Posts Tagged ‘costiima’

On different orientation…..

November 7, 2014

A thread about cross-dressing, trans-genders and homosexuality prompted a friend to write the following mythological/religious reference on a mailing list:

Just consider the following:
1. Shiva cross-dressed as Ardhanarishwara

2. Arjuna cross-dressed as Bruhannala

3. Vishnu, not only cross-dressed, but actually “crossed over” as Mohini, had an affair with Shiva and produced Hariharaputra/Shaasta/Ayyappa.

4. We have a tradition that Aravaan, who was Arjuna’s son was expected to die in the next day’s battle—-such was the prophecy. Aravaan was asked as to what his last wish was. He wanted to marry. No one wanted to marry a person who was going to die the next day. Finally a transvestite/Hijra volunteered. That is why Hijras are also called Aravaanis. There are Aravaan temples which are visited by Hijras and others.

5. Many male Krishna-worshippers, even today cross-dress as Radha and worship Krishna.

6. In the 1500-year old Jambukeswara Temple at Tiruvanaikovil near Tiruchirapalli, even today, every day at noon, the priest cross-dresses as a young woman and performs the puja to Shiva.

7. Sakhi and Sakha are all traditions with enormous homoerotic content and are considered entirely legitimate.

8. Khajuraho has sculptures depicting both male homosexuality and lesbianism. At least our ancestors did not feel these were “dirty” for the temple atmosphere. If they are dirty, it is only because the dirt arises in the mind of the beholder.

In fact, cross-dressing, pursuit of androgyny, homo-eroticism, transvestite identities etc. are so common and frequent in Hindu traditions that they do not even call for excess comment. Arjuna, who is one of our great heroes, exhibited signs of bisexuality, cross-dressing and a refreshing androgynous personality. He was known as “Sabyasachi” because he was ambidextrous and could shoot arrows from both hands. The term also captures his inherent androgyny. Quite cool, if you ask me.

My take on homosexuality/lesbianism:

How on earth does it matter who we sleep with, or not? The people we are are what matters. I too have several friends of a different orientation; when they told me so, my response was that I was waiting for the day when it would no longer be necessary to make these statements at all.

Especially in our repressed, hypocritical Indian culture, where even heterosexual activity is so frowned upon, just imagine how tough life must be if one has a different orientation (it’s been proved that this is genetic and not a cultivated choice.)

We can be in denial, as we seem to be often in denial of there being child molesters in so many Indian families. Or…we can accept an aspect of humanity that has existed as long as humanity does. Believe me, as a naturalist, I know that such behaviour is common to other species too. If we remove the moral tag from so many things….smoking, drinking, non-vegetarianism, and others…we would, I feel, be happier people ourselves, accepting those whom we meet for what they are.

I have several friends on both sides of the spectrum, and the good friends are good friends NMW…No Matter What!

When D’s uncle and his partner (they’ve been together for 20+ years now) came to attend DnA’s wedding, we were rather apprehensive about whether they would face whispers and sniggers. But on the other hand, my friends seemed to perceive them as people, and everyone got along so well!

One of my gay friends in Bangalore laughs about the fact that landlords are so against letting an apartment out to a young man and a young woman, and unthinkingly let their homes out to two men or two women.

Let’s just meet and interact with people as people, and not go by the bodies they inhabit! And let’s remember…love is so precious and rare to find in this world, let’s not scorn it because it may come in an unusual garb….pun intended!

Vasu on methods of teaching

March 4, 2014

Methods of Teaching

In the CAGE method of teaching
The guru sees you as strong but wild
He cracks the whip, shows you your place
You learn by dint of focus and discipline
As a team of lions learns from one
Truly in command

In the CASE method of teaching
The guru engages with you questions
Challenging, she channels your thinking
You learn by tentative and cautious chance taking
By participative experimentation
Your learning grows

In the CARE method of teaching
The guru expresses his love for you
He makes your mental maturation his sole mission
(His soul mission too)
You learn from his love for what and whom he teaches
And you come to love learning


P.S.: Each method is appropriate for a different stage in the student’s – not to mention the teacher’s – development. In school, we got a good bit of the CAGE method, then at college we got a taste of the CASE method. I have used a combination of the first two in my own teaching, and am now trending more and more toward the third because a good teacher once told me, “They may or may not remember what you taught them but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

2014…and all the others

January 1, 2014

My friend Vasu Ramanujam’s post on the New Year:

Me: Who is it? Don’t you know it’s midnight? What do you want?

