Memo to the MPs

(This was a post I wrote on July 30, 2009 and for some reason forgot to publish)

Here’s a suggestion. Instead of training your guns and frothing at the mouth at Sach Ka Samna and how it is destroying the moral fibre of our society (whatever that might mean), why not look at regulating reality shows involving children? How about imposing a minimum age limit to participate in shows?

What a consenting adult wants to do is none of your business really. If a woman or a man comes onto the show and wants to reveal all about her or his intimate secrets, it’s none of your business. He or she knows what they’re getting into.

Do spare a thought for these tiny little children who’re pushed into these shows by their parents, doing these suggestive thrusts and raunchy moves, being ticked off by swollen headed judges as not being good enough, even being told that they’re not selected by the most sensible and sensitive of judges in front of a huge crowd, with their pushy parents looking on. There have been cases of children having a nervous breakdown on the sets.

I don’t think I’d have liked to be subject to this kind of a thing and never in a million years will I subject my child to anything of this sort. Why not do something about it. I know kids ought to be taught how to face disappointments and how to handle losing something. But this is simply not the way.

What adults subject themselves to is out of bounds for you, what they subject their poor children to is perhaps within. Why not sit up and take notice?

Updated on August 16, 2009

Not long after I wrote this, came along this piece of news of a new reality show, “Pati, Patni aur Voh” and it really left me gasping for air. I quote from this article:

The couples will spend an entire month in a closed environment, monitored by cameras 24X7 which will capture their journey as they embark on a new life of discovery as first time parents.

“Their journey will be divided into five stages, starting with pregnancy, when the women will be made to wear empathy bellies similar to that of a woman who is 8 months pregnant and will have to attend pre-natal classes.

Then, a newborn baby will be handed over to the couples and they will have to take care of its every need, including feeding, changing nappies and erratic sleep schedules. The toddlers come in next, with their own set of demands and tantrums. Then come the pre-teens and teenagers, in the rebellious years when parents need to learn how to discipline children, without alienating them. Life comes a full circle with the arrival of the elderly and the couples will need to show maturity and understanding in dealing with them.”

Now this means the realm of reality TV has now expanded to include infants, toddlers and really young children. What kind of vile parents are these?

“The children taking part in the show are infants, toddlers, pre-teens and teenagers drawn from real life. Their parents will be behind the scenes 24×7, monitoring their child and the couple, through the cameras, in close proximity.”

They are not too much better than the parents who abandon their children in dust bins or outside churches or temples. Sick.

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Queer. Or not.

Disclaimer 1:

Ever since Praveen left this link on one of my posts, I’ve been disturbed, itching to leave a comment or write a post. I have to admit I have been dithering; I’ve never really done this before – taking on an argument on the blog. I decided to write about it anyway because I do feel that I may make a difference, however small in removing misconceptions. I have absolutely nothing against the author of this post never having come across him before and there is nothing personal in here, I’ve tried to stick as far as possible to the facts and what I feel about them.

Disclaimer 2:

As will be obvious from my post, I’m far from being homophobic. However I may use language such as different / not normal – and these are in no way to be construed as being homophobic.

Disclosure

I am straight and I am married to the only boyfriend I ever had.

And now that that is done with, please do read the post for mine to make sense. Close on the heels Sec 377 being declared unconstitutional by the Delhi High Court, suddenly a lot more people are talking about homosexuals in India, there is a higher level of debate, more open bigotry, more morality and religion argument all over the place.

This post begins well enough, with no signs of judging anybody.

“Everyone in this world has the right to live the way he or she wants to. And there needs to be favourable public opinion and suitable laws to help them do so. Even though the mindset is beginning to change in India, a lot of us still consider members of the sexual minority as objects of either sympathy or ridicule. All they want is acceptance — that we accept them the way they are — but we are being tight-fisted about that.”

Great, same page so far.

“But I have a problem. Which is sort of technical, or perhaps ethical, in nature. I can understand lesbians and gays and transgenders being classified as sexual minorities. But bisexuals? From what I understand, a bisexual is someone who is sexually attracted to and can have sex with a male as well as a female. In other words, a bisexual is someone who can have the best of both worlds. Does that make him a minority? If anything, he is a majority-majority. He is like the native of a feudal village where he enjoys the status and privileges of being a member of the upper caste and then comes to the city to get a job under the quota meant for scheduled and backward castes.”

