Last year, I attended a WordCamp in Mumbai and ended up attending two more this year in Baroda and Pune.
Along with a few friends, we set out to start creating WordPress related meet-ups. The first one was an informal one back in January. The second meet-up was last month in May to celebrate the 10th anniversary of WordPress (unfortunately I could not be part of it).
Now I am looking forward to the 15th of June, where another meet-up will take place.
Here is the Facebook Events link:
Hope to meet interesting people doing interesting things with WordPress.
I am not the biggest fan of watching romantic – comedies (though I am not sure if Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak qualifies much in terms of comedy) but a few days ago, I was intrigued (and semi-bulldozed by a friend) enough to sit through one from the late 1980s. Qayamat se Qayamat Tak – is basically a “Romeo and Juliet” story set in modern Indian context.
Like many Bollywood movies of that time (though times have not really changed much ), it has its weaknesses. The romance is shown naively (but understandable as the protagonists are a couple of teenagers) and it has some odd parts of the story left unanswered.
But there is a lot this movie could teach today’s ‘modern’ film-makers who claim to say their movies are ‘different’. I could count about 6 things (could be more) QSQT could teach today’s films.
Finally, I realized the movie actually tackled the issue of ‘honour killings’. It also addresses correctly that honour killings are done by city living folks and not just people from villages of India.
Now I am ready to finally watch more movies form the 80s. Any suggestions? Do drop them in your comments.
I remember a friend telling me how we waste hours doing unnecessary things like listening to music, watching movies and reading books. The point he was making is to achieve something great in life, one has to spend all the time they have doing one thing they like and just that. No time wasting anymore.
I agreed to an extent as some of us in our early twenties do to so much nonsense, but lately I have begun think of that idea more deeply. Because doing something repetitively might be useful but true creativity comes from experiences and interaction.
If my friend was correct then surely Steve Jobs must have been wasting his time joining an ashram, travelling to India and being obsessed about music (particularly Bob Dylan). Let say all these things were unnecessary in the life of Steve Jobs being one of the great innovative minds of the tech industry.
Think again! He often attributed his success to being minimalist and intuitive, which according to him was being overlooked by the western civilization. He was open to learning from the Japanese the ‘just in time‘ manufacturing processes and replicate them for Apple.
His obsession with music probably contributed greatly to him being such a force behind Apple’s iPod (which changed the music industry in the US).
So much for time wasting activities.
Note: Steve Jobs might have done a hundred different things but he worked very, very, very hard for his success. That part never changes.
I have had a fairly traditional upbringing and back in school there was always an emphasis on ‘responsibilities’ instead of ‘rights’. It was not surprising as many think of their children as an extension of themselves and hence do not really feel the need to inculcate an idea of individuality in them.
First time I heard the term ‘Gay’ was either at home or school. It was used in a joke. As my family follows a Hindu tradition (unlike Abrahamic religions), ‘Gays’ or “Homosexuals” were not viewed with as much revile but we made fun of them alright.
I myself grew up thinking about them as not “quite right”. Sometimes I wondered if they were unnatural or just confused about themselves. I heard many arguments “for” and “against” but honestly I did not really care.
At some stage I thought that the term “live and let live” had a lot of wisdom attached to it. This meant I respected that individuals had the right to live their life the way they wanted.
I empathised with women’s rights strongly because I saw how friends and family members of the female gender, folded under patriarchal expectations and treated unfairly. But I never fully empathised with gay people. I knew no one who was gay.
Then a friend who I had lost contact with for a couple years told me he was gay in an online chat. It was unnerving for a second. I mean I used to hang out with this guy. But as a good friend and partly due to curiosity, I ended up saying I was not going to judge his life style. I remember saying “You are who you are” – whatever that meant but I felt it the right thing to say.
He told me how he was conflicted with his choices for years. Sometimes himself not sure what he was because it was socially and culturally unacceptable. He had not told his parents and probably never will. It would be too upsetting for them. He probably had not told most of his friends either – it would have been too embarrassing. He was almost apologetic while telling me and that got me thinking.
I suddenly felt how difficult it is for gay people. They are literally made to live in ‘shame’ and ‘secrecy’. They are forced to marry and ruin their lives not to mention their spouses. And then it struck me. I never chose to like women, it was just natural. Surely what gay people feel is natural as I doubt they deliberately choose a sexual orientation that literally pushes them to the fringes of society and also make them generally despised by even friends and family members.
