Touching it gently, I experienced a pain so dull that I stifled a yawn. As the minutes passed, the eye felt heavy and the lid turned pink and bulbous. Now, this was something I could deal with. I like visible signs, something to tell me that even if I am on the wrong road it is the wrong road. How often have I mistaken right for wrong and wrong for right. Roads. I am talking about roads; you might include bylanes and thoroughfares and highways and mud-tracks. They are all roads that lead somewhere.
The infection turned out to be a sty. I called up the chemist. He sent me eye drops, though he recommended something else, “Use this ointment, it will heal faster.” I am in no hurry. Nothing heals faster. Faster than what? And I don’t like the greasy feel of ointment in my eye. I put in two drops in the affected eye and one in the other eye, just in case it decided to show sympathy. Laying there in bed, I felt them stinging. I imagined ants walking in the whites and moving towards the iris and then settling down on the retina, dilating my pupils and forming an anthill.
Try and understand. Pain makes you alive to many possibilities. You are like an open pore, anything can enter.
That evening I went out, all dressed up, with one eye swollen pink. I could have applied an eye-shadow on the other one to make both look similar, but I liked the difference. One wide-eyed and curious; the other heavy and laden with some vicious fluid that had deposited itself within. It is strange that on a day when we were celebrating me, I was getting comfortable with the dichotomy. I have come to realise that stasis of any sort would make me tetchy. If nothing else, I probably need to take myself apart, gather the pieces and put them together.
The next morning I looked at the sky. It was a light grey. There did not appear to be any obvious cloud formations.
How often do we look up at the sky for its own sake, just because it is a sky and does not have to hold the burden of stars and the moon and the sun and comets and rainbows? I liked this sky. It was a blank canvas. I wanted no colour on it, no distractions.
Today, as I uploaded the picture, I decided to darken it…and in the dark there indeed were clouds.
I knew there would be. But the image I saw and captured is the sky without anything. The sky alone, unadorned and yet so stoic.
I shall forever look at skies differently. The sky for sky’s sake.
However, there have been more contemporary songs that have used the Bollywood formula and created a language quite different.
Chupke se is the Angel factor of love. The imagery is soft and flowing. There seems to be no hurry…in fact, there is time to talk…about poetry by Mir (Taqi Mir) to the strains of Raga Marwa…
haule haule marwa ke raag mein
Mir kee baat ho
* Movie: Saathiyaa
* Singer(s): Sadhana Sargam, Murtaza, Qadir
* Music Director: A R Rahman
* Lyricist: Gulzar
* Actors/Actresses: Rani Mukherjee, Vivek Oberoi
* Year: 2002
At the simplest level, the next song may not appear too different. Watch it closely. There is something animalistic in the movements, the expressions – they flow not outward but inward, as in reaching a yogic trance through some much disciplined movements to climax. The sublime is sexual.
Interestingly, it is a long song and yet there is a frenzy. For me the brilliant touch is the use of a classic Ghalib verse that is woven into the lyrics, “Ishq par zor nahin”. (There is no force in love). The lovers are challenging each other, and they do it with the arsenal of lust. Note the voice dropping several octaves, a voice in the throes of passion, a voice inviting punishment:
* Movie: Dil Se
* Singer(s): Kavita Krishnamurthy, Sonu Nigam
* Music Director: A R Rahman
* Lyricist: Gulzar
* Actors/Actresses: Manisha Koirala, Shah Rukh Khan
* Year: 1998
Would you like a ‘Quadruple Bypass Burger’? Would you like to get a heart attack? At 8000 calories, the juicy stacked snack that is served at the Heart Attack Grill in Chandler, Arizona, comes with a medical disclaimer.
Is this supposed to be funny? The restaurant has a hospital theme, the staff are dressed as nurses and after the patient/patron has eaten, s/he is given a wheelchair ride.
I wanted to puke just reading about it. Not because of the burger but due to how completely stupid we are becoming as a society. It is a mockery of illness, of those who genuinely suffer, of the very idea of excess.
A parody is fine on stage or writing. But this is luring people into believing they can taste risk. In a country where people are sued for coffee that is too hot, I do not understand this mindless attempt at innovative hospitality.
You might well counter with the argument that people are going there, which means they do find it interesting. People go on rollercoaster rides, scream their lungs out and then want to repeat it. Like bungee jumping. These are risks taken with the knowledge that one is brave and fearless. It is about testing one’s mettle, not the organs in one’s body.
I wonder how this sort of thing is permitted. Next someone will serve contaminated food or a bar will offer you piss with a disclaimer.
Why don’t people just poke their fingers into electrical sockets and be done with their fun?
"You wrote a long article on Jackson but no mention of his being our brother in Islam.Are you denying it?Are you not wanting to understand Islam when people are coming to it?What use analyzing when he is gone to Allah." The tone of the note was deadpan.
Today, a friend sent me a message asking if he would be buried. When I chided him in response, he retorted, "Aap kafir?" (Are you an infidel?)
I'd say my friend was merely curious and it was banter. But, what about that note? Why is his conversion of any consequence in death? If he did convert due to his convictions, then his belief was valid when he was alive. Allah would have mattered to him if he felt the need when he was here. There is absolutely no reason for people to make claims on him only because he chose a certain faith. Let us not forget that in some societies where this faith is followed as a political credo music, even if it is played in devout ecstacy, is considered blasphemous. These double standards do not do much for religion or for music.
The other query not posed to me but insinuated about the media is that everyone was jumping in to have their say. Are we mere voyeurs? I have blamed the media often and some of the stuff being churned out is silly, like Indian newspapers discussing about the political ramifications of his Mumbai concert in 1996. Or putting up tasteless old jokes. However, there have been some interesting opinions and as I was telling someone for me understanding pop culture is about exploring social mores.
I got another interesting letter where the person contradicted me saying that women did swoon over him. My response is that unlike Elvis, the Beatles, Sinatra in his prime or even Mick Jagger, Jackson outside the stage arena did not have that effect. And it was a good thing, as good as his rejection of American pie-ism.
- - -
My mother introduced me to Michael Jackson. One day when I returned home late, I could hear sounds from the telly. It wasn’t sounds I was accustomed to. Sounds of a weepy woman in a soap, sounds of some wonderful old Hindi movie song, sounds of the phone ringing, sounds of waiting…my mother was waiting. I rang the doorbell and walked into the room. The TV was on and a man was singing even as he moved.
I knew it was Michael Jackson, but I did not know my mother would be watching him, listening to him. English was not the primary language of communication at home. Our music was Indian semi classical, old Hindi film songs, some folk, some Sufi.
