First love

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After ages,
I stepped inside a book store.
A rarity now,
Thanks to Amazon and Kindle.
I held my breath,
Hogged with my eyes.
I walked down the aisle,
With flutter in my gut.
I picked up a book
Opened windows,
Into worlds unknown,
Lives unheard.
I smelled the pages,
Snorting cocaine, a lesser high.
I had almost forgotten,
I was a whore,
For hardbounds and paperbacks.
First love they are,
And will always be.
I walked out the store
Books in my arms,
Smile in my eyes,
Twinkle in my voice,
Glee in my heart,
Relieved that the child in me,
Is still intact.

Why we need feminism

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This is not just the schedule of swimming pool timings. It reveals why feminism is important, but then again you have to furrow your brows, cringe your eyes and look.

I felt like writing today because I’m irate, extremely, at the increasing attrocities against women and even in the name of traditions, and even from their own families. And I’m enraged, extremely, at how everyone around trivialises it.

I wanted to emphasize in my own way, why feminism is important now more than ever. Just because there are pseudo-feminists who don’t mean what they say, is it okay to condescend all the well-meaning ones by twisting the term into a derogatory “feminichi”? Is it okay to deride feminism as something unnecessary and exaggerated?

Coming back to the picture – Earlier when I put it up with the same description, many asked me what is wrong with it. I didn’t really say there is anything “wrong” per se, but rather what I said was “the picture reveals” why feminism is important. And the reason is, there are multiple “Women only” slots, but “Why isn’t there no “Men Only” slot?”

The answer to that question explains my whole point on why feminism is important – There are “Women only” slots because many women don’t feel safe around men. Hence the need for such a slot arises in the first place. But there is no question of men feeling unsafe around women, and so there is no “Men only” slot. Not even one.

Like most people misconstrue, feminism is not aimed at putting women on a pedestal and giving them prerogatives that they don’t deserve. Feminism came into existence because women are more oppressed than men are, and women feel more unsafe than men do in most circumstances, here and everywhere (except few one-off cases). We need women to be lifted up to the same status as men are in all walks of life, so that they don’t feel less recognised, less respected and less safe as they do now. Hence feminism. Period.

 

 

 

 

 

My Trivandrum

16642C27-514C-4F81-814C-DBC052CDC55CTo all the rest of ‘Lolans’ and ‘Lolas’ like me, who are besotted with our beloved Trivandrum…

I love driving on Sunday afternoons through my city. Reminds me of the old Trivandrum, Trivandrum of 90s, Trivandrum of my childhood. The city looks lazy and laid back, with a profound sense of calm about it. The grandfather trees that flank the Kaudiar Rajaveedhi look serene and as if in an afternoon siesta. I can never get enough of floating amid them. Once in a while, I park my car in their shade and keep gazing at the leaves that dance down in a gentle drizzle. The old Colonial structures spread across the length and breadth of the city seem more majestic than in a busy day amidst manic traffic. They stand tall and wise like a proud tusker, having been witness to decades of eventfulness. And when behind the wheel I particularly love listening to yesteryear Malayalam movie songs, specially those of Mohanlal. It’s like they have an air about them that summons a whiff of that era. You inhale and get magically transported back to that time. I’m sure nostalgia coupled with the beauty of Trivandrum on a lazy Sunday afternoon is something most of my peers – 80s born Trivandrumites – can relate to.

Why not ‘save’ Malikappurath Amma too?

So the logic is Lord Ayyappa being a “naishtika bhramachari” cannot even stand the sight of a female devotee who is of menstrual age. They can’t even be in his vicinity! In that case, isn’t it reasonable to wonder why male worshippers are allowed inside Malikapurath Amma’s temple, when she has vowed to stay a “virgin” till the day Ayyappa is ready to marry her? Leave aside the devotees, how can male priests be allowed to touch her, caress her, even bathe her?! Oh what blasphemy! And how can Ayyappa and his worshippers stand and look on when this gross injustice is being inflicted upon Malikapurath Amma, who has devoted her entire life to Ayyappa? If the virginity of Ayyappa has to be protected, then Malikappurath Amma is also entitled to the same.  Looks like feminism is a relevant concept even in the realms of gods! So I’m wondering why not call on and unite female devotees to safeguard Malikappurath Amma’s virginity? Why don’t we set out to vandalise public transport and burn abodes of ‘detractors’ in her name?

