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Thursday, March 09, 2006 

Jericho and The Power of Noise

Warning : Not normal programming. Cept of course, it follows the principle of using 12 words where one will do...

Several of the blogs I read have contributed to the Blank Noise Project on harassment of women.
Now, one has rarely been reticent when it comes to a good rant at something one disagrees with on some blog. In this case, however, I did not, because firstly, the overall objective was laudable, and criticism of the means would have been easily converted to criticism of the end. Plus, I really don't have issues with these bloggers, and I do know that sensitivities on the topic are heightened. So commenting, of course, would be the sort of dubious move one tends to avoid nowadays. However, a good rant IS in order, so here goes ,before lapse into spewing our usual quota of puns and sentimental tripe.

Firstly, about Blank Noise.

Blogging, obviously, is a sort of "letter to the world" and soapbox in the middle of everywhere activity. Now there are plenty of blogs that devote themselves to discussing topics of economics, politics and issues of much import. Several of them cross the line of projecting a point of view to taking a moral high ground. All to the good : since I strongly believe that mine is the only correct viewpoint on any issue, I always appreciate someone (however misguided :) ) who shows similar conviction. As long as it is clear, of course, that it is a point of view alone that is on display.

However, the strident tone of blogs that purportedly seek to sway opinion towards a cause puts me off no end. Some time ago, I was an avid reader of one of the desi blogosphere's gurus. Now this person, at that point of time, was holding forth in no-holds-barred tones about one of my pet rages, the Shiv Sena/VHP combine and communalism. As usual, the post elicited the usual flood of hate comments and retorts from sympathetic souls, assorted wannabes commenting in hopes of pushing some traffic their own way, etc. It attracted comments like qtpie_on_cam in a Yahoo chat room would attract view requests. Now, unlike Blank Noise, this blog makes no explicit claims to being a catalyst for social change ; the proselytising tone, is however, unmistakable. A faithful acolyte till then, the tone of some of the posts started to disturb me.

Finally, I said :
"But I wish you'd seriously sit and think how the liberalist extremism is also worsening the situation. OK, it's easy to get worked up over the bigots. But it also repels the fence sitters: many of whom are decent, honest ppl when they see venom on one side and frothing mouths on the other."

Upon which the reply from one other ardent supporter was
"..at such times, even fence-sitting amounts to taking a side ..."

Now this is the sort of thing that starts warning bells ringing in my head. At one point in my life, I wanted to be a politician . And as anybody with political sense will tell you, there isn't any point preaching to the converted. You want to win, talk to the fence-sitters.

I said
"here's a sample. Before you jump to it's defence, just show it to somebody out of context and listen to his/her reactions. Which is precisely what will happen to this quote.” From where I sit, it seems to me that the greatest threat to my country is this half-baked Hindutva. "God knows I froth at half baked Hindutva myself ( idiots whose sole aim is feed on the insecurity of the majority , yes, there is such a thing, trust me, to garner votes). But man, if you are looking to be a voice of sanity, you need to avoid injecting such stuff into an already overheated atmosphere. Call us timid, but when Ms A Roy ( more advances to her pen) gets into the act, most of the janata gets switched off. A few more unthinking lines like this and you will join the bandwagon- defeating the very energy that made you sit up in the first place. Again, look at Michael Moore. Despite his extremely well researched articles/books on Bush's perfidy, his maniacal zeal pushed him to a fringe, leaving the neocons centrestage."

Sure enough, the reply from the blogger was

"...you should take note of: the "take-it-easy" policy that was even the subject of a popular (Telugu?) film song some years ago...
...Let me be frank. From where I sit, I see this thing called Hindutva is the greatest threat to my country. Others may not see it that way, and that's fine with me. This is in the end a battle of ideas, and I make no apologies, nor want any favours, for expressing my ideas."

