A four Kilometre life lesson on a sunny afternoon

What does three seconds mean? Probably  one twentieth of a minute, if not anything significant in particular. Well that is how much it meant for me as well, till today’s afternoon. I was zooming past at 72 kmph to work- when in a matter of few seconds,three to be precise -the speed went from that to zero. I had driven without petrol for the past few days. And my Pulsar- older than sum of all my functional relationships put together -diplomatically protests in these kind of non verbal ways. Especially in routes with no semblance of a fuel station for the next few kilometres from all four sides, to gently remind me to not take it for a ride.

So here I was with a bike with a vapid tank, weighing just the same at the Madhya Kailash to Tidel Park stretch. For the uninitiated non-Chennaites, this particular stretch is notorious for its stagnating traffic. If that opening scene from La La Land was to be recreated, this stretch would be a top contender, notwithstanding Bangalore and Mumbai. And did I mention it was in the afternoon? A humid, sweaty one. With the pores in my body over-timing to compensate for the lack of dampness in the air. And it really didn’t help that I was wearing a white translucent shirt.

And like that, the afternoon’s journey had passed from warm wind blowing against the face to trudging in search of the nearest fuel station. And to add salt to the wound, the Talaash songs were still playing on my earphones. Karma’s a bitch.

It was not until I was at the end of a two kilometres dead rubber walk, did I get my first rendezvous with humanity. There was this gentleman, in cheap clothes, on his bike who seemed to be stalking me from a few metres on his bike. I stopped. And he came from the side and offered to toe my bike to the nearest station; still a kilometre and a half away.
Wow! I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the gesture for a moment. To actually offer a ride to a sweaty stranger while he pulls his bike from the side is no mean thing. One, it’s inconvenient. Two, it makes you look silly. And three, I wasn’t even his friend for him to go through the inconvenience or silliness. Yet he did. I certainly wouldn’t have, not even to a friend had I seen him drag along on a Thursday afternoon. I profusely thanked him and continued to drag along.

By now, bathed in my own sweat, I was beginning to vicariously go through Christ’s last moments uphill; just that I was dragging a bike instead of a crucifix with absolute certainty of not turning God to a new faith. That’s when the second intervention happened. The station though not in the viewing perimeter was under a kilometre away, when an auto slowed on my side to offer to toe till the station. The driver was a dark man, with a stern but kind face. He had a passenger, yet he offered to chip in. I politely refused his generosity and thanked him. Not someone to take a “no”, he insisted again and I thanked and continued to drag. Disappointed he drove past. He must have thought of me to either be high handed or a masochist. Rightfully, so. To me, this was as moving as the former gesture. Actually, a little more considering the fact that he had a passenger and was still willing to do this. Guilt was eclipsing me as I thought of the number of times I’d condescended auto-drivers for the low lives they were on road.

I’ve fed pets, given money to homeless elders and sometimes even offered them a ride on my bike. I’ve always thought of myself to be a good person on the basis of these rudimentary acts. Yet there I was stranded, ego crushed, never having felt smaller. These men who stepped out of their comfort zone for an absolute stranger, were way better men than me. Maybe the rights and wrongs I was seeing from the high horse of my moral compass were ill founded from the vantage of my comfort zone. While I’ve frequently chipped in for someone from the warmth of my comfort, not once have I left it to lent a shoulder to someone outside of it. Maybe I needed to come down, introspect, learn and more importantly unlearn from better people like them.

Reality had dawned upon me before the fuel station could. Coming to think, the entire afternoon was after all not about getting petrol alone. Obviously, I’ll be more vigilant over the fuel meter. But that was just a ruse to a more pertinent internal journey. A reality check of sorts to become a better person. Baptism under the sun if I may.

