Friday, 22 June 2018

There was a time...

Thank you EsKaySK for sharing this.

The building of cars has come a long ways from the early days of Ford Motor Co.
This shows how large Ford really was. Unfortunately, everything in this world has a shelf life. Massive empires which never thought the sun would ever set on them actually saw twilight. Kings who claimed to have to have found the elixir of mortality only fell folly to their own foolhardy. Like Flint Town in Michigan which was looking into prosperous times when General Motors decided to build its plant here. It used to be the postcode that everyone wanted their lovely home to be. Look at it now. With the relocation of automobile plants and the slump in the American car industry, melancholy seems to be the order of the day. It has become a ghost town with no economic activity and lawlessness prevail in the greater part of the town.

These pictures are of Detroit, another of the numerous American cities in the same boat. What would you if you are an inmate of such a city. Would you choose exclusiveness, keeping everything as 'American' as it used to be in the good old days or choose inclusiveness and lose out all opportunities to foreigners or factories overseas?

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The right to write!

Coitus Interupptus and Other Stories (2017)
Author: Malachi Edwin Vethamani

We all have seen these characters in our lives. Many of them lived amongst us or with us. Some of their actions may seem quirky, but we accept them anyway. We know that variety is the spice of life. Just because their point of view is different from ours and they unusually perceive specific values, it does not mean that they are evil. Who are we to judge, anyway?

Born an Indian in Malaysia and living through the time when some of the short stories were set, I can so relate to some of the characters found in this book. 

Going against the grain of what is expected of a marriageable girl in a conservative society of us, there are those who want to have the cake and eat it. They do not want to play second fiddle to some man but want to lead instead. The fear of losing one's religion is ingrained in the psyche of every Indian boy in their childhood. Oh, how many times have we seen ladies cursing their husbands for their misdeeds only to wail openly at their husband's funerals? And we know of so many of them who lead a double life just to paint a perfect picture of themselves in the public eye for their family's sake.

We are living in a new Malaysia after the recently concluded 14th General Elections. After being suppressed for so long under the previous ruling party, people are beaming in joy the freedom of their ability to say what they want. 

It seems like everyone has something to say. Let us just hope that the average Malaysian is mature enough to understand that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. Just as much as one can say his peace, so can the other. He cannot impose his views on the other. Hopefully, they are adult enough to fathom that there may be many more ways than one to skin a cat. 

The leaders amongst us ought to set the example. Humans are fickle. They follow the herd, are sometimes easily swayed and can be unreliable. It is one day at a time.

Creative Commons License

Monday, 18 June 2018

Automatons, are we?

 Kardashians -
This post was spurred with someone mentioning how the whole Government machinery has suddenly found new vigour to streamline all its dealings. At a wink of an eye, civil servants who all this while had not been civil enough to show the gratitude to the salary that the taxpayers paid them, have found rejuvenated zest to right their wrong of so many decades. Have they really turned over a new leaf? Have they had their wings clipped or hand tied that prevented them from doing what they were yearning to do all these while - to serve? Are these moves just reactionary to the change in the tide of the time?

My thoughts were cradled back to a time in our recent past. The mantra of the day then was that we were to become an industrialised and advanced country by 2020. Wealth and money were then the new God. The yardstick to gauge the advancement of a society was the material things, not civic-mindedness, positive human values or culture. Megalomania was an accepted and revered trait. At that time, the obsession to become rich, if possible overnight, was on everyone's mind. To be rich was being successful, being poor a failure.

Why was that so? The leader then said so.

Syed Qutb - Wiki

That is the psyche of an average man. He is so fickled. He needs a hero figure that he looks up to for guidance. The nearest superhero icon to him is the leader that leads that bring their tribe/nation/congregation through their daily dealings. This must have been the case of the Hindu mythology that put King Rama at the status of a demi-god or even of that of an avatar of God himself. His conduct and decisions in life-changing situations became the foundation of how life on Earth should be lived.

In the present times, this vacuum must surely be filled up by rock stars, pop artists and icons who do nothing like Kendall Jenner and the rest of the Kardashians.

Realising this, Syed Qutb, one of the critical conspirators in extremist Islamism, had posited that people, in general, do not know what they want. They just thread through life like sheep grazing in the field just following the herd. The shepherd needs to guide the passage of flock; to the grassland or the abattoir. The entrepreneur Steve Job, on working to come up with the next generation handheld communication device had been heard to have said when criticised about the acceptability of his new gadget, "People don't know what they want. We'll show them what they want!"

Something can go so wrong unchecked under our very eyes for so long with us realising. We are only jolted to reality with a hard jolt that occurs occasionally. We are easily swayed with rhetorics and hero-worship. We follow blindly without thinking. The thinkings ones are too much cowed into submission by the voice of the majority. The occasional scream of realisation by the minority for sense and equity to prevail is cast aside as elitists.

