Thursday, February 9, 2012

Whales have rights

Disclaimer - I am an animal person and vegetarian. I also think rescuing a dog from a burning house before rescuing the family album is a perfectly sane thing to do.

Sitting on the couch, reading the morning paper this morning lead to a rather unexpected event. A heated pre breakfast morning discussion.

What sparked off the debated was this article - For those too lazy to read the original article, its about PETA suing Sea World (the amusement park where killer whales shows are a key attraction)

Peta on behalf of the killer whales, was fighting for the independence of the whales to live a free, fearless life in the open seas and be rescued from the tank like confines that they were a part of. Normally, this could have been seen as a over zealous attack of activism, but there was something more to the article that caught ones attention..

2 years ago during one of the shows, one of the 'slaved' killer whales, took her own trainer, dragger her underwater, thrashed her at the bottom of the tank till she breathed her last. Note, the trainers are the ones who have the most intimate bond, with the whales, devote nearly there entire lives to the cause of being the caretakers of these creatures.

The debate centered on 2 topics. One the right to demand independence for animals and secondly,  if rights for causes such as animals, environment etc could only be implemented or even considered once human rights had been taken care of.

One side of the argument, centered around ensuring that the scarce resources of the world be first directed at uplifting the human beings, as only once the impoverished had a better chance of survival would they stop tampering the environment. The corner stone of this argument centered around the higher value of human life than say whales, and so the protective measures first must take care of this species. aka the human species.

The second argument, was revolving the inherent rights of every being. the right of life of a squirrel being equal to the right of life to say a donkey and moving away from speciesm. This would be a huge argument- and against the moral code of life as it exists right now. the human race is supreme. this is fundamental way the world has been organized. This supreme - power- allows it to determine who will live, who dies what is a species thats endangered and which one isnt.

A line in the article stated - merely because the being (whales) which were alive, feeling, emotive being, not born in the form of humans have fewer rights? In my view they dont. What would it mean if PETA did win this case?

A right to choose, for animals from animal testing, from circuses, from being puppets in zoos, leather making machines. A natural order of things, a reversal of the stone age. No that would be far fetched. However a natural extension of a favourable verdict could impact several forms of animal use. Interesting though.

If the animals could speak, am not sure how many animalistic revolutions would we have to deal with. This post is rambling, and there is no clear point to be made but one..

there is sanctity of life. in every atom of every being. every being wants to live. A book mentioned the wails a plant also lets out at a high pitch each time there is an perceived threat to its being. and it hurts.

I wish there were happy free whilly endings to all such situations. freedom. life.
to dreaming of these realities once, sometime. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

India -tata tata bye bye

Indias GDP to slow down to 6.7%.  2 ministers found seeing porn in Parliament, sewage water coming in the taps of local residents, Yuvraj singh is upset at making the headlines for 2 days in a row over his cancer, skill levels in youth found to be inadequate, FDI flight is an issue the budget needs to address, tractor sales down as food prices head down, inflation capping itself but eroding the saving level of people. 

2 week holiday for Thailand and Malaysia, book now to guarantee seats, new toll levied for passengers using the bangalore airport. Passengers angry as the road is blocked and there is no sign of the signal free road they were promised, GDP slipping to a 3 year low, Jindals are raising their voice against the mining ban, Mahindra and Mahindra slipping in its quater sales as the price of inputs rise, netas watch porn in the house, incompetent netas to fired after 15 years, Mark your diary, beat exam blues away with a song and a snack, namma netas take a yoga break, Congress leader wants a dress code, Cauvery water to elude 26,00,000 locals this summer, Trekker dies due to outdated maps, Triveni Sangama littered with waste, Daughter only guest in parents house, Ministers asked to take ownership for targets.

Caretaker turns goa house into a brothel. Kingfisher goof up leads to a family of four being stranded in Seol, Why this kolaveri di over my illness yells yuvraj? Wanted home loan managers, Experience 0-3 years, Rahul Gandhi gives ticket to a man with a criminal past, Crickets tipping point, why Indian cricket team declined, Double Standards - are liberal indians less outspoken about Muslim bigots than hindu ones?

India needs to understand that it must compete for investments. 

Each of the lines above is a headline of todays paper. This is what the papers yell. 
Something seems to have gripped either this paper or the nation at large. A sense of joy euphoria is missing, even the Anna stroked fire has seemingly tapered off to a dejected state of listlessness. Summer if just about making its presence felt, the apathy is already here. 