Virtues like virginity

There are certain things that continue to perplex me- meat eating pet animal lovers, coexistence of religious donations in nation with rampant poverty and the sanctity of virginity. Especially the female virginity. For brevity sake, I’m gonna call it V. We Indian are the forefathers of the concept of foreplay-to-foreplay in movies. Though Hollywood has been filming nudity and intercourse with minimal fuss for decades, it barely has explored the sensuality of the female anatomy like our filmmakers have, with moral daggers hanging above their heads. Case in point, the countless dance numbers involving our actresses dressed in miserly two pieces, gyrating to lyrics that would put seasoned perverts to shame. Just look up “navel” on Youtube to come to terms with the extent of our hoi polloi’s carnal fascination. Our films depicting relationships will go up the entire nine yards-stalking, lengthy phone conversations, dancing, songs, almost-there-kisses in painful detail, to only leave the ‘thing’ to the audience’s imagination at the threshold of the ninth yard. The distance between the eight yard and ninth yard constitutes the average Indian’s erogenous zone; the inch beyond the ninth , his orgasm. So in a nation like ours that nurtures the male promiscuity through popular culture, it’s bewildering as to why V features, still in the moral code of women more than men, obviously in an unspoken capacity like most assumptions about one’s character in this part of the world.

I have a friend, who is about to get engaged. The other day we were talking about the awkward spot she found herself in, between her soon to be in-laws and parents after she unassumingly let out about being in a relationship a year before. What about this filled the hall with taciturn after that, we pondered together? Maybe, the thought of her flirting with another guy before their son. Barely, they were liberal enough to ‘let’ such interactions, their son went to a coed, after all.  Then could it be the thought of her straddling coffee-shops and malls with this guy. Could be, but still didn’t add up to the pale white, their faces turned into. Is it probably the thought of exchanges between them, a little beyond words and glances that stupefied the room. Most likely yes, since the other alternative to such collective response was that she didn’t have legs when they looked down, which likely wasn’t the case. So why this friction to a woman’s past, all the more with our great grandparents and grandparents being born into set ups with sibling count exceeding a test team. My great grand mom for instance, died in her sixteenth trip to the maternity ward. What my friend spoke next, caught me unaware. She told me about how despite being in a few physical relationships, she’s never done ‘it’. God, the same ninth yard syndrome, she had walked the entire distance to only stop at the door to save sacrilege. She was saving ‘it’ for after marriage, she naively went on. She was one of the most liberal souls in my life, at times a little more Bohemian than me, but here she was bending subconsciously at the feet of conservatism. This was the place from which she was surreptitiously seeking approval to her past life.

To try understanding this paradox, let’s go back in time to an age where men were neanderthals torn between increasing evolutionary insights and declining primal pangs. They had learnt to attend to hunger, passion and shelter diligently. Languages were spawned, body fur had vanished to make way for clothes as intelligence took over instinct, emotion took over expression.Man prostrated before every facet of nature that brought life to him- trees, rivers, animals, birds and women. Nature was mother to him, women that expanded his tribe; mother goddesses. It must have been a largely matriarchal set up. He humbly bent before nature and nature benevolently put a hand on his head, not knowing a day would come were the places would reverse.

Be wary of a worshipper, even more about his worship.With time he’ll draw a jurisdiction around you with his ideology, to protect you from your freedom.

As his life moved from the forests to the cities during the Neolithic era with nature turning collateral, he began to feel bigger than it. From this new found vantage he felt the need to protect his erstwhile protectors-nature & goddesses, the nucleus to his belief system from a life gone by. Things that held emotional value, turned into religious sentiments.As the vision was lost, with faiths turning blind. But nevertheless they were revered, but regulated to same extent.

With time matriarchal system caved into patriarchy. With it came chauvinism and double standards like ticks. The man could have as many wives. Each one had to be chaste.Male promiscuity was seen as virility. Women promiscuity; well spawned a new profession, prostitution. Women were plundered along with the wealth of a lost kingdom and taken in as war slaves.With time they were dichotomised  into wives and whores. Femininity became the virtue to yardstick a woman, with motherhood hyped to be her nirvana. Her ambition had to revolve around her man and the progeny he gave. If she dared to think beyond or much worse differently, she would be tamed as a shrew. Her gift of life creation was starting to be used as a noose to strangle her, by the very man she created. Her womb turned a holy grail. Her puberty was celebrated like a festival of harvest to notify eligible suitors to give her away in marriage; proudly with the designation of a ‘virgin’. She was a liability that had to be sold for a dowry to the highest bidder. Her life was to revolve around him and was to end along with him, sometimes forcefully like in the case of sati. Attempts at consummation outside this draconian system was frowned upon as being extramarital, premarital and illicit.Hundreds of years, colonization, few many reformers and contraceptive devices later, she is treated with dignity and respect that extends beyond her ability to give birth. Yet the patriarchal mind set continues to exist strongly in the heartlands of the country that continue to function with a value system from a bygone era. In the cities though it exists in its more palatable subversion of traditions and culture.