Knocker at the door: It’s me, 2014. I have a big package to deliver to you. Open the door.

Me: I am busy right now. Can’t this wait until later?

2014: No, it can’t. My instructions are to come right in at midnight.

Me: Go away. I’m tied up right now.

2014: I know you are with 2013. You’ve got to let her go. Her time’s up. You’ve also got to release 2012, 2011, 2010, … All the rest of them that I know you still have in there with you, God knows how many. They all need to leave.

2013: Don’t let her in. She sounds like a trickster.

Me: As if I have any choice! She sounds just like you did 365 days ago, though. Full of talk about an important package for me. There was nothing in it. Nothing. Maybe 2014 really has something for me. Why should I trust you any more and not her?

2013: The new ones they send are all like that – beguiling temptresses with stunning bodies and sweet voices. It only takes a few days for them to turn into witches. All they want to do is to come inside so they can take over the place …

Me: Why the cattiness toward her? Have you forgotten how you wheedled your way in here with all sorts of promises you never kept? It wasn’t all that long ago, you know. Everyone of you has been doing that. Since 1970. Earlier than that. Since 1949. Whenever.

2013: Go on, go on, grumble and mope! Turn on me! What do I care? I have seen other people turn bitter with time. You’re no different. Has it occurred to you where you might be right now if you’d seen us as opportunities instead of visitors who barged in on you, willy nilly, …

Me: Sure that thought has occurred to me, every time. So, what have you got against my opening the door to her who stands outside with that alleged big package for me? You all turned to be big letdowns, the entire lot of you, ….

1973 (shouting from the cellar): Hey, I heard that! No fair! Can you seriously say 1973 was a let down?

Me (a bit contrite and chagrined): No, I can’t say that about you, 1973. You were good to me. Too good to me, in fact. Thanks to you I got a bunch of wonderful friends.

1970 (clearly peeved at being not acknowledged): Yeah, right. She was good to you, that 1973, but like I wasn’t?

Me: Sorry, 1970, I didn’t mean that. You were good too. As was 1965. You, 1965, you took me straight to the gate of IIT-Madras. How can I say anything bad about you?

1979: And, … and, …. aren’t we forgetting something, Mr. (Faltering) Memory?

Me: Yes, yes, yes, you too, 1979! Thanks to you, I met Reva (my wife). You can stay as long as you want …

1984: Hey, what about me? Out of sight, out of mind?

Me: No, no, not at all, 1984. Without you, there would have been no Roopa (my daughter). So, please know, you are special too ….

2013: I suppose I am the ugly duckling of the lot then?

Me: You’re taking it all quite the wrong way, 2013. I didn’t say there was nothing good about you. In fact, you made it possible for me to enjoy Vishwa Prakash (my close friend) hospitality not once but twice … What I meant was that none of you quite brought out the best in me. I was hoping maybe 2014, knocking insistently at the door, might be the one to make me turn the corner …

2013: Look, if you want to take up with her, that’s fine with me, and I am sure with the others here as well, but you don’t have to dump on us, you know. I was good to you, and I bet all the others were, too, if only you’d care to remember.

Me: You’re right. Each of you was special in your own way. Thanks for the ride so far, girls!

2013: (a little mollified): That’s more like it.

2014 (from outside the door): OK, don’t tell me I didn’t give you enough of a warning. I am going to count down, …. 10, …. 9, …. 8, ….

Me: Hey, wait, I’m still in my jammies.

2014: I don’t care if you’ve got a stitch on or not, I’m coming in … ready or not … 3 …. 2 ….

