Category Archives: thinks

Facing the Truth

When I first heard that Siddharth Basu is bringing Moment of Truth to Indian television, I was very curious to see what it would turn out like, when put in the Indian context.

And what I saw, surprised me, pleasantly.

Naah, pleasantly is such a mild word. I love it!

It’s so much fun to see people squirming in their seats – actually, it’s mostly the contestants’ family and friends that are squirming in their seats, while the contestant just goes on and on.

It must be a very strange kind of person who’d go up on TV, on prime time, with all that many people watching the show, not only then, but also later on youtube – and be able to sit there and acknowledge their deepest, darkest truths. I know I’d never do that. And neither would I put someone I love through that. There are people who make someone they know and love go up there and take part in the show. Like, I remember one episode where this woman made her husband go. Strange, no?

Is it the magic of wanting to be on TV? Is it the money you could possibly win? Is just that they want to hear the truth, or tell the truth, badly enough to even want to do it in front of the whole world? Or, are they – and I suspect this is the most correct answer – just crazy people?

I mean, really! WHY would you do that? Or, what would make you do that?!

But I think Star Plus has finally hit upon another winning show.

Siddharth Basu and Ekta Kapoor together probably make up for 90% of the channel’s revenue and TRPs – no? 😛

Really, since after Colours took over as the most-watched Hindi GEC, this show has finally started making people go back to Star Plus.

Of course, though, the most watched Reality Show on Indian television, in the last two years, has been Rakhi ka Swayamvar, which by the way, I LOVED!! But, I digress.

Back to wondering about what makes people do such blatant “khulaasa” (as popular Hindi news channels would say). And I really can’t say what it is. I know why I like watching it, though. And, I actually do like this one more than the American version. I guess because this is in a context and space that’s closer to relate to? Because the American version just seems to hold my attention for a while, but this one makes me not want to change the channel at all. And it’s also because all of us like watching other people’s discomfort on TV – no? And not our fault – they put themselves under the spotlight on their own, crazies that they are!

Oh, and Rajeev Khandelwal, I think started out as a slightly uncomfortable, awkward anchor, but how he’s grown into his role! He’s perfect, I think – the correct mix of being involved and sensitive, and also detached and business-like.

What I find myself doing most often, though, while watching the show, is making up stories in my head about the kind of life the person’s had, or has.

The relationships that are important to them, the circumstances that made them who they are, what’ll happen to those important relationships once the show’s over and done with? Will a man just move on after getting caught out on a question about him having been unfaithful to his wife? Will his wife just move on? Will that be the end of the marriage? How will their family, their friends, their children, their neighbours and colleagues at office react to them from this moment on, for the rest of their lives? Will these memories actually last for the “rest of their lives”, or will it just be forgotten as a TV show?

The woman who said that she still believed that her parents always loved her brother more, and they continue to love her brother’s children more than her own, and then had tears in her eyes while admitting this – would she have got closure after having admitted this on TV, or did this admission bring the whole problem that had been pushed under the carpet for all these years, out in the open for the whole family, to be forced to acknowledge it? How will her parents react now, knowing what they do? How will her brother react? And her brother’s wife, for that matter?

I think one could write many stories. I think I will, actually.


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Filed under television, thinks

Being a woman

Unmana writes about why she is feminist.

Speaking about clichéd gender roles in books, she says:

You see, in all the books I had read the heroine merely "waited to be rescued" (courtesy Shrek 3), while the hero did all the rescuing and adventuring.

Taking this forward, Nancy Friday’s My Mother My Self has interesting commentary on women being slotted into gender roles.

Society plays us a dirty trick by calling us the loving sex. The flattery is meant to make us proud of our weakness, our inability to be independent, our imperative need to belong to someone. We are limited to need and nurture, leaving erotic love to men. A “lovesick” man makes people uncomfortable because the condition weakens him, jeopardises his manhood, cuts down his productivity. But a woman who can’t think clearly, who dreams over her law books, loses weight, and walks into brick walls arouses warm feelings in everybody. Men and women both know how good it feels to be knocked out by love, but someone has to mind the store. Since women haven’t got anywhere to go anyway, and a needy woman makes a man work harder in order to provide for two, romance itself becomes fuel for the economic mill.