Yet, Ammi often switched on MTV. When I asked her why, she said it was a relief from all the same news, news about deaths, about destruction or telly serials where everyone was either dying or living deaths. She enjoyed what this guy did. So I grabbed my dinner plate and started watching him. Transfixed.
I did not know his religion but I could see he worshipped music.
by Farzana Versey
Counterpunch, June 26-26
There may never be a Graceland for Michael Jackson. He was the wrong kind of Bad. He could not be the rake you would love to hate. He did not have the charisma that made women go weak in their knees. If he ever took out his shirt to throw at the audience, they would see his skeleton covered with skin.
He died long ago. And was born many times. It was the rebirth of a wilful retard. Oscar Wilde wrote, “For he who lives more lives than one more deaths than one must die."
Some might say he does not even deserve a tribute because he was accused of several crimes. Social morality is as pat as it is divisive. The American media made late-night jokes of his exploitation which proved just how exploitative they were.
If he was a joke, then it is more likely it was, as Bob Fosse said, in the Charlie Chaplin mould. He was the quintessential tragi-comic hero. Dangerous more to himself than anyone else.
Chaplin explained to Mark Sennett how he worked on the tramp character in these words: “You know this fellow is many-sided – a tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure. He would have you believe he is a scientist, a musician, a duke, a polo player…However, he is not above picking up cigarette butts or robbing a baby of its candy…”
Between a lost childhood and delayed adulthood, Jackson created an adolescent haven. Neverland was his utopia – a teenaged Shangri-La of fairytale rides and bubbles that never burst and chocolates that didn’t melt; it was a protection from a world that was not growing up but moving away. He could not grasp it. He was losing it. There was no boyish mop, no sideburns, no devilish rolling stone, no dervish rant. Imagine, no Imagine!
Jane Fonda got it right when she said, “His intelligence is instinctual and emotional, like a child's. If any artist loses that childlikeness, you lose a lot of creative juice. So Michael creates around himself a world that protects his creativity.”
He was comfortable with older women because they comforted the child in him, the thumb-sucker.
He was the wilful arbiter of his own life. Michael in the raw stood for something intangible. The emotional possession was cut short at some point. It was then that he made bold to insinuate that we liked him for his inadequacies, not ours. He made us feel good about ourselves.
How must it feel to be man, woman, child and product, all rolled into one, fashioned into a most exquisite piece of crystal, but always afraid of the mere nudge that could drop you to the floor into a thousand shards, each with a distinct identity and that terrible piercing feeling? Like a gymnast on a beam who wanted to perform a perfect 10, he was not unduly worried about falling down because there was a safety net.
He took umbrage in asexuality. Chaplin had chosen this path for a while and reasoned that like Balzac who believed that a night of sex meant the loss of a good page of his novel it took away precious time. It was only natural then for Michael who wanted to give a lot and take a lot to be lost to himself. He unabashedly created an androgynous persona and wanted to look and sing like Diana Ross at a high feminine pitch.
To make up for this sexuality-denying gesture, he performed the public shag. He was thrusting it in the faces of the spectators. According to an American critic, it was "to reassure himself the arguably Virgin King keeps publicly touching it".
It would appear that much like the low whisper which seemed to hold secrets he was rising above the body to become "someone who has connected with every soul in the world".
If Chaplin was inspired by the two world wars and the Depression, Michael had the Gulf War and the post-Woodstock yuppie punks to cater to. The gizmos he used onstage were those in-your-face things that appealed to the me-too generation of pretender beatniks.
There was orgiastic release through sex and scandal, but it had the veneer of ‘I smoked but did not inhale’ and the crustacean judicial impeachment that was rather soft within. Michael did not have too many social messages. He was the social message. However absurd may have been his attempts to become fair, straighten his hair, sharpen his nose, soften his lips, he was caricaturing himself. Is that why he rehearsed for hours in a room without mirrors? Was he avoiding his own image, the creation of a persona that he thought would be deemed acceptable? He was escaping Black and therefore rarely spoke up for it. He was the caustic commentary of our times.
He wasn’t trying to be the White man; he was only wearing a mask. He was telling them, “You're throwing stones to hide your hands”. He always wore gloves, diamond-studded gloves, and rhinestone jackets. He did not want to play the poor guy with Harlem knocking on his door wearing baggy trousers and a baseball cap, walking like he would in the streets looking for leftovers. He was the boy who had made it. He was not going to be apologetic about it.
He chose the moonwalk, a formless form, where the ground was never too close and yet not too far. “Who am I, to be blind? Pretending not to see…”
For him the baubles were discardables, a stinging statement on the state of entertainment itself, which is why he truly began to perform only when shorn of all those appendages, punishing his sinewy body to perform impossible feats because somewhere deep down he felt, "though you do not need me now, I will stay in your heart".
Unlike many pop icons, he broke the barriers of restrictive nationalism and race, and gender too. The oxygen mask he wore was perhaps not to protect him but to create an illusion of posterity. His own little tribute to the breath of life, a self-created obituary: "Just call my name and I'll be there."
Nothing can beat it.
I travelled towards a dead end
I wear them
Smelling of mothballs
Dreams begin to dread
When they hear
The night is near
Voyeur shoes laugh
I'll pass you
And keep the sea
My body is like clay
You have to mould it
Before you can break it
Everytime you shut
The breeze in your room dies
In traffic snarls you discover
Green signals mean nothing
You can't move ahead
False hope flounders
A wish that could be fulfilled
Is led astray
A page in the diary
Yesterday never happpened
He is a brand. He could stick anything out and it would sell. He chose his tongue. As tongues go, it is decent enough. Not too long, not too short, not dry, not slobbering. I wish the picture were in colour so I could ‘read’ it more clearly. The shade of the tongue tells you a lot. I wish I could see taste buds. Or little lines running across and meeting each other.
This tongue is political, though. Albert Einstein was not caught in a candid moment; he showed his tongue to photographers and later wrote that his gesture was aimed at all of humanity.
The tongue jutting out can be an apologetic gesture in some cultures or a cocking a snook in many. It is frisky and it aims at reducing others to blubbering idiots by playing a blubbering idiot.
That is why I like Einstein. It has nothing to do with his E=Eminem square or whatever. But why aim it at humanity? Humanity is about humanism. Humanism isn’t about the Red Scare or the McCarthy anti-Communist hearings of the 1950s, which he said was the reason he did what he did.
Old Albert, I think, was a smart fellow. He probably dropped a consonant while speaking or maybe found a button missing from a part of his clothing and in that ‘oops’ moment his tongue just pushed against his grimacing lips and hung there, desolate and wet. He had to do something about it, so he went into those explanations.
It really does not matter. Someone paid $74,324 to get a signed picture of him.
