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Our Moon has Blood Clots- Rahul Pandita: 58/52

…and still bleeding. Silently.

To be honest, I’ve never given much thought to the issue of Kashmir Pandits. Mainly because it is one of the Whatabouts that the rabid rightwing on Twitter invoke everytime anything about anything is discussed. That argument when you use the atrocities against one minority to negate the atrocities against another minority. But now, after reading this book, after reading this book in two extended sittings because it was so gripping, I realize that this is a story that needs to be told in louder voices. Louder, saner, sensible voices. Voices like Rahul Pandita’s.

I’m on a voyeuristic journey these days, reading about wars and genocides. Humanity’s greatest mistakes, history that should teach us lessons. But this exodus of the Kashmir Pandits is not yet history, it is just two decades old. It is not a horror that happened in another era to another people. It is something that happened during my lifetime, in my country to people from my generation. It is a wound that is still raw, bleeding. No, the blood has not yet clotted.

All that time when I was living a carefree life in the safe south, complaining about the ‘same old’ Kashmir headlines in the news every day; laughing at the old woman who watched Ulaga Seidhigal for news about Kashmir, where her grandson was posted, thinking that it was not part of India ;romanticizing Azaadi based on Pankaj Kapur and Aravind Swamy, a boy almost my age was uprooted from his home and thrown into refugee camps where he would be handed half a tomato as part of the rations. He would then be shuttled from room to room, hotel to hotel, house to house more than seventeen times over the next two decades, never finding Home again. Just because he was not one of Them.

Rahul Pandita’s Hello, Bastar was good. It was to the point, well researched and well written. But it was someone else’s story. This book on the other hand is his own story. A story of the teenage boy who lived in the house with 22 rooms and the apple tree. A house with the kitchen garden and the soon-to-be-renovated attic full of ‘costly deodar wood’. A house he would return to after years, and seek permission from strangers to enter. A house where he would then search desperately for traces of the life he was forced to leave behind. The story of the teenage boy with a cousin he hero worshipped, the cousin whose death he dreamt of a decade before it happened. The story of a teenage boy who was Kris Srikanth to his best friend Javed Miandad, best friend before he did something to break them. The story of the teenage boy who looked out of his window one night and saw people dividing up the neighborhood among themselves, laying claim to his house while his whole family cowered with fear inside. The story of the teenage boy whose mother grabbed a kitchen knife, ready to kill his sister and then herself if those people outside entered the house. A chilling story of a people caught inside someone else’s fight for freedom. A people killed for no reason other than the fact that they were not one of Them.

No hate is spewed in the book. It is largely neutral, actually, too neutral given that it is a first hand account of the exodus. He is allowed some hate. But there is so much dignity in the writing.There is pain in each word and that pain is more powerful and effective than hate. Facts are laid out, clean and clear. Names of the people killed, how they were killed. Plain facts enough to let the reader decide what is right and what is not, who is right and who is not. And who is to blame. It is such a shame that the people of the country’s first Prime Minister are living in exile for the past two and a half decades, largely ignored by both the media and political parties. I won’t blame the rightwingers now for being vocal about this. They seem to be the only voice for these people.

The Visitor summed up the KP Conundrum perfectly here

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2014: Dystopia

My previous post and the comment there just got me thinking. What sort of dystopia will scare the bejeesus out of me?

Full Disclosure: I may or may not be one of these.

2014

The year is 2014. The social media wave that had swept over the lovely little Subcontinent has now turned into a social media tsunami. The first generation of innocent Orkutiyas have now evolved into Facebookers and Twitteratti, a more dangerously stupid breed.

Armed with a bunch of photos They sit behind computer monitors, unleashing the virus. The contagion spreads quickly and Gullibility and Stupidity  slowly starts eating into the brains of Facebookers and Twitteratti. It is now ingrained in their DNA. Inbreeding of Orkutiyas, Facebookers and Twitteratti has created a new species: Social Media Morons. They have the characteristics of all three. Concentrated. They can see, they can read. But they can’t think. They can’t analyse. They have lost the ability to Unbelieve. When they see a photo that has been unleashed upon them by Them, they lose the ability to right click on it and select Search Google for this Image. They have forgotten how to use the easiest tool known to mankind: Google. The moment these Social Media Morons see such pictures, they can only click  on three buttons : Share. Retweet. Forward. In rare cases, they are able to exercise self control and click on safer options like Like or Favourite.

But thankfully, a few citizens of the Subcontinent have been immune to the virus. They have been able to resist Gullibility and Stupidity and their brains have developed a protective shield. These people are the Super Cynics. They know how to Google. They haven’t lost the ability to use their brains. They know how to Unbelieve.

Just last night, a Super Cynic saw this. This Super Cynic isn’t too techsavvy, so forgive photo quality.

Exhibit A:

2014-07-30 20.24.21

A normal brain, an average pre Social Media brain, would have looked at atleast the second picture and wondered if this is actually somewhere on the way to Vaishnodevi or even just a railway track. Even a pre Social Media brain sitting in the deep south of the subcontinent where there are no mountains, only sea, would wonder. And then the brain would realise that the first picture is somewhere near Goa, the Konkan Railway line. The second and third picture is from some foreign locale that may soon be seen in a Bollywood movie. And the fourth picture may be of that of the actual Vaishnodevi Railway station, the one where a certain Person recently flagged off the train. Or something. And another Person nitpicked.

But sadly, now the Social Media Morons can do just one thing: Believe. Blindly, Truly, Madly, Deeply Believe.

