Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Culture

After losing touch with blogging for a long time, I guess I'll begin with something that has been on my mind during the past few weeks- 'culture'.How do we perceive culture today? It has become synonymous to our nationalities, our belief systems or ideologies and hence, even in a multi-cultural environment, groups exist. These 'groups' are certainly complete in their own way but in a bigger sense, they tend to exclude many others who probably don't belong to the same geographical area of the earth but are very similar to people in those 'groups'.

'Pop Culture' or Popular culture' seemed to provide an answer in that our lifestyles dominate the idea of where we belong. People can belong to the same part of the world, in fact even be neighbors yet, have completely different ways of thinking and more importantly, they do not identify with the lifestyle that each of them is following. What were to happen if nationalities did not exist and people grouped themselves based on their manner of living and common preferences?

We're all part of a bigger culture that unites us on the basis of our current lifestyle. Everything today is fast. Not a single person today can exclude himself/herself from pop culture as society today is highly consumerist in nature. We have reached a point where we feel the need to relate to people and communicate yet, our busy lives have reduced us to meaningless creatures that seek to gain cultural attributes from the materialistic consumerist society today. What probably connects two people today, is a starbuck's cup of coffee or burger king.

Is it necessarily a good thing? Which attribute would be dominant- finding relationships through materialist culture or just the feeling of belonging to a larger, universal culture?

Monday, August 14, 2006

India: 59 years

59 years has changed the face of India to a large extent. From a time when people gathered at their neighbors’ homes to watch the weekly ‘Chitrahaar’ on a black and white television set, to this day, when more than 300 channels are available through set top boxes and dish antennae, a world of change has taken place. Depending on our perspective, we choose to call these either progressive changes or superficial, temporary factors that work like anti-depression pills-provide relief for the time being by rendering the person oblivious to his surroundings. In other words, the true wealth of India; her people, remain nonchalant to issues that need attention.

Educated people constitute a growing fragment of Indian population yet, irrational problems that hampered society before independence, still exist. About a day back, Khaleej times carried a report on violence and unrest in Trivandrum, instigated after a Hindu priest married a lady belonging to a ‘lower caste’. It is utter disgrace to find such issues meandering and what worsens the situation is the reaction of politicians who seem to be waiting for such happenings in order that they may take stances and play their cards right in state politics.

The Preamble to the Indian Constitution promises the people of India “Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” yet, none of it actually seems to be implemented. A duration of 2 years, 11 months and 17 days went into finalizing and approving the Constitution, a fact that emphasizes the value of this document. The words ‘Socialist and secular” were later add-ons, recognizing further rights of individuals since India constitutes not just Hindus and Muslims but Christians and Sikhs too. Happenings today are such that one is left wondering as to how secularism is portrayed.

Indian politics is a highly nefarious system dominated by sycophants of varying degrees. Our constitution has been deemed obsolete and people have reduced the country to a joke. 59 years of independence and we are still dealing with problems posed by the Devdasi and caste system. 59 years of industrial progress but remote villages still do not have electricity. It is time for politicians to understand that obsequious attitudes will surely keep their households running but who is to be held accountable for two crore Indians whose lives are regulated by governmental decisions? The moment our ‘leaders’ think of the larger poor section of society, that is when it would actually be worth celebrating independence.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Vincent's chair...



Van Gogh, a famous Dutch artist, led a life that was probably too much to cope with- at least he thought so. His life tells a tale of relationships which ended up in betrayal mostly and events that scarred his life, marking the milestones to his ill-health and growing cynicism towards life itself.

As an artist, one tends to be a lot more vulnerable as things begin to look different. Emotions, intuitions, vibes etc mark things and hence, the artist successfully abstracts a piece of his life. He gives away bits and pieces of his life in a subtle manner.

“Vincent’s chair”, a painting in oil, by Van Gogh, depicts an empty chair. At first glance, people might look at it as ‘just a chair’ and move on to other works but truly, Van Gogh captured the essence of our lifestyles today, in that one painting. The chair depicts loneliness. It arouses an eerie feeling to the space that it forms a part of. It instills a stillness into the viewer, forcing one to realize that the anomaly does not lie in the distorted perspective adopted by Van Gogh, but in the fact that some one has just left.

Van Gogh expressed his insecurity concerning his painter and friend; Paul Gauguin, fearing he might leave him alone. The mere thought of loneliness led him to behave in a manner that rendered him ‘mad’ according to people.

Loneliness is certainly a curse which we inflict upon ourselves, not knowing that it only worsens with time.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Democracy: Really the answer?

Theoretically speaking, people adopt various ideologies, which in turn lead them to prove the legitimacy of their choice. Today, this very manner of expression of one’s choice is causing valuable losses of human lives.

‘Democracy’ or “rule of the majority”; a political concept that has been constantly staring right into people’s faces ever since the West gave birth to it, has a deeply entrenched hypocritical foundation that people seldom overlook or rather, are made to overlook.

