Sunday, December 29, 2019

Of Woke Liberalism, and other such maladies

Remember the time when being liberal meant you were more tolerant, accepting, rational, and empathetic? Me neither.

While that is what exactly it means in theory, those who call themselves 'liberal', actually practise an intolerant, discriminating, irrational, and a self-serving culture.

And that's only because the theoretical definition of 'liberalism', much like its other much-maligned cousin 'feminism', is completely impractical. Noble, yes, but also impractical. The reasons for this are not difficult to understand.

Each and every human being is capable, of not only kind and sympathetic acts, but also of the most selfish and barbaric cruelty. This is, sadly, true. For each of us. What we choose to be, in which circumstance, depends on a mix of unknown variables. While it is not easy to predict human behavior, given that the variables are unknown, vested interests can always try to sway emotions, and temporarily suspend rational decision-making. 

But the most important factor that decides how humans behave is: context.

One's birth, upbringing, education, friends, location, sex, sexuality, past experiences, ethnic history, community, tastes, occupation, all add to the context. Two people with different contexts cannot completely understand each other's world-view or decision-making process. Yes, one may get swayed through external influence, but not everyone gets swayed in the same way. A true liberal will appreciate this 'context'. Appreciating context does not mean condoning an unlawful act or ignoring wrong practices. It also does not mean that we cannot criticise wrong customs or beliefs. It only means that expecting sudden changes in customs or beliefs is impractical. It also means that one's own context may make one believe something to be 'correct' or 'appropriate', and that need not be true for everyone else. A true liberal accepts that she may also be wrong, and is more tolerant of opposing world-views. Debate and discussion make everyone wiser, and enable seeing each others' perspective. The end-point of every debate need not be an agreement.

The opinion-makers today have completely discarded the relevance of context. What they believe to be 'correct' must be applied everywhere irrespective of context. For the sake of discussion, let's take the topic which has currently led to 'liberals' losing sleep in India (and in the process unfriending lesser humans): CAA and (supposedly imminent) NRC. I will not comment on the Act itself here. But, how can one truly form a view on the Act without considering the history, the background, and nature of persecution of the refugees who stand to benefit from the Act? By comparing these refugees with others without understanding the context is woefully wrong. On NRC, they use Assam as a reference point, which is laughably stupid. Context. 

It is definitely wonderful to imagine a world without borders, where people can migrate from one place to another based on better weather, better career, better marriage prospects, or whatever reason you can imagine. As much as it hurts me to break it to everyone: a world without borders will never happen. It is plain dumb to expect countries to allow unchecked immigration given limited resources. Also, not all cultures can co-exist peacefully, and there needs to be a balance. Governments are best placed to decide what would be a good immigration policy. Individuals cannot assess matters such as national security, peaceful co-existence, availability of resources, and employment opportunities. 

But, other than ignorance of context, the hypocrisy of liberals is quite amusing. How can the same person oppose CAA on the ground that it does not extend benefits to Muslim refugees (thereby, arguing that there should be no discrimination in extending benefits - something which is more of an opinion / misinterpretation, and not based on facts), and support anti-CAA protests in Assam? How can the same person, again, have a problem with abrogation of Article 370 in J&K? If a person supports open-borders for countries, how can he support closed borders for a state within that very same country? 

On the protests. I am completely shocked at how 'Oh, those were outsiders that got violent, not us!' is an acceptable defence! If there are 'strangers' amongst your supposedly peaceful protesters, who are pelting stones at the police, or damaging public property, and you stand a mute spectator, and thereby provide them cover, and then allow them to escape, you are equally culpable. There are no two ways about that. Police cannot identity a dozen miscreants if hundreds provide them cover. So they will question and detain from those hundreds as well. Yes, allegations of police excess should be investigated, but if you have allowed your protest to turn violent, you cannot escape blame. It would be far easier for those hundreds of you to catch the dozen few who were standing amongst you and hand them over to the police. But you didn't do that. Maybe, you didn't want to at all. It is fashionable to rise up in protest against the State. Fashionable to sing songs praising terrorists. Fashionable to support hypocritical arguments of 'intellectuals' who use fancy words such as Fascism and Freedom of Speech. 

On FoS itself, the most brazen suppression of freedom is actually exercised by the darlings of the woke liberals: the Left. The Left has systematically taken over media, education, entertainment, and policy making the world over, and suppressed every opposing point of view. The suppression of speech, and destruction of careers of those not part of the echo-chamber, has been merciless. And, yet, the woke liberals consider them to be the epitome of virtue, and follow in their footsteps. 

It is this influence, which has led to the latest popular fad amongst woke liberals: if you parents don't agree with your views, publicly shame them. Unfriend childhood buddies because your political views differ. Surround yourself with other woke liberals. Echo-chambers can be comforting. 

But echo-chambers are also lonely in spite of the crowd. And frustrating.

