Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Community Bang Bang!

Each community in India has their own quirks, many cities too. Now I am no expert on all the communities but I have interacted with some closer than the others and have discovered each have their admirable traits, some that are downright funny and some that are quite vile. Now who wants to read paeans of praise…let’s face it, we all (okay, most of us!) like to rip into others or read others ripping into them! So, here go my (wicked) observations on each community that I have interacted with. Politically correct…these are not. So if you are going to take offence, please don’t read. The last thing I want is hate mail!

A society of hypocrites

Thought I’d start with my own community lest I get accused of being biased! God’s own country is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty of the breathtaking variety. Unfortunately, its residents can’t be said to share the heavenly traits that the land possesses. Now here is a community that is by and large hypocritical, narrow minded and parochial. If you trace the history of the Nair community in Kerala, it was fairly liberal and women could even have multiple sex partners (not that it meant they were not sexually exploited but many were libertines by choice). Today, interaction between the sexes is looked down upon…net result…a community that is sexually frustrated. (I can hear outraged gasps). Now what happens …the men, in particular, are frustrated. Also, today, unfortunately, the average man in Kerala has no respect for women. Apart from Delhi (which is a hotbed of frustrated ‘machismo’, chauvinistic men) and Bihar (where goons with political patronage think women are slaves), the average Mallu man on the street is FRUSTRATED and has NO respect for women.
My worst experiences of eve teasing have been in Delhi and Kerala. While the Mallu man may ogle lecherously at a firang woman, they take offence to an Indian, especially Mallu, woman, dressing in jeans and being independent. The comments they pass are downright lewd and offensive. Given a chance, they will try and paw women, especially the so-called ‘Westernised’ Indian, especially Westernised Mallu, woman. I’ve encountered it countless times…to the point where I was traumatised about travelling on trains to God’s own country. The prospect of encountering frustrated Mallu men on the train once we’d enter the beautiful state would make me shudder. Oh yes, I’ve even got pawed inside the ‘sacred’ confines of the famous Guruvayoor temple…not by some uneducated lumpen lout but by an educated, decent looking young man. Makes me wonder…have they come there to pray or lech and finger women?
Continuing about hypocrisy…take drinking. Kerala has the highest per capita alcohol consumption. But talk to the womenfolk in the state and one would think this is a state where drinking barely happens. A few times that I’ve observed, the men don’t drink larges; they gulp down patialas like the liquor bottle is going to disappear! And, a sizeable number of Malayalee women drink…but surreptitiously. So, if you decide to drink openly, and you are a woman (horror, horror!), you are but naturally branded ‘loose’. “Loose’…a term I’ve heard so often…obviously applied to me since I wear jeans, sleeveless tops, drink and smoke (Ishwara!) . The fact that I don’t claim to be drinking coke while enjoying my rum and coke doesn’t attract any admirers! Only brickbats!) Behave yourself in a society that puts a premium on hypocrisy and you will be welcomed with open arms. Drink if you must, but no one should know.
Let’s go on to the next big thing…adultery. Now, that is apparently a huge, huge happening in the Lord’s chosen state. Why? It’s the ‘gulf marriage phenomenon’. Young men and women are married off to each other. The man goes off to the Gulf (every Mallu’s favourite destination). The women are left languishing and frustrated. What happens? Extra marital affairs on both sides…the man (in the Gulf) has his needs (as everyone who wants to excuse a philandering man would say), and the women (left behind for years often) (yeah, they have sexual needs too…if only the hypocrites in Mallu land would realise), have their share of affairs (of the heart or the body, one can’t say). Whether it is adultery or college crushes or love affairs, everything is kept hush hush in this strictly circumscribed society. As long as ‘four people’( ‘nalla aala’ a colloquial term) don’t talk about you, it’s fine.
In the meanwhile, Mallu society drinks themselves silly, the men especially (but it’s alright…men can drink and get abusive; it is their birthright according to society); the man on the street is the worst example of eve teasing (frustration has to find an outlet); many women find their meaning in life in secret love affairs or alcohol (masquerading as Coke, Sprite or Fanta)…but ask a Mallu of any religion…and they will boast about how their society is the best. In Kerala, hypocrisy rules (which is not to say it doesn’t in other societies; it’s just different avatars). In God’s own country, as long as you are outwardly moral, you could be anything otherwise. Only appearances count. If ‘four people’ say you are good, you are saved!

To be continued….

Friday, February 5, 2010

I don’t wanna know!