Ok here’s where I have a problem too. Firstly when we talk about rights to sexual minorities (let’s come to the definition later), here’s what comes to my mind:

– The right to have a same-sex relationship

– The right to marry someone of the same sex

– The right to have a child – biologically or otherwise

– The right to not be discriminated against by society / by law enforcement authorities

No one is asking for 99% reservation for homosexuals in the IITs of 59% reservation in Parliament or any kind of benefits that might put another section of society to a disadvantage. Giving a homosexual any of the rights I have mentioned does not hurt another in any way.

I suppose the author of the post has no issues with a gay or lesbian person, but with a bisexual – saying they have best of both worlds and calling them “majority-majority”. Alright here’s the thing, here’s why they’re still a minority. Let’s take an example of a bisexual girl A. So she has the entire male population to choose from and a minority of the female population. If it so happens that she falls in love with a man and chooses to spend the rest of her life with him, it is convenient and happy for all. However if she does make the disclosure that she’s bisexual to the man concerned is he going to be comfortable with that. So here’s roadblock number 1 being faced. Then the more obvious issue, what if she falls in love with a woman? Roadblock number 2 is that that woman is straight and hence there is no future. Roadblock number 3 is where she does fall in love with a lesbian, it takes us back to square 1 that there are so many legal hassles and discrimination.

The thing is that being bisexual does not mean being promiscuous (which is not illegal in any case). And it does not mean having a different partner each night, conveniently swapping sexes each day.

“This is not to say one cannot be a bisexual. I am not even making a judgment if it is wrong to be one. If nature has made them that way, who are we to sit on judgment. All I am saying is, why accord a special status to them, as if they are victimised? If at all, it is people who often fall victims to them — directly or indirectly.”

Yeah we have no right to judge anyone, point taken. However what is this “special status”? I don’t see any special status being awarded to anyone! And why are we talking of being victimized. There can be no victims where consensual sex is involved. And any thing other than consensual sex is a crime, whether we’re talking of man raping woman, man raping man, woman raping man, woman raping woman, whatever is the permutation it’s a crime and cannot be condoned. So its black or white as regards victims, no shades of grey whatsoever.

“A woman would rather discover that her husband slept with her woman friend than find out that he is also sleeping with his male colleague.”

Ok I haven’t conducted research on this subject – but I personally do not agree with this statement. Infidelity is infidelity, and dealing with it is a very personal thing and can hardly be generalized.

“Our history as well as contemporary society is also replete with cases when men, drunk on their sexual prowess, have not only raped their wives but also sodomised young, soft-looking males at the first given chance. Would you plead for the sexual rights of such men? And if yes, then plead for what — that they continue having the best of both worlds?”

As I have said, rape and sodomy are entirely separate issues with crime written all over them. No one is talking of rights to them at all. Even the recent ruling has exempted sodomy and having sex with children. So that is not a problem at all.

“I know this is the age of political correctness and consensus, but there should be a limit. I mean, if you are having sex with your wife or girlfriend and at the same time getting a blowjob from your male servant, be my guest. I have no issues. But please don’t claim to be a sexual minority and join the gay pride march. Stay home and have your fun.”

Again please let us not confuse legal rights with morality. The fact is a straight person has the right to screw around with a hundred people if he / she chooses to do so. Not so for a gay person. That is the distinction we need to make and not get into whether it is morally correct or not.

“Wait a minute, let me throw the garb of political correctness into the bin. It is too painful and constricting to write under its weight. Ok, the thing is, nature is supreme. You can afford to fuck around with it, but not too much. Nature made Adam and Eve, and not Adam and Steve. But doesn’t matter if Adam and Steve get cosy and do a few things which, according to nature, only Adam and Eve are supposed to do. It begins to matter only when Adam and Steve start bearing and raising kids.

It is Eve’s job to bear kids, and when Steve seeks to replace her, catastrophe is not too far away. I have no issues Steve getting pregnant, but that amounts to screwing Mother Nature. You will have hell to pay for, just as we are paying for Global Warming. In a few decades from now, a paradise like Maldives won’t even exist — just because we took Mother Nature for granted.”