I think I already knew by then that this was an exercise in futility. But given the fact that I frankly thought that this was one of the bloggers widely read enough to make a difference, I decided to give it one last shot. I had (unwisely) likened his own fanaticism to those issuing fatwas .. and he had responded with derision. I wrote

"_The blogger_ : I am not asking you to dilute the strength of your convictions.What I am asking for is moderation in their expression, unless the goal is more to get off your chest than create a groundswell of opinion against bigotry. Let us see it as opening a closed door. You may knock and hope it opens. When it doesnt, you try to take a step back and launch a mighty kick at it to break the latch. When you let your skills at writing blend with force of ideas, you can create such an effect. When you let your frustration at what you see as the uncomprehending and passive attitude of the populace take over, it is akin to stabbing the door with a knife. Spectacular, maybe, but not really effective. As _one commenter_ says, it IS about mass communication and emphasis is on mass. You wish to display the strength of convictions in taking on the bigots: do you have it you to stop playing to the chatterati gallery and actually get into the hard work of moving people? As for the comment that your line isn't equivalent to generating hitlists: obviously it isnt. One is venom meant to kill and the other froth generated by righteous anger. If you think the means of combating those who scream hate through rabid articles is being vociferously loud, its your call. I would think attempting to build a chorus a better and more effective reply though. "

The exchange ended there ; a look at recent times to cull these comments assures me that there is no change in the blog's outlook.

In my opinion, Blank Noise and such other projects, at best, are the chatterati indulging in mutual backslapping and much self-congratulation. Hullo : all the people contributing, and the people reading, are already converts to the cause. At best, this is intellectual onanism of the most obvious kind. At worst, it is equivalent to my rant on a patient blogger's review of Rang De Basanti : that such movies are insidious, allowing people to outsource righteous rage into a 3 hour movie sponsored by MNCs, happy with nihilistic and unreal kill 'em all endings, so we can finish our popcorn and go home, equivalent to the patriot in us jerking off to centrefolds of glossy but essentially seedy magazines.

You want action, get out and get people on your side. The fence-sitters are there for a very good reason; there is bigotry on one side and self-satisfied smugness on the other. On an issue like abuse of women, there are no fence-sitters like above; however, there are plenty of people who are at a loss when they read unthinking, almost celebratory rhetoric.

Since space is limited, we shall deal with just two examples ...

One post claims that due to being raped, she now retaliates in the following manner:
"When I thought rape was about sex, I decided to de-sanctify and de-mystify sex completely. It meant sex with a certain randomness. ......In fact I lied to men to get them into bed. This is how I rape. I fuck with your emotions. I ruin your sexlife by telling you that yours in the shortest and that you are simply not hard enough. That you couldn't get me to come even if you powered your penis and fingers with AA batteries".
errrrr.... could I have your phone number ? And now that you admit that you "rape" men cos you got raped, it is of course perfectly OK if I continue the chain by raping women post a session with you ?


Another, much avidly read (and worth it too), states , inter-alia

(a) Every day, every hour in India is about being groped.
Hmmm. Now anything I say as a guy would be trashed by definition, so shall stop at saying I don't think so.

(b) (paraphrase) Since you haven't castrated a molester yet, you deserve to be branded along with him.
Hullo. That means every one of you who buys a pair of shoes for an obscene amount while people die in Darfur is an active cause of their death. cf my comment about being rabid and alienating people.

(c) Indian/Hindu mythology and "culture" leads to harassment. Free porn and the threat of lawsuits makes the Western world safe.

Hmmm. (We shall desist at quoting very obvious examples from other mythologies as sexist, if not more.) Then this movie's claims of being a true story were obviously false. So is this widely discussed issue. And Hollaback NYC of course, consists of people Photoshopping images of those they hate.

There are ways and means of making a difference. Even with just a blog-a-thon. ( Feel free to mail when in need of advice). But this is not it.

And when you want to make a difference with noise, please remember that this
(a) is essentially a myth.
(b) involved a concerted effort , not just trumpeteers.

Finally, a disclaimer : I haven't linked to the blogs I have quoted, as all this kin-I-link-to-you business is tiresome. Plus my issues are generic, and not to do with the specific bloggers concerned (who are all, I am sure, perfectly honourable).

Well said.
I appreciated reading it.

Finally, one post here that I can understand.. and will comment, because some of the viewpoints are similar to what I have been thinking about. But that will have to wait till I get home..

Thedacs : Welcommeth ...

aNTi : Awwwww, c'mon. Your problems were with the comment boxes, not the posts :).

When an unremittingly grim picture is painted, like the one all over the blogosphere last week, there isn't a healthy bonding taking place; there is a virtual ghetto, an us vs them kind of siege mentality that takes shape.

Unless you live in Darfur or under a moss covered stone, I am surprised at your comparison.

agree with the first part of your post which is why I was in two minds whether to even write abt this.

Regarding my post/ comments, I can see where you come from..esp if sentences are mangled and understood differently. Not going to explain myself as I am tired and frankly sick about this.