It’s about high time we started accepting an individual’s sexual curiosity, within or outside the precincts of a socially accepted institution. It needn’t be about making love or having a child, all it needs is an itch in a couple, heterogeneous or not. It needn’t be subjected to baptism by fire, morally.It can be an expression of desire, attraction, admiration, commodity, transaction or just a lonely night well spent. A woman should be embraced with her share of fantasies and promiscuity, just as her male counterpart would be as a player. Motherhood is her choice, lets not paste a hallow around her head. If she wants a relation that lasts till her orgasm ends, let’s not name call. She needn’t be a goddess. Nor does her sexuality need cordoning as a forbidden fruit. We need to respect her above the belt, just the way we would like ourselves to be.

The art of wedding crashing

India wastes up to Rs 58000 crore of agriculture produce, that accounts for almost 40% of the total produce screams a statistic. And the remaining unwasted 60%, comes with sweet inflation attached to only get wasted in fat Indian weddings. In most weddings after the guests have left and the last member of the catering crew has grown thicker in the waist, there’s still food left. Not left over, but perfectly good food, enough to feed a needy slum to slavery. Wait…wait…the tone’s changing with the prologue. Almost got carried away there. Well this piece by any stretch isn’t  about waste management, vigilante justice or any kind of gentlemanly intention. Sorry if you got that impression.This is in fact a first person account of my shenanigans and the guilty pleasures I’ve derived over the years at the expense of several clueless couples.

I’ve always believed that most of us have a dormant side- by ‘us’ I’m referring to the movie buffs -that gets instigated by some movies. Though I’ve always been pretty good with numbers, I’ve never got that part of me tickled after Good Will Hunting. But there’s been this cheapskate within, waiting to be unleashed. Wedding Crashers was the Aladdin that got him out. It was a movie that glamourised the entire shindig of crashing weddings-celebration, music, food and women. And it has been one hell of a ride ever since. A continuous learning experience of sorts. Sometimes I’ve learnt about rituals. Sometimes about cuisines. And sometimes even discovered new things about myself, like the fact that my appetite improves incrementally in the sitting position than the standing one.

In a convoluted way, it’s an act of altruism where  you do your bit to make someone look good. The common complaint at the end of most weddings- in this part of the world – is of the turnout not matching the invited ball park number. This is where, we the uninvited lot step in, to cover up for the invited. By beefing up the headcount and filling the hall, we make the host feel and the event look good. It’s quite easy to spot the tribe, especially in the dining area. While the legit ones would eat quietly, the crashers like empty vessels would make more noise.They would be conspicuous by the number of times they ask for a starter or a refill of a gravy. They would often be found occupying corner positions in a row and munching with the desperation of a famine hit refugee. Check their faces in the wash, it would be plastered with a post coital relief. For it’s just not about relishing good food, but also the relief of not being caught in the act.

Crashing is a gift that keeps giving and can be therapeutic in more ways than one. Some times when you just don’t want to be alone, it becomes the perfectly crowded excuse to get lost. During month ends, it serves as a multi cuisine alternative to save on dinner spend. And if you get a tad shallow, you get to sport those expensive jackets in your wardrobe that have hitherto been cultivating cobwebs. While it is a prerequisite to be well dressed, attention is to be paid to not turn up overdressed. Never go wearing a crown to an uninvited coronation.

There are times you can always improvise like how I once threw a birthday treat at a respectable wedding reception. Or another time when I took a date to a midnight wedding. It’s up to you to have something in hand for the sake of effect while making an entrance , like a gift wrapped empty carton or a fancy envelope. I’ve always adhered to the “empty handed” school of thought myself, while a friend likes to carry an envelope with a limerick scribbled on the back side of a random invoice. Since it boils down to one’s cheap thrill, subjectivity of the modus operandi has to be respected when with a co-crasher.

With time, like with most habits, we tend to develop  an unique signature of completion. While the most common one in wedding crashing is leaving with a return gift, mine’s a little different. My ritual comes to its closure with a picture with the couple. I go up the stage when it’s crowded, wish them quickly and leave after getting a picture. The sheer thought of the bewildered look on the couple’s faces guessing my identity- while going through the photos -alone is priceless.

