Monday, April 24, 2006

I Came, I Saw, They Kicked Me Out - Hugh Hefner (sometime soon)

Playboy it seems is now coming to India. My Telegraph says right on the first page - "Is India game for Playboy?". Not that its first page news. It says immediately below, turn to page 17 for the article.

Playboy executives have declared that the company is now looking to capture the Indian market with a moderated and toned-down version of the magazine. Obviously. They wont find many Indian actresses lining up to do a cover, or an 'uncover', for them anyway. Playboy idiots did the same thing in Indonesia too. The Indonesian edition was so toned down and moderated that people preferred local publications. Despite this, crowds of angry, hurt, embarrassed, concerned and 'bored-with-life-otherwise' agitators hurled stones at the Jakarta office of Playboy and shouted slogans know, the way we do it. An Indian reception is not going to be much more welcoming. Vishwa Hindu Parishad and RSS, and all the other parties self-appointed to look over all our interests and decide what we want, are already planning and publicizing their modus operandi lest they find Playboy India to be offensive or against our traditions.

"If they honour the Indian tradition and keep within limits, and dont show nudes, what objections can we have?" said the Parishad's Vinod Bansal. Limits, eh? Now what limits would those be? Honour the Indian tradition. Hmmm....If by mistake Hugh Hefner does look back at Indian tradition with his jaundiced eyes, he wont take much time before noticing Kama Sutra. I think Playboy will have a very tough time in trying to match up to Indian traditions on sex and intimacy from then on. If Playboy does not toe the line etched out by VHP, "we can even get it shut down", warns Bansal.

There are more people who want to give their uninvited opinions of course. All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Kamal Farooqi is quoted saying that such things should be stopped in humble ways without agitation, by creating "an atmosphere against it". He was probably being asked about something for the first time, so he chose this opportunity to take all the other weights off his chest as well. He went on to say - "Not just Playboy, I am for a moral check on newspapers and television as well". He complains that some newspapers and magazines are not fit to be read by the family. But whatever happens or does not happen, Playboy is "against Indian culture.....As an Indian, and a Muslim, I am totally against it".

What is meant by "not fit to be read by the family"? You should also ban magazines like Femina and Good Housekeeping because they only cater to women. "100 different ways to attract men" was the leading article in an issue of one such magazine that I used for timepass at a barbershop. Definitely not for the whole family to read, especially if VHP cadre also have teenage daughters. Looking elsewhere, surely entire families dont sit down to read scientific journals? Throw them out. Business Today does not have a section for ten year olds who want to invest their pocket money. Out it goes. India Today does not have recipes for housewives. Bye bye.....

Some poeple would argue that Playboy is something else and not be compared with the above. And that is exactly my point. Playboy is something else, so treat like that. Maxim, Playboy etc cater to hormonally charged and/or sexually deprived males. Its for them to 'read', if anyone does actually ever read read Playboy. Its not meant for group reading sessions with the entire parivaar. Also, its not like the editors of these magazines are absolutely shameless. They also feel shame. They also feel guilt. They also feel that they have to answer to God sometime. Why else do they put articles in between the pictures?

You cannot dispute the fact that people exist who want nothing more than to see naked models every month even if they have to pay for it. If you have demand in a country the size of India, you're obviously going to have supply lining up. If VHP, RSS etc think that Indian traditions should be held sacrosanct, then why dont they encourage and organize festivals, aside from the Kumbha which is too infested with naked sadhus for any self respecting individual to ever attend? They wont do that. There is no constructive work at all done by them.

Anyway, they dont really matter. All this song and dance over Playboy and Maxim. What does it matter if they come to India or not? If politicians had just kept shut, these magazines would have come, tried to create a market and then gone off quietly without making any sort of profit. They are idiots if they think they can get Indians to pay for something they can get for free somewhere else. When there is an entire universe of pornography and full blown other things available for that magic word (FREE!) on the internet, you think anyone will notice Playboy ka family-friendly pack?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Of Bangalore...And Thus, Of All India

To disgruntled Americans, India is a country comprising basically one major city. The world of Information Technology and jobless Americans sees just Bangalore and nothing else - a city of call centers and IT firms which specialize in robinhooding international business and giving it out to Indian masses willing to work for peanuts and a glass of milk. Bangalore is hailed as the focal point of Indian economic growth, the hub of the IT industry, the this and the that. A place where the educated youth can work hard to earn big, where new ideas and innovative schemes are watered and taken care of, where the layer of bureaucracy over everything is thinner than in the rest of the country. Bangalore, Bangalore, Bangalore, Bangalore, Bangalore and..Bangalore. The word 'bangalored' has even entered dictionaries as a term to describe the loss one's job due to business outsourcing.