Most of the posts last week were written in a fit of extreme anger and you must give the poor women some space to vent. That's the least we expect (or have come to expect). No sympathy, no illusions of the world changing overnight, not even hopes of getting the point across. The posts were not intended as a us vs. you. If that's what came out of it, then I really need to hone my writing skills.

Yes, please dont sit there writing posts..go castrate a few guys, will ya?!

"I am surprised at your comparison." Possibly. That does not invalidate it.

No explanations sought, A. Understanding is.

The posts were written in anger,yes. Rants are perfectly permissible. So too are defenses from people who feel they are being unfairly ranted against.

The project purports to be a catalyst for change. That, in not-so-humble opinion, is a hate-mongering piece of logic. Not one or two, but most of the posts linked to will demonstrate the wannabe ghetto mentality. The all men are SoBs mentality. The "prove you aren't a perv" mentality. There isn't anything called "right" fanaticism.

Finally, awwwww, Agent.

You are one regular drama queen, I say.

I am completely with you about this stupid clan culture that plagues blogs as far as serious topics go. I should know, I belonged to it not so long ago. Ok, long ago :D.

I also detest these sweeping blanket generalities that sensitive topics like sexual harassment attract. I know a guy who was molested by his teacher when he was 8 or 9. He didn't suffer for long because of it. It's just that men don't have that big a guilt complex as women do and find it easy to let such unwarranted guilt go (if they ever did have any in the first place) once they pubesce. Not so in the case of the female sex. It makes us feel like objects to be used and thrown away, and since we have the breasts, the guilt comes very easy. And it is very difficult to let go.

When I began blogging three years ago, there was this phenomenon where the more celebrated women bloggers wrote about the abuse they had to go through at the hands of the men they trusted AND complete strangers. And yes, such posts always received commisseration from the female commenters and noble "proclaimed" outrage by the men bloggers.

I myself received a couple of invites to write for the Blank Noise Project (the name is a terrible cliche, might I add) and I didn't accept any. It took me years to come to terms with the abuse I suffered as a little girl. I was traumatised and guilt ridden for 14 years before I finally revealed it to my sister. The few men I chose to tell it to had just one thing to say - "It cannot be helped. It is a part of every girl's life." Even the shrink I went to said the same thing. I chose to generalise men then. I did not have any other go. But here comes the piece de resistance. The women's reaction was pretty much along the same lines. "You bloomed early and had breasts before we did. It was like you were asking for it." So, which is the worse sex here?

Over time, I realised that I could categorise people by sex or by their reaction to the size of my breasts. Men love them, women hate them.

Over time, I also realised that it was in no way and by no means my fault that I was molested. I choose not to talk about it at all now. Talking about it didn't help me any. I gradually got over the night terrors and sleep apnea that plagued me for years. And recently, when my sister asked me what I was looking for in a man, I said find me a man who hasn't touched a little girl inappropriately; someone who wouldn't justify the act as an unavoidable offense thanks to his hormones. She didn't have an answer to that.

Okay, I think I wrote my Blank Noise Project mini post here. What I mean to convey with what I said here is, blaming Ram or Ravan or the men who wronged you is not going to help you any. And "demystifying" sex and raping men in return is as laughable as gas in your stomach, maybe worse. Whoever you are, I hope both of you, the rapist and the demystified body part in this case, suffer from bowel incontinence. And have this need to shit just as you orgasm and do it, too. That is the most pathetic thing I have ever heard. It's plain justification of your own need for self-degradation, honey, nothing else.

Women who have been pawed don't hold books against their chest to cover up budding bosoms. They do so because they don't want to be touched or groped.

If you were to walk into any swank joint or even down Brigade Road on a Saturday evening, you will see most women clad in skimpy clothes. 90% of them are uncomfortable or are too self-aware of the attention they are getting. It is sad, actually, the state we've come to, all in the name of westernisation hiding behind the veneer of gender equality and women's lib and urbanisation and advancement.

I don't want to create noise in fora where nameless, faceless agree or disagree with my rants and raves. I would much rather choose to let the little girls I know and love to create a BIG RESOUNDING NOISE if ever they go through such denigrating experiences and to NEVER, EVER harbor any guilt because of it. I have nieces between 5 and 20 years. My sisters and I have sat the older ones down at the right time to let them know what they have to do and how best to avoid sexual abuse. This will continue for as long as men and women live. But that doesn't justify the harassment in any way. If at all you want to do something about it, help the younger ones learn/cope/avoid it.

