मच्छर, जैसे समाज है

जैसे आप अपनी ज़िंदगी जी रहे होते हैं, और भरसक कोशिश करते हैं, कि जो जीवन में करणीय है वह करते रहें, वैसे ही सोने की कोशिश कर रहा हूँ, क्योंकि अब रात का समय है, सोना चाहिये।

और जैसे आम ज़िंदगी में ‘समाज’ कभी कान के पास भिनभिनाता कर तंग करता है, कभी इधर, कभी उधर दंश मारकर उड़ जाता है, और मोटे तौर पर हमारा ख़ून चूसता है, ये बेचारे मच्छर भी वही करते हैं।

और जैसे ‘समाज’ कोई एक इंसान नहीं होता, एक बेनाम, faceless mass होता है, मच्छर की भी individual पहचान कहाँ होती है? उन्हें भी हम बस मच्छर ही कहते हैं, मसलन ‘मच्छर ने काटा’, जैसे ‘लोग कह रहे थे’।

आजतक हमें कोई ये समझा नहीं पाया कि भगवान ने मच्छर बनाये क्यों. हमारा faceless वाला समाज क्यों exist करता है, ये बात भी कभी पल्ले नहीं पड़ी.

और जैसे ज़िंदगी में आप समाज को नज़रअंदाज़ करने की भरसक चेष्टा करते हैं, लेकिन समाज पूरी बेशर्मी के साथ लगा हुआ होता है, खून चूसने, कान के आसपास भिनभिनाने, और आपको मोटे तौर पर तंग करने में, वैसे ही मैंने खूब चेष्टा की, कि नींद के साथ पूरी दोस्ती करूँ, मच्छरों को नज़रअंदाज़ करूँ, पर ये कमबख़्त डटे हुए हैं, जहाँ-तहाँ काटते हुए, इस बात का पूरा इंतज़ाम करते हुए, कि मैं और भले कुछ कर लूँ, पर सो न पाऊँ, और सुबह ऐसे कहूँ, कि ‘यार मच्छरों ने सोने नहीं दिया’, जैसे अक्सर कहा जाता है, ‘समाज के सामने मुँह दिखाने लायक तो रहना चाहिये (यानि अपनी न करो, सबकी करो)’।

और जैसे हम ज़िदगी में ज़रूरी चीज़ें बाजू में रखकर समाज का क्रिटीक लिखने बैठ जाते हैं, वैसे ही मैं भी मच्छर के दंश की पीड़ावश सोना भूलकर ये अनाप-शनाप लिखने बैठ गया हूँ।

Disclaimer: मच्छर-गण क्षमा करें, आपकी ‘लोगों’ से तुलना कर दी है। आधी नींद में ऐसा ही कुछ लिख पाता हूँ। इसकी ज़िम्मेदारी आप ही की है। और जैसे समाज को कोई फर्क नहीं पड़ता कि आप उनके बारे में क्या सोचते-बोलते हैं, वैसे ही मुझे भरोसा है मच्छर भी मेरा लिखा कुछ नहीं पढ़ेंगे।

(Image courtesy: www.noeticart.com)

Marry a Girl of Your Caste

Inspired by the series of blogposts/articles which are titled “Date a girl who…”. Reading all these beautiful articles I thought there ought to be one that rings closer home, to the average Indian chap’s life. And I also tweeted about it a few days back. So here it is.

Marry a girl of your your parents’ caste.

What is caste you asked? What are you? An Englishman? A hippie? An eskimo? Only foreigners don’t worry about caste. They don’t even have caste. Arrey they don’t even have culture, how will they have caste?

You know how glorious our culture is, right? Haven’t you seen the forward which tells you how many Indians work at Microsoft, and how we gave the world the zero, and how we have never invaded anyone ever? Do you want me to invade my foot into your ass?

No, no, no. Won’t do if you choose an Indian girl also, if she is not of same caste. Caste is important. Because culture is important. No, you can’t marry a Madrasi girl. We can’t even understand their language, how she will understand your culture? Yes, her parents are right in not letting her marry you. We hate them. But we also agree with them. And no, a Gujarati/Marathi/Punjabi girl won’t do either. And none of those fish-eating Bengali girls!

