Open Letter to FABB ( aka Farhan Akhtar and Brothers-in Arms in Bollywood)

We must first thank you for your thoughtful and timely interventions using various online forums and open letters (there are those who say actions speak louder than words but hey, haters gonna hate, right?)

( refer to the earlier blogpost for part 1 of this conversation)

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However, Ms. Diana, our Value Ed teacher, always taught us to have an inquiring mind and not take things at face value. So we have put together a list of certain questions we wanted to share with you.

Why were you not moved enough to write a strong letter to Salman Bhaijan when he joked about rape? http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/W7hynBkaR7U0HFAyVDJ0HL/Why-Salman-Khan-can-joke-about-rape-and-get-away-with-it.html. Why did you not caution him about slapping around his girlfriends? Or perhaps you did not know what we knew and what we did not know.

In fact when we read Aishwarya Rai’s statement from 2003, we thought it was actually written by our current girl who must not be named! What a coincidence isn’t it?? Just like the unrelated look- alikes from Kaho Na Pyaar Hai where the actor turns up in two places at once with different names and passports. Paris and Mumbai. Sorry, was it New Zealand and Mumbai? http://indiaopines.com/aishwarya-rai-statement-salman-khan/

“For the sake of my well-being, my sanity, my dignity and the dignity and self-respect of my family — ENOUGH! I will not work with Mr Salman Khan. The Salman chapter was a nightmare in my life and I am thankful to God that it is over!

While I have maintained a dignified silence about him and his wrong-doings, he (his family and friends) has repeatedly attacked the respect, dignity and pride of me and my family (with irresponsible rumour mongering. I stood by him enduring alcoholism, misbehavior in worse phases and in turn, I was at the receiving end of his abuse (verbal, physical, emotional), infidelity and indignity. ………. And I must add, that it has been very easy for some members of the film industry, media or social circles to flog opinions, when they have not been at the receiving end. And when so many of them God knows, have been witnesses and in knowledge of the truth. This is truly sad.

Contrary to the rumours, I do not call him. On the contrary, he has tried calling me and texting me on the pretext of his film Bajirao Mastani even using Mr Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s identity. I have been compelled to make this otherwise trivial validation in print because of the continuous lies and false stories being circulated [by a strong clique].

Honestly, I do not have the time, energy and man power [in media or social circuits] to keep reiterating validations against every [and seemingly constant] false stories or allegations.

Aaaanyway……moving on:

Why did you not write a strongly worded appeal to Rishi Kapoor Uncle when he told a woman ‘ass wipe and screw you’ on Twitter? That sounded pretty discriminatory and offensive to us. Plenty of men in Bollywood he could have called that too. They must be in tears at being left out of his farrago of curses and ravings? Are you aware that online violence against women is correlated to real life misogyny and violence ?

rishi kapoor tweet

Why didn’t you make a heartfelt and emotional appeal to Aamir Khan Big Bro not to make a joke of the word balaatkar / rape in his movie ‘3 idiots’ which was a ‘U’ certified film and released across the country at almost 2000 screens? You do know that more than a 1000 women get raped in India everyday? Or is it because as you say in your letter “most does not mean all” and MARD is only for Men Against Rape and Discrimination—of Men ? https://qz.com/343850/why-is-aamir-khan-offended-by-the-aib-roast-when-he-has-done-worse-in-3-idiots/

Why did you not pen an insightful and reflective letter to Amit Uncle on his b’day recently asking him to offer an unconditional retroactive apology for all those years when he played not just an Angry Young Man but often the Harassing and Crass Young Man ? Right from harassing Aruna Irani in Bombay to Goa till Kimi Katkar in the song Jumma Chumma. Not to mention the Lambu Tambu Mein Bambu song in Mard. Misogyny can also be as subtle as leaving out all the women from your family tree like Uncle has done recently. https://www.newslaundry.com/2016/09/08/are-there-no-women-worth-mentioning-in-the-bachchan-nanda-lineage

Where were you when Golmaal, Humshakal and other crude, crass and repugnant films were being released, with women being shown as sex objects and with toilet humour, pheromone sprays and men in drag considered comic relief ? Some such movies have been directed by your own first cousin brother Sajid Khan. Surely you have a family Whatsapp group where you could have sent him an open letter?

Why have you not written an extra open letter to Suzanne Bhabhi who divorced this ‘good soul’ for no apparent reason but is now being seen in photographs and at events with him way more than when they were married ?!

Her ex –husband gave this explanation for the divorce: “I am just trying to say that there are many reasons why people would like to live separate lives. Infidelity is just one of them. So the general assumption was, ‘Ah he is the superstar, he must have done something wrong. She must have caught him.’ That is not the case. We are great friends. It is between us. The reason that we decided to live separately may have been an inspiring reason, how do you know?” http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/hrithik-roshan-sussanne-khan-divorce-kangana-ranaut-affair/1/1064500.html

HUH??

You say in your open letter that you are not the authority on what is right and what is wrong.

Trust us, we know that.

However, we at our collective like to believe that even a 2 year old can understand good touch and bad touch and a 20 year old can certainly understand what is a cheating relationship and a 50 year old like your self should have figured out right and wrong by now! Unless of course, you are not in full possession of the facts. But all of you met recently in a well- choreographed dinner photo op, tabhi pooch toh liya hota bhai ??

dinner kJO

We are also waiting with bated breath for your open letter to the Sabarimala Temple Board Chief after he has said this: “If women are allowed, we can’t ensure their security. We don’t like to convert it as a sex tourism spot like Thailand. Even if the court opens its doors I don’t think self-respecting women will dare to go up to the hill shrine,” he said.

We do hope you can ask him also clarify if he meant there would be lesbian sex work (which would be super discriminatory to men isn’t it??) or Men would in any way be involved? Perhaps they could consider keeping Men out for a few centuries now and once they have learnt to behave properly with Women in public and private spaces without turning temples into brothels and homes into torture chambers, then only let them back in ? We have found that such strict discipline works very well with the boys in standard 4 and 5 in our school before they join the co-ed middle school.

Would you like us to put you in touch with a group like LABIA (Lesbians and Bisexuals in Action—which, by the way, has totally burned you in the acronym stakes!!) or CLITS (Cultural and Literary Innovations and Talks Society) to explain to you why all these aforementioned episodes reek rather obstreperously of discrimination? And that sexism is the start of the slippery slope for the rape culture?

Which we are still confused whether MARD is against or not if it does not involve other men??!

Once you have a deeper understanding of this issue and recognize that even if ‘most does not mean all’, it still means that 99.9% such cases involve women and you do want to get involved in those too, then you may need a full time typist and PR person and we can recommend some very good ones for you. They have passed Summa cum Laude from the Sir Humphrey School for Secretarial and Media Communication.

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We do need more men to join in the fight against sexism and misogyny and patriarchy and gender discrimination. But smart acronyms do not a feminist make. Neither does performing one scene in your sister’s film where you defend a woman being ‘allowed’ to work.

It doesn’t take too much of a ‘mard’ to defend his own chaddi-buddies and yaar-dost and it does enormous damage when the speaking out is so one sided. You may need to change your name to Men Against Rape and ‘Discrimination Against Nepotism’ and ‘Ganging up as Insiders’—MARDANGI.

