Guldasta

A bouquet of flowers picked along the way ….

The rape of India December 29, 2012

Filed under: Ethics and Values,India,women — gurdas @ :

“In my work with the defendants (at the Nuremberg Trails 1945-1949) I was searching for the nature of evil and I now think I have come close to defining it. A lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants, a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow men.

Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.”

Quotation: Captain G. M. Gilbert, the prison psychologist assigned to the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials

———

The victim of the brutal rape case in Delhi passed away. Like millions of my fellow countrymen I am seething with anger. I had little hope she will survive. My worry now is that nothing substantial will come out of this episode. Sure, the perpetrators of the crime will receive quick and severe punishment. The government will do that since it needs to escape the public anger. The decision to send the victim to Singapore was an outcome of careful thinking – a calculated move to avoid her death in a Delhi hospital. Or, any place in India. In the past 12 days many a careless politician has spoken their true self. The President’s son called the protestors dented and painted, while other leaders have asked for skirts to be banned in schools or girls to be married at a younger age to prevent assaults. I had to stop my wife calling them animals because I do not know of any animal that stoops so low. The ruling class in India is nothing but evil. They have no empathy for fellow humans. Another candle light vigil will bring nothing except smirks from the rulers. I may sound overly dystopian, but to me, India as it is today reflects Orwell’s Animal Farm.

I have little hope from the Indian on the street. Some are plain uncivilized, most think of issues and solutions in dangerously simple terms. Even the protests were not clean. Women were teased by the protestors. Many were simply furthering a political agenda. Which brings me back to the words of G.M.Gilbert. Other protestors are imbecile. They have suddenly woken up from their slumber and are enraged at this horrendous crime. “How could this happen in Delhi?” they ask. As if it is okay for this to happen in a far flung village.

And it does happen by the millions in India. Yes, I said millions. However, if you look at the reported statistics, India appears to be safer for women than USA. Or, for that matter safer than Germany and UK. This is a sign of an even deeper problem. Rape is the most under-reported crime given the taboo attached to it. It is comparatively less taboo to be a rape victim in USA and thus far greater percentage of cases get reported. Of the few that get reported, an abysmal number get convicted and even that can take years. Over the last four decades, reports of rape cases in India have increased from under 3,000 to over 20,000. The procedure of interrogation is undignified, with the victim often treated as a social outcast and subject to humiliation. Often, the victim faces character assassination and is made to appear promiscuous. As you move away from the urban centers, these numbers get worse. I do not have the references but it would not be too far from the truth to say that less than 5% of rape victims in India see justice. This is unforgivable. This is a sign of a corroded moral core. This is a sign of lack of empathy in people who wield power. This is a sign that we are not dealing with an incapable government machinery, but rather an evil one.

This particular rape may be singularly brutal in the physical sense, however it was no different in the moral sense from the hundreds of rapes that happen in India every day. Many are raped in plain sight of their family. Others are raped and paraded naked to teach them a lesson. Almost none of these are reported and far fewer catch the public’s attention. I cringe at the headlines that call for the latest victim as India’s daughter. If they really meant it such, in their hearts, they’d have awaken to the plight of the thousands of daughters who get raped every day.

Knee jerk reactions are the hallmark of both politicians and the public. Baying for the blood of the guilty in this one case will solve nothing. Saying that rapists will be castrated will do little. If only 5% get convicted, how does it matter what you do with them? Humans respond as they think. The political class has long believed and cultivated the practice of bribery. So deep is the internalization that they believe even the sorrow of death can be calmed with a bribe. Announcements of monetary relief for the Delhi rape case victim are coming in. I’d understand if the rulers gave some of their personal wealth. But they are only hurrying to give away public wealth. There is nothing wrong in monetary compensation, per se. But not all rape victims get this compensation. Heck, most don’t even get a decent hearing. The same politicians have their hands tainted with the blood of countless victims because they failed in their primary duty of enforcing law. What moral right do they have to distribute money now? And if they do, let the same compensation be given to each victim. But that will not happen because other victims do not bring political mileage.

What we are seeing is the hypocrisy of a nation – its rulers and its subjects – making a mockery of goodness. The question is: will this rape change the course of history as the rape of Lucretia?

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Chori Chori by Reshma (song and lyrics) April 18, 2011

Filed under: love,poetry,women — gurdas @ :

The Chori Chori number sung by Reshma  (~1947 – 3 November 2013) in her signature rustic, rich, full bodied style:

.