I wouldn't be so disillusioned with Liberalism, if it really represented what it means in theory, if it wasn't simply a tool in the hands of the political Left, and if only it understood the difference between a spectrum and a point.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Water, water, everywhere...

…. and I don’t know how to fucking swim!

I am sure it’s quite normal to have nightmares of dying a gruesome death. I am not sure, though, if such nightmares should involve drowning in the sea while fighting monster cockroaches.

Monster cockroaches – we can park that thought away for now. Other than my dreams, I am unlikely to have to fight them anywhere. Not that the tiny ones don’t torment me enough in real life, but that’s something that looks silly if cribbed about. Let me concentrate on my other nemesis: water, lots and lots of water, all around me.

I never learnt how to swim. When all my friends were joining the swimming classes way back in school days, I felt shy at having to enter the pool in tiny swimming briefs. I had even enquired at the swimming training club if half pants were allowed to be worn in the pool, and the trainer had looked at me as if I had asked him to part with one of his kidneys. ‘Everyone is dressed like that in the pool,’ he admonished me, ‘how can a boy feel so shy? You can buy the swimming briefs from us at a very reasonable price; we don’t sell swimming half-pants. In fact, there is nothing like swimming half pants’. I imagined the very bony and lanky me entering the pool in tiny briefs to loud guffaws from shapely swimmers all around, and that was pretty much the end of the swimming aspiration in me. Add to that the fact that we didn’t have showers installed at home, and had to use the traditional bucket for taking bath. Thus, I never really got comfortable with the idea of my head going under water! Not that I never got drenched in rains, but rains and rains, and showers are showers, and getting into the shower and closing my eyes would immediately send a panic wave through my whole body. This happened for most of my life and it is only now that I have gotten used to taking showers instead of using buckets and mugs!

I am not really aquaphobic. I am just perfectly capable of drowning pretty easily. I first learnt this years back when visiting the newly-opened water theme park in Kolkata – Aquatica. Here they thankfully let you wear vests and half-trunks. So yeah. I liked the shallow wave pool a lot, and also some of the other rides, and then I saw my cousins effortlessly slide down a giant water-slide riding on a slippery mat. They slid down from great height into a shallow pool and remained afloat on the mat, gracefully got off it into the pool, laughed and splashed water at everyone, and came out laughing even more. I wanted to do it too. It looked so much fun. And perfectly safe. The pool is shallow. I will be on a mat that floats. What can really go wrong, right? The moment I started sliding down, my second greatest fear of steep heights kicked in and I closed my eyes. But I held on to the mat alright. Then I hit the water with a giant splash, and realized that I was drowning. The mat was nowhere! I could swear I was holding on to it till a second back, but it was nowhere. I was supposed to float, but I was drowning. Water was entering my nostrils, ears and mouth. I opened my eyes and could see nothing, and my head was spinning. Someone grabbed me and pulled me out, and made me stand. We were only in waist-deep water. ‘What happened?’ the person who had made me stand-up asked. I coughed out some water, and my head cleared. I looked all around me. People were watching me, some with shock, some giggling, and some laughing quite derisively. I just turned and fled from the pool. Even kids were doing it all right. And here I was a fifteen year old buffoon, drowning in a shallow pool!

You’d think that this incident would make sure I don’t go anywhere near water again, right? You are wrong.

During my MBA days, I took this fraud course where we could travel to Malaysia for two weeks. And while there, we went holidaying in Langkawi, that’s what that place is called I think. We did water-sports, played on the beaches, clicked some amazing pictures, and then decided that we should go snorkeling. The whole group saw some amazing sights under the surface of the sea, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t take my head under the water-surface, not even with the gogs and the breathing pipe thingy over my nose and mouth. I tried, but I couldn’t. The moment my head would go under the water, I would feel as if someone has sent bolts of electricity through my body. I gave up. I contemplated if I should join swimming classes to get over this problem. Then I looked at my lanky hairy self, and thought the better of it. Who wants to go into water regularly anyway?

But not one who learns lessons easily, I agreed when some of my batch mates asked me if I wanted to join them for a quick vacation in Goa. This has been the biggest masochistic decision of my life, as it has given many of my batch mates fodder to tease me for the rest of my life. This time I was very clear though, no going under the water business. I stuck to rides that were either on a boat / scooter etc. or remained simply on the beach. And then some asshole tricked me into going for something called a ‘banana ride’. I didn’t know that the whole point of the ride is to take you deep into the sea and then topple that silly balloon on which you are seated. It is supposed to be the high point of the ride. Oh so much fun, a bunch of us being thrown off a boat in the middle of the sea. Only if we had a few sharks around, it would complete the process of attaining nirvana. Anyway, so yeah, I was wearing life jackets all right. I was told that there are trained swimmers with us. But I wasn’t prepared for the water going over my head. I panicked the moment we hit the water, and I panicked like no one has ever panicked before. I have never really been afraid of death per se, but I started shouting for help assuming that I was drowning. In reality, I was just floating. I held onto the person who was nearest to me and warned him to not let go of me. It turns out he didn’t know how to swim either, but he maintained his calm, and held on to me. I only stopped my drama once someone pulled me back onto the banana boat again. I cursed at a lot of people for nothing, and then as we were approaching the shore, the boat was made to topple again! I mean, are you kidding me! It was Aquatica pool all over again. I would have drowned then and there had someone not pulled me up to show that we were only in knee-deep water! The humiliation on the spot aside, this story quickly made to others in my batch, and I had to endure shouts of ‘Help, I am drowning!’ from a bunch of losers for rest of my stay on campus. Dimwit morons I tell you.

