Friday, August 19, 2005


Have you ever stood transfixed - not wanting to move....

You've been listening to your favourite music and the next song begins - The familiar strains of a thousand nights, inexplicably and magically transports you to a place , today , that it does not seem to have taken you to before...

You stop what you are doing and drink in a sound that is so so so very rich.... The present moment is everything suddenly-and you want to lose yourself in that slow plucking of the guitar -

The sublime strumming - You smile - the comfort it seems to bring - Deceptive. You have no inkling of the storm that it is only just beginning to stir up in you - Then the voice begins and you close your eyes - shut them tight . You ache to drown out everything else- including the memories that might be flooding back...

The lyrics you always loved suddenly acquire new meaning - you feel the song is yours. No.You know that it's yours -no one can understand it like you do now - It was written for you , for this very moment . And the music , Oh the music - it is so beautiful it almost hurts... You reach over to increase the volume - the loudest you can manage it , not even opening your eyes to do that, if you can help it - you think to yourself that you are going to play the song over and over and over again - maybe until the day ends and you drop from exhaustion despite wanting to keep awake - Upon which, You kick yourself for missing that one note because you spent that microsecond thinking that thought instead of just listening... And drowning...

Every pore of your skin now seems to breathe the rhythm... And you feel more alive than you have ever been... You rise and fall with each note... You ride the wave - And let the music carry you - But as the intensity increases , you feel you need to hold on to something - yourself even - The angst in the voice has touched its crest and the chords it strikes in you are too many to be fully conscious of at once . But you want to be - you want both song and time to dilate...

The words continue to spin in your head - their profundity , simplicity , beauty , love and harmony hit you so deep , all at once you discover depths of feeling you did not know existed .

Intuitively , you know that this piece had to have been written in those rare moments when the musician IS his music and there is no ego .....

For those minutes, you are the response - The response that the inspired musician spends his life trying to evoke...

Humility descends upon you in those moments and you realise how truly fragile you must be for the music to be able to rock the safely harboured ship of your consciousness enough to un-anchor it .... But perhaps it is the music that is just so powerful.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


This is a report from the Times Of India website - A piece I originally read in the paper itself some time last week.. Anyway , it shocked the daylights out of me...

Read on..

MUMBAI: Five days ago, sessions court judge Laxmi Rao convicted a man to seven years' rigorous imprisonment for raping and kidnapping a minor but released him on probation after 45 days in custody. On Thursday, Judge Rao did it again. Suresh Vanse, a resident of Matibai Chawl in Borivli, was pronounced guilty of raping a 14-year-old girl but sentenced to imprisonment "till the rising of the court''-or, effectively, for just one day.

The logic behind the diminished sentences is the judge's ostensible concern for the 'humanitarian' angle. Both Vanse and Paramram Sarane, the first offender, were the sole bread-winners of families and had a large number of dependents, noted the two judgments. Interestingly, in July the judge had sentenced a woman convicted of seducing a young boy to five years' rigorous imprisonment.

Vanse, the offender in Thursday's case, raped his 14-year-old domestic help in 1992. He cajoled her into keeping mum by promising her that he would marry her soon. It was only when the girl became visibly pregnant that her father, a handcart puller, lodged a complaint with the Samata Nagar police station on September 7, 1992. The subsequent medical examination proved that the victim's age was somewhere between "14 and 15 years". Vanse even tried to get the child aborted but doctors refused on account of the girl's frail condition. When the case came up for trial in the sessions court, said public prosecutor Lata Chheda, the victim testified that Vanse had had sexual intercourse with her.

Vanse was ordered to pay Rs 50,000 in compensation which he promptly did on Thursday. Of this, Rs 25,000 is to be given to the victim and the other half to the girl child she gave birth to in 1993. The victim, who's from an extremely poor family in Sindhudurg has been in Mumbai since the incident, earning a living by doing menial household chores. Her 12-year-old daughter now lives in Sindhudurg with her grandmother.

Taken from the Times Of India.


There isn't a day that passes when there are'nt several reports of rape or murder in the newspaper.And over time , we have become desensitised to it. We just click our tongues , shake our heads in sadness for a second and move on to the sports section... In the newspaper, also do we read , of the government's many screw-ups and scandals - Nothing seems to faze us anymore. For the Innocent to be wrongfully accused - we are accustomed to , For the guilty to manipulate the system and be acquitted we accept with practiced equanimity... But this is different. Please tell me that you feel my outrage... Atleast in some measure.

I do not claim to understand the criminal law system and its intricasies as it is prevalent in India. (or anywhere else in the world for that matter) . I realise, also, that the reason we appoint judges and allow them the liberty of pronouncing sentences at their discretion is because we believe that each case is unique and for a single law to cater inflexibly to thousands upon thousands of accused, would probably be unfair or to be more precise ,unjust. So, the law suggests a socially acceptable punishment - which by and large the judges are expected to mete out. Except when they feel that there are special circumstances which require either that the law be altered or that the accused receive a degree of exemption because of special circumstances.

