World’s OBSESSION WITH WHITE SKIN!

I have wanted to write this piece for a long time now. I guess it is because of my not so white skin that it took so long to get to writing this.

We, Indians are not fair, which is such a sad, unfortunate thing to happen to anyone, in this world. Why is this unfortunate? Common, you may say, people with white skin are historically more powerful, intelligent and wealthy etc. But, if I may push the question, why is that so? You may say because it is so, because majority of the powerful nations of the world have been historically dominated by people who are white in color.

If you talk about the US, most of the Presidents were white. President Barack Obama is an exception for having become the President of the US and not being fair skinned. Abraham Lincoln wasn’t white too. Did he care?

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I will come to the point. It has always been an act of perverted rationale that people with white skin are prettier, more beautiful or superior to people who are not as fair. Who said to start with and why did so many people accept it? It is incredible that the history of the world is replete with examples of racial discrimination against people who are not as fair.

Apartheid is the reason for the whole South African disaster. No doubt: the apartheid policy is responsible for the racial tensions. The black race is excluded from a lot of places, e.g. at the bayside like indicated on this sign-post. (06/23/76)(AP PHOTO)
Apartheid is the reason for the whole South African disaster. No doubt: the apartheid policy is responsible for the racial tensions. The black race is excluded from a lot of places, e.g. at the bayside like indicated on this sign-post. (06/23/76)(AP PHOTO)

Apartheid in South Africa stays as one of the prominent examples where the white minority suppressed and oppressed the black majority for years and years before one man took upon him with his colleagues, friends and supporters in the African National Congress to fight it, till it was abolished.

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White people, the ones who started and continue to propagate that white skin is associated with intelligence or beauty are inferior in their minds and dubious in their hearts. It is when people have no other source of expressing their intelligence or lack of it that they resort to superficial attributes like race and the color of the skin to express their so called superiority.

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How can the color of somebody’s skin allow a person to reach a higher place than somebody who does not have it by the virtue or the accident of their birth? There is no answer to this question, for the logic is absurd and retarded, even if there is any logic.

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Unfortunately, in a country like India, what the celebrities propagate is bought by the gullible and thoughtless masses who think that what they are being told by the rich and powerful must be right. Why do we buy it? Why do we need fair and lovely or fair and handsome? Are we so small in our minds to accept that the color of our skin determines the level of social status that we enjoy in the society we live in? Are we so insecure? If we are, why are we insecure?

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Look at Oprah. She has influenced the world for better and she isn’t white. oprah-tour-bio-1-949x534

Back home, there are celebrities who have more depth in their persona than many other celebrities who will sell anything for money, no matter what impact it has on the lives and psychological framework of people who follow them blindly.nandita

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White is NOT superior. White is NOT more beautiful.

It is a conspiracy by a bunch of the white skinned people who have no depth in their character or intelligence in their minds that they resort to the color of their skin to tell others that they are special. How terribly stupid and vicious!

Don’t let the color of your skin be the source of your confidence, the expression of your beauty or the worth of your person. Don’t let anybody tell you who you are because of the color of your skin. You race is not you.

It never was. It never will be.

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Reflections on age: How old are you ?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,’ so goes the dictum.

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What is age?

I often think about this question. Well, I should, considering my caller tune is ’18 till I die by Bryan Adams’ and I am not 18. I am not 18 by the number of years I have lived. I would like to believe that by my attitude to life, I am 18. I am 34, at the time of writing this.

What does that mean by the way, 18 by attitude to life? I guess it means some of the few things below:

1. To never stop learning new things as long as physical ability doesn’t inhibit
2. To strive for happiness, day after day
3. To never say no to love
4. To never do things or not do them because you are a certain age
5. To dance, run, play just like someone who is excited about what life has to offer

When I was 18, I had no clue what I wanted from life and why I existed. We never really quite close to understanding why we exist. Some of us figure it sometime during the course of our lives and some of us never figure it.

I think it is an important question to think about? I believe that in the Aristotle saying ‘happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.’ You may ask: whose happiness?

Well, like everything in life, happiness begins with us. We can’t share what we haven’t got. Happiness isn’t external. It is an internal phenomenon. Nobody can tell how happy you are. Only you can tell how happy or unhappy you feel inside. You brain or your heart, whatever it is, tells you, if you are happy or not. What if you don’t quite realize the source of your happiness early in life? Does that mean you are doomed to unhappiness for the rest of your life? After all, the pursuit of happiness is a trial and error process.

