Sunday, May 26, 2013

Vathikuchi-Very Paisa Vasool

I have this love of Tamil movies although I cannot read the language and can barely follow the audio. I love the songs and dances. But, on a more serious note, it is also the story lines, the acting and, often, some very slick editing and visual compositions which attract me.

From the start, Vathikuchi plunges you into the story. The visual narrative pursues its course, zig zagging via brief flashbacks, deftly weaving its way through a couple of really cool songs,

all the way to a very cute happy ending.

Nothing to write home about? Well, surprisingly this story rocks: a good boy beats up bad guys, falls in love with one very crazy chick who never for a moment believes he's telling the truth about all the hair raising episodes he gets embroiled in, a few nicely done fight scenes, and a talent for making the gruesome almost hilarious.

It's a pity Tamil films don't get the exposure they deserve!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ring the Bell: Will the Coin Drop in the Slot?

It's all very well to talk about the power of individual and collective action to challenge the habits, norms, and cultures that perpetuate violence, particularly violence against women. Pardon me for being  more than a little amused by such talk...

Let's look at the words habits, norms, and cultures. What exactly do they mean or represent? Are they interrelated?  Is violence born of habits, norms and cultures alone? Are animal societies free of violence? 

More distressingly, are studies of gender dictated patterns of behaviour among animals being suppressed increasingly given certain data might be deemed "politically incorrect"? Insider stories within communities consisting of professionals in the fields of Science seem to indicate that a scientist whose papers distress certain groups might not only lose her/his right to publish but will also find her/his job/livelihood threatened. We are not in the best age of Science whilst we might boast of being in an age of technological triumphs. 

We all cultivate or acquire habits (Although the habit of scientific enquiry is a rare one),. All over the world, society encourages us to to preserve certain habits which, directly or indirectly, contribute to violence against women. Patriotism is a social habit which tacitly approves violence against "enemy" women. Throughout history women have been deemed spoils of war and victory.  Patriotism is a norm which prescribes certain habits: we all stand up to salute a flag, we all recognise others who share our norm of hatred for a common enemy. Culture is strong hue of Patriotism: the world over people are patriotic without question, just as they are religious or they choose to be "good citizens" even when the State is the very epitome of wrong values. Without question. Depending on our cultural background we are deemed to adopt specific norms and cultivate certain habits. I wonder what habits,norms and culture Clinton and his ilk the world over drew upon? I also wonder at the number of people (whose culture, norms and habits, we have been taught, turn them into misogynistic monsters) who treat women with common courtesy, perform no acts of violence against women given their geo political backgrounds?

Violence against women is not endemic: news of a certain kind from certain regions of the world merely lends itself lock, stock and barrel to readymade prejudices about those regions and such news is then magnified and regurgitated over other regions of the world-regions which hold stubborn prejudices, prejudices which have gone deep within thanks to the misplaced efforts of those who apply certain laws. Political correctness, for example. Lip service is the best way to co-opt any good initiative.

Proverbs and adages abound which extol putting a woman in her "place" especially with a beating. Whereas it is assumed that, in certain parts of the world, especially among certain races, people have magically evolved such that such sayings are merely quaint relics, we are all prone to penalise certain other cultures and races for acts of violence against women by drawing on their religious and other cultural writings. "See, you cannot deny that such and such Holy Book of these people expressly encourages and allows these horrifying things!" 

Yet there is no evidence that I can accept of any increased degree of violence in some parts of the world as opposed to others: there are horrifying instances of rape and other brutality against women all over the world and we must accept that certain groups of nations have the power to cover "their asses" so to speak. Let us take, for example, convicting someone for war crimes, making a whole nation apologise to another for something or the other done long, long ago. We all know about the brutalities committed by certain races once upon a time in order to acquire material resources which their own regions could not produce. We all know that these same countries wage "crusades" to corner oil resources. 

So what exactly do we mean when we speak of habits, norms and cultures? 