All this made sure that I won’t go anywhere near a water-body for many many years to come. Even if I had to, I stayed content with dangling my feet into the pool while sitting on the edge. Until this weekend that is.

We were holidaying in a sea-beach resort over this weekend, and I was playing with my three-years old daughter (who loves water!) in the baby pool. Don’t laugh. I was in the baby pool only because I was with her, ok. We had spent quite a lot of time, and Ishu had started sneezing, so we decided to get back to the room and get dry. I got up, pulled her up, made her stand outside the pool, and was walking to our slippers while holding her hand (I was inside the baby pool, and she was outside it). Suddenly, the floor vanished under my feet, and I fell into the deeper part of the pool. I hadn’t seen that the baby pool, quite strangely, merged with a deeper pool at this point. Thankfully, I came out of the water immediately, and looked around. Others in the pool were laughing. But I had panicked. Not because of the water, but because I was holding Ishu’s hand. I could have pulled her towards me while going inside the water, and hurt her in the process. But she stood outside the pool, looking at me thoroughly concerned. I heaved a big sigh of relief, gathered her, and came running back to our room.

Pools, and seas, and beaches, and water-bodies, they aren’t meant for me I tell you. When I die and go to hell, the Devil can simply push me into a pond and let me drown, no need really to roast me in hellfire.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Meri gaay ko danda kyun maara?