What? Girl from our state? What is her caste? What is the gotra? No no no, different gotra won’t do. We don’t even touch water they drink. Oh, they said they don’t touch water we drink? They maybe right, as long as what they imply is what we imply.

Tell me this: what will happen when you have children? What caste would they belong to? What will their identity be? Your name? That’s hardly identity. Indians? Ha ha ha. One Indian in one billion Indians. What an identity! No, no, caste identity must be preserved!

And why are we discussing all these girls anyway? It is not your job to look for the girl you would spend the rest of your life with! It is the job of your parents, their relatives, distant relatives, cousins of aunts of sister-in-laws, matrimony portal wallahs, pundits, matchmakers, neighbours, dhobis (washermen), naais (barbers)… anyone but you. You may think you know what you want. But that is not the same as what is good for you. You understand? It’s like the time you wanted to eat chocolate ice-cream, but we knew that two-in-one was good for you. Remember? Did you fall sick that time? No na! So you agree that what you want is not what is good for you. These people who have no idea about who you are, can select better girl for you, because they are not blinded by your prejudices and tastes. They will find a girl who is right for you, because she belongs to your your parents’ caste, and is homely. That is important. It’s not like you want to have a conversation with her about Murakami or jazz. Why would anyone have a conversation with his wife about anything but the price of potatoes and what time to leave for the neighbour’s daughter’s engagement party? You want your wife to revolt?

Sports? What you want to send her to play for India, or what? You know what happens to husbands whose wives become more famous? Husbands should always have more power, more smartness, and more fame than their wives. Because wives’ minds become unruly when they get more power. You want her to take decisions in your life? What is this nonsense about education, exposure, job? You know what they call men who let their wives work? Modern. Do you want to be called that?

What? No no, don’t give me all this hocus-pocus about film stories. That is film. This is life. You are not Dilip Kumar, nor are you Salman Khan. And don’t expect your parents to behave like Nirupa Rai and Nazir Hussain ok? Saying “jismein tum khush raho usi mein humaari khushi hai“, or “aajkal woh zamaana toh raha nahi, ki bacche maa-baap ki pasand se shaadi karein“. All this nonsense is against our culture. Don’t you know our culture is coming back? And these films are spoiling our culture. So don’t expect all this filmy dialoguebaazi ok? Expect your parents to ask what the caste of the girl is. And expect them to act hurt when you say you don’t care about caste. Who are you to not care about your caste?

And, do you know caste is scientific? In the Vedic times it was based on the profession of the person. What? This girl works in your department in office? No, no. That was Vedic times. Today caste is based on what caste your parents belong to, don’t you know? Now if the system was so good thousands of years ago, it is good today also. As we want to impose it on you. You want to oppose something scientific?

Ok stop all that discussion. Look, this nice homely same-caste girl is also adept at making round-round rotis. And she has never lived away from her parents. Don’t you know what that means? wink wink. And look, her bio-data says she likes embroidery! Don’t you want those lettered handkerchiefs to show off when you go to office?

Disclaimer: Total work of fiction, I swear! No Queens of England were harmed during writing of this post. All similarities to people or incidents or communities totally unintentional.

Notes on CommunityMatrimony TVC, or Let’s Be Regressive On National Television (1/2)

You might have seen this ad in the last couple of years on the television, and would’ve either cringed at it, ignored it, or (horror of horrors!) admired it and used their services.

Here’s my take on it (first of a two-post long ‘rant’):

The strategy/advertising/marketing/craft angle

Idea: Give them what they want
They want to “save their honour which their children don’t care about”. Let’s give them that. Let’s reinforce their perceptions. Let’s not fight anything. Let’s approach the parents, because they are the ones who give us listings in the first place. Let’s not approach a matrimony ad from the angle of the people whose life will be affected by the marriage, because we need to strengthen our buyers‘ idea that the end-users are not capable of taking the right decision, or are anyways on the “wrong side”. And that it is the right & duty of the parents to choose the life partner of their children, and whatever choice the said children have is not important for the overall happiness of the overall family.

