04 June 2014

Be Careful What You Vote For

I was advised not to write this. Why? Because India has turned into a moral police state.

In India, Sections 153A and 295A enshrined in the Constitution disallow the expression of any words, written or spoken, that incite disharmony and deliberately hurt religious sentiments. Fair enough. Secular is also a word in the Constitution that allows freedom to practise your own religion without harming anyone else's right to do so. Admirable.

But I'm still looking for an article in the Constitution that seeks to tell women what they can and cannot wear (save being nude in public), an article that says expressing a political (please note, I said political, not religious) opinion will get you beaten, harassed, thrown in jail and otherwise deprive you of something every democracy guarantees - the right to criticise your government. 

So I was advised not to write this. But I wonder if I can help the new government. Since the old one did scant to nothing about the looming problems, I thought it would be helpful to draw up a list of demands. (Nota bene. Demands. The time for requests is long past).

Dear New Government, 
This list is a representation of the demands of India's hopeful and hopeless population.

1) Be Honest. I don't mean be honest about the fact that you're cheating on your new diet but be honest about what you're doing with our money. If you spend it well, we'll give you more. If you steal it, you'll hear the verdict in five years. 

2) Be Effective. Don't allow our young women to be raped in broad daylight or in silent darkness, forced to drink acid, hung from trees after being gang-raped by 38 men, and stripped and beaten in public. Ensure that the severest punishment meets the crime. Changing the psyche of society will never happen on a mass scale in India; let's face it. So do your part. Deter. Prevent. Punish. Put to death if you must. 

3) Be Secular. Don't frighten those who don't share your religious beliefs and sentiments. Don't be troublemakers simply because you're a majority. Don't be mean bullies. Don't underestimate the common man. You're one of them. Common. 

4) Be Well-Behaved. If you don't know how to be well-behaved, look for information on the Internet. Be social media savvy and give yourself a belated education. After all, you claim to have won on the basis of a social media blitz. So learn good manners from there. Don't embarrass the largest population in the world. We don't appreciate it. 

5) Be Intelligent. Don't mistake that for degrees. Don't mistake that for a smart mouth. Don't mistake that for absurd Tweets. Understand that intelligence and logic must be balanced with human emotion. In short, be a good mother. That's the only way to serve your motherland. And if you didn't have a good mother, find the next best alternative. Don't presume you can work for the nation without intelligence. We've got poor tolerance for criminals and idiots. 

6) And finally, learn this. Commit it to memory. Understand that if you do not at ALL TIMES honour the following words, you'll find yourself hung out to dry. 

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

You do not want to go up against 1.27 billion really pissed off people. You've seen, I suspect, the result of that. Don't presume that result won't apply to you after five years. Good luck.

Common Man, Woman and Child. 
(on behalf of 1.27 billion people and their pets) 

13 February 2014

Of Cowards and Bastards

Every time I attempt to find a morsel, a mere crumb of a reason to feel some pride in the nation of my birth, bam! Someone pulls the trigger and releases the deadly gunpowder of violence, hatred, prejudice and my special pet hate- cowardice. 

Congratulations Penguin India on having done the unthinkable. On compromising your artistic integrity for a bunch of worthless, spineless, illiterate fanatics. Also commonly known as Shiksha Bachao Andolan (hilariously, ironically translated to Save Education Movement) who are nothing but a bunch of hooligans and philistines who wouldn't know an alphabet if it kicked them in their testicles. Oh wait. Such people have no balls. I'll have to satisfy myself by calling them a waste of space, like my young nieces and nephews do. 

Wendy Doniger, whose book The Hindus: An Alternative History has been banned, must be wondering what on earth Penguin India was doing. She must have wondered how being one of the foremost scholars of Hinduism in the world would lead to to that very religious community shoving her off their shelves. She must have wondered how Penguin India would look its authors in the eye. 