I would like to think of this as a batman kind of alter ego if you will, that responds to the crime of lavish weddings. Misplaced reasoning apart, most of us in our childhood couldn’t have resisted the lure of a low hanging mango in the compound nearby. We would’ve flicked a pebble and fled with the stolen fruit. It’s not like we couldn’t afford to buy one. Just the pleasure of the stolen mango is something else. As adults, some of us continue to preserve this child in us. I’m just one among them.

Together & Apart

 

Born in the dichotomy of inhaling and exhaling is life. For how would intake of oxygen seem relevant, without the punctuated venting of carbon dioxide. A bonding is as special as the tenure of separation that preceded it.

Our times seems to be characterized by the epidemic of overdone togetherness. where we see a couple invade righteously into each other’s personal space in the name of love. Ironically, love stories of the yore that happened over correspondence with civil wars at the back drop,seemed to have endured the test of changing times more resiliently in comparison to today’s Whatsapp relations,set in a world with a rapidly shrinking radius,

That was an era when platonic was revered fervently, a time where the lover’s picture in the wallet was solace enough unlike our Instagram times.There is something magical about separation in a relation. It makes you miss the aura of your partner, long for their body’s warmth, vicariously live those cherished moments in the mind while realizing the way they completed you.

While the time together might tempt you to take your partner for granted, the time away would more often than not make you realize their value. Togetherness might breed complacency, while solitude would lend respect to a relation.

Move a foot away from a tree, you would see the tree better. Move a few more feet,you may see the garden it is a part of and move a few more feet, you would see the entire house it belongs to.

The figurative distance from your partner lends objectivity to your relationship. You tend to appreciate facets in them, which you might not have been able to with the forced proximity. We are what we dream of, what we aspire and what we stand for. One’s individuality is his signature.A relationship is nutrition for his soul, for it inspires him to look up to another day with purpose.

A relationship born on the death of one’s individuality can be likened to the predicament of a person so overwhelmed by his vehicle to embark on a journey with it.

With most people around submitting to romance or marriage, timing difference apart, we are going to be no exceptions to the eventuality. So neither would we be the first or the last to be in a relation with a person we love. The lure to over-sanctify the institution of marriage or romance from being a designation in the visiting card, to our visiting place itself would naturally inundate us. Just remember when you’re together, it’s love for each other. When apart, that’s love as well, for yourself. It’s always the case of self love activating love beyond self and not the other way around.

Luck by chance

A couple barely familiar to each other- “barely” only if knowledge of names,horoscope compatibility and positive sign off on conduct by respective households alone doesn’t constitute familiarity – decide to give a shot at matrimony.So life started like that, out of a chance taken three decades before. XY it was, a guy I was.

In hindsight most things in life- both,fascinating and commonplace have happened, because of chances I took and chances that were taken with me. Something as rudimentary as my alma mater happened because the cousin I absolutely loathe now, passed by it when the applications were flying out for admission. My education was cultivated from a premier institution because my mom took a chance, when she stood in the beeline. What about my ability to sketch well? It was born from a moment of utter insignificance. I was a three year old intrigued by the sight of a brass elephant. I had to recreate it on paper. I just had to. That urge lead to my first sketch and a bunch of baffled adults who flattered incessantly. Had no one been around or the ones who were there, turned out to be grumps like me, the flattery wouldn’t have happened. The artist in me wouldn’t have as well.

An ex-girlfriend was the first girl child in ages in her family. Again, a case of a close call between X and Y. Had it been Y, I wouldn’t have stalked her in the first place- I’m straight -leave alone send out a request. Still we had a lot of mutual friends, maybe we would’ve been good friends and played a lot of gully cricket. But it was X, she was dusky ,unconventionally beautiful, from the same city and took a chance with me. And I found love in her, made love to her, took her love for granted and in the end, fell out of love with her, actually with love itself.

Every event in life, every bit of our identity now has been a culmination point of a chance  taken. It’s laid out like a board game, life, with every decision point born out of a chance taken. While that chance takes you down a certain path, it takes you away from another, probably less risky, had the former not been taken. With time, what happens in these respective paths- the dividends earned, opportunities lost, relationships made, wisdom accumulated – fashions our appetite for peeping beyond conventions. In the end, we are product of the chances taken.A number where the dice stopped. Sometimes the dice. Sometimes the hands that rolled the dice.

