My (worthless) two cents

11/9 was momentous in many ways. It was momentous to me as an Indian, that finally a big step was taken to do away with corruption. Corruption has seeped through the Indian way of life so deeply that it is rusting and corroding morals, principals and ideas. The step taken is inconvenient in the extreme short term, but, it will finally do away or bring to light the corrupt folks and their “black” money. But I am not here to talk about that as much as about the elections held in the country I’ve been living in for the last 7.5 years.

Yes, it was devastating. I have never been so personally invested or interested in election outcomes and as I sat agape staring at the numbers before me, I could not understand. I went through all the stages of grief -anger, denial, sadness and so on. I couldn’t even muster myself to sleep. I was devastated that a woman had failed to break the glass ceiling. But I was more upset that the opponent was who he is. Over the last six months or so, the Republican candidate was called thoroughly incompetent and other nasty adjectives. His debate performances just made interesting television and drew laughter from the educated,literate crowd. I never in my wildest dreams expected him to win. It would be closely contested I thought, but winning, not a chance.

Now that slowly everyone is accepting the reality of what has happened and articles upon articles emerge trying to assuage the public and heal their wounds, it has brought out the hordes of trump supporters in all their glory and they deserve to be heard. I have had the opportunity to travel and work in the “rust-belt” that seems so different from the world that my family, friends, co-workers and I inhabit and I think I deserve to describe the little I saw.

The whole area seems to be stuck in time, a once-glorious past, full of dilapidated buildings, rusting plumbing, potholed roads, faded neon signs and old-dented scratched cars. You felt you went back in time to an America that hasn’t caught up with its coastal developed belts. The houses look shabby and run-down save for some posh neighborhoods and bars are always full, even at noon on a workday. Chimneys poke through the skyline, all in different stages of ruin, full of graffiti, no longer functional. There are hundreds of restaurants that don’t understand the concept of vegetarianism. I have seen Walmarts with no vegetable or produce sections.This exists, today, in parallel to the swanky neighborhoods of the silicon valley and the skylines of Manhattan. People have old-fashioned ideas of the roles of man and woman, do not believe in travelling far and wide and college education seems a rarity. I have interacted with these folks who disregard the ideas or even the presence of a woman in their midst, because she is a woman. Call them misogynist if you will, but in reality, they have much bigger problems to deal with. Can you imagine the quality of education they receive? What is their stimulus to change? I can see in my mind’s eye, how his campaign would have appealed to them. Clinton was realistic in not promising all the lost jobs or reversing globalization. He wasn’t but his message was simpler, more directed to this demographic and it paid off. They live in a world where unemployment and worry about having enough to feed their family and pay off their mortgage lies foremost on their mind. Misogyny, racism comes afterward.On my coast-to-coast road trip, this was more than evident. The inner-cities have indeed fallen behind. Globalization might have brought in more material goods and made movement of items easier, but their life has seen a downfall and it is easy to see their contempt and anger against the system. They look for anyone, just anyone who might fight for their cause, his personal digressions and character flaws mean nothing to those who struggle to earn, live and eat everyday. This America is not very visible to the rest of the world, but it exists. It shocked me the first time I visited too. I realized the slim bubbles or fragile walls that separate my world from theirs. It felt like a different place. It is.

My anger is directed towards the newspapers and media outlets. It is normal for media houses to take sides but just showing one side of the coin is akin to brainwash. An avid consumer of everything printed – from the New York Times, The New Yorker, Washington Post and other publications who are described as liberals, I feel cheated. It is alright to publish opinions and ideas of left-liberals and denigrate a republican candidate who shows no regard for public decency or political correctness, but the other side should also be shown. Name-calling, adjective writing is one thing, but media outlets have a responsibility to present the reality to society and not just print what like-minded individuals want to read or see. It is uncomfortable for sure, but it gives the right picture. If I believed everything I had read, I would have assumed there was absolutely no one who was on Trump’s side and that such a vile, idiotic,corrupt individual should not even be allowed to venture close to policy-making, let alone represent a major political party. Had I not been to the inner cities myself, I would have never had that iota of suspicion that he does have takers and his words are finding support in some parts of this country.