A key turns in the door. Click!

2014: And 1 …. here I come!

Me: Wow, will you look at her! Isn’t she a beauty? 2014, all made up, dressed to the nines, perfumed to the high heavens, with bottles of chilled sparkling wine to share! … Hey, girls, come and see who just walked in here …. !!!!!!!

2013: Just because you are infatuated with the new comer, should we also be? I think the rest of them have gone to sleep and I am now going to catch my forty winks too. My parting advice to you is not to let 2014 control you too much, be firm with her and you try to take control of her, before she disappoints too …

Me: I know, I know, I have learned. I am ready now. I am a changed man. I have it all together now. It is not going to be like the old days. I am going to have the date of a lifetime with 2014, have you no fears! I’ll tell you all about it in exactly 365days!

H E R E ‘ S T O 2 0 1 4 E V E R Y O N E!
(assuming it’s not the same girl we are all talking about!)
🙂 🙂 🙂

batAO, dOstOn, kyA karE? /Tell me friends, what would you have done?

December 25, 2013

sAmnE manzil thI..
peechE thI AwAz uskI.

The destination was ahead.
Her voice, behind me.

ruktE thO safar chhoot jAtA.
chaltE thO ussE bichad jAthE.

If I stopped, my journey would break.
If I continued, I’d be parted from her.

manzil ki bhI hasrat thI
aur ussE mohabbat bhI.

I wished to reach my destination,
but I loved her, too.

Ey dil, yE bathA mujhkO…
uss waqt mein kahAn jAtha?

O, my hear, tell me,
Where could I have gone then?

muddat kA safar bhI thA…
aur barsOn kI chAhat bhI thI.

It was a long-pending journey…
And it was a long-standing love.

rukthE thO bikhar jAthE,
chaltE thO dil toot jAthE.

If I stopped, my concentration would be scattered.
If I went on, my heart would break.

yUn samajh lO, ki
lagI pyA gazab kI thI..
aur pAnI mein bhI zeher thA.

Take it that I had a raging thirst,
And the water was poisoned.

pIthE…thO mar jAthE.
aur na pIthE thO bhI mar jAthE….

If I drank, I’d die.
If I did not drink, I’d die…

Thanks to Santosh Oak for this gem.

To Women Too Busy to Know it’s Their Day! by Vasu Ramanujam

March 8, 2013

When a woman too busy to know
Working in a parched field
A wet construction site
Or a sweltering factory floor
Nurses a sick child

When a woman
Feeds a parent
Who has no more memory of her
Or prepares a meal
For her impatient family
Pausing in the midst of her grueling day
To wipe her face with the back of her hand
To draw her sari tighter around herself
And gets back, alas,
To her all too slowly changing lot

When a woman violated
By men who would harm her with impunity
Hides her hurt behind a screen of shame
And prevails with iron resolve
With neither law nor justice
On her side

Will she be even remotely aware
That some of us are watching her,
Full of admiration for her strength
And her steady if slow advance in stature
While entertaining fond hopes
For her rapid betterment
And future well-being
For aren’t those the anchors
To which the betterment
And future well-being
Of all of humanity tied to?

Vasu’s Pessimism Poetry

July 10, 2012

Life Can Present Some Nasty Turns

Family Man Gets Laid Off

Christmas season
Gift lists
Holiday plans
Santa at the mall
The pink slip (65)

Man Gets a Grim Diagnosis

Pink of health
Routine checkup
X-ray shadow
Follow up visit
The lung cancer (67)

Student develops an addiction

Straight A student
Honors list
Debating champ
Basketball hero
The amphetamines (72)

A Child is killed

Suburban street
Seven-year old
Lemonade stand
DUI driver
The small coffin (67)

A Husband Asks for a Divorce

Candles and wine
Surprise dinner
His favorite meal
The D word (66)

A Woman is Unfaithful

Home early
Concealed flowers
Alarmed voices
Ear to the door
The infidelity (67)

