Impressions of India

I know it has been a little over a week since I got back from India, but it did take me about this long to get non-jet-lagged and find enough time to actually think back and post a bit about my experiences. I left here with my son and flew into Mumbai via Amsterdam (Ravi's dire predictions about NWA not-withstanding). I had landed in Mumbai on the 29th of October in the night and the first thing I noticeā€¦ is the stifling heat! By the time I got my bags claimed, you might have mistaken me for someone who stepped out of the shower without wiping the water off, I was so dripping with sweat form every pore of my body. It was an experience I had to get used to after a long time (I had last been in India March 99, so it was quite a bit). Of course, the fun was only beginning.

First thing I did when I got settled in was to call Yaz - turned out he was happily enjoying dinner with Amit and Gaurav and others muching away delicious meat with no thoughts of trying to call a hungry freind over (sniff!). I had known Yaz for over three years now, but this was the first time I had ever heard him talk and it was a pretty strange feeling to finally put a voice to the person (I had already seen his Free sex chat pictures, I had an idea what he looked like).

Yaz being who he is, asked me to call Ravi - the shy, withdrawn person that he was sold to me as (I know, I actually fell for it). I am happy to certify to the world that Ravi is not shy! There! He is in fact a lot of fun to talk to and of the 15-20 minutes we probably talked that night, we spent about 10-minutes just laughing at each others' PJs and convered such important topics as getting Ravi his own page at the Wikipedia (he didn't sound the way I imagined him to sound either). We had all made plans to meet up for a little breakfast before my 11:00 AM flight to Vizag.

Amit was the first person to show up the next morning and kept me company till Yaz and Ravi showed up. Gaurav was also able to join us a little bit later (we were too happy a celebrity such as him actually sat there and ate with us to give him a hard time about coming in late :p). It was a great way to start my trip off really, since the meet could not have gone any better. It was a meeting of old friends, we had so much shared history - we had so much to talk about, the cartel quiz by MadMan, Ravi's SARS jokes (joke being just a loose description here) and tons of other things we had been through together as bloggers. Before I knew it, I was anointed Godmother of the "cartel" and my son was drafted into it. I was actually quite sad when it was time to leave, but I had a wedding to attend to in Vizag and my sister would have buried me alive if I missed it. More on that coming a bit later.

Sense or nonsense?

Here is the touching story of a woman who when pregnant, went off with two drunk strangers to have no-string-attached sex and feels terrible that one of them tried to have sex with her without putting a condom on. Any person who has tried to respond in comments about how risky it is to go off with drunk strangers has been rebuffed with "victim-blamer!" inspite of almost all of them bending over backwards to make sure that they say they are NOT in fact blaming the victim, but are trying to tell her how she can better handle certain situations. Implied in most of the righteously offended's outrageous comments is that since you are asking a woman who is most likely to be a victim to be a little more careful, you are being all mean and oppressive to the matriarchy. The way I see it, if someone wants to rape, you can ask him to pretty please not to do it, but [s]he is going to do it anyways. It is not going to stop anything - till we live in a utopia where all men and women refuse to have non-consensual sex, what is wrong with asking a woman to be a little more careful?

Compare and contrast this hideously self-indulgent thought process to actual situations people live in where they could be gang-raped for being of the wrong caste, paraded naked because of stupid rumors and sexually harrassed to suicide in many cases in the name of eve-teasing. These are women who face real problems where the victim has absolutely no blame and is being victimized for the simple fact of being who she is. I find it very hard to sympathize with someone who knowingly puts herself in a stupid (yes, I said it - it was a stupid thing to do) situation when there are other real victims to be empathized with. File this under one more reason why I feel sick of a lot of Western-style feminism.

Just to add a little bit more to the topic, I am not saying I never put myself at risk. I have been incredibly naive and stupid at a younger age and did some extremely silly things just so I can gain acceptance of someone or to even just keep someone with me. That doesn't mean I look back and say it was all my fault - I don't blame myself for the stupid things while at the same time have gained enough from those experiences that I am not going to repeat that stupidity again.

Crash (2005) - Movie Review

Wow! I really don't know how to describe this movie. I could say it is a study of race relations, racial tensions and emotions in America, but that would make the movie sounds too artsy and stodgy - something which this movie is completely not. (Now, "Birth" is another issue and might be the topic of another review). Crash in a nutshell is the story of a complete day in the lives of a lot of people living in LA, how their lives intersect through the day and in my husband's words, "set off a chain reaction" that ultimately ends in the death of a black man.

The movie has pretty much every racial stereotype you can think of - Hispanic housekeeper, thuggish black people, racist white people, Chinese people who say "blake" for "brake" and illegal immigrants. There are Persian shopkeepers who think all Hispanics are out to cheat them - there are black guys who think the Whitey's keeping them down - there are white people who think all black people are out to rob them. What keeps the movie from becoming a parody or a preachy lecture is the heart that the movie manages to find in it's Jasmin live characters - the characters are all shades of gray - none really evil (well, maybe a couple who frame an innicent white cop so they can get the black vote).