Amidst all this adulation, respect and endless praise, Bangaloreans go and make a mess of everything. Rajkumar, an innocent if highly gifted actor, died at age 77 on April 13th. He passed away surrounded by his family and loved ones as he died peacefully in his sleep. And the city just erupts.

Now, how in the world does the natural death of a superstar, excite an entire city to go around destroying things? Bangaloreans of all sizes, raging at God for doing such a dastardly act as well as at the police which stopped hordes of them from rushing in to get a last glimpse of the superstar, go on a rampage. Vehicles on the roads are overturned, buses are burnt and buildings are attacked. Policemen are seen running as civilians chase them in droves throwing stones.

Bill Gates and his minions, in their foolishness, had built a glass structured Microsoft building just next to Rajkumar's residence. Now obviously if you put so much glass in front of rioting mobs, you're just asking for it. Bangaloreans all just chorused "Jinke ke ghar sheeshe ke hote hain, woh - " in Kannada, and even though they couldn't really complete this sentence, they went ahead and threw the rocks.

How? Why? Seriously, why? Its not like the doctors pricked needles into the guy's skin and tickled him to death. No jealous rival actor tripped him as he was trying to negotiate a nasty flight of stairs. He didnt have food poisoning, tennis elbow, twisted ankle or even a fever. He died, like I said, of natural causes peacefully and I suppose contentedly. Maybe if someone had told him his fans were going to mourn in a violent sort of way, he would have fought a bit harder. But now its too late.

Sifting through the pages of history, we see countless instances of people doing strange things for even stranger reasons. When Dan Brown shouted "liar liar, pants on fire!" at the Church he received at the worst a lot of condemnation and a few lawsuits. But Islamic fundamentalists, still in Crusades-mode, choose to issue fatwas and ask for the head of Danish cartoonists simply because they suffer from extreme insecurity of their God's sanctity. George Bush goes to war in Iraq citing reasons of peace and security for the world, when all he actually wants is to complete his Daddy's dream of having oil for free. And then they re-elect him. These things happen, however inexplicable and meaningless they seem.

But is there even any such flimsy or weak justification for these riots? Why on earth do you do something like this? An entire city full of people just go berserk and play 'terrorist-terrorist' for absolutely no goddamn reason. Newspapers try to make sense of it by saying that people are mourning violently in Bangalore, but this does not explain the childlike innocent joy in the faces of these mourners as they torch buses and hurl bricks at cars. Similar things have happened before too in Bangalore's colourful recent past. When another great actor died a few years back, there were cases of similar riots and mobbing. Some women couldn't see reasons to live anymore, so they commited suicide. Then when this same actor Rajkumar was abducted by late Mr. Veerappan and taken away to his jungle abode, Bangaloreans erupted again. They were going to go and burn down the whole forest only, but that didn't work out thankfully.

Its tough to really find any sense in all this commotion and crazy rioting. But we can see perhaps a bit of an explanation to what prompted people to adopt such an...umm...'expressive' form of mourning. India is a volcanic nation, waiting for a reason to erupt. Every region of India has its own cache of causes that need to be fulfilled for riots and senseless bloodshed to begin. West Bengal has Mamata Banerjee who usually supervises all this while screaming from her mic, Mumbai has dons being the underworld capital of India, and Kashmir has Pakistan.

Bangalore is similarly a volcanic city. In between all the highrise buildings, the rapid development and the honking traffic, you have hidden a frustrated and highstrung society. People who live in a dream world, to which they have access only through the magic of cinema. Cinema stars become megastars and idols, helping people through their daily toils and silent suffering. When these life-supports are taken away, you see recoil in the form of blind anger lashing out at everything in its path. Rajkumar was an actor who shunned countless offers from Bollywood to focus on Kannada cinema, to continue to portray the dreams and aspirations of the masses who considered him above all else. There is a lot to be seen in these riots. They represent frustration at the abrupt ending of a dream, and white-hot anger at the sudden closing of portals through which one could escape one's sorrows and tribulations.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Getting Into IIT: Clear The Toughest Engg Exam Ever, Or Be Born 'That' Way

I came back home after giving IITJEE, one of the toughest public competitive examinations, and one of the first things I see on the television is some politician arguing in favour of taking my chances of getting a seat and giving it to an OBC. How insane can politicians get!?! 50% quota of seats reserved for undeserving students in the top engineering institutions of India. The most revered graduation degree in the whole of India is being given to people who need not deserve it or work for it.

