mAvErIck spEAks

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Are we being too utopian…

Another rape in the city and it starts all over again. This, it seems, has become a usual ritual now. Every time we witness an incident in which a girl’s life gets shattered and her soul mutilated, left alone to face the wrath of cruel fate, we suddenly get out of our slumber and our hibernating conscious yells at the top of its voice against this mistreatment. How dangerous the city has grown for girls; how sex starved the society has become; how insensitive we have turned to women; these are the usual thoughts, which emerge in the media, reflecting what society thinks, the day after the incident. Another round of rallies, press conferences and questioning in the parliament; every one seems to try to gain political mileage; a part of that ritual. But all this is no good, as far as these reoccurring incidents are concerned. The number of rapes, attempted rape or for that matter the cases of girls being harassed in buses, market places or secluded spots are not decreasing but only on a high, everywhere in the country, be it villages, small cities or metropolitans. Many factors are to be blamed; even those who pretend to be safe guarding society’s interests. Media is not sacrosanct too. I’ll talk about that in next posts, but first about the incident which once again hogged a bigger chunk of the total newsprint on Monday. The north eastern girl who was picked up and raped by 4 of the men (who by any standards don’t deserved to be identified as humans) in the middle of the night; at 2 a.m., to be precise.

Keeping all my sensibilities intact, diverting all my sympathies towards that girl and her family, and heaping all my hate to those maniacs, I argue, the girl was equally responsible for her fate today. Without being philosophical let me put my logic clearly and simply.

What would you do if you were a puny buck in the jungle, where a tiger was always on the prowl? What would you do if you were to share the only pond in the jungle for water with that mighty beast? Of course you wouldn’t venture out at a time when the tiger is expected at the pond for water, if you are with some brain. And if you don’t, you’ll be his dinner soon. The moral of the story is that, if you know that a danger lurks there, avoid it, unless you really want to encounter it and give it a fight. But in no times have we heard a buck giving a fight to a tiger. I am exactly putting this story in an urban context. No I am not saying that we live in a jungle, but is it less than a jungle?

That girl did the same mistake. At 2 a.m. in the night, anybody would think twice to venture out, leaving one’s safe digs. Delhi is notorious for all the things, which anybody would disgust. Rash driving, drunkard brawls, midnight loots, prostitution, rapes; you name it and it is here. In a situation like this, is it safe to step out of your dwellings after a deadline?

Let’s try to pick bits and draw a blueprint of what may have happened that night – these two girls, who according to some, went out for a tea brake; some midnight snack; for just taking a walk after a long study session at a spot like that, which is already notorious for many anti social activities. These men, must be high on booze, as it was a Saturday night may have assumed that either these two girls are prostitutes, or just two helpless girls and picking those up would guarantee a free sex, in either of the cases, as it was thick dark and an odd hour of the night. Unfortunately, they were proved helpless girls. Many other post crime theories may erupt as we go into the forensic details and that’s almost insignificant here. The point is that we mustn’t forget that we are the most efficient custodians of our safety and no one else. We are not living in a utopian society, where everything is sacrosanct and morality rules. No country in the world, no society is a utopian society and it’s foolish to expect it. When the rule of the jungle prevails, remember, the fittest survives.

There is so much love in the air...(final chapter)

I am neither against love or lovers nor I am a fanatic fuelled by the rhetoric of so called "moral police". I just want to know that why do we need to give a cheap tag to an emotion like love and give people an opportunity to raise their eyebrows. India holds such a rich tradition of love, that it has almost become a synonym to the "Mecca of love". Can we forget the legends like Laila-Majnu, Heer-Ranjha, Sohni-Mahiwal and so on, who trace their origin in Indian sub continent? As far as I recollect, their history never tells us that their love displayed any sort of indecency. In the same country, the situation is, "there is so much love in the air that one feels suffocated". We are bent upon maligning the name of love by our stupid acts. I feel that in recent times, love is losing its significance, innocence, nobility and purity. We are responsible for this decay.If we say that couples indulged in romance have no place to gather and go on with their fulfillment of old promises and make new ones, then we are wrong. Restaurants, fast-food joints and cinema halls in the city offer opportunity to these couples to come and enjoy their rendezvous filled with fun. Moreover college and university campuses, shopping complexes serve the purpose where no one bothers them and nobody is disturbed by their irresponsible behavior. This was just one example. The scene by and large is same in every place in the country. Be it Mumbai or Delhi, Chennai or Kolkatta, Lucknow or Ahemdabad. Can somebody explain to me one single reason, why historical monuments serve as a meeting place for these lovers or how scratching their names on the walls of these monuments help making their love immortal. I sometimes wish the authorities increase the entry fee for the local visitors and impose heavy fines on people found defacing the walls. So those only serious visitors could visit the place. I think we need to learn a thing or two from those foreign tourists, who come every year in a large number to India, about maintaining the decorum of the monumental sites, because they pay greater respect to our historical monument. Anybody is listening.


