Thursday, December 29, 2005


i take immense pleasure in quoting a very (other) wise man and wishing you all

a happy and preposterous new year.



Monday, December 26, 2005

ah. tech.

my house is simply shtunning when it comes to tech. out of immense kindliness we shield techies from our escapades - for let there be no doubt, any techie who happened to be present at one of our bloopers would definitely blanch, shrivel up and wither away.

take for instance this evening's episode. i was teaching my elder sister how to set the time and alarm on my digital watch (yeah! cutting edge technology and all huh). so she looks at it long and hard. while i shtink at tech stuff myself, i can not resist ragging my sister.

M : what's "AL"?
m : er...alarm?
M : oh, right..

*after another ten minutes of explaining how to get back to the regular display, and her having tried out the buttons with a frown of total concentration*

M : what's "MO"?
m : you know those funny settings like in e-cards? thats hip hop. like the current "mo" we're in now, is 9.26.
M : *uncertainly, with growing distaste*... oh.... does the alarm ring funnily in hip hop then?

by the time my father and i fell off the bed twice because we were laughing so hard, she figured it's for monday.

then was this other time pretty long back. we had just changed our stereo system. the 10 cd changer thing was a new concept. i came home from school and mom complained that "that silly system isnt working!"

(split your sides laughing: im considered the gadget freak in my house because im the most savvy of us 4. yesh, thats how bad we are!)

i look at her puzzled - it was working in the morning when i left.

m : what did you do?
Ma : i put the cds in and it wouldnt work. all this stuff about 10 cds is a rip off... it cant even take three!
m : *with a speed born of experience* did you put all the cds like appalams, one on top of the other in the tray that came out?

voila. problem solved.

then there was the car stereo. we just put that in, and my sister was singing along with one of her favourite songs. as he changed gears, dad unobtrusively pressed the repeat button. the song played again. pleasantly surprised, my sister sang along. then the song played again. "how come it's playing so many times?"

(my father was inspired that day!) "you see, theres this microchip that controls the voice enjoyment recognition system. since you were singing along and enjoying the song so much it instructed the system to repeat the song". my sister fell for it totally. she was wonderstruck at the miracles of modern science until we later explained the ultra complex mechanism. it was worth getting pinched and pincered!

and my own blooper in south africa to wind up with:

my host had retired to his room. i wanted to see the latest news on the quake and so i put on the tv. now, our basic set top business leaves me gumswizzled, and they have a system thats worse. after staring suspiciously at the battery of remote controls i chose the right one by dint of a major memory feat.

the tv came on at discovery - some program about designing engines. i started clicking through the channels. funny. every time i reached 70, the channels would skip back to discovery. it happened 3 times. by then for the sheer spirit of the thing i was determined that i would get to 69. and i hopped - reached bbc - *hallelujah!* - and the tv skipped back to discovery. in disgust i flung the control away and put off the set.

my host came down soon after, looking harassed. "was someone trying to see tv downstairs? i really wanted to see a program about engines and they kept changing the channel!" er.. uh.. hehe... ooops? they seem to have some funny system where the tvs run in parallel unless you get some gadget thingy to split em. being roaringly savvy about these things, i just hadnt noticed before.

yep. when it comes to tech.... we rock.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

the amazonian

the sheer strength of the woman is incredible. krishnamma is the boss in her house. she told her husband ages back that if he didn't like her authority, he could get out, since she's the working member. period. she's that kind of woman, you see.

with virtually no help from her husband, she raised her three children, put them through college and made sure they all got good jobs. she has a deep respect for my mother, so the two often chat after the morning's rush is over. they will discuss bringing up children, what sort of savings are best, tell each other if vegetables are fresher in a certain market, how to deal with some problem of krishnamma's...

i really like chatting with krishnamma. today, like on some occasions before, she left me totally gobsmacked!

