Monday, December 24, 2007

Silent is the land : Silence is the tower

Today was my first trip to the Bombay Doongerwadi i.e. the Tower of silence. Zoroastrians do not cremate their bodies as they worship fire and believe that even after death they should donate their bodies. Yes, we are the benovalent creatures who consider themselves as pure as white snow (a lot more things that can equal pure, but I shall leave some work for your grey cells).
Spread across 70 acres, Doongerwadi is till date the Bombay Parsi Panchayet's (BPP) largest golden egg. And they seem in no hurry to give it away. The class divide is most prominent in the allocation of bunglis (house of rest for the bodies). The poor section of the community are given bumglis in the lower part of the doongerwadi where as the upper middle class who can afford to pay Rs 900 are given the Wadia bunglis. These are situated near the prayer hall

If one thought that the caste factor would be missing in the small community consisting of 69,790 Zoroastrians (India Census 2001), they are sadly msitaken. The Nasasalars or the Nascisar Khandia's(meaning people who carry bodies on their shoulders) are the body bearers of the community. Dressed in white flowy gown like robes, they carry the dead bodies all the way from the bungli's upto the Tower of Silence. This is a 2km walk up a steep slope and requires a lot of energy. Their work does not stop with carrying the body up with a stream of people walking behind them. But they also have to take the body inside the Tower of Silence and walk amongst the other bodies to find an empty slot to place the new body. They also clean the interiors of the tower ocassionally. Clearning up bones and left-over body parts makes these people impure. Hence there are considered the untouchables of the community.

They are not invited to the houses of chust (pure) Zarthusthi's. They find no one from the community who would want to marry them. They are left with no choice to marry the poorest of the poor, the pit of the pile.

They are the outcasts, the outlaws. They are who we made them. We didn't find the courage to pick up our remains after dead and so left them to do it. Those remains which are ironically donated after death.

"Dikra, jara ai kar ni, pelu kar ni ne pachi jara iya avine maari aagal bes ni!"

White haired and wise, sitting on the rickety chair reading three newspapers every morning - Jamejamshed, Times of India and Mid-day - is granny dear (maternal). A most common sight at the Kola house every morning. This is my maternal home. Located on a busy road in South bombay, with cars buzzing by and people queing upto buy tickets at Liberty, granny is oblivious to all of this.

Granny is oblivious to all of this. She lives in her own small world that revolves around newspapers, crows, food, chappatis, switching on and off the fans and many more things that would seem trivial to you and me. But this is her life. It has been for the past the last 20 years. And it will remain so till she exists.

We kids find her extremely repetitive (polite way of saying irritatingly nagging!). But we lover her, never-the-less. Her "Dikra jara ai uchak ni." (Child, plz pick this up.). And that 'this' will be a miniscule paper on the ground or something equally microscopic!

Her never ending, "Dilnaz, kekli chappati bana vanich?" (How many Chappati's are to be made?) is a daily extra dose one gets. She will call my aunt's workplace just to know that coz granny suffers from short term memory loss.

In the morning while eating her breakfast she hates the crow cawing at her. The black crow perched on our hall-room balcony door, caws away asuming he is entertaining my granma. But she thinks, he is complaining about her not feeding him!

These are a few things that havent changed since I was a kid.

(The title translates to "Child, do this, do that and then that also. After all of that come sit with me.)


Ever thought you did catch the flu a few days after landing in Bombay? I got the worst flu that has stayed with me most part of my trip. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhh! I never though I would, but then again I have never thought of any of the things that happened to me. Like my dad says, you do things to learn from them especially mistakes. I never do. Cant help it, I think the world is a nice place and people have better things to do then do what they do in reality.

Sneezing away on my wicker chair, wondering if I'm going to get the one call that will answer my questions (Psst psst, not all but most of them), I sit reminiscing of all the days gone by - good and bad. I have been doing that quite often.

Yesterday I went to Bandstand (in Bombay) after 10 years; the one place that my cousin and me would go to frequently when we were kids. All those memories came back like a flash flood, only to make my mood more pensive as my cousin wasn't there to squeal at and say "Look, that's the jungle gym we learnt to hang on like monkeys." Nats where are you? Missing you sweety. Remember all the times that we sat on those horses asking the 'godha wala' to go faster so we could out do one another? We did quite often didn't we? I remeber ruhi and mom saying, "Bhaiyya dheere chalo. Bacche hai ghir jaayenge.' and we used to contradict them, urging them to take us faster.

Things haven't changed one bit at Bandstand. It's the same. Almost. The horses aren't same, neither are the godha walas. But the kids who play there, making their own memories are the same. Faces aren't, but the spirits are. Why Nats couldn't we be just kids, with none of the problems to share but just fond memories. We could grow old by staying young and living our stories. Our fairy tale stories, not the 'big bad world' stories that we living through now.

Why o why did things have to change?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Long last.....

It feels like donkey years since i wrote a personalised blog. The last few have beena plug of my work which i shamelessly posted due to lack of time and motivation to write :) Five months spent in ACJ,gives you a lot to reflect on and very little time to implement it. Scraping my knees against the gruelling schedule that MJ puts us through, its no surprise that we are working through our holidays- either for our dissertation or gearing up for our deprivation trip to Cuddalore.

