Category Archives: Bangalore
Before I say anything, let me get the context perfectly clear here. I am right now in the USA and have been here for the past 1.5 years. I woke up today morning and on my news feed, I saw that MCC’s Cul-Ah had been going on since Monday. This brought back all the nice memories of the Cul-Ah! that I had been to when I was in my PUC. So I decided to give it a read. This post is a result of the profound WTFness that I experienced subsequent to reading through those articles. READ ON…
For the uninitiated, Cul-Ah! Is the annual cultural fest that is conducted by Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, at their own campus. Usually they hold it in the month of January and this year too was no exception. This fest is considered to be one of the best fests in the city and is in high demand. (Hmm…I wonder why..). Perhaps the fact that MCC is a girls’ college with a continued reputation of housing the best chics in the city has something to do with that popularity. Anyways, I got to know about this year’s fest through this and this article on DNA.
So this year, MCC has gone on and made the effort to theme their fest. The theme chosen is “ELEMENTS”. According to Andrea, general secretary of Mount Carmel College students’ union,
Our college is completely eco-friendly, and hence we came up with this theme. Considering that this year is the year of ‘biodiversity’, we have begun a number of campaigns in the college that encourage students to be more eco-friendly and to save the earth. For Cul- Ah, therefore, we chose the five elements of our planet to define and categorise our events.
The United Nations has this to say about the International Year of Biodiversity:
….that humans rely on the diversity of life to provide the food, fuel, medicine and other essentials needed for life… this rich diversity is being lost at a greatly accelerated rate because of human activities, such as the expansion of cities and farming. International Year Of Biodiversity is aimed at raising awareness about the loss of animal and plant species and organizing action to halt it.
Looks like a responsible thing the fest organizers have done. Starting a number of campaigns and getting their main fest to be themed that way to create awareness for the ‘Year of Biodiversity’. Just ONE small problem I came across:
The Year of Biodiversity was LAST YEAR, 2010!!!
Yes, yes..this is the point where you go WTF???!?!!!??
I mean, seriously, what were the organizers thinking? I can imagine people messing up on some small aspects of the fest, but screwing up the very premise behind the main Theme of the fest, now you gotta be really messed up to do that!
I am now trying to reconstruct the discussion that I believe, took place, during the planning of the fest (in 2010).
Chic1: Girls! We gotta do something different this time. Something that will capture the attention of everyone for a very good purpose.
Chic2: Save the Planet!
Chic3: Oh my God! That is soooooo original! Lets totally do it!
Chic1: Wait! Save the Planet doesn’t sound fancy enough. Lets give it a different name.
Chic2: Hey look! This year is ‘Year of Biodiversity’! We can use that as an excuse to get this totally original idea on to our theme! This is so awesome no??
Chic1 and Chic2: Yay! This is going to be the best fest ever!
Chic4 (with mega-inferiority complex issues): Excuse me girls… err..hmm… but I was just wondering.. ummm.. since we will be holding our actual fest, like, next year, you know, 2011, don’t you think we need to consider that also?
Chic1: Did we ask you your opinion?
Chic4: Err…I was just saying…you know, that you had to consider…
Chic2: Are you suggesting that we don’t know how to do this?
Chic4: I am sorry.
Chic3: Yeah! Who the f*** cares anyway? As soon as they see something even remotely associated with Save Nature stuff, they will think we are doing a very responsible thing.
Chic1: So where were we? Ah yes! So lets make the theme as those 5 elements that make up nature. Earth, water, fire, air and space.
Chic2: Oooooooh! I so love Captain Planet! Go Planet! This is sooo good!
Moving on, we now come to the events. The events are categorized with respect to the different ‘elements’. Here is the idea behind the classification:
Fire will include high energy events like dance, mad ads and mock rock, whereas music and poetry are in the category of Air. Water, with its characteristic intelligence, will include events such as quizzes and pictionary that test your intelligence and creativity while events such as vegetable carving, cooking without fire and flower arrangement fall in the category of Earth.
And here is the clincher, really. If you were wondering what they came up with for the ‘element’ of Space, this is what the Gen-Sec, Andrea, had to say (brace yourself for the profound WTF moment):
All these events will be conducted in the element of space, which in this case is MCC.
You know… if you really wanted to find an excuse to somehow include that 5th element, I am sure there was a less retarded way to do so. Let me reconstruct the discussion that led to this:
Chic1: Ok, now that’s a great idea. Year of Biodiversity, and ELEMENTS! I think we are onto something totally awesome here. Now how can we structure these events so that all the 5 elements are covered?
Chic2: I think the best way to do that would be to classify the events among 4 of the elements and treat the 5th element as something that will encompass all the other 4! I am so awesome no??
Chic3: So for example, we can put our events in Air, Space, Fire and Earth, while saying that we are holding our fest under Water. And then we can say that this is symbolic of how global warming is going to get all places under water soon if we do not do something about it! Isnt that a great idea? We can also use the Global warming excuse to put Fire as the 5th element saying we can die of heat and stuff.
Chic2: Oh my god!! There are so many options here! Lets draw lots!
Ok. So enough with that. Lets now consider the actual events and their classification. Honestly, I really don’t know where to start. Fire is supposed to represent High-energy events? When exactly did rewriting a rock song in a funny manner (Mock Rock) become a ‘high energy’ event? And so poetry and music events are classified under Air? Oh I get it! The vibration of air is required to create any sound and so music events come under Air. What about poetry? Oh I know! You need air to breathe while you create poetry! Epic!
So Water has ‘characteristic intelligence’? Hmm..lets see. Googling ‘characteristic intelligence of water’ yields results describing the Goldfish and the Portuguese Water Dog. I am sure the organizers found a way to link both these innocuous animals with their events. So quizzes and Pictionary are supposed to test your intelligence and creativity? Ok..so then why is the Kannada quiz in Air and not Water? You suggesting Kannada quiz does not require any intelligence or creativity? (Kannada Rakshana Vedike anyone??)
In fact, here is my alternate proposal for classification. Fire is generated by sparks. So a spark of the mind is related to the Fire element. Spark of mind also gives rise to creativity and intelligence, as seen in lit events such as quizzes and such. So classify all ‘intelligent and creativity’ based events under Fire. Then look for the real dumb and retarded events. Like Antakshari, where only the dumb get excited playing. You can classify such events under Water. Why? Because water destroys fire, the spark, the same way the dumb cancel out the intelligent!
“I am so awesome no??!!!?”
It is fairly obvious what has happened. The organizers somehow want to tag their fest with some kind of a socially-responsible message. And once they do that, they had to find ways to relate each and every event to the theme somehow. And so they come up with these ridiculous ways to connect their fest with the ‘Save the Planet’ message. And they know nobody is going to really question it or think too much about it as it is, by default, supposed to generate a feel-good factor. This whole thing, I have to say, is a perfect scenario to explain the idea of Subjective Validation.
Moving on, lets look at the Twitter account that MCC opened up to publicize and market their fest. Not a bad idea as a lot of people use Twitter and word gets spread around faster through it. There are 12 tweets in the account, the last of which was on Jan 3. Now I am not going to comment on the inefficient usage of the account. Instead, the followers of this account tell a very good story. (At the time of posting this) There are 21 followers, some of whose descriptions are as follows:
- I’m a 17 year old girl. I Love Music. Met Jesus when I was 11. Living life in His grace and love. Servant, Daughter, Sister, Friend. =)
- hi im **** a.k.a chikku.. im a huge fan of linkin park and edwars cullen.. i love playing different sports….well thats it for now… cya later……:-)
- everything must be proportionate. your chicken and your rice must both last till the end. one must divide the bites of chicken evenly among bites of rice
Well, I guess I am done with the organizers and the college. I have nothing against them really. I am sure they had a great fest and a lot of people had a good time. Come to think of it, I clearly remember to have had a memorable time when I went to Cul-Ah! 2003 edition when I was doing my PUC at St. Joseph’s PU College. But all that aside, I really cannot tolerate mediocrity. And hence this post. But I am not done yet. So far, I took care of the college. Now let me turn my attention to the newspaper- DNA.