And hence we hand pick men and women who are supposed to

1) To comprehend the prevalent law in all its intricasies

2) To have the stomach to make tough 'judgements' (to be corrupt or not to be..) and the mind to discern and be fair...

because they have been picked for the aforementioned qualities- We , rightfully , expect them to be a fair minded set of people with a keen sense of justice...

If you are laughing at my naivete , or if you think that I can't imagine how awry a state , the system of appointing judgeships , really is in , I will have you know otherwise. The 'education' I have received has ensured that I am sufficiently cynical about the State as an institution of welfare. But this is not about the practiced cynicism that we so conveniently hide behind. It's so easy to shrug one's shoulders and end the discussion by saying something flippant like "Someone must have been bribed" or "everyone these days is corrupt" or better yet "the woman must be off her rocker".

But what happens to the kid that got raped - What about her?? She's lived long enough in the knowledge that she has been wronged. Then the matter is made public and her humiliation becomes multi-fold. She endures the ensuing trial with as much dignity as she can muster. And finally, the man who raped her is convicted.

The system has pronounced him GUILTY. No doubts.

Imagine, if you will, how she might have felt at that point. Relief coursing through her veins-Exhaustion-A simple longing to just get back to some semblance of normalcy.
And then the bomb is dropped. A system she probably did'nt have faith in to begin with, that has given her some hope by convicting the bastard , cruelly snatches it right back. The man that violated her most basic of rights has to endure no more than a day's imprisonment. And oh.. On what grounds.Surely , nothing is going to change the fact that she was raped , but at the least , would'nt you think , that she hopes the judicial system will not make a mockery of itself and her by issuing , in effect , a one day sentence for a crime which is punishable by seven years.

Where is one day of custody in comparison with 2555 of rigorous imprisonment???

Special circumstances- Now, I have no frame of reference as to the different circumstances that merit a reduced sentence. Off the top of my head , I can only think of a mental illness or a serious physical illness. Even those cases are quite debatable - but let's not go there.

The issue at hand is simply this : What message does this judgment send out??

Is the Honourable Judge trying to tell us 'junta' , that if you are a father , and earn far too little to feed the brood that you have brought into this world - and you take it into your head to rape/kidnap/murder anyone(let alone a minor) and you actually go through with it - Then the law may be considerate to you simply because you happened to not comprehend the benefits of family planning and you let your financial affairs remain in disarray??

This sounds like one of the tax reductable items. Why don't we advertise it??
Have lots of dependents , rape someone and you can get away with it by paying a Rs. 50,000 one-time downpayment and a day in jail. But, sorry, if you are a more sensible and thoughtful member of the middle class you don't get the same concessions.(If you are thinking , why would a sensible and thoughtful member of the middle class commit the gruesome act of rape - Don't be so hasty in dismissing the thought - Sensible and thoughtful people can do be pretty horrible things too. Presumptions are dangerous and stereotypes constantly break the mould every second) Ofcourse the really rich and the really poor can't be in the scope of this discussion- they are quite simply, above the law. The really rich , because of the power that money buys. The really poor , because they have nothing to lose.

Back to the report - Notice if you will , the reporters mention of the judge's previous indictment of a woman. "Interestingly, in July the judge had sentenced a woman convicted of seducing a young boy to five years' rigorous imprisonment.". But I suppose , we can only speculate as to what he might have been alluding to. I seriously wonder , how the judge could , in all conscience (but then i'm making a big assumption here- that she has one) make such a seemingly ridiculous and obviously gross violation of the justice owed to the victim.

I'm afraid ,I don't seem to be able to be as caustic as I really want to be -I think it has something to do with the fact that I am simply too flabbergasted - The magnitude of the offense it does to my sense of justice. You come out all guns blazing , aching to demolish an argument that is seemingly flawed. Then you realise, that you have made a presumption in assuming there is any argument to demolish. That can only be if there is some semblance of logic or reason present . (If there is , for the life of me , I fail to see it...)So at the end of the day , we have a man who has committed a gruesome act - the highest level of human rights violation - And he gets away virtually scot free.

It makes one think...and despair. And as a woman , I guess I am a lot more cognisant of how this might affect me...

So tomorrow , if it happens , that the neighbour's creepy chauffeur or the weird watchman, or just any old tom - takes it into his head to rape me or someone I know and by some miracle manages to get caught , goes through the system and ends up being convicted , then ofcourse , I should understand when he won't be put behind bars , because while he was raping me , he forgot that he had seven mouths to feed back home , and the judicial system must give him allowances for the fact that he has a lot of dependents depending on him and a bad memory. For the rest of you rapist bastards, too bad... who asked you not to inundate this already
over-populated country with your progeny before you decide to rape us???

I repeat my point... I know.. It is my indignance and consternation at play..and even if it serves no purpose other than to vent .... I need to emphasise how ridiculous this seems to me...

And so finally, after screaming ourselves hoarse about the "injustice of it all" , where does all this leave us? What faith can we have in such a system? Is feeling outraged and sorry , for the poor girl and the thousands of others like her, all we can do? Will tomorrow be another day of mockery?