Ari Gold cravings

I’m seeing someone“, Melissa blurts coldly.
Ari breaks down to tears instantly.
Aren’t you going to  say something?
What is there to say?

Well, for the uninitiated Ari Gold‘s a character from the series, Entourage and Melissa’s his wife. The above is an excerpt from their conversation, when their wedlock hits a roadblock. Entourage’s a vivid fly on the wall account about Hollywood actors, their shenanigans, the psyche of the entourage that sticks to them, the men who run the showbiz and the hardball they play to levitate their image.
Ari rates amongst my most favourite men, alongside Kamal Haasan and Chandler. This notwithstanding the unabashed bastard he is. Foul mouthed and irreverent, he would be Osama if political incorrectness was terrorism. But there’s something endearing about all this. Below all the pungency, the pompousness, he’s a nice guy.

Maybe there’s more to my adulation. I identify with him or immodestly put, he’s a lot like me. I’m aware and have been told when I haven’t been, what a human repellent I’m. All my life, I’ve barely been the guy to be found kind or considerate at first sight. Just like Ari, I’m a jack fruit kind of personality, with my thorny exterior being a red herring to the sweetness within.
It is quite fascinating when a favourite character and alter ego merge. Even more, when he goes through the same things you’ve been through once. The fourth wall breaks. You just don’t root for him to be alright. You emote with him; actually like him after a point.
This is exactly where I found myself through the final season of the entourage.

Ari’s wife leaves him over his incessant cussing and mercurial temper.Suddenly his trigger mouthed persona is reduced to a moping bundle, who seeks solace in mediocre gatherings. It took me back to days when I was going through the motions in life post my break up, with every iota of desire sucked from within. She told me about how embarrassed she was before her friends, every time I would use cuss words. Embarrassed?!
Wasn’t she supposed to embrace me for the foulmouthed asshole I was. It stung. I could empathize with him, when he got dumped. The vantage point we gave to our sweethearts, only to be shot from there.

She needed a break from me to discover new things, when I begged her to take me back, months after my break up. I couldn’t believe the low hanging fruit, my self respect had turned in the name of love. My king sized ego, self respect…whatever had become a luxury I couldn’t afford anymore. Beggars couldn’t pick.  Just like me, Ari too was left high and dry.
Bitch found some one else! I’m sorry. But I couldn’t see the man I revered, shrink in humiliation. God, at forty something he’s still quite the women killer and yet he had to go through all this. I remembered the shame I felt to my very soul when I came to know from her, my sweetheart of five years, that she was considering someone. Apparently he was an antithesis of the aberration I was. Fuck, has her lips that belonged to me been tasted by another man? Has her beautiful body made love to another man? The very thought was reducing me to an insecure shadow of myself. I knew logically that we weren’t working, this had to happen and we had to move on, but this was insulting and I just couldn’t swallow the bitter pill life was shoving up my throat.

Like Ari’s wife she was the calmer person between the two of us. All the years, I didn’t know about the implosion happening beneath that calm demeanor, much like him. The break-up, brought out years of pent up anger from their system.The roles reversed, it was our turn to bear the brunt. If he was asked to stay away from their house, I was kicked out of her church in public display.
It was strange to see a character in a TV show, going through his break-up, beat by beat, just like me. Worlds apart, we were the same lines dipping southwards in the graph of love.

What happened in the final episode put a tear or two under my eye, drew a wide grin across my face. He was heard, she took him back.  Notwithstanding the fact that it was a rerun, I was as affected by the magnitude of that moment, just like the first time. Unlike me, Ari wouldn’t become cynical about love. Unlike me, he got another shot. It was magical to vicariously live a different outcome to a similar story through an alter ego. If only, life was written by TV writers.