"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." - Einstein
Here are 7 pictures of European trucks whose trailers are decorated to look like the sides are missing and the products they are hauling are painted on the sides and back.
With legs that tickled I could have mistaken it for tenderness. But that leap had put me off. I had almost seen its teeth, pointy and sharp, wanting to grab bites of me. That image stayed. I moved slowly towards the wash-basin and shook it off. That is all it took. That is all it takes. Just shake things off and they are gone. Gone? No. It tried to run, not away from me but towards me. What did it want?
If I waited any longer I knew it would leap again. I took a deodorant and started spraying,aiming at it. I am allergic to pesticides. At least, I think I am. The deodorant was a lemon fragrance. I kept spraying and watching it writhe, perhaps in pain, perhaps for life. The bathroom smelled of lemon drops. I felt it on my tongue, my skin, even my eyes blinked off lemon tears. The cockroach lay there. I picked it up with a tissue and flushed it down.
I went to wash my hands. In the mirror I saw a cockroach with legs. I went closer to kill it. These were my eyes and my lashes.
Creatures from nowhere…
The demands for more are not unusual. Many women in our society are told to expect better lives, better opportunities to do things after they are married, things they are denied in their parental homes. She is transferred from one ‘boss’ (the father) to another (the husband).
Therefore, when I read about this guy called Aman complaining it seemed plausible. Him being beaten up also wasn’t really way-out impossible. But him shooting the whole scene while he was being thrashed with a broom does seem a bit stagey.
Video grabs of the clip the victim shot while he was allegedly being beaten up by his wife for failing to purchase a flat. The last grab shows an injury he suffered due to the beatings
Since both have filed non-cognisable offences are various times at the police station, to say that this was to produce as evidence is unusual. Did he know when she would start beating him? Did she not grab the camera when she saw it? If it was carefully hidden, then how did he manage to get fairly clear grabs of her in the act?
There are several cases with the police station, and he is a bus driver, so I am surprised it became a media story. Obviously, everyone wants a bit of the limelight and life has become a reality show. The newspaper also had a picture of the couple on their wedding day.
This man is very savvy. After saying that his wife has left several times, he approached a NGO, the ‘Madat Seva Sanstha’.
“Despite our fights, I prefer to live with my wife, as we have a five-year-old daughter. When women face such problems, they usually approach NGOs. Hence, I thought of approaching them to save my marriage.”
Very few women do, and they don’t take pictures when they are being beaten up.
HIV-positive woman branded
An HIV-positive woman was branded stuck with a label that read ‘HIV Serum positive’ on her forehead and paraded through the wards in a Rajkot, Gujarat, hospital to “warn other patients about her status’’. Only corpses are labelled after post-mortem.
That this was done by medical professionals is itself cause for concern. She was pregnant and had gone for a check-up; they suggested an abortion. After she underwent the surgery, this was done. A voluntary organisation that visited her house found out that her husband too was HIV-positive. She has been so troubled that she wants to end her life because of the humiliation.
The nurses and doctors responsible for this ought to be arrested. We live in a society where such a stigma will follow her forever. All efforts to educate people don’t serve any purpose if we are to continue in this manner of public display of degradation. If people who are supposed to know better don’t understand, how can the layperson? If they were concerned about her spreading the disease, they could have told her to stay away from other patients; it is not as though people were thronging to meet her because she underwent an abortion.
Worth his weight?
Being Under-Secretary-General in the United Nations is one thing – it helps you get a ticket to many goodies, including the Indian Parliament and a ministerial berth. I thought Shashi Tharoor would at least bring in some newness and steer clear of religion as a publicity stunt. No such luck.
Here he is performing before god and the worshippers (and the electorate?):
Union minister Shashi Tharoor performs ‘thulabharam’, a ritual in which devotees offer goods equal to their weight to the deity, at the Guruvayoor temple on Sunday
- - -
Results of blog poll:
Which case must be acted upon first
1984 anti-Sikh riots - 8 (44%); 1993 Bombay riots - 4 (22%); 2002 Gujarat riots - 6 (33%); Afzal Guru -7 (38%); Ajmal Kasab - 4 (22%)
I am happy that the few who do visit this blog at least have their priorities right.
This email is for those who are not conspiracy theorists but who are intelligent and open minded enough to hear out arguments that do not concord with the 'official' and 'politically correct' version of events.
These videos show respectable people -- mostly Americans -- who are, or have been, engineers, physicists, airline pilots, military pilots, air traffic controllers, intelligence officers, FBI agents, high ranking military officers, high ranking diplomats, elected members of legistative bodies like national parliaments, business executives and survivors from the Twin Towers who "were there" and family members of the victims along with several other credible witnesses who make very convincing arguments that the 9/11 official version of events is a BIG LIE.
You must see ALL 12 parts ... This is not sensational journalism. I wouldn't waste your time...
"People should be ashamed for not seeking the truth" A bereved father of a 9/11
1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5thLh7UuaM&NR=1 ( view time 7 min 7 sec)
2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1JMQc5piPk&NR=1 (5 min 36 sec)
3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp86ZdMkw0o&NR=1 (9 min 54 sec)
4) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpnXRe7yPb8&feature=related (6 min 9 sec)
5) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0GIQSovhBQ&feature=related (8 min 5 sec)
6) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CA8Ru71vyvA&feature=related (9 min 55 sec)
Those who are taking up for him come up with the same old argument that the Prophet would forgive him. Please. Prophets and gods and other religious figures need to concentrate on more important issues, like there is very little water left in the dams in Mumbai and if we don’t get rain on time many people, mostly the poor, will suffer a great deal. Do something about that.
Those who say he is wrong have gone and filed a FIR (First Information Report) against him for using “unparliamentary language” against Prophet Mohammed.
When the Prophet lived there was no Parliament or parliamentary language, no Bollywood, no stupid Lifestyle magazines trying to ask supposedly profound questions to celebrities about religion and politics and history.
Who are these Muslim groups that spring up and decide what Islam is?
They say they won’t bury him in Maharashtra. Was the Prophet Maharashtrian or something?
Why does the media ask him about Islam? He is not a scholar or commentator or a victim of riots. It is a stupid interview.
Q: According to you, who is the most impressive figure in history?
A: There are lots of them, some negative ones like Hitler, then Napoleon, Winston Churchill and if I can call it history, then Prophet Mohammed and from recent time — Nelson Mandela. And there are the nice ones like Gandhiji and Mother Teresa.
The question was about history, not religion. Both sides are ignorant. You might well say that religions have historical roots, fine. But we do not discuss the war of Karbala as history, do we?
