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India

देश

देश, जिसने आज के युग में “धर्म” की जगह ले ली है, पढे-लिखे लोगों का अंधविश्वास बन कर रह गया है । देश वह नहीं जो युग-पुरुषों ने सोचा था, देश वह है जो व्हाटसैप पर आपको फाॅरवर्ड किया जाता है । देशभक्ति मोहब्बत से नहीं, नफरत से चलती है । इस देश में लोगों के लिए जगह नहीं सिर्फ शर्तें हैं, हक़ नहीं सिर्फ भक्ति है । आप अपना दिमाग अपने ISI मार्क वाले फ्रिज में रख कर बाहर निकलें क्योंकि यह देश दिमाग से नहीं मनुस्मृति से चलेगा । सवाल की सजा तय है: छोटे सवालों के लिए ट्रोलिंग और बड़े सवालों के लिए लिंचिंग । अगर समस्या है तो चुप रहें क्योंकि सीमा पर हमारे जवान ज़ीरो डीग्री से नीचे की ठंढ में खड़े हैं । वैसे भी सारी समस्याएं पाकिस्तान, नेहरू और मुग़लों की वजह से हैं । वैदिक काल में देश और गाय ने बड़ी तरक्की की थी । गोबर से लेकर विमान तक, सबमें साइंस था। यही देश है। मिथ, लोकतंत्र और राजनीति- ये तीन यार जब मिलते हैं तब देश बनता है ।

इस देश में एक भगवान है, जिसके भक्त हैं । अगर आप भक्त नहीं तो अधर्मी हैं । अधर्मी सजा के भागीदार हैं। यह देश डिसीप्लीन और दंड से चलेगा । यह देश व्हाटसैप से चलेगा ।

Categories
India teenage

Boys Locker Room

04/05/2020

 

Instagram is full of screenshots. Those are from a group called Bois Locker Room, a community of juvenile perverts who exchange photos of underage girls and converse about raping them. Somebody from the group shared the vile chats and it spread like wildfire.

 

 

What’s phenomenal about this campaign against the Locker Room is it is addressing the right problem: the rape culture.

 

To understand rape culture in India, you can take a walk through its lanes. It is an all pervading, omnipresent aspect of our society, and is nourished by men and women alike. It is normalized to such an extent that calling out misogyny is a taboo, even in civil circles. Critics and nationalists would question the women-safety survey, retort with whataboutery, call you impotent and so on.

 

Now, I am not going to comment on the movement, for you can Google about it. I will talk about this incident that happened about four years ago, when I was added into this class WhatsApp group, which was a ‘boys-only group.’ We had another group with girls, but everyone acted polite out there, so maybe boys needed some breathing space. Initially, the group was about regular rants and fixing up cricket matches. However, a few days later, people started sending porn. I was an eager kid, quite sexually active, and I liked porn, so there was no chance of me objecting to that. Also, it was the time when talks about government banning porn were in the air. So porn sharing was like a mini resistance against this suppression. I never shared anything simply because it cost too much data.

 

One day, someone I knew well sent rape porn to the group. That shook me.

 

I protested and condemned the act, but apart from a few of my friends, nobody batted an eyebrow. Then I left the group. They often try to add me to new groups and most of them have grown up now, but I don’t entertain them.

 

Of course, the boy who sent it is still the same insensitive asshole. A few months back he updated his status calling for assault on protesting JNU students, asking people to beat them till ‘blood starts oozing out of their asses.’ The graphic violence in his thoughts, against a bunch of humans he has never met before, was disturbing.

 

I remember another instance when another of my friends called a girl a slut simply because she was riding a bike.Now, I am not saying I am the noblest of men out there, for I have committed much misogyny myself. That is why I am not judging most of my friends who were brought up in a rape culture and might have indulged in such sleazy acts.

 

What I am trying to say is that, often, we are not aware of our unintentional contributions to the sustenance of this culture. I am not justifying the Boys Locker Room, nor am I giving them the benefit of ignorance. It’s not about that.