A Student Takes His Own Life

Exam results
Missing roll number
Despondent boy
Wrenching shame
Qutab Minar (69)

A Terrorist Attack at a Crowded Location

Holiday tourists
Magnificent view
Sudden commotion
Human screams
Body Counts (71)


My friend Sundar named these vignettes, taken together, as “pessimism poetry.” I told him these word pictures were merely exercises in crafting succinct images of sudden and unexpected developments in people’s lives. Such things do happen, do they not? People are writing stories these days in a single “tweet” of 140 characters. The number of characters in the above stories is shown in parentheses. Perhaps the stories could be told in even fewer words, even fewer lines. As such, each vignette is roughly “half a tweet” in length or shorter.

The one below has only 46 characters:

Rajat Gupta

Goldman Sachs
Preet Bharara (46)

Past, and reflected, glory…

July 8, 2012

A friend wrote on a mailing list:

In the recent find of the God’s particle, India can claim a big part.

No I am not referring to the controversy (in India) about late scientist Bose.
AlJazira is the only foreign news channel to mention anything about him:


I am referring to the main part of this word – it is not the particle, but God.
India had discovered GOD much before most of the world civilization did and
documented it in our Vedanta. Here is some scientific proof

======= Understanding Hinduism =======

an “objective universe” is simply one that exists apart from our consciousness.
“All this- whatever exists in this changing universe, is pervaded by God”
-Isa Upanishad

In 1935, Albert Einstein, together with Nathan Rosen and Boris Podolsky proposed through flawless mathematical reasoning that if the quantum theory were correct, then ‘A change in the spin of one particle in a two particle system would affect its twin simultaneously, even if the two had been widely separated in the meantime’.
This thought process is recorded in our Vedanta.

My response:

I am unable to understand this need to prove that “we” did anything before anyone else.

“India had discovered GOD much before most of the world civilization did”.

There are several things that I find to disagree with in this statement.

There was no “India” then. It was a group of kingdoms in the subcontinent.

The Vedas are a part of Hindu philosophy and religion, and are not part of the Islamic, Christian, or other faiths in our country.

If I say, someone discovered something, that presumes that something exists. The concept of God is something some of us believe in, some of us don’t, and some of us are not sure about. So “India” could not have “discovered” God, perhaps only postulated the concept of divinity.

And I cannot share the viewpoint of wanting to claim priority in various fields. Why are we so keen on doing this? We seem to have some chip on the shoulder about how great we were. We were probably great…but the reality of today, when we have a lot to be ashamed of, should also be looked at clearly. Today, we are emphatically not the society which observed diligently, recorded clearly and was objective.

So why are we always so keen on claiming part of any major discovery or invention that has been made abroad? Even when someone of Indian origin achieves something, we want to bask in the reflected glory, even though that person might never have achieved anything in the repressive, unhelpful, venal system that we have in place here. Lakshmi Mittal became a big man, not here. Hargobind Khurana made major discoveries…not here. Kalpana Chawla became an astronaut..she’d never have made it in India.

Hmm…I’ve probably said too much….and I also realize that my point of view is not necessarily right 🙂 But, being me, I had to write this. What are your thoughts, you others? This is a debate, not a personal diatribe.

Marilyn Monroe and her billowing skirt…

May 29, 2012

One member of a mailing list I belong to started by showing a statue of Marilyn Monroe in the famous “billowing-up skirt” pose on a ventilation grating, being put up in Chicago. What was interesting to me about the photograph was that the head of MM was completely covered…but obviously, the men on the list took off in a different (northward) direction.

V wrote:

Weather Conditions – Palm Springs, CA

In the desert town of Palm Springs, California
Where Marilyn moved in just two days ago
The temperatures are hot but not unduly hot
Just about ninety degrees Fahrenheit hot
And the winds are very light
Close to zero miles per hour – with breezes from the Southeast
The tourists gawking at Marilyn
Are no doubt finding the air hotter – much hotter
And asking – I am only guessing –
“Just how windy does it ever get over here? Oh, just asking!”


