Someone STOP them!

First things first, my thoughts extend to Japan where they have been hit by the brute force of nature and their scale of devastation is still incomprehensible to me. But of all the positive and heroic abilities and the strict earthquake policies that the media has been raining praises about, one significant announcement went unnoticed. The Government of Japan has ordered that all “unclaimed” animals rescued from the debris would be gassed or “disposed” off asap. And then all my sympathy and praise vanished. How CAN they?

So various private organizations are making a race against government agencies to rescue as many animals as they can before the government finds them. This is the WORST attitude that anybody can show for animals. You “dispose” them? Like a tissue? How about “disposing” “unclaimed” children then? Why the difference in life? If you saved one, save the other also. Is it the poor animal’s fault that it survived only to be killed in a worse fashion? How can you even think of taking more lives in the face of such tragedy when the death toll is rising steadily like some stock market price? Every animal that survived has done so miraculously and should be regarded as a miracle of nature. Instead here we are planning to dispose them off. I am so livid right now that I feel like hurling the choiciest of expletives at the Government. I am sure they are “unclaimed” because their owners who brought them up so lovingly couldnt make it. So now instead of honouring their memory by carefully handling their best friend, you are insulting them by GASSING them? !@$@#%@#$%

Whatever logistical reason you give me I am not going to accept it. Every life that lived is a miracle. An animal more so. I hope all the private rescue teams get all the animals that survived and nothing gets to the government. It cannot even protest to your actions. I can imagine the joy it would probably have in being rescued only to be killed by those very people later. CRUEL. If you cannot respect animals in your country, ban people from having any. That way atleast they’ll live a happy and respected life elsewhere.

To those interested: check this out.

God bless those people rushing to help the poor animals.

Girl Talk: A Princess’s Tale

Girl Talk post (after a long time) comes with the usual warning: Incomprehensible girl blabber ahead. Skip if you want. Don’t complain that I didnt warn you !

It is being termed as the wedding of the year already! The Royal wedding of Prince William and rich commoner Kate Middleton is being touted as the biggest page 3 event of the west. I specifically said west because I bet, it’ll wane in comparison to the multi-million dollar wedding that concluded recently and was masked in obscurity – Some MLA’s son married another apparently famous guy’s daughter outside Delhi and the wedding bill was no less than 250 crores with a helicopter as wedding gift! WHOA! Forget the grandeur, naach-gaana, elaborate celebrations spanning weeks with gyrating Bollywood stars, this royal wedding has captured the imagination of hundreds of women (teenage girls in particular) since the stakes are higher than normal! A brand new Princess! The last time I was so excited was when I read Cinderella’s story out of a Disney book. Prince and Princesses are a part of every girl’s imagination. Young, youthful and extremely pretty, its hard not to notice “Princess” anywhere it is written. And princesses in long,beautiful gowns with the glass shoes…hmm its tough to resist!

Maybe I should feel sheepish for harboring the same feelings as that of a 13-14 year old girl, but I cannot help but be excited. This is the stuff of fairy-tales-turning-real. Kate Middleton was no poor maid harassed by her step-mom or sisters, she was no Aurora who was cursed by the evil witch,but on the contrary, was as normal as you and me. Rich and well-to-do no doubt, but she gets to become Princess. She charmed her way through Prince William’s heart and how! Starting out as flat-mates in a university, they became friends and eventually fell in love. Did Kate ensnare William with an eye on the crown? Did she never think of what she can become if they were to marry? I often think about this since I know so many girls who manipulate themselves and tailor their behaviour, attitude, dress sense etc to attract someone in particular. Don’t shake your heads in disagreement. How many girls take a complete U-turn to get that rich,smart guy in college? How many people lost weight, dressed provocatively, went from bad to good and vice-versa, knowing that the boy they want to attract has potential to get rich and famous? I wonder if Kate Middleton wore this just to get William to look at her? It is such a normal thing to do- yet so unfair?!

Anyway, pushing out those bitchy-girly thoughts from my head, I am genuinely happy for her. It takes more than just a svelte body to keep a handsome Prince for 8 years and even more, get back after a breakup! And its not easy being her. I doubt if I’d enjoy my every move suddenly photographed or every piece of clothing I own, ripped apart by world-famous designers. Its tough being in the spotlight too. Imagine her walking down that aisle on April 29th in her wedding dress (which is already the topic of debates) with the world’s eyes on her! From it being a private ceremony, where she gets legally married to the man she has been living with for the last 4 years to a worldwide celebration, a national holiday and a party of 1900 world-famous people, its a sea-change. And for all this tension, she has been doing remarkably well.

And of course it can be that she is enjoying it all. Loving the sudden attention, being on the best-dressed lists and suddenly elevating to a social status which few in the world enjoy. Maybe she is , maybe she isn’t. I would love her to be a people’s princess, someone who has her feet firmly planted on the ground, looking for real humanitarian causes, connecting with the modern generation of women she comes from, maybe even following her passions, continuing with her career and not succumbing to the Royal housewife tag; setting a prime example for women to look beyond marriage and riches and focus on themselves instead.

