Paradox Paradise

Would you still call it nonsense, if sense exchanges its meaning with nonsense?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Shoot him again, if you please. He was dead long ago.

"His [Gandhi's] activities for public awakening were phenomenal in there in their intensity and were reinforced by the slogan of truth and non-violence, which he paraded ostentatiously before the country. No sensible or enlightened person could object to those slogans."
- Nathuram Vinayak Godse, in his deposition in court

I’m not exhibiting the journalistic, manipulative, smartness of quoting only a part of the assassin’s statement that would support my views. I’m only bringing forth the point, from which Godse, and most others, got diverted after Gandhi had become obsolete, and even obstructive, for their personal goals.

Gandhi had a dream that no one has ever dare to dream of. Before, or after his time. And his convictions were stronger than anyone who had walked upon earth. Buddha started off by quitting. Jesus had given up after three years. Gandhi didn’t dream of a land that would one day be able to answer back in the face of the opponent with nuclear warheads, like the former poet-prime minister had dreamt of. He didn’t dream of a land, whose sons will walk on the moon, like the current poet-president is dreaming of. He dreamt of a land where women can walk safely in the streets, at midnight, that too even without any clothes! Not a formidable dream, in the eyes of the other practical dreamers.

Many times I have thought about this. What if, Godse had shot Gandhi 10 years before? In 1938, when Subhash Chandra Bose was elected as the president of Indian National Congress. Gandhi opposed Bose mainly for the latter’s lack of commitment to democracy and lack of faith in non-violence. The idea Gandhi had in his mind was obviously beyond the comprehensive levels of many others like Godse. Gandhi believed democracy is for the people, not the other way around – as practiced elsewhere. Today, the textbooks portray Shivaji, and Tipu Sultan as valiant, proud patriots. They were fighting to secure their thrones, and nothing else. It was very similar thrones Bose, Nehru, Patel and Jinnah fought for, while Gandhi was fighting to destroy the throne. Bose didn’t win the throne, nor did Gandhi succeed in destroying the throne.

Gandhi wanted to convert the viceroy’s residence to a General Hospital, instead of keeping it for an Indian mimicking the viceroy. He wanted the ashram he started with 25 inmates grow to fill the land and house one fifth of the human population. He wanted every one else to become a Gandhi. And no one ever wanted to.

He never dreamt of an India that’s as prosperous as the British Empire. He never wanted India to become and international power to have the power to oppress other populations. His ideas were not progressive, as the word progressive is understood today.

Gandhi was needed for a while, and became unnecessary too soon. Gandhi was the only solution in the two decisive decades of 20s and 30s. By 40s, there were more than enough people who wanted to replace the British, and have the seats for themselves. I have read, and heard from many, that it was the British Raj that made a country out of several hundreds of kingdoms fighting with each other. I have read, and heard from many, that it was the hardworking administrative and judicial machinery implemented by the British that created the idea of India as a nation. I have also read, and heard from many, that the decision of granting independence was inevitable, because the British empire was too exhausted after the WW II, and was in no mind to deal with the disruptions in the armed forces, which were sparked off by INA. But none of them told me, why Gandhi, and over a lakh of his supporters were kept imprisoned during WW II.

Gandhi had become obsolete, long before he was shot to death. But if it weren’t for his efforts of the initial 20-25 years, the 600 odd princely states that were given independence at the midnight of August 15, 1947 wouldn’t have come together under the tricolour. No other human being has influenced so many fellow beings in the history of human kind. May be it’s a little difficult to believe for the news channels in the country, and its regular viewers, that Gandhi was more popular than Amitab Bachan, or Sachin Tendulkar. The genius of Albert Einstein had foreseen it.

And if Gandhi had won! Obviously, I wouldn’t have been writing this piece, or you reading. I feel ashamed to be born in the same country as Gandhi. I wish, he were born as an African or South American, or Russian or even an American. Then I would have been seeing my fellow countrymen talking in reverence of him more often. And Bush’s sniffer dogs wouldn’t have been allowed to mistake his samadhi for another lamppost.

And here's the full statement that Nathuram Vinayak Godse gave in the court, during his trial. It might still sound heroic to an adolescent mind. If you have one, please take my warning.
Click here to read it.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What a show, uff!!!

We've become bored with watching actors give us phony emotions. We are tired of pyrotechnics and special effects. While the world he inhabits is, in some respects, counterfeit, there's nothing fake about Truman himself.”

- Christof, the character in the film, The Truman Show.

Reality, at times, is pretty hard to swallow. Especially, when it comes sandwiched between prime commercial airtime. Roughly about half of commercial TV programmes available on the box today are reality shows of one nature or other, not including the News.