Exhibit B:

Guj

The key words here that would have triggered off the alarm bells in a pre Social Media brain are ‘Gujarat’  and the M word. A simple right click on the picture and selecting Search Google for this Image would have thrown up atleast 10 results that indicate that the picture was from 2005 and the Mumbai floods. Not from Gujarat or last week’s rains. But no. The keywords, the G word and the M word, have formed a numbing layer on the brain here and the person is unable to look beyond them.

And worse. The Social Media Morons who responded to this image exhibit different forms of moronism. ‘This is not a photo from Gujrat, but from Uttrakhand. Don’t make a fool of public!’.  Don’t make a fool… metametameta.

And the Super Cynics just continue to shake their heads in sad defeat and only hope that someone will find a cure and control this epidemic of Social Media Moronism.

Recommended reading: Plenty. But what’s the point?

Edit: Couldn’t help but share this. For the wellbeing of future generations.

 

InfernoOnFlipkart

One of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received. With the warmest message ever. ‘Here’s the damn book. Takeet and STFU’

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I’m a sucker for a good deal. Well, who isn’t. So when I do my online bookshopping, I check a zillion times on a zillion sites to get the best price. There’s indiabookstore.net that does it for you, but then, I get my thrills doing it on my own. I visit Flipkart, Amazon, HS18, Bookadda and the rest, check for offers, combo offers and coupons, and put the item on my wishlist. Then check again. And again. And finally buy. I like the satisfaction of having got it at the lowest possible rate. ( Psychanalysis: It is the reformed share trader in me that’s being sated here)

So when I was tracking Inferno on Flipkart, I noticed that the price kept fluctuating more than a pennystock on a good day. At 10 am it would be Rs.750 Rs.350 and when I check again at 11 am, it would be Rs.750 Rs.348. The next day it would be Rs.750 Rs.599 and the next Rs.750 Rs.304. So I started an OCDish tracking of the book and kept tweeting about it. I did not actually want the book at the lowest price because the thrills of watching the price go up and down was more fun.And I kept spamming my Twitter timeline with #InfernoOnFlipkart hashtag.

And one fine morning I got a package from Flipkart. Silly and Kaapi, two sweet souls on my timeline who were fed up of my obsessive tracking and tweeting, sent me the damn book. And asked me to STFU.

I was cured, but only for a while. I began to obsessively track Alchemy of Desire. And got it for Rs.198 when it had hit an all time low. It is Rs.399 right now. And I point and laugh at whoever buys it today.

 

The Reluctant Detective-Kiran Manral: 22/52

Chicken soup for the Masochist’s soul
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What is the longest it has taken for you to finish a book? A 180 page book?

Circa 2012
In which I buy the book: A Twitter celeb wrote a book and it was all over the place.I decided to buy said book out of curiosity, mildly combined with a twinge of jealousy since I feel jealous of all people who write and get published.

In which I start reading the book:  I read a couple of paragraphs, struggled through the first chapter and threw the book in disgust.
In which I attempt to read said book again:  I tried. Honestly tried.

Circa 2013
In which I consider throwing the book away:  Just like my fake Jimmy Choo handbag with the torn lining that I picked up on my trip to China, the trip just before I went on that trip to Bangkok where I wore my golden shift top and black trousers to the fancy nightclub where I saw a Man In Something Something make eyes at me inspite of my fat backside that refuses to shrink even when I wear my shapewear knickers, and my bottle of Insert Long and Fancy Brand Name of an Expensive and Fancy make up product that I cannot bring myself to throw away, I couldn’t bring myself to secretly slip in this book along with the newspaper pile to the raddiwalla.

Circa 2014
In which I succeed (Finishing it, not throwing it away) :
I saw a retweet of the tweet that the author twittered about said book being on some offer in Amazon. I checked said offer and it was Rs.128. I cursed myself for having purchased the book for Rs.One Sixty something when I could have bought myself a shade of Kill Me Now nailpolish from a footpath stall selling poisonous lead laden nail paint for the difference in price.

I woke up one Saturday morning in spring aka summer in Chennai and checked my schedule. I had no lunches or shopping trips or meetups with The Girls aka my BFFs planned. They have been my BFFs since we were in pigtails. Insert long winded extremely common incident that happens in school. So I put on my grey T shirt, the grey being the shade of a pigeon’s backside, and pyjamas in the colour of an awesomely cool colour that goes perfectly with said grey TShirt. I bristled around and made myself a cup of green tea and sat with said cup of green tea and willed myself to finish the book come what may. While said tea aka Weight Loss Tip number gazillion of trazillion that I follow sat on the Urban Ladder Fancy Name coffee table, I skimmed through the pages of the book with the determination of a one legged mosquito climbing Mount Everest on foot.

In which I cannot do this anymore:
Ok. I can’t write as badly as this book was written even if you hold this book to my head and make me write. But I finished it. It is about a woman’s life in a Mumbai apartment complex, her cliched husband aka The Spouse ( yeah, that’s still a thing) and her son aka The Brat ( as someone said, that’s the new Munna) who speaks in retarded SMSese ( shoot me for using the R word, but dat iz how she madd d kid tak thru oud d boog) and her entire wardrobe.
And some murder and something.

In which I challenge you to finish the book: Hah.

Disclaimer: I am in no way responsible for the Lobotomy/Extreme Aarghing/ Banging your Head on the Wall/ Project Write My Own Book Because If She Can So Can I venture/ Deathbeatings that you subject yourself to afterwards.

In which I ask you to read this first: If you enjoy the review, thank you. If you were not able to read the whole review, you’ll get what I’m trying to say.