It is a badly constructed reply…I mean, “nice ones” for Gandhiji and Mother Teresa! But even if he placed the Prophet alongside Adolf Hitler, it would be his personal viewpoint. I want to ask those Muslims who have been denying the Holocaust on what grounds can they object to this, if indeed it was uttered? If there was no Holocaust then Hitler wasn’t such a bad guy, after all. So, make up your minds and grow up.
Now, Sharukh says there is no more important figure than the Prophet. If he has been misquoted then he should publicly take the person/magazine to court since the matter is so important and he wants to play the perfect Muslim. I wish these people had the courage to stand up for their utterances. If the rich and famous cannot do so, then can you imagine the state of the poor? The Imranas suffer because the powerful guys want to play along. He wants to please the mullahs and the media. He has called it an error in writing, not outright mischievous misreporting. Although, it is clear it is bad writing.
As for the reason touted by those for filing a case against him, if your sentiments are hurt then say a few prayers and ask god for forgiveness on his behalf till he returns from shooting. Later, you could sprinkle as much zam zam on him as you want to purify him. And make sure you call a press conference to project your sad selves as good Muslims.
Good to know. I have mentioned about chewing paper, too. But mine is metaphor. Chew paper. Drink ink. Swallow words. Suck thoughts. Make loud slurping sounds so that those thoughts seem gauche and ugly. Then show them the mirror. See the mirror blur. Thought tears. Tears or tears? Noun or verb?
Don't care. Stop there. Chew the end of the tear. Both noun and verb.
Try it. Weep a little, pick up a drop and place it in your mouth. Chew it. It will feel like glue.
Try it. The torn end can be chewed and die. Like killing death.
Was the fly a sucker, as in naïve and vulnerable, or was it the sort of insect that sucks and feeds on blood? In either case, the Prez has got himself a new pun: “SWAT Operation”. I am sure someone at the White House must be thrilled to bits.
Watch the man in action here being interviewed by John Harwood and his ‘flyotus interruptus’:
For all his efforts, some people are not happy. As expected PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) thinks it amounts to cruelty to animals and are sending him some device to trap house flies that can be released outside.
This wasn’t a house fly. It was a fly on the make, trying to get its 15 minutes of fame before the cameras by getting too close to the most powerful man in the world. It isn’t something that happens to mere mortals. The fly could have been a mole, the fly could have been something from the past – skeletons are rather passé, the fly might have been the head of a cult called The Fliers whose sole purpose is to make the high and mighty get a laugh at their expense, you know like David Letterman. Or, the fly could have been an innocent victim that got trapped inside and was rather famous among its own. In that case, this wasn’t simple murder but assassination.
The FBI ought to order an enquiry and check whether the fly was American, to begin with. Was it racist? Did it belong to some Islamist group? Was it there to sneak into the Obama well-fitted suit and check out the potential of a date in New York at a Broadway musical?
These are exceedingly important queries that need to be addressed.
Meanwhile, the PETA guys might like to take a look at their own most exploitative ads. Recently, they released an image that showed German-Filipina model Mia Gray inside a cage to highlight the plight of animals in zoos.
I do not think anyone is thinking about any animal in a zoo while seeing this ad.
And then there is the pink prince, Manvendra Singh Gohil of the erstwhile Rajpipla state, who has become the global face of the Indian gay movement.
We see many of these royals being flaunted in society pages even if they have transformed into hoteliers.
Gayatri Devi modelled for diamonds and who cares if they were limited edition?
I am not terribly taken up with her so-called dignity. I have had two ‘encounters’ with her and both left me unimpressed. The first time was at the Polo Bar of her palace-turned-hotel in Jaipur. She walked in wearing a paisley print chiffon saree and sat on the sofa across from where we were. She lit a cigarette and everything, from her deportment to her way of talking, seemed like that of any socialite in the elite metros. It was only when the high-turbaned stewards started addressing her as “Hukum" that I took a closer look.
The other time was on a hopping flight, from Udaipur to Jaipur. There were no class barriers on this small aircraft. I was squeezed in the middle. I turned to my left as the plane took off to see the clouds as I always do. The lady seated near the window did not seem to like it; I could not see her face and was not interested.
Later, the gentleman on my right leaned forward and addressed her, “I have read your book. Really liked it.”
I pushed myself back so that they could converse.
A heavy voice on my left replied, “Oh, just leave me alone.”
That was Maharani Gayatri Devi.
When the service started, they handed over packets of sandwich and soft drinks. The attendant addressed the ‘princess’. Not only she did not deign to look up, but she just waved a dismissive hand.
Despite the fact that I was not hungry, I took the packet, opened it and started eating. No royalty was going to act pricey. If she did not like the smell of cheese, then tough luck.
At Jaipur, she disembarked. I saw her retreating back from the window, a woman in a saree that suddenly looked synthetic. There was a lone ‘khaadim’ in white waiting for her.
I almost felt sorry.
Sorrier was the public battle she fought for property with her grandchildren. Is this becoming of one who is touted as the epitome of all that is regal and classy, not to speak of beautiful?
True greatness can shine by the way you beam your light on those less fortunate than you. And it does not matter what honorific you are born with or is bestowed upon you.
"He is a good actor, too."
"So what is the news about him?"
"Oh, he is involved in some rape case. Remember, you liked the film?"
"Yes. But how did this happen?"
"Dunno. His maid has accused him of rape."
- - -
This guy could have got anyone...wonder why he went for the maid."
"People like that can just be shut up with a few bucks."
- - -
These are conversations between supposedly educated and intelligent people, the first initiated by a woman.
Shiney Ahuja, an actor with not much work to show, 'allegedly' (that's the term being used) raped his maid when no one was at home. He has said the sex was consensual. The cops have found injuries which suggest there was violence used. Also, she is 17-18 years old.
It may be inappropriate to damn him yet but to indulge in the kind of exchange above is rather sick.
His wife said at a press conference that he is innocent and it is a honey trap. This would be valid, if we want to push the argument, were the girl a wannabe starlet. And if Shiney Ahuja was someone in a position to make a difference to her career. Or if he was 18 and she was old enough to ensnare him.
Right now Shiney Ahuja has got a whole lot of mileage. The girl is unknown. So, what has she got out of it? If the motive is blackmail, how can she succeed at it after incriminating him? If he has been framed, then by whom and for what? It is okay to throw around these words but is there a basis?
Why are TV channels quoting the junta? One had the gumption to say that maids are always looking for sex. There is a limit to this citizen journalism and vigilantism. If the maid is using him then these people are misusing the situation.
There is some talk about how he is not a big enough celebirity like Salman Khan or Sanjay Dutt who also had other cases against them. This is puerile. Analogies are fine but does it take away from the possibility of ANY crime?