Sitting on my cousin's PC with nothing better to do in bombay, yes you read right - BOMBAY. Tired running around the desks of beuracrats gathering information for my dissertation. The threat of facing a RTI doesn't really bring a change in the sourly looks on their faces. The atrocity of this being, i had to take permission to enter the Doongerwadi (written to the Bombay Parsi Panchayet a letter, but havent got a reply on that as yet.) - atrocious cause I'm a Zarthushthi myself. This is the whole mess in my religion that i was/am talking about. Thought the dissertation would help answer a few of my questions, but it has raised more questions that what I or THEY- the wise men of my religion can answer.

Wonder what MJ would have to say about my dilemna. I think her reply would be "Jessica if more questions are being raised, you are on the right track. Follow the trail." But how do I follow the trail, if there is nothing for me to sniff around? BPP refuses to talk about the nuances of their funds as its not open for discussion and at this point I remember P.Sainath saying "Follow the money, that's where your story is." All i've got from the BPP is that thei liquid assets are Rs 50 crores! Mind you, this is not counting the property they own, which would cost a few billion rupees in the very least. Our Doongerwadi's minimal SP would be 1000crores (at the very least!) The baugs are a different story altogether. This is the story i've to get to the bottom of! The other conflict that arises is the intra-communal conflict, which is larger canvass that i've to paint.

I've one helluva long trip ahead, I'm not expecting it to be smooth without any bumps. But I do want to reach my destination with all the places I passed and stopped at on my way carefully marked out.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Landfills need no more refills

Ten feet high-unsorted garbage spread over 250 acres of the Perungudi landfills is testimony to the fact that there is no segregation of solid waste despite the claims of the Chennai Corporation.
No effort for sustainable waste management has been taken by the Corporation or the private companies who are in-charge of collecting the waste despite the MSW (Handling and Management Act 2000) which specifically states that segregation of solid waste is a must. The garbage is also dumped in ecologically fragile areas like the Pallikaranai Marsh in spite of the High Court granting it protected status. A corporation official says that it does not dump waste at the marsh but it’s the local people and town panchayat who do. But one look at the Pallikaranai ‘dump yard’ and the leveled out garbage spread across 10 acres is proof that an organization is involved. There is a run-down unit with a dysfunctional weigh bridge and private security guards at the entrance of the marsh leading to speculation in the involvement of the Chennai Corporation and other private players. Prashant, a resident of the area, says “Once a week, the garbage at the ‘dump yard’ is burnt and the smoke causes a lot of health problems. We have to wait for the smoke to settle before we can start driving.” More garbage is heaped onto the ashes and the cycle goes on.
The Perungudi landfill has been in use for 20 years, yet there is no reform in the manner in which the garbage is dumped. The road that leads to the landfill is a mud-track despite the claims made by the Corporation of spending Rs 25 lakh to build the road. It is a place where rag pickers earn their living. Plastic, paper, optical fibers, rubber products, organic waste all of it can be found together in large heaps that have accumulated over the years. It is left to dry in the sun; the latest garbage is taken to the back of the landfill and the front of the landfill is dried garbage. During the rainy season, the environmental and health hazards are prominent and the stench is unbearable. Bags with segregated garbage which is meant for recycling can be found lying amongst the other trash. So the efforts made by an individual become meaningless due to official apathy. 50 trucks carrying garbage come to the landfill everyday and they cannot measure the quantity as the weighbridge hasn’t been working for the last two months. The Supervisor at the landfill says, “Each truck can hold 5 tonnes of garbage and that’s how we note it down.” As per his calculation there are 2500 tonnes of garbage that are collected and disposed at the landfill. But most trucks are not filled to their entire capacity and this is overlooked by the Chennai Corporation.
The Chennai Corporation could learn from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras on how to collect and manage waste. They segregate their garbage into organic and non organic waste. The organic waste is dumped into a pit dug in the forest which is partly consumed by monkeys and deer, and the rest is composted by nature and acts as manure. The non-organic is sold and sent for recycling.