Classic before & after.
Before: Daughter was seen in public with undesirable different-caste boy.
Solution steps in: CommunityMatrimony representative.
After: Photograph of a happy daughter happily married to decent same-caste boy. Relaxed parents. Please also note that the girl was happy in both the before & after scenarios. Our product does not affect the happiness of the end-user. It’s only the regressive parents we care about, and we’ve provided them (though in a simplistic process) with much-needed (though debatable) “happiness”.

Naming disaster:
As generic as it can be. It’s not an ownable name (only an ownable domain name). It’s a descriptor rather than a name. And then there are the various variants of it – the ones you are expected to use – like loharmatrimony.com in my case. Or do I use biharimatrimony.com? Who the hell is going to tell me that, huh?
Also, notice the smart usage of the euphemistic, almost modern social-economy word “community” instead of what they meant: “caste”.

The Execution
The acting is second-rate, the dubbing is third rate, the expressions are… well, the less we talk about it the better. The scripting/storytelling is anyway nothing to write home about.

Now on to the real WTF moment:
The enemy here, is not germs, pollution, old age, bad style, inefficiency, body odor, tooth decay, dandruff, stains, cholesterol. The enemy is other human beings, another community, and of course, our own children.

This ad takes just the opposite route from ‘catch ’em young’, where advertisers tailor their messages towards children so that they get early-in-their-life adopters (who can be addicts later on), or ads where the decision maker is an adult but the message is so tailored that their kids get influenced and then coerce them into buying that brand. Here, it’s just the opposite – attract the parents, because

  1. most marriageable youngsters would not be caught dead trying to find a life partner online, and
  2. in India, the society and parents have a sort of entitlement to choose any person’s life partner on the pretext of “wanting the best for our kids”, even though their prime concern is “is the other person from our community or not?”.

This concern is what CM taps. Do they say “we’ll find you an able suitor”? Or, “we’ll find someone who’ll gel well with your daughter”? Or, “your daughter will like him at first glance”? No. All they say is, “why let your daughter stay friends with that other caste guy she likes, when we can help you find a complete stranger (whom you can call your own because of his caste) and forcing her to marry him instead?”.

Another post about the societal implications coming soon…

I’ll be waiting for your comments 🙂

Dress control

UP colleges to ban jeans, set dress code. The people behind this think this will help ‘strengthen discipline’ and check display of ‘indecent clothes’ worn by some of the college students.

If some students are wearing indecent clothes, you can outlaw indecent clothing. Why target jeans – which covers legs? How does jeans become ‘indecent clothing’? Is it because men get dirty thoughts when they see a girl wearing jeans? Some people get more turned on by seeing a woman dressed in saree. So would they demand that women not be allowed to wear sarees?

The other argument is that this will prevent rapes from happening. So this puts the blame for rape on the women themselves – dress stylishly and we will rape you. Oh wait, we won’t rape you, but somebody else will, and I would not bother with controlling that other person. We would rather control the women and how they dress.

Not much different from the approach religious authorities take towards women – dress modestly, and you will be saved from being raped.

On the other hand, Nicholas Sarkozy’s stand of banning burkhas in France is also a similar decision, though in the other direction. When will the people in power give up the illusion that they can and need to dictate what choices people can make in their own personal space? Why can’t the principals of UP understand that the problems of eve-teasing and rapes etc is a product of a sick mentality arising out of too much control and why can’t Sarkozy treat the burkha as another piece of clothing, and respect the choice of women who want to wear it without coercion?

Advertising meets Politics = WTF

WTF of the day comes from our dear ol’ Congress Party (the haath people, not to be confused with haathi people).

After claiming credit for Slumdog Millionaire’s Oscar success (did they also claim credit for the never before success of the Indian contingent in the Beijing Olympics?) and a jingle claiming credit for every technological advancement that ever happened in the world and came to India, in whichever way, there is another TVC, where a couple is talking between themselves, and are happy that inflation is reduced, and prices of things from commodities to properties have come down. Never mind that millions are losing their jobs and are getting their paychecks cut, so they won’t be that thrilled about this reduced inflation.

