Comedy Mein Tragedy

The funniest thing that happened last week was that a certain Tanmay became a Bhat of all jokes! Alright, I know it is passé, but what is anybody going to do about it? Send some goons to chop my legs of? Doesn’t that sound bizarre? So it was when a certain righteous party threatened to act in a not-so-righteous way!

Fun fact: The title track of AIB in their videos is – Tragedy mein comedy. But who thought that comedy could end up being so tragic! Oh, not for Tanmay! I am talking about India. Tragic for India. I just realized it this week that the cumulative IQ of our country is far less than what I had imagined!  You know something is really amiss when a country wants to put a comedian behind the bars for an unfunny joke; and nobody cares or dares to talk about a terrorist’s call to a politician!

Cartoon-on-freedom-of-expressionYes the joke wasn’t funny. Yes it was crass. But so is IPL to cricket. Is anyone complaining? People who like it, watch it. People who don’t, switch the channel to watch Sooryavansham. So if you don’t like the video, don’t watch it. Simple. If you can make fun of one person on this planet, you can make fun of anybody! There are so many jokes on Raj Thackerey. I am surprised how he was not offended by them! Oh, maybe they were true! And exactly why this is not true. It’s a stupid joke!

Jokes apart, why do we take ourselves so seriously? Why are we always so offended?

I think our insecurity lies elsewhere. Identities have become our only anchors in a wild river of change. Actually, our social identity to be precise. Whether we are an AAptard, Gandhian, overweight, gay, Bihari, Salman-fan, engineer, Modi follower, or God forbid, Donald Trump – anything – but it cannot be a laughing matter for anyone else! And beyond that identity, please don’t ask who we are. Because, nobody knows!

However, we are offended by everything we are not. You can’t eat the food you like but I don’t, can’t read books that I don’t understand but intensely hate, and lately, can’t joke about Sachin Tendulkar or Lata mangeshkar, because I am a Marathi Manus, and so are they! Well, till now I believed you could only not construct fly-overs near their residence. But apparently, you can’t even joke about them! Touché.

But you know what, we are not offended by a child-marriage story being telecasted at prime time! We are not offended when lots of sexist and misogynist jokes become viral on WhatsApp. We are not offended when the government is drowning all its citizens in a cess-pool, when all they should being doing is create more cesspools! We are not offended when political parties don’t get so worked up about communalism or rape, as they do about a stupid joke on a stupid app that no one even knows about. Bravo.

The joke is on us.

WeMen

image

Happy Women’s Day, Ladies!
That was last week, I hear you say!
Ain’t it our day any other day anyway? I can hear some laughter. Oh those are from the men, women giggle! Some of you are agreeing. Some don’t mind it, since you are anyway availing to a weeklong women’s day offer almost anywhere you go! While others so busy calling themselves WeMen that they forgot to celebrate their womanhood! Wohoo to you, feminists!
Which of the above are you? Or are you like me, who wonders how can people not see the hidden mock that women’s day is all about? All round the year we cry about feminism, want to be equal with men, but don’t see how off the track women’s day is!
Anyway, there are various ways in which people celebrate women’s day! Apart from the fact that it is a very corporate way of approaching something to hide your views about the same (that you practice all round the year), it also formulates a great marketing strategy. Amidst various rallies, get-togethers, kitty parties, award functions, felicitations, and discussion, I was a part of a women’s day program held at NEC, Nashik.
The program constituted of various panel discussions around the plentiful hassles and numerous aspects in the life of a “working” woman.  It is just sad when even today we have to classify a woman as per her daily schedule, and there is not even an ounce of acceptance of the fact that they are at par with anyone or anything, and that this discussion needs to rest for a bit!
The topic of one of the three panel discussions was Work-Life Balance of a working woman, or a working “mother” so to say. As if a working man is not a working “father” at all! There was a lot of discussion, ideas, and life-hacks, et al. on how all of them on the stage and a few people from the audience tackled this society-induced problem! Few of them insisted on prioritizing, a few spoke about marrying a “supportive” husband (ha!); some were of the opinion that “one cannot have it all.”-which, by the way, is saddest and the most oh-I-am-so-victimized kind of a response that I know of!
Amidst all this mumbo-jumbo, I couldn’t help but think how all these women couldn’t notice what the real issue was and who the hidden culprit was:
It is WE WOMEN as mothers, or as grandmothers, who have raised our sons to succeed in life, and our daughters to multi-task housework while succeeding in life!
Isn’t it?
If we have taught our son to differentiate between “worldly” responsibilities, and “household” responsibilities, how can we expect the husband of our daughter to have an open mind about it? A few recent advertisements on TV have really tacked this issue well, and I cannot emphasis more! It is only when we change our teachings, our upbringing, our lifestyle, can we imagine living in a place where there is no different concept of a “working-woman” and a “house-husband”! I hope to see that day. Amen.
P.S. – Happy Left-handers Day today! Point-less? So is Women’s day!