I was first acquainted with Miss Doniger when an ex was her student at the University of Chicago. He introduced me to her most wonderful work. Apparently this bunch of non-humans thinks it is perfectly all right to question her expertise with none of their own. Their only weapon was this dangerous idiot called Dinanath Batra who gave this ridiculous interview to Time magazine. Reading it will give you an ulcer, I warn you.


So what's to become of writers? What's to become of readers? Are we going to live in a climate of fear where our hopes, dreams, words, books, works of art and our very fundamental sense of freedom of opinion is to be signed away in an 'out of court settlement' by the guardians of knowledge and art? 

Penguin India has written its own obituary. Oh they won't go bankrupt just yet. They will survive because money and ugliness go hand in hand and the world will continue to feed such vultures with the scavenging remains of their dignity and courage. 

I'm about to start looking for a publisher. Everyone advised me not to write against Penguin India at this delicate juncture. But if I don't, then I am not a writer, I have nothing to say and I'm a coward. So Penguin India....I hope you burn in hell.

20 October 2013

Bloody Blue Bird

No I wasn't swallowed by some prehistoric bird. I mean to report this in a dazed, confused, highly saddened state. I have joined Twitter. Now before you take offence (and I don't care if you do) do understand this. I like paper. I like pens. The fountain kind. I love libraries which carry crusty old books. I am extremely enraged by the concept of limiting the world's wisdom to 140 characters. I've been resisting the onslaught of this Bloody Blue Bird for so long that I was some sort of weird lone ranger.

But I am told, nay, threatened, that if one does not fly with the Bloody Blue Bird, one shall sadly hit the ground at a great thumping velocity that will surely fracture one's spine and leave one like a vegetable, like the broccoli one so despises.

To avoid pain and paralysis, one has begun to flap one's wings. To counter this feeling of extreme illness, one shall do the following ten things immediately.
1) Read a book. Printed on paper. Preferably old paper.
2) Drink tea out of a Victorian teacup. Daintily.
3) Wear something disgustingly highneck and with lace on it.
4) Read another book. Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. An old paper edition.
5) Speak in tongues. Addressing everyone thus: How art thou?
6) Speak very ill of the Bloody Blue Bird
7) Shoot all birds should they fly past one's face
8) Insist that Shakespeare never had the Bloody Blue Bird and is remembered after well nigh, 500 years.
9) Refuse to abbreviate and say u instead of you.
10) Check one's phone obsessively to see who has read this list.

Bloody Blue Bird. I curse thee.

23 July 2013

Prince Biden and the Giant Pothole

Once upon a time there was an evil Giant Pothole. He had a large family, lots of Little Pothole brothers and sisters and they lived happily in the Kingdom of India. They wreaked havoc all through the year, pillaging and plundering and killing any good citizens that dared to cross them. Their bloody reign went unchecked and they grew in strength and number every year.

One day, appalled by the plight of the poor citizens, Prince Biden of the Land of Obamarama decided that he must do something about it. After all, it was his moral duty to help the poor defenseless citizens against the daily atrocities of the Giant Pothole and his family. He informed the King of India that he'd pay a visit to the Kingdom of India and they would talk of Lots of Things and Little Money Matters. The King of India knew that this was his final chance to make his Kingdom a Better Place. So he secretly gathered his elite Army of Black Ants, that very night, and equipped them with powerful Anti-Pothole Guns that shot out deadly Filler Bullets. The Giant Pothole and his Little Pothole brothers and sisters were attacked in the dead of night while they were asleep. Taken by surprise, they couldn't do anything to protect themselves against the hail of Filler Bullets. They died, screaming and sputtering.

And thus, due to the benevolent visit of Prince Biden of the Land of Obamarama, the Kingdom of India was rid of the terrors of the evil Giant Pothole and his family of Little Potholes. The people were happy and safe and lived happily ever after until the next monsoon. 

The End.

The 3 Idiots

I refer to the illustrious company of Messrs. Biden, Kerry and Dobbins. 