Jackpot with Garbage: IIT-M

Zero Waste Zone (OZONE) is IIT-Madras’s scheme of handling solid waste and recycling management. It was started in October 2004 with the help of Exnora, Vellore who studied the garbage in the campus. Based on the study a segregation plan for garbage disposal was set up.
The OZONE follows an eco-friendly method of disposal. They segregate their waste into organic and non-organic material and dispose it in two different bins present all over the campus. Pits are built in the forest area of the campus and the organic waste is dumped into these pits. Jayashree Anand, committee member of OZONE, says “The monkeys, deer and other campus animals know our timings and are ‘bang on time’ to pick the best out of the lot for food. The rest of it acts as manure for the forest.” Apart from being eco-friendly, this is also an economically viable method as IIT earlier used to pay Rs 30,000 once in two days to Onyx to collect their garbage. The non-vegetarian organic waste is dumped separately in a bin which is emptied once a week by Neel Metal Fanalca. Sujatha, Treasurer of OZONE, says “If we dump the vegetarian and non-vegetarian into the pit, it will cause a foul smell.”
The non-organic waste consisting of glass materials, plastic, cement, aluminium foils, electrical and barbed wires, papers are all collected into separate bags and at the end of the month it is auctioned to the highest bidder who then recycles it. OZONE earns Rs 70,000 a month from selling their non-organic waste. Jayashree says, “By the mad scramble for our waste material, one would think we have gold. There is a slight problem when it comes to selling polystyrene as there is no way method to recycle it.” even the paper is separated into colour and white paper as the Weight of colour is more and fetches a higher price.
The campus is divided into three zones – residential, academic and hostel. An awareness campaign via distribution of pamphlets was carried out. Each of these zones has red and green bins for people to throw the garbage in. From here, the garbage is collected using tricycles to a shed in each of these zones where a group of men and women segregate it. The segregated garbage is stored in synthetic sacks until the month end.
There are a total of 75 men and women employed from the neighbouring slums. They work six and a half days of the week and earn Rs 90/day. There is a two-week training programme conducted by Exnora and everyone is given certificates. Jayashree Anand says, “We have adult literary programmes as most of them couldn’t sign their names. Each one of them has a bank account now and all of them can at least sign their names now.” These classes are held every afternoon for half an hour and an incentive of Rs 4 is given to every worker to motivate them to attend these classes.
In collaboration with State Bank of India – IIT Branch, OZONE has formed two women and one men self-help groups. Taking into account how long these people have been working here, they get a loan from Rs 5000 to Rs 25,000 per person. These accounts are handled by the Ladies club and they help out the workers in case of any problems. There are quite a few men who have been working within the campus for as long as 14 years. One of the workers has built himself a house. They use the loans for paying their children's school fees, taking care of the house, investing in small chit schemes. Most of their husbands are contract workers and do not have a permanent job hence the women have to take responsibility of their family. A few of the worker's children are given scholarships for their education and recommendation for admission in the Kendriya Vidyalaya – IIT by the resident professors. This has helped them deal with financial problems largely. They are also paid overtime in case of extra clearance work in labs.
Salary of the workers is drawn from contributions made by the residents and is handled by the Ladies Club Madras.
OZONE’s policy of non-hazardous disposal of waste is one that should be replicated by larger sections of the people for a pollutant free environment.

Monday, October 29, 2007


The Education Department of Chennai has a list of objectives set for its corporation schools. Some are being implemented partially and most are just ignored altogether. Books are a source of knowledge. The absence of a library in a primary corporation school is one in a long list of missing educational basics in the corporation schools. The government has said that a library facility is a must, then why has it not been implemented? Are the funds allotted for this being siphoned off for ‘other’ purposes? Does the government have the soul to look into these fine flaws and take corrective action? We are talking about the future of young children who are the tomorrow of India. There are many other flaws in the system.

All students are promised free uniforms for all but only the ‘white’ uniform is provided by the government, which is worn only once a week. The students buy the ‘blue’ uniform which is worn more often and two sets of the same are bought by the students. Is it really necessary to have two uniforms? Why doesn’t the government supply these too? No footwear is provided by the government. There are children who walk bare feet to school over long distances. Bus passes which also come under the government scheme for corporation students are also not implemented by all schools. A lot of these students walk a few kilometers everyday to get what is rightfully theirs – education.

The government promised free textbooks and notebooks to all the students but then ONLY the SC students are given free note books, the others are asked to buy their notebooks. Why this caste rift? Do these children understand what a SC is? When they make friends they don’t ask what and who you are, but it does get them thinking ‘Why am I not given free books, why only them?’ Is it right to embed such caste issues in children at such a young age? Why can’t free notebooks be provided to all children? After all they too come from a poor background and their parents are also working like the rest.

Most corporation schools don’t have a first aid box, so where is all the free medicine meant for the children under the Health and Hygiene scheme promised by the government? These schools have poor or no laboratory facilities at all. No step is being taken by the government to change this. An empty classroom for a lab exists collecting dust and cobwebs.

The mid-day meals scheme is the only scheme of the government that is carried out impeccably in most places. It is heartening to know that the children are fed well at least once a day, but then again not all children benefit. What happens to the many children who sleep on pavements and die of malnourishment?

Friday, September 7, 2007

'Every action has an equal and opposite reaction'

The physical universe is governed by laws, not law of the land or state, but by scientific laws that are rational and logical. These laws were brought into existence after extensive study and substantial proof to support them. And hence we have accepted them. In physics when a single particle disobeys a law it's subjected to intense study, and the law maybe rewritten, in nature it leads to a new avenue of evolution. If our law, which dictates our behavior, is broken we are punished.

We are all human and we are prone to error. Let’s face it, the laws of physics too are written by us and we are infinitely more complicated than a single particle. We each react to the same situation in different ways, to make laws that are applicable to all of us is therefore more complicated. The law does exist despite all its flaws. But is imprisonment the solution? President Roosevelt of America once said “Speak softly, but carry a big stick”, he was referring in many ways to human nature itself. Punishment has always been a part of how we maintain order in our society. Law makers, make laws to make our lives safer. Today we live in a world where we cohabit with terrorists, arousing mere suspicion is a crime that warrants punishment. Doctor Haneef’s case is the latest where anti-terror laws were used with little to show for our safety.

