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Why Not? Cricket, Girls and School

I like to treat people as individuals. I respect them as equals and more importantly I put personal freedom above social obligations.

I was not always like that, despite my parents treating me and my sister as equals and giving us equal opportunities, the world I grew up in, did impress on my mind, that girls are different and cannot mix with boys.

But with time I had to unlearn such stupid notions. I have been thinking a lot about such notions in the past few weeks. A few weeks ago, movie-star Aamir Khan decided to start talking about social issues haunting Indian society. I was impressed in the first 20 mins of the first episode.

I did not want to join the chorus of online fans, who were likening his new show as revolutionary or nation changing (belive it or not there have been better shows on social issues even on Indian television). Changes happen over years and generations, definitely not in a span of 12 weeks (approximately how long SMJ will run).

I must say, I have not watched all the episodes and even the ones I watch, I usually do not watch them fully. That said here is a list of all the episodes of Satyameva Jayate and the issues they tackled.

  1. Female Feoticide
  2. Child Sexual Abuse
  3. Dowry System in India
  4. Corruption in Medicine
  5. Intolerance of Love
  6. Social Problems faced by people with disabilities
  7. Domestic Violence

That completes seven episodes. Three issues out of seven are directly related to issues on abuse towards women. They revolve around women being treated unequally. there are many views and theories on what exactly is wrong with India, but honestly the issue comes down to asking why men and women are not considered equals.

Back in school, there was a free period in which all the students would go to the school ground and run around, play soccer or cricket. Our school was co-ed, so we did not exactly think girls came from another planet like most boys from an all boys school might tend to do.

One day, some girls decided to take part at a game of cricket. I was happy thinking it would great way to get to know some girls.

Within minutes some of the boys in the group left as they did not think girls should play cricket. Interestingly some other boys joined in. The game of cricket lasted for a few more minutes and the free period was over. Off we went back to our deary text books learning things by rote.

The girls who played cricket that day, never played it again. A few kids said it was a useless for girls to play. I must note here that none of the boys who thought girls were wasting their time playing Cricket, ended up playing even at district level.

Next free period, the girls refused to play cricket, the co-ed social sports experiment unknowingly started by 8th graders, fizzled out pretty much just as unknowingly. Why could the girls not play cricket? It really started subconsciously more than consciously, as being a boy meant I was never told not to go out and play cricket or football.

I ended up answering a lot of questions regarding what girls (mostly that would mean my kid sister and friends) should not do with these two words.
“Why not?”

Bigots usually want to oppress smaller groups based on caste, religion and ethnicity. Men who think women are not equals are worse than bigots as they are at war with half the people who live on earth. And that is a war, everyone will lose.

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A world full of name calling, falsehoods and disrespect

The world is full of people who are a**holes. Well I decided to decode rather interpret them in my understanding of the Set Theory.

I was introduced to an interesting group about  twelve years ago. It was a wonderful group, they created, shared and consumed information freely. They communicated incessantly and usually if you asked for help, hundreds would volunteer some helpful advice.

Then slowly I realized that this group was full of jealous people. It was also full of name calling. I have been called arrogant, aloof, stupid, intelligent (I can understand sarcasm), hater and atheist (though this one I take no offence to).

I also came across falsehoods where Bill Gates apparently told the world that some guy in his school who stood first in class now works as an Microsoft Engineer while he dropped out. I also read that  Einstein had done research on mutants (apparently Physics and Biology were the same thing).

Then I have come across a great deal of disrespect. People wanting stuff to be banned for speaking their minds, people promoting bullying. Even governments trying to curtail freedom of speech and what not.

Over a span of time, my life has become a bigger part of this group. I make my living in from that group. Yes, in case you have guessed it, this group is the internet.

Before I come across as someone lambasting this wonderfully connected group, let me tell you its not very different from a much bigger group I was introduced to over thirty-two years ago. Human Beings. 😛

What do you think?

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Two Voices from the Beyond!

I earn my living as a blogger writing and sharing about technology among other things. When I started my blogging career in 2009, I did not know how far I would go and how much I would actually love writing. But first anyone aspiring to write has to read a lot and that is what I did.