In a way, we are all ignorant children mesmerised to the tune of day to be led blindly into our destruction. Some would call it the lure of the Evil, Satan's mischiefs, negativity or the Dark Forces. I would call it our ignorance. The only way to combat this innocence is to peel open the inner eyes of awareness and enrich our treasure cove of knowledge. 

Reference: The Fish stinks from the Head.

Creative Commons License

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Ageing with Grace

JUNE 15TH, 2018

Poem: Aging With Grace by Farouk Gulsara


Photo by Pranav Jain on Unsplash

Ageing with Grace

My mane, my crowning glory,
Once my pride, my joy,
Is now but just a silvery tuft.
My dimples, my charm,
Have lost their twinkle, now just wrinkles.
My charming Bella Donna eyes,
Cataractic, xanthomatous, have lost their glaze.
My neck, so nimble, so supple once,
Now only arthritic, sprouts crackles.
My breasts sprout proud once,
Parturient, now sag, atrophy. The curtain bows.
My female chest so majestic once,
Now left kyphotic and osteoporotic.
My midriff navel tease, sari for cover,
Left now with striae, protuberant and scarred over.
My posterior, an asset, my pride,
Adipose now deposited on both sides.
The thigh, the thunder,
Is flabby without tone, none to wonder.
The feet used to be so petit.
Now their shoes fit Big Foot.
They say it’s worth the goal,
To see one in your own mould,
To deliver, to nurture,
Two seeds for the future.
I shudder, I wonder,
Is it just me, I ponder?
My mind is no more mine,
Which I lost, rearing my kind.
Oh, those lost years,
Now in old folks home. I hold my tears.
My sacrifice, my parenting,
Are they just a passing?
For my benefaction of my gene pool,
I gave my health, my youth, no exception.
Joy and reason of living
Are seeing your offspring growing.
With pride I completed my Dharma,
Hope to escape the cycle of karma. 

Friday, 15 June 2018

Taking political correctness to the limit!

Dear White People (2014)

Living in the post-modern world has proven to be quite challenging. If keeping up with fleeting of information and the changing of fashions is hard enough, try being politically correct. It would drain out the last ounce of strength in you. It seems that people these days are all so fragile and can easily cringe like mimosa pudica the moment we hear something remotely unsavoury. 

If you use a word that feels benign enough not to offend anyone, the same people would turn around and tell you that by skirting around the issue, you are actually promoting discrimination. For example by using a sex-neutral pronoun, one may allege that we are accentuating the divide!

This film is a satire on the above subject. It is a bold attempt to put in the open, the dilemmas that the Ameican blacks that go through in their day to day interactions with the other. It portrays identity issues surrounding black students amongst themselves, with white students and with authority in a fictitious Ivy-League type of University.

There are many youtube clips of a Canadian Professor in Psychology, Jordan Peterson, who has been creating such a stir in the net. Netizens are saying that he is a zealot and male chauvinist pig. What he is essentially saying is "don't whine or demand pity on your helplessness but do something on your situation!" In many of his presentations, he had created such a furore in highlighting the ludicrous nature of the modern society in wanting to use the right things and the need not to offend.

Watch how Prof Peterson keeps his cool and his words well crafted in this BBC Channel 4 high-strung interview with Cathy Newmann who battles it out on gender pay gap and gender equality. 

Creative Commons License

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Chalice of hope or despair?

Almost like a ritual, it turns up regularly every four years in the Northern summer. Nobody bothers about the Southern hemisphere anyway. One says that games are on this summer, it refers to summer in the Northern hemisphere, not South. Many a couch potato who had seen better times at running after a ball, all turn out to be expert football pundits and fantastic football strategist; many times over than the world's highest paid football managers. These podgy characters start their day in the afternoon with puffy red eyes and husky voices after staying up the whole night to the wee hours of the morning at nightspots cheering for teams whose players would not even be able to place our country on the globe.

My exposure to this most loved started way back in 1978 when Argentina hosted this quadrennial fiesta. My mathematics teacher, Mr Chang, besides teaching us probabilities and possibilities, he also exposed us to some of the FIFA world cup related trivia. Brazil, at that time, was the only country to have turned out three times* and it was the only country that had won the cup when hosted outside the continent the winning team is from**. [Brazil won it in 1958, 1962 and 1970; they succeeded in Sweden]. Much has changed since then. * Germany and Italy has won four times and Italy three; ** Spain won in the African continent and Germany in South America in 2014.

100-ruble Bank of Russia commemorative note.
features great Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin.
Is it not all about the money?
Over the years, much has happened in the way football is played and the tournament is run. The governing body and its members are drowning in alleges of bribery and match-fixing. The numbers of countries participating in the finals draw have swelled by leaps and bounds. After the 1994 US-hosted WC, commercialisation has reared its ugly head. Sometimes one wonders whether any outcome of a game is real anymore. Do the best team ever win or is it that the invisible hands of inter-continental bookies who have the final say?

