The State Of This World

Disclaimer: This blog post is purely my opinion piece rather than any kind of an indictment on any individuals, societies, or beliefs of any kind. While it is backed by inputs I have come across over social media, it is not being cited as any kind of conclusive empirical data.

I usually refrain from writing opinion pieces about matters which polarize a community on the whole. It’s not merely a thought about any potential backlash but also because the numerous viewpoints floating about often muddy the waters more than show a clear path.

The Gauri Lankesh murder is one of those issues which stayed with me. Not merely because of the act by itself but also because of the tidal wave of opinions that have almost succeeded in drowning out the matter at hand- a journalist was killed.

Whether she poked the sleeping lion once too many times, whether she was too outspoken for her own good or whether it was one of those unfortunate drive-bys that we tend to witness more in other nations; the prevailing opinion seems to be that who she was, what she stood for is what most likely got her killed.

This is what I feel about death: I am pro-choice; which often results in the death of a fetus. I am pro-capital punishment which inevitably leads to a painful death. Whether it’s deserved or not; someone must have once cared for even the most hated rapist, pedophile or even sadistic murderer. And if that’s the case, surely the death of an erudite, opinionated, socially-conscious individual is likely to generate a stronger wave of impact on society overall? There must be a larger mass of people mourning her, her ideals?

A lot of her detractors have painted her as anti-establishment, anti-national, antis galore. But very few have backed up their responses with any kind of evidence to support their stance.

Twitter, the dumping ground of the masses, literatti and the cognoscenti overall, has a huge number of people lauding her death while an equally large number of people seem genuinely distressed that a voice has been silenced for good.

Some tweets (and retweets) of hers do have a rather juvenile (IMHO) facet of her showing up; with irrelevant and unwarranted potshots at the government at power and also groups associated with them.

Case in point: taking a picture of a latrine which has the word “Modi” on it and plastering it on a world-wide social media platform and captioning it as a pun on the Prime Minister’s name surely wasn’t in good taste? But if the rebuttal is “neither was Godhra and its subsequent fallout” then we’re par for course because the locking of horns will begin well and truly!

I am for Freedom of Speech and Expression but never was that freedom given to be absolute! Likening the head of state’s photo with a visiting dignitary as that resembling a “gay marriage” again didn’t seem dignified let alone respectful or even relevant in any way whatsoever! What was the provocation? And ultimately, what it did it prove?

Don’t we have enough valid instances to call out the PM on without resorting to commenting on his married state, his having served tea or having been in the ranks of a society which is a cult only if one chooses to look at it as such.

Is every one who pledges allegiance to the tenets of RSS a bigot? Waiting to put an end to all races to proclaim the glory of Hinduism? Do the members of the Sangh Parivar deserve to have their mothers dragged into a discussion on a public forum, along with the circumstances of their conception? What is the value add?

But I digress. Gauri Lankesh did not deserve to die this kind of a death. She ought to have stuck around, done her bit to shape the consciousness of those she came in contact with and spread knowledge in the most purest form; inflaming minds in the most effective and meaningful manner.

Her written word, her personality would have been a better legacy to leave behind than a cold corpse on the autopsy table.

Those who knew her or her work will probably say that her detractors won’t be able to diminish her aura or her worth. But I feel compelled to ask…wouldn’t it have been better if she had picked her battles more appropriately? Apart from not having to pay such a heavy price, she could have definitively contributed to the kind of society she sought out for herself and everyone in it.

Riding In The Car With A Boy

I don’t have to drive my kid around much since he started going to grade school 2 years ago. By the time he gets home it’s usually late afternoon and then he snacks, plays, does his homework or has play dates in the community we live in so we seldom step out during weekdays.

On the weekends Red usually drives because he’s afraid for his life with me in the driver’s seat and prefers to have me and offspring prattle away while he navigates.

This week I spent a bit of time driving MLM back from school and our conversations were the kind that would make David Attenborough happy.

This Monday I was lectured at about piranhas, where they live, how they’re caught, killed and how they have super sharp teeth. When I mentioned the only factoid I had with me about piranhas being able to pick clean a full human skeleton in minutes, I was pooh-poohed and told piranhas didn’t eat people because they were smaller in size and only bigger fish like sharks ate humans.

Trying to regain some part of the conversation, I told him that piranhas attacked in a group and that’s how they were able to overpower people; I was told with a snappish answer that people shouldn’t swim in the waters where the piranhas live if they didn’t want to get eaten.  Rather a simple and smart solution when one thinks of it.

Yesterday on our way back from school, I was again informed at great length about the Yeti Crab. My kid has a way of bombarding me with questions, seldom waiting till I answer them to shoot out the next one. And so there was a barrage of questions about the lesser-known Yeti crab and all I could think about was the Yeti and so I tried to tell him why the crab was probably named thus. I’m beginning to think that I should just keep my mouth shut because he just refuses to believe anything I say, preferring to hear the sound of his own voice, monologuing away to glory. Great career as a t.v. host on some nature channel droning on about chameleons or Tsetse flies…

Anyhoo, I tried to tell him about the Yeti and he just blew away my words and said that’s so silly and the crab was probably name Yeti because it sounded like a “cute” name. Talk about your empirical evidence!