Updated: Reshma ji passed away on 3 November 2013 after a prolonged battle with throat cancer. I was mesmerized by her singing many times in my life and since this post was written, I considered myself her friend, too. So, her passing is more than just another blip in the information overload. Reshma ji, aap ne hamein chori chori jeet liya. Khuda Hafiz (May the Lord be your Shepherd).

The lyrics (penned by Manzoor Challa), with translation:

—–

vey main chori chori tere nall la layeiaan ahkhaan vey
वे मैं चोरी चोरी तेरे नल ला लयियां अखां वे
Silently and secretly I fell in love with you (transliteration: my eyes met yours)

.

main chori chori
vey main chori chori

vey main chori chori tere nall la layeiaan ahkhaan vey

main chori chori
vey main chori chori

.

duniya tonh jakhaan te mainh; duniya tonh
duniya tonh jakhaan te mainh (pause) pyaar tera rakhaan
दुनिया तोह जक्खान ते मैं प्यार तेरा रखां
I shy away from the world and keep safe my love (for you)

.

vey main chori chori tere nall la layeiaan ahkhaan vey

main chori chori
vey main chori chori

.

maa-peyan di lajj tere leyi main gavayein ve
(repeat)
माँ पयाँ दी लज्ज तेरे लेई मैं गवाईं वे
I sacrificed the honor of my parents for you

.

tu teh anjaan saadih kadarr na paayi ve
तू तेह अनजान साडिह कदर न पायी वेह
But you remain unaware and do not value me

.

phir vih mainh jhalee hoke; phir vih mainh
phir vih main jhalee hoke (pause) rah tera takkan
फिर विह मैं झली होके राह तेरा तकां
And yet, like an imbecile, I await your arrival

.

vey main chori chori tere nall la layeiaan ahkhaan vey

main chori chori
vey main chori chori

vey main chori chori tere nall la layeiaan ahkhaan vey

main chori chori
vey main chori chori

.

pyaar piche har koyi mittiyan vi chaan da
(repeat)
प्यार पिछे हर कोई मिट्टियाँ वी छान दा
In the pursuit of love, everyone toils (transliteration: everyone sieves sands)

.

disda na ik pal, vaeri meri jaan da
दिस्दा न इक पल वैरि मेरी जान दा
Not visible for a moment, an enemy to my peace

.

eh teh ve mainh jaanideiyan; eh te mainh
eh teh ve mainh jaanideiyan (pause) taenu mere jaiyyan lakhan
एह तान मैं जांदियाँ तैनु मेरे जैय्यां लखां
I know that, for you there are hundreds of thousands like me

.

vey main chori chori tere nall la layeiaan ahkhaan vey

main chori chori
vey main chori chori

vey main chori chori tere nall la layeiaan ahkhaan vey

main chori chori
vey main chori chori

.

changeya main jaatha taenu, lakhaan jind jaan tu
(repeat)
चंगेया मैं जाता तैनु लखां जिंद जान तू
I have found you to be a good person, you are a thousand lives to me

.

rajj gayiyaan paavein bibba jag te jahan tonh
रज्ज गईयाँ पावें बिब्बा जग ते जहान तोंह
even though, sweetheart, I’ve had my heart’s content of this world

.

das manzoor keevein; das man
das manzoor keevein (pause) dil nu main dakkaan
दस मंज़ूर कीवें दिल नू मैं दक्कां
Tell me, O Manzoor, how do I stop my heart

.

vey main chori chori tere nall la layeiaan ahkhaan vey

main chori chori
vey main chori chori

vey main chori chori tere nall la layeiaan ahkhaan vey

main chori chori
vey main chori chori

—–

I was helped by my father, Parminderji, and Gagan in the translation.

I also liked the Coke Studio take, sung by Meesha Shafi:

.

Shafi’s rendition makes it seem like a song of stillness, but without any sadness. As if the love hangs there, in mid-air, neither claimed nor disowned. Non-chalant and bold at the same time. The neutrality of her tone hiding passionate expression, which is what makes it both sensuous and edgy (for me). I was asking myself “who is she singing to?” and the only answer I seem to get is “herself”.

 

Love Care Responsibility August 22, 2010

Filed under: family,love,Me,women — gurdas @ :

Rakhi and accompanying letter from my sister

I was 9ish when she got married. So, I have no real memories of her from my younger years. Except some grainy recollections of her as the stern teacher at home. As I collected years, the bond between us metamorphosed. I went from young child to teenager to young adult to a brother. Yes, it took me a good 25 years to become my sister’s brother. Because only by the time I was 25 did our 11 year age difference stopped making a difference.