Substandard or unethical journalism is something that really gets on my nerves. I have written about them before here and here. And I continue to see this even today. The DNA journos Merlin Francis and Vidya Iyengar have written the two articles that I have quoted here. In each case, I would like to know what the journos treat as their standard.
First up, with Merlin Francis. This is the dude who has got the Gen-Sec of the fest to quote that the Year of Biodiversity is this year. And he just took it for granted, making zero effort to check the factual accuracy of what he was quoting in his final article. All he needed to do was spend 15 seconds to google ‘Year of Biodiversity’ and he would have everything he needed. But no! Why? Well, I guess the standards differ, don’t they?
And now, with Vidya Iyengar. Call me a stickler for accuracies, but I really have a zero tolerance for inaccuracies in newspapers. The Fashion Show event is listed under the category Earth in the article.
The theme ‘Earth’ will be reflected in a fashion show that will sport rich, Indian ethnic wear.
However, in the actual brochure, the event is listed under Fire. This may look extremely trivial to some. But there is no guarantee that the above line was not just made up to suit the article. Maybe it was the fault of the organizers who fed in wrong information to the journo. Or perhaps, the organizers messed up their brochure (in which case, I would not attribute any wrong doing to the said journo). But these factual inconsistencies are not excusable in any form.
However, there is an even more WTF thing involved in these 2 articles. The General Secretary’s name is said to be Andrea D’Silva as per Vidya Iyengar, while it is Andrea D’Souza as per Merlin Francis!! Now, seriously, who f***ed it up? Poor Gen-Sec. You have my sympathies!
And I guess I am done. I am feeling good. Having said that, let me also add that I would like to thank all those involved in this awesome mess for providing me ideal fodder for a blog post! Please keep it coming…..
UPDATE: The MCC folks have left a few comments below (along with the inevitable brickbats). Read them for their response and how all the facts did NOT go into the newspaper article. Also, since I am exercising my freedom to criticize people here, I also realize that I am open to criticism as well. I will not be deleting any comments here, even if they clearly show me in bad light. I will probably not be responding to them.
All of us have our own addresses. If an Indian is asked where he lives in their city, the response ranges from Bandra to Basavanagudi, from Gurgaon to Gorguntepalya, from T.Nagar to Thodesandhipalya (Ok that last one was made up). And if you are familiar with the area given as a response, you ask “Where in Basavanagudi?” or “Where in Thodesandhipalya?” (You really dont have to answer the last one). And if you are familiar with even the second response, you keep narrowing the location until you have convinced yourself that the other person is your long forgotten neighbor.
However, in the USA, things, as always, are a little different. Say you approach an American living in New York City, one of the largest cities in the world. And you ask him where he stays in New York. The most likely response you are going to get is “Oh I stay in Perry Street” or “My house is on Graves Avenue” or “I live right by Richmond Lane”! You see, the address of a house in the USA has just two things on it that help you to locate it in a given city: the house building number and the street where the house building is located. Thats it! So in an area of about 800 square kms, all you have with you to locate one single house is the name of the street its on??!!?? That surely helps doesnt it??? Its equivalent to saying “My house is next to my neighbor’s house” or “I am my father’s son” etc. It doesnt tell you anything useful.
Yes we all know there is this invention called GPS which can take you from anywhere to anywhere with just the street name as input. But seriously, what if you dont have one? Let me elaborate on this a bit. Imagine you have just arrived in New York City and take a cab to get to your apartment. You tell the cab driver “Take me to 4800 Eastland Drive” and just expect to be dropped off in front of your house? Well if the cab driver does just that, then either he has an awesome memory or his house is within a 2 block radius of your house. But then what happens if neither of the above “totally-possible” situations prevail? Then I guess you have to start looking for a map. Imagine this. You are in a cab and the cab driver spends the first ten mins just figuring out which part of the city he is supposed to be taking you!
Not implying that this is the only way things happen around here in the US. But seriously imagine something like that happening in India. I mean, you go and ask a Bangalore Auto Rickshaw dude to take you to 8th Cross Road, WTF do you think he is going to do? Of course he is going to look at you like you were born a retard and stayed that way for good!
Perhaps one of the direct consequences of American addresses having such small number of characters in them is seen when you are trying to fill out a form online- like an application for the college, GRE, TOEFL or any other thing that is based out of the US. You see the website creators make this sincere and totally pointless effort to restrict the number of characters in which you enter your address. So when your address goes into describing just your house number and street name, there really is no problem. However, unfortunately for all us Indians, this poses a problem. Especially if your address involves your house name, house number, Cross Street number, Main Street Number, Layout, Stage, Near some landmark, Block and lastly Area name- as is the case with most Indian addresses- you are in for a small problem! And it is really amazing how I have learned, over the years, to express words in much smaller forms without failing to convey its intended meaning!
Getting back to ground reality, more and more people are having GPS in their cars and it is available for dirt cheap prices at WALMART. But that still doesnt justify having only one street name to describe the location of your house in a mega metropolitan city. ( You might argue that the Pin code narrows it pretty well but seriously who knows about the postal code apart from the post men?) I sincerely hope I dont have to go through any circumstances involving hunting for ONE street name amidst hundreds if not thousands in a city.
Feel totally free to get fully emotional and sentimental about the American address systemand pass judgment on my assessment of it- but make sure you do that on your own blog.
All of us have our own local Iron man. He comes once a week to iron our clothes. Whether you wish to admit it or not, he forms a very integral part of our lives. Where would we be without those clean, wrinkle free, perfectly creased clothes? This blog post is a recognition and tribute to all those Iron Men/Women who have helped me get through all these years-wrinkle free and perfectly creased!
NOTE: This song is to be sung to the tune of (what else?) IRON MAN by BLACK SABBATH.
THE REAL IRON MAN
I am the REAL IRON MAN!!!
Here comes the Iron man
To iron their clothes as per plan
Pushing his cart on the road
Even if he is really bored.
Parking under a tree
He gets ready for his ironing spree
He don’t need no seat
He just makes sure of the coal’s heat
Then he collects their clothes
Back to the cart the iron man goes
And as he starts his job
He turns up his radio’s volume knob
Nobody cares for him
They just pass him by
Nobody notices him
Unless he doesn’t come by
Wrinkles have no place
They just vanish without a trace
He finds the perfect crease
Then he folds them in a breeze
He winds up his work
He smokes a cigarette as a perk
Showing no signs of rage
He now goes to collect his wage
Taking their payments
He just makes his living
Feeding his family
Next week he will be returning.
PS: Thanks to somebody for giving me the idea for this song. Unintended help is still appreciated.
The process of ANY Hindu ceremony inevitably involves waking up at least 4 hours (or in the Vatu’s case, 12 hours) before your usual wake up time. So now you know where the Vatu’s problems started. Waking up early in the morning and being expected to stay hungry for over 5 hours after waking up was not exactly high on the Vatu’s agenda. But, as with the way things were going for him, the Vatu knew better than to argue this time around. And thus started the day when the Vatu would eventually make the transition from Vatu-ism to becoming a Brahmachari.