Nothing can act as a better prelude to my blog than this episode in Douglas Adams’s super-amazing Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that leaves you with mixed emotions on the morality of meat-eating. As all the four protagonists sit down for dinner at The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, they are presented with the unique opportunity of meeting their ‘dish’ before they eat it. A quick (abridged) extract is reproduced below for those who have missed out on reading this masterpiece:
A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beeblebrox's table, a large fat meaty quadruped of the bovine type with large watery eyes, small horns and what might almost have been an ingratiating smile on its lips.
"Good evening," it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, "I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in the parts of my body?"
"Something off the shoulder perhaps?" suggested the animal, "braised in a white wine sauce?"
"Er, your shoulder?" said Arthur in a horrified whisper.
"But naturally my shoulder, sir," mooed the animal contentedly, "nobody else's is mine to offer."
"You mean this animal actually wants us to eat it?" whispered Trillian to Ford.
"Me?" said Ford, with a glazed look in his eyes, "I don't mean anything."
"That's absolutely horrible," exclaimed Arthur, "the most revolting thing I've ever heard."
"A green salad?" said the animal, rolling his eyes disapprovingly at Arthur.
"Are you going to tell me," said Arthur, "that I shouldn't have green salad?"
"Well," said the animal, "I know many vegetables that are very clear on that point. Which is why it was eventually decided to cut through the whole tangled problem and breed an animal that actually wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly. And here I am."
"Look," said Zaphod, "we want to eat, we don't want to make a meal of the issues. Four rare stakes please, and hurry. We haven't eaten in five hundred and seventy-six thousand million years."
The animal staggered to its feet. It gave a mellow gurgle. "A very wise choice, sir, if I may say so. Very good," it said, "I'll just nip off and shoot myself."
He turned and gave a friendly wink to Arthur. "Don't worry, sir," he said, "I'll be very humane."
~ From The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Before we begin, I must put out the disclaimer that I don’t eat meat, and certainly not beef. I am not a ‘pure’ vegetarian if you must know; I am that moderately impure variety which also eats eggs, other than your regular veggies. But, I don’t mind if the person sitting next to me is eating meat or fish (I live in Bengal) or squids (on one occasion, live squids!) or cockroaches or whatever-rocks-your-boat-man. I have also lived through inanities like, ‘Have you really never eaten non-veg?’, ‘What do you eat then - paneer all day?’, ‘You know that you are missing out on so much in life, right?’, ‘Plants have lives too; Go hungry then?’.
If I were to ever do an award-waapsi (once I get an award that is), I would do it against the intolerance of meat-eaters towards the veggie-eaters like me. I mean you guys are another level of bigots. Not only do you cock a snook at any veg items that I may order during our eating out together, you would then also shamelessly mooch half my food till your bloody meat arrives. My list of problems with you guys is long. But then, this blog is not about that.
This blog is about our ‘Holy Cow’. The new cuss word in India’s collective conscience. The cow that our forefathers worshipped as the abode of all Gods. And, today, every bleeding heart liberal can spontaneously crack a dozen jokes on it, write Op-eds on how our reverence of cows will be the end of humanity, and mirthfully organize circle-jerk beef parties. And the only person to be blamed for this entire farce is you, the self-apppointed protector of cows: the gau-rakshak. You have reduced a harmless bovine into an excuse for terrorism. When the PM of the country, the man that you have repeatedly reposed your faith in, and the Head of the social organization, which is primarily responsible for mobilising your community, openly do not support your brand of vigilantism, whose side are you really on when you resort to violence, arson, and murder? You are harming the cause, if I am to assume that there is a cause worth our time and efforts.
But can we really debate on the ongoing national epidemic around cow-protection without understanding basic human nature? In fact there is no debate on cows at all, it is only on basic human nature.
The shaakahari and the maansahari:
Like chicken-and-egg, we don’t know which breed came first. But, let’s say some of us, over time, decided that we don’t want to kill animals to feed ourselves. Not that this reflects in any way on how humane we are in our general conduct in life, still let’s just respect this choice and move forward. For some others, the bloodlust was too strong. Ok, ok, delete that. For some others, they believed that food chain is nature’s way of churning the ecosystem, and we must play our role in it. This is absolutely fine too.
I am told that we have enough evidence to suggest that our forefathers ate meat. Nothing then explains how a large section of Indians came to look down upon meat-eating. For example, in my house, non-veg food is strictly not allowed. My mother would faint if she gets to know that the person sitting next to her is eating meat; in most cases she will know just by the smell of it. Even in Hindu households where meat is eaten, the utensils meant for puja are kept separate so that they are don’t get apavitra or impure. We all have those weird friends who are vegetarians on particular days in the week. Overall, even though many of us eat meat, eggs or what-have-you, vegetarianism is considered ideal from a spiritual perspective.
What holds us together?
It is now beyond doubt that human beings are perfectly capable of completely obliteraing our kind in a matter of seconds. What is it then that holds us together? Not just members of a family, community, society, country, but even you and me – two strangers. No, don’t give me that old dope on how humans are superior to other species. Animals are far better at living in groups, and fiercely protecting their common interests. What holds us together is LAW. Not just the law created by Governments because governments came much later, but laws created by societies, religions, communities, and every other thing that defines our personality. These are known by different names: conventions, practices, rituals, beliefs, culture. And these laws evolve over time. Some become redundant with passage of time, and are discarded. Some become oppressive to a few of us, and are amended. Some are forgotten, and then again revived. Sometimes these laws take the form of moral values, and sometimes plain superstition. Every such law must have been created with some rationale at some point in time, and more often than not, it must have been the greatest good of the greatest number. Standing today, it’s not always possible to see that rationale, and we must decide what is right in today’s context and collective sensibility.
But lots of these laws are breaking down today in urban settings with alarming frequency, and an unintended byproduct is celebration of the individual over society. We are an impatient generation, more selfish than the earlier one, and this degeneration (if we can call it that) is getting worse with time. And the rift between the thought processes of us, the urbal elite, and them, the rest who form the backbone of societies, is getting wider. We don’t understand them, they don’t even want to understand us. World over, we have eaten humble (eggless) pie when trying to predict how they should be behaving.
Can religions co-exist?
Hindus worship cows, and oppose cow-slaughter. It would be silly not to admit that other religions are primary consumers of beef. Do some Hindus not eat beef? Do Hindus really take care of their cows, to justify them getting all self-righteous when opposing cow-slaughter? Do slaughter-houses smuggle cows meant for farming? A logical analysis of this problem is almost impossible. There are too many ifs and buts. But what is clear to me is that if different religions were not involved, the problem would not have assumed such importance. Every religion has an inherent distrust of the others, and this fuels most of the anger, and need to assert its own importance. It is about cows today, it will be about something else tomorrow. What is needed is for us to teach our children to learn to accept others as they are, with their different religious beliefs.

I don’t know what should be the solution? Can the Hindus be a little less touchy? A Bengali colleague, who often passionately discusses myriad socio-political issues with me tells me why he doesn’t eat beef: he is a hardcore non-vegetarian, and needs to have his fill of meat twice a day for him to have a good night’s sleep. Yet, he’s never had beef. He tells me that when he was very young, his family owned a cow, and he has fond memories of playing with it, washing it, drinking its milk, calling it a mother. As they grew up, maintaining a cow as a pet was no longer practical, as everything that mattered - space, time, money – shrunk. How can I eat beef when I have once called a cow my mother? he tells me. He’s an MBA, working for an MNC, and yet see how emotional he gets on this topic. He will never impose his own views on others who may want to eat beef. And his is the story of so many of our generation even in cities, let alone villages. To write off the emotions of such people by making jokes on cow, is again us vs them all over again: we are not capable of this analysis.
But vigilantism is a crime, and it needs to be treated us such. No one has given right to a bunch of hooligans to go around beating people up. Gau-rakshaks who beat up others are as malicious and hypocritical as those who make up fake stories of being asked to get off an auto for carrying a leather bag. You are not the solution, you are the problem. And what needs to be done is to call out these people and get authorities to punish them. We will be achieving little by writing satirical articles on Cowcracy, or by initiating a gau-raksha andolan. Let that poor animal be, please.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Main 'Feminist' toh nahi, magar ae haseen...

