Wednesday, March 31, 2010 7 comments

Being Fair!

Not too long back(or was it?) I had written an article on racism. This topic is a bit similar to that. Its about our(ie Indians) obsession with becoming fair, in the literal sense of course. Why is everyone so desperate to be fair? Why does almost every bachelor in the country desire a fair, beautiful, slim, good-looking bride? What’s wrong with being dark and not-so-good-looking? Lots, I must say. Let’s have a detailed look into it.

First of all, it has been statistically proved that being white and good looking increases your chances of grabbing a job. Say you are a dark complexioned woman, with average looks. Chances are that your interviewer will get a negative first impression on seeing you for the first time. This impression comes from within (its natural psychology) and you can do little to change it. The reason for this is our sensory perception. Anything fair and ostensibly good-looking directly affects our nerve impulses and generates a positive stimulus. Am not going to go into the esoteric biological details of sensory perception (My biology sucks in any case). The bottom-line is that Fair/White/Handsome/Beautiful is in; Dark & Average Looks is out. You can say that Beauty lies in the Eye of the Beholder. Very true! But in 9 cases out of 10[in General], white means beautiful, dark implies ugliness.

What can the reason for this be? Perhaps 200 years of British dominance made the pliable hoi-polloi believe that the White leader was the Supreme Lord, and that if you were exceedingly fair, you could do practically anything you wanted. You would rule and dominate others, and make them dance to your tunes. And maybe this thought embedded itself deep into the mind of most Indians, even after the British left us. Moreover, due to the recent Western impact, and the advent of Globalization, the current youth started emulating the west. Many people embraced American and European culture, their language, food, clothing, style of living, and even accents. They wanted to look like Americans as well, and in this aspect, Caucasians in particular. The ubiquitous white foreigner who can achieve anything with the snap of a finger. Blacks were largely ignored and ostracized, not only in USA, but in majority of the other countries as well(South Africa for example). Thus the common misconception spread: Blacks were venal humans, who were nefarious criminals. All bad deeds were committed by them. And the Whites were the heroes, the protectors. Racism dominated the Hollywood industry. Almost all leading protagonists were whites (there were a few notable exceptions- Sydney Pollack, Samuel Jackson, etc-but a minority), and most criminals(especially mafia gang members and prisoners) were black. The same quip got repeated- ‘White is Good. Non-white is Nugatory.’

Suddenly, Indians(descendants of the oldest and the most diversified civilization) became frantically obsessed with fairness. Fairness cream industries bloomed, and till today fool customers into thinking that applying pastes on their faces can actually make them fairer. A recent study has shown that prolonged usage of such creams (which contain pernicious chemicals) can cause unmitigated skin damage. Some people cover their bodies from head to toe-with talcum powder, with the false belief that it makes them look fairer. Instead it gives them a ghastly appearance, to say the least. Chetan Bhagat has perspicaciously highlighted this fact in his 4th novel- Two States. I am quite sure you are aware of his thoughts.

The worst part of this has to do with marriage. As I have mentioned before, take up any newspaper and look at the Matrimonial section. ‘Wanted- Fair, beautiful, slim, attractive bride for so and so. Must be tall and white…’ I must say, are they looking for life-partners or Trophies to be set and kept for display- ‘Come, have a look at my trop… er Wife, isn’t she beautiful?’ What is this, if not hubris? True love has no boundaries. If you feel that you only want a partner who is white, slim, tall, blah blah.. forget it, you can never find love that way. Physical looks do matter a lot, but most of it is psychological.

If we see a white foreigner, we tend to go into an eccentric frenzy. We consider white celebrities as Gods and Goddesses, and nearly every man desires to have someone like Angelina Jolie[need I mention she is Caucasian?] as his partner. Whereas people tend to ridicule persons who have a dark-complexioned wife. Recently one man committed suicide due to the fact that people used to taunt him over his wife’s looks. Such travesties need to be precluded as early as possible.

Our skin color is a God-given gift (Okay it depends on genes as well). Why must we make such a hullabaloo over it? Clearly, if someone is brown or black, does it make him any less adroit or worthy than a white person? Do we really need to make this squalid distinction over race and color? I do not think so. All human beings are equal, and they deserve to be treated that way, irrespective of their skin color. It’s high time that we learnt our lesson. Rather than purchasing useless creams, it is better for us to hone our personality and develop constructive skills, which will enable us to become a better, empathetic human being.
Sunday, March 21, 2010 14 comments

The Big Fat(Rather Obese) Indian Wedding.

Warning: It is plausible that certain individuals may not like the comments I will make in this article, which deals with marriage. If you are a conservative person who considers marriage very sacred, then it is advised that you do not go through this article.