He will make love to us in the moonlight to the sound of violins, but in the morning he will shower, shave, put on his clothes, and go to the office in pursuit of his “real” interests. In almost every novel you read or film you see, love is a disaster for the female protagonist, depriving her of initiative, courage, or sense of order, sending her down into masochism and loss of self.

Studies have shown that the basic nature of a human being is determined by the first five years of her/his life. Nancy Friday talks about the relationship between a woman and her mother being the basis of all dependency vs. independence, the longing for intimacy, and the passivity in the woman’s personality. My Mother My Self deals with the first binding relationship of our life being the model for everything else in our adult lives.

After the first stage of dependency on the mother, a child soon starts wanting separation – to experience all the smells, touch, sights around – as a separate individual. Until now, the mother has been the beginning and the end of all experiences and fulfilment of every need. From here on, what a baby most requires is a “basic sense of trust”.

This need to feel a basic trust of life is essential for both males and females. But because of the inevitable modelling relationship between mother and daughter, we are not just stuck for life with the sense of basic trust she did or didn’t give us. We are also stuck with the image of her as a woman, her sense of basic trust that her mother gave her. A boy will grow up, and following his father’s lead, leave home, support himself, start a family. He may or may not be successful. Much of his success will depend on the basic sense of trust his mother gave him; but he will not identify with his mother. He will not base all his relationships on what he had with her (unless he is a certain kind of homosexual).

But a girl who did not get this basic sense of trust, though she may leave her mother’s house, get a job, marry and have children, will never really feel comfortable on her own, in control of her own life. Part of her is still anxiously tied to her mother. She doesn’t trust herself and others. She cannot believe there is another way to be because this is how her mother was. It is also how most other women are. If our mothers are not separate people themselves, we cannot help but take in their anxiety and fear, their need to be symbiosed with someone. If we do not see them involved in their own work, or enjoying something just for themselves, we too do not believe in accomplishment or pleasure outside of a partnership. We denigrate anything that we alone experience; we say, “It’s more fun when there is someone else along.” The fact is we’re afraid to go anyplace alone. How many adult women have you heard joke, “I haven’t decided what I’m going to be when I grow up…”? How many women call their husbands Daddy or Papa, and think of their children as “my daughter”, instead of Betsy or Jane?

Emotionally unseparated from mother, just as afraid as she was, we repeat the process with our own daughter. An unfortunate history, a way of growing up female that our society has amazingly left unchallenged. Being cute and helpless, clinging, clutching, holding on for dear life, becomes our method for survival – and ultimate defeat.

It isn’t only, of course, the relationship with our mothers that dictates the women we become – though it is the most important, probably. Fathers too play an important role in making a child into the kind of woman she becomes. Not just the relationship, as it is, between a man and his daughter – but also the dynamics of that relationship within the family. Actually, also the dynamics of all relationships within the family.

Simone de Beauvoir says, in The Second Sex:

The relative rank, the hierarchy, of the sexes is first brought to her attention in family life; little by little she realizes that if her father’s authority is not that which is most often felt in daily affairs, it is actually supreme; it only takes on more dignity from not being degraded to daily use; and even if it in fact the mother who rules as mistress of the household, she is commonly clever enough to see to it that the father’s wishes come first; in important matters the mother demands, rewards, and punishes in his name and through his authority. The life of the father has a mysterious prestige: the hours he spends at home, the room where he works, the objects he has around him, his pursuits, his hobbies, have a sacred character. He supports the family, and he is the responsible head of the family. As a rule his work takes him outside, and so it is through him that the family communicates with the rest of the world: he incarnates that immense, difficult, and marvellous world of adventure; he personifies transcendence, he is God. This is what the child feels physically in the powerful arms that lift her up, in the strength of his frame against which she nestles. Through him the mother is dethroned as once was Isis by Ra, and the Earth by the Sun.