I have always found it difficult to get myself accepted in any alpha-male group. I am not a sports addict; I don’t get excited by the prospect of guzzling down beer the whole night; and I don’t enjoy talking about women as sex-objects. The last bit puts me in the most awkward of situations because I can rarely wriggle out of such conversations without other men (and some women) looking at me as if I were an alien. It is easy to decline commenting on cricket, or not jump in to a conversation on soccer trivia. It is also easy to excuse yourself from a nightlong drinking session (yes, easy to ignore the snide smirks that follow too). But I get very uncomfortable when men start talking about women. And, no, not harmless chatter about women or plain bitching that you’d also do about other men. These conversations have to do with women’s bodies, about their clothes, everything that would make a woman squirm if she overhears us talk. It shows on my face. I don’t enjoy being part of that conversation. There have been times when I have ended up saying silly things myself (maybe just to not look very awkward, I don’t know!), but I have felt ashamed of myself the very next second. I always end up wondering if other men would talk similarly about the women in my life, or the ones I know personally, and it would make my blood boil. It’s just how I am.
Image result for feminism
I think there are decent ways to praise or compliment someone’s beauty, even when they are not part of the group. I also think that, as a society, it will be ages before we start respecting other women the same way as we respect our mothers, sisters, daughters and wives at home (well, most of us do respect the women at home, I would like to believe). I am ok with small, gradual steps taken to bridge the inequality gap, any social reform takes time. I am also ok if some of us want the gap to bridge quickly, and if they run aggressive campaigns around it. I am usually ok with most things in life.
I also do not think that women are any less capable than men. I am all for equal opportunities for everyone. There may be some things where one gender is inherently better at than the other (e.g. I always find that women are born dancers; even something very specific like having softer touch that help in picking tea-leaves.. etc.) But that shouldn’t be a barrier to equality of opportunity for everyone. Never. It may or may not be happening everywhere right now. We will get there definitely though.
But I am not feminist. Because if I were to be a feminist, I would have to identify myself with the proud feminists that we see all around us every day. Not just feminists who want to run aggressive campaigns to carry out a social reform – for I am ok with that. But feminists who are disguised misandrists, who misuse 'laws against sexual harassment' to their undue advantage, who want to forever wear the crown of victimhood, who stereotype men to fight against stereotyping of women. Yes, I know some of you would say #NotAllFeminists, and I would leave you there with your thoughts and the screaming irony of the hashtag.
However, I shouldn’t be bothered by what people who don’t matter to me think or do, right?. What should, however, bother me is if my views get me into regular tiffs with people who matter to me, or who I like in general. In fact, a blog post by one such person who I have always held very dear to me is the catalyst behind why I am writing this blog in the first place. After a long, emotional message (most of which I agree to, in principle), she concludes thus:
For instance, I know a number of men - good at heart, well educated, striving for equality between the genders though not always achieving it - who vociferously proclaim that they hate feminists. "Don't talk in this feminist type language. Let's have a normal conversation," is something I have heard for many years now. Actually, not just men, many women also hold this view, some even going as far as to brand this clan "Feminazi". I have an infinite capacity to absorb shit, but this is shit I refuse to accept any longer. So, yeah, before we proceed, I am making it crystal clear - I am a feminist. If you hate feminists, you hate me. And the hatred is mutual, this is the last of conversations I will be having with you.
(full post at  
I was tempted to post a comment there, but held back. I don’t want to get into another ‘fight’ when the post itself warns me against it. But, then, why should my discussion degenerate into a fight each time? Let me try and analyze the last few occasions on which I have gotten into such a ‘fight’ with my feminist friends:
1. I shared an article from this highly pretentious news-site called Huffington Post on Facebook that sought to establish mainstream acceptance for Hijab. Yes, you read that right. I lamented on how Huffington Post was doing irreparable damage to whatever little has been achieved in letting women have the freedom to dress how they want. Feminists should, ideally, have agreed with me. At least, I thought so. I was wrong. I was told that Hijab is a choice, and women should have freedom to choose what they want to wear. That my stance was anti-women. All this coming from women on my friends’ list.
I would have agreed with that article, had it said that any change takes time. If only the article had pondered on how we shouldn’t be judgmental against women who wear hijab out of own volition due to generations of mental conditioning, and how it was wrong in principle, but we should give such women some space, I would have agreed with it. But, no, the article wanted to establish that hijab is ok. Women are ok with it. No change is needed.
I come from a family where my mother entered our dahleez in a two-feet long ghoonghat when she got married. This was 35 years back. Since then, I have seen beliefs, sanskaar, customs, getting churned over time. It has been a constant tussle of ideas, old and new. A lot has been achieved. No one has to be in a ghoonghat in our house anymore, there is general acceptance of the concept of women working full-time, or wearing what they want to wear. Their views are heard, respected. We are not a fully liberal family, yet. But I am happy at the small steps we have taken. Imagine, now, if someone like me, comes and tells the women at home, ‘ghoonghat is beautiful’. I can imagine a wide-eyed acceptance from the earlier generation, and three decades of progress would be lost.
You may not see what I see. You have not lived my life. I am willing to see your perspective too. But, I want you to see that you are harming your own cause, the cause that you are so emotional about.
2. Someone posted a series of tweets on Twitter about how divorce rates in India are low only because women silently tolerate domestic abuse. Emphasis added on ‘only because’. Women all over Facebook felt that their suppressed emotions have finally been expressed, and they had a collective orgasm over the tweets. It was not a post on the very pertinent issue of domestic abuse that women face. It was a post on low divorce rates in India. And, I can easily count a lot of other reasons on why marriages work better in India (or at least they did). I was a misogynist the moment I pointed that out.