There is so much love in the air...(part three)

But this is not what I intended to tell you. All these matters are related to maintenance and upkeep and the authorities are supposed to do the needful (as we keep pinning all our hopes on them). I wanted to tell you something with which we are related directly. How many times did we curse government not to oblige its duty properly or perfectly? Moreover, exactly how many times did we look into ourselves, try to identify our responsibilities? This is a question we often want to escape. However, this is the time to face it. Are we losing our civic sense, or are we making a mockery of Democracy? What I saw inside "Jantar-Mantar" tells me that we Indians have no respect for our national monuments and we do not bother about maintaining the sanctity of the place as old as Jantar-Mantar which holds historical as well as scientific significance. All this just because we are the citizens of a Democratic country. Does that mean we can do anything we like? Democracy bestows to an individual many rights and a great amount of freedom. One thing leads to another. We often mistake freedom as a liberty to go overboard doing things, and in the end, we mar the spirit of freedom. I saw not one, not two but at least a dozen of love birds lying behind the trees, on the stairs in the structures, inside the portals and almost every place where they could find a space to hide and romance. This shameless demonstration of romance leaves the visitors uncomfortable, particularly one who visits with the families. These young couples, disregarding the stares of the people, continue to exhibit the proceedings of their warm and tender love. Not only this, but some of the over enthusiastic couples scratch their love stories with their initials on the historical structure. Now we can find more "Hearts, pierced with arrows" scratched on the structure than the scales, which were engraved to calculate astronomical calculations.

continued in one more post...

There is so much love in the air...(part two)

I was surprised to see that the ticket rates for Indians were Rs/-5 per head and Rs/-100 for the foreign visitors. I wonder how relevant it is with the policy of promoting tourism. Anyway, we can leave this to policy makers and proceed inside the observatory where a plush ground awaits us with a variety of beautiful flowers. Green grass covers this ground as a green carpet with brown patches where grass has turned brown as it was dried up. There were signboards requesting the visitors not to walk on grass or pluck flowers. But as usual I saw my fellow countrymen, defying all the signboards, enjoying their share of mellowed sunshine in wintry afternoon, lying on the grass. On moving forward, I saw those tremendously built structures, which at one time were great instruments of astronomical calculations. Today its condition is so pathetic that Sawai Raja Jai Singh, the man who built this extremely intelligent piece of astronomical science, must be turning in his grave. Its dilapidated state is an issue of concern to the authorities. This model of astronomical science can be maintained if they once resolve to do it. I was wonder struck to see those astronomical structures but there was nobody to explain how they were used to observe the planetary movements. Visitors need some help to understand these structures and their functioning, but it seems the authorities believe every visitor is a scholar of astrophysics or astronomy.

continued in two more posts...

There is so much love in the air...

In the age of multiplexes, shopping malls, and fun parks, we do not feel the dearth of places to visit and have fun with friends and family. But once in a while, we do like to visit our national monuments and places of historical interest, which are now lamenting over their sad state of neglect. Being in Delhi, which has quite a good number of monuments, I was struck with the idea of visiting "JANTAR-MANTAR", the famous observatory of Sawai Raja Jai Singh, which I had never visited before. However, I feel sad now of having visited the place.

On a chilly winter afternoon, I along with my cousin and two of his friends were roaming around Canaught Place, busy market place in Delhi. Festive season was on and that is why we could see quite a number of people enjoying their time. We, after roaming a lot decided to watch the movie "Die Another Day", the latest of Bond movies, running at Plaza Theatre near by. The show was to commence at 3.30 p.m. and we had almost two hours to kill. Suddenly I came up with the idea of visiting "Jantar-Mantar". My cousin and his friends agreed as none of them had visited the place. That is how we came to a decision, which led us to this ancient observatory.

I was happy to see a considerable number of visitors at the ticket counter and inside the "Jantar-Mantar". Please do not think that I am writing a travelogue or an essay on "How I spent a day with my friends". In fact no one in his right frame of mind would entertain this piece to come in the light unless one is really short of some readable material. I am writing this out of sheer frustration. What I saw inside "Jantar-Mantar" was so loath some and disgraceful that I tried to figure out what message is it sending out to the rest of the world through the foreign visitors who visit the places of bygone era.

continued in three more posts...