It is disgusting to see him get certificates based on him being a "disciplined actor" or an introvert or that he did not attend any non-work related parties.
Fact is, Shiney Ahuja is a celebrity today because he has been arrested on rape charges.
The law will decide. Meanwhile, I find it strange that in a case that is sub-judice the wife is permitted to call for a press conference.
I wish the maid's family had such access.
Even if they did, would anyone listen?
- - -
Updated on June 18:
Anupam Ahuja is calling her husband her ‘soulmate’, which is nice. But by asking whether anyone has seen the medical reports, she is casting aspersions on the doctors and the police.
And these are her words:
“Rape is a very heinous crime and in today’s time it can be committed not just by a man. Even a woman can do it and we all know.”
Technically, when a woman initiates it the term rape is not applied. I am shocked that some newspapers are giving examples of Demi Moore in the film Disclosure. That was a woman in a powerful position. I have already stated that there are cases where women can trap men and have. I would like to know if Mrs Ahuja would say the same thing about the men from low income groups who commit rape – would she still insist that the victim could have raped the man?
Has she ever talked with rape victims?
And if Shiney has never made a move on his co-stars, do remember that the consequences would be worse.
Here is one of those sympathetic letters in the paper today:
“I think Bollywood actor Shiney Ahuja is being targeted for all the wrong reasons. According to me few of the reasons are: He is not a Page 3 person, he does not dance at rich people’s weddings, he acts in sensible films like Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi, Woh Lamhe, etc. Only, he refuses to act in films that don’t go off the beaten path. He does not make appearances on reality shows etc. and lastly, he is not a Khan.”
Acting in sensible films makes him non-culpable as a natural course? He is now a Page 3 person. He did a bit role in Fanaa, a mainstream film and the media is applauding him because apparently he agreed to do it because the character shared his father’s name. He is being touted as a proud son! What next?
What is happening now is a reality show. And trust me, his career is not over. It has only begun. Remember Fardeen Khan got into the news because he was caught with drugs and then started getting films. Shakti Kapoor was indicted in a sting operation for making advances at some woman. He was invited on debates in respected channels and his career went zooming up. So Shiney has plenty to look forward to.
We are a starved society willing to bite anything that barks.
Orthodox Jews can be orthodox Jews and even have their own search engine, Koogle, which is a play on the names of a Jewish noodle pudding and Google:
The site, at www.koogle.co.il, omits religiously objectionable material, such as most photographs of women which Orthodox rabbis view as immodest, Altman said. Its links to Israeli news and shopping sites also filter out items most ultra-Orthodox Israelis are forbidden by rabbis to have in their homes, such as TV sets.
Kosher, but so restrictive. The jihadis are way better off. They can get to watch Osama talking to them from his latest digs or some warlord or the other giving instructions on the mobile phone which the media manages to get hold of, but no one else seems to be able to trace.
As I was writing in what has been rather originally named 'Long Book', I did what I always do. Started doodling. With a ballpoint pen on ruled paper.
I returned to the page because half of it was empty. I thought I'd jot down some things. I couldn't. The image would not let me. It isn't anywhere close to art but it speaks to me.
Flames leaping out from the head, leaves from eyes...are the roots embedded deep inside? Or is it the other way round - the leaves trying to enter the eyes? Is that a serpent trailing from the mouth? Is it hissing with relief or victory that it has left its poison inside and is now free of it?
Or it could be a string that was meant to bind but has now been chewed to pulp.
For me this is regeneration. A tiara aflame, leaves fresh and the snake/string on the way out. As for poison, it has a way of killing whatever tries to kill me.
"And the feeling subsides" is written below the drawing. Is it just one feeling? Or the moment? Or the momentary? Does it have anything to do with the image?
Something is cancelled out at the end. I don't know what. If one does not know what one has created, then it probably means nothing to oneself.
The page still has space but I am reluctant to use it. I cannot save paper this time.
Have I managed to save myself?
Maverick: The Writer in a Wasteland
by Farzana Versey
Covert, June 16-30
I must admit that the first thing I wanted to know when Kamala Das died was about her last rites. Critical as I was of the reasons for her conversion to Islam, it seemed par for the course. However, do we accord writers a similar courtesy of political and religious views? More importantly, are those views to be considered personal or potent weapons of change?
We have in the past had whore to writer, seller of toothpastes to writer, upright police officer to writer, retired army person to writer, drug-addict to writer, criminal to writer. It would appear that you need to be something other than a writer to be a writer.
T. S. Eliot dismissed the “mystical belief in herd-feeling” that he felt was apparent in extreme nationalism and communism, but he made a spirited defence of Christianity, when faith is also about a herd feeling. If he was truly a proponent of individualism why did he reject George Orwell’s Animal Farm, dismissing it with, “I take it to be generally Trotskyite. We have no conviction that this is the right point of view from which to criticize the political situation at the current time”?
This was during World War II, and silence would not have been an option for the sensitive thinker. Isn’t literature supposed to voice those very thoughts that rebel against prevalent beliefs? The Orwellian dystopia is even more apt today; he used his characters in a minimalist fashion to show us how debates can be dumbed down.
It is indeed surprising that writers have to pen elegies and get co-opted by ideologies. This applies to dissent as well. Nadine Gordimer is known for her activist role in the anti-apartheid movement in her country, South Africa. Some of her books had been banned during the time. She remains an outspoken critic of various leaders. I was, therefore, a bit distressed to hear her say, “Looking back, it would have been an insult if they hadn’t been banned. It was an honour.”
What was she trying to convey? That the protest would have been in vain had her works been accessible through legitimate channels in her country? Or was she aiming to reach only the outside world? Isn’t the role of the writer as activist to well and truly portray such angst and make it known to those who are suffering from it?
What about the millions who go through privations without either the benefit of a voice, literary or otherwise, and swallow the indignities heaped upon them? They are not banned or sent off – they become slaves of society and give writers and artistes the raw material required to portray the trauma.
This is not to suggest that writers are exploiters – although, in some ways it is true because all of us who choose the medium of expression are using people and places imbued with our understanding and biases. Can we make a blanket call for freedom of speech without fathoming its deeper undercurrents and repercussions?
Salman Rushdie got tetchy when his bodyguards decided to reveal a bit of tittle-tattle about him while he has been happily holding on to his expose of religion for better understanding. What about the freedom of speech of those who oppose his views and think a book of religion is literature? Many of us were told to read the Bible in our convent schools only for its literary merit. Has Rushdie been able to deconstruct the Quran’s seminal message?
The moment a writer uses a position to affect opinion, s/he become responsible for it. Therefore, it was disingenuous of Arundhati Roy to state, “I am a writer and want to be identified as a writer only. One should not define me as an activist. I am not an activist.”