 

It is sort of personal repentance for the mistreatment I may have caused to girls around me. Women should talk to men around them and be clear on this, on where they stand. I and Beatrice had a long conversation on this, and we agreed upon many things. An open discussion is required. So what you can do is send the screenshot to every boy you know and have a talk about it with them. Here, I think the initiative should be taken by women because we have seen enough movements led by men.

Categories
Irrfan Khan

Irrfan Khan

29/04/2020

 

Woke up to the news of the demise of Irrfan Khan. He was 53, and succumbed to colon infection in a hospital surrounded by his family. A star who made acting look easy, Irrfan was loved by one and all.

He shall have no funeral procession, but the farewell that has poured on social media tells you about his role in people’s lives. My Instagram wall is filled with Irrfan. From IAS officers to Sportsmen, everybody is pained by the sudden death of the greatest actor Bollywood has ever seen. 

I don’t know why it feels so personal. Celebrities have died before, and Twitter is always full of condolences when it is not vehemently pursuing extermination, but I had never felt so deeply hurt by those deaths. Maybe it is because he was just 53, but the real reason for me, and millions of us, is not the age but the person. 

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Irrfan Khan was relatable. Irrfan Khan was inspiring. Irrfan Khan was self-made. He didn’t carry the vanity that superstardom bestows upon you. He was an optimistic person, always hoping humanity would do well. In this interview to the Lallantop, he opened up on many questions on relationships. This man was a philosopher! 

 

I remember his role in Qarib Qarib Single, Kaarvan and Blackmail -the last 3 movie of him which I saw – and you really don’t care much about how the movie is. There’s Irrfan Khan and you just know you could watch it for that one person. 

 

Now that he is no more, maybe we can preserve his memories through his films. I am watching all his movies, starting with The Namesake tomorrow.

 

This is the worst year of the century. I so want to go back to December 2019. 

Categories
humor Quarantine Literature

Of Books and Liners

27/04/2020

 

Today I dug out old novels from the diwan. As I riffled through the yellowed pages, the biblichor flooded my mind, and I could at once imagine with open eyes the patters of rain against the window pan of my little room in Ranchi, where I read these for the first time. 12th was crazy. I feasted on novels, mostly YA paperbacks, and invested the rest of my time in turning the snippets from fiction into realities. 

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I have over 50 unread books packed in a carton in JNU. Since bed bugs have infested my room, I am anxious about their condition. I have stopped reading novels altogether. This I will restart once the quarantine is over. Back in my heyday, I loved Nikita Singh, Durjoy Datta and John Green.

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And then, things just moved too fast. I came to Delhi. Picked up Arvind Adiga. I don’t know what I did in the three years of my graduation. Hardly finished half a dozen books.

In the evening Beatrice was telling me about standard JMC makeup.

“So what you do for a normal day is you wash your face with rosewater ice, then you apply moisturizer, then you give it a makeup base, then you rub BB and CC cream with an egg-shaped object, then you do the contouring, then you carefully apply highlighter, then since you don’t want others to know that you have put on makeup, you apply base powder, then you use eyebrow pencil, which can be supplemented with eye shadow and eyelash extensions. Liner, lipstick follow suit, and if you wish to accentuate your lips, there’s lip liner for you. Then you straighten your hair for about thirty minutes and you are good to go.

Now, in order to get it off, you do CTM, which is cleansing, toning and moisturizing. Now some people also wear face mask and go for scrubbing. But that’s another case. You also have to wax, which is painful as hell. So rich women go for laser hair removal. ”

“You remember the very first step you mentioned? About washing face with rosewater?”

“Yes. “She said.

“Yeah. That’s the most a boy does, that too only when the colony of pimples on his face refuse to die naturally and start eating his own skin. ”

“Things we do for you morons. ”

I was overwhelmed. Now let me tell you the truth. There are two kinds of men: the pink-collar workers, and everybody else. Everybody else can’t tell a liner from a lipstick.

Anyways, in the evening, my mother made chat, which was delicious. I also read a chapter from Alpa Shah’s Nightmarch, which was quite enriching.