Crime, the world over has increased ten-fold. One could argue that with better technology it is harder for criminals to escape the law. Politicians the world over are “getting tough” on crime. Harsher sentences are being handed out, often for small offenses. Yet crime rates are rising, this shows the system is not working. Instead our jails are filling up, resources could be dedicated to progress - provide the offenders with shelter, food and clothing. The problem with the system as I see it is that it is a reactive system. A crime is committed, society is outraged, and it reacts by showing the criminal its wrath. Who is a criminal? Was he/she not a part of society at one point, before they broke the law? The time to be proactive is now. Can we prevent crime, without carrying a big stick over our heads? Maybe not, that would be a bit idealistic, maybe a bit intrusive. So what do we do? The answer isn't easy; education plays a big part, perceptions another. The latter calls for us to change the way we look at criminals. Criminals shouldn't be considered misfits, or as unwanted elements as they are. In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov the protagonist deals with his demons and finally confesses to his crime. His ordeal is punishment enough. Again maybe this seems a bit idealistic to believe that one's conscious is punishment enough. There are cold blooded mass murderers out there who show no sign of remorse. This needs more study, what goes through their minds, is it genes or their surroundings, the circumstances that they have been in, which creates them.

Handing out life sentences, capitals punishments or sentencing them to jail is not the solution. Justice delayed is justice denied. Let us take the case of Sanjay Dutt, his verdict was given after 14 years of the crime being committed. For 14 years, he has made a notable contribution to the society, and has been A role model to many. Munna Bhai, Lage raho! Is it fair then to sentence him to five years of prison, now? The law does not consider what is fair, just what is right; a new system should be empathetic. Under trials in this country face nearly endless amounts of time in jail, simply wasting away, awaiting a preliminary hearing. This must stop, we need to quickly review our jails, statistics on the number of under trails in this country are sketchy at best. There are no checks and balances in place to ensure that law enforcement agencies do their job. Ironically the Indian police are considered second only to Scotland Yard, in terms of number of cases solved, but least we face it statistics lie. Human rights violations in this country are comparable with states like China. Compensation is unheard off. Justice is blind; she is the same to all rich or poor. In our country, I am ashamed to admit our jails are full of people awaiting trail, we have murderers and bandits in parliament. Blue collar crime is rampant. A mere slap on the wrist for the politician, the banker, the accountant who stole a core, a life of misery for the pickpocket who stole five hundred.

In conclusion, the system is not perfect, it is slow and inefficient, and often fails us. Murderers sit in parliament, and petty criminals are turned into hardened criminals in jail. The answer is complicated, first the government must make the courts more efficient, they are duty bound to do so. Checks and balances regulating the police are a must, allowing the CBI to be autonomous would be a step in the right direction, more independence for them would allow them to work better. The Indian Penal Code should be re-examined least we face it, it is a British relic, and should be adapted to our modern state. Education, every citizen of this country should be aware of the law, and their rights within the limits of the law, how to get relief from the court and so on. And finally reformation, this is probably the toughest part, society must try to re-integrate convicts, it is not easy, and it means giving them a second chance, a chance to lead a life with dignity. This is our right, the right to live with dignity, the law didn't take it from them we did, so who's the criminal now?

Vet- Pet MAGIC!!

As you go down to the basement, the scent of dogs and cats is unmistakable and you can hear them whining, yelping and barking. Dr. Arun’s vet clinic and shelter for pets, is one of its kind in the city. His dedication to his work is surpassed only by his love for dogs. Watching him handle the dogs with ease and gentleness reminds you of a mother with her baby. He is starting a physiotherapy clinic, first of its kind in Chennai, for dogs with chronic problems. He has adopted homeless and abandoned dogs, the recent one being Suriya, who is ‘bow-legged’ and has been with Dr. Arun for a year now.

He is based in a small sized apartment, with a reception area where Suriya will be founding ‘kissing’ people, three shelter rooms with temperamental dogs, a surgery room and a bathroom where the dogs are bathed. One wall of the reception area has racks of pet food lined up, most of it is imported. He also has a cold storage stocked up with ‘Pet Beef’ and ‘Sausage rolls’, this is sheer bliss for dogs. Pet owners can spurge their money on ‘Royal Beds’, toothbrushes, ‘Studded’ collars, for their ‘Beloved Poochs’.

Dr. Arun has treated dogs that are poles apart. One of his patients is a mentally challenged Golden Retriever; he says, “There is nothing we can do. They are like humans, they need love and attention.” His kennel once had a pair of Labradors who wouldn’t stop howling if the radio wasn’t played for them, as they were used to constant noise.

It is heartening to know that we have vets who treat their canine patients like they are family.

HANEEF - The witch-hunt story

The Australian government is in a fix. With the Dr. Haneef case falling flat without any substantial evidence to convict him, its time for the Australian government to realise its folly and make amends.

