Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A for Allah, B for Burqa

Before i embark on this controversial subject, let me inform you that I’ve got nothing against Islam. In fact, i dearly believe in it though i don't practise it. Just like most other Muslims. I'm not an expert in it either. Just like most mullahs (unless your name is Dr. Zakir Naik). Anyway, in recent times, no other faith got subjected to criticism as intensely as Islam. Small wonder it's the fastest-spreading religion! Coming back to the topic at hand, I’m not against burqa. I think it makes a cool style statement and i will defend to the death a man's right to wear it. Yup. The reason why I’ve chosen to submit my invaluable inputs on this garment is the hypocrisy that goes into the making of a culture (mind you, not religion). Religion and culture might intermingle but they are two separate entities and the sooner we acknowledge the fact, the better it is. Islam is a religion and Arabic is NOT the only culture on the planet. One doesn't have to become an Arab to be a Muslim. As simple as that. If at all there should be a set dress code, it has to be free of sexism. Understandably, that ain't the case as the pseudo-code in this ambit has always been set by polygamous bearded men. And there is a huge difference between a hijab and a burqa and a niqab and so on. For argument's sake, let's stick to burqa here. You see, if one discards that ridiculous face veil, it's a pretty conventional garment. But when it covers a woman's identity, it delivers a thick-veiled attack on feminism—at least that’s what the West wants us to believe. The European retards who thought banning hijab in France would prove a point are damn right. It proves they are retards. At the end of the day, banning burqa is like banning a ban, right? Now, the van-friendly Netherlands is also planning to ban burqas from next year onwards. All of a sudden, the Dutch are speaking French! Fortunately, we won’t face such iniquity in India as our politics fornicates with religion on a daily basis. Our women are free to wear burqa whenever and wherever they like. They don't even have to be Muslims for doing so. By the way, Bohri women's rida pwns the plain-black-tortured-under-Indian-sun fabric by miles on aesthetic terms. On a serious note, i  guess a woman can not only wear a burqa but also mummify herself if SHE wants. It should purely be HER choice.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

London is miscalling

It's that time of the year when it sucks to be an Indian. Also, that season when China points their little finger at us and chuckle in Mandarin. Sadly, blame game isn't part of the Olympics yet and Rajinikanth is too busy to participate in the other categories. I don't know how I've managed to live this long without a medal to my name. Ten years ago, i was *this* close to becoming a world-class diver (blame it on Louganis!). As of now, I'm *that* far away from sightseeing in London. Of course, there are folks out there in that city right now who dream of nothing but dangling this small yet heavy piece of ornament around their neck someday. No doubt there aren't committing any crime in doing so, either. On the contrary, they've slogged really hard towards their goal. (Speaking of which, they have a goal, unlike most of us.) With or without sponsors. In all probability, it takes more than just Horlicks and Boost to reach the stadium, let alone podium. A nation's pride is only as perpendicular as the athlete standing behind the flag. Besides, these ladies and gentlemen don't make compromises with pain. They own it. And that's what sets them apart. They run like their ass is on fire, jump like they never use elevators and swim like humans weren't meant to. In fact, these gladiators are the reason why aliens haven't attacked our planet yet. But not each one of them is going to win. Only those who shall put their best feet (if not hands) forward might. In the meantime, i pray none of them is doped. Because nothing ruins Games like ununiformity in steroids. Everybody ought to get the same performance-enhancing drug. Except Indians. Our contingent deserves something extra. After all, whining isn't everything at Olympics.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mission Kashmir

A still from the film
     Over the years, several films have been shot in Kashmir but not many have been based on it. For obvious political reasons. By this cowardly yardstick, Harud (Autumn) has to be a welcome exception. Not only is it entirely filmed in the so-called paradise but also centred on those who indeed live there and speak accented Urdu. Appropriately, their struggle for dignity—if not freedom—can be seen documented throughout the movie. However, the initial commotion silently gives way to a relatively calculated pace of events that unfolds.
     Following a family that has lost a son and is on the verge of losing another, the plot draws parallel against the unstable ambiance. The protagonist’s father, sane as a cuppa, turns somewhat weird. His mother isn’t prepared to mourn her firstborn’s death yet. His friends hope to get out of the mess they are not responsible for. This may sound like a perfect melting pot for militant bullets and grenades, surprisingly enough, there aren’t enough explosions to rattle your eardrums. Perhaps the chaos prefers to manifest mentally than physically.
     Director-turned-director Aamir Bashir merits kudos for his perseverance given the fact that the film was made back in 2010; and most importantly, for choosing such a grave topic. No doubt Harud is his baby from beginning to end. Having said that, there are instances when he indulges too much in scenes that don’t particularly contribute much to the overall narrative. The characters could have been sharper. Other than the veteran Iranian actor Reza Naji, all other cast members are non-actors. And it shows. But what they lack in performance, Bashir tries to make it up with wondrous visuals.
     The tranquil images of pristine lakes juxtapose with the boy’s violent past. In the meantime, long shots continue to tease your patience and abstract references tests your ignorance. Metaphors flow in abundance. With the change in season, chinar’s leaves get busy leaving the tree. But the people are sticking to their roots, armed with technology. Maybe there is hope. Maybe not.
     If the purpose of a movie is to move you, then Harud does that pretty well. For mainstream regulars, this independent effort might come across as a bit boring. But then, boredom is a luxury where fear rules. Not everyone can afford it. The same is true about this rather brave film.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hit & Run