The “ceremony” started off with the same self righteous Shastrigalu (priest) with the same 2 sidekicks continuing where they left off with the “Pleasing of the Gods”. This time, the GOD referred to a small fire or HOMA as it is called in Hindu circles. The ceremony immediately ensuing the Vatu’s awakening (from sleep that is, not the spiritual thing) involved pouring miniature amounts of ghee and oil onto the fire every time the Shastrigalu ended a sequence of necessarily undecipherable sounds with a prominent and loud “SWAAHA!”, at which point even his 2 sidekicks would join in with a loud “SWAAHA!” of their own. Three very distinct things seem to take place with the sidekicks every time they joined in with their own loud “SWAAHA!”.
- It appeared that saying “SWAAHA!” was as close to exciting as they ever got.
- Their lives seemed to get some meaning and purpose every time they chanted SWAAHA!
- Their self esteem seemed to undergo a delta increment, which I believe was a direct consequence of 2.
But now back to the Vatu. The Vatu was also expected to undergo the process of Mathrubhojana, which loosely translates to “dining with your mother.” This happens to be an event wherein the Vatu and his mother are expected to have their breakfast served on the same banana leaf. Also, the Vatu is to be actually “fed” by his mother with her bare hands. The idea behind this process, I believe, lies in implying that this is going to be the last meal that the Vatu (child) shares with his mother. The Vatu did eventually agree to undergo this seemingly ridiculous procedure, largely due to his hunger breaking tolerable levels.
Now there is one aspect of a thread ceremony that every single guy wishes to avoid. This is the shaving of the head. In olden days, this involved shaving the entire head except for a small round patch of hair at the very top and centre of the head that was to be left untouched. This would render a half-ponytail kind of a look to the Vatu. However, with the passage of time and the demands of modern society and the preferences of young boys of this age, this criteria was relaxed to just a few strands of hair taken from right above the forehead in such a way that it is hard to spot anything out of place. My own thread ceremony involved this and so did the two previously mention dudes’ and most of the other boys in the family. At this point, it is relevant to reveal some more facts about the Vatu.
The Vatu is widely acknowledged in the family to possess hair of the highest quality. And the Vatu likes his hair. He totally despises people meddling with his hair in any form, including just running their fingers through his hair. The Vatu also delays visiting the barber shop because he likes to keep his hair (it is also sometimes attributed to the Vatu’s inherent laziness).
The Vatu was then promptly asked by the self righteous priest to shave his entire head for the half-ponytail look.
Practically the entire congregation present there went WTF??!!??!? The Vatu just presumed that the priest is only suggesting the option of reverting back to the practices of olden days, as a show of good faith. And hence, quite a few of the family members spoke to the priest (whose self-righteousness level had increased significantly) to convey the fact that it is not a practical suggestion as the Vatu is likely to travel around. But much to the surprise of all the family members advocating the loss of fewer strands of hair, the priest just refused to budge from his initially stated position. At this point, more family members began to join the cause for loss of lesser hair while some sadistic and hypocritical aunts simultaneously teamed up to counter it. Their argument was essentially based around the age old “we-should-not-give-up-our-customs-and-traditions-even-if-they-don’t-mean-shit-today” diatribe. But amidst all the shoutings and counter-shoutings of family members of the female kind, the Vatu just went even more WTF??!?? The reason? The self-righteous priest with a pronounced smug, had just resorted to direct and open blackmail about his preferences! He had simply declared that unless the Vatu shaves his head fully with just a half pony tail dangling from the centre of his skull, he the priest would stop the ceremony and just leave!
Yes now even you, the reader, can go WTF??!!??
So as you could have expected, the Vatu did end up having his head shaved and did have a small patch of hair on the top of his skull with some hair dangling around more than the others. This seemed to feed the priest’s ego and arrogance as he continued to direct the proceedings with more vigor and attitude. ( Of course, all this time, the sidekicks were just fantasizing the day when they would be in a position to make someone lose more hair just by blackmail!)
However, the remarkable redundancy the priest seemed so keen to exhibit did not end there. He took the Vatu on a trip to show him the sun. That’s right. He helped the Vatu to spot the sun on a cloudless day at 11 in the morning! (Go Figure). The priest “explained” that the Sun contained GODS and so it was important to look at the sun during an auspicious event like a thread ceremony. This was later followed by the priest ‘educating’ the Vatu about the relevance and importance of chanting the Gayatri Mantra. This essentially included a story about how a small boy was able to make an idol of a Goddess move from one place to another just by talking to it while old priests couldn’t do it themselves (the explanation being that the small boy used to chant the said mantra a lot). However, the issue of why the Vatu would ever be interested in moving the idol of a Goddess in the first place was never raised.
Coming back to the ceremony itself, after donning the sacred thread, it was now time for the “enlightenment” of the Vatu by revealing the sacred Gayatri Mantra to him. The Vatu’s father was expected to do the honors with the priest guiding him (read directing him) all the way. The actual revelation process involved making the Vatu sit on top of his father’s lap while his father whispered the erstwhile mantra in his ear! And as the Mantra was being revealed to the Vatu, all the “guests”, who had so far been involved in intellectually stimulating activities such as passing comments and judgments on people they meet only on such occasions, were called into action and they promptly obliged by throwing yellow powder-flavored raw rice grains (also known as Akshathe) at the Vatu with purposeful missile throwing actions. Of course, the Vatu was no more a Vatu as he had stepped up a rung on the Brahminical ladder and was now officially declared a Brahmachari (celibate till marriage).
YAY! I guess…..
Of course the end of the Upanayana only meant the end of the Upanayana. It did NOT imply the end of the pursuit of redundant practices. And so the Brahmachari found himself in front of a large banana leaf meal, expected to finish every bit of it after having gone through the pre-meal ritual of water-sprinkling and food donation to God (Go Figure). Surrounding him were fellow Brahmacharis including the dude who felt at home donning the Adige Bhatru (Cooks’) Uniform and carrying out their activities. The first meal the Brahmachari has must be in the company of fellow Brahmacharis of the family and Yours Truly was expected to be one of them. But rest assured, all precautionary measures were taken for my notable absence during the lunch ceremony.
And finally, the Vatu-turned-Brahmachari found himself done with all the inane rituals and simply ‘escaped’ to his home nearby. But alas, his father who spotted his son’s absence and MY presence, gave me the ultimatum to drag his son back to the ritual arena- if it came to that- as some of his office colleagues had decided to show up exactly at the lunch time. And so I found myself convincing my cousin to show up back at the ritual arena, which thankfully he did oblige, thus saving me a possible tricky situation to cope with.
More random family introductions followed for the Brahmachari with most of the conversations following the following pattern:
Brahmachari’s Father (extremely excited): This is my <insert random family relation position> who shows up only on occasions like these.
Random Relative: Do you remember me? I had seen you last at your naming ceremony or <insert other random relative>’s marriage! You were so small then! Look at you now! All grown up and all!!
Brahmachari (thinking and faking a smile): Somebody please put me out of my misery…
Eventually, the Brahmachari found his way back to his house for a much deserved break, courtesy a bike ride from Yours Truly. After some insightful conversation into the working of the hindu practices amongst ourselves, the Brahmachari’s father came home with more of his colleagues who had showed up a little later. After more random introductions, there was an uneasy silence that was hanging in the room when the Brahmachari’s father decided to introduce me in the following way:
“This is Akshay. He is….errr….umm….err…..” “I am the Brahmachari’s cousin” I finished. The father continued “He is doing his Masters in States!” I gave a Hello smile to everyone present there who returned the gesture. But then one person decided to go further and make an ass out of himself. Out of nowhere, he quipped “So you are with Samsung is it?” Well first I couldn’t figure out what he was trying to convey but then I realized the true WTFness involved. You see, I, being a hardcore Chelsea supporter, was wearing a Chelsea jersey which as you may know carries the logo of SAMSUNG in the front and the number 8 and the name Lampard at the back. And this douchebag kinda presumed that I was somehow “with Samsung”. I immediately clarified saying “No no this is just a Football jersey. I am still studying” which I believe he never really quite understood.