Right from the start, Haneef has been denying his involvement in the Glasgow terror attack. But the Australian Federal Police (AFP), never heeded to any of it. They accused him of ‘reckless’ behaviour only because he gave his SIM card to his cousin, Sabeel Ahmed, which they initially stated was found near the vicinity of attack. It was later found that the SIM was found at Sabeel’s house and Haneef had been stating that all along. Since when was giving away your SIM card to family or friends considered as a terror plot? And even if it was, shouldn’t they have confirmed the details of where and why he passed on the SIM? Indians believe in the concept of not wasting a penny, and if there is credit on the SIM then its perfectly normal to let some one else use it. Would the same treatment be meted out if Haneef had been an Australian and not a Muslim or South Asian?

Kevin Andrews, minister for immigration, has used his discriminatory power in an abusive manner by revoking Haneef’s visa on the grounds of ‘character flaws’. This is a very lose term which is not clearly defined by any law and based on mere suspicion. And we know that in humane judicial system, suspicion is not the basis for conviction. Hence the federal court absolved Haneef of all charges. The minister acted in a racist manner when he cancelled Haneef’s visa, which denied him the right to live and work. This was futile because the main aim was to detain Haneef even after he was granted bail. Andrews did not stop at this; he went on record stating that Haneef’s departure had aroused his suspicions and proceeded to humiliate him further by having immigration officers escort him to the airport.

The Australian Prime Minister has come out in the open with his support to Kevin Andrews. He said there is nothing to apologise about, it is better to be safe than sorry. And also that Australia international reputation hasn’t been harmed. So is he telling us that all the human right protests, media protests people agitating, major part of this happening in Australia, against the entire episode was done for fun? Obviously we are embarrassed by what happened and hence went through the trouble, but that seems to be obnoxiously ignored by the Australian government.

Haneef, despite all the humiliation and trauma that he has been put through, is willing to go back and work in Australia. This leaves him open to any investigation and therefore interrogation techniques that are allowed by the Australian anti-terror law. His willingness to cooperate is a definite sign that he is above suspicion.

If nothing else, the Australian government has stigmatised Haneef and ruined his chances of living a normal life. They can undo this partly by re-instating his visa.

Sunday, September 2, 2007


The Domestic Violence Act passed in 2005 but implemented only in 2006 has not had the desired affect in curbing the perpetrator of the violence and helping the victims. Even after a year of the act being implemented, only an insignificant number of cases have been filed.

This Act is for violence - verbal, physical, economic and/or emotional - against women in a domestic household. It also allows the woman to stay in her matrimonial house or shared household even if her family members want to get rid of her. Dowry harassment can also be filed under this Act. Cases filed under this Act are to be handled by protection officers, service providers and counsellors. Due to lack of these, the Act hasn’t been executed to its full potential.

Also the lack of awareness of the Act amongst people hasn’t helped.
Victims of domestic violence do not speak out for a variety of reasons such as fear, lack of financial independence, child support, society and family hostility amongst many others. The terror of being abused more harshly if they take any legal action is ingrained in their mind.
The Act makes provision for the abuser to be taken into custody and an injunction order can be passed to protect the women from further harm. This will help her to proceed with the legal action without any trepidation. The law also provides monetary compensation to the victim.

A UN report shows that 70% of married women in India are victims of domestic violence. For many years it has been a practice to physically and emotionally abuse a woman if she is not submissive to the man or his family. If she protests, she is beaten up and sent to her house; her in-laws ‘wash’ their hands off her. In her parent’s house she is ill-treated and shunned from society as she has brought great shame to her family for being ‘kicked-out’ of her husband’s house. This is common in poor income households due to poverty and lack of education.

Although we have heard of domestic violence in middle and elite classes in hushed tones, it is no longer a secret because of the media exposure. Dowry harassment cases against Rahul Mahajan and former HRD minister Arjun Singh’s grandson have been registered; this confirms the fact that domestic violence hasn’t escaped the upper strata of the society either. Shweta Mahajan, Rahul Mahajan’s wife, who was beaten for dowry, later withdrew her complaint saying it was just an accident.

Not all women approach the police, as they are afraid of tarnishing their reputation. There is also the problem of women refusing to accept that they are victims of domestic violence; they pretend everything is all right. Women must first come to terms with what is happening with them only then can any form of action be taken.

Women are often emotionally broken down and do not approach the police for help as the treatment meted out to them borders on abhorrence. The police tend to take cases of domestic violence lightly, they dismiss the women saying it’s a ‘family’ matter and should not be publicised. The police do not file a Domestic Incident Report (DIR). There is also a lack of awareness of this Act amongst the police reported L.Srikrishna; workshops should be conducted around the country where they are taught the nuances of the Act and how to handle the cases.

A government survey in 2007 showed that 53% of children in India are subjected to abuse of various types but these assault cases have not been reported. It is difficult to help children under this Act. The lack of knowledge about what is right and allowed – wrong and forbidden is not comprehended completely by children. Even if they do know, they do not speak up for fear of being reprimanded for ‘lying’. Moreover, it is infeasible for a child to go to the police station and file a complaint unless an elder accompanies the child. The survey shows that the abusers are people who live in the same house as the child. Here comes the question of whom to trust?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

COCK ROBIN - help!!!