Plato’s thoughts highly illuminate such aspects of political theory. His criticism of ‘democracy’ as “an agreeable anarchic form of society, with plenty of variety, which treats all men as equal, whether they are equal or not”, opens up a world of questions that expose numerous flaws, currently hidden behind the heavy make-up that poses forward ‘THE’ image of U.S as we know today. Plato suggests that disparities exist and that inequalities are bound to exist in nature. By ‘inequalities’ I do not mean extreme disparity but we do have to keep in mind that nothing is ‘created equal’ or similar.

We do not have to resort to Idealism and dream of a utopian society. We just have to develop a skeptical approach towards things that are thrown onto our faces, instead of blindly accepting them. How can anyone conclude that representative democracy is indeed the answer to all problems? Is it even ‘democracy’ in its true sense?
The truth is that in a time and age like today, concepts like democracy that claim to impart liberty and equality, exist merely in a theoretical sense. In practice, authoritarian figures are the ruling people. If ‘democracy’ were to be taken seriously, Bush would be the next Gorbachev and the United States of America would no longer be united.

The intention behind quoting Plato, was to emphasize the fact that indeed, nature does not believe in mass production and humans have varying capacities of cognition. Is it not right then, to question those in power? Is governance meant for all? Who decides the ‘elite’ in terms of politics? Is George Bush really a suitable candidate?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Potter has competition- George Bush

I know I've said this earlier but for a very obvious reason, I’m still not very enthusiastic about reading the paper with my morning tea anymore- nor would any other person be since the prerequisite to do so, is a stone-cold heart and sadism. Images of corpses lying around streets (or rather what was defined as a ‘street’ earlier) or getting buried underneath rubble are ubiquitous and each time, arouse rancor towards those responsible.

The U.S. rants about “fighting terrorism” and apparently has its own definition for the word ‘terrorism’, which somehow does not match the one understood by the rest of the world. George Bush should save his natural talent of being two-faced (numerously-faced in fact) for a Harry Potter sequel, where his abilities would be appreciated and not for subjecting a fruitful country to extreme plunder. He claimed to have been ‘aiding’ countries by introducing democracy, hence, changing the entire system.

The truth is that the United States is being ruled by a rapacious group of people that are playing havoc with millions of lives throughout the world. The ‘change’ does not have to take place in the rest of the world but in America itself. Mr.Bush, for a change, allow Ms.Rice to shift slightly so 'your' view to the world matches reality.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Invisibility: Addition to mans' follies

Each day, if I were to make a list of the things I was least enthusiastic about, I guess 'news' would top it always. Every single day, some part of the world is being robbed of its wealth- its people. Destruction seems to be the success mantra today. Whether it is the people of Lebanon or the Kurdish people who have not even been 'granted' a piece of land that can be called their own, or Indians in Kashmir- they paid the price for someone elses' decisions.

The condition remains pitiful since our society follows a certain framework that follows unwritten rules. People all over the world witness mass destruction by America yet, nothing is done or said where it ought to be. It is common knowledge that Israel is not part of America just geographically but otherwise, Israel is America's pseudo-foot.

If current conditions weren't pitiful enough, very soon, we would experience utter misery because a few scientists decided to make life a lot more like hollywood and make invisibility possible. How amusing would things be? Corruption already tops the list of problems encountered by countries and with the 'invisible man' roaming about streets, how much more stressful would lives be?

The good thing of course is the limitation to such a 'science' due to the use of light. In a way, I guess it's a blessing that man isn't exactly the greatest genius. We have been granted a minute thinking capacity by our creator for a reason. Man, without doubt, is a self-obsessed, arrogant and ignorant being that is responsible for his own destruction due to his 'sophisticated thinking capacity' (also translates into 'stupidity')...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Aapna Rajasthan...

6th July: The day I reached Jaipur (Rajasthan), I was irritated and extremely frustrated thinking of how the rest of those 5 days would go by. For some reason, I just could not picture myself in Rajasthan anymore.

Days passed and I'd been through the streets of Fatehpur Shekhawati in autorickshaws, looking at people and building structures- both had changed tremendously from the time I had last been there; not so long ago. This time,
the 'change' was disturbing.

Earlier, those very streets were 'lit' by the presence of elderly people, discussing issues, exchanging greetings or just sitting, smiling at familiar faces. Now, most of them lie in pain, longing for people to meet them, giving them courage to face this dreadful phase time brings along- old age. The streets have been robbed of their essence and everything seems to have been reduced to a facade.

This trip is going to be one that I probably will never forget. Deep down, I know why: I felt like Scrooge and thankfully, spirits did not have to take the time out to expose me to reality. 5 days taught me a lot. I will probably never be able to put my thoughts in words but I know that I value realtionships a lot more now. Relations don't necessarily have to be blood ones to be valuable and true. Affection does not have to be displayed in a materialistic fashion.

The car had arrived and it was time to leave for the airport. I made a quick visit to my neighbor; an elderly woman who is more like a grandmother to me. I could not stand what I saw and suppressing all emotions, payed my respects and left. Weeks after I returned, I'm still thinking of her and praying, well-aware of the fact that she is oblivious to any of it.

The manner in which I was touched by the place I have been visiting at least twice every year, is magical and I still remember how proud I felt when on stepping foot in Jaipur, a bright yellow tattered banner had the following words in black: "Aapna Rajasthan"...