But here the child’s situation is profoundly altered: she was to become one day a woman like her all-powerful mother – she will never be the sovereign father; the bond attaching her to her mother was an active emulation – from her father she can but passively await an expression of approval. The boy thinks of his father’s superiority with a feeling of rivalry; but the girl has to accept it with impotent admiration. I have already pointed out what Freud calls the Electra complex is not, as he supposes, a sexual desire; it is a full abdication of the subject, consenting to become object in submission and adoration. If her father shows affection for his daughter, she feels that her existence is magnificently justified; she is endowed with all the merits that others have to acquire with difficulty; she is fulfilled and deified. All her life she may longingly seek that lost state of plenitude and peace. If the father’s love is withheld, she may ever after feel herself guilty and condemned; or she may look elsewhere for appreciation of herself and become indifferent to her father or even hostile. Moreover, it is not alone the father who holds the keys to the world: men in general share normally in the prestige of manhood; there is no occasion for regarding them as ‘father substitutes’. It is directly, as men, that grandfathers, older brothers, uncles, playmates, fathers, family friends, teachers, priests, doctors, fascinate the little girl. The emotional concern shown by adult women towards Man would of itself suffice to perch him on a pedestal.

These two books, I feel, together, are the most exhaustive study of feminism and femininity – and have always made perfect sense, not always in my own context maybe, but always in the larger sense of society, and a lot of time in the context of someone or the other I know.

Any more books that add to these, I’d love to read. Suggestions are most welcome.


Filed under feminism, literature, thinks


Please note: The article at the bottom of this post was not written originally by my Dad. It was edited by him and modified to fit the context of the Indian soldiers. This is already mentioned at the bottom of this post. And he’s even linked to the original on his blog. Most people who commented here understood that. Strangely enough, there are other people who cannot scroll to the bottom and read, and instead leave rude comments at other blogs.

If Obelix was here, you know what he’d have done, right? Tapped his head (toc toc toc), and said – “These trolls are crazy!”

Long, long time since I wrote. And the number of unpublished posts I have is unbelievable. I’ve tried to start writing and then lost the inclination, or had my mind blanking out, or just not had the time to finish.

The Mumbai Attacks, meanwhile, have left me feeling …or actually, have left me wondering what to feel. Angry? Confused? Outraged? All of the above?

I watched the news for four days straight, with only breaks for sleeping at night – horrified at what was happening, and the implications of all of it. Feeling guilty to even be sleeping. No reason for the guilt, I know. But staying awake and watching the news, and feeling the pain, was the only way to take part in what was happening in a city over 1400 Kms away. Over the next few days, I’ve even found myself putting on radio in the car, on the way back from work, and feeling instantly guilty to be listening to music.

Yes, I realise that this makes very little sense.

I have only been speaking about this with my parents, brother and husband – because I just don’t have it in me to engage in a conversation about this with anyone else who doesn’t feel the outrage that we all have been feeling. It is difficult to put this feeling in words, spoken or written. All of us have sat and watched TV with tears flowing down our faces. My brother’s had a fight with a friend, and my husband’s had an argument with a colleague.

Saahil’s friend is doing Hotel Management (so is Saahil), and all he had to say was that he was glad he hadn’t started training in either of these hotels. My brother was incapable of explaining to this boy that it was so not about your own self here. There was so much more.

G’s colleague said that he wished “all these Muslims” would just be sent back to Pakistan.

I’ve felt physical rage at just hearing these two stories from S and G, and do not wish to enter into any conversations myself with people.

I’ve been reading a few blogs off and on. There were people who just reported what had happened, but mostly they were outraged too. Some wondered why the Officers who died had to head these operations themselves, and couldn’t just strategise from the background since they were heads of various teams. Well, maybe because they were “Officers”, and one of the vows they take is to protect their country, their men, and then if they have any life left, themselves – in that order.

