Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Naming a potential disaster

After Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma.....now even we are naming our approaching cyclone as Baaz. What is going on? Sounds like following a fashion statement to me. Maybe the Met Dept. names them for easy reference. So, let's give them the benefit of doubt. But then why do newspapers have articles on the naming of a cyclone? Doesn't anybody realise the extent of possible damage that a cyclone could leave behind? Sounds slightly insensitive to have such articles when the cyclone is right at our doorstep...especially after the rains have left southern states ravaged by the rains. 'Trivia' articles should be reserved for other times...when lives are not in danger.

Monday, November 28, 2005

On what we wear

As a part of those 90-minute shows we just finished, once, I had to prepare a public service message as an insert in the programme. For someone who sits up immediately when she hears people talk of gender and women’s rights, ‘self-defence by women’ as a topic for the insert was a natural choice. To find out more about how women can protect themselves when faced with danger, I went to a nearby police station.

For the uninitiated, ‘Tamil Nadu has the largest strength of women police personnel in the country. It also has the highest number of women police stations in the country.’- Tamil Nadu Government website. The state also does well with respect to social indicators such as sex ratio and literacy among women when compared to northern states.

So beaming with pride, I walked into the police station and asked if I could meet a woman inspector. After some curious interrogation in their broken English and my broken Tamil, they were finally ready to give me the required information. The policewoman on duty kept on saying ‘Learn Karate’. Then, after much probing, she gave me some practical tips about moving around in groups as far as possible, keeping pins at hand, using pepper spray etc.

What she said next punctured all the confidence I had in how women in Tamil Nadu were emerging as strong and capable individuals. ‘Women must dress decently,’ she said with much contempt. She didn’t approve of the clothes college girls wear these days. She intended to suggest that the clothes we wear provoke men to harass us.

I appreciate the policewoman’s efforts at warning me about my safety. But could someone please explain to men AND women that sexual harassment takes place not because women ‘ask for it’ but because men are ‘sick’ in their minds???!!! And if that’s not it, then I hope to find out why men commit such heinous crimes when I study Gender next semester or in the future.

It is disgusting how the victim is held responsible for the crimes committed against her. Even our judiciary has been biased in delivering some of its judgments in case of serious crimes such as rape.

Every woman comes across sexual harassment in the streets. The age of the woman does not matter. And the clothes she wears certainly don’t!!!

Someone is attempting to prove just that and more. Her name is Jasmeen Patheja and she is from Bangalore. I read about her yesterday [27th November] in The Hindu Magazine and just had to visit her blog today. She is raising her voice against eve teasing…something every woman puts up with every single day. That’s the problem! Why do we put up with it?

Jasmeen is using her talent as a student of art to speak out against those ‘sick’ guys women come across in almost all public places. She asks women who have been harassed in the streets to send the clothes they were wearing at the time of the incident. She obviously proves that women don’t provoke men with their clothes.

There’s more to come on this issue on my blog…


Thursday, November 24, 2005

What the floods brought us

This little darling is GMC. When our team was coming back to college while covering the 27th October floods in Chennai, this baby was outside our gate, wimpering. She was wet, cold and shivering. Some of our team members picked her up and got her to college. They rubbed her dry and fed her warm milk. It was love at first sight for most of us. Since then, GMC was staying in rotation at some flats in our accommodation. She is now in an animal shelter.
Why is she named GMC? GMC stands for 'Good Morning Chennai'. 27th October was supposed to be our first 90 minute live show. The show was cancelled because of the floods. Today was the last show of Good Morning Chennai. 15 shows of shooting, editing, voicing, producing, not sleeping, skipping meals have come to an end. It was one of the best times I have ever had. GMC, the show and the puppy, will stay forever in our hearts...

P.S. I haven't yet found out who took this snap. I'll credit the photographer in a future post as soon as I know who it is.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Bringing Gandhi Back To Life?

Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara...the film title was strange enough to arouse my curiosity. One evening, when my friends and I were relatively free, we found ourselves at Sathyam Theatre here in Chennai commenting on the several teasers played before the movie began. Finally, the movie with the strange title started and I wasn’t left too disappointed.

If not for anything else, it’s a must watch for Anupam Kher’s rendition of the role of the retired Hindi professor. The old man’s mind begins sinking in dementia and his hurtful memories as a child start taking over. The professor, a dedicated follower of Gandhi’s philosophy, begins to believe that he killed The Mahatma.

What I liked about the movie was that there was no needless song and dance [Thank God for that!]. Also worth admiration is the sensitive treatment of the bond between Anupam Kher and his daughter, played by Urmila Matondkar.

Sadly, the film falls short of being considered as an excellent film. The filmmaker attempts a daring solution to his protagonist’s condition but, fails to carry it off. By the time we come to the main message of the film, the viewers are so distracted by the mockery on screen that Kher’s emotive effort just falls flat.

The film’s National Award-winning director, Jahnu Barua, has received several compliments for his work but, if only he had paid greater attention to the central message of the film than to the ambience created...

Barua made the film to revive the importance of Gandhi’s philosophy. It is true that the Father of the Nation has been reduced to picture frames on walls, statues and road names. In fact, I am quite sure almost all cities in India have a Mahatma Gandhi Road. The film questions the Indian’s conscience, “Do we still apply Gandhi’s ideology in our daily lives?” The question is ‘Is the Gandhian way of life still applicable?’ Barua thinks it is.

Man who brought Gandhi's ideologies back

I don’t think Gandhi’s way of life is practical in today’s times. But, I sincerely believe that even if we could put into practice half of his qualities, the world would be a slightly less complicated place to live in. I am no devout follower of Gandhi...have never been. There are a few things he did in his public and private lives that are totally unacceptable to me. However, every youngster...at least every young Indian must make a small effort to understand the soul that India gifted to world history.

I am very glad I read Gandhi’s ‘My Experiments with Truth’. Before reading his autobiography, I didn’t have a very high opinion of him as a national leader and human being even though he dominated a generous part of our history text books. Maybe it’s that rebellious blood running through young veins that make him a character in history to be forgotten once the exams are over and done with. Maybe his peaceful methods don’t appeal to the youth who want to make things happen fast and radically.

However, his life is a must read! With his timid mannerisms, the man could have been a totally insignificant character in history...a lawyer who had a boring practice...a routine life gone unnoticed. Instead, Gandhi went on to become an inspiration, not only to the lakhs of independence aspirants in India but also to the civil rights movement in South Africa. Moreover, the man’s life teaches as it progresses. Even though some of his decisions annoy the reader, Gandhi’s nature grows on him/her and the reader develops admiration for him.

People may like him or hate him, but no one can deny the Mahatma his greatness.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Retired Hurt!

I see a great discussion has developed on my blog in my absence. That was the intention...thanks everyone!
I have been out of action for some days now. For the first time in my life, I fell seriously ill while away from home. But, during this period...I discovered just how superb my friends are!
This one's for you my Chennai friends...for taking care of an annoyingly demanding person like me.
Thanks to- Ashish [Dikshit and Thakare], Divya, Arunima, Aparna....
and for all those who visited and called to ask how I was.
Thanks again!