P.S. : Have a look at this picture, blokes wearing undergarments are this poor virgin’s bouncers which is also deemed perfectly normal. Sigh!

Disclaimer : For the morons who can’t process sarcasm, please be informed that this is a satirical note.

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7 frequently-used arguments of Sabarimala ‘saviours’, and how to demolish them

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  1. There are a myriad of traditions and customs that are part of the various religions people practice in India. For eg, Muslim women are not allowed entry in many mosques, certain sects of Christian priests and nuns are not allowed to marry, Jains are not allowed to eat non-vegetarian food, so on and so forth. Why does the Supreme Court turn a blind eye to all of these and intervenes and meddles only with Hindu traditions? 

is less about traditions, and more about a citizen’s individual right to worship – a right which was being curbed by law. Muslim women are denied entry in some mosques wherein it is beyond the scope of any kind of interference from the top court. This is because they have restrained women from a purely religious perspective, but not by law. Hence the Supreme Court cannot interfere, just like it has no say in the customs of other religions. However, this is not the case with Sabarimala. In Sabarimala, women have been prohibited entry by Rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (authorisation of entry) Rules, 1965; women are denied entry by law. And denying any individual, man, woman or transgender from entering any place of worship is diametrically opposite to the fundamental rights of a citizen in a democratic country like India. Hence the apex court has decided to lift the ban created ‘by law’ and has left the rest to the religious laws and practices that people believe in. The constitution does not believe in prohibiting anyone from their basic rights as a citizen of this democratic country. Period.

  1. Why tamper with age-old traditions? Can’t we let religious beliefs and associated customs be allowed to maintain their status-quo?

Breast Tax, Child Marriage, Temple entry ban for Dalits, Sati and many other such customs and traditions were age-old at the time of their abolishment. It is imperative to see the reasoning behind each custom, and whether it is not just logical but also relevant in the current era and decide if it needs to be continued or not. Blindly following any tradition just because it has been handed down through generations from cave-men times, is just against evolution of any kind – be it cultural, societal or mental.

 (Having said that, I also want to mention the history behind Sabarimala. First of all, it is already known that Sabarimala used to allow women in the past. There are records of Queen of Travancore attending choroonu ceremonies in 1939, and that an informal ban came into existence in late 20th century and it was enforced strictly only from 1991 following the case of S.Mahendran vs. Travancore Devaswom Board.  There are also historical evidences that point to the fact that Sabarimala was once a Buddhist temple which was demolished and built as an abode for Ayyappa much later. So to preserve age-old traditions, how about reverting it back to a Buddhist temple?!)

  1. Matters of faith need not be interspersed with constitutional rights. The court does not have to interfere in religious belief systems. 

Wrong. In this country nothing and nobody is (rather, ‘should be’) above the constitution, and the same holds good for religions and their gods as well. And as per Religious Freedom Clause Article 25, the constitution guarantees the right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion, to ALL persons. The keyword being ALL and that includes women too, obviously. The article also allows the state to make laws “regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice.” If it makes opponents of this verdict happy, they could look at the case of Haji Ali Dargah, a mosque in Mumbai where women weren’t allowed entry by law and the Supreme Court struck it down by a similar verdict. The key thing to understand is the constitutional rights of an individual is much higher than any religious right or belief. The verdicts pertaining to ‘Triple Talaq, Decriminalising extra-marital relationships, legalizing same-sex marriages corroborate the same. 

  1. If it is about gender equality there are many other issues that the court needs to pay attention to, how can allowing women into a temple engender women empowerment in any way?

First and foremost, entry ban in Sabarimala for women is because they menstruate. Hence women aged 10-55 are not allowed and others are. Menstruating women are not considered pure enough to enter the sacred walls where Lord Ayyappa who is a bachelor resides. At least that’s what the myth says. Discrimination in the name of menstruation – the sole reason why life even exists on earth – is not discrimination just against women, it is against life itself. If even in a place of worship women are discriminated, and we allow that, how will they be treated elsewhere? Fight against such discriminations should start from the basics, from the most sacred of places. 