All said and done, this kind of talk makes a huge difference from the “are we there yets” that he normally churns out every 2 seconds while we’re usually travelling. But imagine having a mini-naturalist inside your car who wants to educate you whether you want to be educated or not!

In the meanwhile, here’s to a good weekend from me and mine and all the animals that are there in my car!

Ode To A Shopping Mall

Today I have seen misery. I have seen faces full of despair, hopelessness and utter exhaustion. I have also seen people look defeated and rundown and resigned to the vagaries of life.

I refer to the crowds outside the waiting rooms of the shopping malls. And specifically to the male of the species who have girlf(r)iends and wives (hopefully both not in attendance at the same time) who have disappeared into the black hole that a changing room turns into on weekends.

These females, usually arms laden with clothes a size smaller than needed, march into the fray that gets them rooms the earliest and park their better and increasingly embittered halves outside with another heap of outfits that would clothe a small county.

These hapless men have handed over their lives, their wallets and most importantly their weekends to these sirens who will ask them two of the most difficult questions a man has to face in his life:

  1. How Do I Look?
  2. Does This Make Me Look Fat?

Both answers must be accompanied by starry-eyed gormless looks of admiration towards the questioner. And in case there was any doubt of any kind, the answers for question #1 can range from – great, awesome, amazing, woohoo hot!! and others of its ilk but must never be- OK or have a shrug or non-verbal that conveys indecision or anything less than adulation. And that ready reckoner was for the b.fs. Husbands already know there is no correct answer. Usually.

Answer #2 is a bit dicey but the rule book (yes, there is a rule book) says that this noncommittal answer is usually good to go-” I don’t think so/or I don’t see it; what do you think?”

Turning the question over to the woman in question may save your hide but in 20% of the cases it may rebound on the victim with accusations of never saying anything nice/complimentary or never taking a decision. Ever!!

Like the time she asked what did you feel like eating for lunch and you said (good naturedly), “Nothing specific. Anything works for me. Choose what you want.” She said, ” Cool, let’s have Chinese” and you said, “Gawd…Chinese again?!!” and kept thinking all through your Sichuan fried rice why you were feeling a distinctly arctic chill in the restaurant. Oh well.

Back to our hapless menfolk…they stand shoulder to shoulder, united in agony; waiting for the love of their life to say the magic words, “Ok..am done.” But they don’t know something more insidious is waiting for them…the serpentine queue where they’ll have to stand for another multitude of mind-numbing minutes till the clothes get paid for and if someone really has bad karma, the significant other will suddenly remember (after the bill has been paid) that the loyalty points have not been added to their card. Because 9 out of 10 times, the check-out person will direct them to yet another understaffed, overcrowded desk to get things done!

Alea Iacta Est (the die is cast).

P.S: If I didn’t have to swat away mosquitoes while I type this out, I’d have written a few lines about the young hotstuff chica whose morale I destroyed by picking up the same culottes she was reaching for. I guess I looked old and hausfrauish enough for her to rethink her wardrobe choices in toto!

Ah! Sweet Youth.

After A Hiatus…

It has been 22 days since I last blogged or even created a draft.

I wish there was a reason for this kind of a gap but there isn’t anything except for me being unable to gather my thoughts. And now that the thoughts are gathering, it’s akin to a storm brewing.

So I had a long-ish summer holiday with the offspring. We traveled a bit and had new experiences. Defining experiences for me as a parent. Am more confident of being able to chalk out holiday plans for the family without necessarily opting for safe options like a place with access to a pool or a beach. That’ll always be the fallback option but I am happy to say that slightly longer journeys, altitudes are no longer off the table.

On the personal front, I was sluggish to say the least. Didn’t get much done. Took a fraction of pictures that I’d normally have taken on earlier trips and pretty much retreated into the Kindle while still looking for something fun to give me a little impetus.

Speaking of the Kindle, it’s become an extension of my hand and I’m eyeballs deep into authors who primarily write about the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. To say that their books include the wilderness and dense forests and more than average snowfall would be to undersell it. But their tones are quite similar because these geographical areas of United States are very diverse from the sunny parts of the South or the West Coast. They are also quite different in the tone and nature of the people who are depicted in the novels based in the East Coast.

It’s bucolic but the climate, the geography is as much a character in the novels as the actual people themselves. Maybe it’s the weather that calls to me (crazy I know) or my mild yearning for Seattle based on years of binging on Grey’s Anatomy but I’ve had the words Puget Sound and names of small counties of Washington State and Minnesota tumbling through my head.