Here is why I find some arguments against gays useless -
So now as someone who thinks that individuals have a right to live their life just as the way they want to, I support gays and lesbians their rights to be individuals.
While I skim through my Facebook and Twitter feed today, I see a lot of patronizing messages for women. ‘Power for women’ – ‘Real men respect women’ and all that jazz. I usually do not like celebrating or observing ‘Days’. So I do not care much for Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Children’s Day, etc..
But I started wondering how Women’s day came about? I am sure it was not invented to gift cards and chocolates by men to women. That probably happened later thanks to Hallmark or some other similar company.
Unlike the perception that America only has two political parties, back in 1909, they did have a Socialist Party of America. Now this party supposedly celebrated Women’s Day for the first time. Now remember, back in 1909, women had a lot fewer rights in the United States. They did not even have the right to vote.
Now the socialist movement was a lot stronger in countries like Germany, Austria and probably France. So the idea of Women’s Day celebration (rather protests) became more popular in Europe. So by March 18, 1911 – International Women’s Day was being marked by over a million people. It was organized by the German Marxist Clara Zetkin.
By 1913 February, Russian women had joined in the action and demonstrations taking place. (That was a 100 years ago!)
Today, March 8 is recognized as International Women’s Day and celebrated or observed in several countries. It also has the backing of the United Nations.
Back in those day women were not allowed to run for elected office, not allowed the right to vote and often treated like second class citizens. Many women workers were simply never given the same wages that men got and often passed over for promotions.
These attitudes towards women were across cultures, across geographic locations and across income groups.
Today the socialist roots of feminist movement might have eroded but many of the causes they are fighting for are still relevant and often reality to millions of women around the world.
There are still many countries where women are treated as nothing but glorified ‘baby making machines’. They are often called mothers, sisters, wives before being recognized simply as individuals.
There are still women not allowed to get educated as much as they want or treated as equals to their male siblings. Even today, traditionally women are paid a lot less money than men are for the same work. If you are living in India ask around how much male household helps make compared to female counterparts.
This is a rather simple yet tough part. There can be no exceptions and no excuses. All you need to do is to respect women as individuals and respect their right to their individuality.
Stuff you can read:
Recently with the political awakening of sorts for India’s middle class the term “Aam Aadmi” is being used a lot. We even have a Aam Aadmi Party now. The everyday Indian, is what the Aam Aadmi is called.
The daily wage worker, blue collar, white collar. Well, just about everyone who wields littler power and pays taxes. A few days ago, I came across a wonderful documentary on YouTube.
It basically describes how life was for the common people in ancient Rome lived.
Much is written about Kings, Queens, Senators and Generals throughout history but a peek into the everyday life of everyday people is pretty neat. See how crude or sophisticated the Roman society could be through the eyes of Mary Beard.
Meet the Romans – Mary Beard – Part 1
Meet the Romans – Mary Beard – Part 2
Meet the Romans – Mary Beard – Part 3
With the Delhi gang rape case, pretty much dominating the collective consciousness of Indians, there is probably for the first time in my memory a national debate raging on how to fight crimes like rape in particular and crime against women in general.
The political class if previously came across as a bunch of incompetent dotards, they have not embellished that reputation with several of them playing a game of “victim blaming” and suggestions of “western influences” being responsible for the rising crime graph.
The outrage among the public is good, but I am a little disturbed by some of the ‘solutions’ that people want.
I am reproducing a Facebook update that became very popular.
“You sent her (rape victim) to Singapore for treatment,
now send the culprits (accused rapists) to Saudi Arabia for punishments!”
This comes form the idea that Saudi Arabia allows public beheading of rapists. Apparently they think it makes Saudi Arabia a lot safer for women. Ofcourse this idea of safety for women is mocked by Saudi laws which technically make even a one hour old baby eligible to be married off. Hundreds or thousands of child brides are abused. This legalization of child abuse is what that system has produced (source).
So what exactly are the solutions to crimes? Death penalty? Making tougher laws? or does the devil reside in the details.
Okay, I am not really a supporter of the death penalty. But that discussion in another post at another time. I think it is only logical to have a “death penalty” applicable only if the victim is dead.
Some might argue that if rapes carry the death penalty, a rapist will think twice. That is an emotional argument and worse it is not thought out for the following reasons.
Finally, a death sentence to rapists indirectly tells the victim that her life is over. No it is not. We should encourage such women to come out and live without shame. We should celebrate them as survivors. Let the shame of rape stay with the rapists for all their lives and not their victims.