No one is denying that domestic abuse against women is a serious issue, and needs a lot more attention, awareness, and efforts. But when the topic is about marriage – a union of ‘two’ human beings – you cannot ignore the emotions, efforts, sacrifices of one of them totally, only because it doesn’t suit your narrative. Why just marriage, no relationship will ever work without both individuals doing their bit to strike harmony, something which our current generation is struggling with.
Yes, there are many cases of women trapped in abusive relationships, who choose not to call it off because of children or other reasons. But can the opposite never happen? I was told that domestic abuse against men, if at all it’s an issue, would be statistically insignificant. Really? Also, I was told not to raise it when matter of women’s emancipation was being discussed. But, hey, we are anyway discussing marriages working better, and not domestic abuse against women. The two are not synonymous, not to a man who doesn’t want to perpetually self-flagellate.  
And one only needs to google to find how serious the issue of domestic abuse against men is. Even if many of these reports are exaggerated (a likely counter), what would definitely come out that it is not an issue that can be written off as ‘statistically insignificant’. Abuse is not just physical, it is also emotional. Have there ever been studies on why middle-aged men get into depression? Have there ever been studies on causes of suicides in married men? By declining that this issue is even relevant, one can only highlight the hypocrisy of the argument ‘feminism is about equality of both genders’.
3. A feminist friend celebrated the feminism of the movie ‘Badrinath ki Dulhania’ by writing a detailed review on what was right and what was wrong in the movie. A few other feminist friends discussed threadbare each and every socially relevant issue that the movie portrayed. I pointed out that their feminist super-hero in the movie made fun of a male victim of sexual assault. I was quickly labeled as one who brings up male sexual assault every time female sexual assault is discussed, and how the feminists can't help but get abusive when such degenerate men express their views.
Hello, you are celebrating feminism of the movie and its protagonist, and feminism in your own words is about equality of both genders. It’s not a post on women’s issues. It’s a post on a movie, and all the good and bad things it represents. How can you ignore something so insensitive as a sexual assault, and how can I be a villain for pointing that out. You wouldn’t get it because you were not the only one squirming in your seat when the entire theatre was guffawing at the actor getting assaulted during that scene. You wouldn’t get it because for you a rape joke against women is offensive and akin to a real assault, but male sexual abuse is statistically insignificant, and hence, irrelevant. 
4. I found feminists rejoicing over an article on 'woke' men (whatever that term means). If I were to present a gist, it essentially invoked men to speak up for women’s rights instead of just personally practicing them. Even if I were to ignore how the article completely misses the point that such men would already be doing it, I couldn’t take my mind away from the stereotyping, offensive language, and the slander. Some of the gems from the article, all directed towards men:
Every aspect of your upbringing was stacked to make you an asshole.
Literally every possible formative influence placed you at the centre of a universe that exists for your dicksuckery.
I mean this sincerely: you, the woke desi boy, are a wonder of the world. I don’t know how you came to be this way. Liberal parents? A progressive education? A feminist girlfriend or boyfriend? A love for reading? Or just serendipitous stumbling upon the many inclusive corners of the internet?
Somewhere during their journey, feminists decided that the best way to fight stereotyping of women, was to stereotype men. Since men like the macho rough-talk, let’s abuse them, right?. That should get their goat. Quite unsurprisingly, the article suffers from the widely-prevalent syndrome where the author refuses to step-down from the imaginary pedestal of her vanity. She begins the article by first claiming a higher intellectual ground than her opponents (men, in this case), uses prejudiced and condescending rhetoric to make her point, and once you are squirming from the insult, she would give you the solace of her ‘belief’ in you. Quite a novel way to get someone on your side I must say. All this while completely ignoring the basic fact that the person was already on your side.
It’s very easy to claim victimhood. And no one knows that art better than feminists who have never had to suffer male privilege.
There have been many other incidents definitely, but I must have forgotten about them, given my age. In each of these cases, however, what stands out in my eyes, is the perpetual victimhood, and emotional hijacking of virtually every issue to show men in a negative light. And, no, it’s not ok. If you have the right to take comments on ill-executed feminism personally, men like me have every right to take your diatribe against men personally. You must raise a voice against injustices meted out to women, please do so, and I will join you in any capacity that I can. It is a movement that needs more people, more awareness, more push, yes. But spinning out-of-context sob-stories, I am sorry, I don’t have patience for that. But, yes, I am not as bigoted with my views, not yet anyway. Perhaps, feminism for many is an emotional concept, and not a logical one.
A long time ago, while riding a metro, I stood a mute spectator to a feminist bringing her worst wrath down upon a male co-passenger because, in her mind, the latter had molested her. It was my misfortune that I stood at the vantage point where I could see that it wasn’t the guy’s fault at all. But I stood quiet. We were standing next to the women’s seats. A lot of young girls, and other ladies looked on, as many men and other women started abusing the guy. I didn’t want to shame the girl. Probably, if I spoke in favour of the guy, many of these other girls and women would be scared into silence forever. Maybe, they would never again raise their voice against any man touching them inappropriately in a crowded metro. So, I killed my conscience and stood quiet, because I thought of those other women. Today, I am not so sure if I did the right thing. Because I have come to believe that feminism doesn’t help those who need it the most.
So, my ladies, I am not a feminist, not the feminist that you are, nor the one you are slowly becoming. And, no, I don't hate you for what you are.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Is emptiness your toy?