Why has Obama, presumably an intelligent man, surrounded himself with these three idiots? 

Biden. Ah my favourite butt of all jokes. He who drones on and on about everything, unstoppable in his tracks. He's due to arrive in India in a day or so, to lecture us perhaps on how we are America's most cherished partner, being the largest, most populous democracy in the world and as such America loves her new bestie, warts and all. Lip service because this useless clocking of airmiles is exactly that. Pointless and useless. Can he offer anything tactical or strategic that will help address the real issues of economic arrangements, geopolitical support or is he going to sanctimoniously lecture India on how it should improve on all counts. Really. This coming from the largest, most populous hypocrisy in the world. 

Kerry. I guess he must walk around with the big L for Loser tattooed on his forehead. He actually believes he can get the Jews and Muslims into one room and wax poetic about the Two State Solution. Kerry recently came to India to reprimand the naughty kids in the Indian government about cutting greenhouse gases and opening up our markets in a more economically egalitarian way. He, of the country that's one of the biggest polluters on the planet, has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and wastes energy in every possible way, from large polluting vehicles to plastic everything. He came to India to shake his money-tainted finger at us, while blatantly disregarding how the big businesses in America are anything but economically egalitarian, and in fact, border dangerously on the criminal. I suggest he funnel some of his millions into buying a brain first and then a filter to his mouth. 

Dobbins. The oxymoron. The Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan feels free to tell India how to behave with those two countries. Why? Because we're neighbours? Because America clubs India with those two stains on the planet? Or because it's in America's political and economic interest to force these three nations to cooperate? Just because some powerful lobbies tell him that India is the key to a settled peace in this region, doesn't mean that's the ground reality. There are rooms filled with evidence as to what Pakistan does through its malevolent ISI, often using the suffering Afghans as willing bait. And its enmity against India is a long-documented fact. But Dobbins feels that India is not doing enough to play nice. How about he takes a walk down a street in Kabul or Lahore, unprotected, like a normal citizen. He'll need a diaper. 

I'm not saying India is perfect in any way. It's a very flawed democracy, but one with teeth and it's grown up enough and riled enough to bite. So if America wants the goodies on offer in this country, then Obama has to make sure the chefs are professional and can cook an Indian curry to perfection. 

Otherwise, there's always food poisoning. Get rid of these three idiots Mr. President. And put your money (what little you have left) where your mouth is. Because these three can't cut the mustard.

21 April 2013

India: Do Not Do

Welcome to India. The land of milk and honey. Oops! I meant Assault and Abuse. Oops! I meant Rape and Paedophilia. What, you thought the Catholic Church had dibs on that? When people think of India nowadays, they think poverty, technology, economic development, pollution, tourism, pageant winners, call centres, outsourcing, Bollywood and Salman Rushdie. 

I want you to stop. I want you to start thinking of India as AA. Not Alcoholics Anonymous. Assault and Abuse. If you truly want to understand the sickness that is India, first stop romanticising it. Yes, the bloody Taj Mahal is going to be there forever. It no longer represents modern India. It's a laughable glimpse into a  colonial and bloody past. The present is much more terrifying. 

The present is so horrific, you will literally want to lock up your daughters and sons and never let them out onto the streets of India. The media will throw a million statistics at you. 336% increase in rapes since 2010. One out of five cops involved in cover-ups. India: The Rape Capital of the World. Endless numbers. Endless tales of woe. There is only so much you can read and watch before you either do something about it or die from the overdose, turn it off and walk away. 

Do Not tell me, India has good people too. So what? Not all Nazis were bloodsucking murderers. Not all Israeli Jews are arrogant killing machines. Not all Saudis are terrorists. If those mind-numbingly idiotic and underwhelming persuasions work with you, get the fuck off of this page. India is a bad country now. It's a country which has lost all sense of decency, humanity, compassion, logic, honesty and courage. 

