I wake up to this Gillette ad, which has kicked up a much bigger storm than the Kardashian Pepsi commercial did more than a year ago. I guess that ad was the start of brands taking on the role of SJWs – Social Justice Warriors. SJW is by definition a derogatory term which means a person who expresses or promotes socially progressive views. In a normal world there would be a few thumbs ups for this person but in reality, which is neither normal nor reasonable, the reasons for this are the fact that we have to hold SJWs responsible for having boundary issues. I digressed there. But that is the point. SJWs will stop at nothing. Such as pedophilia being termed as a condition rather than a pathetic scourge of the mankind. They want pedos to be included in the ‘queer’ category to be represented on the gay pride flag. Because, there is such a thing as a non-practising pedophile. So anyway, this is a small example of why SJWs don’t get a lot of respect. What happened then with the Gillette ad was a classic design problem I learnt about during a brief ‘knowledge-share’ session at my workplace – That when instructions are printed in a font that’s harder to read, the reader/user confuses that difficulty with the difficulty level of the task itself. Apparently, Ikea knows this. So thank you Ikea. My male friend had no problem assembling that beige double bed. Moving on to males. They’re exploding the dislike button on Gillette’s YouTube link. Here it is again in case you’d like to have a go at it too. They’re doing so just for suggesting that they are better than the toxic messages they receive from the likes of: Harvey Weinstein Donald Trump Charlie Harper Woody Allen Ramsay Bolton Karl Marx Don Draper Hitler Frank Underwood O J Simpson Aurangzeb John Eric Armstrong (Know more here ) Jack The Ripper List of all the men outed under the Metoo movement. Does not include the stalwarts back in India. Top names though: Alok Nath. Rajkumar Hirani. Vinod Dua. M J Akbar. All renowned ones. Saddam Hussein Jordan Belfort Vladimir Lenin Pol Pot Genghis Khan Geobbels Che Guevara Robert Mugabe (Let me throw in THIS link detailing the respective rules of these powerful men from Africa) Know that some of these characters are fictional but most are not. I trust you to know which is which. But I can tell you this: we haven’t even got started. The men who’ve gotten all riled up with this one ad that is the only sliver of good parenting they have / ever will receive, are the ones for whom this ad was made in the first place. It talks about not waking up to a world where bullying is justified with ‘boys will be boys’. And God knows it’s the males who are the worst sufferers of it. Instead of saying “yeah, we do have a problem; glad someone is speaking out”, they’re swearing off of all P&G products. Good going. Yes, a brand’s job is to sell. And trust me, sell they will. Gillette has moved on. It’s talking to my 25-year-old brother who knows that if his dad shouted at him, that’d be wrong. My 50-plus ‘Millennial at heart’ friend who hates boys night out where they crack sexist jokes all night long. My friend & ex-colleague whose husband is a hands-on dad who cooks like it’s his duty as much as hers. Did you know that brands were acting as SJWs when they asked you to wash your hands 4 times a day, for 30 seconds each time? That you needed to wear a deo. That you need to floss your teeth. Brush it twice a day. They you need to get your vitamins. That you need to safeguard your heart health with MUFA-PUFA loaded oils. That you need life insurance for your families. Well, dear men, you need to give up bullying for a healthy society.
Oh-kay, I spent yesterday at one of the fanciest 5-star hotels in Mumbai – Taj Lands End. Attending the Content Marketing Summit & Awards, hosted by the World Marketing Congress, a super busy event that’s a great place to meet with the top professionals in marketing. Last week, I was at the Digital Leadership Summit organised by Social Beat. At the St.Regis, Mumbai, super swank. Loves these places. Last month it was TechSparks 2018 at the Taj Yeshwantpur in Bengaluru. And this is not me showing off. I’m actually talking about something completely different here. You’ll see why I am mentioning all these grand old daddies of luxury living. Not name-dropping. Because, these luxury hospitality brands clearly fail – astoundingly – at both luxury & hospitality in one very important regard that interferes with one of the loves of my life: Food. In fact, the experience I went through yesterday makes me want to reinvent the term ‘arm exercises’. It’s a one between me and my friend I shall refer to here as Mundu Cracko. Arm exercises refer to the ultra-best form of workout one gets from lifting beer mugs filled to the brim (heavier the better) right up from the table level to one’s lip and holding it there while consuming the much-needed refreshment, while making sure to give it as many reps as one can humanly make in the course of one session. Unlike all other kinds, this workout mixes dopamine with spirit, thereby creating a whole new level of motivation. It’s muscle isolation, it’s endurance, it’s mood uplifting, it’s socially engaging because you’d probably do this with your buddies, and the healthy competition to keep going adds to the magic. It’s a sorry state of affairs then that this beautiful connotation must be vacated for a more staid & serious, a more literal one that has neither its original flair nor the spirit. In fact, it falls flat like non-aerated beer. Did I hear your enthusiasm just fizzle out? Well, I’m a teetotaler and yet I know we