I think it is time to move past this and move forward. It would be interesting to see what powers a President can yield and the system of checks and balances that exist in this country that would prevent any disastrous outcomes.  This election has brought to light the stark differences in mindset, economy and ideals that exist in this country. It is time to accept , bring to light and work on the gigantic flaws of racism, poverty, misogyny hiding in plain sight in this global powerhouse.

 

I miss festivals

It has been so long since I celebrated Diwali or any other puja at home, I’ve forgotten what it is like. It has been more than 10 years. I felt a pang of nostalgia and sadness hit me like a train when I saw a Diwali ad before a youtube video. Another Diwali gone by, another season of celebrations I missed. Sometimes I wonder why? Why do I punish myself by being away from people I love the most and missing everything that makes life memorable. 10 years. Actually no…it is 11. Crap.
The feels.

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.

To my dearest little Bikki and Paneerselvam

Loss is always hard. Especially when it is that of a pet you so dearly loved. In a span of three weeks I lost both my pets – my fish and my cutest little hamster. My fish died suddenly Christmas morning. To see my fish like that floating lifelessly curved in a peculiar way was so hard. Hell, why am I calling it a fish. He had a name – Paneerselvam. Not a very hep name but it is my way of connecting with remote and ancient Tamil Nadu. He wasnt that active from the beginning and I suspected I had an old fish from the start. But he used to swim upto the surface everytime I came close or hide in his plant when the light was too bright. He used to wait impatiently for his food and frolic in delight by swimming furiously through the bowl when the water was new. I will never know what killed him. “It is only a fish”, “Fishes are like that only”was said in consolation,but I missed having my bright blue fighter fish waiting for his food every morning in his bowl. I miss him.

My hamster was even more tragic. I could not cope with her sudden loss for nearly half a week. She was by far the cutest hamster I’ve ever seen. (Yes, Ive seen a lot of them since I always scout the Small Animal section of every pet store religiously). She was soft and pretty and curled into a cute ball when she ate her food or groomed herself rigorously. She used to snatch nuts and treats from me, loved to run on my table and wait every morning hanging on the metal wires of her cage asking me to open it. Her life was cut short abruptly and I found her lifeless and cold on the floor of her cage. She was breathing, but only just. I tried to warm her, held her close to me praying for her to revive. She opened her eyes and looked at me,all pale and helpless. That image is ingrained in my head. She died on my palm and you have no idea how hard it was to see her like that. That cute little bikki who escaped from her cage and hid under the kitchen sink and behind suitcases, who chewed up the carpet and made instant holes in my T-shirt, the little monster who got snappy if you didnt play with her for a while and the super lazy bum who had to be woken up at times and fed. I miss her so much. I miss calling out to her every night or drumming the sides to disturb her.I loved buying her new treats from the store and watching her expression as she had them for the first time or loved the way she’d follow me everywhere in her ball and apologizing if I accidentally kicked it. I liked the way she’d come out and watch me brush my teeth every morning and enjoy me stroking her head gently. She liked sitting in front of the fan in the summer and loved being held near the heaters in the winter. I will never know what happened to her so suddenly. She might have been old (yes she had become extremely lazy) or choked on something she ate. I love you bikki. You have no idea how much I miss you.

I realized how the presence of a small pet changes our life. I never paid attention to these small things they did that made me so happy and you never realize how much you miss them unless they are not with you. I miss my dog terribly but that is one thing I have still not learnt to live with. I live with the fact that he is extremely happy and pampered at home and never tire of seeing him on skype until he gets bored and walks away. Gosh, whisky I wish you knew. I miss my fish and hamster equally but know for a fact that they were happy. I did and cared all I could and made their lives comfortable. I am more than thankful to them for coming into mine and making it worthwhile. I know people who squeal when I showed them bikki or looked away when I showed my fish. But to me they were precious. Any pet of mine is and losing them is very very hard.

I know this isnt a new year’s post or a post thanking 2010 for what it gave me but I dearly miss my pets. They were a small way for me to compensate for not being around Whisky. I will move on, but Bikki and PS, will always remain with me, just like my fishes from the aquarium I had as a little kid which I remember, my cat Pintu and my dogs Fluffy and Blackie. I love you all. I will not forget you.

(Gosh whisky, why can’t you somehow be allowed in an airplane cabin and fly straight to Atlanta. That day would be the best day of my life. Second only to the day I got you.)