Do Not visit. The tourism isn't worth the damage you may incur. It isn't worth the hell you'll go through if you get caught in its web, where you'll be slowly devoured, as your intestines are literally ripped out before your very eyes. Do Not tell your children about it. You'll never be able to protect them here. They will be raped, brutalised, bled to death, tortured beyond comprehension. It'll make Katherine Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty look like Winnie the Pooh had a small accident. 

I no longer belong to India. And India no longer belongs to me. I reject this monster. This golem. This horrific bogeyman who is eating the children alive. I no longer want to hear that there are people trying to change things. Those people are raped, tortured and killed too. I no longer want to hear that instead of complaining I should do something about saving it. I have. I refuse to give birth. The only way to clean India is to stop India. Literally stop it in its tracks. I'm not an advocate of ethnic cleansing. I am an advocate of cleaning the dirt. Find the rotting seed and crush it. 

I am ashamed of India.
Put India on your DO NOT DO list.

And yes, there is such a thing as evil.

04 April 2013

The Way To A Woman's Brain

Yes, go on. It is. Through her stomach. When we love what we eat, when food delights us, especially when it's cooked by a man, our brain sits up and takes notice. The heart is a mere follower. 

Last night I was invited to dinner to an old mate's lovely home. The entire family is a single unit of insane friendship and Dionysian overtones. There's Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Baby Bear Senior and Baby Bear Junior. Generally, between the Bombay Sapphire and the constant service of delicious home made snacks, I don't pay attention to what's on my plate, so intense are our conversations and so law-breakingly loud is our hilarity. 

But last night, something happened. The food took precedence over the conversation and the friendship. The food. Those who know me well, also know that I know food enough, to not treat my tongue like part of a sandwich. So imagine my surprise when I absently dipped my toasted cracker into a smooth, heavy, lissome yogurt dip, almost the consistency of cream cheese, delightfully speckled with dill and lemon zest and with that first taste, froze in the middle of my sentence. Papa Bear thought I needed more gin. Mama Bear looked confused. Baby Bear Junior gulped audibly. I had stopped talking. Now, those of you who know me well also know I cannot shut up when I am having a good time. I tell you people, I shut the hell up. It was delicate, exquisite and danced on my tongue. 

Next, Mama Bear's salad with unoffending goat's cheese and crisp fresh, ever-so-slightly and mercifully under-dressed greens, prepared my palate for the goodness that was about to follow Then came the deceptively simple meal. The kind that lures you in with the simple memory of childhood, aka shepherd's pie. The second dish assaults you with the sexual overtones of your first exotic holiday in Sicily. When the chicken parmigiana competed with your senses and the young Italian boy was struggling to hold his own.

Shepherd's pie or cottage pie as it was known in the 1800s  is a simple formula, so it's astonishing how many people get it wrong by trying to make it 'tastier.' That's like trying to make your child look cuter. Just leave the original recipe to melt your heart. I can still taste the soothing layer of meat and potato, when all was right with the world and all I ever had to worry about was, what would the tooth fairy bring me. Ah, simplicity. Ah Shepherd's Pie.

Marinara is not actually my favourite sauce but this chicken parmigiana was so moist, tender and evenly coated, the sauce became a vessel of delightful flavours and upheld the layer of cheese with great bravado. I became a marinara convert at that dinner table. And I don't convert easily. I'm an atheist. 

With the end of the meal, the memory cells began to sing their own songs. Telling me this was better, 2009 at Mama Spitzi's was better, my ex-boyfriend's Italian sister-in-law's was better, Baby Bear Junior's was better and the voices followed me home. This morning when I woke up, I quickly asked myself a question. How was dinner last night? Quick answer. The food was fantastic. 

Enough said. Baby Bear Junior, you have a gift. It's also a curse. I'll be fat and hate you. You'll be fat and hate yourself. And the tastes of my childhood and my holidays will be refreshed with a pinch of salt and sweetened with ripe lemon zest. 

Mille grazie Ricci.