As remarked in our earlier covering letter, we did use your letter to do a parsing exercise in our Advanced English class and found remarkable parallels also with Quentin Tarantino’s response to the Weinstein scandal where he mainly expressed his own sorrow at coping with the news rather than outrage about what had actually happened to women. https://ashleyjanssen.com/page/3/

QT on Harvey

Perhaps we could recommend some good books for the MARD office library which could help widen and deepen the perspective of the MARD staff on gender discrimination, censorship and the politics of gender: such as Vijay Tendulkar’s Sakharam Binder and Simone de Beauvoir’s Second Sex.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Everywoman,

Founder and Coordinator

Voices Against Gender Insensitive Nepotism Alliances

V.A.G.I.N.A

 

 

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Dear Farhan Akhtar and Brothers- in- arms in Bollywood (aka FABB),

We applaud your courage in standing up for Hrithik in what you would like to believe is the good fight. You are writing on behalf of the MARD which is ‘Men Against Rape and Discrimination’.

https://www.facebook.com/farhanakhtarlive/posts/908392775975031

Since your open letter is, in a marvellous Kafkaesque way, addressed to everyone and yet no one but also manages to target one person, who must not be named, we are wondering who is going to send you a reply.

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I am Everywoman and in my convent school when Ms Rose Dias (my God bless her) taught us English, using the everlasting Wren and Martin’s English Grammar and Composition Book (I have still kept my tattered and much thumbed copy with its frayed red binding….. but I digress), one of the things we learnt was that it is rude to leave a letter unanswered. So we are replying to you on behalf. Of whoever open letters are written to.

It was in fact Ms Mallika Dua in the staff room who paused in her rantings about a boy who is a waste of space (Poor Dhananjay. He really does it bring it upon himself) and brought to our notice your open letter.

Initially we thought MARD referred to an old Amitabh Bachchan film which had dialogues like ‘Mard ko Dard Nahi Hota’ and a rather repugnant and despicable ‘double meaning’ song called “Lambu tambu mein bambu lagaaye baithe, Maine jor lagaaya hayya hu, haath se bhi dabaaya, Par dil ki miti na chubhan.”

We were rather alarmed and quite a-twitter at this, but once we all composed ourselves and realized that this was released all the way back in 1989 and not likely to corrupt our lovely little boys anymore, we searched on Google and learned that you have founded M.A.R.D which is Men Against Rape and Discrimination.

Sister Mary was so delighted when we shared that information with her. Whenever we discuss in the staffroom if the Future is Female, she has always told us, while working the rosary beads and adjusting her wimple, “Patience! Patience! It will come.”

The only problem is that we thought the name meant Men against Rape and Discrimination -of WOMEN. But after reading your open letter we realized that it actually means Men Against Rape and Discrimination –of OTHER MEN. This quote from your letter makes the situation so much clearer now.

Until such a time that the matter is brought to its logical conclusion by the authorities, we must avoid vilifying the man on the basis of unsubstantiated statements. Let’s not discriminate.”

I must confess that we were a bit discombobulated upon this discovery. In India, where more than a 1000 women are raped every DAY, women are still being set on fire for not bringing enough dowry, beaten with hockey sticks for giving birth to a girl child, having acid thrown on them ( like the sister of ‘she who is not named’ in your open letter), murdered, commit suicide ( like the girlfriend of one of the men who is standing up for the ‘man who must not be named’ in your letter) and just generally discriminated against on a daily or even hourly basis, we are slightly puzzled as to why more MARD  is needed.

But as my Hindi teacher Ms Mehbooba used to say—Jahan DARD Wahan MARD. I guess she was right after all.

I am proud to tell you that I am also now an English teacher and I intend to use your open letter for parsing exercises and as a demonstration of a piece of writing that brings to mind , simultaneously, so many writing effects.

The obfuscation of Sir Humphrey from Yes Minister when you say-“I am not the authority on who is right or wrong in their situation

(“Yes, Prime Minister.” said Sir Humphrey Appleby: “It is not for a humble mortal such as I to speculate on the complex and elevated deliberations of the mighty.”)

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You also reminded us of Donald Rumsfield, (who was the Secretary of Defence- a task you have risen to rather well in your own letter we must say!) when you said: “Well, the truth is that WE do not know the truth. “

Here is what he said when questioned about the Iraq war “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”

There is also a hint of Shashi Tharoor’s sesquipedalian-ism in your letter: “The reason I felt the need to say this is that it is apparent that some people have already jumped to conclusions while some are deriving some sort of voyeuristic pleasure by encouraging the woman to carry on speaking. “

With a dash of Salman Rushdie’s magic realism here : “Today I read an open letter written by a man I know about a woman I know, professionally, at best.”

We even thought there was a charming allusion to Alice in Wonderland when you say: “For a moment, let us put aside emotion, prejudice, biases, our understandably protective instincts and look at the facts as they exist today

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Of course you have learnt your literary craft at the knees of your father Javed Akhtar, mother Honey Irani (who has, incidentally, been the screenwriter for Kaho Na Pyar Hai, Koi Mil Gaya, Krrish and Krrish 3), your second mother Shabana Azmi, your father’s writing partner Salim Khan, perhaps Gulzar Uncle and a veritable smorgasbord of literary influences.

In fact when we first read this earlier tweet from you we thought you were admonishing the Bollywood fraternity (we cannot say sorority given how male dominated the film industry continues to be) for ganging up against the girl who must not be named.

tweet on ram raheem

But it turns out that you were addressing Ram Rahim’s disciples and followers who were running amok when he was finally called out for his lying and manipulation and messing with girls’ lives.

We apologize for this bungle and we promise to follow you even more very closely on Twitter in the future, so that we don’t miss anything subtle.

(It’s a good thing this is not a voice message or you would have noticed a distinct snicker, or perhaps even a chortle in the background. Ms. Zeenat, our PT teacher has a rather active sense of humour, despite having almost lost an eye from a beating. By a Man.).

Anyway, I don’t want to keep you from your very busy life making men in India feel safe, so I shall get on to the main Open Letter to FAB.

It should reach you by the morning post tomorrow.

Regards,

Everywoman

 

Kangana, Jiah, Diana, Monica and me:

I am Everywoman. I must say I feel sorry for ‘poor’ Hrithik. He was ‘stalked by a crazed woman’ who ‘claims he had an affair’ with her while he was still married. She sent him ‘thousands of unsolicited emails’. He ‘never met her even once outside of their work’. He is ‘so worried for his kids’ that he finally broke his silence.

Yes. He had to break his silence and clarify.

Unlike Amitabh Bacchhan, Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Sanjay Khan, Salman Khan or anyone else in the past had to ever clarify to any women in their lives in public or ever for that matter. Except maybe Dilip Kumar who could not manage to get away with the ‘accidental affair’ with Asma.

Because finally some woman decided not to keep quiet!! She brushed the man off as a ‘silly ex’ and when he retaliated with a swat she retaliated with a blast. She finally showed what it is like when the bully is stood up to. Whether the bully is a smug flag bearer of nepotism or a lame duck has- been star son who has benefited from that nepotism. It could have been Abhishek or Farhan or Salman or Ranbir or Adhyayan Suman or anyone of the long list of slightly failed star family sons with sad skills at relationships of their own who are now supporting Mr. H.

Willy- nilly (pun intended) Mr H will go down in history as the first Bollywood Hero to be called out and shamed so publicly by the woman he was not honest with. He may have played the superhero Krrish but she is surely his Kryptonite!

Men have never needed to shush the women till now because the patriarchy had done its job well. Women were shushing themselves. “What will people say? What will my parents say?? It must have been my fault. My reputation will be in shreds if I speak out!”

As a result of this conspiracy of silence, no man has been called out like this in the past.

Zeenat Aman was slapped and beaten up in a hotel lobby by Hrithik’s (now ex) father- in- law (in full sight of the public and so much that her eye has been permanently damaged). Dimple was repeatedly cheated on by Twinkle’s father and now Sunny Deol continues to be married to his wife but in a public relationship with Dimple herself. Aishwarya Rai was slapped around by Farhan’s father’s writer partner Salim Khan’s son Salman,“ but he never hit me on my face.”

Aww cho chweet !!

And these are the people who are standing up for old buddy H.