Isnt this kind of contradictory with the let’s not judge stance taken earlier? And as far as my knowledge goes, medical science has not advanced to the extent of Steve becoming pregnant. And even if that day comes, how many Steves are we talking about anyway, for it to become the cause for the extinction of the human race or other catastrophic event? Not particularly comparable with global warming.

“Also, why are those who are into animals been excluded from the group of sexual minorities? After all, walls of Khajuraho temple depict bestiality as well and it is not uncommon to hear funny anecdotes about a man mounting a cow or a donkey or a horse. There are porn films that show animals returning the favour to women.

I think I know why no one is fighting for the rights of those who have sex with animals. Since this is the age of political correctness, consensus is very very important when it comes to sexual intercourse. And there is no way of telling if the donkey or the horse had been consenting.”

Frankly I’ve never really given bestiality a thought, and as the author points out, there is no consensus involved really. And to put matters in perspective, fact is we have the right to kill and eat animals….

Maybe we should stop and think about what does go through a homosexual’s mind. The process of self discovery, of coming out to family, of having limited choice of partners (finding love is tough enough!), facing discrimination from self righteous people. If homosexuality was a state of mind or a whim, no one in their right minds will put themselves through all the trouble.

The bottom line is this: We live in a secular country, supposedly free from the dictats of religion. Our laws are not designed to protect the moral fibre of the society and who is to say what level of morality the country is to operate at? My mother’s morality looks down upon having more than one relationship itself. Clearly that sense of morality cannot be allowed to dictate the average Joe on the street? So when the average Joe on the street feels that homosexuality is immoral, that cannot be the law for the erm average Steve. The argument as to whether homosexuality is a matter of choice or whether it’s in a person’s genes is also irrelevant. So what if it’s a matter of choice?

Years ago women had very few rights, Dalits were deemed “untouchable”…time has brought about change. How much longer do homosexuals have to wait?

Baby steps?

This was some great news that filtered in today. Finally there is sign that we are moving away from ages old regressive and unequal laws.

But here’s my doubt. Any lawyers or people on the know reading, please do throw some light.

Isnt a ruling in a High Court binding only in the state? Isnt it incorrect to say gay sex is legal in India just yet? Isnt there some way to go before this is made applicable all over India? And one more thing is how do you get it to apply all over India, file the same case (Was it a PIL?) in the Supreme Court? Or if the government goes on appeal in the Supreme Court and loses, then will it automatically apply?

Whatever it is, brilliant stuff Delhi High Court!

Edited to add:

Here’s an explanation to my question I posted on Gaysifamily from Jane Doe:

“Generally, the judgement of a HC is binding in absence of a SC judgement on the same topic or the judgement of another HC. A SC judgement is law while in the presence of conflicting lower court judgement, it would depend on the merits of the individual case. The judgement of the Delhi HC stands good for the entire country, unless and until the matter is raised before a different HC, wherein it is of immense pursuasive value. Currently being the only case on the issue, it stands.

Also the judgement stands, until the legislature amends the law. Also, the matter was referred back to the Delhi HC by the SC which disapproved of the HC’s dealing of the case on grounds that the petitioner was not an affected party & such matters on ‘academic grounds’ cannot be entertained. An appeal must lie to the SC, and the result of such judgement shall be binding on all courts in the country.”

Why people do what they do – 1

In an attempt to bring myself back to writing and to revive this sad little blog, here’s presenting a new series.

The recent brouhaha in the blogosphere has had me wondering. There are several people who invest a lot of their time and passion into their blogs. They have opinions and they’re not afraid to air them and get into arguments with people, as long as the people arguing remain in the realm of civil behaviour.

Now that’s the issue I have. What causes people to cross those limits of civility? Why are trolls trolls? What is it that motivates them and causes them to leave nasty comments? What causes them to wish the blogger ill? They’re most welcome to dislike what a blogger has to say and disagree, but what is that chemical in their sorry heads that causes them to shoot off that hate mail, that nasty comment, say things like “I’m done reading you. You don’t deserve the readership you have” etc.