I would like to start off by saying that whatever I am writing in this article is my personal view, and not a general opinion of people.

Marriages are made in heaven. Would you agree? Heaven or hell, does it make a difference? In all possibility the environment post marriage will resemble both heavenly and hell-like situations. So what is the purpose of marriage? Is it to unite two souls(don’t take me too literally) so that they can live together for the rest of their life? So that they can raise children and live a happy life? So that they can create a bond of love and compassion? Or is it simply to fulfill their parents and society’s wishes?

First of all, psychologically every human being needs a partner to lead a happy and satisfactory life. This is also to satisfy their mental and physical desires. The concept of marriage was started thousands of years ago, and it gained prominence in India, more than in any other country. Marriage is still considered a sacred ritual of ever lasting commitment. People spend lavishly and exorbitantly during marriages. They invite all their relatives and friends, and celebrate the event quite pompously. But over the years, the original purpose of marriage is dwindling and losing its effect. Rarely do people marry for love or satisfaction. In fact love marriages are still frowned upon by many.

A father will consider his duty to get his son or daughter married, preferably in a well to do family. But is he really doing so for the child’s welfare? Not always. In many cases the child is married off forcibly, someplace which makes him/her uncomfortable. No wonder 1 out of every 5 marriage ends up in a divorce. Plus as per the orthodox customs related to marriage, the religion, caste, etc is checked and matched before the wedding date is decided. I do not believe in astrology, and I don’t understand why religion and caste should matter in marriage. Obviously, if a Muslim girl cannot adjust with a Hindu boy, that’s understandable. But that’s rarely the case, and it is seen that most Indians prefer to marry within their own community [same religion, caste, status, etc]. If two persons can remain happy, staying with one another, religion should not act as an impediment.

Next, we come to the opulent spending during marriages. The event is un-necessarily given too much importance, wasting excessive time in celebrations. We like to disrupt the entire traffic to make way for our marriage procession, including the boisterous band-wallahs. Then of course comes the actual wedding party. Nobody is really interested in either the bride or groom [Though of course they love to criticize their physical features- ‘Look, he is so short and fat. She has a bent nose and dark complexion’] but they scamper to the food stalls as soon as they set their eyes upon them. In earlier times, the dinner consisted of simple, typical Indian food. Nowadays, you can choose amongst Indian, Chinese, European cuisine along with a host of items from Veg to Non-Veg. You can stuff yourself as much as you want, though you should make an appointment with your doctor previously. There are many people who simply go to the parties for the food, and nothing else. And with so many people turning up[a single family can have over 500 relatives from across the globe], nobody gives a damn about anyone or what is actually happening. The poor groom and his bride have to sit in one position and endure the entire travesty that’s going on.

Why do we need so many customs and rituals for a simple process? Why can’t two individuals take vows in silence and then live together in peace? In such a scenario, court marriages serve a better purpose.

As I have said before, I myself do not believe in marriage. I also don’t think I can spend my entire life with one person. And I find nothing wrong with people living together without marrying. If they love each other, what’s the harm? In India, people consider having children without marriage to be a blasphemous and an iniquitous act. Whereas it is a normal practice in the US. Thus marriage becomes a pre-requisite for having children, which is another reason why it is considered to be so important here. Anybody who dares to raise his/her voice by protesting against marriage is often ostracized or even made an outcast. And we have heard of so many crimes[Like murder of the groom] resulting due to marriages which take place between members of two different religions, castes, or even separate villages.

My ideal scenario would be- If two persons like each other, they can stay with each other, love each other, and sleep with each other, without any external interference whatsoever. Whether they want to marry or not, should be left to them, and not their parents or relatives or society members or anyone else. Maybe then, the soaring divorce cases and marriage related crimes will reduce.

Monday, March 15, 2010 2 comments

A visit!


Yeah I admit I have not been blogging much. Anyways, this is a trivial post. I visited an engineering college last week. Now you might say whats so great about that? Especially since there are thousands of (mostly useless) engineering colleges in our country. But then I am writing this just out of fun. Read away: I decided to visit the college canteen at around 3 pm, to have my lunch. The following is the dialogue which took place between me and a man(who takes the order).

I: Excuse me, what is available?

Man(In a Shocked and Bewildered Expression) : You mean to Eat??

I(To Myself): To eat? What do people come to canteen for? Oh I forgot, its for having gossips, spreading rumours, cracking silly jokes, and playing Counter Strike on their laptops(a Team was firing away to my left).

I(aloud): Yes, something to eat. What is available?

Man : I don't know. Let me go inside and check. [Goes inside. I decide to follow him]

[Inside the kitchen]:

Man: Hey, what food is available now?

Cook[With an annoyed and dull expression]: Nothing. Chow is finished, and plates need to be washed.