Let’s come back to age. I think most people compromise with their lives because they have reached a certain age without really figuring what makes them happy. They lead lives of conformity. They try to believe in the collective belief that happiness is getting a job, going to work, getting married and making kids. The curse we face is called collective opinion.

Age doesn’t matter unless you are hale and hearty. If you can maintain your health and keep yourself healthy-mentally and physically, there should be no limits to what you can do with yourself. Eventually, all of us will die, why not die young?

Why should your dreams, ambitions and happiness be caged inside the walls of how old you are? Just because you didn’t realize who you really are earlier, doesn’t mean you should die without having a go at who you really think you are.

Mark Twain said that ‘age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.’

As for me, ’18 till I die.’

Tea or Coffee?

So, what are you-a tea drinker or a coffee drinker?

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I, for one, am a tea drinker. It doesn’t mean I don’t drink coffee. I do once in a while but yeah, that’s it, once in a while. I can live without coffee but I cannot live without tea. Tea is a drug, especially one with ginger and basil leaves.

Coffee is for first dates. It’s a casual drink. It’s when you are in the mood of playful romance and you have no idea if things will mature or not. Of all the coffee chains in India, I think it’s Costa which makes the best hot coffee. Personally, I prefer Costa’s Cappuccino more than the one offered by Starbucks. Cafe Coffee day has a decent frappe but I won’t count on their cappuccino. One goes to either of these outlets, in a mood for coffee and to spend idle time, to chill. Chains like Starbucks have made coffee the drink of romance and catching up.

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On the other hand, tea is what Indians lives on. One, it is much cheaper than coffee. Two, the refreshment provided by tea is much more satisfying than the one offered by coffee.

Tea is an adult drink. Coffee is a teenage drink.

The day starts with a steaming cup of tea. It refreshes your mind and makes you feel awake, when you are still not awake. Tea is available at every nook and corner, at least in Delhi and it’s just so easy to find.
The specialty teas that you find in Cafés like Chaayos and Cha bar sometimes feel like a superfluous addition to the normal cup of tea one is used to. They never taste like the real thing because they are not the real thing.

No matter how much the coffee chains try to get the common Indian attracted to the charm of coffee, we remain a tea drinking country, largely.

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Coffee is for first dates. Tea is beyond dating. I know coffee drinkers are bound to disagree, which is cool.

Thanks for reading.

Marital sex is sacred sex!

I am not married. I am so glad I am not. What if my wife had a high libido and she won’t let me sleep. You know, sometimes, I may not want it.

See, I am talking about marital rape being legal in India.

Imagine, as a married man, you are trying to sleep and your wife gets on top.

‘Not tonight, baby, I am really tired. I had a lot of work at office,’ you say.

‘I want it now,’ she replies.

Now, you know that the law won’t support you because marital rape is legal in India and hell, it won’t even believe that your wife raped you. Hell! Men’s sexual exploitation is not even an issue and nobody believes it! Did you see the movie ‘Aitraaz?’I did. A man is sexually exploited and nobody believes him. His wife fights the case for him.

But, that’s fiction. Nobody will care in real life.
I can’t be subjected to this. No, I can’t take it.

The problem is more acute the other way. It’s the men who can’t stop because they need a release and they have a wife whose primary motive ought to be accepting it.

Most women won’t break the marriage because by then, they would have kids and they may not be financially independent and add to it, the trauma of breaking the sacred institution! How can you have the audacity to go alone! How can you have the audacity of breaking the rules of marriage!

What the state is basically saying is…

Just because you married, you signed a contract which says-‘I give my permanent consent for sex with my husband/wife. This is permanent and now I can’t say no. Just because marriage is a sacred institution and marital sex is sacred sex – like an ‘ahuti’ to the Gods.’

Hell, she can’t say no. The state doesn’t recognize this as a forced sexual assault. Even if it does, it says, within marriage, you can do anything.

Everything is fair in love, war and marriage.

Rape. STOP blaming the victim

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Ever since I understood the meaning of rape, I have always been aghast with fear, disgust and shame whenever I see stories of rape in the newspaper. Unfortunately, they happen every day, day on day.

I wonder ‘why are all the men not as ashamed as I am?’ Are you ashamed that men commit that heinous crime on a woman? If you are a man and the reality of rape does not disgust you, then it should. You should feel horrible that a man can do it to a woman.

Let’s understand this.

What is rape? Rape is a sexual assault on a woman by a man or as it is now got popular within the rapist community, by a group of men, which is called a gang rape.

