Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sati, Savitri, and the cloak of virginity

The rediff.com message board is the place to visit if one wants to see how moralistic, judgmental, racist, opinionated, boorish and uncivilised many of us Indians are. Most arguments are constructed with scant regard to grammar, spelling, or the decencies of debate. Though the first two are not of paramount importance, one could well do without having to see messages like:

'mulla,,, tumhe toh alla nahi bachapaya ab SRI RAM hi bachayega... '

'I am waiting for abi-ash suhgraat Exclusive Pictures please rediff'

'I saw abhi f*cked aishwarya in the ass. It was vairy nice'

and many more such gems.

Every single discussion board turns into either a North/South or a Hindu/Muslim squabble. But, I guess arguing and hating each other (ref: Russell Peters) is as much in our blood as some good curry! :) But, what really really pisses me off - and what drives me to write this post is what I've been reading inthe message boards while following rediff's (totally over-the-top and tabloidy) coverage of the Abhiwarya (sic) wedding.

Apart from the aforementioned perverts who derive their sexual pleasures from being voyeurs, the message board abounded with plenty of Indian culture vultures who persisted in asking the question of whether Aishwarya was a vergin? Which, I assume, of course, means virgin.

Apart from the biological illogicality of staying celibate till one's 33 (or however old Ms. Rai is), the question is - what business is it of these idiots?

And if this wasn't bad enough, there are plenty of these people who prowl our streets, asking the same question of the average Indian girl. Oh, and if she's not a virgin, the heavens have fallen, Indian culture is not what it used to be, and the woman is such a slut! And of course, all of us have heard of the stereotypical 'easy white woman'.

This kind of behaviour, in my opinion, has nothing to do with a staunch belief in Indian culture or whatever passes for it, and everything to do with voyeurism coupled with deep-seated desperation.

The same kind of voyeurism which requires every bloke to ask other blokes what they've been doing with their girlfriends. Er... alright, I am not entirely free of guilt on this count, but I never said I was perfect. To quote Immortal Technique at this juncture, 'I'm just a man, nigger. Don't follow me, nigger'.

What these people, and the morons who've taken Shilpa Shetty to court, need to take note of, is this. Last I heard, the preamble of the Indian constitution declares India a 'sovereign, secular, democratic republic'. The operative words here are - secular and democratic.

Secularism means that whether you wear saffron robes and spear young couples with your trishuls, or don skull caps and issue fatwas against immorality, you have no right to do so! Your religious views are yours, and yours alone. The government of this country subscribes to no religion, and therefore, the people of this country are free to choose to follow any set (or subset) of religious beliefs without having to face sanction from a bunch of interfering, self-righteous twats who take the name of God in vain.

The word democratic goes even further. It means that every Indian citizen is free to do as he pleases, unless he causes harm or hurt to another. If you are hurt by a couple making love in their apartment, stop looking through the bleedin' window. If your sentiments are shocked by a couple sharing an intimate moment in public, look away. They're not killing each other; they're merely expressing their affection for each other. If you were honest to yourself, you would admit that the only reason why you find it so damn objectionable is because you know no girl in her right mind would give you the time of day.

Consensual sex is the most private of acts, in that it involves nothing that is not one's own (unless one's been pilfering condoms at the chemists', but that's a different story). It doesn't hurt anyone. At worst, it can hurt oneself. Well, it is every adult's choice to subject his body to whatever he or she wishes to. It is not the business of the RSS, VHP, Shiv Sena, or Shahi Imam Syed Bukhari to interfere.

And if this democratic republic of ours does not grant us this most basic of freedoms, we need to urgently reword our constitution.

Until then, I suggest either: a) migrating to a country where you are allowed to impose your beliefs on others, or b) shutting the f*ck up!

Till then, no sex please, we're Indian. We have 1.13 billion people - each one an immaculate conception.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stereotype Central

Short Post. A musing, more like!

Everybody has probably heard the stereotype of the Germans being efficient, almost to the point of being automatons. Being a politically correct soul, I tried to assure myself that the stereotype was just that, a stereotype.

But I did have second thoughts about that just a few minutes ago, as I stood outside the Informatics building, getting some fresh air after remaining cooped up in a basement lab for far too long. A chap tried to get in through this other door, which was locked.

He then walked in through the door where I was standing, and then tried to get into the section of the building that was accessible through the first door by trying his luck with another door inside the building. This door was locked as well. As he walked out, he gave me the rueful smile that transcends international borders.

All fine till now, yeah?

Then, this bonnie lass in a tracksuit tried to access the first door (aside: Why do women in tracksuits look so edible? Metaphorically, of course, before you start likening me to one of those cannibal chappies in Papua New Guinea). Which, of course, did not work. Then, she moved along and tried the second door, just like the chap before him. As she wrestled unsuccessfully with the second door, a third woman tried the first door, saw the second woman wrestle with the second, and decided, nonetheless, to try her luck herself.

This process continued, with bucketloads of people following their predecessors (whom they could espy) along the same path. I decided to tell the fifteenth person who walked past the door where I stood that the door inside was locked as well. She said, 'Oh, too bad!', and went on to do exactly the same thing!

Now, if this were a bunch of Brits, they would probably have formed an orderly queue outside either of the doors, and waited politely for someone to open the door for them (or they died of exposure to the elements waiting politely).

And if this were a bunch of Indians, we would have first tried break the lock, failing which we would have clambered in through the windows - stopping for a minute to carve our initials (and other profound messages like 'Samir loves Anita') on the window sill.

At this note, I stop my racial stereotyping for the day. I've been an equal opportunities racist, I hope! ;)