If you are one who lives in this silly small world, you know what I am about to talk. It’s about the leggy lass, Ms. Shetty and the hullabaloo. For the last 15 years or so the needle on her weighing scale stayed stuck where it was. And we fondly called her a dumb damsel. And today, she stands tall, figuratively too for a change, as the courageous survivor of merciless racial discrimination. The Big Brother was watching; and the world was watching the Big Brother. It happens not in India, but in Blair’s land. No, not Eric Arthur Blair, the other one.

Fortunately, I don’t have access to cable TV. So I didn’t have to suffer the torture of listening to the panel discussions during News on the issue. I don’t read newspapers daily either, and I was saved from reading those silly news just below the dateline. Still, me too had to have my share. I heard people talking about it. I saw the headline while walking past one of the newpaper offices, on the display boad in front of their building. I read blogs with numerous outgoing links, and embedded streamed videos. And that presses open my big mouth.

The show, is claimed to be Britain’s most popular reality show, and is on for a few years now. The participants are auditioned months before, and are selected for the show with a fee that approximately amounts to Rs. 3 crore. I have no idea, whether each participant gets a fixed fee, or whether it’s negotiable as per one's celebrity quotient. The amount I specified, is what our Shetty girl was offered. Apart from the fee, housemates will be given shopping tickets, treats, and such. And the winners will win more money, of course.

Those were some simple reasons for a person, who thinks he or she is a celebrity, to appear for the audition. Now the winner of the show is the last person remains in the house after individual evictions that happen every week. Now, a participant cannot wish to have the other housemates around for long, if he or she wants to win. And arguably, this encouraged bitching with garnishes of style and fame is what keeps the viewers keep glued to the screen.

Now, the remarks which were celebrated as examples of racial abuse were really hilarious. One of them was the slang for female genitals, and I wonder since when it has become a racist remark! Of course, no one said of one shade is better than the other during the abuse. The next one was even more interesting. She was also called a dog! That was sexist, if not racist. Our poor girl was asked to go back to the slums she came from! How cruel was that!!!! Expecting a bollywood heroine who survived in the industry for nearly 15 years, and is known to do every trick to get her pay on time, to call a slum dweller!!! How can a celebrity in India live like million others in the country, in slums or mud huts? It’s beyond any sane person’s imagination. And we are talking about a reality show.

But I have found more interesting stuff about the show. It’s about the show, not about the participants. This year, the Big Brother’s house has a disorientating theme! The garden comes with otherwise interior furnishings like wallpaper, carpets, dining table, and even a chandelier. And there is faux grass in the kitchen, and garden chairs in the living room! Not disoriating enough? Don’t worry. There are 14 basic rules that every inmate should follow. And the first one is there shouldn’t any contact with the outside world. I assume they are talking about not having a TV. Housemates are allowed to carry a suitcase full of stuff, but that should not include books, or any writing material. So, if you are illiterate the chances to clear the auditions could be easier. One is not allowed to carry any personal medication as well. I think, that is meant to prevent the participants from sneaking in glycerine. The list of banned paraphernalia includes sane things like a musical instruments, radios, music players, calenders, clock or watches. And aslo mobile phones and gismos of same genre. That’s to avoid a fight over the features one has on the mobile telephony equipment they own, which might trigger violence in a mass scale. And if you didn’t get disoriented by these carefully designed evironment, Big Brother might use his reserved rights to expel you from his house.

At this point, I’m wondering what’s the job of a director, many associate directors, script writers and assistants in a reality show. If they have nothing to do, I would like to chose one of those careers. It seems pretty interesting. And rewarding too, I hope.

But why an innocent Indian girl? Because, there are nearly 2 million Indians, and almost same number of asians among the target audience, in UK alone. And I’m sure some audience survey agency have coned the makers of the programme with the report that the show doesn’t have right mindshare of this high potential retail customers. Yes, reality sucks. And at times, bites.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

About the news I haven’t heard

There are 200 million blogs which are no longer being updated, says the survey by Technorati. Mine is not in that list yet; they consider a blog as inactive, only if it’s not updated at least once in three months. According to the report, they predict that there’ll be only a 100 million of them those will be still active by the middle of this year. And I hope mine will be there in the list then.