But perhaps, the most remarkable piece of conversation that took place during the entire thread ceremony was between the Brahmachari and his father towards the fag end of the day when almost everyone had left. This conversation perfectly epitomizes the present state of the stereotypical Indian nuclear family with regard to keeping in touch with other family members. The Brahmachari’s father came rushing into the door with a clear purpose in mind and appeared to be in no mood to be disobeyed. He found the Brahmachari and immediately instructed, “Come down now itself. X is waiting for you!”
Brahmachari: (WTF???!??) Who is X?
Father: X is Son of Y.
Brahmachari: (WTF???!???!!) Who is Y?
Father: Y is my <Insert Generally unknown Kannada Family Relation Terminology> who you get to meet only on occasions like these! Now come down and meet X.
Brahmachari (thinking): WTF??!!??
I, of course, was just left speechless! But more was to come from the stereotypical Hindu religious ceremony. My cousin and I later learnt that there had been an altercation between the Adige Bhatru (cooks) and the organizers of the ceremony regarding the (lack of) quality of the lunch and breakfast. And the altercation had apparently taken on the physical component as well with one of the organizing committee members (read random short tempered relative) (almost) slapping one of the cooks for bad mouthing the Brahmachari’s father! This having taken place at the ritual arena, both my cousin and I missed watching it first hand and regretted not having spent more time at the arena.
Random Observation: There was this one 50-odd year old dude who (I had never seen in my life before) just showed up at the ritual arena, looked around, sat for a while, ate lunch and then promptly left! So to put it in the cliched form, He Came, He Ate, He Left! The surprising aspect was that apparently this dude was actually invited!
And thus ended my encounters with a typical Hindu religious ceremony. 2 days where I witnessed the most inane and redundant of what Hinduism has to offer in terms of practices and customs. 2 days when I saw how judgmental and hypocritical relatives tend to be. 2 days when I met some of the most awesome characters my family has to offer (including and especially the two recurring dudes). And as far as the Brahmachari is concerned, well, it took him all of 2 days to pay a visit to the barber and have his half pony tail shaved off, thus revealing a uniformly bald skull. And it was also later revealed that the Brahmachari had initially made a deal with his parents that he would obey them completely for a duration of 4 days for which they would have to give him whatever he may ask for. Last I heard, the Quid Pro Quo was still yet to be determined.
Firstly, this is not MY Upanayana that I am going to write about. The Upanayana described here is that of my cousin, who has NOT written about it here (yet). My own Upanayana took place some 8 years ago and under totally different circumstances as you will eventually understand. Oh and for the uninitiated, UPANAYANA stands for the THREAD CEREMONY, a (sacred) ritual popular among the Brahmins. It is a ceremony where the VATU (or the child) is supposedly initiated into the Brahmin tradition- so to speak. Of course, in recent times, all this boils down to is a set of fixed rituals that the Vatu-no-more (or now called Brahmachari or a celibate) performs twice a day- well at least is expected to perform- called Sandhyavandane. And so last week was the day that my cousin was inducted into the Brahmin community amidst quite some drama and action. Hereon in, my cousin will be referred to as VATU (child) during the incidents before his formal induction and BRAHMACHARI (celibate till marriage) after induction. But first, lets have some background about the VATU in question.
The Vatu is an atheist. The Vatu likes Metallica and has recently discovered the bliss surrounding Pink Floyd, Old Monk and the various combinations involving the two. The Vatu went to the same IIT-JEE coaching center and is now studying at the same Engineering college that I went to. The Vatu likes living in the hostel except for the part wherein he has to eat the mess food and use the same mess water and sink to brush his teeth.
So now let us flashback to about 3 months before the Upanayana.
Vatu is in the hostel playing FIFA’10. Vatu’s mobile phone rings. It is his mother. Vatu reluctantly answers the call.
Vatu’s mom: How are you?
Vatu: I am ok.
Vatu’s mom: Had your dinner?
Vatu’s mom: Ok. What did you have?
Vatu (getting impatient): Rice and Dal.
Vatu’s mom: Ok. We are having your thread ceremony on June 2.
Vatu (thinking): WTF??!!??
Vatu’s mom: Good night.
Back to 1 week before the ceremony:
Vatu (to his mom): I will be going to KQA Mahaquizzer on May 30. I will be occupied that day.
Vatu’s mom: No you are not. That day we have the Devara Samaradhane for your Upanayana (Loose translation: Pleasing of the Gods for your Thread Ceremony).
Vatu (thinking): WTF??!??
The day of the Pleasing of the Gods was a Sunday and the complete First circle of Family randomly decided to show up for the occassion. (It should be noted that for ‘occasions’ like these, the FIRST circle somehow always gets redefined to include every Seena, Guru and Ramesha- the equivalent of Tom, Dick and Harry- in the family) And so I found myself dreading at the prospect of meeting all the vicariously existing Aunts and Uncles, not to mention random second cousins seeking career advice from Akshay Anna (Big Brother Akshay). And of course, for those of you who remember, I knew I would meet up with THESE dudes as well. But perhaps what I dreaded the most was the inevitable enquiries into my life over the past 10 months-thanks largely to me having gone to FOREN and all. So, in my case, FOREN referred to the USA and so I could totally see people thronging around me yelling “Akshay Anna has come back from FOREN!” or “Akshay Anna how was FOREN?” I could also see me being introduced to random people as “This is Akshay. He has returned from FOREN.” Apart from the sheer WTFness involved here, I still had to keep in mind that this was the day when the Gods were going to be pleased to bless my cousin’s (the VATU) thread ceremony.
Eventually, I did show up at the Vatu’s house where I found the Vatu himself (clothed in dress code for the day- Panche/Shalya) with his parents, in front of what appeared to be a mess of flowers, Akshathe, coconuts, random blouse pieces, fruit, other relevant junk and one self righteous Shastrigalu (priest). The whole show was being directed (as is always the case in Hindu ceremonies) by this self righteous priest sporting a supercilious attitude and accompanied by his two mandatory sidekicks whose only aim in life is to emulate (quite literally) him both in the mantra-chanting aspect and the attitude sporting aspect.
So as I watched the actual Pleasing of the Gods (“the Gods” basically referring to the junk mentioned above), it took me exactly 2 mins and 3 seconds to get bored enough to actually strike a conversation with one of THE DUDES mentioned before- the dude with the stitched sac. The other dude seemed to be completely at home and at peace donning the Adige Bhattru (cooks) uniform and helping out the Adige Bhattru in their adige (cooking) and eating arrangements. Soon I was inevitably drawn into the career advice doling role of Akshay Anna and I did my best to spread my belief that Engineering was evil and that aspiring to become a software engineer is not exactly an aspiration. You will end up like that anyway. However, there were no games of chess involved this time around, largely due to the failure on part of the kid to get the chess set to the ceremony.
Now every family has a family douchebag. My family douchebag happens to be a 45 odd year old man (who also incidentally looks like an actual douchebag), who does not spare any opportunity to convey the fact that his IQ is less than that of TIMMY. I am not exactly sure what this dude does for a living. But I have heard from various sources that he used to run a Detective Agency somewhere! No kidding. And it appeared that now he had shifted professions and was presently working as an arranged marriage broker! Imagine that! Your marriage being set up by a family douchebag! This guy happened to sit in the same room as I was during lunch time and I was subjected to some interesting one-sided conversations (in Kannada) of his over his cell phone. Excerpts:
“Sorry there was a mistake in the newspaper ad. We want brides not grooms.”
“I have 32 grooms and 4 brides.”
“All the brides have ran away somewhere!”