In her suicide note said “There was a time I saw my life with you, a future with you. But you shattered my dreams. I feel dead inside. I’ve never given so much of myself to someone or cared so much. You returned my love with cheating and lies. It didn’t matter how many gifts I gave you or how beautiful I looked for you. I was scared of getting pregnant but I gave myself completely the pain you have caused me everyday has destroyed every bit of me, destroyed my soul. I can’t eat or sleep or think or function. I am running away from everything.” http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/jiah-khan-suicide-case-this-is-what-jiah-khans-letter-to-sooraj-pancholi-said-abortion-pregnancy-court-full-text/1/544424.html

 

Diana, the Princess of Wales, suffered in a loveless marriage, which is fine, many of us Everywoman do. But she was made out to be crazy, she pitched into bulimia and despite the various clarifications and no end to the conspiracy theories, today the reality is that she is dead from a suspicious car crash and the Man is married to his lover and mistress and living in the Palace.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/29/diana-tapes-reveal-queens-reply-to-sobbing-plea-loveless-marriage

Monica Lewsinsky was a 22 year old intern with stars in her eyes, working at the White House. Bill Clinton was 44 year old Man. He was the President of the USA for heaven’s sake! He was married and had a daughter who was Monica’s age. They had an affair and like the ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’ they apparently ‘had- some- sex- that- was ‘not sex’. Considering she had it with a man who ‘smoked but did not inhale’, that was not much of a surprise. Eyeroll. But who did the shame and the dirt stick to? Bill Clinton now has a Clinton Foundation worth millions of dollars and goes on world tours giving lectures. What does Monica have?

She admitted in the interview that she “came very close” to attempting suicide. “I felt like every layer of my skin and my identity were ripped off me in ’98 and ’99,” she said. “It’s a skinning of sorts. You feel incredibly raw and frightened.” https://www.today.com/news/monica-lewinsky-new-revealing-interview-shame-sticks-you-tar-t86876

Rupan Deol Bajaj was an IAS officer whose bottom was slapped in public by KPS Gill. She retaliated by slapping a lawsuit. Some of the things she was told when she did it—She was vindicated after a long drawn out case which took 17 years but not before being told a thousand times to shut the f**k up and not call out The Man. Who was a Hero and a good Son of Mother India and such https://feminisminindia.com/2017/05/31/kps-gill-sexual-harasser/

Sanskari Alok Nath had this wonderful culturally appropriate and sensitive thought to share some moths ago:

Alok-Nath-Twitter-Controversy

While Rishi Kapoor of the ‘Great Kapoor Khandan’ (as he likes to keep reminding everyone) had this to say :

rishi kapoor tweet

Even Gulzar of the gulabi aakhen and pighalti zulfein has apparently beaten up Rakhee and prevented her from working in films.

https://www.pinkvilla.com/entertainment/nostalgia/360851/flashback-friday-night-which-changed-gulzar-raakhees-marriage

Gulzar-Shayari-poetry

I will save the details of the ‘mad woman in attic’ trope for another blogpost but one must talk here about Gaslighting. The term originates in the systematic psychological manipulation of a victim by the main character in the 1938 stage play Gas Light.

gaslight 2

The checklist of diversion tactics used by highly manipulative and narcissistic sociopaths apparently includes:

Gaslighting, projection, nonsense conversations from hell, over generalizations, wilful misrepresentations, changing the subject and name calling. Everyone from Hrithik’s bizarre saving of 1000s of unsolicited emails to Adhyayan Suman’s accusations of witch craft using menstrual blood to the name calling by Shekhar Suman to the nonsense conversation from hell that was Hrithik’s weirdly shifty and rehearsed ‘interview ‘with the nation which wants to know (mainly when this is all going to end and we can carry on with gossiping about Aamir Khan and the Dangal girl)

https://thoughtcatalog.com/shahida-arabi/2016/06/20-diversion-tactics-highly-manipulative-narcissists-sociopaths-and-psychopaths-use-to-silence-you/

 

Of course one could turn around and say that she is using the same tactics but just because she has shown some really bad judgement in her choice of boyfriends, that does not mean she is lying. I find it TOTALLY un- believable that the smart, sharp and badass woman who made the ‘Coz I have vagina re’ video is making up all this.

 

 

However, even if there is not an iota of truth in anything she has said, I am going to cheer her on for having not just opened but smashed the door of the Pandora’s box and no man, at least in Bollywood, will indulge in an affair or take a woman lightly by thinking he can shame her into silence.

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So go for it Kangana ! Everywoman and her sisters are with you, and so is Gandhiji.

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We are all just stories in the end.

story-telling

We wrap them around us.

Like a veil ……or sometimes like an armour….. and sometimes even like a shroud.

All children love stories. Especially about themselves or their parents as children.

“When mummy was a little girl she ran away from school in the lunch break”.

They giggle and look over at Mummy who is making angry eyes at Granny for this.

“Do you know what your grandfather did one Diwali when you were scared of the firecrackers??”

“When your father was small we used to pay him 10 Rs. to keep quiet for 10 minutes!”

We take these stories and use them like Lego blocks…… to build our identities, our personalities, our future self, or past shadows. We start telling ourselves these stories to reinforce the sense of self.

“I am not THAT kind of a person.”

“My family means more to me than my career.”

She really did love me.”

We try to make sense of the world and our place in it through these stories in our head.

stories

We love stories so much that JK Rowling had become richer than the Queen of England at one point! We need so much constant story telling as a race that we print or e-write over millions of new books and see 1000’s of new movies every year. And that is not even counting the millions of blogs, YouTube videos, Netflix binge watching and pirated copies of Game of Thrones doing the rounds! From the earliest cave paintings to Avatar 3 D, they are all just stories. The bedtime tales, the newspapers, the movies, the Twitters and Facebooks and Buzzfeed, everything is basically telling you a story.

Sometimes about what happened, sometimes about what is yet to happen and sometimes about what could have been.

The Vedas are believed to be as much as 7000 years old and they were shared down the ages by recitation (hence called Veda meaning that which is heard).

Around 2000 years ago some other stories emerged and became major world religions as the ‘word of God’ was written down and had to be followed. Myths became Mythology and then forced upon us as The ONLY Truth.

in the beginning was the word

 

Some stories have a short arc of a day or an event or a month.

Some interesting ones may take even 30 years to turn a page and move forward.

Some stories may be changed to re-invent who we are.

Irish song writer Sarah Daly says it beautifully in her poem Iteration:

“Have you seen my old self?

I think I must have lost her,

I wonder if I cost her Her life?

I am recycled cells,

I learn to like myself,

More with each iteration”

 

The stories get more structured and formal the further we go from the self.

From “Oh, we don’t make sabzi that way in our family” to “Of course, those people are bigamists” is not a very far leap in terms of storylines.

As we get formalized into professions, these stories take on different shapes. They emerge as Company Rules and Standard Operating Protocol. Code of Ethics. Guidelines. THIS is how WE do things around here.

The larger structures of government and society build these steel frameworks of stories around us, like the Doozers from Fraggle Rock. Constantly building, re-building, busy, busy, busy. They call them law, culture, morals, values. They tell us that THIS is how we do things in India. So if you are a good Indian you will/ will not do this.

But although these frameworks have walls, they also have windows, and through them keep coming the whispers.

Through the framework of worshipping Ram come the questions about the banishment of Sita. From the stories of ‘good girls behave this way’ come the whispers about Kunti. From the stories of how husbands will always protect the wife if she is good, come the stories of Draupadi.

Sometimes from the framework you can see bodies hanging. Of couples who tried to bring in a plot twist by marrying across caste and religion. Of couples who loved in the same sex. Of girls and women who asked too many questions about the way the stories were being written on their bodies. Why father? Why do I have to marry this man who is 20 years older? Why mother? Why can’t I study like my brother? Why? Why am I not an equal human being?