I immersed myself into the world of RSS feeds, Google search, blog directories and more. I must have read several thousands if not a lakh (100,000) blog posts in the past three and a half years, but only two bloggers have really spoken to me like no other.

The first post is by Tejaswee Rao, who was a young seventeen year old writing a blog post to her future daughter.  It is a fascinating point of view with a sort of audacity only the young have. Unfortunately by the time I came across this post, the author had passed away – succumbing to dengue in 2010.

Her post will always remind me that when you do think up of something worthwhile, write it down. It then has a good chance at becoming immortal.

The second post is by Derek K. Miller, who was a accomplished blogger and podcaster. He found out he was suffering from cancer and he did not have much time. So he ended up writing his last post. A post that was to be published after he had passed away.

In the post he thanks his friends and family. He recollects interesting parts of his life. But what truly stands out is courage. Courage of a man, summarizing his life while staring at death and not fearing it. Rather than being a depressing post, it actually ends up reminding me, that what your life means to you is more important than wondering what your life meant to others.

Both posts are by bloggers and like bloggers tend to do, they were written in the present. One surmised a hopeful future and the other a well lived life. Both chose to share what they felt and ended up reaching me from the beyond.

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Censorship is [redacted]

I was looking through an online conversation and realized that many of my friends are completely against online censorship.

Not just my friends but even people who are from an older generation are pretty much dead set against the idea of online censorship. So far so good.

But something odd happens when the same people discuss censorship on television or the movies. For instance the same people who cry hoarse against online censorship actually support some control on content being shown on television and the movies.

Risque advertisements, movies, film songs all get routinely targeted by various censors, some official, some unofficial and often with a large number of people supporting such censorship.

Censorship is censorship!

3 simple rules

  • Don’t like something on television – use the remote control and change the channel.
  • Do not like a particular adult movie – do not watch it.
  • Do not like a bold film poster – do not see it.

By the way if you did not like my views you are free not to read my blog. 🙂 See it is that simple.

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My Life during the Ides of March

My birthday which falls on the 21st of March could never be celebrated when I was a kid. The reason being, schools usually had scheduled their exams around that time. So birthday parties would be in April. I hated it so much that at age ten, I declared I did not want any more parties.

The month of March did not just spoil birthday parties for me but also made me deeply religious. You see, I never studied all year long and had to score decent marks to get promoted from one year to the other. So I would end up doing something I mostly avoided. I prayed and raised divine blessings by taking the most terribly of oaths possible for my final exams.

Now that we are well into March again, I get a bit nostalgic. That torturous month before vacations. That horrible month which turns the otherwise rational atheists into a religious god fearing morons.

But these days the month of March is not even half as exciting. I have stopped raising divine blessings with terrible oaths for the better part of the last decade. There is the minor irritant of taxes but I can actually enjoy myself on my birthday without worrying about studies.

March looks so much better these days. 🙂

Related: Here is something fun about February

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How Culture, Language and Perceptions Change?

Even though I know how to read, write and speak Marathi, I have hardly read a book written in the language. I simply never felt inclined to do so. I’ve often heard the quote ‘What will happen to our language if young people do not read books in it?’ – The problem with this argument is, that languages are more about practical communication and less about cultural identity.

I was having an interesting chat with a relative who told me that his father was taught how to read in Urdu. This was odd for someone who was growing up in Mumbai. I can understand he had to learn Hindi as it is one of the most widely spoke languages in India. Learning Marathi also made sense as our family speaks the language. They were a Hindu family on the conservative side, so why was a child learning Urdu? The answer is simply. This was back in the mid 1940s in India.

The language a lot of educated Indian spoke back then was called Hindustani. It was a pluricentric language (meaning a language with more than one standard versions). Hindustani consisted of Standard Hindi and Standard Urdu.

So why did I not learn this language in school?

The population of Muslims in India was almost halved after partition. The other half were in the new country of Pakistan. This reduced the practical need to learn Urdu and Hindi gained more importance in independent India.