Read any international daily, and India has already been written off as a maybe/possibly/if only potential super star. China is there. A presence a threat. This is not a satire or a cynical piece merely reporting back to myself the factual facts about the nation. 

Sitting with a fellow Indian on a terrace in Pnom Penh, we defended our nation to the German and Brit sitting there, both of whom already have embraced India. They asked us though, why we are so defensive about our nation? Why cant we look at say somethings as they are?

The question stopped me for a minute. Maybe because the truth was bitter. There was simply still after several years too many basics not addressed, in the right manner. Yes, our education was failing us, yes the infrastructure was weak, yes there was filth and dirt, yet there was a beauty to the nation of diverse Indians. a beauty more than peaks and seas. What it was - I found difficult to articulate. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

colony friends

Growing up was fun. Yawn. Relax am not going to go on lamenting about how childhood was so blessed, and how growing up isnt what it was meant to be. NOT WRITING ABOUT THAT!

This is an ode to an even simpler phenomena. Geographic friends

As a kid growing up in Delhi, the school was a place where people from diverse city areas came together. Some of these areas were so far away, that despite living in the same city, we never went there. It was simply too far.

Friends somehow effortlessly feel into a natural grouping scheme. there were school friends, tuition friends, bus friends and the best of the lot colony friends.

This motley bunch, was a cacophony of fun. boys and girls, all from different schools, classes, ages, and in a city like Delhi, parts of India came together. Devoid of cellphones the plan was simple. Every evening no matter what, by 4.30 -5 all one had to do was to get into play clothes, slam the books and show up. Simple. If you didnt show up, the group that had shown up would come below your house and yell your name with stinking adjectives attached till you did show up.

the rest was invented. Games were played, camp out sessions on roof tops planned, early morning walks and runs, combined with a elaborate plan of what breakfast to steal from whom was set up. The beauty was the effortlessness of it all.

As a grown up, i miss the colony hang outs. Now dinners have to be planned, invitations sent. Or even if its casual, one person has to drive from far away to somewhere else far away. Drooping in for a coffee or heading for a long walk, are activities that come at a premium and traffic robs one of the desire of just going to the local hang out pub.

The sitcoms of America, that have had most of us entralled almost always had a few things in common. Take Friends, Sienfield, Will and Grace, Two and a half men, How I Met Your Mother, - the friends stayed close together, had an 'adda' to hang out at and this enabled them to be a part of each others lives a lot more than not.

Colony Friends. That what each of them were.
Having moved into a new area, its a void that I feel. The knack of just landing up, with the dog on a leash and knowing that a fun conversation, a ice cream on a stick and a walk through the streets with laughter was guaranteed.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Thumping Down


The name pretty much sums it up. Bulleters – a riding club for people with a passion for bullets. A group, where words are replaced with thumping engine noises, the keeekeee, keeeeekkeeee of the accelerator being pulled, dhakdhakdhakdhak dhaaaaaak dhaaaaak dhaaaaak sounds, a flash and someone speeds by you, another moment and a turn looms up.

Sitting behind, holding on tight, one pushes the defiant strand of hair from ones eyes and concentrates. Nature, trees, monkeys are all zoned into one common truth.

Man, machine and the road.
A flick of the wrist, a roar in response
Slit eyes, scanning everything
Split decisions taken, the world zooms by
Over and over again, vroom the men
Faster, crazier, madder, the rush making the eyes water

One man pauses. Pulls over. Waits
Rider and bike, cockily lazily gaze
Waiting to see who made it next
The speed the thrill the competition that somehow never ends

A bike pulls up. Helmet is removed
Riders gaze into each others eyes
Competition, then and there dies.
A big grin, a slap on the back.
That was fun maccha, zatak the bikes went

Revving down the crowded roads of the city, Bikes lined up one behind the other thumping and hooting their brotherhood. A bike snake, coiled its way as bystanders looked with on with a smile, children waived and local boys tooted their horns in glee

Sitting there -  yet again reprimanding the defiant hair strands it came to me. There is a spontaneous joy in belonging to something large. Larger than you or your immediate circle of people, even though this was a bike ride and not a cause, there is an intuitive intoxicating rush in belonging. Creating a wave

Egypt made more sense now. Anna made more sense now. The cause becomes secondary, the thrill primary.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What Do You Remember of Today?


