Monday, February 16, 2009

Dutch Luck

Monday, February 9, 2009

Preserving Indian culture

"Your freedom ends where my nose begins" - Anon.

I don't think any of you are strangers to the goings-on in Mangalore. Basically, a bunch of un/under-educated testoteron-charged males went on a rampage, attacking women who appeared to be "under the Western influence".

The blokes were card carrying members of the Sri Rama Sene (SRS), an organization loosely modeled on the manifesto of that august Mumbai institution, the Shiv Sena. Between these two, they have both branches of Hinduism serviced. The proud Vaishnavites felt left out when the Shivaites lauded the minions of their Kailasam-based Supremo. Now, Muthalik has engineered a Vaishnavite comeback, with the Sri Ram Sene (behold: even 'Sena' is spelt differently to create some much-needed product differentiation).

Muthalik seems an interesting personality. He is middle-aged, and un-married. In his younger years, he used to hang out with a bunch of older men wearing above-knee shorts (my gaydar just went off the charts). Then, he distanced himself from the indulgences of his youth by starting his own brigade of virile males, each wearing a yellowish-orange bandana and carrying a metal instrument engineered to cause pain. I pity the blighter; he probably took the whole "All Indians are my brothers and sisters" thing too literally (except probably for the "brothers" part).

His beef (oops, wrong word for a staunch Hindu) with the women his gang assaulted? They were insulting Indian tradition by offering custom to a pub on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Horrors! Why a pub, when they could have worked off their boredom at one of the many religious institutions surrounding Mangalore? Why Amnesia when they could so easily have gone to Dharmasthala? They could have taken the 11.AM super duper delux KSRTC bus and been in Dharmasthala, or Kukke, or Kollur, or Sringeri, or Udipi, well in time for the afternoon darshan. Of course, they wouldn't have been able to talk to any men on the bus, for the conductor would have cried foul and alerted Muthalik's men.

Anyway, the lovely ladies missed the bus and landed up at Amnesia (which seems to be the only watering-hole worth its salt in the one-horse town that is Mangalore). They proceeded to pay a gazillion rupees for a watered down cocktail, and were then set upon by SRS. Now, the boys at SRS haven't been to a co-ed school you see; they havent partaken in the immensely satisfying exercise of pulling at their feminine classmates' ponytails. They decided to check this very important on any young man's to-do list (albeit a few years too late) in style, with full media coverage at the pub.

Cue a couple of useless arrests, some fruity remarks by Muthalik and his posse, and some histrionics from Renuka Choudhary, that doyen of women politicians. Its been more than a week now, and Muthalik still roams free. Still making incendiary comments, which our quote-starved media gobbles up and gives front-page coverage to. (Come on, TOI! Don't you realize that you're giving the SRS free publicity?) And Renuka continues to let loose some salvoes from afar.

I have one question for the SRS: Didn't their momma teach them not to hit girls? Why don't they pick on someone else, like the NSG? If they weren't vehemently vegetarian, I'd call them chicken (that's two bad animal puns for this blog). Get your facts straight, Uncle Muthalik: Indian culture is build on the bedrock of promsicuosness. Ramayana is quite risque, what with four wives for the senior protagonist and some well-aimed Ashwamedha Yagnas. The Mahabaratha is positively littered with sexual innuendos too and rampant wine binging, and let's not forget that epic of the giggity-giggity, the Kama Sutra. All 100% Made in India. When our culture has lived with such a colorful (and blue being the primary color, I might add) past, a couple of tipples for the womenfolk at a pub postively pales in comparison on the threat meter.

If I may opine, the real issue these crusaders (wrong religion, but who cares!?) are dealing with is their perceived emasculation. I say 'perceived' as the Meat and 2 Veg are accounted for when these gentlemen indulge in a predominantly male prerogative -rape. The emasculation itself is felt by the SRS and their ilk because women (gasp! the weaker sex) are earning more than they are, speaking better than they ever did, and even holding their liqour better. This last item is probably what irkes them the most, considering the attack is on the pub culture specifically. Don't take it too hard guys - the chick-cocktails have a substantially lesser alcohol content than the nasty arrack you name as your poison every afternoon at the neighborhood liquor store. Grow up, SRS!

Sidenote: The reasons for the SRS's actions closely mirror the Shiv Sena's attitude towards non-Maharashtrians. Mumbai will be significantly weakened without the Gujju money-men, the Bihari BPO drivers, and the Gurkha security guards. Shame on the both of you!

There are two ways to evade the SRS if they show up at the doorstep of your favorite pub:
1. Run out of the service exit located in the rear, and file a complaint.
2. Carry a baseball bat - ALERT! Western cultural influence!

There's also a middle-ground 3:
Protest this Government, and any Government that imposes (or allows others to impose) restriction on your way of life. Peaceful the ones that cause 6 hour traffic jams on Bangalore's new Airport Road. And practice what you preach. Don't vent your feelings on the "Talibanization of Karnataka" (thank you, Outlook!), and then proceed to lambast the ethnic practices of your neighbor a day or two later.

As for me, I'm going shopping - to the sports store around the corner :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Need for Space

As young men of the modern day, we are spoiled. Spoiled by the freedom we enjoy from the time we've been dandled on grandpa's knee; spoiled by our parents, who respect the skull and crossbones on the door of our teenage years; spoiled by our teachers, who refrain from delving into our personal lives; spoiled by our girlfriends, who head back home for the day just moments before you can't possibly bear their presence any longer; spoiled by our universities, who give us dorms with a door; pretty much spoiled till....right about now.

Things change rather drastically when you get married. I didn't believe an acquaintance who told me this before the wedding: "The toughest thing to get used to is the total lack of 'your' space. Everything's in the public domain, including your bathroom slippers." I pooh-poohed his wise words then, promising myself to never lose my individuality. Codswallop.

As a sex, womankind posseses a tendency to nurture their man, and believe they know best. Be it your mother who comments on your hairstyle and your apparant lack of personal hygiene, to your teacher who insists that you are "basically a good child who needs to be shown the way", despite your best efforts to annihilate her.

The wife is not much different. Toothbrushes get changed every month, socks with holes are deposited in the garbage dumpster with a Machiavellian finnesse, your beloved 1987 Bryan Adams t-shirt is doing duty as a dishcloth, your car is officially a grocery cart, your faux Oakleys (spelt Oaklea or something like that) are suddenly too ugly to wear in public, and the music you listen to is 'immature'. This last item cuts me to the quick. Its my music, sweetheart. I grew up listening to it....behind closed doors in my room. (Aha!)

The long and short of it - Believe me, bandhu. Once the honeymoon ends and normal day-to-day life begins, your space is your spouse's b***h. Get used to it. Don't complain about it or you might lose your"closed bathroom door while shaving" privilege. Your life isn't just about you anymore.