I’ve read in many blogs now that it’s sad how the young don’t care. And while I agree that it’s extremely sad that a lot of them don’t, I disagree, mainly because of my 21 year old brother, who does.

I heard people wondering what the big deal was with the Kerala CM not going to Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s home. And, while I agree that it isn’t wrong for the Kerala CM to choose to fly to Karnataka a little late, it is still inexcusable what he said.

But, anyway, while on the topic – this is something that might answer some questions that a lot of people have about why the media is suddenly so full of how important our Army, Navy and Air Force are. Yes, people have been wondering why this incident has led to so much being written about them all over the place, even though these same people do the same job every day in J&K. Why is so much being made of it this time around? No, it isn’t because the “elite” got attacked, and the “aam aadmi” didn’t.

We’re talking about them because this incident was not the same thing as what happens every day in J&K. If there is firing at our borders, it is between the Armies of two countries. It isn’t an illogical, all-out attack on civilians of a country by terrorists.

My family has had many people who’ve served in one of the three Armed Forces. Mom’s father (my Nana) was in the Army, both of my Naani’s brothers were in the Navy, and my Dad’s an ex-fighter pilot from the IAF. This is an artcle that Papa wrote while we were all in the midst of watching the news. Do read.

Half Man  Half Boy

The average age of the army man is 23 years. 

He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer in the capital of his country, but old enough to die for his country.

He’s a recent school or college graduate; he was probably an average student from one of the Kendriya Vidyalayas, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a rickety bicycle, and had a girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip -hop or bhangra or gazals and a 155mm howitzer.

He is 5 or 7 kilos lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting the insurgents or standing guard on the icy Himalayas from before dawn to well after dusk or he is at Mumbai engaging the terrorists. He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.

He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional. 

He can march until he is told to stop, or stop until he is told to march. 

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. His pride and self-respect, he does not lack.

He is self-sufficient. 

He has two sets of combat dress: he washes one and wears the other. 

He keeps his water bottle full and his feet dry. 

He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own wounds. 

If you’re thirsty, he’ll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He’ll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands. 

He can save your life – or take it, because he’s been trained for both.

He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, and still find ironic humor in it all. 

He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime. 

He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed to do so.

He feels every note of the Jana Gana Mana vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to ‘square-away’ those around him who haven’t bothered to stand, remove their hands from their pockets, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful. Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom.

Beardless or not, he is not a boy. 

He is your nation’s Fighting Man that has kept this country free and defended your right to Freedom. He has experienced deprivation and adversity, and has seen his buddies falling to bullets and maimed and blown.

And he smiles at the irony of the IAS babu and politician reducing his status year after year and the unkindest cut of all, even reducing his salary and asking why he should get 24 eggs a week free! And when he silently whispers in protest, the same politician and babu aghast, suggest he’s mutinying!

Wake up citizens of India! Let’s begin discriminating between the saviours of India and the traitors!

– Flt. Lt. Rajiv Tyagi


Edited to add: This article isn’t written entirely by my Dad. It’s just been modified to fit the Indian context. He actually wrote another piece for a newspaper, which I shall post when he sends it to me. (Hurry up, Papa!)


Filed under family, social issues, thinks

The King’s Dream

A friend I’d written about earlier wrote this on his blog last night:


The King had a dream, and it has been realized. I could never imagine it would be this soon.
Just 53 years ago a black woman was arrested because she wouldn’t stand up to give a white man her seat on a bus. Today a black man was given the highest seat in the country. 
Can you FATHOM the idea???
NOT to say that possibilities didn’t exist… but were they actually available and real and in the people’s minds? Hell NO!
People turned up and said – you know what.. we don’t care about color SO MUCH that we’ll go out of our way to mess with our country!
People CARED about Country!
People wanted to make a DIFFERENCE!
People BELIEVED in their ability to make a change!
People broke THROUGH the barriers of color!!!
Ask a black person what this means to them.
I just feel like so many things are possible! I love this.
You could over to his blog and read the complete text.
Meanwhile, yesterday I dropped in at G’s office on the way to somewhere else, and saw that he’d had the CNN website open on his laptop all day, along with whatever work he’d been doing. A colleague of his was sitting opposite the table, so I asked him if he’d been following the US elections. And the guy asked me if I knew who was the MLA from where we live, and then went on to say how strange it is that we don’t know who our MLA is, but we care about what happens in the US of A.
Now this is something that I have a problem with on many different levels. One, it’s really my choice – you know – who I want to know about, and what I really don’t care about. Two, we don’t live in a little burrow called India, and I think it’s now high time that we behave like citizens of the world. Be it the environment, industry, popular culture, or politics – why should we act as though only that which happens in India is what we will follow or subscribe to. That, to me, reeks of jingoism. And of being uninformed of what goes on in the larger world. And of being so blase that we just don’t care. And also a little bit of being EQ challenged.
There are so many bigger, brighter, stronger people in the world. So many more powerful things happening all over the world that we will never know about if all we care to know is who our local MLA is, before these other things. Which is not to say that one shouldn’t know about their local politicians, of course. But I just think that’s a very hollow argument to not know about something as big and bright and beautiful as this (Part I & II).
Last night, I had a bad backache and was stuck in bed, and so fell asleep at 11 pm. G was still pottering around, chatting with his dad, having a drink, reading. I figured he’d come to bed in another hour or so, considering we both need to wake up at 7 am now, since after I’ve started the new job. I woke up around 2 am, feeling thirsty, and saw his side of the bed still empty, and the bathroom lights on. So I called out, and he just shouted back to say he’d go to sleep soon, and I should go back to sleep.
He came to bed when I was drifting back to sleep, and nudged me awake to ask if I was still awake (!!) – I glared at him – and he said that he was still awake because he’d been reading Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, and that he just had to read it out me, maybe because he wanted me to experience what he just had. I heard him read the speech out to me, and I thought it was beautiful too. And, I know it’s just a speech – but it’s the kind that stirs you so deeply and completely. And it says a lot about the man who made the speech.
G also sent out a mail last night to family and friends – here’s a transcript of his mail, and Barack Obama’s speech:
I’ve just finished reading the speech and I had to share this, hence, this mail.
I’m neither a supporter of the American Dream, nor influenced by the ideas of the west on how the world should be run.
In fact, quite frankly I barely manage to catch the news, and at times, am so absorbed with what’s happening in my immediate surroundings that wouldn’t care much if the world burned. There’s so much to do, so many problems to sort out at home and work, personal stuff – that all of this just absorbs me completely.
So who really cares what happens in another part of the world where an election is on and a person who I know little about is being elected president?
I heard an annoucer on the radio say in the morning today, while driving to work, that Obama had won, and for some reason I wanted to know if it was true. So I reached office and went online to check, and confirmed that he had in fact won.
And since then, I wanted to know what he had to say on being elected president of a country I don’t particularly care for.
Shared below is the verbatim text of the Victory Speech Barack Obama gave today, and even though my logical head says he has a lot to prove with what is ahead for him, I think this is probably the most amazing speech I have ever read, reflecting the true meaning of Democracy, at least for me.
Read on…


If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us  to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know  my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics – you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office.

We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington – it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead.

For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep.

We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.

And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity.

Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much.

But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.


Filed under life, quotes, thinks

Segregation by sex

A lady who used to live in our building, passed away today. We didn’t know her personally, probably never had even seen her, but when we heard there was a small memorial service in the community hall of our housing society, we decided to go and pay our respects.

So, we walked up to the community hall and entered to see that men sat neatly to one side of the hall, and women sat on the other side. This is something I’ve seen so often – in memorial services such as this one, in wedding ceremonies, havans and poojas – and it surprises me each time.

Of course, I don’t follow the segregation and sit anywhere. My whole family doesn’t subscribe to it either. Like, G sat with me today, and not in the men’s side of the hall. In fact, both of us sat almost in the middle of the two sides, towards the back. My father or my brother would’ve done the same too.