Man: Oh. Okay. [And walks away without even giving me a second glance]

I go to the man and repeat my question.

Man: Sorry, we do not have anything. Please come back after Half an hour.

[45 mins later]

Man: Sorry, but we only have tea. We are getting the food ready. Cook is chopping vegetables, and is ready to fry pakoras. Please return in an hour.

[One hour later]:

I stand in front of the canteen gate, which has a rusted 'Link' Lock on it.

My Thoughts: @^@#$*^&#@$^*#@^$*&#@$^&*...............

Here is another conversation with a student and myself:

Student: Excuse me, you are from which college?

I: ...........

Student: Okay, are you enjoying our Fest?

I: So and so..

Student: Please be frank. The fest is disastrous and boring, is it not?

I: [blank expression]

Student: Would you care to join us for a round of Marijuana?

I: [Shocked, thinking that I had lost my hearing ability] Err, what did you say?

Student: Don't you smoke weed? Want to join us?

I: [recovering somewhat] No, I don't.

Student: [smiles broadly and leaves]

My Thoughts: #@!^&$@!#%$&#@!^$&#@&$#@&@&#$@ ..........................

Needless to say, I had a pretty harrowing experience that day. Anyways you do get to meet and interact(though not always willingly) with different people though.
Monday, March 8, 2010 0 comments

Something Unique!


Well, I was about to write a detailed post on the Ethical Hacking workshop which I attended at NIT, Durgapur, which was conducted by Mr. Sunny Vaghela(Professional Hacker and Director of Techdefence), but I changed my mind. I decided that I did not want to write technical blog posts. That’s a bit ironical, coming from a guy pursuing CSE.

Anyways, rather I will be focusing on myself, after a while. Often I think or ratiocinate- is their anything special, or unique about myself? I have met many persons having extra-ordinary talents, be it in the field of dancing, singing, writing, hacking, speaking, etc. And every now and then I wonder- Do I have any special skills which other people do not have(at least the majority)? Can I boast that I am uniquely adroit and dexterous? Or am I just a common, average human being with no USP whatsoever.

After a lot of mind scratching, I have settled down on two basic things(rest are too personal to disclose here, am sorry). I will be writing about both of them in detail. And both of them are related to celerity. If you feel that I am just boasting about myself, just try to bear it. But I promise to be veracious.

First is my typing speed. I can type at a speed of over 100 wpm[WORDS PER MINUTE]. Though that’s not a very big deal(you can test your typing speed using a software for the same, or even online) but I feel that’s my USP, and I can safely get over 99 percentile in a National Practical Typing Test competition. Hehe. Perhaps the Government or a Private Company, or even an Institution should launch such an event. In case you get to know about any typing event, do contact me please. Just in case you were interested to know, the World record for typing is around 172 WPM.

Now you might say- ‘What’s so great about your typing speed? And even if it’s so fast, so what?’ Do you want to be a clerk or typist or something? Well, it’s nothing much obviously. Its not a very great talent or something. It’s just one of my abilities. But here’s the catch- Till date I have not met a single person who can type faster than I can. Feel that you can beat me? Go measure your typing speed in any legitimate software and then report it to me.

Moreover, I can type without looking at the keyboard at a speed of around 80 wpm. And I can even type with my eyes closed at an amazing accuracy of over 95 percent(ie very few spelling mistakes). Think you can beat all of that? You are free to try.

Now for my second ability- My Reading Speed. I told you before- both of my special abilities have to do with speed. I can read at an average reading speed of over 800 wpm. That is to say that I can finish an average newspaper editorial within 2-3 minutes. Most people will take anywhere between 10-15 mins to do the same. Though, here I must say that to read a passage very carefully, I have to slow down, and my speed falls to around 550 wpm. I am not estimating or guessing my speed, I have actually measured it using a stopwatch. In the Worst case, when I am reading a very boring and dull article[In my case it can be PURE Politics or anything related to Biology], and I am told to retain whatever has been said, my reading speed may fall to 350-400 WPM. A person who does not read too much has an average reading speed of 200 WPM. People from non-english background schools usually have a lower reading speed of around 150 WPM. A person who reads something(it can be a newspaper or magazine also) everyday will usually have a reading speed of around 300 WPM. In comparison to that, I, a self-confessed bookworm have a decently high reading speed.

And just in case you are curious, I have to read(its an addiction) at least 2 books(not fully obviously), 2 magazines and 2 newspapers everyday. But I would not advise anyone else to do the same(ie become a book-worm). You should give equal emphasis on sports and extra-curriculars as well.

Anyways, I shall end it here now. Enough self-boasting done, lol. Thanks again, guys and gals, for reading my posts.