Posts Tagged ‘morality’

Soft as sin

July 23, 2013

“Soft as sin”, said the words
Of Jonna’s haiku.
The words imprinted themselves
In my heart.
Yes, I thought…sin is soft.
The soft temptation that calls one
In the darkness of the soul
To do things against one’s conscience.
The soft sibilancy of illicit love
Whispering in one’s ears…lust.
The soft delight of food that is eaten
For sheer love of eating…gluttony.
The soft, insistent wanting
Of more than one has…greed.
The soft sounds of sleep
That is beyond rest…sloth.
The soft heat that comes to a head
In a burst of temper…wrath.
The softness of a poisonous remark
Made against someone…envy.
Sin does not stride boldly
Into one’s soul;
It slides in, softly,
Slinking in, with slime..
With unseemly haste, we surrender
While our good selves sleep.
“Soft as sin”….so descriptive.
The sibilance of the Serpent
Is in those words.

The original haiku by Jonna:

“What does your name mean?”
His voice tender, soft as sin.
“Moonlight.” Then, he smiled.

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This whole morality thing…

December 14, 2011

I just saw something on Facebook (I suppose a friend sent the wrong link) which showed a photo of three girls smoking, and a series of comments about them being “bad girls”.

Why, in the twenty-first century, are we still such prudes and hypocrites? And why double standards? Well, at least one person said, ” Only if you don’t smoke and drink you can say ‘bad girls’…”.. but there were several other comments, which included the word “bitch”.

The questions I am asking are:

So…men can drink and smoke and be “good” people?

Does not smoking and not drinking automatically make a person “good”, the way drinking and smoking seem to automatically make a person “bad”? I don’t smoke or drink, and I know how bad I can be.

I simply cannot understand how a society that was so open, became such a society of prudery, and utter hypocrisy…being so judgemental about things that do not matter at all.

I am reminded of another FB update…a cleric has said that women should not handle cucumbers or bananas because they should “avoid sexual thoughts”. That cleric seems to be to be the most dirty-minded person! He is like the Roscharch-test patient who was shown a series of blots, and asked what they reminded him of. For every blot, his answer was, “Sex”. Finally, the psychiatrist told him, “You seem to be obsessed with sex.” “Me!” exclaimed the patient. “It’s you who’ve been showing me all the dirty pictures!”

Speaking of which, I saw the movie, “Dirty Picture”, and liked it very much. Excellent acting by Vidya Balan, and very well directed, too…and the photography is superb. It shows our double standards…and the way women are utterly exploited. They have to use their bodies as their strengths, and soon the strengths become their weaknesses….

Smoking is bad for the health, that’s been proven, but why attach a morally bad tag to it? And many cultures advocate moderate social drinking….

Promiscuity…what does it mean?

September 2, 2011

For my review of the play, “Amrita”, directed by the noted film-maker, M S Sathyu,

click here

Watching this play, and doing the reading required before and after watching, I fell to musing. Today, I’d say Amrita Pritam was a woman not bound by “middle-class morality”. But by that standard of middle-class morality, a not-too-pleasant adverb would have been used to describe her: promiscuous.

What IS promiscuity? is the question that now makes me think. To my mind….promiscuity is the rapid changing of sexual, and possibly emotional, partners. In fact, I think emotional promiscuity must be even more usettling for the partners in a relationship, than sexual promiscuity…the “one-night stand” is a well-documented feature of sexual relations between human beings…but an emotional relationship is usually invested with the notion of at least some length of time…so a partner who quickly changes hes affections can be a difficult person to deal with.

Even by this reckoning, I don’t find Amrita Pritam promiscuous. Her relationships…with her husband, that did not work within the marital framework, with her lover, Sahir Ludhianvi, and later, her long-standing partnership with Imroze….speak of a deep involvement of the mind and heart, not a passing romantic whim. Friendship, and literary efforts, seem to have been the backbone of her two extra-marital relationships.

However…in Indian society, a woman who leaves her husband, has an affair with another man, and then lives with a third…would certainly be branded promiscuous, and attract the censure and disgust of the average “middle-class” person. And yet…so often, I find these same members of the middle-class being very forgiving towards those with the creative temperament, who lead unconventional lives…”When Saraswathi bestows the creative urge on a man or woman,” said a very staid old aunt of mine, “She also bestows some ‘quirks’.” Quirks, presumably, meaning a disregard of the social conventions! Several movie actors have had a succession of wives and “consorts”, and they were not less the objects of public adulation for all that variety..in fact, there is often a sneaking admiration for the Lotharios of the film world!