The whole world has been looking for who is behind the recession. Is the Congress willing to take credit for it now? (albeit while trying to package it in a positive way)?

Why do I need to lie about myself in my own country?

In my own country, I had to lie about myself. No I am not a fugitive. I am simply a person with Bihari roots.

Yesterday I went to see a flat (we’ve got to shift), and the landlady kept asking us, among other directives like “don’t bring girls here…”, “Is any of you Bihari? Because we don’t want to have Biharis in our house.”. Even though we kept telling her that one of us is a Marathi (to which she looked visible pleased) and I am a Bengali (owing to the “truth” that I come from Calcutta), it felt wrong, and I decided not to ever return to that place.

I never came across anyone in my 20 year long stay in Calcutta, or year long stay in various places in Jharkhand, who would tell me that they would not want a Marathi, Tamilian or Gujarati as a tenant.

Having said that, she has not done anything illegal. She owns the place and she has the right to have her reservations. But the underlying assumptions and intent behind that decision disturbs me.

Why do I need to lie about myself in my own country?

Plural of criminal = Guardian of culture

People who beat up other people without provocation react to some other people sending them underwear with “This is not the way. They could have discussed this with us peacefully across a table”.

People who beat up people based on their state of origin, their religion and caste, file a defamation case against someone who expressed their opinion on this. And the judiciary does not help our young victim.

If Veerappan was alive today, maybe he would’ve sued the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka police for chasing him around and causing him mental trouble – the police should’ve done a round-table meeting with him trying to “sort out” the differences they had with him.

Maybe Charles Shobhraj can sue the Interpol for being insensitive to his freedom needs, and demand that they discuss things out with him in an amicable setting.

But do you know why that will not work? Because in Amit Varma’s words “Mobs are above the law”. Groups involved in criminal activities today are not criminal in themselves – they are guardians of culture and representatives of aam junta.

Maybe Gabbar Singh would have stood a chance of going free, joining politics and putting Thakur behind bars (for having caused him irreconcilable trauma) if his gang would have protested for his release in front of our Supreme Court, stating that the gang was a social activity group which was protecting the Ramgadhwasis from a big calamity: Gabbar Singh’s rage.

That could be the plot for a new Sholay.

All views expressed in this blogpost are not related to anyone, and no person living or dead is implied. Please let me blog in peace, don’t sue/arrest/beat me up.

I am the change. What else?

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

It is a quote by Mahatma Gandhi. What did the great man mean when he said this?

That if you want the world to be a more honest place, be honest yourself?

Or that if you want the politicians in the world to be better, become a politician yourself?

Turns out there are people who think it’s the latter.

So if I want doctors to give me better treatment, do I need to become a doctor myself? If I want to see better buildings in my city, do I need to become an architect myself? For better traffic, do I become a traffic constable?

Why is politics and administration “above” other professions?

If a person is honest and does his job with integrity, does he not have a right to complain when his state’s CM is caught taking bribes, just because he himself has not taken up politics as a career?

Next time there is a defence scandal in the news, I guess only the defence people would have a right to talk about it. How would the news channels cover it then?

सदी क्या हुई है भाईसाहब?

किस युग में रहते हैं आप? मुझे लगता था इक्कीसवीं सदी चल रही है. आजकल थोड़ा शक होने लगा है. टीवी पर समाचार चैनल वाले यूं ही परेशान करे बैठे हैं – स्वर्ग का द्वार, रावण की मम्मी, फिल्मी गाने से आकर्षित होने वाले भूत तो हम देख चुके हैं. पर टीवी पर शापिंग वाले प्रोग्राम भी पीछे नहीं रहे. बेजन दारूवाला के राशिफल, और नक्षत्र वाले पत्थर तो हम देख ही रहे हैं, पर अगर कोई ये सब देखता है तो वक्त की बर्बादी के अलावा मुझे नहीं लगता कोई और नुकसान हो रहे हैं.

