Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Water – a disturbing stuff

I recently read this book “Water” by Bapsi sidhwa (a gift to me from my friend), a novel based on the movie script of the veteran director Deepa Mehta.

Set in 1938, the story follows the life of an eight year old widow Chuyia who was abandoned and discarded to the widows’ ashram after the death of her senile husband. In the ashram, Chuyia gets acquainted with many widows. The author creates pasts for all her widows and tries to project the way they were treated in that period through the eyes of this young girl.

Apart from the focus on the life of widows, the author also talks about various forbidden affairs, eunuchs, untouchables, Gandhian principles etc. Besides being a gripping story, the plot deals with a subject that of the oppressive hold tradition has on women, in this case, religious tradition. It tells of oppression and the constraints that govern even a girl-child’s life in a patriarchal society.

Water concludes with the flicker of hope. As Gandhi's train passes through the village, the prospect of rescue from punishing Hindu traditions seems conceivable. Modern India has journeyed far since 1938. In Water, the author honors the awful fate of those once left behind.

I really wonder why the hell was the shooting of this film on location in Varanasi was stopped. Just because violence broke out, including an attempted suicide by a Shiv Sena activist, the government issued an order to stop the movie. Does projecting the life of widows, who are ill-treated by the society is condemnable? Why is that when Deepa Mehta attempts to portray something about women, it is apposed? When the Government of India allows all the cheap movies why is it a controversy when it comes to “Fire” or “Water”? Why is it that these kind of movies been used as a prop to galvanize anti-muslim and anti-christian religious fervor?

Though I couldn’t watch the movie, I am bit satisfied that I could read this book at least. I am also hunting for the book “Cracking India” by Bapsi Sidhwa, the book based on which the movie “Earth” was taken.

- Diwakar

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Cherishable Waynad

Life is pretty different when one steps into the working environment after a carefree college life. How enjoyable will it be when few college friends rejoin for a trip to an immaculate location? Thanks to Waynad - the place which brought back the enthusiasm and the bliss of my college days.

It was not easy to unite people for a fun trip. Right from wheedling to chiding, what not in the process? Excuses, excuses and excuses. Excuses in the name of work, in the name of training, in the name of money, in the name of family and in the name of CAT. From eight the number came down to five and the fine day of departure was on Thursday (my last working day).

The train was scheduled to reach Calicut at daybreak on Friday. But will it happen with our Indian railways? Never. So the train was late as usual. The moment we stepped into Calicut, the bells started ringing in our stomach. So after our brunch in a small hotel, we were heading towards Waynad. As such we were jabbering and giggling during our drive, which was doubled when we saw the way our driver accosted to enquire about the route. “chuk-chuk” is his famous phrase I think.

Wynberg resort is the secluded location that we chose to stay for the next three days. Who will have a reluctance to stay in a tree house? Our tiredness and leg pain after sitting in a cramped position in the cab went unnoticed the moment we saw the resort. To describe the resort in few words - Green ambient, few rooms amidst the bushes, small pathway leading to each house, silent environment. Wow, an awesome place. Two houses were allotted to us - a tree house and an igloo.

Tree house in which we stayed:

What more do one want rather than a good homemade food, pleasant ambient and friends around? But we decided to go for an outing on all three days and to enjoy our nights in the resort. So we visited few tourist spots like a temple, a cave, a dam, boating and an adventurous jungle safari. Thinking that he is a professional photographer, one of my friend took over the job and one more with a head strong notion that he is an ad-model, started posing for all the photographs all through the outings. But it was fun always.

Amidst the pestering of one of my friend to get back to Chennai in the mid, one lousy meal outside a temple, prolonging tiresome car drive, we enjoyed. Enjoyed as if there is no tomorrow.

