Sunday, May 12, 2013

To Sir, With Love.

In a time when appreciating any piece of work that is not deliberately practical, colloquially accurate and cruelly devoid of innocence, is considered amateur, you may find momentary relief in relishing a short novel that maintains the wide-eyed teen feeling in the context of harsh social realities of racism. Innocent, yet certainly not naive, To Sir With Love is precisely the kind of novel you should come across on the reading list of a high-school student. It preaches unconditional acceptance of mankind in the face of the hypocritical racism that was, and perhaps still is, rampant in London and elsewhere. Yet it manages to escape the common depiction of a spotless savior-like figure, and instead helps the reader understand the workings of society through both the efforts and the mistakes of Mr. Braithwaite. An educated black man, both unemployed and a misfit in society due to his accolades, Ricardo Braithwaite seeks solace in becoming the teacher of the top-class of a school filled with notorious children in London's blue-collar East End, and ends up changing the lives of his students, and in the process, his own. It is a refreshing piece of work with plenty of underlying messages, and is ideal for the young reader of timeless generations.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Devil That Was The Truth

Slumped in the chair, a bag of bones,
He sits with prosecution, a misfit with a tie.
His forlorn eyes scan the blur of the crowd.
They stare back at his vicious lie.

The proceedings have not begun, and yet
The jury may already have made up their minds.
His posture lacks guilt, yes, but also courage 
That he may never have the time to find.

Was exposing the devil that was the truth
The sin that they have made it seem?
Would his testament captivate their interests,
And light them fiery red in its righteous gleam?

Valor is such that one may choose to avoid,
But alighted, it will surely set you free.
While they continue to ignore the stench in the air,
He meekly dreams of the man he hopes to be.

Fatal Flaw

She closed her eyes and leaned her weary head on the door, her back up against it, seeking the little support she could get from the inanimate barrier between her and her vulnerability. He had given up the incessant knocking and apologizing, and she didn't know if he still stood there, waiting for her to give in as usual. This wasn't the first time, and she knew it won't be the last. She knew she deserved better. 

But was she to kill the dream that kept her going? The canvas of the perfect future she had painted him into along with herself haunted her the second she rested her swollen eyelids. To be disappointed was a daily routine of her life now, to the extent that she wondered if she should perhaps abandon expectation altogether and let herself believe that it couldn't possibly get better. Contrary to what her loved ones believed, it took not guts but suicide to take a knife to that precious canvas of hers. They wanted her not to give up hope, but to give up on it. And what would life mean without hope?

Perhaps she would wield that knife one day. But for now, she rubbed her eyes, smearing the last of the obstinate kohl that had not left her side yet, and reached for the knob.


He opened his eyes and found himself in the arms of his mother, except that she looked different. Her blue sari was drenched in red, even though she didn't look wounded. Her eyes were swollen and red. The road he was lying on had, amongst broken glass, puddles of red. When he put his hands to his face, they came back to his lap red. Sirens were heard in the background, and as he craned his neck towards the sound, he saw a man, also covered in red, immobile, face down on the road. Men climbed out of the now-silent van and hurried to him, their white clothes getting stained in all the red. He finally spoke. "Mommy, where are they taking daddy?" The mother wiped her eyes and hugged her child, sobbing.

The Hypocrisy of Indian Food-Loving

'Anybody know of a good Italian place near Brigade, preferably pizza?' I'm not sure this guy even knew what he wanted. Pizza is a broad term that in this country usually has nothing to do with Italian cuisine. And I won't complain; have you ever tried the local ketchup version? Anyway, I didn't have a suggestion for him. Looking for something specific in India in terms of dining out, unless you're not broke, is literally rocket science. I mean, have you been to the food courts in our malls? You think for a second that you've finally found a cheap quesadilla stall, when boom! Out pops a paneer tikka-naan combo. You know, for the faint-hearted. You could even have fries with that. The point is, our restaurants refuse to commit to a specialty. In fact we will go far enough to Indianize the few dishes we do attempt. Ketchup pizzas ain't got nothing on tandoori sauce in a burger drowning in God knows what they put in that white thing they call mayo. Or tartar or ranch.
And that's perfectly okay. Unless you try to make it work the other way around. Take a deprived-of-Calcutta-rolls Bengali to the Kaati Zone here and watch with diabolical glee as he spits out his first bite while he yells 'Jogonno!' Observe the aunty at a kitty party recounting the horrors of her last night's dinner invitation nightmare at a south Indian home as she swears she tasted tamarind in the dal makhani. All this while they enjoy a bowl of chips and, oh wait, that's not salsa, is it?
We are very traditional people, okay, we take our cuisines seriously. Unless, you know, it's a cuisine we know nothing about. In that case, what the hell, throw in a little garam masala. I think it's just that we try too hard to please. Well, at least we're overt hypocrites about all of it. Now shut up and try this homemade cake already. It's eggless.

Republic Day 2013

What is different about today?
Well, for starters, it's the 26th of January and for the first time I am not in a patriotic mood. I haven't done my usual routines: finding an ethnic outfit of the colors of the flag, wake up early to watch the parade, watch Border or 1942 A Love Story... You know, all the usual things that I've grown up doing on this day of the year. My alarm did ring this morning, trying to wake me up to catch the live parade, but I shut it off mournfully and went back to sleep. I am dressed in purple. And no movies for me; I have to scrub the house clean all day so my mother, who is arriving early tomorrow morning, is not given a chance to find fault with my very first solo apartment setup. 
Today is different because I do not find a reason to celebrate. Today is different because I cannot watch the telecast that I normally love watching because I want to kick in the teeth of the smiling faces of the men and women in power who mock us everyday with their indifference. Today is different because while the troops make a big show of their artillery, the unjustified deaths of tortured soldiers go unnoticed. Because while sweet little girls dance and display our beautiful culture, rapists go unpunished. Today is different because for the first time in my rather country-loving life, I am a skeptic.