Not the sea, nor the fair, 
No, not the missed stair;
Not the fun, nor the sun, 
Not even her messed up hair;
Not the talk, nor the shout, 
It isn't the whisper in the air;
When it's none of that you yearn, 
Oh heart, why despair?

Songs, that were never sung, 
Dance unseen, tunes not hummed, 
The castles in the sand, 
Never built at the beach, 
Rose bushes in the backyard,
Bare thorns beseech, 
Oh what joy, atta boy, 
Tell me, is emptiness your toy?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


I don't want to eat this porridge!
This is so yummy, wanna try?
Have one bite?
This is good for your health.
Why can't I decide what I should eat?
Because you don't know what's good for you.
Oh yeah? What's not good for me?
The pillow-cover, for instance. You shouldn't chew on it, it's dirty.
It's yummy. Who decides what's not good?
I do.
So, dad's right. It's all about you! 

What are you doing at the window?
Just wondering if I should throw this mobile phone down.
Don't. It will break.
It won't.
It will. Don't do it.
We won't know until we have thrown one down to check if it will actually break.
I forbid you to do it.
I can't do anything that I want !
That's not true.
I wanna chew on the pillow-cover.

What's that in your hand?
A pen. I am writing down a list.
I want that.
No. This isn't for kids. Last time you got hurt, remember?
I want that.
No, play with your toys.
I don't like my toys.
You are not getting this pen.
Fine. You will never know what I did with the book you were reading.
Is it in your toy box?
Have you hidden it under the bed?
Have you thrown it from the window?
Fine, take this pen. Tell me where's the book.
You left the bathroom door open.
I gave the book a bath.
My book!
Then my teddy wanted to sit on the potty box.  
My book! Wait, what? 

Go to sleep now. It's bedtime.
Not yet. I want to play peek-a-boo.
I am tired.
I am bored.
Good kids sleep early.
I am a bad kid.
I am tired.
Let's play peek-a-boo.
Fine. Don't mind me. I will just lie here and chew on the pillow cover.

You told me we are going out.
Yes, we have.
We have come to the doctor's.
Will I get an injection?
I am not sure.
You told me we are going out.
Yes, we did come out of the house, didn't we?
I am never getting tricked into this again.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Rishte mein to hum tumhare.... huh, kaun lagte hain?

Superheroes have difficult lives ! 
Every superhero must have a tragic personal crisis. Call it destiny. Or a balancing act by nature. When one achieves supernatural expertise at this very huge and humongously important thing (e.g. saving the world, duh! .. if you must ask 'like what?'..), he must fail miserably at some other petty thing that turns his personal life upside down ( remembering names and faces of relatives; also read: thisthis and this...). YogiMan couldn't be an exception.. no, no, no Sir, he couldn't be. 

So, yeah, I am miserably bad at remembering people. I will forget your face, name, where do I know you from, when did we last meet and what did we talk about etc. Problem reaches epic proportions when I am dealing with relatives. I just don't remember! I forget their names even if I have met them a zillion times, I forget how I am related to them, I forget important details about them that every distant family member is supposed to religiously remember. Not only is this pretty embarrassing, this can get people like your parents and wife mighty upset with you as well ('only if you spent more time attending family functions rather than play on your laptop / phone, yeh din dekhna na padta ....'). 