"Who killed Cock Robin?" "I," said the Sparrow,"With my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin.""Who saw him die?" "I," said the Fly,"With my little eye, I saw him die.""Who caught his blood?" "I," said the Fish,"With my little dish, I caught his blood.""Who'll make the shroud?" "I," said the Beetle,"With my thread and needle, I'll make the shroud.""Who'll dig his grave?" "I," said the Owl,"With my pick and shovel, I'll dig his grave.""Who'll be the parson?" "I," said the Rook,"With my little book, I'll be the parson.""Who'll be the clerk?" "I," said the Lark,"If it's not in the dark, I'll be the clerk.""Who'll carry the link?" "I," said the Linnet,"I'll fetch it in a minute, I'll carry the link.""Who'll be chief mourner?" "I," said the Dove,"I mourn for my love, I'll be chief mourner.""Who'll carry the coffin?" "I," said the Kite,"If it's not through the night, I'll carry the coffin.""Who'll bear the pall? "We," said the Wren,"Both the cock and the hen, we'll bear the pall.""Who'll sing a psalm?" "I," said the Thrush,"As she sat on a bush, I'll sing a psalm.""Who'll toll the bell?" "I," said the bull,"Because I can pull, I'll toll the bell."All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,When they heard the bell toll for poor Cock Robin.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – The Musical, is the latest production of Landing Stage, the youth theatre group of Masquerade. Its been played by a group of kids all in the age group of 13-19, which is quite impressive. Marking the first time it has ever been adapted for theatre, it’s a matter of pride that a Chennai based theatre group has been given the rights to use the trade mark. Scripted by Manasi Subramanian and directed by Aruna Ganesh Ram, the production had immense potential and it would have been a phenomenonal success if not for a few things that were overlooked.

The exploits of Mr Potter are already widely known, and shouldn't need much in the way of explanation, but for those who remain unaware, this story plots the beginning of Harry's life into the world of magic, wizards and witches, from his orphaned childhood at Privet Drive- the house where the words ‘magic' and 'Potter’ are forbidden, to his first journey to Hogwarts, where he finally discovers himself and his place in the incredible world around him. He meets his various teachers, such as his mentor Professor Dumbledore, an adversary in Professor Snape who never misses an opportunity to snap at Harry, and Professor Quirrel, a timid man with a dark secret. With friends like Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and enemies like Draco Malfoy as well as the the Dark Lord himself, Voldemort, Harry is never short of adventures, which unravel in a series of twists and turns with a few song and dance sequences to adapt the story to a musical.

Firstly, there must be a mention of the impressive sets prepared by Mithran Devanesan, which brought to life all that one imagines when reading the book. The costumes, prepared by Deepthi Karnad were also good. The first few scenes had Dudley and Uncle Vernon who stole the show with their lively performances but the audio quality could have been better. Unfortunately, Harry’s expressions weren’t visible for the most part, as he faced away from the audience with his chin down (although the sorting hat sequence was performed well). There were also a few technical snags with the ‘sea sounds’ doing the disappearing act on Hagrid’s entry onto the island cabin and Hagrid needs to work on his vocation. The background direction of the song and dance sequence at Diagon Alley was well conceptualised but could have been executed better, as the dancers in centre stage obscured the action taking place behind. The performances of Ron and Hermione were quite impressive. Hermione got her indignant act so well that she would have passed off as English. Draco was one actor who not only got into the skin of his character but also got his diction right. However, Dumbledore's feeble voice left a lot to be desired, and the lighting during the forest scenes could have been better manipulated to prevent the shadows that were cast on the actors’ faces.

Some of the musical aspects were inspired as the sorting hat and chess game dance sequences were true classics. The directors voice and music by Ashwath made the song so potent, it had the audience applauding whole heartedly. These were the best instances of Denver Antony's choreography, while the other dances left room for improvement. There was also the occasional trivial scene such as the explanation of Quidditch, which could have been skipped, making the play considerable shorter. However, the graphics used for the Quidditch match were a brilliant piece of innovation. The climactic scenes with Quirrel and Harry were exceptionally directed and well executed, and Quirrel’s split personality was powerful enough to give you goose bumps.
With the release of the last book in the Harry potter series and the fifth movie sequel out in the last two weeks, the Harry Potter fever is running high amongst the general public and the production house have used that platform to promote the play. Although there were areas in which the production fell short, Landing Stage's spirited attempt at a musical has definitely put a new spin on the Harry Potter phenomenon.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


You pick up any random Indian newspaper over the last two weeks, the first thing that hits you is the ‘MUD SLINGING’ campaign by the opposition party against the leading party’s presidential candidate.

To sum it up in brief, everyone thinks Pratibha Patil Shekhawat is going to be a ‘rubber stamp’ president. WHY?? Cause of her alleged link to the (note) Gandhi-Nehru family. After all she cooked food in Indira Gandhi’s kitchen, when her son Rajiv Gandhi was killed. Now you may ask, what is it to any of us if she cooks, sweeps or swops (read sob too!)? No business, just that the whole scenario shows a very domestic scene. The Rashtrapati that we all strive for is not to be painted in such a picture, even though majority of the Indian women are portrayed to be home-makers!