This is the gang that went to Waynad :) From L to R - Vivek, Ananth, Myself, Vijayagopan and Shankar

Though we had a great time all through the trip, a small voice was keep on saying that, this will be a last trip together for all of us. In the name of marriages, higher studies etc twists and turns do happen in each and everyone’s life. But will it stop us from going for a trip like this again? Hope for the best. Willfully leaving the adage incomplete.

- Diwakar

Friday, September 01, 2006

What is evil?

Disclaimer : The ideas and views expressed in the following blog are the author's alone and not of all members of the blog. Further opinions expressed on people / conclusions drawn are based on the author's conclusion from analysing various sources.

I have been getting quite a bit of feedback since I posted the the Blog on the Nuremberg Trials. This brings me to a conversation I had with my aunt today where I said Hitler and Gandhi were both alike - Both had a huge ego (stopping short of using the word megalomaniac), both were mass leaders, dictators, intolerant of others ideas, mass murderers (YES, MOHANDAS TOO), eccentric etc. But the biggest similarity in my opinion is that they never stopped thinking they were right. My aunt begged to differ suggesting that Hitler was evil unlike Gandhi, which brings me to the crux of this issue - what is Evil?
Now, most of us do have a value system and when some act shocks us to the core - rape, child murder, cold blooded mureder - for eg. when a person is hacked to death, vampirism (Idi Amin), Genocide etc. we usually agree that the act is evil. Therefore evil is a function of a value system and generally accepted social norms. For eg., in a society if female infanticide was accepted (as is in some villages), in that social setup, it would not be evil. But again, we are dealing on society level here.
Moving to induviduals, now, for me if a child was hacked to death, I would call the murderer evil, and say he ought to be condemned to death. But let us shift sides for a moment. From the murderers point of view, let us say, he ACTUALLY heard the voice of God asking him to exterminate the child (reasons unknown. Note that most people (I refuse to use the word psychopath) who hear God / Unknown voices asking them to exterminate a person is because the voices say that person is evil. A no. of prostitutes have been murdered over the years by zealots for this purpose.), then WE would brand him a psychopath and order him to be committed. But from his point of view is he wrong or evil? HELL NO. He is merely following instructions from God. If he is executed - well it is because WE are evil that he would need to be martyred. How can we even justify the word evil, when we are operating on two different planes? How can we call him a psychopath when for all you know, according to him, we are mad. (Who knows!!)
Therefore, coming to Hitler and Gandhi - I do believe that both were absolutely passionate about their cause. Hitler saw himself as the messiah for Germany, who was merely eradicating pests, the way we might kill some wasps. Can we judge him using our rationale? In my opinion neither are evil, as both sincerely believed in the cause. On the other hand, Himmler, Goering, Goebbels etc. were cold blooded and evil murderers who had no belief in their cause but saw it as a way to gain riches / power / both. These men were evil. Going by the same logic, was Godse evil - No.
Generalising, No man who acts according to his conscience is evil, NO MATTER WHAT HIS CONSCIENCE says. Period.

- Hari


It all started when I got a message from my friend, asking me to report a community on orkut called " We Hate India " bogus. I did what anyone else would - went to the community page with every intention of doing as he said, when I noticed something pretty interesting on the discussion forum - two threads saying members were unjoining. On getting into it, 3 pakistanis struck me - one for his totally rational attitude, and the other two previously rabid India haters who were now convinced that their attitude was not correct. I had since started scrapping these guys and had them on my friend list. Since then, I have been lambasted by "patriots", and one of these guys was insulted by rabid fanatics in atrocious terms - It is disgusting to find sane men talking of a persons mother and sister on a public forum and these guys, in my opinion deserve to face criminal charges. My friend reacted by putting up a picture of an Indian flag burning and rejoined that community. To his credit, he has not retaliated to a single Indian scrap. If we educated people behave in this barbaric fashion, what is the hope for the future? Is this kind of ridiculous jingoism the solutions? Are these the "real" Indians? In a rapidly shrinking world how can two countries be propelled by such hatred?

- Hari