krishnamma came in ridiculously early to work. i asked her what was up. she said there was likely to be trouble at home, so she decided to move to safer ground. her son in law is about to be beaten up by his family for marrying her daughter. she seems to have coolly told her daughters to get out of the house to safety, and has come my house herself. my mother - another unflappable woman - instructed the watchman to go with krishnamma when she had to go to the other house she works in. while krishnamma appreciated the additional security measure, i don't think she would've been particularly intimidated by the prospect of going alone!

i asked krishnamma if she would tell the police or something. she said no, her son in law was pretty level headed and would try to talk to the men who came. if they went ahead and beat him up, her family would return the compliment: calling cops would only temporarily postpone the next encounter. being equally tough on the other hand, would make the men think twice before picking on her family again. (*gulp* right..!)

all this with a look of complete control. but please: shes not a violent mafioso type. she's a very devout religious gentle person. she's merely also extremely tough. she will look after her own. that includes my sister and me too. if she thinks we look ill or have been working too hard, we'll hear about it mighty soon! if she thinks one of her neighbours is being foolish, so will they. but she'll also be the first to chip in and cook some extra food for the neighbours family when the woman of the house is ill, or if there's a wedding. she'll stay and help my family when we're in the midst of a crisis.

today's situation was merely another event to be calmly handled to this resourceful woman. more than could be said for my feeble "educated" self - in a couple of hours i may be able to hitch my jaw back up.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

dress (lack of) sense

since we briefly touched on the subject of the body quite recently, i remembered this other thing.

i suggest you walk into a really crowded shop (yes i hate shopping too, but chin up: its for a people study!). look carefully at the little girls around. look at what they wear. specifically, the fabrics, the kind of clothes, the colours, the kind of clothes, whether its indian or firang, the kind of clothes, branded or unbranded, and the kind of clothes. being highly perceptive souls you may have caught my drift already.

so how are we clothing our little bundles of dreams these days? lets see. if youre pro ethnic its the hippest chick outfit that bollywood has to offer. if youre for the western look, its the latest in hollywood. "same difference" as a friend of mine puts it. whichever movie just became the rage in town, the entire wardrobe of the heroine is on the shelves (erm, figure that out will you!) for all from wee girls to women to flaunt.

a closer look at the outfits if you please. that outfit was carefully crafted for an actress to look appealing - mostly sexually appealing - to a huge adult audience. that bodice was to emphasise a womans breasts. that waist, bunched just so to show off her graceful waist, was to cascade onto her womanly hips. that neckline to reveal the swell of the bosom. the clinging pants, slightly flaring at the base to bring out the slim thighs and long legs.

.......what the heck is that stuff doing on a kid?

what were the parents thinking? "look, my kid is now the epitome of sexual desirability"? or "my daughter can measure up to adult sexual attractiveness standards as well as any b(/h)ollywood star so hah to you"? i mean, what?

we've made children sex objects. sex toys if you will. even if adult men werent already thinking about the young girls immature hips promising the shape of womanliness, or the small buds to show the start of a bust, theyre being asked to - pretty please! - do it now. and mighty sensually at that. how healthy. how well we protect, guard and respect our childrens innocence and childhood.

thats from this end of the age spectrum. on the other end, pop stars and ad models wear little girl school uniforms transforming the once "safe" childrens armour into a marginally sophisticated version of an item number costume. women who look obviously physically mature are cast in movies and serials as teenage girls. like hell a kid still growing up has a body like that! you must have heard about the fetish in japan for prostitutes to dress in school girl uniforms.

just how much more callously can we set up our children to be sexually abused? please - at least within your family - start parents thinking about what signboards theyre putting on their children.

child sexual abuse isnt a joke or a myth. its bloody traumatising.


ok. i see i have not made my point clearly enough after a couple of you spoke up.

right. see, im not talking about a childs imitative behaviour or decisions. my focus is on the guardians' decision. my focus is also not about the clothes being indian or western - whichever it is, the underlying message is the same.

this is what i am driving at:

when i make my child wear clothes that i would wear to look sexy, i am trying to make my child look sexy, right? THAT is what im questioning. is it right to put a child under that particular spotlight?