The politicians favour usually passing a tougher laws to fight crime. Yes, laws need to be tougher but only if the current ones are weak. Last time I checked, India has pretty tough laws against crimes of every nature. But what India does lack is a system that applies this law. This is the police and honestly there is very little a tougher law can do to remedy that.
Law and order is a local problem, except maybe in the case of terrorist attacks and certain economic offences. This means the local police forces from the city level have to be independent and empowered. Yes they have to be also accountable but again possibly to the local representatives rather than national or state representatives.
Remember some of our states have more people than the most populated countries in Europe.
Tougher laws are again a emotional response. It is like a country collectively saying we are tough, do not mess with us to criminals. But crime continues and after another major incident, we want still more tougher laws.
There is a concept called “Broken Windows“. It is a theory that is gaining acceptance in fighting crime. The theory suggests that small amount of public disorder actually motivates people to commit bigger crimes. This is actually seems very true for crimes like rape atleast.
A higher likelihood of getting arrested for something like harassing a girl will automatically create an impression that it would be very risky to commit an act of rape.
An interesting study took place in Massachusetts, USA where the police enforced public order based on the “Broken Windows theory” in certain areas and the crime rate dropped drastically. More importantly the crime rates of adjoining areas did not go up. That means two things
This basically means making the police system “RESPONSIVE”. That means changing certain laws, like allowing police to take any accident victim to any hospital which is nearest (public or private should not matter). Or maybe something even more basic like not having someone calling the emergency number and be put on hold for two minutes (incident).
Yes, we need social changes. India needs to change its attitude towards treating women equally. In stopping victim blaming when occurrences of rape happen. But social change happens over years and sometimes decades.
Controlling crimes against women might make them feel safer but a lot more will have to be done to make them feel like equals.
As I scanned my online feeds the euphoria over India’s victory over Pakistan was dying. The rape crime survivor’s health was deteriorating and the mood was dimming. In the wee hours of the morning; news trickled out that the brave woman from Delhi was no more.
India has failed yet another woman and we will continue being oblivious about being at war with ourselves.
It is easy to think we are not in India while sipping coffee at a Starbucks outlet in a fancy mall in Mumbai. It is not the opening of Starbucks and excitement that it causes that alarms me. It is neither the lamentations of a teenage college student, asking very seriously why India does not have an Apple store that bothers me.
What bothers me is the idea that Apple stores and Starbucks being considered as indicators of India being a first world country. Over enthusiastic media outlets often say “India has arrived at the global stage” – well with over 15% of the world’s population it never really left the global stage.
First world country is when most of these set of questions are answered in the negative, when people do not die in their hundreds because of malaria and dengue and when people do not literally spend small fortunes to afford their children decent school level education.
“India has arrived” I say that is pure bullshit. Time to wake up and smell the coffee, even if it is at Starbucks and deliver on the seemingly smaller, less dramatic but eventually more enriching indicators of India being a first world country.
The road to this book started almost six months ago. I was not into reading about middle-eastern history. I had very little interest in the history of Abrahamic religions, hence I ending up with this monstrous 540 page book (excluding the notes and references section) on Jerusalem was unlikely. I was recommended this book by an uncle with whom I was sharing some interesting articles about middle-eastern culture over email.
The book really is exactly what it calls itself – a biography. It starts with the obvious sketchy details of the city’s origins in the world of David, Solomon, Judah and it’s subsequent insignificance in the Persian and later Macedonian scheme of things. The city gains some importance as the Romans arrive. The city though of not much economical significance is central to Judaism. It obviously attracts a lot of religious prophets, mystics and messiahs. One of them being Jesus Christ, whose teachings finally led to Christianity.
It proceeds very adeptly about the rise of Islam, the crusades, the mamluks, Ottomans. Jerusalem is truly written on an epic scale with characters like the Herods, Saladin, Baldwin the leper-King, Richard, the magnificent Suleiman, Napoleon Bonaparte and many more whose choices and their impact end up shaping the city’s fortunes and misfortunes.
It ends with the recent past of the city and its complexities thanks to the politics of religion and the region.
Thankfully, Montefiore does not dramatise the storytelling and keeps it simple. Despite covering almost 3000 years in a single book, he manages to do justice to the various events and their back stories.
If you are interested in the history of the region, then this one would be a good addition to your book collection. Afterall reading about myths, mystics, messiahs, prophets and emperors is usually a lot of fun.
Amazon: Jerusalem – The Biography
Flipkart: Jerusalem: The Biography