaan.  
  • A total stranger knocking on the doors one fine day and claiming that one of the grand old chachas is actually his father and the patriarch refusing to prove his paternity claiming it as a plot to usurp the khandaans wealth. 
       I think that these similarities are enough for Ekta to claim intellectual (!!!) property rights. Chetan Bhagat had done it with far less for Three Idiots!

Monday, 21 May 2012

The Return of the Marine!

        Sequels are in vogue these days, and if they could churn out balderdash and call it as 'this time double the fun'  or 'they are back' of some previous tripe, why can't I do the same. And for the record, I have a valid reason. It is not just because my mailbox couldn't handle the voluminous fan mail. I have a far more principled and sober (just put in these words as they sounded good and don't mean anything to me) reason for  (re)starting my diary and calling it 'Mariners Dairy II' (with the tag line - 'Brain Dead - Once more').  Well, the reason for this affront of using up valuable storage space of some rich company's server, is that my memory had failed me again. And i found out about it under not so pleasant circumstances.  One fine evening after my rum and coke, and a not so brief hiatus from my diary, in a moment of uncontrolled rage after watching Arnab Goswami at his usual worst behaviour, I wanted to sit and finger away (the middle one) on the keyboard to relieve the stress. And to my chagrin, i found to my utter dismay, that memory can not only elude an angry man in his time of need (as i have often discovered during any argument with the fairer sex)  but also take benevolently to the object of your anger and prevent you from finding solace by venting out expletives in the most democratic (and safe) manner available at your disposal. I could not remember the password to my blog and Google sternly and steadfastly refused to entertain me, in my hour of need. So my helplessness and my subsequent defeat at the hands of Arnab when i couldnt respond in equal measure on my media (my diary) led me to my decision to create a sequel. Thus emerged the more stylish and refined (phew) new diary which i intend to fill in regularly and use only the expletives which have already been cleared by the censor board.  In addition,  to safeguard against dementia and other popular debilitating options, I have stored the password in a secure area (classified!) And now i am ready. So Arnab and other imbeciles, beware! The marine is back in town!!!!!