To what standards do we hold ourselves as a society when we don’t do everything possible in the world to stop this ghastly act? The reason the conviction rates for rape are low is because many victims do not even report the crime. They are scared of the society. They are scared of the law. They are scared that everyone will blame them.

The ones who do are made to go through the harrowing legal process where they have to face the society, which is many cases, blames the victim herself. She was out late at night. She was wearing a short skirt. She was drunk and with men.

I will give you an example when I realized how dumb and stupid it is to blame the victim in case of any crime. This was the first time I was victim of a crime, although a small one, in the larger scheme of things.

I have a habit of walking while I talk on my mobile phone. It was about 7-8 years back when I was walking in my alley and there was no electricity in the area. I suddenly felt that my mobile phone was moving away from my hands. And there it was, being robbed. This was the first time something like that had happened to me and I thought it was a joke and another boy in the neighborhood was playing a prank on me. I could not see the two guys on the motorbike because it was pitch dark. By the time I realized what had happened, the motorbike started to speed up. And I ran behind the bike, they sped.

I lost my mobile phone and for the first time in my life, became a victim of a crime. I was shocked to my bones. I could not think. The news spread like wild fire in the neighborhood and people started commenting ‘Why were you not alert?’ ‘Why did you not run behind them?’ ‘Why were you walking on the streets?’

Most people blamed me for having lost the phone using some bizarre reason or another, whilst I was in a terrible state of shock that I had lost the phone and that two strangers in the thick of a night had snatched it away from me. I knew it could have been worse. And here was the larger society, blaming me for having lost the phone. I never found the phone and you don’t find lost phones in India. Police has many more urgent matters on their hands.

However, this story wasn’t about the phone. What I want you to understand from this story is that the victim is not the one who had it coming. A lot of people said to me that day that I should have been more alert, ran faster, pulled them back and whatever, but the point is, I was in a state of shock that something like that could have happened.

Let’s come back to the Nirbhaya case, as it is called, the rape case which shocked the country. Nirbhaya was returning home post watching a movie with a male friend. It was late in the evening.

Did she have it coming?

The masochist, anti-social, depraved minds will say ‘yes.’ They will say that she had it coming because she was out late at night. They went on and sabotaged her character. Asaram Bapu said that she should have called them ‘brothers’ among other unscrupulous statements that came out from unscrupulous people. They raped her, inserted a rod inside her vagina and threw her out of the moving bus for dead. No, not that I am not aware of the other rapes that happen on an everyday basis, but Nirbhaya was a watershed in India’s history.

Why did they have the guts to do it? Why do men have the guts to do it?

Only yesterday, activist Sunitha Krishnan exposed the Whatsapp video being shared about 5 men raping a woman amidst laughter’s and cheers. It is a matter of grave shame for conscientious men that such videos find audience. It is a matter of grave shame that the rapists had the audacity to make that video and share it forward as entertainment content. We need to be ashamed of ourselves as a society.

The rapists are sick men. They are not normal human beings. They can’t be normal human beings. How can a self respecting man draw any pleasure out of the sexual act when the woman is crying, screaming for her respect and dignity to be spared. What pleasure is there in such a sexual act? How can a man not be pained by the cries and screams of the woman he is having forced sexual contact with? A man who can draw pleasure in such a situation deserves to be punished.

These are sick men and it is a sick, debase act which does not owe any allegiance to moral human behavior. These men need to corrected much before they can go and commit such an act because by the time their life and moral standards reach a point where they will beat a woman, tear off her clothes and have forced sexual contact with her, they are beyond repair. By then, they have become animals who need to be removed from the society. They deserve the strictest punishments that the law can afford to give them.

Don’t blame the victim. No woman ever asked for it. No woman will ever ask for it.

It is we, the people, and the society, which deserves the blame, for shielding men who rape, by blaming the victim.

What for God’s sake is Culture?

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Indians in the house give me a cheer!!! We remember ourselves as Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis and forgotten who we are together. Do we have an Indian culture? What is it?

While we talk about what is sensitive to our culture, let’s try and understand what we really mean by ‘culture.’

This is a feeble attempt at understanding culture. What forms culture? What are the sources of culture?

I have been asking myself these questions for a while now. I tried discussing them with friends and could not find answers which were very convincing from anywhere, yes, not even Google could tell me where culture originates from.

Nobody knows, and everybody follows it. Isn’t it funny, or rather, ridiculous?