This is the work of Jonathan Harris.
Watch it once, please do.

Jonathan, was turning 30 and the realization that there was a lot happening in life that he did not know about struck him, the feeling that as you are growing older, your life may not be as you imagined it to be when you were 20, that there is a feeling of not attaining much, a feeling of there being a lot more to do, a feeling to determine who you are.

He embarked on an experiment, each day before he would head to sleep he would take a picture representing for him the day. One moment in the day, that meant a lot for him. One moment that said it all.

As the year moved along, the project engulfed him. It made him realize how little space there is to pause, to reflect, to introspect. Space. Privacy, time for contemplation. In the rushed pace of life, where information is distorted on a near constant pace fragments of information that come together to make news there is a need

To pause.
Take a moment to create and ponder over your own experiences, the life you just created, the story that you are making

When a close relative of mine died, a few years back. It made me realize, that there is nothing nothing that matters more than the story of makes with the life they lead. It need not be large, it need not be wide spread, it just needs to be the best that you could do. the lives you could touch, the choices you made.

A memory bank. Richer this bank with diverse experiences, rich is that life.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An external Perspective

I learnt a new thing in January. There is something called the developing worlds EYES and there is something called the DEVELOPED world eyes. Eyes being a synonym for the multiply laced perspectives that define how we see and what we see of the world. 

Sitting by the sea side of a little cafe in Phu quoc, Vietnam, we struck up a conversation with a middle aged couple from Canada. As travel conversations tend to go, we were soon trading tips on where to go and what to see. 

The couple began talking about the most vivid moment that they had in they journey so far. A visit to the floating village in Cambodia. Hmm floating village, sounds interesting. "oooh you have to go there, what ever you do you must not miss this. its remote so very different, these people dont have anything, they are living in an ancient way, with even the schools on water. Electricity isnt there. Its unimaginable. The sheer will power and courage of them is remarkable"

The developing country Indian in me quipped back. That does sound interesting, the floating part of it, but the rest that you mentioned is a part and parcel of a large portion of developing nations and there are zillion of cases of people managing a life without the luxury of these resources. 

Thats when it hit me. 

At some level I have Indian eyes. am accustomed to seeing a lot of hardship, its normal for me to open the paper and hear about honour killings, its acceptable to see a village that is living with little to no power, and its more than normal for there to be rich, poor, and middle class. The attitude of this is how it is has been ingrained. I no longer 'see' this as alarming, no longer does it jolt me, it is what it is. 

Does that make the developing nation - cynical ? or worse indifferent? Maybe. 
Does that make the developed nation - more caring? more responsive.. Not sure. 

For the record, we did go to the village. The 'Floating' part was true. Each house was fashioned on a foundation of oil drums, on which wooden planks were nailed down and on that a house made. Effective solution, for flooding, as the house simply rose when the water rose. 

The other bits, about being the most remote island ever. Blah! Each house had TV, there was a convent school, a medical clinic, cafe, a harbour boat pier, each tourist was charged 20 dollars to see them, little girls were accustomed to playing with pythons to get tips and the regular tourism showcase was on. 

My developing nation eyes - were disappointed. 

Somehow one notices more when they are traveling, than when they are living by within the comfort zone. 

Everyday, events that one takes for granted in the lives of people back- home and refuses to get alarmed by are things that evoke a reaction elsewhere. Too theoretical a statement, that is. lets simplify it. At a construction site near my house, families are engaged in construction. The children of these students, lay out the mat, get the books and study below the light of the lamp. A very cliched Indian moment. So cliched that even the President of India, used this as an Idiom to depict 'struggle'. As did Mr. Bagchi. 

The example, isnt to demean the struggle at all, rather used to highlight the matter of fact manner in which everyone around them responds to the very visible economic divide. So normal it is, that an emotional reaction isnt evoked.

Maybe to someone touring Asia for the first time, it would be an alarming sight to observe. 

The interesting twist to this though is an observation. It doesnt take long for a developed eye person to get the cultural sensitivity of the developing ones.  Things that alarm you at first, quickly become the norm. The beggar children are not given sweets by week 5, by week 6 one learns to ignore the old lady with the big spectacles and by week 7, one is not wondering why there is a baby playing on the sand pit.