But then again Sonia Gandhi being an Italian but now an Indian by choice (15yrs late!), has finally understood the “loyalty” that we Indians upho0ld ourselves for. Blood is thicker than water, but FAMILY LOYALISTS are rarer than that.

The first family of United States follows or I think it did be more appropriate to say “shares” (after all we wouldn’t want to offend Bush Jr by calling him our follower, he did feel more empowered if it was the other way round. Tssk tssk, I wouldn’t want to be the cause for Indo-US nuke deal fall-out! ), the same family traditions as India’s first family (the GANDHI’S). First it was BUSH SR who showed that a party loyalist comes before any other. He pardoned Elliott Abrams, who pleaded guilty to unlawfully withholding information from the Congress in the Iran-contra affair. Bush Jr follows his fathers principles by pardoning Lewis “scooter” Libby Jr who was found guilty of committing perjury. After all, Bush Jr had promised “to take care of anyone who violated the law in his administration”. Must say he has set a fantastic example of how to take care of such “law-abiding” people. To top it all, he employed Elliott Abrams as a deputy national security adviser. Not only does the President follow his dads tradition but also upholds them in every way possible.

Its no wonder that India’s first family and the U.S first family find a common ground that upholds all principles, similar and unethical. A lot of people crying foul play, these leaders think they can play GOD and get away with it until the next election, which is just around the corner for both countries(weird coincidence again!!).

Like Paul Krugman rightly said “Obstruction of justice when it gets too close to home is a family tradition. And being a loyal Bushie means never having to say you are sorry.” It goes the same for the Gandhi’s.

So sit up and get your act together before the curtain falls onto you, strangling you in its layers of (scaf)folds.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I wouldnt have ever thought that a drive to a wedding reception would get so entertaining! And the fact that a 45 min trip would in totality take 2 hours 15 min (my friend who was driving the car would beg to differ!) for reasons you'll know only if read the entire blog!! :D

I wasnt really complaining too much about the time that we were stuck on road but yes i'd tend to grumble when my stomach rumbled n protested a wee bit coz i wasnt paying due attention to it. We leave my friends place at 7 in the evening whereas it was was supposed to be 6.15, and mind you it was a guy who was to pick us up. I will smash a pumpkin on a guys head if he ever says, 'Women are late and fashionably so!' My foot! HE was
RUDELY LATE( if i was spared the jail term, thats the colour his clothing would have been!) . In the 45min time slot that i'm at my friends place, i have a very interesting conversation with her cousin who also happens to be a famous joints ex-chef! The second i hear the name of the joint where he USED (note the past, he emphasised on it a couple of times!) to be the cheif chef, i started cribbing and bantering about how lousy the service is, balh blah blah. Ironically i'd tell him that the brownies were simply 'mouth-lip-licious'. After listening to me diligently, he tells me that it NEVER was the chef (thats him!) fault but that of the waiters who because they are paid so poorly, arent too thrilled on delivering the order on time and get some weird satisfaction at being repeatedly asked and begged by the customers for their food! Saddists even in the hospitality dept, whatever has the world come to?? Doctors being terrorists, but that s different story altogether.

Our friend finally decides to make an appearance and we get moving to the hotel where the reception is held. These are the people that the car consists of --
CHEF, JOURNALIST, ENGINEER, RECEPTIONIST (this is my own version of what my friend driving the car does, in reality he works at a call centre! ;) ). Now that i've told you the kinda people in one car, i leave you to a moment of thinking as to what the conversation would have been about. 1, 2,3,4...................................60. TIME UP! I'm only going to be giving you a jist of it cause if i'd sit down to tell you the entire 2hrs 15min of the conversation, i'd be charged for taking up soooooooooo much space! :D

Here it goes....................................... We discuss about FOOD ( i invited the chef hoem to COOK!) which i think was the reason we got so hungry, we kept guessing as to what the food would be. We were all craving for
FLESH! Tssk tssk, i'm talking meat and chicken! :P Moved onto BLACK MAGIC (neither of us wanna mess with it!), spoke about BLOGGERS(hurray to us!) , anyone ever heard of our very own BRIDAL BEER who was a class act of her own in comparison to UKs BELLE DE JOUR?? If not, please go look her up. Sadly though my friend told me she got all her blogs erased due to reasons known only to her. But you still do have a wealth of information on her from people who scrapped her, if you would just care to google her name! We then moved onto FOOD again (cant blame us, it was past 8 in the night and we all were HUNGRY!!) :) . We passed a lot of lovely restaurants, infact we were really tempted to stop by one and have a snack! But decided against it as we wouldnt do justice to the reception food. Psst psst, we still didnt know the menu. While my friend and i were discussing all of this in the back seat, chef and receptionist were taking directions from different people simultaneously! HA, whoever says women are bad at road sense, needs to get their senses checked!!!
We did happen to loose our way a couple of times, that should tell you that just stick to 1 direction, dont jump, cross and get lost!! One of our friends finally did get there and we were like "hurray, finally!! whats the menu??" no greetings, no nothing.. just straight to the point. ALL OF THIS OVER THE PHONE!! Our friend was highly offended that we were interested only in the menu, but can the rat think about the cat, when he has french cheese in front?? Excuse the poor analogy!

