29 September 2005

Took the tests from Shyam's blog. Couldn't resist taking both. :) And I am quite happy with the results.
Thanks Shyam.

21 September 2005

Sania's skirt (or blouse or whatever)

I was chatting to my mom a couple of days ago, and during the course of the conversation, she mentioned that Sania Mirza was doing so well. And I think some people have nothing better to do, commenting about her dress, mom said.

And on the internet this morning, I came across the same thing. Only, something that made be feel better about the whole dumb episode.

A poet, a Muslim poet, btw, has put people in their place by asking them to pay more attention to Sania's game rather than her dress. Nigahen unki dress par nahi balki unke khel pe honi chahiye, he is quoted as saying. Was he ever right there. Some people have one track (and I daresay dirty) minds.

And he is quoted as also having said I request elders not to object on what Sania wears but to pray for the girl who has brought recognition to India by becoming a part of world's top 40 women tennis players. Couldn't have put it better myself.

Why and how is it that people always miss the wood for the trees? Here is this girl doing so well and doing the Indian pride so much good and all some people can talk about is her dress.

And why is it that always, but always, in these cases, the people doing all the complaining are male? It will always be these kinds of people who justify (and have justified) rape, saying the female in question was dressed 'provocatively'. Makes me sick to my very core!

I have nothing personal against such people but I really think they should move to the 21st century. It's the middlies and oldies who still can't adapt (I may be wrong there), in most cases. Whether they live in India or abroad, their expectations from the women (whether outside their home or in it) are unrealistic and unjustified. Sania's skirt is just a case in exmaple.

Whether is is their wife's dress or haircut or Sania's skirt, there are still many old fogies who can't and won't move ahead.

Moving ahead? And what would that mean? Definitely not to the level of Western females, in most cases (although our filmi heroines dress even more scantily and we do accept that). The dividing line between fashion and 'decency' is very thin and overstepping it always has negative vibrations.

But in Sania's case, if her dress is inappropriate for the tennis court, do they want her to maybe wear a sari or salwar and play tennis? Perhaps they would even prefer her to wear a burqha over it and play. That way, she probably won't even be able to see which way she is hitting the ball. But seriously, who knows what goes on in these people's heads?

This sensible poet Manzar, also said that the protest aganst Sania's dress code would be justified if the tennis star went to an Islamic Conference or a religious programme in an improper attire. Once again, he is right. If she went to the mosque or a mandir in her skirt, it's a no-no. Similarly, if she went to the tennis courts in her traditional dresss......how pathetic we would look on the international stage!

As some sporty guy from MP said, it is now time to encourage her and not criticise her so that she achieves the target to enter into the list of world's top 10 woman tennis players. Attaboy. I hope the old foggies were reading that in the newspaper...

I look at it this way: my mother is 60 + and has been brought up in a very conservative atmosphere, but she thinks Sania is doing great. That's because she's always been pretty tolerant and more than that, has a very strong sense of India and national pride. So when she can, why can't people of her generation do the same? And what's the problem any of the other generatons have, if at all? It's time to leave the Dark Ages behind.

12 September 2005

Water, fire and colour - the numbers speak for themselves!

And so it goes, the Hurricane Katrina saga.
I quote here below, from an article in last week's newspapers:

The situation "amounts to a massive institutional failure," said Raymond Offenheiser, president of the Oxfam America affiliate of the international relief agency. Oxfam mounted in Mississippi the first domestic US rescue in its 35-year history. "Before Katrina, we reserved our emergency response for countries that lack the resources of the United States. If we've got this kind of failure at home, how can we expect poor countries to do better?" he asked.

My thoughts, exactly. However, the unfairness of it all is that 'poorer' countries (of course, most of them having been povertised by imperialism and the very countries that are damning them today) are expected to perform just as well or else be damned.


The whole thing has, in a way, been a depressing exercise for me. I was blogging about similar emotions in the aftermath of the Boxing Day tsunami and now, nearly a year later, I am still writing about the some misguided perspective that the West has to us. Sad, but true. Definitely a feeling of deja vu. These things will take time to set right.


