January 27, 2009

Mangalore Horror - Attack against Women, Freedom and Tolerance

I study in Mangalore . It's a nice laid-back small city most of the time, with a few Hindu-Muslim riots in its history, nothing too sensational. Till two days ago. Then our little oasis proved itself to be full of shit. Let me tell you what happened. All the girls at my college were very excited about this new pub for a long time because it promised a big dance floor and a little class, something most places in Mangalore did not have. Because we were in the middle of exams, we didn't have time to go check the place out, and all of us went back to our homes right after. We had plans to come back as soon as classes started and party it up over there. Now, sitting in my grandma's house, watching the news, I feel helpless rage boiling over. I cannot do much but repeat the story and hope people will feel the same way.

It was any usual Saturday afternoon at the pub. Read, not night time. No dancing. Just lunch. Some Hindu fanatics of the group Ram Sena (nasty shit), about 40 of them, stormed the place and started hitting people. They chanted religious slogans. They rounded up some girls in the middle of the dance floor and did stuff to them. They slapped them. They pushed them to the floor and kicked them. They pulled down their pants. They took one girl's shirt off as they roughed her up. They groped all the girls, and pulled their hair. They laughed aloud in glee while doing it. They called the girls whores and sluts. They beat up the guys trying to defend the girls. These guys were the minority. Most just watched. When it was over (as in, the police arrived after ages), they left, unhindered, joyous and triumphant in their victory.

It got reported on TV . At first, as a small, breaking story and later on, as more and more people came to know and became outraged, it became national headlines. The initial reactions from Ram Sena, the group responsible were things like, "We did it to protect the decency and moral values of Indian women" and "We would have done it to our sisters if they were doing this" and funniest, "Girls and boys from different religions were dancing together".

Are these people fuckin' psycho? Or just plain stupid? How is taking a girl's shirt off, exposing her underwear, and groping her PRESERVING decency? And yeah, try doin' it to your sister, you piece of incestuous low-life shit. And it was lunch, for crying out loud. People don't grind while eating rice.

So now, what is happening? One of the biggest assholes in the whole deal, Prasad Attavara, the Vice President of the Ram Sena was arrested, and he didn't back down. He seemed quite proud of what his group "accomplished". I hope someone spits on his face when he's in custody or at the very least, pulls his pants down and cuts his dick off. Divakar Shetty , the "mastermind" behind the whole attack has gone into hiding. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Come on, you cowardly dick. You had the guts to get your little group to molest helpless women, now show your manliness. Come on. But he's nowhere to be found. The State Chief Minister is saying some bullshit. The only light in the darkness seems to be the National Commission for Women (NCW) which has formed a team to deal with the whole thing. Also, applause to Pavan Shetty, a good person who got beaten up for single-handedly trying to take on the mob. You are a hero, even if you don't get any award.

Hindu fanatics, Muslim fanatics, Christian fanatics. Down with them all. You think violence will get you to heaven? Wait till you die, you'll find out.
Fuck you, Prasad Attavara. Fuck your dirty unshaven face and your intolerant views and clothes. You should learn the alphabet and get a real job.
Fuck you Divakar Shetty. I hope the cave you are hiding in gives you syphilis.
Fuck both your wives for not divorcing you, and being docile, submissive, stupid bitches who put up with your bullshit.
Fuck you, all the men who touched those girls. You're on camera, bitch. And you'll get what's coming.
Fuck you Ram Sena, especially P. Muthalik (the founder), you bring disgrace to Hindus.

Once I get back in Mangalore, I'm going to that pub. And I'm going to toast to the resilience of all Indian women who dare to drink, dance, have fuckin' lunch and live their lives how they want. And I'm never going to be afraid.

Note: This is for real. It's happening in my country, in my city. See all the videos/links in this post. Pray for us, and all these blind, misguided fanatics. "Moral Police", my ass. We don't need that Taliban bullshit, thank you very much.

Update: One day later, Muthalik is in custody, thank God. There are protests going on in Mangalore and elsewhere. What touches my soul and warms my body like wine is that most of the protesters are women in saris, mostly over forty, who have never even had a drop of alchohol, let alone been in a pub! Thank you ladies. You're the only ones guarding the remnants of whatever dignity we have left.