So…my conclusion is, if I, as a Tambram housewife, take a succession of lovers, it will be promiscuity…but if I am a film star or a celebrity…then a lot of “moral lapses” are overlooked by the Mango Public (Aam Janta)! Double standards are alive and well and kicking over the icons of conformity….

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I loved it!

February 24, 2009

From this post from premkudva:

“Then there is an uncle who tells us that in Cochin they enforce the seat belt rule. And how he was once stopped. And how he said that buses should also have seat belts, and that Cochin with its clogged roads [and max speed of 20 kmph as per him] doesn’t require seat belts. All this he delivers to the local constable who has stopped him, in the hope that the constable is able to abolish the seat belt rule. The constable unfortunately is unable to do any such thing. So our high moral ground uncle bribes the constable Rs 100 and drives away.”

Read the whole post if you can, I enjoyed it very much! Thanks, Prem.

Betel leaves…

February 24, 2009

I posted a pic of betel leaves, and a comment by asakiyume set me thinking….it’s amazing how betel leaves are part of religion and spirituality, and also a symbol of licentiousness at the same time….betel leaves, along with supari, bananas and a broken coconut, are offered as “thAmboolam” during worship; but they are also associated with moral decadence, indulgence in vices (especially sexual)….a woman would only offer “pAn” or “beeda” or “thAmboolam” to a man if she were “interested” in him or married to him….can someone explain this dichotomy to me? Or is a god or goddess who is being worshipped, also offered all the marks of “lAsyam” or luxury, which explains all the decorations, offerings of fruit and flowers, and so on?

When combined with tobacco, we actually have names for pAn like “palang thOd” (break-the-bed!)…surely nothing hidden in that meaning.

Even today, after a particularly heavy meal at a wedding, I do like to have a “pAn” or a “beeda” (though not so fond of doing the smearing-of-lime on betel leaves and adding supAri and stuffing them into my mouth together!)…It’s supposed to be a digestive. The lime-areca mixture is also supposed to be very good for the teeth.

And yet, I have heard from my mother that in the old days, all respectable women were supposed to have betel-stained teeth from chewing the leaves daily, and it was a woman of easy virtue who had white, shining teeth. “veLLai palla pAru, thEvadiyA mAthiri!” was the derisive comment on white teeth, apparently!

Hmm…I am not able to reconcile all that…..

Here’s a video of a song where the “nautanki” (theatre woman) sings about her lover who chews betel, and his fine cotton kurta has red stains….

This movie is one of my favourites. An innocent villager falls in love with a woman from the touring theatre company *he refers to her respectfully as “kampni…company” throughout)…but she, and therefore he, must face the reality of her needing a wealthy “sponsor”. The village atmosphere is so authentic, and it’s very moving. It has other beautiful songs, too.

Another song about betel leaves is the famous Dev Anand song “khaikE pAn banAras wAlA”….

What’s “dirty”? What is prudence, and what is cowardice?

February 12, 2009

The Moral Police Sene have raised a lot of issues, and I have been pondering on this one…what’s “dirty”? What is “objectionable”?

I think that often, the “dirty” association is not in the word or object that is written or discussed, but in the mind of the person reading or interacting.

Take the word, for example….”panty” (or the less gender-specific term, “chaddi”, which is the word in the news today.)

On a bus recently, I saw the words “panties” being spelt as such in English, but as “fanties” in Kannada. I made a light-hearted post to this effect on my blog in Citizen Matters.

But a reaction from a friend set me thinking about it, and I decided to “unpublish” the post. The reason for this was that I realized that the word might have different associations for different people, and certainly, my post was not serious enough for me to want angry, negative comments from readers. It would be a case of a molehill becoming a mountain!

Am I guilty of “copping out”? I am pondering over this now.

…I don’t think so. If I had made a serious post, I suppose I would have stood by it, but this was just a kind of humourous observation about how the word was spelt differently in different languages.

On the other hand, though, I am musing on the fact that I feel it might be a sensitive issue (especially at this time) and didn’t feel it worth getting a lot of flak about, so in that sense, perhaps I am guilty of moral cowardice…

Am I being prudent, or being a coward?

Where does “being sensitive to others’ reactions” turn into “being afraid of others’ reactions”?

In fact, the different associations that words have for people is often the cause for humour; when I say something in all innocence, and it brings other associations to the hearer’s mind, that results in a laugh.

Read this limerick:

There was a young man called Reese
Who said, “Madam, if you please,
It would give me great bliss
If while attending to this
You paid some attention to these!”

Is there any “dirty” word in that? No. But I have never yet recited that limerick to anyone that did not result in at least a smile! So, it’s the association the words “this” and “these” have, that results in the joke being carried across.