After The God of Small Things, she did not write anything that was not activist in nature. Her collections of essays and interviews were about subjects that have to do with a society in turmoil. Surely, a committed writer ought to be able to stand up for what she did all these years.
In a world where wastelands thrive, memorials to such mortuaries deserve a bit more than a few good metaphors.
That time I was aware about the added security. The only problem I had with it was when I had to put my shoes in the tray and my jacket in another. A part of me was covering another’s footprints much as theirs was covering mine. A static space within a grey tray had trapped us even as we sought to move miles – or moved across them.
I had a layover of seven hours. It was early morning. The shops were open. I entered a small store where there was little room to move around in. I picked up a few gizmos which I cannot operate. I just like the fact that there is a whirring sound and blinking lights when I open them.
I moved to the other side. A large pink packet with a naked woman holding a measuring tape round her breast stared at me. I picked it up. The phone rang. I started telling this friend what I was doing. I read out details from the flap. “It says the contents of this can give you flashing, elasticised, smooth, vital breasts…this is too beguiling to resist. I mean flashing, for god sake…and elasticised…which means they can be stretched for an eternity…”
“Have you been drinking on the flight?” she asked.
“Not a drop.”
I left it where it was. But I was laughing. I was happy for no reason other than the fact that this box (of tablets, as it turned out) would make a few people happy in life.
I went to pay. The cashier pointed out a teddy bear at the counter and asked, “Don’t you want this?”
I guess I had picked up too many toys. I know people smile nervously and say, “This is for my kids, my nephew, my niece, urchins…” They were for me. I like playing with these. It is far more guileless than playing with people’s emotions or useless games of one-upmanship.
I was not done yet. I saw a beautiful silk mandarin shirt in teal. Just my kind. The salesperson came up and said, “No, no, this is for men.”
Huh? So? I wear men’s kurtas all the time. Her attitude put me off. I walked away with great deliberation to the store across. A kind elderly woman stood there as I touched a satin bag. She indulged me. I turned a corner and saw these Chinese fortune sticks with red tips.
“They good. You can lead foltune,” she said with a lilt.
I wasn't too sure, but I picked it up. They could work as bookmarks, they could stand as showpieces in a small holder, they could be used to hold my hair in place when I tied it at the nape of my neck, they could work as paper cutters, they could be scrawled with reminder notes, they could clean the insides of my nails, they could be tied with a string to form a decoration…
I did none of these.
Why did I need to rationalise? They were fortune sticks. They may or may not reveal my fate. But life is about straws in the wind, too. About moments. About numbers. Names. Characters. Colours. Each one for a day. No prediction can be writ in stone which is why these sticks were made from wood. If I lit them with a matchstick, they would burn and turn to ashes. This would be their fortune at the hands of just one person.
I read the instruction booklet. It said that I should concentrate hard on what I wanted, hold the box firmly with both hands and shake it. The stick that stood out or I perceived and picked out would be the one I should read.
I shut my eyes, and with great resolve held the box as I would a falling pillar and I shook it, kept shaking it, till one red mark stood out.
I picked it up, saw the number and looked at the fortune: It said several things, ending with, “A good wish, it will be fulfilled.”
I smiled a wry smile. In my enthusiasm to hold the box right, shake it well and concentrate on a stick to pick it out, I had forgotten to wish for anything.
I know my dreams cannot be captured in any box. I may not always get what I wish for, but my wishing for something has such a wonderful dreamlike quality that I can live all my life in its gossamer web.
I am destined to be the spider, not the wall.
- - -
This was here earlier.
The Ram Pradhan Committee had given the Mumbai Police a clean chit in the 26/11 attacks. This blog had recorded the ridiculousness in the words of those who were directly affected.
We have news for you:
The two-member committee headed by veteran bureaucrat Ram Pradhan to investigate the police response to the 26/11 terror attacks on the metropolis has singled out then Mumbai police commissioner Hasan Gafoor for his complete failure to provide leadership during the hours of crisis.
They discovered it now? Why did the earlier report then give a clean chit? And does anyone fancy stuff like this to explain away what happened?
Through much of the attack, Gafoor stationed himself at one spot near the Oberoi and asked crime branch chief Rakesh Maria to take charge of the control room…Above all, Gafoor’s attitude created an impression among subordinates that they were not part of the high-level police team tackling terror.”
1. One man can be only at one spot. If he was not anywhere, then he has shirked his duty.
2. Someone has to take charge of the control room which becomes the hub during such times. Who better than the crime branch chief? Incidentally, the panel has given Maria a clean chit as also the then Maharashtra DGP A N Roy.
3. If Gafoor was at one spot, then how did his subordinates get the impression that they were not a part of the high-level team tackling terror? I am seriously trying to understand the mechanism involved here. Does someone tell the cops that, look, you are handling terror when they are there doing precisely that? What is high-level and low-level here? When we hear of stories about ordinary citizens trying to save others, do the cops need their egos to be massaged in the midst of such a crisis?
Heads do roll. That is the only way governments can save their skin. So, Hasan Gafoor is out and D Sivanandan, chief of the state intelligence department, comes in.
Fine. He is already giving sound bytes about how he will act more and talk less. Given that he has already started with talk, I guess he is getting it all out of his system.
A mention must be made of all these four officers, as many others. One sees their pictures in Page 3 glossies. They are human and all and need to party, but the tendency to become celebrities does not quite go with the position and sensitive nature of their work. They need to understand that. Does not the Bombay Police Manual say anything about it? If they must attend such functions, and it could be a birthday party of some aging actor, then the least they can do is insist that their faces are not splashed in the papers.
No wonder they cannot figure out when there is an attack on the city; they could well be partying. Oh, if I recall correctly, wasn’t Mr. Sivanandan in the news for taking to task a nutritionist who he accused of using chemicals after he tried her weight-loss programme? See, that’s what I know about our top cops!
Remember Chand Mohammed and Fiza, both of who converted to Islam to get married and then divorced and there was a lot of bitter exchange? Okay, now the MLA says, “I love her more than ever... and want to come back.” One wants to tell the guy that he need not bother; she never went away and was hogging the limelight. Both are just attention seekers.
As I have said earlier, where are all those mullahs and why are these two being permitted to make a farce of the religion? No fatwa? No excommunication? Have you heard anything remotely Islamic from them?
They deserve each other and can join some spooky cult and live happily ever after.
It is wonderful that Meira Kumar has been appointed the Speaker of the House. Indian Parliament would do well, I am sure. But is it necessary to mention her gender (which is visible) and her caste everytime? Even worse is this:
Soft-voiced, seemingly unfit to instil order in the Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar dismisses the criticism that her vocal chords are a handicap. She is confident she would be heard in the House.