Final Update: You CAN do something. Show your support and join the Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose and Forward Women here and on Facebook. They sent panties from all of us to Muthalik on Valentine's Day. In your face, bitch. Please do check it out and wish all Indian women luck.

January 23, 2009

Road to Grandma's

No!, I argue frantically with the auto driver. 40 bucks is hell lotta money. It was 30 last week. This is not fair... Come on... He shrugs and says, I'll drop you off at the bus stop near the place. Then you can walk. I need to eat too. I mumble under my breath the entire trip of ten minutes, hugging my knapsack close to me. Here, stop near this temple I say, and get off. I don't tip. I would have, but he was a mean, greedy person. I hoist my bag on my shoulders and walk past the small temple. There is a lone man standing outside, praying. He had both his hands above his head in a respectful gesture and seemed oblivious to the world. He had lots of oil on his hair and it was neatly brushed back, the red dot on his forehead mingling with his sweat. The temple was at a crossroads, and he was standing in the middle of the narrow street. I tried to siddle past, but I caught his attention. He stopped mid-prayer and let out a long whistle, craning his head to look at me as I walked past. Come on, I'm not THAT hot.

I was about to turn around and let him have a piece of my mind, mostly on the sanctity of worship, when there broke out a cacophony.The chickens from the butcher shop on the opposite side of the road had gotten out of their old, rusted box and were running up and down the road. The butcher and his boy started running too, the boy mostly for the fun of it. One chicken ran up to me and started nibbling at my shoes. Another started to shit about two feet away. I walked away fast.

I passed the church. I have come here several times with Grandma. It'a a quiet and unpretentious place. I don't stop though. It was a long journey and I'm almost there. I turn the bend and almost get knocked over by a cow. It was shitting too. Pang in the middle of the road. What is it about my country and animals shitting in the middle of the road. Indians abroad always laugh at the question frequently asked to them, "Do cows run on the road over there?" and they answer with an indignant "No!". In a way, that is true. The cows don't exactly run, they jus loll about, chillin'. Sometimes they have conferences too, mostly on highways. Funny as hell, except when you're in a hurry. We are a cow country. And big on chicken too.

The old Christian Mission school comes up on the left. It used to be a big deal once, funded by a lot of white people from Europe and the Americas. You were cool if you went there. That was two generations ago, though. Now, most of those people are dead, and their children couldn't care less, what with recession and mortgages and all. The only kids who go there now are either too broke, too high or too retarded to care. The board announcing the school's name is so rusted, you can't read it. I let out a sigh. There are lot of things I'd change if I had the money.

I reach the gate of my grandma's house. It's always been "grandma's", though grandpa lives there too. Dunno why. I say hello and walk straight to the fridge and drink a lot of cranberry juice. It's supposed to be good for her cancer. It's nice to be here again.

January 19, 2009

Notes From My Mobile

These are some random lines that I stored in my cell at various points in the last two years. I felt they were important enough to remember each time. The stuff in brackets are the explanations.

He felt real anger at the way I was degrading myself. He's a good friend.
(On Ashton, who is always there, getting really pissed and sulky when I do crazy shit.)

I'm the kind of girl who waits with her phone in her hands and her fingers on the green answer button for that one call she knows will never come.
(Self-analysis, after indifferent rejection by some guy whose face I don't recall anymore)

When life gives you lemons, just say fuck the lemons and bail.
(from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?)

I wanna say to her, shut up you pragmatic piece of shit. Let's be lazy and careless and awful. And totally, shockingly rude and disgusting for once.
(This is for Aura, she drives me up the wall with her righteousness. She stops me before I hit the roof and explode into curses, though. Usually.)

I can tell what you're thinking. I smoke weed so I know.

What you meant to me
Will eventually
Be a memory
(Linkin Park song - In the End. I don't like Linkin Park, but this rhyme sounds good and vaguely deep)

The ugliness finally seems to be really, that she could not see who she was.
(Profound end to a novel I will never write)

I have too much soul for most men to handle. They think I'm clingy, whiny and bossy but I burn, burn, burn all the fucking time. They cannot understand where all this uncomfortable energy is coming from. It's from my soul that just won't calm the hell down.
(Self-analysis, after learning that most men are NOT into moody sarcastic women who dress like homeless people)

Feel the rain on your skin. No one else can feel it for you.
(Song that plays at some point in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Uninspiring movie but this line struck a chord. I later found out it's from this song "Unwritten" by Natasha Beddingfield)

I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want.
(Muhammad Ali. I saw it on a crush's profile.)

