the ban on homosexuality in India

October 31, 2014 § 1 Comment

A man was arrested in my country, India, after his wife reported on him. His crime in the eyes of the law? Being homosexual. 

Section 377 of the indian penal code states this: Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

This includes homosexual encounters. Yes. You read that write. Being gay is a crime in India, and one can be seized by authority if one is seen to have sexual encounters with the same sex. It is “unnatural” according the the “just” law that upholds the “largest democracy in the world”.

The man in question was found to have cheated on his wife, of an arranged marriage, with a man when she installed video cameras in their apartment. I do agree that cheating in itself is, arguably, wrong, but thousands of heterosexuals cheat on their spouses every day. I do not see them being jailed. Nor did anyone question the judiciary system, for openly invading the privacy of a citizen of the country. Oh no. The whole point of the arrest was to be in compliance of an archaic law that was recently re-instated by the Supreme Court, to abide by the Law. As a commissioner of the case stated, “A law is a law. Whether we like it or not, 377 is a reality. We have just followed procedure.”

The only offense of the man was to like men – which, really, isn’t his fault. One’s sexuality isn’t something one can simply decide. It doesn’t work like that. And honestly speaking, I don’t see how it matters so much that is it punishable by arrest – or at all, really. Homophobia is a bias, and going as far as to make it law is akin to spreading a very narrow point of view to a population of more than a billion and oppressing them under this perspective of some high-ranking officials. Why do a bunch of high officials get to decide what is the “right sexuality” anyway? And these people, who believe that their is a “right sexuality” make up the Supreme Court of India  – the highest court of law there is, the ultimate decision lying with them, governing the law of the country. I do not want them to be incharge of my country. I haven’t ever been an unpatriotic person, but this state of affairs of India regarding biases is appalling, to say the least.

However, I do not get to decide, either. I have no authority, no power, no influence. The only thing I have is the right to voice my opinion, and that is the purpose of this blog entry. To spread the message, to make people aware, so that maybe one day some one who can actually cause change will come across it and make my country a fairer place.

Advertisements

Book Review| Enders Game: The Winner Stands Alone

October 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

This contains SPOILERS.

Ender’s game is the first novel of a series of sci-fi books that has enthralled readers for decades, and I can see why, having recently read it. Not only is the plot extremely compelling – I read it in two sittings – but I also found myself rooting completely for and sympathizing completely with the protagonist, Andrew Wiggin, also known as Ender.

Ender is a veritable genius. He was literally bred for the exact purpose of being the commander of the human army against the insectoid alien race that attempted to invade earth twice before. And for this purpose, Ender is not allowed to have a childhood. Ever since he has been born, he has been isolated from everyone in his life – his brother threatens to murder him, his parents do love him but resent him for being a ‘third’ and he’s never truly had friends at his school. And when he turns six, this isolation becomes a deliberate machination of Graff, who controls his life completely and acts to make his life miserable and lonely and difficult at every turn. Graff’s reason is justified, according to him – Ender needs to be the best commander, if they have to win against the ‘buggers’ and for that, he needs to know that there is no one out there he can depend on. No one.

And so, Ender Wiggin is always alone. This was too hard a task for Graff, because Ender is better than everyone out there, and this is painfully obvious. All of his peers either respect him or fear him, and his army will listen to every order he gives them, and the few trustworthy people he has, like Petra and Alai, will follow him completely – but they still aren’t his confidents. They are not even close to being his equals, and so there is always this tangible line between them where he is their superior, and they are simply his loyal subordinates. Not friends. Even his sister, the person he loves the most, Valentine, has been used against him multiple times – as a mere tool.

The thing about Ender is this: He always comes out victorious, and when he wins, he wins thoroughly. And that is the problem. It causes him to kill Stilson, Bonzo, and billions of buggers, even though unwittingly. Throughout the book, Ender is constantly battling with the fear that he will become like his ruthless, sociopathic, elder brother Peter. However, being forced into life-threatening situations to prove his worth, engineered by Graff, he acts like Peter – ruthlessly – as his survival instinct kicks in.

So, Ender has to deal with the fact that he has become who he loathed the most, and he has to do so in utter isolation. Such an existence, for Ender, and for anyone really, is horrible. I could feel his desolation, his utter woe, seeping through the pages.
That is a part of being superior that no one considers.