50 Shades of Brown

image

Have you ever wondered how would it be to be that girl from the fairness commercial ads, who doesn’t get her desired job, just because she isn’t fair? Have you ever thought about rejecting a prospective “bahu”, just because she isn’t fair, and that it isn’t fair enough a  reason to allow the entire family lineage to be dark?! Have you ever given up on a sport you loved, or going out in the sun, just so that you could maintain the colour of skin to that exact shade of brown, and at least not make it a darker shade, if any way you cannot really make it lighter?
If the answer to any of the above questions is “yes”, wow! Pat your own backs – a little harder this time! Actually, really harder!
Just when we had started talking about how prejudiced these fairness creams ads were- which, by the way, gave me some hope- bam! We come out with fairness creams for men as well! Oh, forget desirable men being tall, dark and handsome, now the symptoms of ailment has become a disease! No, I am not talking about “kaala rang” as a disease, but the non-acceptance of it!
I was in my bubble when I thought that maybe we women obsess over it more, and colourism is not really prevalent – especially when it comes to decisions like job offers, etc! But then my bubble burst. When was the last time you saw a dark-skinned air hostess in an Indian airline?
From the time of RigVeda, people have desired fair skin! There are umpteen recipes for long hair, whitening teeth, and most importantly, fair skin! So, I assume that this fair skin syndrome has been taking the rounds for as long as we can fathom! And now we may or may not read these shlokas otherwise, we sure do use them in our advertising of fairness products! Yeah, right!
Kaala rang is actually the kala kalank on our mentality, and you know what’s worse? We aren’t ashamed of flashing it, or even think there is anything wrong with it! I don’t know when did dark-skin become synonymous with ugly? I mean one can be dark and drop-dead gorgeous at the same time! And no matter how many examples I give here, I don’t think “fair skin” in the matrimonial ads is on its way out!
We are never satisfied with what we have. All around the globe, girls with wavy hair are going ahead and straightening them, and straight haired girls love those curls that they got for that special wedding! Companies will continue selling their tanning creams in the west, while cashing in on the fair skin complex in the east.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if girls of an impressionable age are taught to look at their abusers in the eye and go- ‘Yes I am kaali, but you have a regressive mind-set and ain’t no one got a cream for that.’?
Verdict: “Fair and lovely” is really an unfair and ugly truth.
P.S.  – In the meanwhile, if you girls don’t wish to get married soon, all you have to do is go out in the sun! Hurray – summer is here! #ProTip

Pehle AAP

It is odd that people complain about the living conditions in India, even though they don’t want to really participate in the betterment and growth.

It is odd that half our nation wastes so much food, even though the other half doesn’t have enough of it.

It is odd that kids watch cartoon network, even though it doesn’t play Tom and Jerry anymore!

It is odd that I am trying to use odd and even just to make a point, even though these sentences don’t make any sense! Erm..moving on!

Delhi has been called the most polluted city in the world. So, Mr Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi and snazzy muffler man (when he is not going around coughing or calling the prime minister a psyc(h)opath), is unwilling to sit just fidgeting with his pen. He has introduced a road rationing policy based on odd and even license plate restrictions that went into effect in Delhi from January 1, 2016 – the day when Dilliwalas can hardly remember their name, let alone mathematics!

