Friday, 30 October 2015

Does Good looks matter? : Blog # 245

Does Good looks matter?

            If you are on any of the social media, chances are that you would have already seen multiple gleaming pictures of the new Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau. More than essaying the good work he has done, 9/10 articles have gone on to describe his striking good looks. Women have become lady ga-ga over him J . What I can remember from the recent past is when Hina Rabbani Khar was appointed as the foreign minister of Pakistan. Then, it was us men who went ga-ga and more. Same was the case with President Kennedy, Clinton, Dubai’s crown prince, Queen in line Kate Middleton Queen Raina, and many more world leaders.

            As much as we all would love to say that physical appearance doesn’t matter, it does. It definitely gives a person, a head start. But we must know that a mannequin also looks good. Until and unless one has a personality that compliments the good looks, the impression evaporates like a vaporub.

Let us look at both sides of the coin. By default, we have this tendency of unnecessarily demonizing good looks. For instance, many people consider a person with striking good looks to be less smart particularly if the person is a woman. Also, it is fashionable to say looking good doesn’t mean much. To look at it objectively, one’s looking good is just pleasant on another’s eyes. This will make the second person develop a liking. This is true not only for humans. If there are two puppies – one of a Golden Retriever and the other of a Pit bull, chances are you will like the golden puppy a tad bit more than the other one. Now, think about a landscape. On two sides of your room, you have two visuals. One, a majestic mountain with its head in the clouds and its feet resting on the lap of a river with trees in full bloom on its banks. Visual on the other side is a just a mud road seeking solace in the shades of a couple of trees seeking solace in the shades of a couple of trees. You will definitely want to wake up to the misty mountain than the road. So I think we should stop judging ourselves for preferring beautiful things.

            But having said that, we think of ourselves as being a more evolved species. If that is the case, isn’t it a shame if we make our judgments based on only one of our senses which is
vision? Shouldn’t we employ our intellect, our mind and our sense of right and wrong too while we try to make a semblance of a person? Like I said before, there is nothing wrong in developing a liking towards a person because he/she looks good. But that shouldn’t make us work against a person who is not as blessed with generous genes. If we don’t make that attempt, what is the difference between us and animals who make their selection based on physical attributes alone?

            Now, what do we lesser mortals do who aren’t exactly Greek Gods? We should work on developing a pleasing personality. It isn’t one where you say yes to everything and become a door mat. In my opinion, a pleasing personality is where one develops traits which people find affable. This affection that they develop will help you to communicate your viewpoints effectively. Because of the way you put it across, people around will appreciate your objectivity. That’s is when you hear “Hey, since you said it, I don’t feel bad.” Or “Hey, we will agree to disagree on this. But it doesn’t make me like you any lesser” Or “I know that you will do what is best for both of us”. And if you are among those who are blessed with some Caucasian good looks, developing a pleasing personality for you will make you as irresistible as a Manmohan Singh who speaks J

Monday, 26 October 2015

What’s in a name, right? : Blog # 244

What’s in a name, right?

            My religion is often talked about in a farcical manner. There are newspaper articles which go on to analyze the origin, evolution and future of my religion and its relevance. My Gods are caricatured and painted at will.

            On media, politicians twist and turn my religious texts to their advantage. This is taken up by certain self-anointed experts and given their own flavor and perspectives which frankly, very less people are interested in. On Social media, this leads to mindless chatter which is quite interesting. One side of the debate finds humor in my defending my religious texts. The other side finds humor in the religious texts themselves, not theirs but mine.
            Now, the issue of my holy/unholy animals. People call me all sorts of names depending on whether or not they eat/pray/love those animals. If I eat, I am unholy. If I don’t I am religious; not a good person – just religious.

            I talk about my religion. I am looked up on with suspicion. I am asked as to why I talk about it. I am called an extremist. I wear my religious symbols. This time, they call me a fanatic.

            I build places of worship. They stare. They say I am wasting money. If I worship idols, I am ridiculed. If I don’t worship idols, I am ridiculed. The other gender in my religion matters. The other gender in my religion is sinned. The other gender in my religion doesn’t exist.     

            I let my Gods to have a sense of humor when they are portrayed in films. I don’t let my Gods enter the movie hall at all. I can laugh at the sense of humor that a God has if the God is someone else’s that is.

In the haste of defending our religions,many of us seems to have forgotten God.It's like glorifying a road and forgetting about the destination itself.

Read this article as Manu, Mohammed and Martin. Read this as Maya, Malala and Mary too. Are your reactions different? What’s in a name, right?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

I returned my blue jeans! : Blog #243

I returned my blue jeans!

There was some neighborhood dispute in our residential colony. We youngsters went to meet the residential association president and talked to him trying to present our perspective. He wouldn’t hear any of it. I swiftly went home and searched for the blue jeans which my parents gifted me 6 years before. After dinner, I quietly returned my jeans to parents. Before they could wipe away the bewilderment from their face, I told them “ I am protesting against the residential association’s autocratic policies!” . As my parents continued to contemplate if we should rush to a psychiatrist, I told them “All the writers are returning their awards to Sahitya Akademi. I thought I will follow their footsteps.”

I feel all the eminent writers returning their awards one by one is as pointless as me returning my 6 years old blue jeans to my parents. To begin with, they are not registering their protest with the right body. Yes, the Akademi should have raised its voice when the freedom of expression was under threat and one of its tribe was attacked. That was wrong on Akademi’s part. But that issue got the public’s attention when the first award was returned. I feel the actions of all the writers who followed suit lacked originality and creativity.