What surprises me though is how diligently this is followed. I saw one elderly man come in with a woman – maybe his wife, or maybe a daughter-in-law. She was looking towards the front of the hall as she walked in, so maybe hadn’t noticed the segregation, and where she was “supposed to” sit. The man she was with sat down in the men’s side, and as she was following him, he very properly and dismissively pointed out where she was supposed to go sit. And so she went and sat in the women’s side, of course.

Why the segregation, is my question. And, does it happen all over the country? Does it happen in other countries as well? It obviously started from the segregation of “one” sex, from “the other”. Simone de Beauvoir points out in her book The Second Sex that the male has traditionally been “the one”, and so by default, the woman is “the other” or the second sex. It’s amazing how such segregation becomes such a part of our everyday culture/life, and how it seeps so deep in, that it isn’t even questioned.


Filed under life, social issues, thinks

Chat Stories #2

Met the same classmate from school on Gtalk again today. I’d seen pictures of her engagement in her Orkut album, and thought I’d congratulate her.

me: you’re getting married!

d: yesss…in nov..
thanx dear..
me: who’s he?
lives where?
does what?
d: he is abhishek…arranged marriage..very nice guy..frm delhi…into business..
me: ok…
family friends?
d: no thru matrimonial services…
me: oh ok
Now why do I have a problem with that?
Technically, to each her own – right?
Even so. I have a problem with this. And I can’t put my finger on why exactly that is so.
Maybe because I feel there is this “need” to be married. Yes – I know all about the historical, sociological and psychological “needs” that lead to marriage. What I don’t get is why the urgency?
This girl was seeing someone, I hear. But the guy she marries is someone her family chose for her. Someone they thought would be suitable.
What is “suitable”? For me, it would be someone I could live with. Someone I could talk with. Someone I could be myself with. How can someone else know what would be suitable for me?
Another thought. Why is it that so many people don’t marry the man or woman they date? Does this happen only in India? Is the man you date, or the woman you date, not good enough to take home to mummy?
This was just random thinking. Don’t bother. I would like to hear what you think though. 🙂


Filed under thinks

TOI does it again!

People may remember my earlier rant against TOI and sensational journalism…

Yesterday’s Times of India had the following picture on the front page:


The caption read: Next Stop, Lhasa?

Just wondering…

Isn’t the picture and the caption completely against what the Dalai Lama stands for? Isn’t this completely against what he’s been working so hard for? Isn’t it also maybe a little insulting? Doesn’t it go against the peaceful struggle of the Tibetan people?

Jug Suraiya though had this to tell:

Don’t speak to anyone, warned Tenzin, our English-speaking guide. Four years ago a friend of his who had been spotted talking to some foreign tourists had ‘disappeared’ and never been seen again. But it was hard to heed the warning. Inside the monastery, the monks swarmed around us. They want to know if you have ever seen His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, Tenzin explained. We shook our heads regretfully. They’re asking if you have any pictures of His Holiness, said Tenzin. Again we had to indicate we hadn’t. They’re asking if you can give them some Indian money, some notes, said Tenzin. It seemed a curious request, as Indian currency could hardly be legal tender in Chinese Tibet. But i took out my wallet and proffered a 100-rupee note. The monks shook their heads vigorously. No, no, said Tenzin. That’s too big; they want small notes, one rupee, two rupees. I found one- and two-rupee notes in my wallet. The monks passed them around with murmurs of awe and reverence. They’ll worship the notes, pray to them, said Tenzin. Because it’s possible that, maybe, sometime, His Holiness has touched one of the notes. That’s why they wanted small notes, which circulate more, so the chances of their having been touched by His Holiness are greater, he added. I looked at the remaining notes in my wallet, thumbed through them thoughtfully. Who knew? He just might have touched one of them. I was discovering what the Chinese have found out. That faith is an infection easy to catch, impossible to stamp out. Even in non-believers like me.

Faith really is easy to catch. No?


Filed under rants, thinks