Somewhere along the way a few traditions got established, just like that. On her birthday, I would send her a personalised card. And she would send me a rakhi every year. It did not matter whether we were in different cities, countries, or continents. And just like in the past, this year too, my rakhi arrived well in time. But what makes this one more special than any before is not just the few thousand miles it has travelled but the letter that accompanies it. For this is the first time, I am being reminded of my duties towards my sister – love, care, and responsibility. Letters and the words printed on them have a surreal permanence to them. As I read the letter I witnessed the faith my sister reposes in me. For it takes nothing less than complete love and trust and the conviction of having done your duties to demand love like you deserve it. I can only hope to give back a fraction of what my sister has already given me.

And for being given the opportunity to do that, I must say I am blessed.

 

The Pink Chaddi (Underwear) Campaign February 11, 2009

Filed under: India,women — gurdas @ :

Stone-age fundamentalists attacked pub going women in Bangalore. See news clip here.

Women replied by starting a campaign to send the fundamentalists pink chaddis (underwears) this Valentine’s day. See Pink Chaddi blog here. And their facebook page is here.

The Pink Chaddi Campaign

The Pink Chaddi Campaign

I am completely bowled over by the ingenuity of this reply.  I see some faces going red over a lot of pink!

 

Of Menstruation and Menopause June 25, 2008

Filed under: life,Me,women — gurdas @ :
Tags: , ,

For more than 6 years now, ‘G’ (my house help) and I have been together. I believe we enjoy the working relationship that exists. I have found her to be particular about cleanliness and she meets the tough standards I set. Hopefully, I in turn have been a kind and loving employer. She goes out of her way to keep my house clean and I go out of my way to stand by her in whatever manner I can.

Recently she has been complaining of abdominal and chest pain. Some tests later, I found out that the problem is presence of Uterine Fibroids (Myomas). The doctors have advised a Hysterectomy.

I try and accompany ‘G’ to the doctor as often as I can. The consultations have flooded my vocabulary with terms associated with the female species. From the familiar Uterus and Ovaries to the distant Fallopian tubes and the not fully understood Menstruation and Menopause. And I am talking only of knowing what these organs and their major functions are. I dare not delve into my ignorance of subtle functions, side-effects, and the first hand knowledge a woman would have or atleast what a married man would have.

What Hysterectomy will you do: total or supracervical?
Should we consider Laparoscopic technique (increased expenses)?
What about Myomectomy?
Isn’t the Uterus of life long importance (wikipedia says so)?
Should we remove it (this should have been my first question)?

and some another few dozen questions I would like answered in ordinary language.

Now, all of this has overwhelmed me and I am somewhat embarrassed by my inability to hold a fuller discussion with the doctor. ‘G’s shyness is not helping either. Though the fact that she has taken the courage to end phone conversations with a nice ‘bye’ is promising.

Whoever said Ignorance is Bliss must have overlooked the peculiar plight of a single man, more familair with machines than females, having to assimilate complex subjects like Menstruation and Menopause.

 

Mother Hen! December 4, 2007

Filed under: Ethics and Values,family,life,women — gurdas @ :

Right now, there are women squabbling in the street outside my house.

And I simply cannot distinguish the sounds they are making from what I witnessed once at a hen coup.

So much for evolution.

 

Desperate Housewives October 13, 2007

“54% women back wife-beating” screamed the headline in today’s Times of India.

I read it again to make sure I read it right. Women supporting wife-beating? 54% of them?

Some other findings from the survey conducted in 28 states in India during 2005-2006:

– 51% men say it is OK for husband to beat his wife

– Over 40% of married women experience abuse at home

– 35% women were OK with being brutally assaulted by their husbands if they neglected household chores or their children

– Only 2% of abused women have ever sought police help

– Buddhist women (41%) report highest level of violence, followed by Muslim and Hindu women. Jain women face least violence (13%).

The last finding was another stunner. Buddhist women getting a rough deal from their Buddhist husbands? Not what I expected. How do survey people ensure their respondents are telling the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Maybe Buddhist women are more honest and so more got revealed. But then that still is 41% of them getting abused.

Compare this with a survey some days back that said “Indians are amongst the most satisfied with their lives”. Yeah, with such low expectations we are no doubt easily satisfied. Yogis, all of us.