IITs are the jewel on the crown of Indian education. The world has woken up to the might of IIT engineers and the clout they command in the world now. The IIT engineer has even made it into Dilbert comic strips, described as a person 10 times more intelligent than the rest of the office put together and trained to sleep only on national holidays. IIT is supposed to be a non-political, elite institution of the brightest minds of the country taught by the best teachers of the country. Same goes for the IIMs which are in fact even more revered than the IITs. Those highly exclusive seats being kept aside for other people whether they earn it or not. My point is not to talk about the IIMs or the IITs though.

The point is this. 60 years after having attained independence from the British whom we accused of dividing India and laying seed to communal friction, our government is not even trying to bring down the walls of hatred and prejudice that communities have for each other. There are severely oppressed OBCs in India, I admit. They do not all get the education they have a right to get. They do not get the same job opportunities as a result and remain economically and socially backward. To relieve them off their plights and bring them on the same platform as the rest of the country, you have to educate them. They have to get the same opportunities as everyone else.

How is giving reservations and quotas everywhere the answer to this? You should build them their own schools if needed. Primary education should be made easier. Give them economic assistance if that is needed. Lesser costs in hospital bills, subsidized rations, exemption from certain taxes maybe. But there has to be a point where you take away these crutches and these supports, and you allow them to stand up on their own feet. The method of bringing an oppressed section of society from the depths of misery to the prosperity enjoyed by other sections, is to offer them the tools to do so. Some people need only schools, while others might need subsidized fees in these schools and a few more such benefits. Thats ok. But their progress has to be directly linked with the effort they themselves put in. If they have the ability or the drive to help themselves then, they do so. Otherwise they can stay where they are.

By giving them undeserved seats in such esteemed institutions we are not only being unjust to lakhs of hardworking General Category students, but also raising another wall of hatred and disparity towards these classes of society. When IIT students look at each other, they see equals. It is a badge of recognition and respect when you say that you're from an IIT. But that won't happen anymore. Pretty soon when you see an IIT-ian you will look enquiringly at him and wonder if he actually cleared IITJEE or just got in due to birth. An OBC IIT-ian will be instantly rubbished and treated as an undeserving entrant, defiling the intellectual might of the IITs.

The government was up in arms about IIM-Bangalore launching an overseas branch in Singapore. Politicians vehemently complaining about the need to provide education to Indians first. Consolidate your base in India and then try to conquer the rest of the world. Then they do this shit. What will the standard be of IIT and IIM passouts in a few years now? How many OBCs who pass out will even land a good IIM standard ka job?

Once they are rejected by most companies since they didn't actually clear IITJEE and CAT and hence earn their right to this degree, what will the government do? You can't employ all these MBAs in government jobs. So, are we going to have job quotas in the private industries too? "If 20% of your employees are of OBC origin, your company gets so much subsidy in taxes" or "You have to keep 50% of your MBA employees from OBCs else you pay so much extra taxes"?

Basically, all this is not about doing the OBCs any good. OBCs are being treated as pawns in the hands of politicians in their game for power. Anything for votes is the mantra.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Generosity of The Dutch

Prostitution in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) is legal. I bet you had no idea. I got this piece of entertaining information from a friend of mine, who I'm sure wishes to remain unnamed. Although, where she had the opportunity to learn such things I can't even imagine. Its not exactly part of what we did in World History and Geography. I verified this off the net anyway, so I know she wasn't just playing with a guy's dreams.

So its true. You might think that prostitution nearly everywhere now is legal anyway, so whats the big deal. But thats not the case. Its outlawed in all but 2 US states, and even in those 2 free-willy places you're not allowed to, technically speaking, "live off the avails". This means, you can do it and then ask for the money, but you must have another proper job too. You cannot just go around doing it to earn cash. You must have the decency to also work in a mall or pub or bar. In most other liberal countries, prostitution is okie-dokie but pimping and brothel-running is not. This not only prevents exploitation, but also provides a healthy impetus to the business of small motels and guest-houses. Smart.