When pipelines are being built through ancient Native American land, when villages in India are being drowned to build a new dam, when migrant domestic workers are being locked in the basement, when 10 year old girls are raped and gentle young brides are being set on fire for dowry, the whispers grow louder and sometimes become war cries.

And constantly, through all the white noise and the fake news, the propaganda, the moral panic and the covfefe, our own soul tries to remind us that this is all maya, an illusion.

We wake up from a dream where we are falling, falling, falling so far down and we have left our body behind. We hover over it briefly and then, when we wake up with a start, all is well……. but is it just another layer of the dream?

Our existence is such a random chance. To be alive at this moment in time and space; born of stardust and back to it in just a few short spins around the sun.

We need to re-tell ourselves that story above all else.

Spinning away around the sun as it spins around the galaxy as it spins around the centre of an ever expanding Universe or maybe a Multiverse.

Stories this is my dreamwithin stories within a dream.

But that should not make us helpless. On the contrary! It should make us completely fearless! We can change the narrative anytime that we choose. We can write our own destiny because there is no template!

 

 

 

 

As The Doctor says: “We are all stories in the end. Just remember to make it a good one.”

stories in the end

Who was Ram’s Sita ?

It is a sort of metaphor in India that if you tell someone a long winded story and they ask you a very basic plot/ character query, you roll your eyes and say “Well, who is Ram’s Sita??!” Meaning that she is the pivot for the Great War in Ramayana and you have clearly missed the plot.

Today is Vijaya Dashmi or Dussehra. It is celebrated as a triumph of good over evil and has two main stories: Ram killed Raavan in an epic battle and Goddess Durga killed Mahishasur. (more on him later).

Although the Mahabharat and Ramayan are probably a few thousand years apart, they do have some interwoven narratives. One of the timelines is also that on the day of Vijaya Dashmi, the Pandavas came out of hiding from their own 14 year exile and took their weapons back from the tree whose leaves we distribute as ‘gold’today. We worship our ‘tools and weapons’ on this day, which in our household translates into placing flowers on books, pens, the laptop and the wifi router 🙂

ayudh puja

However, unlike the Mahabharat (which is the most amazing multi- layered story ever–forget Big Little Lies and Game of Thrones! This is the one you should dig into if you like your main characters flawed and you like seeing petty issues completely unravel people’s lives and you enjoy dark complicated plot twists), the Ramayan has always left me underwhelmed. Maybe even as a child I picked up on the serious patriarchal overtones, the strange injustices done to the women characters, the odd glorification of Ram despite some seriously questionable judgement calls, the odd devotion of Laxman among others.

Of course Ram is believed to be a God and one of the reincarnations of Vishnu sent to Earth and worshipped by Hindus.

 

Anyway, in the Ramayan, the key plot twists are around Kaikeyi, Manthara in the first half and Shurpanakha, Sita in the next. Kaushalya doesn’t get much of a chance to speak really. (But seriously, the entire point of being the lead queen is lost if your son gets sent off for 14 years AND loses the crown, right?? Speak out woman!)

We have been told that Dashrath married two more women after Kaushalya, because he could not have children. Well, it seems that he did have a child with Kaushalya–a daughter, Shanta. But he was so desperate for a son that Shanta was sent away to marry a celibate sage in order to ensure that Dashrath has a son ! http://devdutt.com/articles/indian-mythology/the-story-of-rams-elder-sister.html

If you don’t know your Ramayan in detail and didn’t grow up in my generation when the streets would get deserted when BR Chopra’s TV series was being telecast and women did puja of the screen before sitting down, then check out the plot and main story highlights here. https://www.importantindia.com/20551/story-of-ramayana/

So on to Kaikeyi—what was her deal ? A warrior Princess (from Afghanistan probably, like Gandhari from Mahabharat), she married the much older Dashrath because he promised her father that her son would be King. He also gave her two boons because she saved his life in the battle field. Pretty big commitments don’t you think? And then, as old powerful mmantharaen are wont to do (recall Dushyant from Shankuntala ? Bill Clinton and Monica from the White House? Modi and Jashoben ?), he forgot about her and moved on with his life. But Manthara was looking out for Kaikeyi’s interests cos if your Queen’s son doesn’t get to be King, then she becomes just the sad old widow number 3 once the King is dead. So our folklore promptly makes her out to be a shrewish witch. Well, anyway, long story short, Kaikeyi demands her rights and Ram goes off to the forest. mithila

Rewind a bit and before all this, Ram has gone for a Swayamvar (literally an event to ‘choose your own spouse’) and won the contest and married Sita. She is the daughter of King Janak. But wait, is she? She was ‘found’ in a buried casket in a field in the kingdom –female infanticide much?? Was she a docile passive princess or a warrior queen herself ?

 

But now they are on the extended forest staycation, 14 years, no glamping but they had able bodied Laxman to help out, lots of organic fruits and berries and the occasional golden deer and assorted tribals.

sita-requests-rama-to-fetch-illusory-golden-deer-CH53_l

Cue Shurpanakha. Who is she? She is Raavan’s sister we are told. But then who was Raavan ? He was a tribal king, very strong, very learned and very powerful. According to one interpretation, Ravana performed an intense penance to Brahma, lasting several years. During this, he chopped off his head 10 times as a sacrifice to appease Brahma. Each time he sliced his head off, a new head arose, thus enabling him to continue his penance. Of course at the end of the day despite being a master of 64 types of knowledge, he became a slave to his feelings which finally led to his death. http://www.speakingtree.in/allslides/why-did-demon-king-ravana-have-ten-heads

Remember that the Ramayana is told from Ram’s point of view and from the Aryan race point of view. So the women from Surapanakha’s tribe probably were more empowered and able to negotiate relationships on their own (though the Swayamvar was also quite empowering. In principle. It seems to have been transmuted to some kind of a WWF with archery as the goal when marriage really does not revolve around those skills. Sigh)

Anyway, so Surapanakha approaches Ram, because she finds him attractive. He rejects her and suggest ravanayanLaxman. Laxman laughs at her and ‘cuts off her nose’. Could this be symbolic rather than the real physical injury we have seen in our Amar Chitra Kathas? Did he sexually assault her maybe? In any case, she goes to her brother Raavan, horrified at the injustice and humiliation and he decides to do take revenge. Not really very evil is that? When he kidnaps Sita (ok yes, abduction is evil) and keeps her in the Ashok Vatika, apparently he never forces himself upon her.

Is it possible that the narrative is actually just racist and the darker tribal people have been branded as Rakshasas who are all born evil and need to be destroyed?

 

In a similar tale, we have the legend of Mahishasura: Apparently the king of Asuras was enticed by the beauty of a she-buffalo and eventually married her. (take that you ‘gau rakshaks’). The child who was born from this union was named Mahishasura. He wanted to wage war against the Devas and to make himself invincible, so he performed austerities propitiating Brahma to confer upon him immortality. Brahma refused him the boon of immortality but gave him a boon such that his death would happen only at the hands of a woman. Mahishasura imagined that this was the equivalent of immortality since he believed it was impossible for a woman to slay a person of his strength. Ok…Brahma really needs to sort out his boon giving judgement calls here but there is an interesting alternative take on this narrative also.

To understand the politics of the Durga Puja, we may start from the idol itself. The goddess is fair-skinned (and hence, beautiful) and embodies all the virtues of life and is shown as slaying a demonic half-man-half-animal creature who is placed at her feet. The demon Mahishasur is dark-skinned, has a naked upper body and is attributed all “dark” (tamasik) characteristics. More than signifying the victory of good over evil, this very powerfully symbolises the subjugation of the dark-skinned indigenous inhabitants of the region, the adivasis, by the fairer Aryans.”