I believe she has no competition from Princess Diana. I have the highest regard for Princess Di, but she was a prime example of a woman forced into a relationship she perhaps was too young to grasp. It draws huge parallels from what typically happens in traditional India. Denied education, forced into a wealthy marriage at the age of twenty (Di was noble blood herself,Daughter of an Earl) , to a man much older (he was 35?) and who was in a relationship with another woman (Camilla Parker). She bore the heirs of the English Monarchy but found herself suffocated. The only difference being, an Indian woman in the same plight would have silently withstood all the trauma, with no recognition of her personal troubles but she being the bold and brave, decided to move out and be a single-mom. Though her heart was in the right places and she actively worked for humanitarian causes, her personal life reflected the pains of any other woman. I salute Diana for her bravery to break-free from her shackles, her undying love for the people and of course her haircut. Kate Middleton however starts off on a totally different pedestal. She should reflect how the world has changed from 1981. I really hope she does. That is the real pressure she has. Not about her coats being perfectly tailored or sporting a unique,fashion-critics-approved,event-appropriate beret every time she steps out.

But for now, I’m setting my alarm at 6 am on April 29th to watch it all live.

PS: Happy Women’s Day to everyone. Its nice to have a girl-talk post to match. 🙂

Goodbye, Uncle Pai

Uncle Pai passed away last week. It is another bitter reminder that our childhood days are long gone. I, like millions of other Indian kids growing up in the mid-1990s loved them. Railway journeys were exciting because of the inevitable trip to the Wheeler & Co. mobile stalls where my eyes would scan hungrily for the latest issue of Tinkle Digest. Summers were even more looked forward to because of the Tinkle specials ‘ Suppandi’ or ‘Naseeruddin Hoodja‘(who was also my absolute favourite). I cannot remember being more excited about any other birthday gift than the 12 volume ‘Mahabharata’ that my mom gifted me, or the sheer pleasure of opening those old wooden boxes during hot summer afternoons and unearthing the millions of volumes of ACK that my sister had lovingly sorted and bound into volumes. I can so connect to all those carefree summer vacations spent reading and re-reading those books. Not only were they excellently educational but they were my initiation into the intricacies of Indian mythology. I jumped right into it. There were days when every character’s past and role in Mahabharata was etched clearly in my mind, days when I could recite Ramayana in my sleep (That is partly because of my Grandpa, he spent hours everyday telling me the story while I imagined colourful pictures of the monkey army, the evil Raavan (until Abhishek Bacchan came and made me feel like the mythological one was an angel) or the loyal Hanuman. )The news of Anant Pai’s death brings back some heavy duty nostalgia which I am not really a big fan of. It makes me feel so deprived now. But what it also brought to light is the conspicuous absence of cartoonists/children’s story tellers/ grandpa’s who told interesting mythological tales in modern India. (Forgive me for my ignorance if they are, but I doubt anyone has such an impact – except maybe Karadi Tales?)

I know that off-late, my blog is full of complaints about the way modern India is losing out on a lot of things so I won’t prod along the lines of how India has no taste for satire (since people take themselves SOOO seriously or that post R.K Narayan, we won’t have anyone left to fill that space of ‘The Common Man’). The point is we all should laugh at ourselves in a while. While we should aim at educating our genX about Jataka Tales, Panchatantra, Ramayana or gift them the wonder of ACK, we should also aim at encouraging comic-cons. It is astonishing that a country of 1 billion with the most fertile minds does not have a gazillion comic strips, a hundred stand-up comedians( Russel Peter -he is Indian origin!) or picture books. The point is, it does,just that those people never really get a break to the big league. I subscribe to a whole lot of such funny blogs (many of them columnists in renowned newspapers) which keep you in splits. Take a bow ,Ashish Shakya (the co-writer of our only funny show ‘The Week that Wasn’t’). He is one funny man.

It takes a genius to keep a child engrossed in an activity that does not involve plunder of some object. So I totally respect folks like Uncle Pai, the editors/creators of Champak, Chacha Chaudhry (ooo, Sabuuuu), J.K Rowling (now she deserves a standing ovation – 400-600 pages on average and we literally swallowed it!) and all the Cartoon Network shows. Hell, they’ve changed too! No more Pinky and the Brain( my fav) , Dexter, Scooby Doos, Centurions, Swat Cats, The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest, Captain Planet, Johnny Bravo, Top Cat etc etc. I saw recently the cartoons looked way more dumb-er and looked all very Japanese-y to me. (Is it becoz I’m old now?) Gah, the point is certain events act as bitter reminders of the enjoyable times you had and you cannot help but look back and smile wryly thinking about those absolutely blissful days. Why do we grow up again?!

And then we can always sit around and discuss about how the kids of today are missing out on real childhood pleasures. But in this case, they are.

Goodbye Uncle Pai. I enjoyed all those nights and days I spent on the top-berth of a rattling train drinking frooti and reading about Tantri,the Mantri or Shikari Shambu. I wish I could do all that again.

PS: How much do Tinkles cost now? Plus, do the Hoodja specials still come out? I’m adding items to my list I’m making for my next Landmark plunder. 🙂