Categories
Covid19 India life

Rebel

24/04/2020

 

My mother’s health finally improved today. The day was spent reading The Interpretation of Dreams. It is full of interesting deductions. 

 

That apart, it’s now impossible for me to sit in the living room as my father is always watching Zee News. The content is so overtly communal that it is repulsive.

 

Then, I had a feud with Low IQ over the upcoming Central Vista plan of this government, which is another vile attempt by the state at forced forgetting. Nevertheless, the debate wasted four precious hours of my life.

 

Beatrice had another whatsapp war with IsaBella Swan today. And she swore, for the hundredth time, that she would never talk to her again. 

 

25/04/2020

 

It’s windy out here, on the terrace. In the 21 years of my existence, this is the first time we have a terrace. My parents have finally crawled inchmeal to the top of the lower middle class pyramid. From rented dingy one BHK flats and one bicycle, we have moved to a two-storey house with terrace, flower pots, furniture and utility equipments. My brother is in IIT, studying computer science, so we are definitely moving up the ladder. It’s a remarkable feat, provided that my father, when he was 21, did not have the money to fund himself for PhD or UPSCE. 

 

My father was a gold medallist in his post graduate. And this is something I proudly tell everyone. These days, an iceberg had lodged itself between us. But today, we talked. 

 

He was watching regular Zee News shit, and they were arguing at the top of their lungs, and my mother was furious because everybody in the tv was furious. It was crazy. The content was so unapologetically communal that he himself rose from his sofa, as if with an epiphany, and declared, 

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“Ban all religions. “

 

Now because I have been reading Freud, I thought I was dreaming. But he continued, 

 

“Let humanity be the only religion. Seize all the wealth from temples and mosques and redistribute it. “

 

Did he read communist manifesto or what!? This was beyond belief. 

 

“You know, Ravish, in my PG I was given to write an essay on Dharma. I wrote a lengthy piece. In conclusion, I could write only this, ‘I know only one Dharma, that is to treat people like I would wish to be treated. ‘”

 

I felt like the prophet was speaking. My mother seemed confused as to when did he change his ideology all of a sudden. On rare occasions, my father turns into this enlightened Budhdha and he speaks out truths of life. 

 

I sat by him and he started telling me about the business of religion and how enthusiastically those saffron clads sadhus engage in looting the people. 

 

“Any sadhu asking for money is a thug. Any religion that needs money to exist should better perish.

 

Then he started talking about wars and dangers and the fruitlessness of it. It continued for fifteen minutes after which he started talking about digestive system and all, and since I already knew what pancreas did, I quietly slipped back to my room. 

 

But then, Beatrice had a huge fight with her uncles. They are NRI engineers, who have become right wingers. They don’t value humanities as an intellectual pursuit. Money-minded robots. It was a lot for her to take. So I told her to rebel. 

 

I am not a Budhdha yet, but I know this:

 

You need to give yourself the importance you deserve. 

 

Nobody, whether an ageing saint, or the supreme commander of this nation, can take that away from you. Don’t get bullied by people. 

 

Everybody needs to rebel some day: be it my father, or Beatrice. 

PS. Oh! I dreamt of Doctor. I thought of recording it, something Freud would passionately do, but then I forgot most of it. I am thinking of recording and interpreting my dreams. As a hobby, it’s far more thrilling than fighting hypocrites on social media. 

 

Categories
humor India life Quarantine Literature

Of Unfulfilled Dreams…

23/04/2020

 

My mother made dosa today morning. It tasted like mild acid. She said it was because of the pan, and the pan did not really care to explain, so we left it at that. 

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Mahabharat took a weird turn. The last time I saw, Arjun was engrossed in an extended foreplay with his new wife, who was not Draupadi. Today, a glamorous celestial lady was hitting on him, after he had gone to procure some divine artillery for the upcoming war, but instead, for some meaningful reason, got busy practising folk dance in a fog-filled court. But as it turned out, the celestial lady was his mother. Not the real one but the one his father was once enamored with. So things should have been settled, ideally, with awkward laughs and apologies. But instead the mother who did not want to be the mother cursed Arjun who did not want to be impotent that he would be impotent. That’s so crazy and burlesque, I feel like the makers intended for it to be seen as a parody. Anyways, apparently, Arjun is a goner now. 