PS: I got myself two female fishes (apparently female bettas are calmer and can exist in groups) so here is introducing Paneerselvi & Komalavalli. (Nice names no? :D) I am still searching for that perfect Teddy Bear Hamster who had the same colours as my Bikki. Hopefully next week my cage would be full of life again. 🙂

Happy 2011 Folks. Hope your lives are enriched and enjoyed far more than the last!

My rockstar forever – MJ

I caught the news flash just seconds before my visa interview. I was next in line, waiting for one of the counters to clear and the authorities to beckon me to their window. “Micheal Jackson is dead.” I gulped. I was genuinely shocked. I don’t know why his death saddened me so much. Briefly putting it out of my head till my interview got over, I kept mulling over him for the whole day yesterday, the news channels giving enough flashbacks to make anyone nostalgic.

Someone correctly pointed out that Micheal Jackson was all pop music was in India a few years ago.His songs were the first English numbers more than half of India heard. He was the face of English music which grew very popular in the country, given that the followers of ABBA, Beatles, Elvis Presley, Boney M were not so many. I remember myself when my sister brought home the entire collection of MJ recorded in 5 cassettes (yes, those were the cassette days) from college more than a decade ago. Thriller, Beat it, Bad and ghost were the first songs I heard. The first four English songs of my life. I was hooked. They were brilliant. I used to stare transfixed at the tv whenever his videos were aired. His cassettes were forever in the car stereo. I was a true blue Micheal Jackson fan. I still love his music. I did the same stuff every kid dreamt of, dancing like MJ and moonwalking like him. He will always be my true rockstar (though he is a pop icon), much before Metallica, Iron Maiden and the others took over.

Later into college, blessed with an enormous music collection on the LAN, I was hooked to Jackson 5. I had caught a few numbers ages ago and had been wanting to listen to them ever since. I was delighted. MJ did stand out even then being one of the youngest. His ballads were soulful and a real treat to listen to. He was a pop-legend in the making even then. And you just had to listen to him sing once to determine that.

Of course, his life has been more controversial than an average pop star’s life. What amazed me more is him grafting his skin (which now people say was a disease that caused him to turn white – I doubt that) and his continuous tinkering of all his body parts. People called him mad, imbalanced and crazy. But honestly, most of these superstars are. After all if every move of your life is a headline and is tracked by a hundred photographers, it is difficult to stay normal. These people should be loved and admired for their skills, their art, their music and MJ was the master of his game. One of the true iconic entertainers of his time.

Ending this sombre post on a hilarious note, the funny joker rightly said “So Michael’s career did end with an arrest after all”.

May his soul rest in peace. His music will be played and will continue to enthrall the world for a long, long time to come.

Amen.

Agony of a broken heart

Why why o why? Why is it so difficult to let go sometimes? Why is it so difficult to forget a person who after the initial happiness has always given u more pain? Why doesnt my mind think more about the agony he has given and not the fun we had ? Why cant I forget him? Why cant I kick him out of my life as simply as he removed me from his ?

I have no answers. But I want to find some. Some balm to soothe my heart. Something to convince me that this is not the end. Why do I get so attached to people? Why is it that I care so much…most of the time not very evidently, but feel so much for that person? Why do I care? heck, why ?

I know I am not important to him. Probably wont be also. But my heart refuses to let go. Its not something that cropped up all of a sudden. It was coming. Now that it has, its killing me from inside.

Time is the best healer they say. Ive waited for so long thinking someday I will forget. Someday I will remember it as something that made me so happy and made my college life worth living. But not now. Is it a crime to like people? Why then does it hurt so much ? Why is loving/liking such a dangerous thing ? Is it wrong ? Do people exist just to hurt you ?

I might act tough most of the times, but my heart is very mellow. I am not a person who shows my true emotions very openly, but sometimes the cut is so deep that one cant help it. I know despite my best efforts, he is one person I can never forget. But should I wait till eternity ? Should I wait for an apology? I know my answer is firm now, but heart of hearts I am waiting.
How I wish I was still a kid. All this would have never happened!

(Im sorry if this post meant nothing to a lot of people. But the fact that atleast a few who know me well will empathize with me and definitely know who I am talking about, makes it worth writing. )