I thought the most complex interesting characters were those of the black director(Terrence Howard) who thinks he has to shut up and let people walk over him so he can get on with his life - he doesn't want to cause any ripples. He is too afraid to even speak up when Matt Dillon's racist white cop (another very interesting character) pretends to search her while actually feeling up her skirt. He would rather stand there and let him and his wife be publicly humiliated than do something - all this pent-up frustration causes him to erupt at quite an unlikely time that puts his life in real jeopardy.

Matt Dillon's portrayal of a racist cop seemed run-of-the-mill initially till you realize there are layers of empathy, frustration and hurt below his hard surface once you get to know him. It was commendable of the movie makers to not take any sides in the argument, but simply present the various sides of the race story. What got me were the scenes of confrontation between Thandie Newton who plays the wife humiliated by Matt Dillon and her husband. The wife is screaming at her husband in frustration - angry that he, her protector simply stood by and watched while she was being molested on a road by another man. She is humiliated not only for herself, but also for him that he couldn't muster up the dignity to fight back. He, on the other hand is passive-aggressive and punishes the only person whom he can safely stand up to - his wife - by refusing to talk to her, and playing the martyr while at the same time choosing to ignore the fact that it was she who was molested and she, who is in greater pain than he could possibly be in.

Ryan Phillippe has an interesting little arc playing the honset sidekick to Matt Dillon who requests a reassignment since he cannot stand his partner's racism, but in the end realizes there in inherent racism within himself too - whether he acknowledges it or not.

All in all, a very interesting movie - well-made with gripping characters that stay with you long after the movie has ended. A well-told tale that probably comes as close to balanced as it can when it comes to the state of race relations in America.

For some weird reason, a lot of this movie reminded me of Magnolia - I think it was two things - firstly, the way all characters in the movie have some connection to each other and secondly, remember the ending of Magnolia when frogs rain down? The snowfall-in-LA ending of this movie seemed very similar.

Shut your Facebook?

Alrighty, then! File this under the category of, "Please don't talk about things you don't get", Mr. Watson! Via the Infocult livejasmin blog (who has a nice little entry on this subject) comes this article from the NewYork Times about the supposed demise of Facebook. Sometimes I wonder if people do this sort of thing just to get some buzz generated and get a few more clicking over to see how someone this dumb can manage to remember to breathe on their own.

Obituaries are written daily about the death of blogging, tweeting, social networking, whatever have you! Of course, if you are like me and end up checking into Facebook once every hour to see what your other compulsive Facebook posting friends and colleagues are up to and check your Twitter client every time there is a new update, you would know that the death of social networking has alas, been greatly exaggerated!

To me, it seems almost like an old curmudgeon (no offense, older people!) wishfully thinking that something they don't get will be gone soon, so they don't have to feel left out by the new-fangled thing that everyone else around is hung up on. Maybe it will happen...maybe Facebook and Twitter will die a natural death - do you really doubt that the social networking genre will be gone with them? I believe that people have an innate need to connect - they will find something else to connect with.

Reality and Perceptions

Apparently, some "journalist" just realized that there is no Santa Claus - I mean, he realized that the doctor dramas on TV are not really like real life! (via Reason) Stop the presses! What a horror! Seriously, when did movies or TV every realistically portray anything? You mean, not all computer engineers are dorky geeks who down 5 cups of coffee a day and hide behind coke-bottle glasses while typing super-fast on UI-for-dummies? Whatever!

A little bit like this article that made my jaw drop when I read it this morning.

Can you see my problem with the article? Dude starts off with a fine premise - how Obama needs to change his tactics if he wants to get a bill passed. The problem is, nothing in the article suggests Obama is anything but an unwitting victim of everybody else's bad deeds. I am at the point where I am tired of people making excuses for the President. It is his Presidency - he is the leader - he better stand up and show some leadership...What is journalism coming to these days?

Monsters and their enablers

It was hard to read the story of the 11-year-old California girl kidnapped and forced to bear the children of her kidnapper. What was even harder to imagine is that while we focus on the male monsters who make this happen, there is always inevitably a female enabler lurking in the shadows. Take the case of the Joseph Fritzl, who kept his daughter locked up in a dungeon and had 7 children with her - apparently his wife who lived with him in the house above the dungeon was completely clueless - doncha just love that defense! Elizabeth Smart's kidnapper had Wanda Lee. Practically all cases of little children being killed by step father or mother's boyfriends have been with the mothers practically feet away from the scene of murder/abuse.

Most of the stories focus on the monster committing the crime, but very few discuss the enablers - they are able to get away with lesser sentences and even sympathy in some cases. As a woman, I feel like it makes the woman a weak, easily manipulated being - a caricature of the helpless damsel - to pretend like she has no culpability in what she has witnessed - no power to change things around. Backwards thinking at best, isn't it? Another form of sexism?