The word ‘practical’ lurks around again. The fact is language and culture is never stagnant or steady. It changes a lot over the years, because of economic and political changes. Unfortunately perceptions about language and culture often seem totally unconnected with its actual history.

What do you think about the language and culture?

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APJ Abdul Kalam is a very wise man!

Over the years I have ended up being a fan of Former President APJ Abdul Kalam. In recent times, no person who has held political office (though Presidency is pretty much a ceremonial role in India) has the sort of connect that this man has. I was catching the late night news and caught a story about Dr. Kalam visiting the International Book Fair in Delhi.

Just out of curiosity about Kalam and the Book Fair, I decided to Google him for some latest news. Two links that I came across showed why he is such a wise man.

Let children choose their subjects

Let children choose the subjects of their choice. They will excel, if they study something that they love

Simple enough?

Turn students into autonomous learners

I have met 13 million youth in India and abroad, in a decade’s time and have learnt that every youth wants to be unique. However, the world around you, is doing its best, day and night, to make you just everybody else.

Interestingly, he seems to be the only public figure in India who talks incessantly about education.

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29 Days of February

Today is the 29th day on February. But why does February exactly have 2 days less than other months which are all 30 days. Legend has it (legend is probably true) that July was named after Julius Ceasar. While August was named after Julius’ successor Emporer Augustus or Augustus Ceasar. Back then August only had 29 days while July had 31.

Well imperial egos are a funny thing and Augustus wanted the month named after him (August) to have just as many days as July (Julius).

So February had to bear the brunt of Emporer’s quirks and had 2 days deducted from it, leaving it with only 28 days. Now August like July has 31 days each.

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5 Books I Enjoyed Reading In 2011

books_read_2011Reading is a passion for me which started with Asterix, Archies and Tinkle. Graduated to Jeffery Archer, Leon Uris and Sidney Sheldon. Then being interested in History, I got addicted to non-fiction books. I wish I could have read more books this year but did manage to read a few.

Here are 5 of my favourite ones in 2011…

Steve Jobs Biography by Walter Isaacson

I was never too concerned by Steve Jobs as I am not really an Apple Inc fan. But I appreciated his genius for design and simplicity. The book brought about the complex, brilliant and at times not such a nice person behind the the legend to life. Even if you are not a Apple or Steve Jobs fan, it is a great chronicle of how technology companies evolved over the past 30 years.

Augustus: The Life of Rome’s First Emperor by Everitt Anthony

Never had read much about Ancient Rome before, but this biography of Augustus (the first Emperor of Rome) was fascinating. It was not too dramatic and did not take artistic licenses (as far as I know). It was not exactly boring either. Augustus is a great personality to study when it comes to governance and how it evolves.

I, Claudius by Robert Graves

This books is a fictional auto-biography of the Roman Emperor Claudius (grand nephew of Augustus). It brings alive the way of life of upper class Romans in a way that no one could imagine. The book is pretty old and was written in 1934. It is one of the rare books set in ancient history which is extremely witty.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Another non-fiction. It chronicles super successful people and the reasons they were successful. The idea behind the book is simply, no one is self-made completely. It takes a certain environment and luck along with it.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

First few days of 2011, were dedicated to reading the original Dracula. This one is eerie at times but fascinating. The book was written in 1897 and they are still telling vampire stories (albeit all lame compared to this one). One can say this book is where all modern horror films began.

I managed a few more books but most of them were not my favourites. All of them were interesting though. Did you read any books this year? Drop in your favourites in your comments.

Also you can look up my book lists at my GoodReads profile (Goodreads.com/aditya80)

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R.I.P Dev Anand [Khoya Khoya Chand…]

DevAnandFeeling sad that the legendary Dev Anand has passed away. He was someone who stood out for acting in movies that were not just entertaining but also off the beaten track. He was also someone who was working until the end of his life, at the ripe old age of 88.

Being unique was his trademark and he summed it up in a quote during an interview on Times Now.

I did not like borrowing ideas because it makes you feel second rate and I wanted to feel first rate. ~ Dev Anand (1923 -2011)

Khoya Khoya Chand– Kala Bazar