And you, Dubious, I didn't expect this of you. "To it's defence"? Tut tut.

Me : There you go again ...

" get me a man who hasn't molested a girl".

Mmmm. What if the guy asked, similarly, "get a woman who isn't a slut". Wouldn't it degrade you to have to prove it ?

"men love them, women hate them".

I am sure there are plenty like me who could go beyond the obvious. I mean, Manchester Untied could get me if she had the right balance. Bank, I mean.

More seriously, in letters of fire : do not generalise. Generalising

(a) victimizes the innocent
(b) defocuses from the perv

As I said, plenty ways of making a difference, the most basic being what you are doing.

And Ok, we musta been typin too fast @ "it's". What price "commisseration" ?

:)

Oh, pish-tosh, Wodehousian! Pardon my French already! Like I said, I being an editor can point out your mistakes, not vice-versa.

Honey, HUGE difference there. Not to generalise, but, much to my consternation, I haven't met *many* men who say "Get me a woman who isn't a slut."

We stopped writing letters of fire long ago. They don't serve a single purpose. We'd much rather dream. And write soppy poetry.

I once wrote about this groping incident and used up all the cuss words in my vocabulary (forget the expletives, my vocab itself was pathetic three years ago) on my erstwhile blog. It's deleted now, buried, six feet under. Thank God.

And that was the absolute last of my letters of fire.

ME: Ummm.. I just want to point out one major generalization in your statement up there. And I will stop at that.

I also detest these sweeping blanket generalities that sensitive topics like sexual harassment attract. I know a guy who was molested by his teacher when he was 8 or 9. He didn't suffer for long because of it. It's just that men don't have that big a guilt complex as women do and find it easy to let such unwarranted guilt go (if they ever did have any in the first place) once they pubesce. Not so in the case of the female sex. It makes us feel like objects to be used and thrown away, and since we have the breasts, the guilt comes very easy. And it is very difficult to let go.

FTP, point out one generalization and ergo contradiction of your own first line in this passage.

And I have nothing to say, positive or negative that I (or other men) havent said already....

It is tough to comment on someone’s rant in which the author purports his viewpoint to be the only correct one. As useful as pouring water on a stone hoping it will absorb some. But some of the comments you made up there are absolutely ridiculous and they do incite an urge for a retort.

“In my opinion, Blank Noise and such other projects, at best, are the chatterati indulging in mutual backslapping and much self-congratulation.”

I am unaware of the other projects you may be talking about but only severe short sightedness coupled with a total lack for the grasp of the obvious could have made you utter such a statement about BNP. It is a common knowledge (which can actually not be so common) that things on the order of a large scale have to evolve. It is not going to happen overnight. You surely do not hope that everyone gets up one fine day and “get out and get people on your side”. Realization and awareness are among the first steps to correction of the problem which was the primary goal of BNP. I think it made a lot of people of both sexes realize how widespread the problem was. This was a step in the right direction. Furthermore, if you have better solutions (apart from telling everyone to go out there) don’t keep it yourself. I’m pretty sure that we all would really like to hear it.

I’m unsure as to where your scorn at the whole project stems from, but if I were to hazard a guess it would be because a few people have perhaps generalized, in a fit of anger/depression/desperation, blaming the entire male population. Now as to why that would bother you is a question that you perhaps need to ask yourself.

Your post basically targets trivial statements made by others, without trying to get to the core. Understandably, generalization is not always good, but it is the effect of the problem. If you were to be repeatedly mugged in a ghetto, you could be forgiven for not venturing out there in the future or to blame everyone living there, but condemning somebody who has been victimized innumerably for having the particular opinion shows lack of insight. So, instead of shooting at the already injured party, you could direct your firepower elsewhere, by which I mean tackling the cause and not the effect.

You can either be asinine about my comment and reply to the trivial things like maybe how I was being a fucking Freud trying to psychoanalyze your dubious behavior or you could focus on issue.

Your move.

Whatever may be the flaws of the BNP it still was an attempt. Or shall we sit in paralysis till we can come up with something perfect (and when would that be)? Or till you condescend to respond to one of the emails written to you asking your advise :) If you have perfect advise write a post, but I think it feels more important to ask people to write a mail to you?

Vic,Mridula :Welcome tothis corner of Hyde Park.