The Jallikattu issue- of raging bulls and flying bullshit

What keeps us away from the advances towards the fairer sex of the same genetic fabric?Most of us have sexual urges- passive or active  – tucked under the tight vigil of family, friendship, faith and social acceptance. Our perception of an woman changes with her designation. This is what makes us prostrate before a semi naked Kali, revere mothers, dote on sisters, fantasise actresses and make love to beloveds. We feel territorial from the side of the line drawn on a piece of earth; call it patriotic. Decapitate and mutilate members from the same species who trespass, call it warfare; do the same thing within the line, call it murder. We tear apart, relish and deconstruct into nutrition, meat of lesser species in hordes, slip it nonchalantly under a broad cuisine preference called “Non-vegetarianism”. While our kitchen’s oversee holocausts on a daily basis, some of us would still domesticate, pet and cuddle select animals and declare ourselves to be animal lovers. Civilisation has always been about giving reasons to stay away from our primal nature through the systematic implantation of moral and legal fictions in our minds in the form of relationships, taboos, codes, directives and norms. This Jalikattu outburst exists in this melting space to seek civil intervention for a primal pursuit-to tame beasts without being tamed.

18th of January,2017, Chennai

I see the platforms on either sides of a rather strangely empty OMR stretch populated with youngsters- some with placards, some with mobile cameras pointed at them – on my way to work. I begin to ponder about what would’ve brought them to the streets like this in such thick unison at 2.00 in the afternoon, from the confines of their air conditioned cubicles. I had an air about the ongoing Jalikattu unrest and the Tamil marginalisation rhetoric. But I was pretty sure that it wasn’t reason enough to incite a civil disobedience of this magnitude, that too in the technological corridor of the city. But in a couple of hours, as I drove out of my workplace, I knew I was wrong. The crowds had bulged, become more boisterous and were screaming out foul. It should be a massive movement by now in the other parts of the state as well- I thought to myself -if the city itself was reacting this way. With the roads rendered unwilling battle grounds, the traffic swelled with meagre locomotive possibility. The youth had taken to the streets and the city had come to a stand still of sorts.

In all my 28 years in the city, I’ve never seen an agitation, leave alone of this gravitas. The only civil disobedience I’ve been part of all my life should range from bunking English periods in High school to jumping signals during peak hours. So this name calling by thousands, lined up like infantry, was a virgin sight to me. I knew I was becoming part of a potential chapter in history in Wikipedia, if not in CBSE books. Who knows, even a picture of me weaving through protests might show up as a search result for Jallikattu protests years later.

Enough of the irreverent narcissism. As I drove past the human chains decorating the side walks, I started hearing “Ban Pepsi & Coke“, “Ban PETA” and anti Modi cries along with the “We want Jalikuttu” chants from morning.

It was funny, the irony in the sudden incessant need to ban pepsi/ coke and preserve the farming fraternity .

These were people clad in clothes that weren’t contributing to the indigenous weavers, consuming food and beverage which weren’t motivating the indigenous cultivator either, working in institutions with roots abroad shouting slogans in a foreign language to protect an ethnic identity. You’ll see such oxymoronic collages only in this part of the world.

There were more curious things about the crowds. Most hands were raised skywards with well endowed mobile phones pointing back to capture the poker faces below. And the mood in the camps across the board was a tad too jubilant for a grimace. Probably like RJ Balaji put across, they weren’t fatigued; rather celebrating the protests. A convenient inference to draw one might say.Maybe. Maybe not.

The Genesis

The issue as most would be knowing is of the contradictory stance of PETA in banning Jalikattu, a sporting tradition which has been an indispensable emblem of  the Tamil populace- a little older than Christianity and Islam -while choosing to overlook the rampant beef export and other bovine cruelties meted out in the nation. Another vertex of this issue, is the looming possibility of extinction of the indigenous breed of cattle which find their posterity in the heart of the sport. Seen as an elaborately drafted corporate conspiracy, it is worried that the end of the sport would eventually bring about the end of a virile cattle race, which would pave way for automation in the existing cultivation methods and induction of foreign breeds into the rearing ecosystem. Thus conceding another of our ethnic constituency(dairy) to western monopoly under the pretext of globalising.

This call to remove the ban on Jalikattu, has been warming the back bench in many a institutions which hold locus standi in the State, to no effect. Till now it has been contained between a bunch of men, who’ve been conducting demonstrations for almost a decade now to put the issue on the map, but to no effect.As it happened, Pongal(the harvest festival) was denounced as a public holiday in Tamilnadu this year. And there has already been murmurs of the marginalisation of the Tamil diaspora for a while now. Add to this a rap musician here, a bunch of desperate youtube attention seekers, a few disgruntled celebrities there and their misguided army of followers who were hitherto playing conscience keepers to the state on social media while not abusing each other over favourite movie stars- we have a recipe for some large-scale finger pointing raring to go off the deep end.