can empathise with the lack of carbonation, which we know contributes wholly to the beer’s mouthfeel and its refreshing-ness. You can imagine my feelings when I see that my but one indulgence – food – is now condemned to become an arm exercise in the least pleasurable way possible! I’m talking about how these hi-fi places I’ve named above in a list that is by absolutely no means exhaustive, make it difficult for a nourishment-seeker to seek precisely what they need: nourishment. And, it’s not a gender equal world out there either. I’ll explain: I’m actually talking about how heavy the plates are that they use in these event buffets dinners and lunches. By the time I’ve scooped in some salad and collected some chapaati and moved on to daal, and subzi… I’m already a spent force. I’m handling a towel that was once a comforter somewhere, a spoon that is a miniature version of a mason’s or a gardener’s spade, and a fork that is only slightly lighter than a garden rake. Thank God for small mercies. Because, by the time I begin eating, it has turned into an exercise in negative calories – I’m spending way more calories than I am consuming while holding myself erect, walking around carrying the huge ceramic receptacle in which my nourishing morsels lay, embraced by the mason’s weapons. The food itself becomes bland, unimportant, secondary, not germane to the issue. It’s only the challenge that counts. Can I continue to ingest, and chew, and swallow when I am busy demonstrating the term ‘Herculean effort’? And for how long? In fact, it becomes a conversation starter with quite a few participants: “Here we are again… huh, huh :-)… yes, this is heavy… dunno what’ll happen if I add that shallot – will I buckle under? Haha” I even joked with a fellow male participant that the practice of feeding people at such galas seemed rather skewed towards favouring men, who have a denser muscle tone than us ladies. Turns out he wasn’t too thrilled about it himself – saying he’d probably last 1 chapaati more or two but in the end, had to give up his right to nourishment. So well, I really wonder if you’ve wondered this too: Why do swanky places host stand-up buffets and then give us these plates made of pure lead to eat in? Any hospitality folks out here who can help me out? What do you guys really want us to do? Not eat? Anyway, I doubt if you’re gonna get me to do a few more push-ups every day, stretch the zer0 workout I’m on. I’m pretty sure I actually lost 400gms of weight yesterday even though I ladled my way through some pretty hefty paalak corn and paneer-something & something-veg-biryani. Compliments to the chef. None to the hotel industry.
A lot. Am reading I am Divine by Devdutt Pattanaik (edited by Jerry Johnson) and is a laudable work on the history of LGBTIQ within the Indian ‘Hindu’ society. To me, Hindu is a geographical identity whose one of the aspects is the legacy of Dharmic religions. But all that later. The book has sharp insights on the issue of ‘caste’, for which Hindus have been flogged over and over for centuries. It is particularly valuable in the current climate of creating divisions within our society (SC/ST Act issue, Lingayats, etc.)… all because Congress wants a few votes in order to remain relevant. Their cronies are helping them further their divisive agenda. And Shekhar Gupta is leading the pack, how? ‘I Am Divine’ offers a perspective. Before I present the relevant excerpt, here’s a background of the issue, taken from the same book: A hymn from the Rig Veda described society as an organism whose body parts are made up of 4 Varnas, Brahmins (learned ones, religious scholars) on top, Kshatriyas, ruling class and landowners come next, trading community or Vaishyas come third, and last come the Shudras, the service providers. This 4th group split later, with untouchables and tribals, who were pushed out of the social system. While many sages and philosophers spoke against this social structure, most rulers of the land respected Jati as it helped legitimise their rule, enabled them to collect taxes with relative ease from communities, rather than individuals, who controlled the lands and the markets. Many used Brahmins to establish new villages, and collect taxes on their behalf, thus making them God-kings. Muslim rulers too, in order to ensure stability, used Brahmins as bureaucrats and tax collectors, and so effectively let the 4-tiered social model persist. Here is the excerpt from ‘I am Divine’ that throws light on how this caste conundrum became so pervasive as to be thoroughly institutionalised: When the Portuguese came to India, they used the word ‘Caste’ for Jati. The British eventually documented castes for administrative convenience, and converted this rather fluid social system into a rigid and documented categorisation, even giving castes to people who really had no castes, and giving them social status in a standardised national hierarchy, ignoring the fact that the hierarchies of the Jati system functioned locally with numerous regional variations. Based on caste, the British assigned jobs in the military, they divided cities. Later, they switched from caste to religion, ignoring the caste divides in Indian Christians and Muslims, and amplifying the divide in Hindus, insisting that caste was an essential condition of all Hindus, based on books such as Manusmriti, which had originally only documented caste as social practice, not recommended or prescribed it. Hindus who moved to the Caribbean Islands as indentured labour in the 19th century, after slavery was abolished in Europe and America, retained their Hindu