Posts Tagged ‘opinions’

Mr Gay India

April 25, 2019

My friends Stephen and Gordon sent me this link to Franklin’s interview of Samarpan Maiti:

http://www.khabar.com/…/mr-gay-india-samarpan-maiti-breaks-…

My response to them:

Samarpan comes across as such an honest person. The social stigma across the spectrum continues, since the British infected us with their Victorian prudery and morals. Somehow, I feel, before the British came over, we were far more accepting of all kinds of orientations.

I have gay friends here who are still very much “in the closet” or who are open but oh so prickly (er, rather a terrible word to use!) about themselves; I have one friend who finally moved to Germany, married and who says he will not return to India to live, because of the difference in the attitudes of acceptance. I do not know even one woman who is openly gay. Apparently they do not exist….not in my middle-class world, anyway.

In India, we actually go a few steps further. Open expressions of heterosexuality are also frowned upon (except in urban pockets). The front of the bus is for only women and the back of the bus is for men. (I am not joking.) We like to pretend that sex, of any kind, does not exist…our storks are overworked … bringing all those billions of babies to our country!

Looking forward to animated discussions when you come here. Hugs to all of you, since you are all in the US right now! Steve, Gordon, following all your posts on FB, and I wish I could attend the events on Vashon! …and I follow Franklin’s posts on FB, too…I enjoy his sense of humour very much.

Franklin, thank you for a well-conducted and articulately-written interview.

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The 64 squares of war

February 27, 2019

In every chess game, it is the pawns who get sacrificed first, and then, maybe, some of the others up the heirarchy.
The kings remain, stodgily moving, perhaps, a square or two…and the game ends before any king can be slain. We mourn our soldiers, and similarly, the other country will also mourn its brave soldiers.
As for the terrorist training camps…I weep for the poor youths who are brainwashed by evil ones. It is the evil that must be wiped out, and it is the youth that get wiped out instead….these are my thoughts on the 64 squares of war.

Muthanallur Lake, 110218

February 11, 2018

Is it not an irony
That the fertilizer used in the field
(Where rose bushes are dotted with blooms)
Reeks of garlic?
And that the field of roses
Is right next to a pig farm
Where the snorting of the porcines
Drowns out any poetic thoughts
I may have about the flowers?
Or is this the way the world is,
The mundane existing with the rare,
The bad with the good, the lovely with the ugly?
I walk on, reflecting on the concepts
Of aesthetics, and what makes me think
Some things are appealing, and others, not.

Purity

February 8, 2018

What is “pure”?
When is Ganga pure?
When She emerges from Avani,
Or when She is made stronger
As other rivers join Her
To make the broad, deep ad mighty flow?
Is she pure when, at Gangotri, and all down Her course,
Pilgrims dump trash into her…
Plastic packets of camphor, incense sticks, and oil…
Or when She mixes with the Yamuna?
Is she pure when, sharing Herself,
She flows at many points and mingles with Sagara?
Should we just clone living beings
To ensure “purity”?
Because breeding, by its very nature,
Is mixing and evolving.
The very concept of purity
Confuses me, and I am unable to intuit it.

The culture of opacity

August 16, 2017

One of the things, I think, that impedes my country in her progress, is our culture of opacity.

As a nation, we do not seem to like sharing information at all. Government offices, political leaders, even small businesses…how many of us like to share, openly, the information that we possess?

The first thing I notice when a business gets going is that the name of the founders are immediately hidden behind a wall of anonymity. Phone numbers are withheld, as are the names of those who run the show.

I find this refusal to share in the world of wildlife, too. When a rare bird, plant or animal is sighted, the threat from others is cited as a reason to make the information secret.

This would be a useful thing to do if the information were genuinely withheld from everyone else. But what actually happens is different. The information and the knowledge become instruments of power.

To know the man at the top, to know where X animal can be seen, to understand the workings and financial dealings of (to take an example) a hospital…these, then, become privileges granted to only a few.

Alas, information can never be kept entirely secret, either. Corruption and the cooking of figures soon becomes known; everyone knows about the place where one can see something special. But the information is not open to all; it remains in the hands of the privileged elite, and always kept a secret from the “mango public” (aam janta).