The media in our country is often chided for neglecting North-East India. But after what happened in Guwahati recently, there must be some hushed cries implying it was better off neglected! Having said that, this attitude won't solve the underlying problem. What would do the trick though is a well-executed kick right in the nuts of the perpetrators. Better still, a real hard one. Or two. The thing is anti-social elements (read: chauvinists, sexists, pricks, jerks and ilk) have been in the society long before men learned the art of masturbation. To make future worse, they'll always be around. There's nothing one can do to stop them from taking birth but we can definitely stop them in other ways. I don't know what they are but I'm sure that intolerance can help. For a start, at least. Too much nonsense has been (and is being) tolerated. And silence is not a safe word anymore. For a change, change has to make some noise. Maybe it's high time!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Through the looking glasses

Grandma appeared upset. Even the smallest of things managed to trouble her. As if the whole world was taken to conspiracy. Or maybe, it had. For somebody who went to college in the 1940s despite taking birth as a girl, she didn't exude her nice ole literary charm anymore. On the contrary, she just came across as someone unabashedly grumpy and distressed. Something troubled her like anything. Nobody in the family could guess what it was. Some assumed that grandpa's recent departure is to be blamed. After all, she was an altogether different person before he decided to settle in heaven. Others zoomed on senility that often accompanies wrinkles. The drama continued for quite a stretch. In the meanwhile, although everything else bore the brunt of her disdain, her beloved grandson was spared any of the absurdity. And deservedly, it was he who figured out her problem... and fixed it too! Apparently, he used to watch her watch him through her thick glasses. So it didn't take him long to notice where exactly the problem lied. Turns out her spectacles had clouds of sticky marks, fingerprints and whatnot on them that obstructed her view. On the brink of his rather short life's greatest troubleshooting, he set himself to work and scrubbed the glasses neatly. Lo! She could see things properly again. With her past vision back, her nature changed for good. But what she couldn't acknowledge clamorously –– and what her grandson didn’t know –– was the fact that her late husband used to clean her specs. Almost every single day. Once upon a time.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Paternal arguments

My dad is busy getting older by asking me questions I thought I was immune to. The first one remains a classic: "Are you serious about life at all?" I knew he was a huge McEnroe fan but he's pushing limits here. This tennis-court query is usually followed by the more benign: "With your meager salary, when are you planning to build a home and have a family of your own?" Hmmm. This is not exactly his fault. It's more of a double fault on my behalf. The catch is I regularly inform my ma about the various levels of progress my engineer friends are accomplishing which involves being a slave to the bank and owning a 2BHK house in return. And being a good wife, she passes on those point-breaking news to her husband of 27 years without analyzing what its consequences shall be on her 26-year-old virgin child. The filial conversation (read: monologues) that ensues later reeks of a clash between pragmatism and nihilism. Small wonder I lose from both sides. To prove a point, his latest retort to my simpler "I don't know!" was exemplary. He said, "Even the crow that drenches all day in rain has a nest to return to when the sun sets." Whoa! This analogy got me pondering and I thought for at least a light year to come up with this conclusion: "Well, pigeons are envious of crows for the latter knows how to enjoy monsoon. But on the other hand, cuckoos always beat crows in their own nest, don't they?" And in my defense, I'm neither that crow nor that pigeon or that cuckoo but someone who favors immunity from reality.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The crawling's on the wall

People believe in ghosts. I believe in lizards. In fact, my morbid fear is what's stopping me from total world domination. Yeah, I know the idea goes against Spider-Man given the fact that he’s fighting a giant reptile in his latest franchise. But then he’s just another superhero who is making Hollywood richer. If you ask me (which I doubt you will since I don’t have much of a reputation in this munificent act of replying), a lizard has real superpowers. For one, it can hunt for food in utter darkness (try finding your fridge under similar circumstances). Secondly, it can moonwalk on ceiling (which makes it unanimously better than humankind, not just Michael Jackson). Thirdly, it can bounce its thoughts off the wall without slipping down. And the list is endless.
"He's my pet." - the lizard in my room about me
For most of us, encountering a lizard or a cockroach is similar to having our very own Man vs. Wild moment. Coming back to the horror part, these creepy reptiles scare the shit out of almost everyone. You know who freaks me out more? People who don't freak out at the sudden sight of a lizard! To my credit, I frightened the tail out of a lizard last night (the updated scoreline - Me: 9 Lizards: 3846). But to be fair, it’s not always their intention to test our vocal chords. In most cases, they avoid us like cancer. They have better things to do. For instance, forage and fcuk. It might be hard to believe but life is rather uncomplicated for them. Besides, they are part of nature’s plan to teach us a lesson or two in patience. Although they might act as if they understand everything, they stay humble and observe manners. Like Rango.
Her: "What are you most afraid of?" Him: "Lizard." Her: "What else?" Him: "Lizards."
While we're wasting time here online, someone's falling for someone. Somewhere. Na, I ain't talking about lizards. Unless Mr. & Mrs. Lizard are having a jolly good time on my wall.