Utter nonsense. Unfortunately, she went on to give an explanation that thus far people were used to listening to men who were Speakers but if she can he heard in her constituencies then she can be heard in Parliament too.
She does not need to say all this. She can just smile and go on with her work. No one, no MP and no journalist, has any business to discuss this issue because it is not an issue.
Here is an extract from the interview in TOI:
Q: But in Parliament, you appeared to prefer the identity of a woman against the popular focus on your caste
A: Unfortunately, caste is a dominant factor in society. Ours is a janmapradhan and not karmapradhan society. All achievements — character, learning — are incomplete till your caste is revealed.
Q: That makes you uncomfortable as you appeared to have played down the caste factor in your acceptance speech?
A: No. I have always felt that certain sections need empowerment. They don’t need patronage but social justice. We have to talk of them, regardless of who we are. It is myopic to think that only if you belong to a group can you talk of it. And because I am from that group, I cannot shy away.
Confusion, naturally. That is the idea behind such stupid inquisitions. The Speaker has no constituency and must be non-partisan. Enough.
Huh? She was called that even before June 9. But as I said in that post:
No comments? Wait for a while. You will hear them after others have spoken and they will peck on those carrion words later depending on how the case swings.
Touche to me…
I wish autumn were blue. Think about blue leaves floating on grey streets and blue branches hanging on to brown trunks and roots tinged with the residue of the blue that has fallen on them.
In school I had a blue eraser; I remember it so well because I saw how it was slowly being reduced to nothing. When I first bought it I loved the scent. I liked the ones that had a fragrance. I would sniff it often. Then would start the erasing…rub-rub-rub. Till everything was rubbed out and little sticky pieces would lie there on the sheet of paper which I’d blow away with breath. Soon the square eraser had begun to look rounded and the black of the pencil marks had left imprints on it. What it had tried to erase was now stuck to it. There was a lesson, which I did not learn then. I never did learn the lesson although I learnt about it.
Later, it was mandatory to use ink pens. It was a wonderful process as we filled up the ink and then shook it over the page as drops fell to indicate that indeed the pen was now ready to undertake the task of penning our thoughts. A blotting paper would soak the ink, but the blotches remained. They usually do.
Then, I remember one of my kurtas. It was firozi and I do not have an exact translation of the kind of blue it is. I only remember it was short and I wore it over jeans and when it came back from ironing I’d crumple it and between those creases the colour deepened as though it were holding secrets. I felt deliciously sinful just clinging to it.
I recall that drink. I ordered it only because it was blue. Don’t know what they put in, no memory of ingredients or even the taste. But I remember the colour. The mocktail mocking me with its cold stare. I felt transfixed as though something was being exorcised. I got into a trance-like state and felt myself drowning in that glass. Maybe my eyes would be dancing in there and watching me. Ice-cube eyes.
I have stood for hours watching snow refusing to melt as we awaited the dawn. Winter turned the vista into blue.
I imagine myself walking across a blue sea, the blue of the sky reflected in it. My skin looks blue in the darkish light. It feels like water. It feels like sky.
Naturally, the press labelled it a “path-breaking Hindu-Catholic dialogue”. They agreed that there would be:
“No violence against minorities. No forced conversions. A pooling of resources for social work and charity.’’
The first one is supposed to be a Hindu problem. The second one is a Catholic problem. The third one is no problem. Nice.
The Hindu group was led by the Sankaracharya of Kanchi, Sri Jayendra Saraswati. He likes deciding what India should do; very political this swami is. His reason for speaking out on violence against minorities is that India is a deeply spiritual country. So spiritual in fact that it should not be called secular but spiritual. Therefore, if he decides to let out a few secrets of some high-flying politicians, then maybe we will be called The Spiritual Republic of India.
We can then meditate each time there is disaster or even a minor calamity. We do it anyway. No rains? Conduct some havans to propitiate the gods, use up precious wood, ghee and other unguents, feed priests and there will be rains because they are expected within the next few days. If they are delayed, which happens, then no one ever makes these guys accountable. Never. We curse the weatherman, we curse global warming; even these sadhus curse these factors. But they do it spiritually. They meditate to wish global warming away.
The report further added:
The Sankaracharya also made it clear that he did not approve of conversions and foreign funds for running educational and charity projects.
Unless the charities and schools are run by religious institutions, they come within the purview of the state government. The government decides. His approval or agreement will not be solicited in these matters. He was trying to take a shot at such funds for missionary-run establishments. Perhaps, he might like to look into the temple donation lists and check where much of the money comes from. Also, for the saffron parties.
The Catholics on their part were told not to indulge in forced conversions.
This meeting took place in a hall and there was a press conference. Do these discussions serve any purpose? What did you learn from all this? I did. One thing. Did you know that India had a papal ambassador to Delhi, Archibishop Quintana? Why do we need one? Why was he at a meeting to discuss what goes on in India and has political ramifications?
Do such ‘meeting of minds’ result in anything concrete? It is not even a feel-good thing.
Does the poor person in a village who is a victim of violence want such pontificating? Does the convert think beyond the money and hope for a god, which is where this spiritualism comes in and in fact negates the whole idea of the discourse?
Spiritualism does not need an agenda. It is an intensely private belief in seeking something that is beyond oneself. Religion has got nothing to do with it.
Aamir Khan has turned down the state government’s offer to campaign against child labour. The reason he gave:
“I’m doing a lot of public service messages and I didn’t want to dilute the (message in the) ads that I’ve already done by doing another one.”
Smart fellow. As some of us know, there is a concerted move by the state labour ministry to take action against children working in TV serials, comedy acts and music programmes; this could include kids in films. It is indeed silly, but Aamir cannot do this campaign with a straight face after how he has ‘used’ children. But catch him admitting to that.
And while we are on child labour, those children who were employed in the election campaigns would also come within its purview. Shouldn’t someone make the agencies and organisations that started these campaigns answerable?
No. No one cares. Mr. Straight-face Aamir will still be seen as the guy with “credibility”.
- - -
An old article Belabouring over child labour gives a more detailed picture
There was a little anxiety. I kept looking as one does when one is unsure. We stare at things to place them, give them a structure, connect with them and see if they fit into our scheme of things.
I looked and looked till the light came into the room…I had dozed off again just by looking for so long. The eyes stop seeing well after a while because they have seen so much of the same thing.
The light became sharper as it came along with the heat. I blinked to adjust my vision. The arm was there. It was mine. My left arm had propped up my head and I must have raised it and it stayed that way.
Funny thing. I did not recognise it. So, now I have reintroduced myself to my left arm. It looks a lot like the right one.