Again and again, host countries have failed to make any money from these games. Their level of football never changed. The economy was not spurred. Monumental stadium out in the wilderness like the one in Manaus became white elephants which cannot generate income to sustain itself. Political unrest instead comes out as the homeless stare cluelessly as their host country sweep their poverty figures under the proverbial carpet. Don't even go near Qatar if one does want to know the number of humans if one takes migrant workers as one, sacrifices made in the name of showcasing the scorching desert kingdom as a host to this game in the heat of summer!

Are football enthusiasts given their money's worth? Do the final games give them enough fix to last another four years? I do not think so. Gone are the days, sportsman gave their heart and soul to the glory of the nation. Now it is dollars and cents or whatever denominations that matter to them. Footballs, like all commodities, have a shelf-life. Within their short span of soccer productivity, they have to enrich themselves. Their participations at club level roll in the dough. Medals and pride do not fill up the belly or maintain their lifestyles. Hence, we only see half-hearted participations and non-committal involvements in the World  Cup finals.

At the end of the spectators are taken for a ride whilst cronies of politically connected people in business laugh all the way to the bank. For others, it is just a month of chaos, blurry-eyed civil servants' service and loads of medical certificates issued for absenteeism.

Creative Commons License

Monday, 11 June 2018

In the grander scheme of things!

Kaala (2018)

Sure, it is another fighting movie; one of the oppressed slum dwellers against the powerfully corrupt system of the ruling elites and a one-man gangster leader's selfless attempt at correcting the injustice. And the violence and sorrow to justify the resistance.

One has to see beyond the things that seem to be glaring in the eyes to learn one or two. This movie thought me that Mumbai  (Dharavi) houses the third biggest slum in the world; after Mexico City and Karachi. The slum came about as early as late 19th century when Bombay was developed by the British, and the city drew residents from near and far. Waves of migrations brought people of poverty from Gujerat, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh among others. Annual economic turnover is said to be up to $1 billion. Occupants there involve in many familial cottage industries including tanning, pottery (by Gujaratis), embroidery (by UPites) and tailoring. By and large, residents of Dharavi are looked down. Many of them are from the lower caste- Dalits, Tamils or Muslims. The film clearly shows us that the inhabitants there have no qualms with living in harmony with others with different beliefs but it the leaders with specific agendas are hellbent on splitting them for votes. Major clean-up and redevelopment look easy on paper, but it plagued with mutual suspicion between NGOs acting on the slum-dwellers' behalf and the unholy association of politicians and business magnates.

Another point that I learnt is that the society needs the toiling of the poor to maintain its upkeep. The supply of the subjugated must be maintained so as the well-to-do can flaunt their richness and sustain their lifestyles. The rich must be looked up as the endpoint that a pauper wants to reach. If everybody is satisfied with the position, people will have nothing to work for. Greed is good, is it not?
Here comes Kaala... The equilibrium of the Universe 
is levered upon the balance of Good and Bad; 
between White and Black; between Us and the Other!

Black has always been given the bad image by most societies. Black is associated with sin, evil, wrong, deficient, dirty and everything inherently perceived as wrong. White, on the other hand, is the epitome of purity; everything good, virtuous and divine. 'Kaala', the protagonist, is given such a nickname not only due to the hue of skin but to his strata in society. Hence, correspondingly all his deeds viewed from a negative angle. The politicians and the people in power, who have the luxury of appearing in pristine white attires, are seen as the do-gooders. Lest people forget that the whiteness of their tunic is the result of the back-breaking hard work of the lowly washermen. 

At a moment, I thought the dialogue could have suggested that 'Kaala', will rise again and again like mushroom after a downpour. Mushroom is also called 'Kaala' in Tamil although with a slightly different intonation. The oppressed will always return stronger with more vigour. When your options hang precariously on a thread, all you lose is your body. What you gain gives soul and life to the rest!

Along the way, we are served with the idea that modernity is consumerism. The seemingly well-intended schemes put to us are mere fronts of the businessmen to make money out of our ignorances. They are the learned ones, Their pockets are deep, and we are easily lured by the promise of prosperity and the illusory end-point called happiness.

The last lesson that one learns from the movie is the relooking of good and evil as depicted in the holy scriptures of Ramayana. Leaders in South India had always sung their speeches to the tune that the epic had been a false representation of the image of the losers. They have always emphasised that the South under the rule of Raavan had been anything but tyrannical. He was a wise and just ruler whose subjects lived in bliss.

Watching the tail end of the film, the speech by Nathuram Godse before his incarceration comes to mind. As we hear, the antagonist, the politician who wants to whitewash the slums with his development programmes, listen to the sermon of the temple priest, we realise how believers rejoice at the mention of the destruction of Raavan and his army. With the chanting 'Jai Jai Ram' (Hail Victory of Ram), we see the slum-dwellers get massacred on the orders of the politician. Surely, violence is the mainstay of any civilisation and to make forward leaps in humanity, people are sacrificed, and we are minor collateral damages in the grander scheme of things.

Popular Posts