He won everything and he was mind-bogglingly brilliant and so throughout the book, many people were resentful of him for that and wanted to be in his position desperately – for instance, Peter, Bonzo, and several other commanders. Even the readers would kill to be like him… but when it really comes down to it, the question the book really asks is this: Is it worth it? It is worth being so superior to everyone that there is no one you can really relate to, that so many people despise you or idolize you to a degree that you are no longer a real human being to them anymore? Is being the winner worth having a lonely existence?

Book Review| Animal farm: an allegory for our oppressive society

September 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

I just read animal farm by George Orwell. It is such a perfect satire of not only communism, but humanity. And it makes me think:

How absolutely ironic it is that the pigs, once given power, became the same as those they had despised, those they had rebelled against in the first place – as the book ends, “the creatures outside looked from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was was”. It makes one wonder: at what point do you become the monster you were fighting? And now having that power, they easily renounced what had motivated them to rebel in the first place, what had inspired them to change and become free, all the seven commandments – only tweaking them at first, and then renouncing them altogether, taking off old Major’s head from its position of respect; drinking, sleeping, eating like man, like the supposed “enemy” that had, not long ago, imprisoned them as they imprison the others, giving them an illusion of freedom that the other animals clung onto desperately.

Are we living under such an obvious disguise of ostensible ‘freedom’? Are we so desperate to live, simply live without complications, that we are ready to accept whatever is forced down our throats by those of ‘superior intelligence’ believing they know what’s best for us?

What initially surprised me was this: the ease with which all the other animals gobbled down what they were told by squealer in flowery language, despite having witnessed the truth for themselves; how they altered their perceptions of snowball despite seeing him fighting for him in battle, with only a moments doubt, how they believed that boxer had died happily, how they accepted that things were better than before. But it isn’t actually surprising, if one thinks about it, for we are those animals – either too stupid to fully comprehend what is happening, too lazy to do anything to change anything, believing their efforts would not make a difference or being suppressed by the fear instilled by the ‘dogs’. We are them, all of us; lazy, afraid, and stupid. And willing to accept anything if it means no complications, with a slight bit of nudging in the form of empty speeches by politicians.

So we keep our heads down, and work, and work, chanting to ourselves, “I will work harder!” Just so we could gain something meaningful out of our lives, believing there must be a reward, – but in the end, the minute we stop working, and are rendered as not as productive because of old age, we are treated the same way as dear boxer – for we are no longer useful to the leaders, to those who control society, of ‘superior intelligence’, and thus should be eradicated. Although it isn’t as harsh as it was for boxer in many countries, our role in society is inevitably diminished with retirement.

Yet, is there any point of rebellion against such a state of affairs? Will that rebellion only mean a shift in power, no change in circumstance for the lower masses? And even if it does mean a change in circumstance, how long would those who lead the change last, before they become their predecessors?

Are all rebellions simply an illusion for a new leader to come along?

A perspective gained

July 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

It is such a fantastic thing to feel so extremely sad as we humans do, if one really thinks about it.

I can not fully explain what is it like to feel such utter, crushing desolation that, in hindsight, it is actually a joy. Today, I felt as if I wasn’t enough to achieve all the aspirations I have, believing myself to be useless and them to simply be delusions of grandeur, a child’s fragile dream of being someone who could actually help change the world falling apart like weakly stitched pieces of cloth.

Not only seeing, but believing in the hopelessness of it all was invigorating, to say the least. While I felt a riot of emotions, ranging from angry, suppressed ones to being melodramatic and lugubrious to simple resignation, there came a moment, a millisecond; a gap between heartbeats in which I gained  a new, stark perspective of the world – a rather cynical, shrouded one, yes, but a new perspective gained none the less, between all the tears and short, rasped breaths and the horrible, horrible gnawing telling of weakness in my chest. Certainly, it did not last long. In fact, It only was true for those few moments before I reached a catharsis, but it was enlightening.

Enlightening that every-day, mundane problems could have slowly and surreptitiously heaped up and then one day, piled up so further up in my mind that they fell, suddenly, with a loud bang, leading to an emotional outburst and for a while, granted me a nihilistic view of the world we live, in, making me forget completely of all the brilliant things such as chocolates  and books and the wonderful people it contains.

Breathless

June 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

surrounded by shimmering greens,

the last of the dew-drops escaping,

I sign and breathe the fresh air in

softly.