Presently, one of his brothers accused him of blatantly trying to get one of his friends/relative (the groom) married to a woman who reminds people of the “Gajalakshmi” from old Kannada movies. (Think Boiler dimensions!) The douchebag defended himself by saying that the said Gajalakshmi was very insistent that she be married to a man of good standing and that he himself was very keen to ‘offload’ her off his brokering lists.
Eventually, the ‘guests’ began to leave and I found myself just loitering around doing nothing in particular. The Vatu’s father spotted me doing nothing and suddenly beckoned me and introduced me to who I believe to be some lady related to him in some way. The dialogue that ensued was quite remarkable really:
Vatu’s dad: This is Akshay. Akshay this is my “insert n degrees of separation where n>3” relative.
Me: Hello aunty.
Vatu’s dad (in Kannada): Ivara yoorunu US nalli MS madtha iddhale. (Loosely translates to implying-“There is some person whom I do not know who is doing MS in US but is related in some way to this lady here!)
Me (thinking): OMG!!! What a coincidence???!! Somebody whom I have never heard of or met before in my life knows somebody else who happens to be one among the lakhs of people who are studying Masters in USA!! Un-fuckin-believable eh??!!?
Stranger Aunt: My friend’s sister’s daughter is also studying in US.
Me (thinking): Wait! Who? Does she even know you exist?
Stranger aunt: Where are you studying?
Me: Virginia Tech (hoping it would ring some bell. After all, she happened to ‘know’ someone who was doing their Masters in US.)
Stranger Aunt (betraying her ignorance): Ok ok. So you are doing Masters in Computer Science?
Stranger Aunt: Ok so you are doing MS in Electronics is it?
Me: No. I am doing my Masters in Civil Engineering.
Suddenly, Stranger Aunt began to change her expression to “looks-like-I-have-been-wasting-my-time-talking-to-this-guy” kind of a look. Eventually she realized that she had to say something positive and so :
Stranger Aunt: Oh Civil is it?? Ok. So is there scope for Civil Engineering there??
Me (thinking): WTF Biatch??!!?? Who the fuck do you think are building all the skyscrapers around you? Don’t be proud to display your fucking ignorance around just because you know some girl, who really doesn’t care a fuck if you live or die, happens to be studying Computer Science in some random US University!
And on that note (and without giving a response), I just walked out of the room. And in a short while, I found myself liberated from the clutches of meeting random people who seem to pass judgment at the slightest opportunity. And so just before I left, I met my cousin, the Vatu, and empathized with him for a short while for what he had to go through and for what was still to come. But what was to come on the actual day of the thread ceremony was something neither of us could have anticipated or be prepared for in anyway!
Thats up in Part 2 of the Upanayana series!
**This post is reproduced from another of my blogs which I have decided to delete**
I am not going to argue in favor of communism here. I totally support capitalism but I have come to understand that unbridled capitalism is inevitably going to lead to consequences that I personally do not wish to see. This realization occurred to me during my visit to Raleigh, NC. On the way, my friend and I drove through quite a few cities (though none of them BIG). As we drove along, there was one thing that stuck out in every single place. At that time I was not able to put my finger on it. But then later, I came to realize that each and every place looked extremely familiar. I live in a place which is so small, it is pretty much a village. But I have been around this village to ‘bigger’ villages. Now all I seemed to see on my travel to Raleigh were just a bunch of these ‘bigger’ villages.
The point I am trying to make here is not that there are no BIG cities in America. I know there are no big cities from Blacksburg to Raleigh. But the familiarity of the ‘big villages’ that I encountered lay in the repetition of the same retail outlets every god damn place and town. There are Subways, McD’s, Starbucks, Wendy’s, Jimmy John’s, Papa John’s, BurgerKings and Hardee’s in Blacksburg. Then there are Subways, McD’s, Starbucks, Wendy’s, Jimmy John’s, Papa John’s, BurgerKings and Hardee’s in every single place right from Blacksburg to Raleigh, and then there are more Subways, McD’s, Starbucks, Wendy’s, Jimmy John’s, Papa John’s, BurgerKings and Hardee’s in Raleigh.
My complaint is that I don’t have enough variety. If you plan to suggest to me yet another retail outlet which sells its own food, then please dont bother. Firstly, there is a fixed menu that is pretty much common to the entire country in every single of the corresponding retail store. There is a fixed recipe for each of the food item and hence no room for variety. Secondly, if you look at it closely, all the food on the menu of all the retail outlets are pretty much the same and even taste the same. What I am looking for is some random dude running his own fast food joint preparing stuff that he thinks he is good at. And if you have many such fast food joints, there is inevitably going to be a few of those places which become famous for a certain dish which cannot be found anywhere else. And this is what is pretty common back home in India. Come to think of it, I used to love the fact that I got awesome Khali Dosas at Hotel Dwaraka and awesome Masala Dosas at Vidyarthibhavan (both in Bangalore). There is no place in the entire country who can prepare such awesome Khali dosas and Masala Dosas.(And the best part is that there are people from other cities who will claim to have eaten better dosas at their local hotel). Yes, you can find the same item in every single hotel in the entire country, but you will NOT find the same taste and definitely not the same atmosphere. And to know that there are dozens of such places in mycity which are famous for few specific dishes gives me the variety that I want. Instead, if Khali Dosa and Masala Dosa became the trademark dishes of some big retail outlet, you would find the same god damn dish everywhere you go tasting the same and you would have to eat it coz you dont have any other options available. You might have different retail store preparing Masala Dosa for you, but none of them would come close to Vidyarthibhavan dosa.
Getting back to the larger picture, retail outlets simply rule America. Every city you go, there are the same retail outlets that you saw in the previous city. The Walmart, Lowe’s, Belk, Food Lion, Kroger etc that you saw in one city is what you will find in the next city- complete with the same color to their buildings. My friend said, “This Greensboro is big. Its bigger than Christiansburg. But it looks like it is just 5-6 Christiansburgs put together. There is nothing different here” So I ask, what is the difference between one city and another apart from a name and pincode? There are no places to see in one city that you have not already seen in a previous one. (Nobody will say “I have seen Saravan Stores in my city” before coming to CHennai.) There is no food that you have to eat in a new city that you havent already eaten before. (Nobody can come to Bangalore and say “I have eaten the Vidyarthi Bhavan Masala Dosa back in my city.” )There is nothing new to do in any activity that you havent already done before. I simply ask, WHERE ARE MY OPTIONS? WHERE IS MY VARIETY? Well, I guess American Capitalism guarantees you there are none. All the supplies in all different fields are in the hands of retail outlets whose only objective is to sell as low as possible. Probably someone’s suggestion might be to try a new Retail outlet that I havent visited. And then what?
I have very strong opinions about the standard (or lack of it) of journalism- both in TV and Print media- that widely prevail today. Having returned to Bangalore a couple of weeks back, I found myself excited to be holding a local newspaper in my hands and learning who has been making the news and for what reasons. One of the local newspapers I subscribe to is Deccan Herald. Since as long as I can remember, it has been widely acknowledged that Deccan Herald provides the best coverage of the local news. Fair enough. And so I didnt exactly feel anything out of place when it decided to give front page coverage to a local news item. The news item in question was this. “Lalbagh to lose trees for a ‘Sentosa’ look”. It was dated May 24 2010. And here is what it had to say:
It is a perfect case of the fence eating the crop. The Horticulture Department, which shoulders the responsibility of protecting and preserving Lalbagh Gardens, is set to axe the precious green cover in the State’s only botanical gardens.
…..the department will chop off nearly 10 full-grown trees to make way for a musical fountain and a laser show. However, the department has kept this fact under wraps, fearing protests. Even Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has not been informed about the need for cutting the trees for the project, it is said.