 

Our professor has given us the first 3 chapters of Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams as this week’s readings. And I think, like Arjun’s mother, he went too far this time. I also have to clear my backlogs. And prepare for NET. And read other readings. And study for UPSC. And if time permits, some novels to make the mood merrier. And that’s just the reading goals. If I am still left with a few seconds, I would like to resurrect my dead passions. Capitalism dispossesses you of your identity. I am a proletariat whose only valuable possession is his academic labour. This is from where I derive my livelihood. 

 

Beatrice was telling me about her ex-friend’s ex-boyfriend, whose ex-ex-girlfriend was an ex-friend of his ex-girlfriend. Yeah, we don’t deal in simple narratives now. So this ex-friend of Beatrice calls her out of nowhere and she starts crying about how her (ex) boyfriend is not responding to her messages with the same excitement like he did when the relationship was nascent. Now, since Beatrice is doing exactly the same to her semi ex-boyfriend, she could not really feel anything but guilt. 

 

“I don’t want another relationship till I get a slave or a robot. “Beatrice declared to me. 

 

I told her to find someone other than Bodhisattva as he has never really enquired about her existence. But she is convinced that he is interested, because he sent her a follow request on Instagram, so I didn’t push further. Bodhisattva is new on Instagram and he is trying to expand his empire on this platform, and since it’s Quarantine, he is sending people follow requests. This can be inferred from a dramatic increase in the following-followers numbers on his account.

He has deactivated his account for now, though. 

 

Anyways, I read about Durkheim today. Interesting but not convincing. Particularly when he gives moral solutions to class conflict. What bullshit. 

 

I don’t think I will get a seat in PhD next year. Because there are no seats. Because this government has made an exemplary diversion of funds towards cow dung research. I’ll have to sit for competitive exams then. UPSC, BPSC, SSC, Bank. Such is life. I could open a communist coaching center though. Later in life. 

 

Categories
India jnu

Disabilities and JNU

19/04/2020

 

Today, Aaj Tak was showing a show titled Dramebaz. It featured several tictoc videos of people fooling around in the streets during the lock-down. As police siren approached, they would awkwardly twist their limbs and play persons with disabilities. Not only that, the channel compiled all the snippets and inserted as background music Kumar Sanu’s Mere Haalaat Aise Hain.

 

It was supposed to be funny. Everybody around me was chuckling. I might have found it funny had this been before my admission in JNU. Or at most I would have pitied them. One thing JNU has taught me is to not laugh at persons with disabilities, not out of pity, but because they are as human as we are.

 

In the campus, you will find hundreds of them, walking on streets like us, taking classes like us, scurrying towards library like us, being competitive in studies like us, wining elections like us, playing games like us, laughing at the same jokes as us, able to express themselves with people eager to listen. They have the same emotions that we have. They are us and we are them.

 

I have many friends who are restricted by their bodies, but none by their spirits. And this equality does not come with coercion or codes. It’s very much there, in the air of JNU. You start seeing them as normal persons, you start admiring their conversations, you start loving their company. And then helping somebody cross the road is not a duty or a responsibility or a heroic or sensitive act, it is just a part of your instinct, like walking on your own feet. You don’t require a tap at the back for that. And nobody is there to tap.

I remember being a part of dozens of funny anecdotes while helping them traverse the distance from Admin block to library. I genuinely felt drawn to their conversations, and the humor was priceless.

 

Persons with disabilities inside JNU are just ‘persons.’ There are shades and complexities in them, just as in us. Hence comes the empathy. Hence comes the equality.

 

But there is a world outside JNU, 50 years behind in ideas, mocking at a mockery designed over their conditions. I am not blaming you for what you are, but the next time you ask for lynching of JNU students after a protest; you should know there is a person with visual impairment out there, leading the march, getting brutally beaten by police, fighting for life in hospital, and rising again to repeat the cycle.

 

This person would need a hero in your world. This person is a hero in our world.