The Capitalism aspect-fault lines in the demand

Thronging the streets to revive the fortunes of the local dairy farming ecosystem is a wonderful initiative, no two ways about that. But isn’t it at some level over-reaction to a phenomenon we’re so used by now, that of a corporate behemoth taking over an indigenous practise; subtly, surreptitiously and certainly. It happened with Goldspot and Kalimark loosing ground to Coca Cola, jeans usurping the market share from its Khadi peer, Kiranha shops rendered irrelevant in the storm of supermarkets, multiplexes looming over single screens and eating patterns tilting global with pizzas, burgers, noodles and pasta competing alongside dosas and sambar rice for appetite attention.

This is what capitalism does to kindle consumer curiosity. It thrives on human greed for newer experiences. Like war and love, it’s fair to leverage this implicit urge to be on the lookout for fresher pasture. It is how business empires have been set up, by trampling over existing ones, in a phased manner at times and in a hostile manner on some other occasions.Bending in the altar of commerce is a sin all of us have been committing. All of us drawing a remuneration, making profits do it at the opportunity cost of our next best alternative waiting behind.

So more often than not in a free market economy, capitalism and altruism don’t come eye to eye.

Some forgotten issues

Some say that Jalikattu is only the flagship issue which rides on the wave of pent up rage from a lot other political disparities over the years. This argument makes for a firm scaffolding to base upon the emotional core of the issue. But where was this collective rage during the Cauvery crisis that has been going on for decades now, much against the ruling of the Supreme Court. Much like here, the moot with Karnataka has left the state’s agrarian fraternity reeling under severe drought for years together due to dire water shortage in comparison to the irrigable fields. But we never batted an eyelid. We never asked for a ban of a cola company sucking water from our backyard.
Ditto with the ethnic cleansing that has been happening in Sri Lanka. We’ve never starved or sweated to bring to the world’s notice the genocide which has been happening there for decades now. We’ve let it remain an one lined artifice in political manifestos. But most appalling was the tepid public response to the mysterious circumstances looming over the late chief minister’s demise and the following murky political developments in her bastion. Instead of collectively questioning the self appointed successors vying for the throne, we went on an overdrive of paying homage. And whatever was left of the seriousness, was diluted through numerous memes. Even before the maggots could gather under the coffin we had moved back to normalcy- overlooking what looked like one of the biggest political conspiracies in the State’s history – like it was only a bad hair day. We never really got angry.

I’m reminded of a Shepard whose flock over the years,was targeted by a bunch of wild animals- tigers, leopards and foxes. Every time a sheep went missing he would resort to  sweet inaction, writing off each sheep as a normal loss. Finally one day, he decided that he had had enough, when another sheep went missing. He descended with a gun and took shot at a scurrying figure from behind a tree. When he went to the fell target, he saw a wounded urchin with a bottle full of sheep milk tied to his waist. Jubilant by his victory, he went around the hamlet calling for his tribe to take charge of the situation. The awakened tribe took matters to hand and the milk thieves were wiped away. So was the core issue of missing sheep. All were happy. Happily oblivious to the continuing existence of tigers,leopards and foxes in the woods.

Small victories are low hanging fruits; a short in the arm. Problem is with the sense of entitlement that accompanies them, which makes the higher hanging fruits appear more distant. The solidarity of almost a five million people cannot be slighted like that. It’s no mean feat, it is a strong statement of resilience. Just that a few years back, millions put their weight behind an octogenarian, a crusader batting for an anti corruption bill. He starved till decay, they starved as well. And in the end, some kind of a mid point was arrived at. Now neither the crusader’s there, nor the angry mob that sat behind or the cause they sat for. All that is left of is a politician who epitomises everything they stood against, basking in the very leverage they left behind.

Hope the next time Tamilnadu bats together in unison, it does so for reasons far beneath the surface of culture and tradition.For its entitlement or the violation of it. And I would happily dissolve as a foot solider in its cause.