Writers or artists are expected to come up with novel thoughts, processes or ideas which will give hope and happiness to people around. They are the ones who shouldn’t pay heed to comforting calls of a herd. They should express themselves in as varied ways as possible. How could they even think of huddling themselves in to a crowd and to move in the exact same direction? They are the ones who are supposedly advocating pluralism. Isn't protesting in different ways the best way to draw attention to the importance and need of pluralistic ideologies for a thriving society?

If you ask me, these people should have done what they are best at – use words to express their differences and concerns. They could have written a story which would have stirred the entire nation. They could have written a poem which would have inspired all of us. They could have voiced their opinions in an invigorating debate. They could have waged a war of words where the deaf ears of small minds will be forced to listen. They could have delivered a moving speech which would have sent an army of progressive people marching against the archaic mindsets. Alas, all they did was to return their old and dusty trophies!

Arun Babu

Sunday, 18 October 2015

It IS a Man’s world : Blog # 242

It IS a Man’s world

With all humility, I have always considered myself to be well read, open minded and progressive. I belong to the class of today’s men who opens a door for a lady, lifts a bag, drops her home, listens to her and understands the fact that she has a thinking mind of her own and aspirations and dreams that belong to her. In spite of all this, many a time I used to wonder as to why there is such angst among some women. I failed to understand what ticked them off at times. In my mind, in many situations, they were unnecessarily overreacting wherein they can just choose to be happy.

All this changed when I saw this stupendous video series titled ‘Man’s World’ directed by Mr. Vikram Gupta on Y Films banner. The perspective that these videos lend is sheer brilliance. I so love the fact that it is directed by a man for it were directed by a woman, it would have reinforced the stereotype yet again. 

In Season 1, Episode 3, at the breakfast table, the lady blames the guys for getting raped. This is the best rebuttal I have seen so far for the “The girl should have taken care” argument. How can I not appreciate the ACP Adhyumna running in the background and Diya. One shouldn’t miss the sister in boxers proclaiming “the guy is getting out of hand”. I think it is these little nuances that lends these videos so much of perspective. The women trying to pick up the young guys is so confusing, for want of not finding a more apt word. Look at the police officer watching MMS. And the mms, now we understand what objectification means! Now the scene where the guy thinks it is a bad dream and sits at the dining table. For a moment, I thought did the director lose the plot? Where is this video going? And comes the burned Pakode! No more explanation needed.

In Season 1, Episode 4, the beginning scene where it is a ‘let’s see the guy’ moment, look at the way the girl’s father is sitting – docile, silent and absolutely no opinion at all. The way the girl who has come to see the guy is portrayed is also perfect. The concept of marital rape is so under debated that at least some of us will fail to understand it. After marriage, how the girl gets tied up with the chores is so well portrayed. Later on, the moment where the girl asks the guy for tea is so every day in our households. The scene where the doctor comes out and says it is a boy is so different that it took me a while to understand the dynamics of it.

Successive episodes discuss gender equality in a very objective manner. It talks about how years of conditioning has blinded all of us towards thinking women are expected to do certain tasks and adhere to certain norms. It has been followed for so many generations that even to start thinking that these things should change is a very difficult first step. I think these videos will make us want to start thinking in that direction and that is Vikram Gupta’s and Y films’ success.
Arun babu

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Hug, Kiss and Say You Love! : Blog # 241

Hug, Kiss and Say You Love!

                Are you one of those who hold back a hug? Do you shy away from kissing or getting a kiss? Often, you want to tell someone how much you appreciate their presence in your lives but then stops midway? Then this blog is for you.

                In human interactions, expression is very important. By expression I mean both – noun and verb. Expression is the visualization of your emotions. It is important for people to see that because that is how they make sense of what you feel towards them or towards a situation. Yes, there is some appeal to mystique; when you don’t give away exactly how you feel. But then, if that is how you choose to communicate always, it becomes exhausting for the people around you. 

Now, coming to the expressing part of it. I wonder if it is the social conditioning that stops us from translating one’s emotions in to physical actions. The premise for my thought is a child. Look at them! They hug, kiss and cuddle without any inhibitions! And to hear a kid say how much he/she loves you is the sweetest thing on earth. Likewise is the case with pets. You will understand this better if you own a dog. My dog, Casper doesn’t miss a chance to cuddle with me or anyone from family. The confusing part is the fact that all of us like physical expressions of Love. But still, we shy away from indulging in them.

I think one thing that remains constant at all stages in one’s life is acceptance from the people we love – be it parents, siblings, life partners , friends, girlfriends/boyfriends et al. We all crave for it. Whatever one achieves in life, one doesn’t feel happy until people who care about you express their happiness over your achievement.  I remember watching an interview of the much celebrated and immensely talented playback singer, Chithra who has sung over 25000 songs and has won six national awards and many many more accolades. She said that her mother wanted her to be a teacher and even today, she thinks her mother would have been happier had she become a teacher. I think this is true for most of us too. Many people think that their loved ones know that they accept them for who they are and are proud of them. This is not always true. There are times when one has to spell it out.

The easiest way to convey acceptance is to tell them so. Talk to people, tell them how much you care. Share your concerns, your fears, your secret prides. Embrace them. Kiss them. Share a good laugh with them. It is important that we tell our loved ones that we are proud of them. 

Many a time, we think that we will tell them at a later time. But of the greatest fallacies of mankind is each one of our ability to believe in our own immortality. So why take a chance? Tell them today. If you live to see many more days, tell them again and again in all those days.
Arun babu