Categories
history humor life

Of Dreams and Utopias

18/04/2020

 

Dreamt of my dead Nanaji. It was a small bleak hospital room amid some southern jungle, banana leaves and curry fronds peeping through the semi-open window. On a cot he lay, a moth-eaten cadet grey quilt covering his lower body. At its foot sat a girl, a peacock blue dupatta around her head. She seemed familiar. 

 

It was a cheerless place. Dead quiet. The girl looked sad, her face beautiful but grubby. She was a prostitute who had escaped, now serving in this ramshackle shelter. Nanaji could not move much. So he just asked in murmurs how I was. Seeing him like this broke my heart. I hugged him tight and we both started crying. 

 

I don’t know what Freud would say about this dream. Nor do I care. 

 

My father has started liking this desi infotainment called Epic. We watch Raja Rasoi aur Anya Kahaniyan sometimes, i.e., when he is not feeding on propaganda serial and news. 

 

Students stranded in Kota are to be brought back by bus. If everyone was that fortunate, a mother would not have to ride 1400 kilometers on her scooter to bring her child back. Mothers are superhumans! Equality is a far-fetched idea. It’s difficult to make people strive for that, no matter how convincing Marx appears. Once you get down from that theoretical podium, material reality is way more complex. 

 

There is a new CHS WhatsApp group, dedicated to Quiz. People ask all sorts of questions there and you are expected to answer those without googling, but everybody googles anyways. Today, it hosted around 2100 messages. That was disturbing. 

 

Finished Emile Burns’ What is Marxism? It’s a great book. Cleared many concepts. Will begin 18th Burmaire of Louis Bonaparte and Critique of the Gotha Program soon. 

 

My old friends have been trying to get me on video call. Everybody is home and it’s a nice way to communicate, however, I don’t have much time. I am typing this at 1 in the night. The entire day was consumed in trying to comprehend Paul Connerton’s How Society Remembers. It’s a part of our weekly assignment. 

 

Beatrice got a follow request on Instagram from Bodhisattva. So right now she is on the seventh heaven. Her ex-boyfriend was furious. As for me, I don’t think it’s good for her obsession. But I don’t want to end her ephemeral euphoria. Let her be happy for some time. People deserve to be happy. 

 

My brother has officially turned into a robot. His ass is permanently fixed to this chair in a corner of our room, and he is typing codes all the time. He will soon go mad. Madness reminds me of nootropics, cognitive enhancement drugs, and about ongoing researches I skimmed through today evening. And it gave me a hope for humanity, but there was something frightening in the realization that smartness could be improved by drugs. Today, savviness can save old people from oblivion. But what happens by the time I get old. Is organic adaptation to futuristic culture enough to protect me from an inevitable obscurity? What happens if future cognition is built upon the miracles of nootropics?

 

Coming back to the present. I fixed my neighbor’s laptop. So you might as well consider me an alpha-zero genius. It just took me a google search. Already tech-savvy, now I just need some drugs to beat the Indigo children. 

 

My mother made Rasmalis and Gulaabjaamuns. I am leaving home an obese after this qurantine. 

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Hello friends…Rasmalai khaa lo…

 

Categories
life

Exhausted

12/04/2020

 

Beatrice has gone balmy these days. She keeps sending tictoc videos to me on instagram. From Shakespeare to Tictoc, I must say, she has progressed a lot. That apart, she again procrastinated the idea of starting a blog. 

 

15/04/2020

 

Had a heated argument with Beatrice. She was feeling bad for the murder of the last Czar. For her, every violent act is the same and needs to be condemned. I strongly disagree with that. If you ask me, there is a hierarchy of violence, to deem it a monotonous gloss would be an error as a social scientist. 

 

That apart, more people are getting arrested day after day. The lockdown has been extended till the 3rd of May.

 

Finished reading Feminism for the 99%. Great work against Neoliberal Capitalism. However, it assumes the destruction of capitalism as the ultimate emancipation of women. Does not address the question of post-capitalist patriarchy. Nevertheless, it’s a riveting manifesto with many fresh ideas. 