So is it entirely hopeless to contemplate change, a shift in how we treat our womenfolk the world over?

I think not but I do think we shall only reach partial or disastrous solutions because at no point are we willing to allow the merciless light of scientific research to lead the way. Science is stifled by noisy activists who prefer to heed the trumped tales woven by a number of so called social scientists whose claim to fame is a chair in a university in certain regions for the world. Sitting on their thrones these charlatans enjoy creating monster hordes of activists, smilingly blessing marathons and other carnival feats to "endorse" "initiatives"... 

We have assumed that people are only sexually ready/active by such and such age while the age of attaining puberty is dropping significantly. While we seek answers in abstractions like habits, norms and culture, the very real actions of hormones and other physiological workings are neatly swept under the carpet.

But, in the meantime, even as we can re-train our brains to look for answers rather than swallowing hook, line and sinker all that media hysteria tells us, we need to understand that simple things which can be done to ensure the day to day safety of all citizens of all genders but which will not be undertaken as corruption is seemingly ineradicable. The police who should provide the required sense of safety are, the world over, the epitome of the misuse and abuse of the law.

The rich rape and brutalise but we are told that it is the uneducated frustrated boor whose culture drives him to act the beast!

Excuse me for feeling quite amused at the sheer hopelessness given our collective blindnesses and fondness for this disability.   

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

WeChat with anyone, anywhere? Global Cacophony or a Symphony of Diversity?

I hadn't the faintest idea what a WeChat is.  And now I know. Fascinating...

I can just imagine how delightful it would be in an aggravating sort of way if I could indulge in this with five of my dearest ones.

My Mom (hereinafter referred to as MM): Gita, your hair is so dry! I wish I was there to give you a head massage!

My Dad (hereinafter referred to as MD): Raggi, let the poor thing be! Gita, you look like a butsukooka!

My Son (hereinafter referred to as MS): What's a butsukooka??!!

My Husband (hereinafter referred to as MH): What?! It's a Boot which Sue cooked-was so tasty everyone went "Ah!" when they ate it.

My Daughter-in-law (hereinafter referred to as MDIL): Oh! Mom!!! You must send me the recipe! Is it a Malayalee dish?

Me (hereinafter referred to as M): Amma!!!! I'm 54 years old, for Godsake! I love my hair just the way it is!!! 

Daddy!!! I do not look like a butsukooka and you may have gone to the Happy Hunting Grounds but you've left us wondering what a butsukooka is! Not fair!!! 

And as for you, beta, don't even ask! It's some ancient Telugu term for a bushy haired dog or so I think... 

Hubby!!!!  Stop using your gadgets in the bathroom! I swear I hate hearing you flush when you're saying "Yes, dear" to me! I can see you, you know...

Baby girl, don't let this madhouse drive you nuts-we're a regular madhouse

Meanwhile MS plays with some emoticons 

MM: Oh! See! Our bacha is becoming a famous artist-like that fellow, you know-what was his name? Pagla Pistachio?

MD: Bah! Keep quiet! You don't know anything! He is doing new math-nowadays people do calculations like this-it's back to the basics-just like counting with an abacus  -didn't you read that PC Quest issue in the Heavenly Library? All computers are based on the abacus and that is why the Chinese are so powerful now.

MH: No, no, Doctor! These are emoticons-we use these to show how we feel!

And in the meantime, MS and MDIL are checking their FB pages while MM is squeaking in further bewilderment. 

MD and MH begin arguing about physics and the Bhagavad Gita and all is just a series of blah blah blah until mercifully an incessant beeping breaks into my consciousness.

I open my eyes. I'm in bed and mighty irritated to be woken up on Mother's Day when I planned to snooze till noon. I blindly grab the beeping object and then a delighted realisation breaks in!

It's a brand new gadget! And it's got a little card on it that says: Happy Mother's Day, Mom! Hope you like your gift-and I've loaded WeChat on it so let's begin right away :D!