identity, but not any caste identity, as the socio-economic conditions there did not have NEED for caste. British administration did not bother to document the caste of labourers or classify them as such. But in India, where caste was strongly mapped to socio-economic realities, and where British administrators documented caste and made it essential category while recruiting for the army (only military castes were allowed) and for the bureaucracy (Brahmin and the landed gentry were preferred), caste not only thrived but was institutionalised. The documentation process also created the religion we now call Hinduism. So, when Shekhar Gupta propagates writings like: https://twitter.com/shekhargupta/status/976380884902338560?lang=en and makes comments like this: https://twitter.com/shekhargupta/status/944432538499530752?lang=en But, in no way has a response to this: https://twitter.com/rishibagree/status/985158383333392385 Because there are… https://twitter.com/OpIndia_com/status/985181379926331392 a body that he is now the President of, he is culpable of furthering the noxious legacy of the British Raj. He is no intellectual. His attitude is a vestige of the British system of divide and rule, which works very well in the present context as it did in those times. How long are we going to keep falling victim to this? Finally, for those who might have questions about Manusmriti, often blamed for all the major social ills in the Hindu society, please read this: Manusmriti & Caste System by Acharya Harikrushna Farashuram. Read, and liberate yourself from centuries-old burden of hate and disgust heaped upon our civilisation by people who pillaged, marauded, and oppressed entire civilisations around the world with complete lack of compunction and are now giving others certificates for human rights while fomenting violence in the Middle East. People like Mr. Gupta, instead of participating in the progress of our society by furthering a constructive agenda, happen to spread hatred because it helps them so. They have created a different class system of ‘intellectuals’ who act as if they walk on water, but won’t even acknowledge it. This should be our fight.
I am that age where mostly all my friends have a tiny tot or two, some older peers have teens. Absolutely every parent I know struggles with technology, or rather, how to prevent it from being: 1) misused 2) abusive – to health – both physical and mental, to relationships, studies / work And, a whole lot of times, it’s not just about the kids. For most people, it’s also about their spouses, and friends, and colleagues at work even. That’s why when I came across the Center for Humane Technology on the Net (http://humanetech.com/) I was thrilled. Its foundational premise is that technology is hijacking our society. These people are the right ones to talk mainly because they have been on the business side of things – are ex-employees of tech companies that control our social media and other digital platforms on which we have come to rely almost completely for everything – connecting, network, business, shopping, entertainment, education, the list is growing. Tristan Harris, its co-founder and executive director, in his TED talk here How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day is all about how to focus your attention on things you want to do rather than fritter it away to the deadly addictive calls of your apps, notifications, social networks, et al. He says tech could be transformative. It needs to work for the good of humans – our mental health, physical health, our children’s good, our societal good, and not act like a slot machine for these companies and their owners. He knows that to do this, our entire set of parameters need to change. Human good, quality connections, are the metrics that our tech should be designed for. Here’s why I think this won’t happen, at least not until people see the harmful effects of this inhumanely designed technology that is current – much like what happened with cigarettes and the smoking industry: As humans, our education system used to be the tech platform that these companies have become today. Our education system never really looked at any of these metrics either. Happiness, our ability to keep a steady head, our ability not to fall prey to addictions that are life-negating – be it alcohol, drugs, sex, media, substance abuse, even the bad habits of cribbing and negative thinking, depression, etc., our ability to develop our self-esteem… and all of these things that truly matter, did not find mention anywhere in our curricula. We measured our happiness and self-esteem in our achievements, which are usually about being better than others, our sense of style by the scale and variety of our addictions, our sense of well-being by the size of our homes and memberships to fancy clubs. We made things like depression, attention-deficit disorder, food disorders fashionable. This education system cannot create individuals who value their lives and the huge opportunity it represents, cannot value their time on this beautiful planet of ours. It’s the value system that needs a change, technology will follow. And, we haven’t reached that stage yet, much like smoking and global warming. That’s the difference between a life-affirming way of thinking and a life-negating way of thinking. Whatever actions you are doing today, are those life-affirming for yourself and for those around/close to you? Or are they life-negating ones? If the latter, please ask yourself why are you doing it even when you know this. Technology addiction should now be the least of your problems.