 

the sneakers – bright pink – are cozy

and bounce back from the ground lightly,

so I begin to run, slowly, steadily,

easily.

 

the music pumping through my ears

is becoming a faster beat,

it’s drowning out the thump thump thump of my feet, it’s

rising.

 

In sync, I raise my pace, starting

to feel the wind now as it rushes

past me, around me, against me,

resisting.

 

my legs, by this time, are aching

I feel the tingling pain travel

up,  tendons taut, chest constricting,

tightening.

 

I concentrate my eyes ahead,

at this wide path curving smoothly,

at the darkness falling softly, the sun setting

serenely.

 

with me, people are running, and now

as I speed, roaring and rapid music playing,

they are but luminously-clad blurs,

glowing.

 

slow, slow, slow I go, and then…

stop.

 

My body feels broken, and i am

thirsty, hungry, tired beyond belief,

feeling  absolutely breathless and

amazing.

 

 Original Poem by Pavini Bhutani

Bird’s eye views

June 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

Looking out of my small, egg-shaped airplane window I can see the city of Dubai, sitting there perfectly in the middle of vast desert lands. It is, for me, a stop-over location and a welcome reprieve after sitting still in this metal bird-like cage, strapped to a seat. Throughout the  journey, I’ve been sleepy but not able to sleep as my over-active imagination kept torturing me with deathly scenarios, reminding me that I was, indeed, 30,000 feet in the air. And anything could happen. I shiver and it’s not the cold, stiff airplane air-conditioning this time.

Well, now I’m almost in Dubai, the plane arching downwards, tilting, and I can see everything below me clearly…

It’s no longer just patches of dull colours on an old, fading quilt anymore – it’s much more detailed with the familiar buildings I remember seeing when I’d visited last year and the clean, wide roads connecting.  It’s astonishing how perfectly symmetrical the whole city is from above, especially when compared to Delhi – which was a haphazard collection of houses and offices and other thousands of buildings heaped almost on top of each other, a chaotic mess of roads intermingling and connecting them as millions of cars crawl on them.

Here, however, the structure of the roads, with very few cars racing forward, are designed meticulously: On the outset, two roads run parallel to each other, then loop around – both twice and in opposite directions. This happens for most of the roads until we reach the actual city, which is grid, an organised network of tall, glass skyscrapers glinting in the sun. After that is a very fascinating part of Dubai – this is called the Palm Jumeirah, an artificial archipelago. This is  basically a connecting island, the roads connecting in a special pattern…to form a palm tree! Even the island is shaped in such a way, hotels and houses dotting the lands, overlooking the sea.

this is a plea for help

May 19, 2014 § 1 Comment

Ah, summer vacations…what a bitter, beautiful illusion you are, seemingly stretching in front of me infinitely: a long road curving under the blue, blue sky, a path yet to be discovered. Here I sit, on the official first day of vacations, glaring at the glowing screen of my computer, typing away furiously: updating all my social networking sites, deleting all the e-mails I never want to bother going through, and starting a new blog – because hey! I have time now. I have almost two months…two glorious months awaiting me, two glorious months of…of…well, probably just doing whatever I’m doing now.

Procastinating. Wiling away my time. Getting ready to start to accomplish my “BIG PLANS TO DO IN THE SUMMER” list that I made after trashing my completely unchecked “BIG PLANS TO DO IN THE BEGGINNING OF YEAR”. This time around, though, I’ve been smarter: A plan on the list is making a “BIG PLANS TO DO IN THE WINTER” just so I can at least check something off.

I know, I know. My state is kind of pitiful. It is depressing, really. However, now that I’ve decided I’m a realist as opposed to my happy, bubbly optimism phase I underwent last year and the cynical, dark pessimism I shrouded myself in the year before that, I have to face certain truths in life. I’ll probably end up doing nothing this summer, as I have the rest. The road will turn out not to vacant along the way, passing enticing, fascinating, and absolutely useless distractions which I will submit to wholly, as I dreamt I would to my work, to exercise, to making myself better.

Time is such a bitter, beautiful illusion. It will whizz past me so fast that instead of controlling the currents and riding along smoothly, I’d be left spinning, dizzy, wondering how I reached here, wondering where the journey went, wondering when the blue skies turned to this dark night, the day almost over…

 Ah, maybe I never got over the cynical, depressed phase after all.