It has been a week since a trial run of this rule has been in effect, and amidst all the hoo-ha, Kejriwal single-handedly, so easily and quickly has managed to teach an entire city to count! Isn’t it amazing!  So simple, and yet so effective.

“Do you want to drive that second-hand “expensive” car of yours that speaks – Tu jaanta hai mera baap kaun hai? – Just by its mere presence?” Well then, know your numbers! Genius I say!cartoonI asked a lot of people for their opinion about this rule. Well, indistinctly it is a widely laughed at idea, with a common outlook of an assured failure. But a little optimistic sound from within me believes and hopes that this does help in reducing the pollution level of the capital, simply so that the deep-breathing Ramdev baba followers get their share of abundant oxygen!All said and done, it is a very serious issue! Just when man thought, what are the odds that nature will get even with us (see I did that again!), we are constantly hearing of natural disasters in some or other part of the country! It is time that we start understanding these signs, co-operate with our government (even if it is AAP), and together fight to avoid another Chennai floods!

This odd-even experiment has been tested before, and has proved to be successful in many other cities in the world. What falls flat in Delhi is its lack of public transport. This led to an old image of the crowd at Rajiv Gandhi metro station suddenly becoming viral, leading to a series of hilarious tweets about the way Delhites are coping with this new rule! The only thing funnier than these tweets was Mr. Kejriwal tweeting John Lennon’s line. Yes that’s right, John Lennon. #swag

It is critical that we pay close attention to the wise words of Enrique Penalosa, the former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport”.

“Bhaiya, Antilia chaloge?”

Dog-Opoly

A city of dogs – underdogs of the city!

Dog-Opoly is a dog version of the famous board game Monopoly, but it really is the monopoly of dogs on the Indian streets!

And for a dog-fearing person like me, I have always wondered why is the stray-dog population in India so high, as compared to the negligible numbers in the west? Besides being a nuisance to the locality, chaotic, catastrophic for children, unhygienic, noisy, etc., it can actually be quite scary to walk on the lonely streets at nights with howling noises in the background. The fear quotient in me is so high, that it almost makes me feel that I am a part of a “Conjuring” for real! While it may not be appropriate to generalize, but stray dogs have proved to be calamitous for humans in quite many incidents and places. In fact, a number of road accidents occur, of which a few prove almost fatal to a person walking, in order to save the-dog-sprung-from-God-knows-where, and I am not eliminating the chances of their deaths here as well. Thank God for the law in 2001 that forbade the killing of dogs, which was a good-step but has further added to the stray population. “Why doesn’t government create better infrastructure?”, a dog-lover or any person-with-a-heart may ask. But in retrospect, we do not have proper facilities for more than half the population, let alone the thought of the thick-skinned people on top melting at the their plight. And we haven’t even started talking about pigs, donkeys and other more “bechara” animals on streets yet!

Quite a few people by now probably must already have started hating me for my perspective on this particular situation, but in all practicality it makes sense. I mean I understand that they also are a breathing, eating, pooping, moving, barking-but-unable-to-talk-and-express-their-plight (and so are chickens we eat?) kind of creatures, but in my view we need to re-think the extent to which we take things emotionally and start introducing practical solutions to the existing grave problems- a journey from sensitive to sensible.

When I did my research I realized the main reason was our hygiene habits. It is the unattended litter on the roads, which actually is a feast for the strays, and hence they survive for long and strong. This is the prime reason. We as a culture are quite messy, always blame the incapable and inactive government for improper infrastructure, and on the other hand don’t even maintain sanitation regime on personal level! We really do not need to wait for a few intellectuals to instruct us, “do not litter” boards everywhere, Satyamev Jayate, or a Prime Minister to start a ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyan’ to know the importance of cleanliness. It is only clearing of litter, and not killing the strays, that will solve the problem – quicker than anything! It is common sense to not litter, and should be followed as a protocol, otherwise the efforts of a handful will go to the dogs. Literally.