Is it a case of too much time, too few worthwhile things to do, too few friends, a bad childhood, not enough love in their lives? What?

On the other hand, what causes bloggy bonds to forge? (this is something I needed to have done much earlier, but better late than never). I was really touched by the response I received to my last post, comments, and emails. Thank you guys, it really cheered me up and I got caught up with a hundred different things and couldn’t post replies, but it really meant a lot to me.

What causes some people to reach out to a virtual stranger to just convey some understanding, a simple “Hang in there”? Whatever it is the world is a better place for it!

Edited to add:
While I’m on the topic of blogs, I have to mention food bloggers. How do they do it? On the one hand you’re cooking, on another, you’re taking pictures, mentally composing your blog post. How do they get the motivation to do these things! I doff my hat at them. Seriously, major admiration comes!

Where do we go from here

“Although suburban trains on the Western and Central Railways and Harbour Line functioned as usual, some buses, taxis and autorickshaws were set on fire.” – From the CNN IBN report on the rampage that MNS party workers have been on post Raj Thackeray’s arrest.

Now I really have nothing new to say on what Mr Thackeray has been upto. But I was a bit taken aback by this line from the report..so matter of fact, yet another facet of the whole issue.

I was in Bombay when the four Dalits were killed in Khairlanji and there was a round of riots in various parts of Maharashtra following the killings. I was returning home as usual by train and it was past 10 30 pm when the train pulled into the Chembur station. There was a flurry of stones and slippers into the compartment. There were two other women in the women only first class compartment and I was talking to KT on the phone. We were jolted out of our wits and for the first time in my life I was witnessing the feeling of fear for my safety. Some men from the next compartment shouted at us to close the doors and we lugged the doors shut. Through the grills they told us that they would come into our compartment in the next station, in case the rioters tried to force themselves in and we meekly agreed. Gave a thoroughly scared KT a quick update and waited for the next station where the same thing happened. We were relatively safe in the locked train..but what if someone threw something that was burning..what if they forced entry…the possibilites were incredibly scary and another issue was that we were all due to get off a couple of stations later in Vashi..

Another station..more stones…and we began long journey across the bridge and I remember telling KT that I was going to hang up as I wanted to be unhindered if I had to run, but he wanted to know what exactly I was upto as he was really scared for my safety. But we figured it made more sense for me to be alert and ready..and I hung up as we rolled into the Vashi station…

An eerie calm greeted us..a far cry from the three stations we left behind behind the bridge. I guess the toll road was a deterrent for the rioters and they couldnt be bothered to pay up the charges. After giving KT an update, we stuck close to the men from the first class compartment and I reached the auto stand and it was quite clear that Vashi was untouched by the rioting. I reached home with my heart beating so hard, the brush with danger looming large.

And it struck me. This was relatively a minor incident, in comparison to Bombay in 1991, Gujarat in 2002, the bomb blasts that have happened..

And now we have reached the level of such matter of fact statements in news. And I really don’t know where we’re headed…

Resurfacing to breathe

Well I’m still neck deep in work…more and more seems to accumulate and I have a tag and a follow up post pending. But I’m doing neither and will instead write about an issue that has been simmering for a long time now and yesterday I was left fuming with the situation..

My friend D, the one I mentioned in passing earlier got married two years back. She a Tamilian met and fell in love with a Punjabi guy A. Complete recipie for disaster right from the word go..her parents were ok with the whole deal, his were not. They tried everything under the sun to stop the match..saying that she was too dark (I swear she is not, not like it matters but still), their horscopes don’t match, the astrologer said that A would die if they went ahead and got married, the marriage wouldnt last…every nasty thing possible was hurled at the poor girl. Now she is a perfect being, a senior from school, she was really someone I looked upto…she was really intelligent, excellent vocalist, great at sports, complete grace in handling herself..she was the complete package.