I liked the following definition online:

‘The ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society”

The ideas, customs and social behavior have to have a source now. Don’t you think so? Look at yourself. There is a way you are dressed. It could be western clothing, which means, what they wear in the west of the world map. From the female dressing perspective, this could mean skirts, trousers, shirts or what you have. Alternatively you could be dressed in Indian suits, saris or kurtas, which are considered largely traditional wear in India.

You behave in a certain way. There is a way you greet people when you meet them. There is a way you talk to them. Different societies have different ways of greetings. In India, we say Namaste with our hands folded. Etymologically speaking, Namaste is derived from Sanskrit and means bowing to you. It is a sign of respect across the country. The archaeological findings from the Indus Valley Civilization have revealed many male and female terracotta figures in Namaste postures, as per Wikipedia.

So, history is one of the sources of culture. It has been happening for hundreds of years and so, it must be right. Well, for Namaste, it makes sense because Namaste is a sign of respect and when we think about it with our own minds, it is a wonderful gesture. It makes sense even in the context of the 21st century, not matter how old the tradition of Namaste has been.

I would like to quote the Buddha.

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

So, you think about Namaste and you accept it and make it a part of your daily behavior. You want to respect someone; you fold your hands and say Namaste.

What are the other sources of culture?

Religion is one of the biggest sources of culture. Religion, espoused is one of the greatest sources of acceptable behavior and one of the key sources of morality in our society. India is deeply religious society. All religions existing in the country tend to assert their own definitions of acceptable behavior, good acts to do and bad acts which should not be done, since they are not a part of the particular culture. This is what makes India complex. Unlike western civilizations and societies which are monotheistic, Indians, especially Hindus are a polytheistic people. Although Ram and Krishna continue to get better press owing to the mythological texts of Ramayana and Mahabharata, there are millions of Gods in the country and people travel far places to visit the ‘temples’ of their chosen Gods.

This is what makes the issue of Indian culture even much more complex. Let’s look at the practice of monogamy. It is a part of our culture. In some countries in the African continent, polygamy still continues as a practice. I learnt that even the president of South Africa Jacob Zuma has 3 wives and has 20 children from them.***

Polygamy is illegal in most civilized societies because it disrupts the institution of marriage and its existence since it leads to feelings of jealousy and immorality among other objections to polygamy.
Which side are you on? Well, it depends on which culture you belong to. In countries where polygamy is illegal and since the law states so, you cannot even think about it. So, you don’t think about it. In cultures they accept polygamy; the key argument is expansion of their own breed. You could argue that in order to do that, they don’t care about the physical and emotional exploitation of the women, which is a fair argument.

So, what is culture?

We are back to square one, I know. I have realized in the course of writing this piece, that I won’t be able to answer this question for you. I don’t think it is correct for me to answer this question for you.I can say one thing and it is this- question everything, accept nothing without having thought about it in your mind.

The state will do its own it to define what culture of the land is. To what standards do we hold ourselves to will define the culture that we choose to embrace or we choose to reject.

Religion and history are the key determinants of culture. That something is being done for a very long time makes it a case for being done in the future as well. That something was practiced by the Gods is another extremely potent and almost sacrosanct source of culture. But, wait, ponder, consider, think and then decide if a custom or a tradition which has been going on for thousands of years is a useful in the current context.

What are the standards do we hold ourselves to, when we think about the question of culture?

To my mind, it is the peace and happiness of the people involved. The practice of Sati- where a recently widowed woman would commit suicide by fire, typically on the husband’s funeral pyre existed for many years before it was outlawed. To what kind of a mind would such a practice attract? Why should a woman die because her husband has passed away? What was her fault? She has already been rendered unfortunate and now the society wants her to incinerate herself! What kind of society allows such a practice?!

So, what is culture?

Is culture what we individually believe in or what we collectively imbibe? By definition, it is the collective behavior. Our collective behavior must lead to the welfare, peace and joy to the people who imbibe and inculcate such a behavior.

Caste system is an ingrained part of the Indian culture. One day, hopefully, we will reach a point where it will cease to matter what your caste is. It will cease to matter what your origin was and which religion you were born into. That day, there will be joy.

I knew at the outset, that I will not be able to convincingly answer the puzzle of culture. However, I hope, I have been able to give you some snippets about a few it its sources and the underlining reasons.

Other sources of culture are our celebrities and our leadership. What they do becomes popular culture. What the king does becomes the culture of the masses. But, don’t accept it blindly. If you think what the king does is right, embrace it. If you think the king is wrong, question the king.