  1. People must understand and respect the myth behind disallowing women in Sabarimala and not meddle with matters of gods.

Though the myth professes about ‘impure’ menstruating women desanctifying the chastity of the bachelor Lord Ayyappa, the real reason is the fact that centuries before the whole area surrounding Sabarimala was dense forest. It was impractical and difficult for a woman to traverse the wilderness and reach the deity at the top of the mountain, during her menstruating days. It was more a matter of practicality than of impurity. It is disheartening to know that people of this generation fail to see this simple logic and choose to go with blind superstitions. And now that there are much better roads and transportation available, it only makes sense that women enter Sabarimala without much ado. 

  1. There are many other temples which allow women. Why be adamant about entering Sabarimala itself which is the only temple that disallows entry of women? 

‘Entry in all other temples are okay, but not in one’ is precisely the reason why this is important. If universally no temples allowed women, Sabarimala wouldn’t have raised as many eye-brows any way. This is precisely why in the verdict, the CJI observed that Ayyappa devotees do not constitute a separate religious denomination and that exclusionary practice (denial of entry to women in Sabarimala) is neither an essential nor an integral part of the Hindu religion without which the Hindu religion, will not survive.

  1. Why is it that Hindu women themselves are against this more than anyone else?

When many of the above said social, cultural and religious attrocities were banned, they also created havoc. This is because in most such cases the oppressed themselves are oblivious of the shackles they are bound by. And it’s up to the rest of the sensible clan around them to step up and talk some sense into their ears. Even if it’s not welcomed now, the coming generations would be grateful for the precedent that has been set for their good. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is, the Supreme Court only struck down the ban caused by Rule 3(b), meaning it doesn’t believe in legally stopping anyone from entering Sabarimala. It is not like the Supreme Court is forcing anyone to go to Sabarimala if it’s against their beliefs.  Anyone is equally free to go or refrain from it. Just like beef logic, if you do not want, you don’t have to eat it. But that doesn’t mean you have to be offended if someone else eats beef. Live and let live. 

 

 

ഒരു മതേതര സംസ്ഥാനത്തിനെ എങ്ങനെ വർഗീയവത്കരിക്കാം – 10 ഘട്ടങ്ങൾ

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1 .സംഘ പരിവാറിനോട് അടുത്ത് ബന്ധമുള്ള അഭിഭാഷകരെ കൊണ്ട് സ്ത്രീകളുടെ ക്ഷേത്രപ്രവേശനത്തിനു സുപ്രീം കോടതിയിൽ ഹർജി നൽകുന്നു.  [കേന്ദ്ര ഗവണ്മെന്റ് സ്വാധീനത്താൽ (?)] സുപ്രീം കോടതി  അനുകൂല വിധി പുറപ്പെടുവിക്കുന്നു. ഇത് ഭരണഘടന അവകാശം ആയതു കൊണ്ട് തന്നെ ഇതിൽ തെറ്റൊന്നും പറയാനില്ല. ചീഫ്ജസ്റ്റിസ് തൊട്ടു പിന്നാലെ വിരമിക്കുന്നു.

2 . തൃപ്തി ദേശായി തന്റെ പെൺപട ഉടൻ മല കയറും എന്ന് വിളംബരം നടത്തുന്നു.

3 . കേട്ടപാതി കേൾക്കാത്ത പാതി അങ്ങോളം ഇങ്ങോളം കേരളത്തിലെ വിശ്വാസികൾ നെട്ടോട്ടം ഓടുന്നു. #Readytowait ഉം “Save ശബരിമലഉം കൊണ്ട് അടുത്ത വെള്ളപ്പൊക്കം facebook ഇൽ.

4 . രാഹുൽ ഈശ്വറും ടീമും ചാനൽ ഇളക്കി മറിക്കൽ തകൃതിയായി നടത്തുന്നു.