I’ve also discovered that I need to learn how to scuba dive because taking pictures of the husband and offspring underwater gave me a sense of peace and joy unlike anything in the last few years.

As basic the images were and while nowhere in the neighborhood of work such as this gent, it was still a lovely experience nonetheless and made me want to explore it further. In fact my list of places of hit (eventually) already includes this. Of course if we end up doing this, my main concern will be the offspring wanting to move undersea permanently or not coming back up till he spots all his favorite behemoths.

All said and done, long summer or not, it’s been an experience. Of growth, some backslides and lot of plans for the months ahead. Not a total washout in my book.

 

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Of Deaf Leopards&Animal Scat

I’d overslept this morning and headed out to the gym midday, MLM in tow. Boy! That should have tipped me off exactly what would ensue while driving those measly 4 kms. But by all means, let me wax on and wax off Daniel-San!

Sorry, couldn’t help the last bit. Watched the original movie after ages and have been saying Wax-on, Wax-off in my head. Damn you Pat Morita!

Anyhow, among the less than pleasant traits that the offspring has inherited from moi is his urge to listen to the same song till he tires of it. Never mind others are already stuffing their ears with whatever they can to stop the earworm from advancing, but MLM and I remain oblivious to our surroundings and keeping blaring the songs.

After a few weeks of Fugly- Fugly ruling the roost in the car, I was finally given an opportunity to play something I wanted to listen to. A random selection brought up Vault and Hysteria came on. The little man instantly liked it (YAY!) and asked me who was singing. I often think about filtering my words before speaking to him but I was navigating through midday traffic and thoughtlessly said, “Def Leppard”. And we were OFF!

From laughing his hieney off about leopards being deaf to talking about big cats; I heard it all. I heard about animals marking their territory albeit in the uncensored version aka the leopard does “susu” on the tree and then kicks some sand on the tree with his feet backwards et al”.

Note: Anyone who doesn’t know how kids talk might think it was a very special kind of leopard or it was a mutated one, but “with his feet backwards just means with his back feet.

On we go…once he started talking about the big cats, I had to hear about each animal marking it’s territory, one by one. After the leopards came the tigers, lions, cheetahs, the jaguars, the ocelots, the panthers, the pumas and the snow leopards as well.

Just as he was running out of breath and I was pulling into the parking another thought meteorite hit him with a bang! “But why don’t they poop when they pee?” is the question he wanted answered.

As I herded him out of the car and up the steps I thought to myself, this kid is either going to be a naturalist a la Attenborough or he’s going to be a zookeeper! In any case ‘deaf leopards’ is a moment etched firmly in the annals of mother-son time.

Image result for leopard with headphones

Right As Rain!

I’ll be the first one to admit-my kid is a bit of a digital media junkie. He’s a tater tot who’ll transition into a full-blown couch potato unless Red and I nip it the bud!

When we travel, he like most brats..erm adorable children of his ilk, prefer to bury their noses in an iPad or a phone rather than look outside and see the landscape zip by.

Although blaming this generation isn’t fair by half….when I was his age if I didn’t look out the window or sleep, I’d go stir crazy and 3-4 hour car journeys were the norm rather than the exception. On train journeys, it was climbing up and down from the berths till my mom put a stop to it or I conked off. And it was a damn fine way to travel!

The offspring has been on planes since he was 4 months old so any journey that doesn’t get over in 4 hours max is like a life sentence to him. And even in flights he’ll usurp the window seat and *still* have the iPad on, playing his neverending dino games. God have mercy.

Today Red and I kibboshed his unending whines about watching something he wanted (his grandfather is currently alternating between the French Open and the Champion’s Cup) and wonder of wonders and miracle of miracles, Boy Whiner wanted to go and ride his bike in the rain. And not the blink and you miss it rains mind you. The halfway decent ones.

I saw him zigzagging from my window while Red walked behind him and he just came back thoroughly drenched, hair in spikes but damn! I really love that kid right about now!!

Life is made of little moments like this which make you feel that the little tater’s going to end up just fine.

So let it be written.So let it be done.” quoth Rameses.

The Malady of Summer Holidays

I’ve noticed that there’s a strange and inexplicable condition that happens to kids, especially mine over the summer holidays. They become deaf, louder, motor movements mimic being like marionettes with their strings cut or like mini Boomerang videos. Polar opposites but somehow they seem to be able to switch between them effortlessly enough.

The specific keywords that they don’t seem to comprehend are these:

  1. Get up.
  2. Slow down.
  3. Enough.
  4. No more (pool time, t.v., iPad, laptop, playing with water…till infinity)
  5. Get out of the pool.
  6. It’s late.
  7. Come home.
  8. Go away.
  9. SHUSH.
  10. GO. TO. SLEEP!!

Barring that it’s the same ol’ symptoms of childhood+boredom+curiosity all rolled into one delicious little buck-toothed package of silliness!