Culture is what we collectively do. Culture is what we collectively embrace. Culture is what we are known for. What would we like to be known for, years after we are gone?

Thanks for reading.

Sources***: http://www.polygamy.com/polygamy-in-africa.html

The Culture of Pretense

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I will start with a motherhood statement. We live in a culture of pretense- the culture of a false show off and I am not quite sure who we are trying to impress. Many of us are going around wearing many masks, a different mask for a different occasion.

Most people are living a life trying to impress others who are trying to impress them.

FRIENDSHIP

People get into friendships because they can’t be by themselves. They find themselves with people they don’t quite like but they are with them because loneliness is not acceptable to them, even if they find themselves lonely and lost whilst they are in company. I know that solitude is not a popular notion, especially in the part of the world I belong to. Nobody wants to be lonely. But it is bewildering how people can be friends with people they don’t like and respect. We can choose our friends. We can’t choose our parents. Why would you choose friends you don’t admire?

People who can’t be in their own company will must have someone for company. Why?! Someone has said to the effect that ‘if you get bored while you are with yourself, you are in bad company.’ I know, it wasn’t exactly this, but I don’t care to know what the original thought is.

What is the purpose of friendship?

The purpose of friendship is to be able to share life with people who understand us. That they understand us is the key prerequisite for a friendship. In addition, they are also willing to open up to us about their fears, happiness, joys and sorrows. If they are not willing to open up, you can’t develop a friendship.

Our levels of intimacy with people is directly proportional to the intimacy they are willing to offer us.

Friendship is understanding.

Everything else is pretense.
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WORK

We all have a very important relationship with our work. If we find our work intellectually stimulating, engaging and challenging and money, we will find fulfillment in it.

Very few people in this world are fortunate enough to first, arrive at what they truly love and enjoy and secondly, being able to create a life on the basis of what they love and enjoy doing. It is a speculative figure but I don’t think even 5% of the people in this world are living a life doing what they truly love and believe in, what their congenital talents have been. It is alright to change tracks in life, I know many people will disagree with me. Steve jobs reflected on it too.

‘Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.’

The problem is that we are in a rush to settle, especially in India. For many of us, it takes a long while to figure what we truly love and by the time we do, we have settled. Very few of us are fortunate to find out in school or college years what we really love to do and by the time we find it, it’s too late.

I love to see people who follow their passion and do what they truly believe in. The only definition of success I know is being able to make a living doing what doesn’t feel like work.

It is happiness, too. And, if success # happiness, it is not success.

Success = happiness
Happiness = Success

Everything else is pretense.

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LOVE

Now, I don’t mean parental love. I mean love between couples.

Why do we need love?

We need love because friendships have a line and its love which crosses that line. There are no limits anymore. If there are limits, it would rather be a friendship. Love knows no limits.

I live in a country where most couples do not love each other. Marriages are the foundation of relationships. People get married first and hope that they will fall in love later. They expect marriage to solve their problems of loneliness, sex, company, social conformity. I am not quite sure if most of them even look for companionship.

Companionship is the key reason why seek love. I am not talking about arranged marriages. They make no sense. If the reasons for getting into a relationship are anything but love that originated because of genuine affection, admiration for each other, the relationship is most likely to be a failure.

Companionship is the output of an intimate relationship. That one person is your key source of emotional and sexual satisfaction. I am deliberately not saying intellectual satisfaction because we don’t get into relationships owing to intelligence. I may be wrong, but this is my opinion.

That one person is your go to person when you have great news and when you have miserable news. That one person is the closest you are to. You will not be as close to your parents even, since you don’t have sex with your parents. Physical intimacy is a part of a relationship and it builds on or takes away from emotional intimacy. Emotional intimacy is a complex affair since emotions are complex. You want to love. You want to feel loved. You would know, this is much easier said than done.

Either you feel loved or you don’t. Either you want to express love or you don’t. Relationships are complex and they deserve the press they deserve, so to say. Either you have a companion or you don’t.

If you are in a relationship but you have to always find friends to talk to, when you are high or you are low, there is something that’s gone wrong somewhere.

Love is companionship.

Everything else is pretense.
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We have got one life. Let’s not pretend, please.

If you are miserable, accept it to yourself. If you are happy, admit it to yourself. What you say to yourself is much more important than what you say to others. Unless and until we are brutally honest with ourselves, we will continue to pretend. We have got to face life head on and look it in the eye, without the mask.

Everything else is pretense.