Even the process of this secret transmission of information vitiates it to some extent; the information is corrupted often.

This lack of transparency, this tendency to keep information to oneself and not share it…we have to overcome this in order that all of us may stride forward on the path to progress.

Post-processing of digital images

July 29, 2017

Post-processing of photographic images: I’d divide this into two broad categories: image enhancement, and image manipulation.

The first is the tweaking of the image to better the colours, contrast, saturation, sharpness, and other effects. The second is the active addition or removal of elements/images to or from the original photograph. The end result obtained, and its success as an image, is, I find, very subjective.

In either category, unless there is a situation where post-processing is specifically forbidden, or the RAW file must be produced, it’s entirely up to the viewer’s sense of aesthetics to rate the photograph as visually appealling, or not. I find, increasingly, images being post-processed to the point where they are more digital paintings than photography.

But as I repeat…this is entirely in the eye of the beholder, and as long as there is no intent to wilfully deceive the viewer, the image enhancement or manipulation is fine. It’s only if those images (like the five-headed snake that’s been doing the rounds for years!) are created to make a false statement, that the word “photoshopped!” (with that exclamation mark at the end) takes on a perjorative meaning.

Here’s a very witty image shared by my friend Vikram Bellur about one of the effects of post-processing:

miracles 290717

However, I do like the fact that post-processing is now in the hands of each and every photographer, instead of some guy dipping film into a stale chemical mix at some photo lab, and delivering images that either look in the pink of health, or are depressed and blue! And if I choose not to post-process, that rests with me, too.

Compare and contrast, 2017

February 2, 2017

Contrasting, in my mind, the tennis match that happened between two men, recently in Australia, and the US Presidential election process over the past year.

One was played fairly, by the rules, both parties were excellent at what they did,and would bring lustre to the title they won. There were no personal attacks, no smears, the process of winning the title was completely transparent.

The other….

In defence of non-excellence

December 21, 2016

I read something, nearly every day, on the desirable quality of excellence. In whatever I do, I am told, I must strive to excel. I must hone my skills at that particular activity until I am excellent at it.

I want to present a heretical point of view. I don’t propound this point of view as applicable to everyone, or indeed, to anyone but myself. But it’s saved me a lot of tears, so sharing it.

I am interested in quite a lot of things, and have been lucky enough, in my life, to pursue many activities. Let me list them…academics, languages, music, art, writing, quizzing, theatre, photography, nature/wildlife, heritage and history, travel, getting groups of people together, teaching…and so the list goes.

Yes, indeed most of my interests are pursuits to which I’ve devoted a long time. I’ve tried to attain a reasonable proficiency in what I do.

But…I don’t feel the need to excel. And here’s why.

The margin between proficiency and excellence may often not be wide…but it can be very time-consuming indeed. And I have found that when I strive for excellence in one particular activity, I have to neglect several others.

So over the years, I’ve decided that I would rather have enough time to pursue these interests instead of setting some aside for excellence…in any case, I will not be able to achieve excellence in more than one or two fields.

Striving for excellence can also often be frustrating, with the sobering realization, after much time and effort has been spent, that my level is that of proficiency,and excellence will be beyond.

So..what is wrong in my being reasonably proficient at many activities, instead of always wanting to be the world’s best in anything? I will never, indeed, top the world in any field, because there are always going to be others who will be far better than I in that field.

More and more, as I age, I see the comfortable joy of being good at several things and enjoying doing all of them, rather than frustrate myself in trying to excel and still find that I am not much further up the ladder.

And I notice this in many people I see around me…that they are good, very good sometimes, in several things that they do…but they need not be earth-shakingly good at it!

I therefore adhere to my happy state of reasonable proficiency (and fairly high ignorance sometimes!) in my several interests, giving thanks for being able to enjoy all of them. Excellence in one field does not give me as much happiness as being good in several.

What are your thoughts on this?

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!

I must be careful…

November 5, 2014

A lesson I have learnt from the moon.

I may imagine that I am carefully showing only my illuminated, best parts to the world…but my dark side will also show….

IMG_4275