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Fighting a combined army of trolls and liberals on Facebook. Then there are parents who are in the final phase of Nazification. It’s exhausting and frustrating to argue with so many people when our intellectual capabilities do not lie on the same plane. 

 

The only salve I have is Nusrat. I have been addicted to his Qawwalis for a long time now. 

 

That apart, I have passed the age where you miss people. I don’t know what stage of maturity I am in, but I don’t feel like remembering the past. Maurice Halbwachs talks about this in his work On Collective Memory, where he says adults, immersed in their lives, are the most disconnected from their past. 

 

Categories
humor knowledge life

Feminism.

11/04/2020

 

Characters

Beatrice – A witty woman whose charm is weakened by the insecurities that emerged from the course of her life. 

 

Isabella Swan – or Bells, she is Beatrice’s friend from the Cat Company. She thinks too highly of herself. The Cat Company is this informal whatsapp selctive-feminist PC police group in JNU. There’s a more sensible organization called Women of CHS, though it works underground. 

 

Bodhisattva – Beatrice’s crush. He is a 32 year old drug addict, politically neutral, wasted millionaire with a ponytail. 

 

Beatrice was furious today. She was recounting to me the episodes from her graduation days, when she was objectified and mistreated by her flatmates and their boyfriends. Life has not been particularly kind to her, nor has she been kind to life. 

 

So the discussion began with one of her dumb friends, Isabella Swan, who thought Bodhisattva had converted to feminism after seeing her status, which was about matriarchy. A few months back, while discussing #meToo with Beatrice, he had scornfully said, “Fuck Feminism.” But Beatrice chose to forgive him, like they all do. Beatrice was angry at the dumbness of Bells who is sure she is special. 

 

Then she talked about her uncle, an American now, who works for this giant software company and gets Bhutan’s GDP as salary. He has too much say in the family and is constantly demeaning her for studying MA in JNU. Most of his taunts comes from his patriarchal self, and she gets that. But she doesn’t resist. 

 

I have asked her to speak up a million times, but she wouldn’t. 

 

Then, she told me about her pseudofeminist friends who didn’t disconnect themselves from the perverts in their group who would unapologetically objectify her. It was harassment, as it involved lewd comments and innuendos. And they often stared at her. One day, as she returned to her flat after vacation, she found somebody’s boyfriend lying in her bed. 

 

“Whaaaaat!” I uttered in shock. 

 

“Yes. And those fucking ungrateful turds, they cooked chicken in front of me and never asked me. You know how much I love chicken.”

 

I knew how much she loves chicken. But what I would never know is why Beatrice is such a conformist. Why can’t she offend people other than me, her family, her soulmate, he semi-ex boyfriend!

 

“Gender is fluid.” She said. 

 

“I don’t really think that has a point if your struggle is fundamentally based on problems arising out of lopsided gender dynamics. There is a gender who is an oppressor and there is a gender that is oppressed. And this is the struggle between women as a class and men as a class. So if you make it fluid, who are you fighting against? “

 

“You don’t understand shit. “She said. There are degrees of feminism. Some women would call that womansplaining, where women pretend that they know all about feminism and men don’t understand shit. I am not saying I am right. I am just raising a question. And this view has ground in strong opposition to Queer feminism by Latin American feminists. The argument is that women must identify themselves biologically, so that the identity is not diluted. The identity is essential for the struggle against patriarchy, the direct and most prominent victims of which are ciswomen. If you make it inclusive, it shall have to include all juvenile men as well, as they too are one of the victims of patriarchy. 

 

I am not saying Beatrice doesn’t understand shit. I am just saying that things can be debated. The Cat Company doesn’t believe in such exchanges and are mostly enthusiastically talking about their crushes, many of whom are declared “predators.” But they are handsome and rich, so gold digging is fine. 

 

I have seen this hypocrisy in JNU. The self-declared intellectuals post covers of huge philosophical tomes in their stauses, but they never study those. There are many great intellectuals as well, but they are mostly farthest away from the limelight, neglected because of grey unkempt hair and deep eye bags.