Sounds interesting? Read more here: http://www.dailyo.in/lifestyle/durga-puja-hinduism-lord-shiva-adivasi-mahishasur-bengali-ahalya-karl-marx/story/1/6904.html

And we are back to Sita. There have been myriad re-interpretations of her story, from her perspective, from that of the other women in Ramayan, even from Raavan’s point of view. Here is a fun subversive video called ‘Sita Sings the Blues’.

 

I happened to watch a TV serial recently, quite by mistake I assure you, called ‘Siya Ke Ram’. It actually had very empowered and dynamic and layered dimensions for the many women in the story. One of my favourite scenes is where Dashrath tells Kaikeyi that Ram is his older son and he will make him King. She sneers at him and says “None of these are YOUR sons! You are infertile! They are the sons of your wives, born from a yagna.” Yes!! Now that’s the way to tell truth to power. Salute!

The Ramayan will continue to be told, re –told and re –interpreted. It is a cultural and historical legacy we have to live with. Laxman’s rekha (line) is still used as a patriarchal symbol for limiting women’s options. Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya was at the centre of a controversy on Friday over his remark that women must not cross the Lakshman rekha to avoid unwanted consequences” http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/dont-cross-lakshman-rekha-minister-tells-women/article4273131.ece

Ram will continue to be held up as symbol of the ultimate Good Son, Good Warrior, Good King (not so hot as a husband given that he abandoned his wife after rescuing her. Quite the passive aggressive relationship.

in search of sita

She had to walk through fire to prove her chastity. What about him?? He was also single and able to mingle while she was gone? Then when he did find her later, with her twin boys, she was again asked to prove her purity and she was kind of fed up of this asked her mother to take her back. She said NO to another Agnipariksha. Not a feeble no which could mean yes. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/26/a-feeble-no-may-mean-yes-indian-court-overturns-conviction.

A firm NO. The earth opened up and back she went, to her ‘mother’s place’, to a place of peace and non- judgement.) http://www.womensweb.in/2016/08/women-in-the-ramayana-if-valmiki-been-a-woman/

modern-women-9

In any story always ask who is telling it. History is always written by victors. ‘Herstory’ is rarely told. And those who die in the wars never get to tell their tale…..

There is so much more to say and discuss but in order to keep the length reasonable, I am just going to end here with the recollection that it was the desire to ‘find’ Sita’s Temple and to ‘prove’ that Ayodhya was the birthplace of Ram, that led to the insane attempt to demolish the Babri Masjid and then the subsequent horrific Bombay bomb blasts of 1993. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/160617/1993-mumbai-serial-blasts-were-to-avenge-babri-demolition-says-cbi.html

Seeing the stories of the tragic stampede at Elphinstone Road station two days ago and the victims and injured being taken to KEM hospital reminded me so vividly of the day of the blasts when I was on duty in the casualty, and wave after wave of bodies started coming in. These were days way before the internet and even before mobile phones. We had simply no clue what had happened. We just took blood samples, started IV lines, eventually with bare hands when we ran out of gloves. We stuck plasters on the heads of the people brought it, wrote numbers on them and labelled the samples accordingly, since they were not conscious and there was no ID. We ran up and down from the Operation Theatres to the blood bank, from the casualty to the wards. The bodies started piling up outside as we triaged and took in only those who were still alive.

Today, as we worship Ram and Durga, symbols of the victory of good over evil, while simultaneously allowing citizens to die– due to corruption, poor urban planning and management, drown by falling into open manholes, be crushed to death for the crime of using public transport, tell women that the poor men who rape them get confused by a ‘feeble no which could be a yes’, tell girls who want to study to maintain the Laxman Rekha rather than become Kali and do a tandav demanding justice, what can one say better than this song does ?

Why don’t girls understand it ???

men sitting

Gangaram: Kya Sitaram bhai, these Benaras Hindu University girls are doing so much ghotala and protest and all?? See what the paper says:

A student of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) was on her way back to the hostel from the department when she was stopped and harassed by some unidentified individuals inside the campus. She immediately reached out to the security personnel posted nearby and of course they refused to help and instead told her that it was her fault as she was roaming around on the road after dark. (DUH ! ) 

The incident happened around 6 pm in the evening. She went back to her hostel and shared her plight with her fellow students. The students decided to complain to the Dean of Student, but there also the girls were turned away saying that it was their problem and they need to be careful and not be outdoors after dark.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/varanasi-bhu-protest-girls-warpath-uttar-pradesh-police/1/1055279.html

How many times and in how many ways we have been telling them for the last thousand years that they are not our equals?!! And that too in Benaras, the holy city for Hindus and the ruling party at least they should behave themselves.

Lower their eyes, stay quiet, obey and be good little Hindu girls who will marry a man of their parents’ choice, never protest against marital rape so that the institutions of our country stay strong, produce only sons so we are not forced to beat them up using hockey sticks or pour acid on them to teach them a lesson .http://metro.co.uk/2017/07/17/woman-beaten-by-in-laws-with-a-hockey-stick-for-giving-birth-to-a-girl-6784313/

Julie-Kumari-acid-attack-India-823187

But STILL these %$#@ Samajhti hi nahin!!

Sitaram:  Haan, bhiayya. In many countries we  didn’t give them the vote, here we took away right to property, we denied them admissions to medical colleges, we refused contraception so they couldn’t enjoy sex without getting pregnant and having babies, we didn’t fund child care so if they had kids or sex they could not be employed, even if they did get employed–we paid them less than men for the same jobs and we didn’t give paid maternity leave.

We didn’t give them any reservations in politics or education, we shut down libraries for their own safety, we make them wear full length clothes, even scarf and burkha, we kill them for speaking up or stepping out, we stop them from wearing jeans, using mobile phones, earning money, but STILL these goddam girls NEVER UNDERSTAND !!!https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2014/10/sexism-and-gender-discrimination/

(as an aside—arre Lakhan ki ma , kahan mar gayi ?? Chai to le ayo)

 

women-walking-to-a-well-with-water-pots-on-their-heads-rajasthan-india-A6EX2F

Nandlal: Even though they top all academics, we make sure they stay out of the workforce. We invented the glass ceiling, the stilettos, the burkhas, the fairness creams, vaginal tightening creams, underarm whitening creams, kept them busy with their hair and the products, changed fashion 4 times a year to keep them busy and spend their money. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/More-women-study-medicine-but-few-practise/articleshow/50525799.cms

manohar

We stalk them, beat them up, rape them, gang rape them, in public, set them on fire, throw them out of the house, kill them, abuse them, but like cockroaches they rise.http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/24-year-old-woman-gangraped-panchayat-orders-gangrape-uttar-pradesh-revenge-by-in-laws/1/296827.html

7568_dowry

http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/ias-officer-writes-on-daughter-s-stalking-by-haryana-bjp-chief-s-son-we-are-standing-so-long-as-we-can/story-qdbRDBuGNe7OliE66lLTlN.html

Laxmiprasad: We have explained to them again and again that rape is caused by chowmein, by short skirts, by going out at night, by talking English, but they keep saying teach the boys not to rape. What nonsense?! After all boys will be boys….

01

Remember that stupid girl who was out at night in the bus ? We called her Nirbhaya just to keep all those crazy protesting women quiet. We managed to not spend any of the money we promised hahaha. Women’s safety?! They should just stay at home were they belong.