लेकिन आजकल एक नई ऑफरिंग आई है टेलि-मार्केट में – नज़र से बचाव! फिल्मों ने हमें इसी एक संभावना के बारे में अवगत कराया था कि नज़र से प्यार होता है और शायरी की भाषा में नज़र से लोग घायल होते हैं और मेटाफॉर में मर जाते हैं. लेकिन “बुरी नज़र”, उसके पीछे की बुरी नीयत और उससे होने वाले नुकसानों के बारे में मां, चाची-ताई वगैरह के अलावा किसी और से नहीं सुना था. बेशक घर में कोई नवजात बहुत रोता था, तो नज़र की बात ज़रूर उठती थी, और ये भी चर्चा होती थी कि किस नासपीटे की नज़र लगी होगी. पर सिर्फ ज़िक्र भर होता था. हम उसे विलेन बनाकर झगड़ने नहीं लगते थे – आखिरकार दो पीढ़ियों से शहर में रहने का असर तो होगा, भले ही हम आज भी “नज़र” जैसी चीज़ों पर विश्वास कर रहे हैं. और एक लेवल पर नज़र की बात होती रहती है – यूंही कहना कि नज़र लगी है किसीकी, कहने का मतलब कि वो इंसान तारीफ़ तो कर गया, पर मन ही मन जल भुन रहा होगा. उसकी इस नज़र से हमें असल में नुकसान होगा, ये तो हम शायद सोचते भी नहीं आजकल.

पर टीवी के टेली-व्यापारी चाहते हैं कि हम सोचें. आजकल नज़र को इतनी गंभीर समस्या के तौर पर पेश कर रहे हैं, मानो अगर हर इंसान के पास ये नज़र-शोधक तावीज़ नहीं हों तो बाकी दुनिया सिर्फ अपनी आंखों से देख-देखकर सभी को बीमार, कंगाल और अपाहिज बना देगी. ये दिखाने के लिए जो तस्वीरें आती हैं टीवी पर, उनमें आंखों से निकलती किरणें देखकर सुपरमैन और नागराज कामिक्स की याद आ जाती है.

इतना बुरा नहीं लगता, अगर इतनी बेशर्मी से इस दकियानूसी और पैरानॉइड विचार को बढ़ा चढ़ा कर दर्शक के मन में स्थापित करने की कोशिश नहीं होती कि सारी दुनिया के सारे लोग, खासकर वो जो आपके करीब हैं, आपका बुरा ही चाहते हैं. कि आपके सब दुख-तकलीफों की जड़ दूसरे लोग हैं, और उनमें ये दैवी शक्ति है कि सिर्फ देखकर और बुरा चाहकर आपका बुरा कर सकते हैं. और इतना बुरा कर सकते हैं कि जब तक आप यह चमत्कारी तावीज़ नहीं खरीदते, तब तक आपकी तकलीफें दूर नहीं होने की. वही तावीज़ जो दस साल पहले टूरिस्ट तीर्थस्थानों की दुकानों में बच्चे पांच-पांच रुपये में खरीदते थे, बस खेलने और देखने के लिए. आजकल इन खिलौनों में दैवी शक्तियां आ गई हैं, आपको दुनिया के सबसे बड़े खतरे से बचाने के लिए!

टीवी भी क्या करे? एक मीडियम ही तो है. इसी टीवी पर नैशनल जियोग्राफिक के कार्यक्रम देखता हूं, और इसी टीवी पर दुनिया के एक हिस्से को पंद्रहवीं सदी की ओर जाते देखता हूं. शायद यही है वह भारतीय संस्कृति जिसके लिए इतनी मारपीट चालू है.

Real-Life Gandhigiri

History is being made. In true Gandhi style.

Mind it, these are not spoofs of the events we have read about in our history text books. These are actual, serious movements by people who mean business.

Whether you drink, don’t drink, go to pubs, don’t go to pubs, if you want a safe and free environment for Indian youngsters where no one should be forcing upon them their idea of what is ‘moral’, then you must join the Pub Bharo Andolan. If you happen to be a woman as well, then A Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women is for you. And if you’re feeling particularly generous, or want to do things Munnabhai style, then the Pink Chaddi Campaign is for you.

All the power to movements against moral policing by the likes of Muthalik et al!