Both of you :strong opinions welcome. Replying to personal comments (as useful as pouring water on stone/till you condescend to responding etc) will be an exercise in I-can-get-more-sarcastic/vicious/funny-than-you English. In that we bow to mightier intellects than ours.

Vic : "Realization and awareness are among the first steps to correction of the problem which was the primary goal of BNP. I think it made a lot of people of both sexes realize how widespread the problem was."

As I have said, the vast majority of the posts were the already converted nodding in unision. So maybe you would like to rethink your statement.

"I’m unsure as to where your scorn at the whole project stems from, but if I were to hazard a guess "...

Nope, don't guess. I have written it down and I summarise :-

(a) Generating blank noise is frittering away energy. Energy that a concerted effort could use.

(b) Allowing venting of justifiable rage into catharsis fests like most of the blogs have been means that maybe, just maybe one person who would have been disturbed enough to act has been soothed into supine lassitude. When the gents of old wanted to give them "bread and circuses", this was precisely the desired effect.

(c) Making it an us versus the world/us versus the men situation does not promote bonding and sisterhood. It only alienates sections of the audience by an implication of blame. Blaming Indian culture or upbringing raises hacklesby introducing subtexts worthy of much more detailed and separate debate. All this causes loss of focus.

"If you were to be repeatedly mugged in a ghetto, you could be forgiven for not venturing out there in the future or to blame everyone living there, but condemning somebody who has been victimized innumerably for having the particular opinion shows lack of insight"

Quite right. However, in a project to prevent mugging/increase awareness about it, if I heard statements condemning everyone living out there, I guess I would feel disturbed by the generalization. Maybe you wouldn't.

Finally, whether I am being asinine or not is your call, since you are after all, the dear reader to whom the post is addressed to.

Mridula : When an attempt fails, it is still an attempt worth making. I felt the idea was intrinsically flawed and at best useless and at worst harmful. Hence the post.

As for emailing me, I assure you I do not have an Adsense kind of program that pays me per mail received. There are of course no 'magic solutions'. However I assume any that are put forth, including mine, would be open to opinions about the the suitability of the approach without necessarily maligning the author.

One idea that I had, which was not included in the post due to it being already too long.

Take an example like the Jessica Lal case. Or any of the cases that make news for a couple of days and then get buried in the next instalment of the news. Make a poster. In this case, a poster with photos saying " He shot a woman in public". "This man saw it and then changed his statement in court". " This police officer falsified evidence". "This judge acquitted him and got promoted 3 days later". Put it on a website with a request to anybody living in Delhi to take 5 printouts and paste it on any wall convenient. And pass along the message.

We may not be able to match their clout, we may not able to match their money. Their social cachet depends on us, however. Let us get them outside their spaces into the public, preferably where the cows do their job.

And yes, you are still most welcome to mail.

Thanks for your response. Yep, I agree the poster thing is quite a do able attempt but my feeling is very few of us would go beyond writing on our blogs! I am being honset.

Why I still feel it was quite a good idea to do a blog-a-thon was because the amount of sound bite generated for trivial things in the newspapers and such concerns not finding a voice. Do a search on google news and a normal search and see the amount of information available though this blog-a-thon. I am not aware what end result the blog-a-thon articulated but this amount of data cannot be dismissed, at least that is what I feel.

I would surely email you if I could easily find one on your site :)

weird that you should bring up jessica lal because that is precisely where i was going with my defense of rang de basanti. Whatever its intended effect might have been - surely not more purposeless than a kabhi khushi kabhi gham- it has roused unrousable types like my good self to action (albeit of a mild nature). I am an armchair critic like the majority. I sit around and I crib about the state of the nation and think idly about how I cuda shuda wuda been an activist.

I went to the india gate gathering and was pleasantly shocked to find the majority of folk out there were kids barely out of their teens. Everywhere I heard people singing songs from the movie or rang de basanti ringtones playing. Children playing at being adults? maybe.Maybe these kids would have disappeared at the first sign of trouble like Mr.shayan munshi.But at least they came. Instead of hanging out at the nearest coffee pub listening to black eyed peas.

This was my first experience with any kind of protest up close and I'm guessing it was the same for most of us there.The enthusiasm was infectious, the air, electric.Kids sang songs from parcham. songs they may never ever have heard or liked anywhere else. I left feeling like I should do more of this more of the time. that I should back causes I care about with my presence and my time. I imagine I cannot have been unique in this. For a good majority of us, it was rang de basanti that brought us there . that inspired that feeling of idealism, that made us feel we could make a difference. fanciful? maybe. romantic, definitely. effective? cumulatively, i think the answer is a resounding yes. So if a movie and used music, visuals and fun screenplay to manipulate us into feeling patriotic, even if all they wanted to do was sell nokia phones, was that such a bad thing ? don't we as a generation really need to feel strongly, to shout loudly, to care what happens?