Blame it all on Bush seems to be the catch phrase. I kind of feel a bit sorry for him. I am not a Bush fan and will never be one, but I really don't see how he could have prevented Katrina from destroying New Oleans. Or was he supposed to bravely wade into the Pontchartain waters to save all those poor souls. The American response was more than slow, but I really can't see how one individual can be held responsible for it. Just because he is the President, he copped it! As the media has now become used to calling it an 'all-American failure'.


And another thing that really got to me was the constant cries of "This is America, it can't be happening here, we can't not have food and water, etc". And pray why not? The sheer arrogance behind those cries really got to me. It's a different thing to be tired, hungry and miserable. But to believe that such things cannot happen in the US....the US is as much a part of this dirty, unfair, polluted planet called the Earth. And what is there in any other country on Earth, is a part of the US too. After all, they've played the single biggest part in polluting and dirtying the planet. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at this absurdity in the face of misery...and just like anywhere else in the world, the racist and rich/poor divides were played out to perfection here too.

It defintely takes a disaster to see some true colours.


And finally, some numbers that I was lucky enough to get sent to me. They say it all, more clearly than I ever could.
Inches of rain in New Orleans due to Hurricane
Katrina... 18
Inches of rain in Mumbai (July 27th).... 37.1
population of New Orleans... 484,674
population of Mumbai.... 12,622,500
deaths in New Orleans within 48 hours of
deaths in Mumbai within 48 hours of rain.. 37.
number of people to be evacuated in NO...
entire city..
number of people evacuated in Mumbai...10,000
Cases of shooting & violence in NO...countless
Cases of shooting and violence in Mumbai.. NONE
Time taken for US army to reach NO...
Time taken for Indian army and navy to reach
status 48 hours later...NO still
waiting for relief, army and electricty
status 48 hours later..Mumbai is back on it's feet and it's business as usual

9 September 2005

Water, fire and colour - 1

Hurricane Katrina has me going red with rage. You ask why? I'll tell you why. Last week, just as soon as it happened, there was some reporter on TV, live from the US, talking about the (then sorry, now horrific) state of affairs in New Orleans. And he goes "New Orleans looks like a third world state today - no electricity, no food, no water,".

First off, what is a third world state? I've heard of third world countries (who the hell decides what is a third world country, anyways? The pompous and affluent first and second worlds, for sure). And what did he mean by no water, electricity etc. Does he honestly believe that in India for example, we have no access to things like power and water? I couldn't believe how ignorant and how complacent he was. Only the darkest of the dark parts in the world, probably has a situation as bad as no electicity or water or whatever, everywhere. Oh, ignorance in that reporter's case was definitely not my cup of bliss.


And talking of Katrina, the aftermath was so similar to a disaster anywhere in the world _ the crying, distress, hopelessness, looting, raping etc. So what does that prove? That the Americans, in spite of all their affluence and wealth, are just as desperate as their counterparts in any other part of the world. It's all very well to be nice and polished and glamourous and advanced when things are hunky-dory. But it's when the chips are down that you need to see how people behave to know what they are really like. And in this case, our wonderful Yanks have proved that they are in no way superior to their Indian cousins. They are only human, after all.

Don't get me wrong, I am not gloating. Far from it! I find the sight of the suffering there so moving, I can barely watch it sometimes and have to switch off the TV. But this is definitely a slap in the face of all those (media included) who pointed all fingers at India when the tsunami and then the Mumbai flooding happened. How can India (even dare to) hope to become a superpower with such pathetic infrastructure, was one question they all unfailingly asked.

And I say, Mumbai rains were once-in-a-90-years incident. Hurricanes in the US are not _ they are part of daily life there. And yet, despite the advanced disaster management systems that US has access to, relief was so slow and so inadquate. And the US is already a super-power and has been so for decades now.


And to me, the worst was the open show of racism. Many whites evacuated to safety while the blacks suffered in the Superbowl. Down south in the US, old habits still die hard.

So, in India, we have religion. In the US and the West, we have colour and race. And so much wealth. After all, we are talking the country that gave the world capitalism and commercialism. And still, the bottom line is the same. Makes me think: what was the US like after 50-odd years of liberation from the Brits? And what will India be like, 200 years after our Independence. Although in my mind, I am sure of the result.

............To be concluded (wait for it, folks!)