The marriage between riots and rumours

The early morning of 15th of February, Haryana Roadways decided to do something different; they took a nausea inducing route to Delhi with me on board. But I reached on time, was introduced to a different identity of Delhi; one with open fields and empty spaces that were somewhat out of DDLJ.

Regardless of the beauty of early morning mists settling in fields, few kilometres away, few protestors had blocked the main route between Rohtak and Delhi. Nothing alarming, it was known beforehand that they would, to put pressure on the current state government to include few more castes in the quota system. I was already making plans to go back to my hometown, or get my family to visit me in Delhi since I was irritated shopping alone for all the women in the family (our tastes just don’t match, and Lajpat has horrible 3G connectivity to conduct a back and forth of designs).

What I didn’t know was that in the coming week, I would become familiar with fear and worry like only my mother felt when I travelled alone. The agitation for Jat reservation would spread like wildfire in the coming week, but more importantly, that wildfire would be led by rumours that had only basis in fear and to incite violence and hatred among different communities.

Schools were closed, curfew imposed, mobile internet shut down, and roads were blocked, effectively sealing in a large part of the population. Then the riots started. When I talked to my mother on 17th, she had an inkling that things would get worse; some people had died and the situation had turned sinister.

That is when I started worrying and it didn’t help that for aesthetics and natural light, we had decided on large glass windows for our house. This was a time when I was calling my family numerous times a day, scared of their well-being, hoping everyone remains unscathed. Then the pictures of shops I regularly visited started floating on social media, now all burnt or looted, or both. The city I was born in, grew up in, was in flames. In midst of this mayhem, I found out that residential colonies had taken it upon themselves to protect their loved ones and properties. My father, along with several other people were strategising how to ward off people of the “other” community if there were an attack. The “other” community was waiting of “this” community with similar trepidation.

Someone had heard someone else say that their friend’s first cousin’ uncle knew it for a fact that “disturbing” elements were trying to burn houses of their perceived “enemies”. Some people had even been rushed to the hospital. Since the state protective machinery was nowhere in sight, it was up to local people to defend themselves against this “threat” and this was the story of nearly every residential area. Everyone was scared of the attackers, but where were the attackers? This is not to say everything was a rumour, people lost their lives and property, their businesses and their livelihoods, but the atmosphere of fear was being perpetuated by rumours. My Whatsapp was constantly flooded by rumours of attacks, some near my home, which on placing frantic calls to my mother, were completely denied by her.

This word of mouth game succeeded in tearing the fragile social fabric of my hometown, succeeded in creating distrust among people and succeeded in keeping my father awake and vigilant till early morning hours for fear of their safety.

Vintage Ads

These are some of my favourite vintage ads (least misogynistic). I love the explanations, the expressions and the art which is so beautiful in some of them. They don’t make them like that anymore. Credit to whoever found, scanned or however put them up on the internet and of course to those who designed them.

“Listen…

1. “Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.”

2. “Oh, but you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.”

Dennis the peasant to King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Confusion, frustrations and other preoccupations

I have returned, returned after some excruciatingly long months without my beloved laptop. All options had been exhausted and I had plans to buy a new one but surprisingly, I wanted my old one back. Surprising because I’m usually very tempted by the new craze on the tech block but this time, nothing was able to get my attention. The search for a new laptop was terrifying, filled with dread at the myriad of choices and a hurriedness because my laptop had become indispensable in my studies. I had resigned myself to buy something cheap and effective but then like light shines through an overcast sky (the inverted imagery would be more suited for me as overcast, gloomy, grey skies make me happy, but you get the idea), my old laptop breathed a new life and all was well again (except for a few minor hitches of how callous the repair guys could be with it, not complaining much though).

This week has been good. My favourite uncle and cousin are visiting, I have 6ish months left before I get out, I found the Dark Chocolate I’ve come to love in an unexpected place (Thanks Ambani), I re-discovered my love for Football and there’s so much of it around to keep me preoccupied and I have my laptop. Now I can spend my savings on a new phone (One Plus One is my current choice if you wanted to know).

Continue reading

Assaram’s new initiative

I will start with a confession that this article has been written in rage. It might constitute a rant. Twitter is my preferred platform of social media, so when I logged in today, the top Indian trending topic is #ParentsWorshipDayOn14Feb. Those who are not familiar with the microblogging website, a Trending Topic is generally the most talked about subject in a particular area/city/country.

Now, I had observed banners and billboards last year in New Delhi, was cornered by some people who shared this belief at the International Book Fair, but my reaction was that of amusement. So why am I incensed this year? Basically, it is an effort by Asaram “Bapu”, who possibly views Valentine’s Day as an “immoral”, “sinful” day to indulge in lust. I have my problems with the day but I really don’t care what others get on with on this day. As if 14th February is the only day one can let the passions out (euphemism alert).

Asaram Bapu has been in news for the sexual assault of a minor girl. On August 20, 2013, a 16 year old accused Asaram Bapu of sexual assault at his ashram in guise of exorcising “evil spirit” out of her. He was subsequently arrested by the Jodhpur police and charges have been framed against him under sections 342 (for wrongful confinement), 354A (sexual harassment), 370(4) (trafficking), 376(2)F (rape on a woman when she is under twelve years of age), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509/34 and 120 (B) (Criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code. He has already been denied bail twice. His son, Narayan Sai has disclosed that he has raped a woman. The icing on the cake is that Surat police has charge-sheeted him in a bribery case. The apparent bribe was to weaken the rape case against him. He has assets worth 5,000 crores while his father stands at 10,000 crores.

Continue reading