The department simultaneously wants to develop a rock garden on the Kempe Gowda monolithic at the cost of Rs 29.30 crore. The plan is to ensure that people watch the laser show sitting on the proposed rock garden. The department’s plan has come close on the heels of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation cutting over a dozen trees for the metro rail project. The garden shrunk by 350 metres and lost 15 trees as a result.
Now anybody in their normal senses will interpret this article as a measure taken by a Government body and which is going to cause damage to the environment. The article makes it appear that the Horticulture Department is conspiring against public opinion in order to execute a project based on self interest. It makes it look that this new proposed project (rock garden and musical fountain) is an evil thing and that a Govt body is to be held accountable for intending to go ahead with it. This should not come as a surprise at all as every day one can read many such articles in newspapers across India.
However, what did surprise me (and to no bounds) was what I read in the same newspaper, Deccan Herald, the very next day on the front page itself. In a complete U-turn on the stand it took the previous day, Deccan Herald carried this news item (written by the same dude) which was headlined as “GSI dashes State’s Lalbagh dreams”.
With the the Geological Survey of India (GSI) around, it may not be all that easy for the State Horticulture Department to realise its dream project — a musical fountain and a rock garden at the Lalbagh Gardens.
Any work on the monumental Kempe Gowda rock requires a GSI nod, and the department has made no efforts so far to seek it. According to GSI, the proposed fountain and rock garden might pose a threat to the rock.
Yes you read that right! What was one day before a “perfect case of the fence eating the crop”, suddenly became a “dream project”! This new article now tries to paint a picture wherein the Horticulture Department aims to realize its “dream project” but that it is inept enough not to obtain the permission of the Geological Society of India for the same. Nowhere in the article is there a mention of the trees that would have to make way for the rock garden/ musical fountain. All it does is to make the State Govt. appear so as to be looking to do something big but not being adept at obtaining all the necessary permissions. There is not a single ounce of criticism from the writer about the project itself anywhere in the article. In fact, the writer seems to endorse the project, only complaining about the inability of the State Govt to get the necessary permission.
If this isnt a case of disgusting/unethical/substandard/<insert synonym for BAD> journalism, I dont know what is. I am sure I can find many more cases, which may in fact be worse than this, but there is really no excuse for what we see here. It appears that the writer wanted to make some news out of the proposed project and so decided to paint two contradictory pictures on consecutive days. My question is this: Does the writer actually take us readers to be so dumb as to not be able to spot the difference? Or perhaps, looking at it differently, is this newspaper meant for people dumb enough not to spot these glaring contradictions?
<5 Seconds of Thinking later>
MORAL OF THE STORY: I am not reading Deccan Herald anymore. Strongly suggest you decide if you belong to the “Dumb people” category or not as well.
You know, once in a while, you come across things that make you laugh. They are called jokes. And then once in a while you come across headlines that go like the one in the title of this post. These make you laugh too. But they are not jokes. They are facts. And you know something else? There is nothing you can do about it. So let me put this in some perspective before I say anything else.
Rock in India started off in 2008 as the first ever Rock FESTIVAL in India and obviously, it was held in Bangalore, which is pretty much where most of the rock concerts take place. About 8 Indian rock bands played and the event was headlined by Megadeth and Machinehead- you know those legendary thrash metal bands? Rock in India ’09 was headlined by Iron Maiden and featured a host of other international rock bands. I went to both of them and they were awesome! Headbanging took a whole new meaning during those 2 concerts! Rock in India became the biggest rock event in India in the entire year. It gave every rock fan and every metal head something to look forward to every year.
And then this happens. Rock in India 2010 to be headlined by Backstreet Boys! Apart from the necessary, spontaneous and inevitable reaction involving the phrase WTF, one sometimes wonders if this is some kind of a prank. Come to think of it, this is definitely one prank that any sane person would be happy to be victim to. You know why? Coz the contrary is simply insane. But that is what it is. Face it gentlemen, (and a handful of ladies) the lamest, gayest, most retarded boy band of all times is going to take over from the likes of Megadeth and Iron Maiden and is going to Headline “Rock In India” and Richard Marx is also going to be playing. Umm….just one question. Exactly where the fuck is the ROCK part in all of this??!??
I mean seriously, HOW on earth is this possible? From what perspective is this expected to make any sense whatsoever? Ok now before I spell out any more profanities, let me make it clear. I believe every one has a right to their own taste in music. Hell, even I, who am a proud rock and metal fan, started listening to English music with the Backstreet Boys! (And fortunately moved on to better stuff soon). But getting BSB to friggin headline a ROCK Festival?? Surely, somewhere something went horribly wrong!
Apparently, the organizers are justifying their headlining act choice by saying this: “There has been a long- standing request from many music fans to our website that they would like to see mainstream music and also classic rock….” and “….rock in India is a “music” festival and the headliners have already been announced. Rock ‘n India does not mean the “genre” rock only. Being a fan you have right to an opinion. Being a promoter no artist is big or small to us. All artists are respected equally and not looked down upon just because they are a pop artist! We respect their music!” (The 2nd quote is from wiki which doesnt have a citation. So not sure)
And the above statement from someone whose official website for Rock in India states the following:
“Let it suffice to say that here: it is rock for the people, by the people and of the people.The soul of rock is contained within every individual in this generation of head banging and guitar breaking. So go ahead, make some noise and let your voice be heard. If music is religion, then these bands are the gods. Rock ‘N India being the temple of music, gives a chance for every god of music to be worshipped by its followers.”
Did you read it carefully? The organizer admits himself that he is getting a POP artist! And still he doesnt see the irony of the situation! If you wanted to get BSB, why couldnt you get them to have their own independent show? You wanna make money by staging them? Fine go ahead! I am sure there are still loads of people who are stuck at the BSB phase in their music tastes. But then why the fuck should you get them to headline a goddamn ROCK Festival? That too when previous headlining acts have been gods such as Maiden and Megadeth? If DNA wants to go commercial, so be it. But why ruin every rock fan’s dreams and month long expectations by getting a well recognized POP band to headline a ROCK Festival?
You know what this is? This is an insult to Bangalore and to all the proud Bangalore rock and metal fans. Come to think of it, this is an insult to rock fans all over India. This is an insult to the very idea of ROCK. This is an insult to Megadeth and Machinehead. This is an insult to Iron Maiden. Imagine Mustaine and Dickinson realizing that they had headlined a festival which was to be later headlined by BSB! This is also an insult to all the local Rock bands who had seen Rock in India as a great platform to promote themselves to all rock enthusiasts. I mean, can you imagine bands like Slain, Kryptos or other hard metal bands opening for BSB? Imagine the crowd they would be playing to. Would they even want to promote themselves to that crowd?
To all you Indian and specifically Bangalore Rock bands: You guys are great rockers man! Don’t spoil your image by performing in Rock in India ’10 opening to Backstreet Boys and Richard Marx. Even if you paid to perform, please realize that you are only putting your image up for sale! Every single rock fan in this country will remember you as part of the band which opened for Backstreet Boys.
And of course, there is this whole other issue with the actual Backstreet Boys fans having an open argument with the metalheads and other rock fans in public forums. It made for an awesome read though. The metal head, rightly pissed off, puts very appropriate comments about how BSB are a pop act and are not eligible to headline a rock festival (Of course you have to throw in a lot of f-words to actually get the tone of the comment). In fact, I think I will put up some of the awesome comments:
“This is so cool. BSB is touring India. I cant believe this. We deserve this. India is a place where people see rock on movies like “ROCK ON”. Guys do head bannging on listening to these shitty crap and say this is rock. This is so metal!!!. F***in son of w****s… “Rock n roll soniye” is the coolest rock song we have ever heard….”–Deathhead
Dude, you got it spot on man! Fully agree…
“The greatest WTF moment of the year, and an insult to Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Machinehead fans. You can’t get BSB under the same banner. This is like portraying Hitler as the champion of human rights.”— DB
Perfect analogy I have to say..