Apart from that, there are a lot of organisations that neuter and vaccinate the stray dogs – all thanks to the unlike me dog-loving people out there. Let us at least help them help us using whatever way we can – volunteer, provide resources, financial aid, inform about unattended or bruised stray dogs, adopt and get them vaccinated etc. Also encourage more and more people to make stray dog as pets, instead of buying ’em. These solutions may not be quick in their eradication, but probably are first few steps in the planned scheme of reducing their numbers!

Every dog has its day, but with our collective efforts these dogs will have a life. Amen.

i(am)MAD

Oh yes totally! iMAD – I Make A Difference – is a Nashik based youth organisation, working hard to bring smiles on the faces of the lesser privileged kids in the society, and are striving to equip them to retain the smiles for the rest of their lives.

Simply put, it is really only that!

But there is an entire process to it. The beauty of this process, because we are relatively new, is the flexibility of the ideas and their execution. There are no set rules or pattern in the way learning is delivered – it is done in the best possible way that we know at that moment. And that not only is fun, but is much more productive than a pre-set traditional unidirectional way of doing things.

How is it different from any school or tuition out there, you may ask! The program is driven by 20-something volunteers, who even now are victims of the dull monotonous education system. We all have 20 years of experience of being ‘schooled’, and hence are well aware of what not to do with these children. With that out of the way, it is just innovation and creativity in making learning fun, making it a dialogue, a discussion, in injecting the thirst for knowledge, in all-round development, in exposure to the ways of the “real” world, in empowering the kids, and fabricating them to be passion driven human beings.

And this  organisation is led by someone who practices what he preaches, since Siddhant was merely 20 year old civil engineering student, when he started this organisation, and made it tremendously successful in very less time. It grew from a 5 volunteers organisation to a 150 volunteers organisation is less than three years!

We currently have three centres in Nashik, and have been invited to start a fourth one as well. We work in seasons of 3 months, twice a year, considering the exam and vacation schedule of the kids. In the remaining six months, we analyse our methods, discuss our ways of tackling different situations, and how can we better them. These are more crucial months, because this is where our foundation for the next season is laid, not only in terms of syllabus planning, but also in the way it is delivered.

Apart from all the sessions we have at personal level once a week, we are trying to make an impact in their lives on an everyday basis. Consequently, we are working on installing iCOMP – a computer with all the relevant data included, and made accessible in more fun ways to the kids in their hostel premises. More on that later.

All I can say, with personal experience, is that it really is just a farce thinking that we are making a difference to their life, while in reality, those few hours are just an investment to a fulfilling and enriching experience we have, which in due course shapes us as leaders, as people and makes a world of a difference to our lives. I bet every volunteer will second that.

PS – If you are in Nashik, and are interested to join us, or can help us in any way possible to you, please contact the president of iMAD Siddhant Borade – 9545861100.

Womanhood or Woman-hudd?

Image

 

A friend of mine, recently, shared a status on a social networking site (whom am I kidding? – Facebook) outraging about a page – Charming faces in Nashik. A lot of comments posted below suggested, that are is not one but many such pages, only for Nashik. I am sure there are enough for each corner of the world.

It got me thinking.

Frankly, I found it really stupid. It did not stir strong emotions in me, unlike many others, detesting the existence of such pages. Also, some others said there is no point in fighting a battle you cannot win – so ignore and move on!

I think it is a deep-rooted mind-set, that is common in every nook and corner of the world. It manifests in different ways, subtly sometimes and boldly most times. While woman are not entertainment packages, the need to be universally liked, the longing to be “longed for”, the kick that one gets on appreciation leads to them themselves exhibiting their “beauty”. While such pages must be administered by few, I am sure they work and exist because they have a demand from so many subscribers and supply by equal many “charming faces”.

Outraging over it, means fighting for people who don’t want you to fight for them. It’s like a forced service. These are the same people who celebrate Woman’s day! How can one not see the hidden mock that woman’s day is all about. Point being, we need a major attitude shift. How many such pages can we remove? How many songs can we ban? How about beauty pageants? How many jokes can we ignore, or not forward?

But just that one change in our thought – collectively, and making the whole idea of rating uncool, will do the trick! Amen.