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We also send out and laugh at and share sexist jokes and cartoons by the millions, cos come on, of course they are funny!! So many women also find them funny! Women and girls are basically funny anyway, when they are not being stupid or bitchy. They are HILARIOUS. Always assuming they matter or that they should have opinions or get respect or appreciation or have the right to decide what to wear and where to go. Morons. Hahahaha.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2341957/Mother-killed-Indian-mob-daughter-refused-stop-wearing-jeans.html

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Durgaprasad: Ya, so we let them have one mothers’ day and one goddess festival a year but then we allow them to die like flies while giving birth. http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/5-women-in-india-die-every-hour-during-childbirth-who-2856975/

We have sex too but only they get pregnant and we don’t care if they have to ‘’manage’ it somehow. If one wife dies we can always get another ! Maybe she will bring a bigger dowry and also have a son.http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/unsafe-abortions-killing-a-woman-every-two-hours/article4686897.ece

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Devilal: So, why don’t they get it??? They are secondary, unequal, useless, worth nothing but causal sex for men’s pleasure, to be underpaid or even better unpaid child rearers, take up jobs that men would never want to do because they are boring as shit or underpaid as crap.

They think they are equal citizens of this country and the elected officials will speak up on their behalf and ensure justice and freedom and dignity and rights ??! Hahahah. Idiots.

Narendra-Modi-Laughing

 

Oh well, who cares why they don’t get it. It’s literally their funeral.

 

Ari o Ram ki Ma, it’s time for dinner woman, get it ready quickly!

 

Can’t you see we are all hungry after a hard day’s work??

 

To jab or not to jab

Is that still a question ??

vaccintaion

I remember going to buy the HiB vaccine in 1998 for my daughter, before we travelled to the UK. The chemist shop—apparently the only one that even stocked the vaccine– was madly busy, but after much hand waving and shouting I managed to communicate with a salesman (there were never any women in chemist shops in those days. Not even these days).

He heard/ lip read me saying ‘HiB’ ‘HiB’ and waving the prescription, which he glanced at just cursorily, as though this was all beneath him, and opened the freezer door of a large fridge. A dozen different vials tumbled out and fell down. He gathered them and just shoved them in anyhow and rummaged a bit before handing me a slightly cold package over the waving hands of other customers. It said Hep B vax.

So then I had to shout and wave some more while he looked at me with an annoyed expression at not accepting what he was handing out. He took the HepB back and gave me the HiB. I still have no idea if there was anything in that vaccine that could have genuinely protected my 5 month child since the temperature of the cold chain seemed to be ridiculous to believe in. For all I know they even switched off the freezer at nights.

So, clearly, the vaccine delivery systems can have some grey zones.

Vaccines have been the cutting edge of preventive medicine for a while now. Evidence exists that the Chinese employed smallpox inoculation (or variolation as it was called) as early as 1000 CE. Apparently the Chinese would take scabs from healing vesicles, grind them up, and snort them up their noses. Those Chinese sure knew how to party.” http://www.ofmicrobesandmen.com/pretty-milkmaid/

It was practiced in Africa and Turkey as well, before it spread to Europe and the Americas. But Edward Jenner’s innovations, begun with his successful 1796 use of cowpox material to create immunity to smallpox, quickly made the practice widespread. It eventually resulted in the eradication of smallpox.

The reasons why milkmaids were always being referred to as beautiful in poems was that they rarely contracted smallpox and the subsequent severe pockmarking of the face.https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/how-a-young-boy-a-cow-and-a-milkmaid-helped-to-conquer-smallpox-video/

Disturbing image warning: Child in Bangladesh with small pox

1200px-Child_with_Smallpox_Bangladesh

Jenner took material from a sore on a milkmaid’s hand and inoculated his gardner’s eight year old son. After a mild fever and discomfort, the boy recovered. When exposed to smallpox a few months later, he was found to have complete protection against the disease. While today this experiment would be considered illegal at best and wildly unethical at worst, it was the first documented case of what would eventually be called vaccination.

Louis Pasteur’s 1885 rabies vaccine was the next to make an impact on human disease. Rabies has a 100% fatality and at least 10 million lives have been saved by this vaccine so far.

And then, at the dawn of bacteriology, developments rapidly followed. Antitoxins and vaccines against tetanus, anthrax, cholera, plague, typhoid, tuberculosis, and more were developed through the 1930s. Since then we now have a long list of vaccines that can protect us from many of the diseases that used to be common around the world, including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, rotavirus and Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib).

grow old

In India we have some free (and compulsory) vaccines on schedule. https://www.nhp.gov.in/universal-immunization-programme-uip_pg and then there are the optional ones made available. We have managed to successfully eradicate polio. It was a mammoth undertaking and Atul Gawande has written a very interesting account of his observations while accompanying a Pulse Polio field worker. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2004/01/12/the-mop-up. But one reads about illegal immigrants crossing over from Nepal and Bangladesh every day and one really has to wonder…..

How are vaccines tested for safety and efficacy ? Well, first on animals and then mostly on fit and healthy adults   (probably mostly men since it would be unethical to ever try out vaccines on pregnant women). Some people are against the use of animals for testing. I loved the War of the planet of the Apes and it raised some very dark questions about humans and our sense of ownership of this planet and how we treat animals but then an image like this makes you question that again…

rather see

Meanwhile there comes news from Siberia that, despite Trump not believing in global warming, the permafrost has started to melt. This would open up the graves of those who died from smallpox so many decades ago and possibly the virus could spread again, against an entirely unprotected generation who was never vaccinated since small pox was eradicated in 1977! Spores of potentially fatal anthrax from dead people and reindeer that had been entombed in the permafrost are already thought to have infected 24 patients currently in hospital in Salekhard near Russia’s north coast.http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/smallpox-siberia-return-climate-change-global-warming-permafrost-melt-a7194466.html

If this cute looking tardigrade can survive 30 years of being dried out and all kinds of extremes of temperature, who knows what else is out there ? https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/15/15971918/tarigrade-earth-space-astrophysics-asteriod-apocalypse-survival

tardigrade

Of course the story of vaccines also includes the story of Henrietta Lacks, whose immortal cell line ( HeLa), used without her consent, also led to breakthroughs in the study of herpes, leukemia, influenza, hemophilia, Parkinson’s disease, certain types of genetic diagnoses, cancer, AIDS, cloning, the effects of radiation and toxic substances, and in vitro fertilization. This made many pharmaceutical and biotech companies into billionaires many times over, while her family has yet to receive anything in compensation! https://thatwhichiam.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/in-the-medical-garden-of-good-and-evil/comment-page-1/

There are some people who are against vaccines. Though the claims that vaccines cause autism have been dismissed, repeatedly, (https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/no-mmr-autism-link-large-study-vaccinated-vs-unvaccinated-kids) now some people do question if the ingredients (such as thiomersal ) used in vaccines , could affect babies since they are vaccinated with fairly large volumes compared to their body weight.

trump vaxx

Bill Nye (the Science Guy) hosted an episode on this which we saw recently. From their debate I agree that one thing is true –those who have never seen the harmful effects of the actual disease can start doubting if the benefits really do outweigh the risks. It’s almost the same argument one makes for ensuring that women must have access to safe abortion. Those who have seen the wards filled with women dying of septic abortions understand how precious this right is.

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Maybe the current Indian  government is sponsoring this anti-porn vaccine, using holy cow serum mixed with peacock tears…….hahaha

1704031557-Health-Department-Unveils-Porn-Vaccine-as-April-Fools

If vaccines are meant for public health, then should they not be government owned/ subsidized like nationalized banks? Well, those in the list of universal vaccines are but plenty of vaccines are part of the ‘for profit’ industry. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/02/vaccines-are-profitable-so-what/385214/. In India the trials for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine had some serious ethical concerns raised as did the unexpected enthusiasm with which everyone was pushed into taking the vaccine, especially since simple screening is as effective in preventing cervical cancer.

So— prevention, profit, ethics, public health…. and it’s the same dance that the medical fraternity is constantly engaged in. You put your right foot in. You put your right foot out. Step to the public, step to the private, swing around and back again. That’s what it’s all about …..