For about a year they kept yo yoing with the marriage thing…I tried talking her out of it for I don’t know what reason but I was really uncomfortable with her boyfriend. Finally they agreed and the wedding was fixed in lightening speed before A’s parents could change their minds and the wedding happened. A was working in Madras then and D was based out of Delhi in a job that involved extensive travel. A lived in with a room mate and D lived with her aunt in Delhi when she was there and her parents of course were in Madras. As the wedding took place really soon, they didnt have time to plan out how they were going to sort out their careers. So here they were married, headquartered in different cities and no clear plan as to what their future course of action would be. A’s parents fired the first salvo and said that they couldnt live in Madras…because she didn’t want her son to fall under any more evil Southie influences..so he had to find a new job…it made sense to choose Delhi because she was anyway working out of there. This though was fairly sick was still acceptable. Then came the bigger blow..no staying in D’s parents house when D was working out of her Madras office. Now A as I said earlier was living with a room mate..in a two bedroom house, with just one attached bathroom. So these newly weds lived with another guy in the house..in a room that had the bathroom attached to it…

Then there were digs and taunts, A’s dad never spoke to D…loads of bitchiness on the whole.

But they managed to sort out their jobs, both of them moving jobs based out of Gurgaon. There was an uneasy calm…but I could get a sense that A..who swore his undying love, who fought valiant battles against his parents was changing..bit by bit.

Now a fresh crisis has taken over. A’s sister has gotten herself a job in Gurgaon and is living with them. What’s the big deal you ask? Well the sister hates D (yeah a 25 year old), doesnt speak to her, doesnt do a spot of work in the house, wants to be lorded over, cooked for, driven around the place, won’t sit in the same table as D, will leave her used sanitary napkins lying around the place, basically causing hell for D. Now D has decided that enough is enough and refuses to put up with her anymore. She can’t get the sister out of the house, so she has decided switch jobs and move cities. A recently changed jobs so he cannot follow her. He cannot ask his sister to behave and he cannot ask her to get out..she earns a good salary and can for sure support herself. So D has found herslf a job in Bombay and A has told her that he can get a transfer in 6 months. So in the middle of salary negotiation and finding a place in Bombay I received a call from D.

She is not too sure she wants to move now. She is sure that she does not want to live under the same roof as A’s sister, but at the same time she has doubts….Those words sent a chill down my spine..I knew all was not rosy, but this?

“Pirichidivalonnu bayama irikku”

(Translated “I’ m scared they’d plot to separate us”)

These words have been echoing in my ears since yesterday. Here are highly educated people, people who have graduated from the cream of educational institutes in India, people working in top companies in the world. And the girl is scared of leaving her husband alone with his sister and perhaps parents because she is worried that they’d break up her marriage. I was too stunned to react to this and tried chiding her by telling her that A isnt a baby and is fully capable of making his decisions and holding his own..and she replied saying that I didn’t know how guys can change around their parents and family.

I mumbled something and ended the conversation there. My heart goes out to her…my first instinct was to think that if you can’t trust your husband enough to leave him around his family for six months, you’re better off without him..what kind of a marriage was this? But I really didnt want to say anything to her because I have spent a large part of my adult life telling my mother that she should have gotten a divorce early on in her life and always grew up thinking that if a guy were to hurt me in any way I was booting him out of my life, so much so my brother would joke that it would be a wonder if my marriage lasted 10 days…all this was before I met KT. All of this was playing in my head as I was talking to her and I wasnt sure if that instinct was resurfacing in me or whether I was thinking correctly, so I really didn’t want to say anything before examining my feelings.

Spoke to KT about it, now he has had very limited interaction with the two of them, we stayed one night with them in Gurgaon and needless to say D came out in flying colours in KT’s opinion and A flunked out miserably…the scene that played out there was right out of some 10 years ago…D cooking breakfast / lunch / juice , serving it to the great man who was sunning himself in the balcony reading his newspaper. Even KT felt queasy and offered to help. It was very very awkward to say the least.

When I  told KT what she had told me, he reacted in the exact same manner as I did and wants me to tell her that she is better off without A. Now D doesn’t have any other friend as such and I’m the only one. I know I need to give her my honest views, tell her how I feel…but is this crossing the line? I for one am not candid with her regarding my problems, so is that guilt holding me back from telling her what I feel. Or is it not my business at all? Should I go ahead and tell her? Is she asking me in order to hear from another person what she fears? I am really torn and am not sure how I need to handle this..suggestions please..

Poll

If you could choose to be really intelligent but not good looking or really good looking but not intelligent what would it be and why?