5 . അയ്യപ്പനെ ഋതുമതികളായ സ്ത്രീകളുടെ കരാള ഹസ്തങ്ങളിൽ നിന്ന് രക്ഷിക്കാൻ ബിജെപി നിരത്തിൽ ഇറങ്ങുന്നു.

6 . കേരളത്തിലെ വിശ്വാസികളായ ബഹുഭൂരിപക്ഷം ഹിന്ദു ജനതയും തങ്ങളുടെ രക്ഷകർ ആയി ബിജെപിയെ വാഴ്ത്തി സ്തുതിഗീതങ്ങൾ പാടുന്നു.

7 . നിഷ്പക്ഷ വോട്ടുകൾ, ചില ഹിന്ദു വലതുപക്ഷ വോട്ടുകൾ, കുറെയധികം ഹിന്ദു ഇടതുപക്ഷ വോട്ടുകൾ എന്നിവ ബിജെപി വോട്ടുകൾ ആയി റെക്കോർഡ് വേഗതയിൽ മാറുന്നു. [മോഡി മാജിക് പോലെ (?)]

8 . തങ്ങൾ 21-ആം നൂറ്റാണ്ടിൽ ആണെന്ന് പാടെ മറന്ന ചില കൊട്ടാരങ്ങളും രാജാക്കന്മാരും കാരണം വിധി പുനർപരിഗണിക്കാനായി അപേക്ഷ നൽകപ്പെടുന്നു.

9 . നാടകീയ രംഗങ്ങൾക്ക് ശേഷം,  പുതിയ ചീഫ് ജസ്റ്റിസ് [കേന്ദ്ര ഗവണ്മെന്റ് സ്വാധീനത്താൽ(?)] വിധി തിരുത്തുന്നു.

10 . തങ്ങളുടെ ഏക ആശ്രയം ആയിരുന്ന ബിജെപിയിലേക്ക് കേരളത്തിലെ ഹിന്ദു വോട്ടുകൾ മലക്കം മറിയുന്നു.

ഇതോടെ ഒരു മതേതര സംസ്ഥാനത്തിന്റെ വർഗീയവത്കരണം പൂർത്തിയായി. കേവല മനുഷ്യനെ പോലും രക്ഷാകവചമാക്കി നിരത്തിലിറക്കേണ്ടി വന്ന “സർവ്വരക്ഷകനായ” ദൈവത്തിനു പെരുത്തു നന്ദി.

 

 

How to convert a perfectly secular state to a religiously polarised one, in 10 steps

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Step 1 : Advocates who are in bed with Sangh Parivar, file a petition to lift the restriction of temple entry to women in Sabarimala. The Central government influences their court stooge of a Chief Justice (& Co) to give a positive verdict. The ban is struck down (which also aligns with the fundamental rights of a citizen, and hence doesn’t raise any eyebrows constitutionally as well). Supreme Court Chief Justice retires immediately after.
Step 2 : BJP makes Trupti Desai & Co declare their imminent arrival to Sabarimala.
Step 3: Believers across the state tremble in fear for the bachelorhood of Lord Ayyappa. #Readytowait floods the social media. ‘Save Sabarimala’ banners decorate FB profile pictures.
Step 4 : Rahul Easwar & Co starts their TV battle to “save Ayyappa” from the untouchables – ‘menstruating women’.
Step 5 : BJP starts protesting on the streets against the verdict, “to save their god” (as absurdly funny as it sounds!).
Step 6 : The large Hindu population in Kerala look up to BJP as their saviour, who “stood up for their god”. (Oh the irony!)
Step 7 : Neutral votes, some Hindu Congress votes and majority of Hindu Communist votes start getting magically converted to BJP votes.
Step 8 : Thanks to the palaces and kings who still have a say in the sociocultural matters of 21st century, a petition is filed for a review of the Court verdict.
Step 9 : Post some dramatic scenes the new Chief Justice & Co overturns the verdict [under the influence of central government (?)].
Step 10 : More neutral and Hindu votes turn into BJP votes, BJP being their “god’s” only saviours, their knight in saffron shining armour.
Religious polarisation of a perfectly secular state, complete. Thanks to gods that need human saviours!