The Late Show host David Letterman said on his show that Sarah Palin “bought makeup at Bloomingdale’s to update her ‘slutty flight attendant’ look”.
Wonder where he buys his makeup to update his 'Hugh Hefner who lost all his bunnies' look. I do not understand what passes for humour in the media, especially television. He even took a potshot at Palin’s teenage daughter. Reacting to it, she said:
"Acceptance of inappropriate sexual comments about an underage girl, who could be anyone's daughter, contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others."
As for the slutty look, not only has he insulted an individual but also a profession. What is so slutty about flight attendants? When he flies, is he seeing the women who serve him his drinks and bring him the napkin to wipe his face after he has puked on his own jokes as sluts? Is this his fantasy?
I am sure there are ways to hit out at Palin for her political gaffes or her opinions (or lack of them) on issues.
But, then, is he smart enough to come up with one-liners on those?
Thomas Beatie, the ‘Pregnant man’, gave birth to a second child. Born a woman, he is legally male but decided to keep his female sex organs.
There are several questions that need to be examined here, but I give it the thumbs up for now because he did it again. If it was a one-off, it might have been a publicity stunt or just idle curiosity.
Although I am not suggesting it is the only aspect, it does indeed give fatherhood a more nurturing face.
Tomorrow, June 10th, 2009 at 10:22 am (Stratford-on Avon Time) The Global Language Monitor in Austin, Texas will announce the winning word. I find the location rather quaint. Maybe these Texans just wanna go on vacation. Are you not all excited to know whether Indian women’s panties, “cuddies”, will get the green signal or will it be the real green McCoy, locally- produced “locavores” that are part of “slow food” which isn’t fast?
Now, there is something for fast moms called “octomom” that is, believe it or not, “the media phenomenon of the mother of the octuplets”. Huh? Do the sperms like consult newspapers and TV channels about how to hit different ova at the same time so that you get a few nice bundles of eight?
You can “de-friend” someone from your social network and if you send them steamy messages via email you will be “sexting” them. You may send steam and sauna in other ways, but there is no word for it.
The US President's popularity would be “Obamamania”, which is kind of lame, but what is surprising is “Mobama” – relating to the fashion-sense of the US First Lady. I thought it would be green, given her penchant for dresses and gowns that look like they are made from feathers or the colour of flora and fauna.
After the success of the film Slumdog Millionaire, two words from India figure. “Slumdog” would qualify as slang although it goes under the ‘politically incorrect’ category and “refers disparagingly to someone living in the slums”. If it is disparaging, then why is it qualifying at all? And “Jai ho” is a phrase taken from a song.
The issue is not with words from varied cultures; English language speakers and writers do employ Latin, French, Spanish phrases, and ancient English is nothing quite like we know it now.
My quarrel is with the limited idea of “the coming of age of English as the first, truly global language”. One does not need to blow trumpets to announce such an event. Languages evolve and those speaking it in different countries add bits and pieces of the local dialect. No one goes to check whether such a word has been anointed by the English dictionary or this gimmick.
But these Language Monitor people are serious:
“Due to the global extent of the English language, the millionth word is as likely to appear from India, China, or East Los Angeles as it is to emerge from Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s home town.”
This isn’t expanding the horizons but clasping them in a clinch to draw attention to their ethnicity. How does it add to a language?
The Chosen Word will depend on citations, usage, appearances in the media, the Net, blogs and networking sites. This is just to confirm the celebrity status of the words, irrespective of whether they make sense or not.
Poland’s contribution is about predatory lending practices, bankers behaving like gangsters. Every stud imagines he is a “bangster”. I don’t even want to think about some guy in a suit and tie ripping me off my money…even if he is one in a million.
We’d be poles apart.
These shades happen to be the trend and even college students wear them, although more likely unbranded ones.
In a disgusting display of depravity in writing; a report said:
Whatever may be the emotional upheaval and humiliation churning inside, her appearance showed no signs of it.
The Sheetal that walked out of court seemed eerily exposed.
The case in short is this: Sheetal Bhagat, wife of industrialist Atulya Mafatlal, is caught with jewellery and accessories worth a little over Rs. 50 lakh. She is an NRI and travels often, so they are suspecting there must be some smuggling racket.
Her husband alludes that the police were tipped off; there is a family feud going on and the matter is money.
High society is in a tizzy. Some must be gloating; others are worried.
Let us get to the nitty-gritty. If this is the reason and the jewellery were not gold biscuits or loose diamonds, they were ornaments. In our country carrying back anything above Rs. 20,000 makes it liable to customs duty. She should have been asked to pay up the duty. Besides, any piece of jewellery, even a small diamond ring, costs that much and is today worn by many Indians as a matter of course. What about the camera, cellphone, laptop we carry? Is there any way to ensure they are old and not bought for sale?
And let me tell you, not that you unaware of it, there are customs officers who are informed about the bigwigs travelling and they flag those people off irrespective of what they are carrying. The bigwigs arrange for their minions to be at the airport to arrange just such a deal. Envelopes are delivered later.
The person in question may also have done similar things in the past. This time something not connected with official duty has happened. I know it is a case that will be tried, but she did not get bail. I find it absolutely amazing.
You might want to ask: does this not happen to hundreds of people who are not famous? Absolutely. It does. For no reason at all. It should not, and no one will accuse me of not taking this up in my writings. But it does not mean we do not expect the law to be followed and start patting honest officers because, even if that were the case, it was a fluke. Trust me. You can be asked for “perfumes for the wife, chocolates for the kids, and booze for myself only”.
What does this Page 3 journalism that has jumped to Page 1 do besides the piffle I quoted above? It interviews her husband and asks him about the rumours of his marriage being in trouble. How really degrading is this.
At some point he is queried about her love for jewellery and the possibility of that getting her into trouble! The guy does mention that she likes her ornaments, to which the so-called sympathetic society journo shoots back, “In that case, will there be a bauble awaiting her as a welcome gift when she steps out of jail?”
I am surprised she was not given a really nasty retort. Be as critical as you want, but examine it as a case.
The lady here – who incidentally I think has appalling taste because you may wear the best designer labels but if you heap it on it looks like a store not a body – was wooed by the same pink champagne crowd that went ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ because that is what they are toilet trained to do.
And for those flashy supposedly frank commentators to say “I have nothing to say” is precious piffle. They are the ones who feed on these very high jinks for their comments; this is what they always aspired to be and managed.
No comments? Wait for a while. You will hear them after others have spoken and they will peck on those carrion words later depending on how the case swings. Or when they are invited to a bigger, maybe electronic, forum where they can flash their bangles, earrings, chokers, all in antique finish.