Lucknow Central? So here’s a line from the film: There’s no justice. It’s either good luck or bad luck. Good advice if you’re planning to go watch it. Because, there’s going to be no justice done to your time, money, or hopes. If you’re lucky, your cable operator wallah will call up during the show to discuss your latest plan and I suggest you do so in detail; if not, you’ll end up watching until the part where Farhan decides NOT to scale the walls of Lucknow Central Jail so that he can *** wait for it *** realize his dreams of playing in the jail’s band, of which HE is the only member who is even slightly tolerable, musically speaking. Besides, he’s a convict, jailed and all, and I’m sure by now the government has his #Aadhar number. It’s not like he has any real, valid, comfortable career choices, except that he knows that he’s Farhan Akhtar in real life playing Kishen here and therefore, need not take the burden of thinking ‘Log Kya Kahenge’. He need not reason that the cops and the system don’t give two flying fucks about his band and his dreams and be they realized or not, they’re going to try their utmost to see that he gets back into the jug. But, instead of thinking all of the above through, the makers invested all that time and energy into making sure that every single convict looks well-groomed, so well-groomed in fact, that I was expecting them to break out with a Sunny Leone-style ‘Layla’ item song any time now. Strangely it never came. It certainly wouldn’t have felt out of place. So, banished are the zebra stripe uniforms and so is all the fluff off ALL of the men’s bodies, really ALL, even those who are not Farhan Akhtar (Yeah I noticed it, and so what if I notice such things!!!, huh?) For a long time I wondered which salon & spa services should be considered a product placement here. I kept looking for a clue but later I figured there was no need to split hairs… they were all gone… already… anyway. This brings me to another funny thing about the movie: product placements. Come on, at least be subtle, man. You’re in a jail, not a mall. Different spelling, see? This Diana Penty is guzzling water from a pink coloured bottle of bottled water, very surreptitiously as if she’s expecting to find a clue in it. Good old H2O is the only thing that appears to be in colour in that scene. Then there’s a brand of condoms Kishen is carrying in a mug on what seems to be his orientation day at Lucknow Central jail. Enough said. And then, there’s an ecommerce website where they’re ordering stuff from, sitting in Lucknow Central Jail. Musical instruments C.O.D. Little Kishen and Gayatri opening those branded boxes as if kids opening their gifts from Santa on a Christmas morning. All this happening inside of Lucknow Central. The Lucknow Central jail. The flipping Lucknow Central Jail. Who cares about Log Kya Kahenge? You know but I’ll tell you what: there’s a certain charm about these movies set in places like Lucknow. A non-metro no-nonsense real flesh-and-blood non-Karan Johar kind of charm. You’ll find it in tiny details and the ambience – like the lota party in ‘Toilet’, the lovela sweets in ‘Bareilly ki Barfi’… and the accent, Oh, the accent. Like how Rajkumar Rao did it in Bareilly, or how Usha Buaji in Lipstick under my burkha. Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapur in ‘Udta Punjab’. It shows a certain commitment to the role. You won’t see that here. Kishen doesn’t care. He’s here to realise his dreams. Not his job to convince you, me, that he’s from Uttar Pradesh. In Lucknow Central I found only about three things that had something to do with UP: Raja Bhaiya, Ravi Kishen, and a shot of my favourite dish Baati-Chokha. There was the jail signboard, not to forget. Now comes the best part: The HAM scenes. It’s my favourite part of any movie. This one had some but certain opportunities were missed, however. When Kishen is put in jail, his father is nowhere around to provide some worthy hamming and moral support. None of that jeep pulling away… tch! From undertrial to convict in a few seconds, facing capital punishment, Kishen keeps his smile on, even tells Gayatri to keep smiling. From being beaten within an inch of his life to being confined to a dark dungeon, Nothing. Kishen’s “rockstar” dreams crushed. Nothing. Being starved in jail. Nothing. Threatened. Nothing. Opportunities missed all through. Once in a while a real ham comes along: One of Kishen’s band mates gets out on parole, to meet with his ‘girlfriend’ with whom he had been chatting all along from inside the jail (Don’t ask how, since convicts are not supposed to have a cellphone. Corruption, that’s how). He finds out she’s “settled”, with a bun in the oven. The guy is mighty pissed. How dare this woman go ahead and get a life while he is here serving a life sentence, doing her a favour talking to her and thinking only of her!!! How dare she! Angered, he tells her to get out of his sight lest he should kill her. Score! The final one comes along when Kishen and his rock band is this close to making their plan a success. But if I tell you what happens next, this sequel to Rock On (jailhouse rock version) will lose all its magic. So I won’t. Enjoy the weekend. Remember: There’s no justice. Only good luck or bad luck.