Drowning in a society where I cannot accept the rules.
(When I was called to the administrative office for breaking hostel rules a few more times than thought appropriate or decent. Screw that, I say)

Can I play with madness?
(From some Iron Maiden song. NOT a fan... far from it... but the line caught my attention when a friend was shrieking the words in my ear.)

I fell before
The guns of paranoia
To the smiling cold below
Here I lie unshaken
Over the scarlet glow
Cover me up
Then let me be
I wish to die alone
(Obviously composed while enduring great pain, but wounds heal even if scars don't go away)

I'm Okay, You're Not So Hot
(Title of some book. Haven't read it, but can't be better than the title.)

Fairy tales are make-believe.
(One of Snoop Dogg's very few sensible songs, Ups and Downs.
“There will be, ups and downs, smiles and frowns
Share with me, fairy tales are make believe”)

All we can do is keep breathing.
(Ingrid Michaelson's song Beyond the Pale/Keep Breathing. They play it in Gray's Anatomy when Burke ditches Christina at the altar and she's standing there in the empty apartment alone and weeping. This line plays over and over in the song. Very dramatic. Of course I cried. A lot.)

Love such big mistakes in your life.
(I was sitting in an auto and feeling very miserable over several recent fuck-ups when I saw this drawn in a bright pink on the back of another auto. It cheered me up to no end)

I need to run and not be scared. I need to face myself.
(Before a Pediatric exam I didn't study for at all)

When real people fall down, they get right up and keep on walking.
(Opal Mehta's line in that book by Kavya V. I loved the story, true in many Indian families)

They say that anyone can hold the world in their hands if they want to. But I don't want to. I usually just crawl under it and sleep. A heavy blanket is a good one.
(After over-sleeping and forgetting to turn up for yet another exam)

Mommy it's dark in here.
(From some artwork by a schizophrenic patient. It's supposed to be a child's cry. It always makes me miserable, the whole idea. Babyhood and childhood are usually amazing times. At least they were for me.)

Why does it look like night today?
Something inside's not right today
Why am I so uptight today?
Paranoia's all I got left
(I must really like Linkin Park subconsciously because this is yet another line from them. Good lyrics though, I must admit. I just hate all the screaming and the piercings)

Everyday a million dreams die.
(When I really really wanted to go for the all-you-can-eat pizza thing and it got over just the day before I knew about it. Messed up)

January 14, 2009

The Fine Art of Letting Go

Of course I'm talking about excretion, what else? It is such an important topic, I'm surprised at the lack of information about it except in my medical texts, and those are very technical and boring. Excretion, that is, micturating and shitting, are arts, learnt by years of experience and mistakes. Of course, the very act is easy, but the perfection, the skill required to take a good shit every day...my friend, that knowledge is priceless. Back home, there are racks in the toilet where mags and book are stacked neatly for the use of any person on the potty. I was always disgusted at the idea of reading while letting it out. How can you? It's like trying to paint while playing a violin! This means that though it can be done, the joy of doing them is lost. So what are the basics for good shitting experiences? First, choose a quiet time of day. This is elementary, because too many people running around and yelling outside the door can disturb your biological rhythms. Next, seating yourself correctly is vital. Do it gently, after taking a deep breath. Do a little swirl in the air with your bum and then settle down. Exhale. Now gently, gently oh so slowly relax those anal muscles and let go. Do NOT get up unless the masterpiece is complete. Get up as gracefully as you sat down and do look over your art. Please do go now and practice. And give the credit where it is due. Thank you.