He then added:

Her Timeless Marilynness

Her yellow gold hair
Her parted ruby lips
Her sultriness seductive

Her sun ripened womanhood
Her billowing skirt
Her simulated modesty

Her innocence disarming
Her come hither allure
Her husky crooning voice

Her sad sad smile
Her rudely shortened life
Her timeless Marilynness


To this, B replied:

To the actual content, however, it’s not the wind that did the deed. The classic Marilyn picture was her dress blowing up because of the gusts that usually emanate from such a subway vent.


You will notice that the statue also has such a grate or vent under it.


To this, V’s response was:

OK, that means I need to correct myself. How about this?

A Star on a Subway Vent

On the subway vent where Marilyn stood
Let us place a star, New Yorkers!
As they did in Rodeo Drive
As they are doing, no doubt
On some puffy, floating silver cloud above


After a little to-and-fro, he added:

I’d be surprised, though, if we don’t have a Subway Sandwich franchise or two in Ahmedabad.


At this point, M, one of the 3 ladies in the egroup, replied:

My son survives on subway sandwiches in Ahmedabad these days…he is working there.

PS please do continue with this banter…..we love it 🙂


B’s response:

Okay, in that case: No subway grates, but great Subways.

Who needs Marilyns when we have Kokilabens and Shardabens?
Not that any sari clad Kokilaben or Shardaben would ever step on a subway grate, even if we had a subway 😉

I somehow doubt that the impact would not be the same if they did. No gold stars, no statues to honor Kokiben or Shardaben, no Vasus writing poetry after the event.


My final response was:

On this egroup there are thoughts profound
Which gather not a peep or sound.
But let the topic be M., Marilyn…
Then watch everyone joining in!
Well,if I, too, had legs that great,
I”d be stepping over *every* ventilation grate.
But M, M, and U (in my rhyming verse)
Are not in the running for Ms.Universe.
Their brains and their versatile talents
Are what matters in the end, you gents!
And the rest of us spouses married you guys
Because we thought you lot are smart and wise.
So…the only use for ventilation
Is, pure and simple…titillation.
We don’t need these “updraft” wiles
To keep our men all wreathed in smiles.
Our waists may have more circumference,
But we make up for that in common sense….

These mailing lists are “grate” fun sometimes!

Prose and poetry

April 22, 2012

Jerry Rao writing in the Indian Express:

Christopher Hitchens died a few months ago. Lovers of English prose were dealt a serious blow. Luckily , he leaves behind “the tender graces of a day that is dead”. “Arguably” can be read as a long, classy epitaph written by one who knew that he was being inexorably beaten by malignant cells within his frame. It is a collection of essays published in various magazines between 2005 and 2011. Most of the essays are book reviews. There are some polemical pieces dealing with contemporary issues and some unforgettable ribald pieces including a not-to-be-missed essay on the solemn subject of fellatio and another one on the lasting gifts of the late unlamented British empire.