Sample this: 
You are made to attend a wedding. Familiar faces smile at you from all around, making your head go in a tizzy trying to remember who they are. Then suddenly you are confronted by a smiling lady, with a toddler tugging at the hem of her ghagra
Unknown Lady: "Vicky, kaise ho? How's Sonia? What have you named the little one?" 
Me: "Umm... accha hoon. Sonia and Ishita are good too. Ishu turned 7 months now", you smile, telling yourself that you obviously know this female, but can't recollect how, why, and other such details. 
Unknown Lady: "Nice..." 
*Long Awkward Silence when you both look here and there* 
Me: "Umm.. you have lost weight" ... (this is usually a nice thing to say to strangers) 
Unknown Lady: "Haha, not at all. Just been watching what I eat", she beams and then tells the kid, "Radhu, don't pull the lehanga beta
Me: "Your daughter is cute! " The smile almost vanishes off her lips. 
Unknown Lady: "This is my niece. My son is two years old.... he's over there *points*.. with his father. You are probably confused" 
Me: " (Oops), yeah, sorry, how old is your daugh... umm... son? (wait, she just told you .... you are not making sense, ass!)" 
Thankfully, another lady barges in and steals her away by murmuring about who she needs to meet. Phew!

Imagine the plight if you make such a mistake with your in-laws? ! *shivers* 

Up, up and away! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Cradled in his arms, she seemed so tiny that YogiMan was almost afraid that he might hurt her. But then she smiled in her dreams, and YogiMan's heart felt a warmth like never before. Warmth of happiness. Of being content. Of being a father.

He could almost see her waddling to him, when he returned home from work, beseeching him to take her up in arms and swirl her around.

He could almost feel his stomach hurt, when she would playfully jump on it, as if it were a pillow, and laugh out loud to see him wince from the impact.

He also knew that he must tell his SuperBaby, someday when she's old enough to hear it, 'go and fight your monsters on your own little one, but always know that I have got your back'. And he knew that, then she would smile, a smile that would be worth every happiness in the world.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Are you MAN enough, then?

Google returns this pic when searching
for 'masculine men' ... hmm?
There hasn't really been a dearth of incidents in my life when I have been left feeling pretty lame in a group of friends / colleagues / random men. Most of these have had to do with set notions on masculinity, how I don't conform to manly stereotypes... and let's say I would get rated a 1 or a 2 on a scale of 10 there.
So if I were to observe 'men' around me and draw a list - 'what men should be like and should do' - I would come up with something that includes the below:

*Scratch. Your crotch. All the time. Everywhere. In public. In front on women. Blatant. Since now we have started frequenting beauty parlours for facials and pedicures, we can't even shirk off personal hygiene as a womanly affair. But, then, scratch you must.

*Stare. At women. Schoolgirls. Teenage girls. Girls even younger than that. Their legs. Their bosoms. Doesn't matter if she is feeling uncomfortable. Be shameless. Be a Man. In public transport, stand near women's section and stare at all of them, your eyes dripping with manly emotions. No woman should be able to move past without feeling your denigrating stare on her.

*Abuse. Your friends. Your colleagues. Bosses. Teachers. Random people. Call their mothers names. Sisters too. It makes you feel good. It makes other men around you feel good. You aren't friends with a guy unless you have insulted his whole family and he has happily embraced you in return.

*Pump Iron. Build those muscles. Post selfies on Facebook while flexing in the gym mirror. Tag all gym buddies and random girlfriends in those photos so that they can pretend to drool. Then quit gym, bloat up like a balloon and reminisce good old days of gymming.

*Drink. Daaru. On all occasions. Like you were born to drink. And if you don't want to drink on any occasion, be prepared to face manly remarks like 'Biwi se darrte ho?', 'Sissy boi?', 'Yaar iske liye doodh lao koi..'. They say men bond over alcohol the best. Ok, maybe a notch lower than over smoking, but then you already know my thoughts on the latter.

*Fight. And show masculine aggro in general. Doesn't matter if the person you had a tiff with is speaking softly and reasoning it out with you. You must punch him on the nose. Else be prepared to be booed by even the women standing around you 'Aadmi ho ya aurat? Lagao kheech ke saale ko...'.

There are many other manly qualities which need some more observation and scrutiny. Maybe another blog in another time. So, yeah, a rating of 1 for lean, soft-spoken, non-smoking, rarely-drinking kind of person like me isn't really unjustified. But I have decided I can live with it. ;-)

PS: The idea for the blog came from this article, which was shared recently by a friend on Facebook.


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Budhapa is just a state of mind, or is it?

So 29. Balding. Bloated Tummy. Memory loss (especially acute whenever wife asks you to do something). Still a struggling Banker. Customary Birthday post on blog.

Blow the candle already!

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