And it's no use saying I and people younger than myself should be inspired by the original writings and poems of bhagat singh or equally worthy things instead. We won't be. we're terribly shallow. At least until we evolve somewhat we need to be spoon fed. We need patriotism with background music.

Sorry, ?!, had to say something.

Anti - Big difference there. Between what I wrote and proclaiming that all men are bastards and need to be castrated. If only that could solve the problem, I would be all for it. But sexual harassment doesn't begin or stop with a penis, pardon me if you find this crude. It begins with the upper hand man *imagines* he has over woman, all because of the aforesaid appendage.

I should know, I was harassed at work for three whole years, all because I rejected a senior guy's advances. You know what I did? I stuck it out. I will shamelessly admit that I did cry and get scared the initial few months, but one day, I woke up and told him to fuck off. You know what happened? He quit the job because he couldn't make any allegation stick. Though my growth was stunted because of it, it didn't make me pity myself at all. In fact, I learnt more about people in those three years than in the previous 25 years of life. Now, I'm better equipped to spot a prick from a distance then I was, say, 5 years ago.

I've read some of the entries of BNP but truth be told, mostly, I've seen recollections of things or events better forgotten brought to life again in the first or the third person. I'm all for people uniting and taking a stand against harassment of any kind. To borrow from what Sw said, I'll quote a few lines from a song from 'Swades':

Hum na ek ho paaye toh, anyaay se ladne ko,
Hogi koi junta hain.
Seedhi baat hain samjho yaara.

I firmly, unflinchingly, unhesitatingly believe in more power in numbers. But instead of using blogs as a means to garner sympathy or write fiction about how a woman overcomes such hurdles, what I would love to see is every single person who has clicked on the link and become a part of it to do something about it in real life. Before you say, of course I've done something, kudos to you. And all like you. You can, perhaps, stand up for a woman when she's being ill-treated. Or maybe you can go up to your HR department to understand how strong the sexual harassment policy of your company is. Or you can talk to your mother or sister or sister-in-law or friend and ask them how you can help. Today's Indian, (note I did not say man or woman, natch) is so much more capable of standing up and being counted than we were 25 years ago. Maybe the netizens of India can use a forum such as BNP to share ideas and thoughts and actions you have and are proud of instead of allowing it to become one of those annual things that make news and die quick deaths.

Be warned : you have touched a raw nerve. Abandon all touchiness, ye who read further. Senseless rant ahead. My apologies in advance to sw. Pal, it isn't you, it is just me in a good ole fashioned rage.

So you watched Rang De Basanti and got all fired up and patriotic. A veritable posterchild for anybody anti blogathons.

"- surely not more purposeless than a kabhi khushi kabhi gham-"

OhhK, so the movie had a purpose. And storks bring in kids, and every time a wee fairy cries another star is added to the Milky Way. Madeleine Basset, namaskaar. Nope, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham was all about loving your parents. This is all about loving your motherland. An USP. And guess what : USPs are perfectly acceptable. We all go awww@ puppy in Hutch and chutku sardar in Hamara Kal, Hamara aaj, hamara Bajaj. It is when people start finding salvation and life in marketing gimmicks that we see red.

I have no issues with RDB. It was meant to make money as a movie, and it chose a tagline like KKKG did. Both worked. As I said, no issues. But when you start ascribing more than that to it, pliss to be checking your balance, your reality check just bounced.

And you went to some protest, all fired up. And a whole lot of kids were there too.
"it has roused unrousable types like my good self to action (albeit of a mild nature)."

I could burst three veins trying to describe just how much that makes me froth and want to take BFGs to all movies, but for this post, it will suffice to say that perhaps you were better off unroused. Maybe then someday you would have been actually impelled to DO something rather than have a morning walk.

The kids were there because there is a tres cool air to patriotism now, just like loving your parents was earlier and coming of age angst was there too and big fat obscene Swarowski crystal weddings were too.

J'Accuse put a nation on trial. And ashamed and outraged, they ruined the man, but after 12 years of turmoil, of self flagellation and defence, finally put their dirtiest linen to hang dry, at least for the moment, clean after purging with blood that refused to be staunched.

""Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Thus spake another gent whose polemics are probably unsurpassed in sheer vitriolism ( and therefore is much loved :) ). There was a time when Nostalgia was a disease, sometimes fatal, with medical attention focussed on it.(Seriously). Now, we sing "Sandese aate hain". We used to have emotions, we have emoticons. Once a man could speak well and after a job well done, say " Cry Havoc and let loose the dogs of war" in self congratulatory tones. Now Rakeysh (fuck, I mean) Mehra or whatever comes on rediff Chat a Thons to explain his patriotic angst.

The difference is reading and thinking require an investment of the intellect. Even if it is minimal. Once one has invested in that, then one moves onto taking an interest in doing something about what one has read. Resulting in action. Whereas a 3 hour movie requires a coupla hundred in a multiples, popcorn and kone ka seat sniggers, and you can go back feeling fucking patriotic.

"So if a movie and used music, visuals and fun screenplay to manipulate us into feeling patriotic, even if all they wanted to do was sell nokia phones, was that such a bad thing ? don't we as a generation really need to feel strongly, to shout loudly, to care what happens?"

It isn't bad, just enough to make us wish somebody broke open another anklet and cursed the damn city to flames. You feel strongly and therefore congregate at India Gate ? Tell all those college kids sniffing into their hankies to spare us their snotnosed feelgood deshbhakti. You want a concrete, positive action they can do ? They can go and fucking reclaim their colleges from middleaged "student leaders" , professional students and moral whores who are politicising their campuses. If they do nothing else social but that in their entire lives, they would still be making a difference to their generations and those to come.

"We need patriotism with background music."

The only reason why won't mention how you need it is that we are unable to figure out quite the nastiest insult. You don't require patriotism with music. You require to be ground and debased by the smarmiest bastards in the world till one day you rise and start bloody congregating in Sukh Ram's constituency, threatening battery and assault to anybody who does not remember 3 crores stashed in a bedroom. And yes, ask all those sonsabitches who came to India Gate how many of them came from HKL Bhagat's constituency and if they ever fucking blush at singing Punjabi songs after electing a blasted murderer. Not just a murderer, a calculated and organised one. Me, if I had the guts or glory idea, I woulda shot him for his dark glasses alone.

I go majorly for songs too, all of the dhinchikki variety. Sometimes, I listen, just for a change, to these lines :

"Zaraa is mulk ke rahabaron ko bulaao
ye kuuche ye galiyaan ye manzar dikhaao
jinhen naaz hai hind par unko laao
jinhe naaz hai hind par woh kahaan hain"

Kahaan hain ? Why, busy changing the ringtones on their cellphones to Rang De Basanti from Just Chill , Chill, Just Chill.

Mridula : I think I have easily beaten the longest comment gent!

See, even a simple thing like organising a bunch of printouts isn't so easy. Your honesty in admitting it wouldn't take off is admirable. And depressing.

Call me extremist. But generating data ?For whom ? Bagal waala uncle who gets his CTs pawing girls in lifts ?

When you want to sell phones and soft drinks, use soundbytes. When you want to sell a serious idea, do not compete with soft drinks.

If say, BNP generated money selling T Shirts and put it into self defence classes for kids in one school in Delhi, I would have gushed my heart out over it.

But know what ? It is not only that it is too much work. A lot of otherwise really committed people would feel it also is not doing anything for the "Big Picture".

Well, whoopee. The Big Picture isn't doing anything for the kids anyway.

Sheesh, am gettin progressively more ranting and raving, precisely the alienating things I made so much noise about. Need to get back to the sentimentalist tripe ASAP.

And the mail, sadly, is NOT avlbl here. Its on the Profile page. ( Go on, increase its page hit too, "I think it feels more important to ask people ")

:)

Me : As you say, some good CAN be done by having a forum. Look at what say, Candy Lightner did. Only takes lotsa effot and time.

?!: Doff my hat, even if I don't wear one :-).

Something new from Blank Noise, now is the time to write your ideas to them:

http://blanknoiseproject.blogspot.com/2006/04/to-you-dear-volunteers.html

Very cool design! Useful information. Go on! »

I feel it's okay to just rant too, sometimes it's cathartic. And then sometimes it's great to read somebody saying exactly what you have been thinking :)

If during our rants and discussions we manage to change one mind from intolerance to tolerance, that's an achievement.

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