There are so many new vaccines being developed– to protect from Alzheimer’s, HIV, malaria and much more. http://www.immunizeforgood.com/vaccines/new-vaccines-on-the-horizon There are even DNA vaccines being developed which could provide better immunity than the conventional ones. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/715527_8

But sadly, there is no vaccine against stupidity yet………

really

Bird song and songs with birds

We know that complexity of language is one of the key things that distinguishes us from other animals. It is this ability that has allowed us to eventually become civilized (such as we are….).

While many animals and insects also communicate through sounds, those uttered by birds “offer in several respects the nearest analogy to language,” Charles Darwin wrote in “The Descent of Man” (1871), while contemplating how humans learned to speak. Language, he speculated, might have had its origins in singing, which “might have given rise to words expressive of various complex emotions.”

bird song accent

Humans, according to the authors of this article, fruitfully combined these systems. We can communicate essential information, like bees or primates — but like birds, we also have a melodic capacity and an ability to recombine parts of our uttered language. For this reason, our finite vocabularies can generate a seemingly infinite string of words. Indeed, the researchers suggest that humans first had the ability to sing, as Darwin conjectured, and then managed to integrate specific lexical elements into those songs.

http://news.mit.edu/2013/how-human-language-could-have-evolved-from-birdsong-0221

And going full circle we then tried to teach some birds how to speak !

 

It is no wonder then that when we invented a social medium that allowed us to communicate in short chirpy bursts we called it Twitter!

Maya Angelou says in her famous poem The Caged Bird Sings:

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

From bird song to birds in songs– here is a list of beautiful songs from Hindi films, old and new, that refer to birds!

This first song is without category. Incomparable– due to Lata’s voice and incomparable because it speaks of Dyaneshwar’s devotion to Vitthal. “The crow’s crowing from the river is good omen and indication that Vitthal is coming to my place. Hey crow, I will adorn you with gold, give you curd rice, milk, tell me isn’t it true that Vitthal is coming to my home? Please tell me without delay when is he coming?”

 

In this category are the songs that invoke a sense of longing and desire and use the plaintive cry of some birds to express their own emotions:

  1. Shamshad Begum sings for Nargis in Aag

 

2.    Teesri Kasam, with a delightful folk tune song, speaks of the caged bird which still     has the power to captivate the wandering traveller

3. Lamhe, a movie probably ahead of its time with a unique storyline and beautiful songs. Sridevi singing in the desert with Ila Arun’s voice as the tribal singer.

4. Bandini, with Nutan in prison and the others doing their daily work and singing about the free bird singing outside their walled lives. Imagining how life is going on in the free world

5. Mala Sinha and Dev Anand star in this movie Maya with poor girl rich boy, mixed identities and lots of twists and turns 

6. Rafi sings in the film Bhabhi and reminds us that we are just temporary guests in this world:

Fly away, o bird you no longer belong here, your lease at this branch is over, you did not own anything here, you were just a tenant here no one in this world stays here for ever

 

And now for some cheerful, fun and even mad songs here !

  1. Nutan and girlfriends, cycling down a lovely empty road,

2. Nargis frees the caged birds

3. The film is Madhumati and Johnny Walker is asking the question that remains at the core of accountability! If no one catches you cheat, did you really cheat?!

4. Dimple Kapadia in Bobby. What else does one need to say? Except of course that like many older songs and films, some of the lyrics are a bit regressive but I try to remember when it was released and forgive them….

5. Kishore Kumar at the height of his madness in the movies. It is difficult to imagine that anyone could actually direct him to do the stuff he did in Half Ticket!

6. Hum Saath Saath Hain gave Indian kids the alphabet song, lots of cultural gyan about loving your family and the most amazingly goody- goody family in this modern take on Ramayana ( kind of )

7.A hit movie in its time, Sargam starred Jaya Prada as a deaf mute girl and Rishi Kapoor as a dafliwala.

8. This list cannot be complete without this song picturized on Bhagyashree, who made only one film, paired with Salman Khan and it became a super hit –Maine Pyar Kiya

 

 

Songs of the stars

Now that the full moon and the solar eclipse and the clouds have all had their day, it is time to bring out the stars! Stars are defined as a luminous sphere of plasma held together by its own gravity. But a star is so much more than that!

carl sagan

Stars light up the night sky and the very first people who looked up and realized that some of the dots were twinkling and some were not , were the first astronomers who had just recognized planets within the solar system as being something different.

milky way

In fact Pythagoras, (whose theorem has tormented every student of geometry), theorized that the stars and planets revolving around the Earth (pre Heliocentrism) made a continuous sound. He called this the music of the stars. When asked how come the resulting sounds, which would be insanely loud, were not being heard by us, Pythagoras and his followers surmised that, because it was continually sounding, humans had no point of comparison—no real sense of silence or difference—and therefore could not distinguish it from our known idea of silence.http://www.sensorystudies.org/picture-gallery/spheres_image/

The nearest star to the Earth (after the Sun of course) is currently Alpha Centauri which is a three star system and is 4.2 light years away. Which means what we see today is the light that was set out from them 4.2 years ago. http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-resources/far-closest-star/ Amazing or what?!

Stars have a life cycle that goes into billions of years but is fascinating to read about since one of those pathways leads also to black holes. Those mysterious objects that do not allow even light and gravity to escape and have been speculated to be the pathways to parallel universes.

Our own Sun is a midsized star and is likely to end up as a white dwarf. Of course, hopefully humans would have moved on somewhere else outside the solar system by then since life on Earth as we know it would die out during the red giant phase. http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~infocom/The%20Website/end.html

starcycle

Reality check–It is billions of years away. No excuse to miss your cardio routine today 🙂

Stars are an inspiration for poets as well as scientists and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the two! After all, we are made of the same stardust– poets, philosophers, physicists and all.

stardustquote-we-are-travelers-on-a-cosmic-journey-stardust-swirling-and-dancing-in-the-eddies-and-paulo-coelho-35-63-48

In a smooth segue, here are some exquisite old songs with the Stars of Bollywood from the black and white era that also evoke the stars in such a romantic way!

  1. Yeh hawa, yeh raat, yeh chandni ,from Sangdil based on Jane Eyre. What a crackling chemistry between Madhubala and Dilip Kumar and Talat Mehmood’s silken voice.

 

  1. Yeh raat, yeh chandni, phir kahan? Dev Anand playing a guitar under a tree. Hemant Kumar singing. Does it get any better? The film is Jaal and Dev Anand plays a mysterious man who turns up in Goa and of course Geeta Bali falls in love with him despite the misgivings of her blind older brother (KN Singh).

 

3. Aaja sanam, madhur chandni mein hum. A romantic duet from Chori Chori. Starring Nargis and Raj Kapoor, it is a remake of ‘It Happened One Night’ and was remade again as Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin. This track is based on the Italian folk tune Tarantella Napoletana

  1. Tere Bina Aag Yeh Chandni—from Awara, and apparently the first ‘dream sequence’ scene in Hindi films. It is also known as Ghar Aya Mera Pardesi.

 

 

God, in case you really exist, please save us from this evilty!

Of course, as they say, religion is just a cult with more followers…..but that is a whole other story.

the-only-difference-between-a-mythology-a-cult-and-a-religion-is-the-number-of-followers

After the triple talaq judgment and right to privacy judgement by the Supreme Court of India, the hat trick we were waiting for was delivered yesterday when the self- styled ‘Sant’ Ram Raheem Insaan (who made a very subtle film called Messenger of God –MSG) was found guilty of multiple counts of rape based on the accusation of a woman who served in the dera (ashram) and was raped by him in 2004. ( Looks like the court didn’t fall for the defence of “I didn’t doing it. God made me.I was just a messenger of God….”). MSG arrived in court with a fleet of 200 cars and left by helicopter apparently.

msg_the_messenger_of_god_theatrical_release_poster1

In response to the verdict of course his followers have burnt buses, rioted and generally wrecked havoc on public property.

raheem followers

No one rioted in the ashram when he was watching blue films, forcing women to have sex with him at gun point. Where was that self- righteous anger and outrage then ??

einstein_evil

And in case you were missing Dhinchak Puja here is an absolutely hysterically bad music video of a song called ‘You are the Love Charger’. Yes seriously. If you have even 1 minutes to spare this weekend please, please listen to the opening minute of this video. I could not bear to listen to more so if there is a gem in the later minutes, please let me know.