January 11, 2009

A bitterness

Not rotten
Just broken
Something inside
Is not quite

Petty desire
Eons away
Quickening step
And the magnets move

Late at night
Rest arrives
Never narcissistic
But pretty damn

Mirror mirror
Not you daughter
Can't make the cut
Others will have

Sunny evenings
Communion and beer
Chide so soft
Knows to be

Smashed core
An accident
Childish declarations
Don't want to feel

January 05, 2009

My Extra Dimension

I have severe alcohol poisoning. Last night was a night of drinking to get wasted. Vodka, rum, whiskey. We finished it all up. My stomach unpleasantly contracts and I kept throwing up even the little water I tried to drink. I lie in bed all day.

My friends call. Come eat something.

I eat my first meal in 24 hours. We ordered in.

I am silent today. I don't respond to the good-natured teasing like how I normally would. I feel quite content and extremely drained. I feel.. slow.

Have you noticed how she's not herself? She didn't yell even once. She didn't even roll her eyes. And, and look, she's not spilling any of her food. She's sitting like a lady.

No, they tell me as I mildly protest. You're different somehow today. It's like the neurons that normally fire so bloody fast and frenzied aren't.

Probably destroyed by the alcohol, I joke. They don't laugh.

You're not even feeling insulted. You're more like us today. You are normal today.

Normal. Am I normal? This is not normal for me.

Yes, but now you're normal like all of us.

All of them. Five other girls in the room. I study them quietly. All so different from each other. Intelligent, pretty, funny girls, each incredibly talented. They are all grouping themselves together. They consider themselves “us”. As against me.

Now maybe you'll actually have to study to pass. Maybe for once you'll fail and know how it is to study so hard and not remember during exams.

Don't say that, I reprimand. Quite gently. That's all. I realize I really am not being myself. I know how I would have reacted to that. I would have said, you're such a bunch of bitches. How dare you want me to fail? I'm your friend, you should be happy that I pass. Do you know how it feels to want to study but be unable to sit down even for ten minutes? There's so much more to life than these stupid exams. So much more. People are so made for so much more... we all are. Don't you get it?

I would have gone on and on, explaining stuff that they wouldn't understand, or didn't want to. But I stay silent today.

Maybe I have an extra dimension, I suggest. That just got ripped off with the excessive alcohol toxins in my brain.

That's what I've always thought, she blurted without thinking. I've always thought you had that additional dimension that made you so... so... I don't know... psychotic and quick and over-reacting. This is how it is for us. Life is really this slow. That's why we are not bored all the time like you are.

There is a pause, a dreaded silence, an expectation of a tremendously emotional outburst from me, the breaking of a dam.

My mind wanders.

I do have another dimension. It's not something that makes me smarter, though. It's this capacity to feel. To feel so much that it colors everything I do. To feel so much that I react violently to every situation, even my education, which doesn't seem to matter like it does to everyone else. My extra dimension. It interferes with every little part of my life.

One of my favorite things to do is put myself in the place of someone, anyone and actually know how it is to be them. Imagine for instance, being a girl of seventeen in the Victorian age. I imagine how my long dress would feel like. My legs would be constantly sweating of course, because of the yards of material around it. All the other girls would be sweating too. Everyone would sweat. There was no air-conditioning or fans. I'd imagine all the things I would say to my parents and my little sisters, and what my social rank would be. I imagine the balls, the handsome man everyone wants me to marry, but whom I'm completely unattracted to. I imagine being unhappy at a time when depression was unheard of, and definitely not for women. I imagine not being able to quiet my spirit by playing basketball or writing sad poems or bawling on the phone to startled friends. I imagine thinking, this is how women should be. We should suffer because that is how we are made. Then I get all sad and weepy, and lie crying for ages, when in reality I'm me, not this tragic maiden I made up in my head who lived so long ago. It's my special dimension acting up.

My friends are careful what they say to me. They measure every word because they know it means a very different thing to me. It means more than it does, more than it possibly could. If they tell me I'm unladylike when I drop food, they know to me, it is an insult to my very being. It is an insult to my childhood and my parents because it means they didn't bring me up well. It means they are cursing my life and its existence. They are saying, I wish your mom strangled you as a child so you didn't have to grow up to be so ungraceful. I will be up in an instant, raging and spitting foul language at them for no reason they can think of. My dimension is killing me.

After sleeping tonight, my neurons will probably regenerate and I'll be myself again. 

But today. 

Today, I'd like to say thank you to everyone for letting me be.

Today I'm normal.

Today, I'm not me.