“after 80′s hair metal, its time for some 90′s pubic-hair pop!” –Blackmore (so he calls himself)
“HELL YEAH!!!! BSB – I suggest all dudes attending gonna wear makeup and chop off their d***s before getting their gay asses stuffed at the backstage afterparty!” —Buster
“I love the backstreet boys. They are so Metal that even Lamb of God prays to them. Chris Adler bows down to Nick (I have no idea whether thats his name). Bringing BSB to Rock n’ India is the most awesomest decision anyone can take…….” —- OLDMONKMGM
I say Sarcasm Win!
Ok enough done with the comments against BSB and the potential concert attendees. Now lets hear something from the other side here. The arguments provided by the staunch BSB supporters vary from justifying them to be a rock band to celebrating BSB’s success commercially. Here, lets take a look at some of the comments:
“this is THE shit! bsb rocks…it’s gonna be one hell of a show…it’s high time we had acts like bsb/boyzone/5ive touring india! kudos dna…looking forward for this one! i love rock music…and bsb is my favourite band, along with th names mentioned above…i thought iron maiden orchestra would make a re-run…good to know that there will be less noise this time around, ‘cos I WANT IT THAT WAY!”
“oh come on guys…backstreet boys rock! i will not call them a heavy metal band, but for sure a rockin’ group! their music might not be as heavy as bryan adams, but then quit playing games was one of the best rock anthem ever heard. let’s all hold hands and band our heads as they sing those words!” —-both comments by a guy who calls himself ROCK LOVER
Gentlemen, let it be known that it was exactly after reading the above comments, that I had to make a sincere effort not to commit suicide. I mean..where do I start? “I love rock music and bsb is my fav band..”, “Iron Maiden Orchestra”, “quit playin games was one of the best rock anthems…”. Gentlemen, let it also be known that my search for the biggest retarded and lamest douchebag on this planet has ended.
“i love love love love love love love love love BSB!!!!!!! dey rok ! i just luv their songs” —Akanksha
Ok I think I am going to puke just looking at “dey rok”.
“bsb is the greatest band on earth aftr beatles.they r only the 2nd band 2 hav their 1st 7 albums debutin within 10.n they r only 2nd band aftr beatles 2 hav sold first 2 album with sales abuv 30 million each.even ur present rock bands cant sell even one album havin sales abuv 30 million….” —- Arij
“BSB is a pop/rock band.They are guiness record holders, sho have sold over 130 million albums!its not a joke man.how many albums have megadeth sold? they sing contemporary rock, piano rock, power ballads, they are great singers.All you people who dont know that they are also a rock band, please update yourselfs, moron, they rock, they are the best.their debue rock album “NEVER GONE”, released in 2005, was 3rd in billboard list i 2005, 11th in uk, 1st in japan, 1st in australia,1st in taiwan,3rd in europe. songs like “Incomplete”,”i still”, “Just want you to know”,”Crawling back to you”, are worldwide hits, and they also got bilboard awards for this. All those people who said they are bad, all of them are a disgrace to India, let us embrace THE BACKSTREET BOYS, who have revolutionised music. Have some respect for their accomplishments, 7 GRAMMY NOMINATIONS AREN’T a joke!, only BEATLES HAVE SOLD MORE ALBUMS THAN BSB not even GREENDAY…..” —- Ridam
Ok lets see some hard facts. YES BSB have sold more than 130 million albums. Yes Megadeth or Maiden hasnt sold more than them. YES they have many #1 songs all over the world. YES their first 2 albums sold more than 30 million copies. YES they have an enormous fan following. And YES, they are also RETARDED and fuckin’ GAY!
But here is my personal favorite comment from a BSB fan who is justifying them headlining a ROCK festival. This is just simply awesome:
“who says bsb cant do good???dey r da biggest pop band…….dey can surely rock…..” —- Avadesh
I REST MY CASE.
Oh and BTW, if any BSB fan or “real music” fan decides to comment to air their “views”, please feel free to do so. But be warned, that by doing so, you are only making an ass out of yourself.
Ok. In all seriousness, let me state my real concern. It is a fact that there are a lot more pop fans who like to see a bunch of guys with mics dancing as compared to metalheads dying to see their gods perform. And it is also very likely that the turnout at these pop concerts are going to be higher than Rock concerts. Now what worries me is that, once the Corporate organizers realize that they can make much more money by getting contemporary pop artists to India, they will not revert to Rock acts again in the future. And THAT my friends, is my main concern. There is no denying its possibility.
But all this apart, let me also remind the readers that as of now, (Jan 22), there is no official announcement regarding the headliners on the websites of either Rock in India or the BSB. Not that I have much hope, coz I am right now half way across the planet deciding between live shows of Clapton, Mark Knopfler and Porcupine Tree. You see…I have better options. Thankfully.
UPDATE: Well now its all official. Backstreet Boys to headline a Rock Festival. Rock IS dead my friends. At least thanks to people like those in DNA who make sure of it.
It has been a very eventful few weeks I have to say. Maybe not so much on my blog as off it. And now I am finally all settled and ready to venture into some unknown territory (read continent). So in order not to disappoint my (continuously and inevitably) diminishing reader count, I have embarked upon this new post just to shed some light on all the various exciting stuff (and I am not talking about Michael Jackson) that I might at some point of time use as an excuse for my diminishing posting frequency. So in no particular order, here goes:
- After months together of internal and external debate and tearing myself apart and some subsequent coin tossing, I finally decided to shift continents-from Europe to North America. More specifically, from Imperial College London to Virginia Tech. There were a lot of pros and cons for each of them. VT was simply better in all aspects including finance, research exposure etc. But Imperial College had Stamford Bridge next door! (God Damn it!) But then, after talking for hours over the phone with Royan, who repeatedly drilled into me (and I have to say, in a biased manner) that USA is a better place etc etc, and then with some first hand info from a VT student, I finally made the call and I am now fully happy that I made the right one. But I guess, in the end, it all really boiled down to Royan’s tireless efforts to make me apply to VT in the first place. And for that (and of course the alcohol inspiration), I think he has more than made up for all the stabs in the hostel!
- Of course, the decision making was only the beginning of what was to be an extra-ordinarily painful ordeal of applying for a bank loan and getting all the visa documents readied. And after months together of effort, I finally got my visa a few days back and now I know for sure where I am going. And a word of suggestion about bank loans-and this stems solely from my own experience: I strongly recommend CANARA BANK for all your education loans. I have been extremely impressed by the speed and manner in which all my formalities were handled and am also indebted to all the people involved who made it possible for me to get my Loan approved before my Visa interview.
- Also worth mentioning, just a few weeks back, I almost got rammed into from behind by a speeding Indica late in the night. All thanks to a speed breaker built at a particularly inappropriate zone (and the subsequent marking of that zone as “dangerous”), I could have as well not lived to write this. Watching an Indica do a complete 180 topple some 3 feet behind you when you are in a lame 2 wheeler is not exactly exciting. More so when you realize that the driver did what he did just to avoid ramming into me! But miraculously, the driver escaped without as much as a scratch! And I ‘escaped’ from the accident scene soon after- for reasons Logik didn’t bother to reveal as well. Oh and BTW, it took me some 5 days to get out of my house with the same lame wheeler again.