There have been so many who have taken the foolish followers for a ride. A short list goes like this:

Swami Sadachari was finally jailed for running a brothel, http://indiatoday.intoday.in/gallery/top-10-controversial-godmen-of-india/1/13461.html#photo8,

Icchadhari Sant Sawmi of Chitrakoot was arrested for prostitution,

assorted dead bodies were found in the hugging ‘saint’ Amritanandamayi Ma’s ashram http://www.kractivist.org/holy-hell-sexual-abuse-and-corruption-by-hugging-saint-mata-amritanandamayi/,

Asaram Bapu was accused of rape by a 15 year old girl http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/asaram-rape-case-bapu-asked-me-for-oral-sex-says-victim/1/301458.html

Radhe Ma of the orgasmic bliss photos in bridal wear apparently holds naked sex filled satsangs, http://www.hindustantimes.com/tv/radhe-maa-holds-naked-sex-filled-satsangs-dolly-bindra/story-I7d3UyshCYMwj8Cvb9ylHI.html.

ram raheem2

Then there is Sant Rampal, whose devotees bathed him in milk and made kheer using that milk. (super double YUK) http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/followers-bathed-him-in-milk-then-used-it-to-make-kheer-prasad/

“The milk falls on him, while he sits and meditates. The fruit of his meditation is present in the kheer,” said Krishan, 29, who is admitted in the hospital with a head injury.

Why does Krishnan he have an injury? Because the bodies of five women and 18 month old child were found in the ‘Sant’s ashram and Rampal was arrested along with 492 of his followers, on charges including sedition, murder, attempt to murder, conspiracy, hoarding illegal weapons and aiding and abetting suicide-mongers.

_da289592-8494-11e7-b63c-9d281adafd5eThe followers attacked the police with crude bombs and gunfire, hence the head injury.http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/police-confirm-two-deaths-as-hisar-godman-rampal-evades-arrest/

ISKON, http://www.jaisiyaram.com/blog/sects/7482-iskcon-and-rape-murder-child-abuse-and-prostitution-in-vrindavan-25-feb-11.html

“Everybody knows however that in this sect, where sex is nearly forbidden, people have most sex. There have been a lot of rumors about homosexuality among devotees, both lower and higher in their hierarchy. Lately there has been a lot of talk about prostitution among members of the organization, especially here in Vrindavan.”

The list continues:

Auroville, http://www.theweek.co.uk/26909/my-bizarre-childhood-auroville,

Bikram Yoga http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/the-times/bikram-yoga-founder-stripped-of-empire-after-losing-sexual-harassment-case/news-story/d50cda446c9caa2a8158be75ad5dd5e2,

the billionaire Sathya Sai Baba: Former Sai Baba leaders such as Swedish psychotherapist and former film star, Conny Larsson, who says the guru regularly performed oral sex on him and asked for it in return. Sai Baba was said to have claimed he was simply correcting Larsson’s inner “kundalini” energy. http://vancouversun.com/news/staff-blogs/sai-baba-holy-man-sex-abuser-both

Even before Blue Whale we had plenty of cults urging followers to commit mass suicide. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/inside-the-sinister-moonie-cult-how-1301689

And while Twitter had a field day with Ramdev Baba’s sensational India Today cover

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2016/07/14/india-today-puts-ramdevs-behind-on-cover-and-twitter-cant-e_a_21432267/ it is he who is laughing all the way to the bank, with Patanjali becoming a multi- million dollar business despite a steady stream of accusations and fines for false advertising. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/nepal-asks-ramdevs-patanjali-to-recall-six-medical-products-4718715/

Eventually it all comes down to the holy trinity of power, money and sex.

The ashrams rake in money in the millions, they have policemen and chief ministers touching their feet, and they live far from celibate lives.

At least Osho Rajneesh was upfront about the role of sex in the meditations and programmes at his ashram…..

Beyond India, in the US, we have the outrageous Creflo Dollar who asked his followers to make his dream come true—by contributing money so he could buy a private jet worth 60 million dollars! Watch John Oliver do an expose here

 

And of course for the grand finale, that religious order which has its own city and postcode in the middle of another city—the Vatican. For an institution that preaches about sex as the original sin, and pushes for abstinence only education instead of scientific sexuality education, there certainly seems lot be a lot of sex under their own roof, consented or otherwise!

As of November 2013 over ten million Catholic Priest child sex abuse cases have been documented. These 10,077,574 cases represented a mere fraction of total crimes committed. Only an estimated 10% of sex abuse victims were thought to speak out about their sex abuse and just 10% of those cases saw the inside of a court room.

pope meme

Routinely rocked by child sex abuse revelations and cover ups, here is what one article says :

Ballarat, Australia, where Pell was an episcopal vicar for education between 1973 and 1984, was one of the worst hotbeds of abuse, with sexual abuse by both priests and nuns rife at St. Alipius Primary School, called “a pedophile’s paradise and a child’s nightmare” by Australian television. https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/6/29/15892432/pope-francis-vatican-charged-child-sex-abuse

And the result of being against abortion? Mass graves where unmarried women and their born babies were buried. So far 34 such sites have been found and a total of 350,800 children suspected to be in Catholic child mass graves sites in three countries. https://adoptionland.org/p/3443/catholic-mass-grave-sites-of-350800-missing-children-found-in-ireland-spain-canada/

In Ireland the commission said analysis of selected remains revealed ages of the deceased ranged from 35 weeks to three years old. It found that the dead had been mostly buried in the 1950s, when the facility was one of more than a dozen in Ireland offering shelter to orphans, unmarried mothers and their children. The Tuam home closed in 1961. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/03/mass-grave-of-babies-and-children-found-at-tuam-orphanage-in-ireland

Sounds pretty much the opposite of pro –life to me…..

One almost wants to look upon this Nagraj- Nagkanya couple fondly and indulgently let them carry on their make believe, almost like one would when one’s child puts on underpants outside her leggings and declares herself Supergirl and you are like Yay cool, now go use your superpowers in the other room to stay really, really quiet while mommy gets this blogpost written….

jimmy nagraj

These are Shree Jimmy Nagraj and Gurumayi Nagkanya.

“Not everyone can communicate properly,” he explained, happy to induct us with his own divine experience first. Telling us that he had experienced “immediate results” after two darshans, the Senior Superintendent at a maritime services company shared, “After I started believing in them, I dreamt that a large golden snake entered my home and I could communicate with it.”

This rung familiar and suddenly we realised why. “You are a Parselmouth Harry. Why didn’t you tell us?” “I’m a what?”  “A Parselmouth!” said Ron, “You can talk to snakes.”  A real-life (albeit middle-aged) Harry Potter in our own neighbourhood — we were chuffed!

‘Evilty’, was another term that popped up all evening. The pamphlet offered numerous instances of those afflicted with this condition — “Whenever Freddy got an attack of evilty (sic) he would shout on top of his voice late at nights (sic) and start flinging whatever came in his hands, even his plate of food,” it said, citing the example of a little boy, who, it seems to us was more likely afflicted with a case of the terrible-twos.

“What is this, Evilty?” We finally put the question to an emotional devotee. “Bad thoughts?” “Not bad thoughts,” she said,  “Evilty.”

http://www.mid-day.com/articles/after-hours-devotion/132175