There are people in this world who have an opinion on everything…yes, everything. Yu could be talking about cooking, your pet’s health, music, medicine, travelling, writing…whatever…and they will butt in with an opinion or a suggestion….every goddamn time.
What is it with people? Why oh why must they dish out unsolicited advice on every topic under the sun? Don’t they realise how annoying it is to the recipient to have to listen as an authoritative voice drones on and on with maddening certainty about any given topic.
Tell them you are feeling tired. It could be that you haven’t slept the previous night…or you’ve been working too hard. They will diagnose you with diabetes! Assuming you have been diagnosed with an illness, they will pooh pooh whatever your doc has said, and list out medicines that you should be taking. I guess a doc’s MBBS degree is no match for all the trawling that the know-alls do on the Internet. Oh yes, they know better than your veterinarian about what could be causing your dog’s skin problem. They are expert cooks too. They will taste your food and give you suggestions on how you should have prepared it to make it tastier or healthier or whatever.
My only request to know-alls…sure maybe you are this bottomless font of information and knowledge…but please, oh please, could you keep that expert knowledge to yourself and dispense it only to those who seek your opinion? Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Unholy Brethren

Today our neighbourhood school, St. Vincent’s Matriculation School, Chennai celebrated their Annual Day. What is a celebration for the school turns into a nightmare for residents as cars and bikes are parked haphazardly all around blocking off entrances and exits, and the roads too. This apart the noise can be quite deafening, and all the neighbourhood porkis also land up to ogle and get their share of free entertainment.
What puzzles me with our (un)holy Catholic fathers who run the school is their complete unconcern for the trouble they cause others. What happened to Christian charity and loving thy neighbour? I guess all that is paid lip service at church sermons when they also invoke the wrath of God on sinners. Apart from preaching with such passion, couldn’t the sanctimonious fathers put their preaching into practice? Or give their flock some practical tips on how to practice loving thy neighbour or caring about the common man/woman.
But no! One observes year after dreary year…when it comes to themselves and their celebrations, the (un)holy fathers are only concerned about themselves and showing off with pomp and arrogance…neighbours, passers-by and the rest be damned (to a living hell!).
Many of us have approached the (un)holy fathers requesting them to be a wee bit understanding and empathetic about the huge problems we face every time the church or the school decide to celebrate. What happens? It falls on deaf, indifferent ears. One observes the utter smugness, arrogance and holier-than-thou art attitude that seems to sum up almost 90% of Catholic fathers that I have met. They stand at the altar and make thundering speeches, sorry sermons, but the reality is so different. There is no humanity, no humility, no acceptance of another point of view. Just this smug attitude of ‘ we are priests and we are better than you’.
What lessons are they teaching their students? That it is all right to trouble the world and create chaos and disturbance as long as you get your way? Their attitude – ‘Look at us… we break the noise pollution laws, we ignore pleas from neighbours, we don’t care about the old and the infirm, we don’t care if people’s are facing health concerns because of our activities, who cares if others are inconvenienced…in the name of God, we can do anything’. Doesn’t that suck?

I must add, we did go and speak to Father Vincent, the Principal, the next day, as the senior school function is on this evening. For once, a Father greeted us courteously, heard us out and promised to ensure that we were not troubled. Needless to say, I was impressed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dog Days

Almost everyday, I receive mails about people seeking homes for dogs. Either they are leaving town, or their flat associations are causing trouble or many take in a dog and realise only then that they cannot afford the dog or they are clueless about how to train the dog. There are owners who whine and whinge about how the puppy is not toilet trained, or is chewing everything or is jumping friskily around.
Many owners even callously abandon their pets on the road. Are these people humans or beasts? I would call them the latter. After a dog has been used to getting fed at home how is it supposed to scavenge on the road for food? And how does a homegrown dog protect itself against attacks by stray dogs?
Irresponsible ownership is a problem world over. Someone brings in a dog because their kid wants one. Kid doesn’t look after the dog; dog is abandoned. Or the dog works out too expensive; throw it out.
On the other hand you have the greedy callous ones who think dogs are status symbols or want to breed them to make money. These will buy pedigreed dogs for the sole purpose of showing off or for breeding. While many do look after their pooches well, there are others who chain them all day and never give them any love or affection. Dogs are like humans; they need plenty of love. And they give us unconditional love. The worst thing we can do is to deprive them of hugs and cuddles.
Then we have owners who don’t train their dogs and when these badly trained dogs bite neighbours or attack people or other dogs on the road, they give the canine community a bad name. Very often, if a dog in an apartment block bites someone, then all dogs in that apartment block come under the scanner and soon a resolution is passed – no dogs in the building. Owners must understand that they are wholly responsible for their dog’s behaviour. If they are incapable of training, handling or controlling their dogs, they shouldn’t have got them in the first place.
It is terribly sad that so many people are abandoning dogs. It doesn’t speak very well about us…the human race. Where is our humanity? No human being will ever give us the love that a dog will. Please let’s not throw dogs onto the road for them to get maimed, injured or killed. Let’s put a stop to it now.