Amsterdam does not believe in all these small legalities. They've gone the full monty and prostitution is right up there with running a nursery or insurance agency. Makes you wonder what the place is like. The 'business' is also allowed advertising rights, so you can put up billboards of yourself too. Since its a legal enterprise, these enterprising young professionals also have to pay taxes. In exchange for taxes, they receive health care benefits and social security and (believe it or not!) pensions. Netherlands can give social security to prostitutes, and India's hardworking, rickshaw-pulling, God-fearing, dupatta-wearing masses get what we have learnt to call thenga a.k.a nothing.

Hmm....if Amsterdam's hardworking prossies pay taxes, that means they must have to keep a proper account of their income over the months and the year. How do they do that? They take cash I suppose. And then get down to work. Afterwards, do they get you to sign a receipt - a bill of service?

"I hereby acknowledge that I have cheated on my wife with this woman and am paying her 150 euros for her services rendered. She did not agree to some of the other acts I had in mind, so I might not come back again, but that's not the point. Forget that sentence. Leave it at services rendered. Signed, Sir Mick Jagger [or whatever]"

No business whose base is in providing pleasure to clients can exist without feedback. So if this is a professionally-run business, they must have a customer-rapport service. Since a guy can never have enough of such things, I suppose a Dutch brothel-owner would work towards establishing customer-retention. (You cannot lose clients to the Van-Whores' next door!) Red-Light-Cards for customers, so that you can add up points and use them in bartering other goodies. 300 points for polka-dotted condoms; 500 points for Vibrator-3000 and so on. What about a season's discount during Christmas? Unless the prostitutes' job scheme also involves paid vacations, this could help in attracting tourists. In India you only have "ek toothpaste ke saath toothbrush free", but Amsterdam has such enormous potential of special offers in their business.

By legalizing prostitution in the year 2000, the Dutch government (besides welcoming in the new millenium in their own unique way) had aimed to clamp down on exploitation of sex workers and under-age forced sex. But even now, as my Wikipedia says, over 7% of the young bona fide entrepreneurs are infected with HIV/AIDS. Red light areas are flaring up in several Dutch districts. One of the more impressive ones, is called Hardebollenstraat (nice name na?) and its coup de grace is the over hundred canal boats it has on offer in the form of working quarters. The government is earning money off it, the prostitutes are happy and no one is complaining much. I guess the Dutch have the right to enjoy themselves while they can, seeing as the country itself is sinking below sea level steadily every year.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Justice Is Blind...As Well As Slightly Stupid

I got this off the net in this amazing site whose name I'm not going to tell you. A courtroom is supposed to be a grim hall of justice. Lawyers and judges are smart, intellectual people. But stupid things happen everywhere. This is a series of some not-so-intense courtroom dramas. All of these are transcripts from actual cases.

1. This is like the guy in an Austin Powers movie. He couldn't refuse to answer questions if they were asked for long enough (3 times was his limit too) :

Q. Did you ever stay all night with this man in New York?
A. I refuse to answer that question.
Q. Did you ever stay all night with this man in Chicago?
A. I refuse to answer that question.
Q. Did you ever stay all night with this man in Miami?
A. No.

2. Doctor vs Lawyer...Two intellectually based professions. Inevitably, one will try to outdo the other:

Q. Doctor, how many autopsies have you peformed on dead people?
A. All my autopsies have been performed on dead people.

3. Lawyers ain't all that smart either sometimes:

Q. ...and what did he do then?
A. He came home, and next morning he was dead.
Q. So when he woke up the next morning he was dead?

Q. What is your relationship with the plaintiff?
A. She is my daughter.
Q. Was she your daughter on February 13, 1979

Q. Now, Mrs. Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated?
A. By death.
Q. And by whose death was it terminated?

4. Killer smart-ass replies:

Q. What is the meaning of sperm being present?
A. It indicates intercourse.
Q. Male sperm?
A. That is the only kind I know.

Q. Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
A. Yes, I have been since early childhood

Q. Are you sexually active?
A. No, I just lie there

Q. ...any suggestions as to what prevented this from being a murder trial instead of an attempted murder trial?
A. The victim lived.

This article is hereby dedicated to all my friends who are trying to clear law exams and join this noble profession. Ha ha ha!