P.S : If someone who happens to read this , can shed any light on this seemingly inexplicable 'virtual condonement of sin' , I would appreciate it if you could enlighten me.. I do truly want to understand this...And perhaps , I don't know a lot there is to know...about the law and this world.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Some Arbit Gyan I Found Interesting!!

I received this rather interesting piece of gyan (well technically 'pieces') by email , It was titled " Whoever said history is boring..." .( Well, for starters I don't think history is boring at all... I think it is fascinating , like a lot of other things and I love it!!!) However, I'm not quite sure to what end this was originally written ... Did they just put together an interesting set of insights into certain aspects of 14th century life and how it relates to modern day language , for the heck of it?? Well, in any case, it certainly it held my attention ( and in these days of ennui , pour moi , that's certainly something! ) and it definitely seems to make sense. I'm not quite sure if all of it is entirely accurate ,especially the references to the origin of certain phrases , but the explanation seems plausible and definitely makes sense and I suppose that means at the very least it lends itself to being food for thought... I guess you will see what I mean once you read it..

And since I found it interesting I thought I would put it up on my blog - In an effort to resurrect it , you might say! It's been dormant for far too long.. There are reasons and reasons.. And I would hardly like to point fingers but I'm afraid I have to attribute it to the entrance of a certain someone into the sphere of my rather mundane existence.. Not to say that he has spiced it up Too much (me being far too resistant to too much change) , and what with him being a staid , sober ( ha ha ha ....) person himself... Nevertheless, he has certainly occupied my thoughts a lot...if not entirely!!

But excuses , excuses ... Yes, the amazing feeling of novelty that still persists three months into this relationship has lent itself to submerging me in a state of distraction , but there is (fortunately for me ) another (and the main) object of blame!
The lull (that just must lift one of these days , even if i have to hire a crane to do it ) is due , I believe , to the overwhelming ennui that seems to have settled comfortably over my sky -
That seemingly immovable entity, coupled with the inertia and sheer laziness that I constantly fight - finds me exceedingly frustrated , and fervently hoping that all of it will evaporate as quickly as it seemed to set in , all those months ago...

In that earnest hope.. here's what I was referring to:

(Oh and I could'nt help including a couple of comments and a little extra gyan , just 'cos ... Blame the cynicism that comes with ennui!!)

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, // Yeah right , I think in Madras ( still can't call it freaking 'Chennai' ) , if we get water in our taps we'd be pretty darn happy!!! // think about how things used to be.Here are some facts about the 1500's:

--Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour. Hence, the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

// Thank god for Chanel et al. Now , we could probably dispense with the flowers... Seriously though, I knew this , and it's also, I think , for the same reason that women wear flowers in their hair in india , but here, mercifully there was a lot more water and it was'nt quite so cold and people understood the concept of Hygiene and consequently it was a far more regular occurrence...I mean - the bathing!!! //

--Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence, the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

// Gee! Who would have ever thought... And what were we women complaining about!! We were'nt suppressed ...we were THIRD from last .... It was'nt us who got thrown out with the bath water... But then , I think that was probably a practical thingamajig... Who would make up the bath and get everyone to bathe the next year!! //

--Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (like mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

--There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. // With a menagerie on the roof... I'm sure it was immaculately clean! // Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

--The floors were layered with dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying "dirt poor."

--The more affluent had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet , so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A heavy piece of wood was placed in the entranceway to keep that from happening. Hence the saying a "thresh hold."

--In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

--Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could "bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."

--Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

// This is why , here in more enlightened (if i may say so) india , we used copper utensils , because copper is one of the most chemically inert substances and it would'nt react with the acid or many different salts contained in our food - so we were saved being poisoned by our own utensils!!! Although to be fair , we did'nt eat tomatoes until they were introduced to us by the europeans.. , but i'm sure there are other equally acidic food stuffs that we did and could have led to our demise , save for , well , i guess , the wisdom of a few here //

--Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or "upper crust."

--Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days.

// And to think that people now shell out exhorbitant sums for the same effect... I just need to check if Lead ,in combination with alcohol, can induce atleast some hallucinatory effects - And if it does...Hire some thugs , pass out the lead cups free for a bit and we might begin a thriving cartel right here ...Oh and incidentally , we might even manage to help contain the population explosion by knocking off the unfortunate thrill seekers...//

And someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence, the custom of holding a "wake".

// Presently, ofcourse , we just hook them up to the ECG machine (or is it something less complicated than that even? )... and the expense of a wake , the anticipation and suspence of wondering if they will live , disappears...But then maybe back then , that was the fun part for everyone else... bet you anything , the men ran bets , maybe even a nice Winner-takes-all pool , everytime someone was found on the side of the road...while the women sat by discussing which one was going to get to skin him for not "returning her call" after he'd slept with her.. And the poor soul , if somehow cognizant of this would wonder .. " To wake or not to wake..." //

--England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, about every 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the "graveyard shift") to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was considered a " dead ringer."

// This bit is actually pretty darn morbid !! //

Now , whoever said that History was boring !

// Like my friend meera mentioned in one of her recent posts , anything can bore the death out of anyone if the source of the information himself is bored with what he saying ... Thank god for books, the wonderful neutrality of their face!! //