adult women themselves find it difficult to cope with the sort of violent and abusive behaviour they end up facing... are we not making the child more vulnerable and unnecessarily exposing it to a huge threat by such an action?

next, is it appropriate to view a child sexually? are we not taking unfair advantage of the child's ignorance of sex, sexual relationships and sexual rights?

its like society is pretending that the child is not a child by dressing him/her like an adult. we are just trying to blur the sharp distinction there is between coercing a child into sexual relations, and having a healthy sexual relationship with a consenting fellow adult. the more we justify a child being an acceptable target of sexual intent and attention, the greater the child's risk of being sexually abused.

this is the very real threat of sexualising children.


Sunday, December 04, 2005


I find divinity in living, walking people. I don’t mean the sort that have droves of worshippers and fans flocking to them – I mean the everyday kind of people who do such fantastic things so quietly, so matter-of-factly.

mr. sb is a teacher. he has his own tuition center. ask him why he works so hard, driving himself almost insanely, and youll get a straight from the shoulder reply – “because im making money!”. were you expecting him to be a dreamy eyed, soft, diffident intellectual? wrong number then! this man is a scathing un - nobody else I know can so classily reduce you to worm status in two seconds! at worst, in his weaker moments, or when you catch him off guard, he may even admit to a “I just think education is important”.

he can help you out of your most intense depression equally competently and help you deal with your disillusionment and teenage angst - that’s what he does pretty often outside class hours. theres an endless stream of students waiting to see him, and get what they most need - a grin here, a thump on the back there, a wicked joke and banter somewhere else, or a long patient conversation and a soothing audience where it is needed. service with a smile (and what a smile it is! it starts with a lively twinkle in eyes and many times finishes with a wild cackle!)

I have rarely seen any other person make such a dedicated effort to be available to young people, to listen without prejudice, to offer support without making false promises and guarantees, or simply, teach so well with passion and humour… oh, and did I mention hes a feminist? :)

the next person – mrs. rj. I have never spoken to her without coming back stunned and overwhelmed by the depth of her wisdom. she casually tosses nuggets as we talk, and I come back home totally saturated, unable to think any more. the first thing I do is scribble down every word I can recall. I know ill regret it all my life if I don’t make use of such a torrent of knowledge!

shes a healer – I suppose many of us would know someone or the other who just has a gift for healing people – it may be through allopathy, psychiatry, alternative healing, yoga, counselling… whatever. well. shes a healer. and a really good one. she knew she was able to help people, so she worked for many years helping cancer patients. free of charge.

shes also an incredibly easy person to be honest with. you can say any damn thing aloud – if she hasn’t already calmly pre empted you, shell certainly listen to you without being shocked or flustered.

and then there is a couple. drs s. and s. by choice they have not had children because they want to work insane hours so that they will be available to as many people as possible. theyre both psychiatrists. (yes, as you probably know by now, ive a rock bottom opinion of psychiatry, but I still really like and respect these people because theyre just such NICE, kind people!)

they’ve again that natural flair for healing and soothing people. if you see mrs dr s, youd see what I mean: she has a face like a tree. you see it and automatically take a deep breath and feel at peace! it’s a strange face for at once it is so very old and so very youthful in its maturity. its been there, seen the worst and is still around and laughing. this couple works with suicidal people, depressed, disturbed, and traumatised people, but their special driving force is for working to help drug addicts.

ive had the tremendous good fortune to know them. and knowing them, its easy to learn to respect the living. I cannot reconcile to lowering standards for people, or saying that we are inherently bad, or “only” humans because I know that folks like these walk the earth.

this blog is a year old today. it is a place where I think aloud - and most of what I think has been shaped by these people. I treasure those long talks and can remember vividly feeling lost and dazed because the foundations of my world were being quietly, steadily shaken to teach me to rebuild it better!

to the four most awesome teachers ive had - salut!


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