So, I feel that very often, “dirty” in words is often in the mind of the one who is reading/hearing that word….

No clear answers after musing for a while….but I will not publish that post now, but if any of you want to see the spelling of the word in English and Kannada, in the ads on the buses, you just have to go to my Photobucket site! But please understand, that’s all there is to it…an observation that the same word is phonetically spelt differently in Kannada.

Sex, Love, Affection….. and Morality

July 25, 2006

The act of lovemaking or procreation needs extreme privacy (well, for most human beings anyway)…and over a period of time, much of the other activities/body parts associated with it have also become associated with privacy….they are, indeed, known as “private” parts. But over a period of time, this figurative “cover” has become extended further and further….in our Victorian society, the act of kissing is not something that people like to see performed in public; people do not like to see courting couples sitting close together in public spaces (er, they do not like to see them sitting close together in secluded spaces either); physical contact between men and women is frowned upon; any display of physical intimacy is a no-no. As soon as a couple get married, they are supposed to behave in public as if they have no physical intimacy whatsoever. Holding hands? Arms around each other? WHAT!!! That indecent pair!

I think that physical intimacy is a very important part of a relationship and should be expressed– to some degree, I agree, I too don’t want an orgy-in-public!– without a “what will people think” worry. To me there is nothing more beautiful than a young couple walking along, smiling into each others’ eyes, hand in hand. Not all physical contact has sexual connotations;  who has not had the delightful experience of cuddling up to a loved one without any sexual overtones to it? An embrace can be such a comfort to the psyche, such a battery-recharge to carry on with the mundane business of living….I do agree that sometimes a look across a room can be as good as a hug, but then, sometimes the actual contact is needed, too.

If young men and women cannot express their physical love in these (to me) perfectly natural ways, they are bound to be repressed and acts of rape, molestation and manifestations of what is, after all, one of the most powerful forces on earth will occur more and more….

We are too, too repressed about PDA (public demonstration of affection). Affection towards children, friends can be shown and talked about, but love for a partner or spouse, which is probably the most important and sustaining relationship in a person’s life,  cannot….I cannot but wonder at the logic of this.

This was brought on by reading in various LJs, the accounts of the love people bear their children…but almost never do I read of someone describing, and delightin in, the love they bear for their spouse or partner,…and that’s heterosexual relationships I am talking about. Gay/lesbian shows of affection? Perish the thought, and wash your mind out with Dettol!

Our Victorian mindset…

July 7, 2006

Sorry, some amendments are in order.

I had written:

A friend of mine says that there are two “units” in a house for rent, but he and another friend (a young woman) will not be allowed to take the two units because of snoopy landlords and neighbours.

The amendment:

Actually, there is apparently no problem in their taking TWO units. The problem arises if they don’t want to waste money on two units….they can’t take one, that will outrage proprieties. Hypocrisy rules.

But my comments still stand:

In my ideal, everything-is-simple world:

a. If they  are not a “couple” , there can be no objection.

b. If they are, and want to live in or whatever else, that is their
…er…affair, and as long as they are paying the rent properly and are
keeping the premises well, what’s the problem? How does the piece of paper
that the marriage certificate is, change anything, as far as the landlord and neighbours are
concerned? Have all those couples in the vicinity shown them their marriage certificates?

c. How do these assorted neighbours/landlords know that if  the young man  brings over
male friends, or the young woman  brings over female friends, that they are not
g/l?

d.. And if everyone was like this, how DO unmarried couples live together?
(And I can’t believe that there are no unmarried couples living together in
Bangalore.) ( I *would* like an answer to this one.) Do they always pretend to be married? Is hypocrisy the order of the day?

To me, the presence or absence of a marriage certificate it has never made any difference at all to my interaction with a “couple”; it is
their relationship, and their commitment to each other. No marriage certificate can keep a crumbling marriage from falling apart, and no marriage certificate is necessary when the commitment between two people exist…and the whole thing is  nothing to do
with me.  If we can accept that with friends, why can’t assorted landlords
and neighbours accept the way some unknown youngsters wish to live? I know a gay couple who have been together for more than 8 years now. I have the utmost respect for both of them and I think it is wonderful that in this cold harsh world they have found love…..

…But…I think that is the ideal world! We are still in Victorian times here, and so
proud to be that way, too….our uncles and brothers will molest young
nieces (and,sometimes, nephews)  in the privacy of their homes, but a young
man and young woman must necessarily be thinking of orgies if they want to
share the same address…..

Sad, but true. I asked Jasmeen Patheja of Blank Noise why they could not
also protest against the sexual harassment of women in private spaces as well as in public areas, but
apparently, that is out of their ambit….