- And so having found insane amounts of time at my disposal in recent months (apart from the harrowing visa process), I hit upon this idea of doing something more constructive and substantial. I realized that I could not really get into any job as such. So I turned my attention to my writing. Having been really impressed and inspired by some of the books and blogs that I have been reading lately, I started a new blog dedicated solely to the adventures and escapades of certain characters that I developed. The blog is here. It mainly consists (or will consist) of a series of short stories about the life of a 22 year old guy who finds himself in the middle of a lot of unusual situations. The stories are almost completely original, with only a very few instances based upon something that I have seen or experienced. Realizing the inevitability of basing a character on oneself, I have made a conscious effort not to base the main character Samir on myself. I have started this new blog with quite a bit of seriousness and hope to atleast write one post every week from now on. As of now, I have only written one post and it is about Samir losing his virginity. I wish I could say this one was based on my own experiences, but alas no. So please do follow the blog (you will find the link at the adjacent column always) and I hope to keep my end of the deal of updating it regularly as well.
- In celebration of my Visa arrival, there was a sizeable party at my house with an even more sizeable presence of alcohol. So much so, I still have leftovers. The party may be remembered for such things like me preparing the World’s worst cocktail (and my subsequent failure at that) consisting of Shark Tooth Vodka, Grappo Fizz, Godrej Xs KIWI juice, Coke and some Blue Riband Gin as well. Also of note, is how my cousin will always forever rue that night to be the one time his younger sister beat him to a certain feat, a fact that will hitherto remain secret from their mother.
- After what seemed like a virtual impossibility, I finally went to Wonderla with a couple of friends, one of whom is better known here in this blog for her involvement in a certain handbag hunting expedition. The trip, though initially threatening to make me feel worse, eventually exceeded my expectations and has definitely become something that I will remember for a long time.
- I am presently in the midst of a shopping and meeting people spree, largely due to the 17 days that I have left in this country. I will maybe have a few more drinking sessions before I leave and am presently in the process of learning the nuances of cooking at home. Any of you people ready to play guinea pig please feel free to drop by.
So there it is. Some of the things that define ‘exciting’ for me. I will be leaving to Virginia on August 2 with a Junior of mine from college and hope to be able to blog after going there as well. But till then, I hope to write as much as possible. In fact, I hope to write at least one post a day till I leave. Ok…Now I know what you are thinking and I fully agree- HOPE IS A GOOD THING….
This post is my tribute to Michael Jackson and in this, I shall describe in full detail exactly how NOT to pay a tribute. This post is essentially a response to an editorial piece that appeared in The New Indian Express the day after MJ’s death which can be found here. The piece was written by the Editor-in-chief Mr. Aditya Sinha himself and is titled “POP GOES THE KING.” I would suggest the reader to first read the editorial piece and then read my response to that.
First, let us set the context right. This editorial appears the day after the entire world is shocked to learn about MJ’s death. I for one, having been a long time admirer of his works, was particularly disappointed. The entire world flooded the internet with messages paying tribute to the king of pop. Practically every news channel was running the same story. Now this being the case, I open the editorial the next day and I found an article titled “Pop goes the King” which essentially described why One person (Mr. Sinha) considered Michael Jackson as someone “who lacked dignity at his core.”
The article can very easily be classified as the point of view of one single individual as most of the comments that he has made inevitably involve “I never really liked…”, “My objection to…”, “I could not understand…”, “I was ready to believe….”, “I almost feel sorry for….” etc. In fact the article itself begins with “I never really liked Michael Jackson…”. The article thus begins with such a self-centered approach and the same tone is carried on throughout without giving the slightest explanation as to why the writer’s personal preference and opinion should necessarily constitute the real image of the person in question. There is absolutely no basis provided for any of the conclusions that are drawn apart from the writer’s own preferences and very clearly biased points of view. Let me elaborate with some quotes.
In the very beginning, Mr. Sinha states “My objection to Michael Jackson’s songs was that they were too stupid for me and appealed to the lowest common denominator.” Apart from the very obvious reference to HIS OWN tastes, it should be noted that he terms that MJ’s songs were “too stupid” for him. Not caring to elaborate on what exactly constituted the “stupid” part in all of the celebrated Michael Jackson catalog, he goes on to state that the songs appealed to the “Lowest common Denominator.” And in the next sentence he goes on to state who or what he considered as the Lowest Common Denominator. He says “After all, which college intellectual wants to share his tastes with grandmothers and 13-year-old girls?” Now apart from the very obvious point that so many high profile people in various capacities around the world are big fans of MJ, I am curious about one thing. If it can be considered that, say, Pink Floyd songs are not stupid (if you disagree, kindly leave this blog), and assuming that Mr. Sinha likes Pink Floyd (or if it is Kishore Kumar, feel free to substitute), then on what basis can he say that there is no 13 year old girl or grandmothers who listen to them? Because, as he himself has put it, he wouldn’t want to share his musical taste with them. I sense a generous dose of hypocrisy in here. He goes on to rationalize his way of thinking by quoting what Socrates might have said “If something was popular then it probably wasn’t good.” At this point, I would like to state that one has to understand that there is a difference between something being “popular” and something being “contemporary”. Michael Jackson was (and will always remain) popular, but he was in no way contemporary.
Other aspects dealt with in the article include his plastic surgery from black to white. And in response to this, Mr. Sinha starts “Perhaps he felt shame in being black…” Again, without making any effort in providing any information/incident that might form the basis for this personal opinion, a statement suggesting Jackson suffering from shame about his color is made. His new appearance is then broken apart and criticised for each part in the following lines and is compared to The Joker from Batman comics. But the real striking remark is made in the next line when he says : “It is arguable whether he looked HUMAN.” Criticising a person’s look is one thing. Calling for a debate whether he looked human or not is something totally different. I am not even going to respond to this horrifying and baseless personal opinion. But alas, the criticisms don’t stop there. Further personal opinion is doled out with his change in looks being termed “..a pathological attempt at self-improvement” and he then contrasts Jackson’s “self disgust” (again, this is the writer’s own inference) to America electing an African American for President. He then suddenly, out of nowhere and having offered no reason, states that “Michael Jackson really had lost touch with reality.”
And while dealing with MJ’s child molestation case, Mr. Sinha says, “.. by the time that news of Michael Jackson’s troubles with little boys came, I was ready to believe the worst about him.” Somehow I am not surprised at all. But what really put me off, was the suggestion that MJ got acquitted just because “nothing could be proved against him” and the comparison of MJ’s trial to that of the infamous OJ Simpson case when it is written “..or perhaps, like O J Simpson (who killed his wife and her lover but was acquitted), he had a sympathetic jury.” This particular paragraph, I have to say, contains as much suggestion and speculation as it lacks solid facts. He further makes an inference, again based solely on what it all meant personally to him, as to how MJ could have possibly committed the crimes by stating : “the fact that he tried to change his skin colour meant to me that he lacked dignity at his core, and if he lacked that, then anything was possible.”
The main reason why I sat down to take the pains to write this long post was not just because I have always been a die-hard MJ fan. But it is mainly because of the way in which a complete editorial was dedicated to air the opinion of one man about how his preferences and opinions went against popular belief. I do understand that Mr. Sinha is a highly qualified individual who holds an extremely high post in the Indian print media. I also recognize his right to personal opinion, and being in that high position, I also recognize his authority to write an editorial to his liking. My objections to this editorial are not as much about the content of the article, as it is about it’s timing. There is always a place and time to air certain views about certain people. And writing an article such as this when the whole world is mourning the death of a star who defined a generation is definitely incongruous and wrongly timed. If anything, it is only demeaning to all the millions of fans around the world.
I now wonder. The author of the article has made comments terming Michael Jackson as a person who “lacked dignity” offering no basis whatsoever apart from his own personal opinion. And this statement is made the very next day after Michael Jackson passed away, in the editorial of a leading national daily in India. Something doesn’t seem right. Something seems out of place. Come to think of it, I now wonder as to who it is exactly that “lacks dignity”.