Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Of Being a Woman in Delhi

Today when I opened the newspapers warmed by my morning cup of tea, I was shocked to read the headlines that were gawking into my hapless eyes. Another rape in the city had happened and this time the baneful brutality is a chapter unheard in the history of mankind . Six men had stripped, raped and barbarized a young girl with an iron rod with such inhuman brutality that has managed to shock and dismay one and all who got to know if it. Her only mistake, she did not yield to the 8 pm law that a Gurgaon commissioner had once issued when a woman's modesty was outraged in that part of the NCR. And yes this time around, she was not alone on the streets of Delhi, she was with a man who could do nothing to save her and was not spared himself. 
I wish this is the last of the incidents we will ever get to hear, but no there is much more in the offing until we raise our voices and try to make the spaces safer for own selves. Rapes are a history that keep repeating itself over and over again in a state which has a woman CM, who is busy calculating the amount of money needed by an average Indian family to survive, six hundred as per her ignorant apathy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Bankster by Ravi Subramanian

Title - The Bankster
Author - Ravi Subramanian
Publisher - Rupa Publications India Pvt. Ltd.
Pages - 364
Price - 250 INR
ISBN - 978-81-291-2048-9

This seemed more like a nefarious nexus between the banking official and a gangster with lies, deceit and treachery making you flip through the pages without boredom haggling your senses.

It all begins in Angola, and keeps shuttling in space between Kerala, Venice and Mumbai, sometimes making you wonder if its three stories or just one and the introduction of the protagonist after about 160 pages was later than anticipated, even though it was heroic. Karan's character was feebly identified and involved with the story and until he solves the mystery, I really never knew that he was the protagonist. Rather than telling the story through tens of characters, Karan's tale could have been told in details and the story developed around his character. And the villain could not be loathed at, considering the confusing characterization he was given.

Perhaps, this can make for a wonderful Bollywood script for sure for sometimes I thought, that the next minute will read into a song and dance and I'll see the characters dancing around in the rain. The plot is engaging and fast paced with the too many characters making you confused often, only if you don't read the book with a hawk's eye. The characterization is not as vividly described as the places. Often I felt that I was reading a travelogue instead of a financial crime thriller. But not for long!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Of Weddings and not Marriages

It's that time of the year again, when the stars say a prayer for the sun and all of them stand to salute the marriages that might perhaps, have been made in heaven. Weddings in India are more of a social hogwash and less of a marriage, which has made it a Page 3 affair and a stage for Katrina to gyrate on. Of course if Shahrukh is available, after making up with the friends he turned to foes, it surely will be all over the Delhi Times Page 3 the next day. 

And before I talk of the fairy tale wedding I happened to attend a few days ago, let me tell you of something ridiculous that took place recently. A stranger I had barely spoken to, for a few times over the google talk messenger during my tryst as an editor, sent me her wedding invitation. I really didn't know how to take it? As a personalized invitation or as the ceremonious celebration of a phase in life, that after countless fake relationship statuses on facebook is finally becoming a reality! What was worrisome was the reply, which was obviously a no, for traveling to the southern tip of India for a stranger's wedding did not sound like a great idea! Often I had heard this about girls going to get wedded. A few days before their wedding they start flying high in air without wings. This just holds true for this lady! The stakes attached to getting wedded and being wedded are too high for Indian girls,which just blinds them to commit such brainless bloopers and sadly one can't blame them!

Before I got this bolt from the blue I happened to attend a  Baniya wedding, one that was a chapter straight from the fairy tales. The invitation in itself was a  seductive snare of ladoos, dry fruits and chocolates with an endless queues of cards choking inside a wooden box gilded in  gold, which had given me an inkling about how they would dress up both the brides. Oh yes it was the rarest of rare weddings, twins getting married to twins, so both the sets of sisters and brothers also became each other's in-laws after the event. What managed to arrest my attention was the farmhouse they had booked for the wedding.

The land was spread in  acres, with a giant gold stage and three more that looked like its babies. Along both sides, were these endless enclosures, again all set in gold laying down a food festival for the guests in attendance. I saw CCD, Dominos, Haldirams and almost every other food outlet I had ever eaten at, gripping the gastronomic gullibility of the guests. People could be seen enjoying the food fare while music was being played into the balmy brightness of the night, all set for an extravaganza. With all the gold glaring into my eyes, I was fearing visual impairment for even the dancers on the stage were all dressed in gold and painted in gold. I could neither see SRK, nor Katrina but for some reason this was one of the most exuberant of weddings I had seen in my lifetime. While the women in the vicinity could be seen getting crushed under the bulky Benarasi sarees and lehangas, and throttled by the yellow metal in various shapes and sizes, I was there dressed like a school girl in pink and black checks and blue denims, watching the visual vitality on display. The exchanging of garlands was another treat to watch, for the fear of falling down from the towering platform could be seen clearly etched on their faces stealing the joy of garlanding each other. So also, the hosts for the night had left very little imagination at our behest since their commentary reminded me of a confused plot between a Cinderella story and the famous Ram-Sita wedding. While watching the melodrama unfold a few things crossed my mind.

Why are the Indian weddings more of a social flimflam and less of a personalized plan aimed at celebrating the coming together of two souls? A thousand and more guests at such events have left me wondering as to what sort of an event are they rooting for? Flashing of flamboyance or calling for a ceremony that will be commemorated as memories in the family album. Rather than spending lakhs and lakhs of rupees on one ceremony, can't we call for simpler sophisticated weddings with the money we otherwise intend to waste going to a charity. The idea of feeding a thousand or more guests who can afford three or more square meals a day is stranger than a lie, for many lakhs are dying without food everyday. The thought of feeding a stomach that is already filled doesn't go well with me. 
Many parents of girl children in India do no have reasonable resources to organize a simple wedding ceremony for their daughters, can't all this money that is being burned in the name of traditions be given to them.   

The big fat Indian wedding is a national obsession which might in the years to come, even start attracting tourists during the wedding season as they famously call it, for such is its shameless splendor. Being less of a memory for those celebrating it, and more of a social hogwash.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Delhi's Poem

Your streets enamelled ebon
go red and green
when life begins,
a merry-go-round
of moored matins graying
for grace, they vandalised your belly
raising brick buildings
on your brown skin,
stealing your vermilion to paint
the lips of a keep,
fireballs were fanned in your alleys
when frost blinded the
eyes of a masquerade
appeals fight for an answer
being smothered in signatures
and stuffed into sacks.

Today after ten years
my skirt has grown longer
when my bruises
healed with the hooch of heresy
I've seen your fight with time
and thank myself for
having read from your books.

First published in Writing Disorder published here and the First Prize Winner of the Wordweaver contest 2012.