Hitchens writes mainly on recent biographies of writers and uses the opportunity to give us his own take on the authors and their output. He deftly weaves together the lives and the works of the writers who are the subjects of these biographies. Contrary to his waspish image, he is almost always quite charitable and in the last analysis he urges us to judge individuals by the range, depth and weight of their outputs and forgive as far as possible the foibles, frailties and weaknesses (and they seem to have many) of the writers themselves. The sheer range of Hitchens’ interests, his depth of understanding and his ability to make uncanny connections simply because he has read so much else and has pondered deeply and with sensitivity over what he has read, is awesome. Hitchens’ book can be a prescribed text for any course on Twentieth Century Western Civilization, especially its Anglo-American sub-set. The writers he brings to life for us include Saul Bellow, Vladimir Nabokov, John Updike, Gore Vidal, Rebecca West, Ezra Pound, George Orwell, Jessica Mitford, Somerset Maugham, Evelyn Waugh, P.G. Wodehouse, Anthony Powell, Graham Greene, Philip Larkin, Stephen Spender, C.L.R. James, Martin Amis, and J.K. Rowling. There are numerous references to W.H. Auden, V.S. Naipaul and Salman Rushdie although there are no separate essays dedicated to them. Hitchens brings to our notice other writers, who normally do not get that much critical attention, whose importance in my estimation went up not only for what they said but for their importance in the troubled history of the century gone by. I am now convinced that it is important to go back and read or re-read John Buchan, Edward Upward, J.G. Ballard, George MacDonald Fraser and Saki. Hitchens has written a brilliant book on Tom Paine. The history of political ideas, particularly in the Anglo-American world has been a subject of enduring fascination for him. In short essays, he conveys to us why he is fascinated with certain figures and invariably he nudges us towards going back to the original sources. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, the abolitionist John Brown, Abraham Lincoln and Edmund Burke are all part of the menu. His unusual essay on Karl Marx (an honorary Englishman by virtue of his membership of the British Museum library!) is one of the most fascinating pieces I have read. The intrepid and erudite Marx emerges as an extraordinary intellectual who had courage, foresight and intelligence as he supported Lincoln and his war against criticism from a variety of opponents. When he writes about continental writers, Hitchens’ attention is almost always focused on the fight against totalitarianism. There are brilliant pieces on Victor Serge, Arthur Koestler, W.G. Sebald and Isabel Allende. The lampoon-like essay on Andre Malraux is unusual in so far as it is certainly not charitable to the subject.

Hitchens is first and foremost an upper middle class Englishman of the twentieth century. A counter-productive relationship with one’s parents; predictable suffering in the bullying atmosphere of that peculiar institution—the English boarding school; a fascination with homosexuality; an inability to love the totalitarian political traditions of the continent (the Prussian or the Russian variety), an equivocating attitude towards the empire which their great-grandfathers created and which their generation proceeded to lose and a cockamamie sense of humour which is “interiorized”—-a word I have coined to describe a class of humour that can be appreciated only if there is some empathy with an ecosystem of books, manners, histories, institutions, anecdotes and so many other unsaid, unwritten conventions—-all of these Hitchens has in full measure. Hitchens is however not a believer in racialism and eugenics like so many of his intellectual forebears have been, either explicitly or in numerous subterranean ways. In fact, his coverage of Islamism within the larger context of his dislike for organized religion, has earned him some unwarranted criticism. His position is based on the defence of the autonomy and freedom of every individual including the average Tunisian or Iraqi Muslim who is oppressed as much by his/her own culture as by any other force.

Some forty years ago when I was in college and was drooling over Prufrock and Byzantium, a Tambrahm friend of mine gave me good advice. Why was I wasting time on poetry? English prose is God’s gift to all of us. I should spend time on Hazlitt, Boswell and Lamb—so went the advice. Hitchens is a lover of English prose; he overcomes his dislike of religion when he writes a brilliant panegyric on the English Bible (the authorized King James version which as Hitchens points out was largely based on the brilliant work of Tyndale—- not the grubby editions that are now popping up!). As I reached page 749 of this thick volume of essays, I too concluded that there are few pleasures in the world more delightful than reading well-written English prose. Please buy this book. Read it and then leave it by your bedside so that you can re-read bits and pieces at leisure. Sooner or later malignant cells or some insidious viruses are going to get all of us. In the days left to us on this planet, let us savour that which by some stroke of fortune has been granted to us!

My response:

Very interesting….the elegance of good prose being as good as, if not better than, poetry. But Jerry, in general, the appeal of the two is very different. One address the readers’ rational self, and the other, the readers’ emotional self (like all generalizations, this one, too, is sometimes not true.). So why does one have to reject one for the other? Enjoy both!

On the water…

January 24, 2012

Gently drifting,
I follow the star
That gives all life.
Upon the water,
Smoothly floating,
My mind is far removed from strife.

Serene and soft,
The lapping water gives me peace.
Happiness, I think, is made
Of moments such as these.

Boating on Kumarakom Lake, 170112.