This news, and another 99 of such pieces are part of ‘the 100 things we didn’t know last year’ published by BBC Magazine. One of the few regular readers of my blog sends me the link. And to my very pleasant surprise, there weren’t one single news that I had heard in the last 365 days. It was only a few weeks back, the Supreme Court in my country came up with an interesting ruling on published content for newspapers. Hearing on a PIL against obscene photographs and articles being published, the Court said, such a ban will lead to a situation where the newspaper will be publishing material caters only to children and adolescents, and adults will be deprived of their rightful share of ‘entertainment’. Tabloid of India, one of the only two defendants in the case, of course has no clue what can be an entertaining piece of news. Well, let’s say, they just lack a good sense of humour.

The BBC Magazine publishes 10 pieces of ‘unknown’ news pieces every week. And the above-mentioned link is a collection of those over the past 12 months. It has a survey report by ICMR, which found out that standard-sized condoms are too big for Indian men. Even after erection, I assume. Now, there’s nothing like a standard-size, and the ones available are of the length 150-180mm. It’s the same with the American men too, another study has revealed. I’m expecting them to be available soon in S, M, L, and XL sizes, and all of the XL being sold to be wasted.

Another piece informs me clitoris derived its name from the Greek word kleitoris, meaning little hill. On mons veneris. Obviously, it’s all Greek and Latin to me. And now I know what they mean when say making a mountain out of a mole-hill.

And there’s another report that says for every 10 attempts to climb Mount Everest, there’s one fatality. Arguably, the most expensive way to die. Worth a try, of course, for the ones who can afford.

Seems like life wasn't really any easier for men to make a decision in ancient Rome. Sex workers there used to charge an equivalent price of 8 glasses of red wine then. The ratio of good grapes to good women is still the same, I guess. If prices have anything to do with supply, that is.

Alcohol is the fuel that runs over 2 million cars and trucks in Brazil, another report in the list informs. Not just on the Newyear eve, or not just during the carnival, I hope. And I am sincerely curious to know, whether they can be driven in a straight line when the tank is still full.

15 years was the legal minimum age for women to get married in France, until recently. They made it 18, in 2006. Even now in Manipur, only girls below 15 are considered minor. In the rest of the country, they are minors for another 3 years.

A study is Somerset says that cows do have regional accents. The vets here who aspires for a career abroad may well do an accent training too. And another study reveals that they, the cows, each one of them releases up to 400 litres of poisonous methane every day to our breathing air. That’s enough to put Maneka in a dilemma. Save the cows or save the planet?

Another report says a domestic cat can scare a black bear to run up a tree. And another says in a fight between a lion a polar bear, the bear would win. The lions are challenging the bears, from their dens in Kalahari. The fight is yet to take place because they haven’t yet agreed on a neutral venue, I suppose. But this waiting also helps. Because, yet another study says that thinking about your muscles can make you stronger. Just think how weak you would have been now, if you weren’t thinking about them all these years!

And a study from University of Siena says watching television can act as natural painkillers for children. Paediatricians will be now standing the queue to buy televisions. And if that news gives parents a headache, go and listen to music. Because, another study assures that music can reduce chronic pains by 20%. Now, people who thought that listening to heavymetal gives you headaches, please understand that it would have been 20% more if you were not listening.

Who was that who said television kills the habit of reading? There is a study that says about 6 million people uses subtitles while watching a movie without having any hearing impairments.

Going through the list of 100 unheard news, I also learnt that I am detectorist. It’s the new term for people who are metal detector enthusiasts. Recently, during a high-security film festival I fell in love with metal detectors, and now I know I had actually became only a detectorist. The most amazing thing about the metal detectors is that they can detect your zipper, but not your hard-on. They are fun, trust me. The metal detectors, that is.

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia, is another term I learnt. It means the fear for the number 666. I don’t have that phobia, but I have another. It’s hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, meaning the fear of long words. It was in one Satyajit Ray movie, I came to know about the word floccinaucinihiliphilfication, which the character in the movie claims as the longest word in English. Apparently, it’s the longest word in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, and means ‘an estimation of something as worthless’. The record now is with pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, which can be also spelled as pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis. No prizes for finding the difference. It is the name of some lung disease, and may be reading it out loud in one breath might cause it. The thought makes my scary. I googled for phobias and successfully reached a site which has all the phobias indexed, and listed in alphabetical order. And to my great pleasure I found out that I am actually a very brave man. I am suffering from a very few of them listed there. Another one of my phobias that I would like to confess is phobophobia, the fear of phobias.

So, let me too welcome 2007. I couldn’t find any authentic study report on this, but in my firm belief there are an estimated 3.89 billion people who don’t change their calendars on the Newyear’s day. Don’t be one among them, and save your weekends and holidays.

And you may want to visit the following links:

100 things we didn’t know last year

An A-Z list of phobias

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