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Friday, 18 July 2014

Rape of a 6 year old

It is 1 AM in my part of the world, and I can't sleep. I have had a very long day owing to major changes at my workplace, and from my track record I can drop dead at the earliest possible instant after days like the one I had today.

However, what's kept my sleep away for the last two hours is actually the thought of the Bangalore rape case that I read about, this afternoon.

I just cannot get over it. I read it on Twitter amidst the hustle and bustle of various tabs open on my Google Chrome. But when I read the tweet by Times Now, my heart sank more than just a little. 

What is it that can 'attract' the sports teachers to a 6 year old! She would probably bend down to tie her shoe laces, and her frock would flicker around a little. How can a man be attracted to a girl that small, in as pervert a manner as this? How is it that when they're at it, conscience or guilt doesn't prick them? What happens to that idea of: having to pay penance, on which our religion resides?  How can one even get to the point of unzipping his fly before the little baby: who has seen so little of the world and even lesser creeps? 

Sitting in a further Eastern part of the world, in another country; I am dazed to this minute. Bangalore is a city, I have never visited and have no personal connections with the place. Even then; to know that such people exist somewhere, doing some crap or the other is a feeling that I cannot bear. 

When I shut my eyes and try to sleep, I am forced to think about just HOW that girl will grow up. I am not sure what goes behind this. It could possibly not be karma. If its destiny, then clearly we have crossed wires here. What this really IS about: is the failure of the race of a bunch of retards. A perverted bunch of sexed out creeps and one-tracked creatures who need to head back 'up there' to face the music now.

Today, for the first time I heard myself say that, I don't want to go back to this ravenous state of affairs. i don't want to go back home. Home is where the feeling of safe is.

We, who take pride in our Indian culture, heritage, history and past are reacting to this crass and cruel act with a mild protest outside the school. This is what happens in the land of Kamasutra: Men are born with their heads between their balls, and women are taught to deal with it from the minute they're conceived ! 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Foodie's Eyes

You come to a new city and you look out for touristy places. And then, you spend 10-12 hours a day looking at the city's 'restaurant oriented' data. You spend half your time dissecting the city into parts that would classify it in this way or that. You look at it like a lush green park, and wonder where to begin your morning run. Your efforts go into making restaurants' data collection do-able, possible, approachable and all the other adjectives that fit within this bracket! 

Gradually, you look at the city only through those eyes. People tell you "Oh! There is a pretty museum in XX area." And you reply saying, "Yeah we can go there some day and eat at the Spanish restaurant around that corner."

When you're charting maps and directions in your head to figure out the best route, your brains map is not the usual Google image. Your image of the map has tortillas and tacos at the crossings, pizzas and pastas at the turns and you missed the burgers and fries just 'cuz your destination led you to the left! 

That's what makes you a true blue foodie: The analysis of a city based on its restaurant density. You only think of fancy restaurants when people ask you what are the tourist places to visit in your city. People may expect to hear exotic locations when they ask, "Where are you going during this long weekend?" You come up with a long list of restaurants covering all your favourite cuisines, cutting across the length and breadth of the city; and all of those seem to make a better plan than a white sand, virgin beach somewhere afar. 

What do you see at your next turn? Is it puffs or rolls or the place that serves the yummiest Chinese food, you've ever had! 

Put on your food-lens and explore! 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

An everyday ride in Jakarta

Every morning, I walk across the street from my building to take the mini-van that brings me to my work place. This mini-van, called an Angkot in the local language in Jakarta, is one among the few modes of public transport that this city offers. I hail one of these light blue coloured vans, and try to get on to it. There are days when it is empty, and then there are days when it is so full that one man is hanging off the door-less entrance. I think such transport systems are very typical to this part of the world. There is no dearth of similar sights back home, in India.

The sometimes-empty-sometimes-full nature of the Angkot seldom has a fixed pattern. It is not like I can step out of my house and assume that it is 8:15 and therefore it will be full. Nor can I tell myself that since it’s raining, it will be empty. There is no predictable pattern, whatsoever! And that makes the choice between a cab and an angkot even harder, everyday.

Nonetheless, I prefer the angkot over taxis. I choose to forego the air-conditioned comfort of the taxis, the smooth leather seats of the Blue Bird cars to enjoy my morning moments of people watching. (If you have ever been to Indonesia, you will know that people swear by Blue Bird as the safest company running the maximum number of taxis here)

The angkot, bigger than an Ambassador taxi in Kolkata, and smaller than a mini-bus: can ferry exactly 13 people at a time. They huddle on, to go in the same direction as their fellow travellers and soon find their spots to get off and along. It’s no fancy ride- no luxurious leg room, not enough room for your bags if you don’t want to rest it on your lap and if you’re sitting on the far end, the sun will shine down brightly on you. You may or may not like that but you will surely be happy to see how peacefully the group traverses the distance. People seldom know each other, though sometimes you notice acquaintances exchange niceties. Smiles come easily, and so do frowns. You will see groggy eyes, scarred faces concealing a story, dishevelled hair and then you will see people smiling into their phones, lost in thought or even catching a quick nap in the evening traffic. That’s the nature of any crowd, after all: diverse yet united, lost and unknown, oblivious yet careful in their own ways.

I enjoy people watching. On this ride, I do not get lost in conversation with my friends and colleagues. I look around; catch a glimpse of the young girl struggling to sit uptight in her skirt, the man who decides to give his eyes some rest, with his spectacles resting lightly on his long nose. I don’t peek into people’s phones but while they’re at it, I can’t help but notice their updates on Instagram, Path and Twitter. Every small detail goes up on News Feeds these days. Sometimes people are putting up pictures of the traffic.

I’ve had my own set of memorable experiences on these journeys. There were times when a girl in a bright yellow dress, was not comfortable and chose to sit close to the entrance. The driver wanted her to shift further in because she was giving his potential passengers the impression that the van was full. She couldn’t shift in, and therefore she simply got off, to avoid causing trouble for the driver.  There was a time when I thought I could read in the van on my way back and the dim light from the single lamp in the far end did not allow me to indulge in the murder mystery. When I shut the book sighing from my failed attempt, I raised my head to smiling faces. I realized they noticed how naive I was, in this simple act of ignorance. Then, there have been days when I have skipped the ride to evade traffic and walked the 2 kilometre distance back home instead. While on the vehicle, I’ve had my own share of feet being stamped by pointed heels, boxes of non-vegetarian food emulating a fishy smell and then there was one specific instance of translations gone utterly wrong:
My stop to get off the angkot, on my way home is actually at the start of a bridge. In Bahasa, the word for bridge is “Jimbatan” So, by way of urging the driver to stop at the spot, I need to call out to him saying “Jimbatan, Mus” and he will stop. However, for the longest time since I was here, I kept calling out to him saying, “Jambutan, Mus” There were times when he would smile back at me and nod his head disapprovingly. Sometimes fellow passengers would repeat the phrase for me in case the driver didn’t hear. At that time, I didn’t pay much heed to the difference caused by the few letters in a syllable or two. I was an expat and people were looking at me like that, smiling at me and even exchanging funny glances. I passed off all of that, assuming that it was probably because I was not a local. Until one day; a local colleague of mine accompanied me on the ride back home and laughed until her stomach hurt when she heard me use the word: Jambutan.

Jambutan means vaginal hair.