After dragging the car in mad traffic, we did have a few roller coaster- like rides. I think our friend chose the wrong career, instead of a receptionist(!), he should have taken up
F1, but alas, all of us are prone to make mistakes, Even gross ones like our profession! :- Thats humans for you, the higher most strata in the ecology, but the most confused of the whole lot! Anyways getting to the point, we reached our destination, went upto the married couple, did the formalities and went to attack the food. only to slow down and eye it disappointingly on discovering it was VEGETARIAN! :( But then hunger trancends all of that and we eat with gusto.

I shall end this by saying, while eating i was introduced to a PILOT, SAILOR (works for the merchant navy, but then this is my choice of his post!). Interesting evening, uh?? ;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

'Never believe all that the Internet has to tell you' is what parents tell their kids! But when they imparted these words of advice, they didnt think it would be applicable to websites and information posted on any reputed site. Especially not a central goverment site!!!

Well i must say it is 'SO TRUE!!' w.r.t .. It psomises you a speedy service to all your needs. I think when they say 'speedy' it refers to the speed of a turtle! You would do an online registration for whatever it is that you've to do with the thought in mind that it would save you a lot of time. You go ahead and fill the form online, you are then asked to go to your nearest (one and only!) passport office at a particular time. You are all happy that "wow that was quick".
The next day when you happen to go and you even more pleased and reassured by the sign that hangs on the wall stating "NO QUEUES, NO WAITING, NO TOKENS, NO RUSH if you register online", when you get to the counter there is a "small" queue. Takes you half an hour to get to the man behind the desk, when you do all he does is ask you to check your name on a list, leafs through your form (the person who was waiting on me, did very patiently answer all my doubts!), and prompltly says "Kindly come back tomorrow to submit your passport. Come in at 8 ain the morn(guess for what??!!) to beat the rush. You can go straight upto the express counter." ARE THEY CRAZY OR WHAT?? :O

Next morning, after a pretty late night and mom screaming "you not going to be able to make it tomorrow if u dont get into bed right now!!) , you manage to drag yourself out from oblivion land to get to the office on time to only realize there already are 30 odd people waiting before you!!! :( Not one to give up, i promptly resign myself to be the 31st person!! : No decent chair to sleep on and a miserly newspaper in hand, you have to pass your time until 9.45 A.M which is when the counter opens! Amazingly at sharp 9.45 you see a well dressed man who looks as fresh as a daisy, compared to tour withered look, walking in and seating himself behind the computer. Before i know it, its my turn. Looks at my passport checks my form (which 5 other ppl already have previously!) and looks at me and says "You need a police check, where is it?" Guess he figures from my blank look that i had no idea about it (why the hell didnt the others tell me?? Arggghhhhhhhhhhhhh grrrrrrrrrrrrr, damn them to hell and back!). He hands over two forms for the same and asks me to fill it along with affixing two photographs of mine. Which i dont have. SO i go home, rush back with the needful and submit the passport with the reassurance that it'll be delieverd at my house within a months time. THANK GOD FOR SMALL MERCIES. To sum it all up, i spent a miserly 4.5 hours at a goverment office only to get what is rightfully mine by birth!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Audience?? The right kind???

Thght i'd write in some more to familiarise myself with writing an online diary. Actually i do have a lot to share with whoever would "accidently" bump into my blog (the ways of reaching annoymous blogs are still mysterious 2 me!) . Wont start off with something personal, coz i'm 1 to feel exposed in front of an audience unknown to me. :) getting back to what i wanted to share.. i happened to attend one of these religion documentary screenings... Went to one that was a feature on the Zoarastrian community( leave you to wonder why), the person who'd de doc was trying to tell us that the community doesnt consist of ONLY the TATAs, GODREJs and WADIAs but also of people lesser known to the world.. Parsis who are poor, who are dependent on the panchayat for their living, of the parsi heritages that are being left to the wilderness. Of people who fade into the background without their plight being highlighted. When asked by the audience as to why he chose to portray a sect of parsis that were gloomy, sucidal and not eminent... he really couldnt defend it much. Said it was a topic that made him feel uncomfortable, his inner-self was screaming at the 20 people sitting in the audience " Contribute to saving this community that also has to it a side that is there but not showed.. Help in any way that you can... Contribute to prevent these old people from feeling lonely". It wa really sad to see the director fighting with himself to speak aloud these words even though it was on top of his head and tongue to say just that! It was even sadder to note that the audience consisted of the higher strata of parsi society and yet only asked the director why he chose such a subject to deal with the community. After all there are many more positive things about Zoarastrians. What the audience failed to understand was that he wanted to show something that all were blind to.

Everyone is doing it, y not me???

I have decided to become a blogger only because half the world( or atleast the world where computers, laptops and NET exist!!) seems to be doing it. So i decided, y not me? No particular reason or story for this piece, just getting myself introduced to the world of BLOGS and BLOGGERS!!! So hiya, i say WELCOME to the world of virtual "EVERTHING"...