Now for a little (radical, feminist) poetry plus GAME OF THRONES! HUZZAH!

13 April 2014

Misandry In Haiku is my new favourite Tumblr.
Cat haiku is also cool.

I could just copy the entire website and put it down here, but that's just super lazy as one of you was kind enough to point out in my last post. So, instead, my favourites of my favourites:

i answer only
to khaleesi. call me “babe”
and you’ll die screaming.

(Segue: Um, SPEAKING of Game of Thrones (also, yay, Sunday! Only one more sleep before I can get a new episode!) I have a kick ass interview with old George RR waiting to be shared with you. It's a long interview in Vanity Fair so pour yourself a cup of coffee before you dive in. Choice bits: the books might've originally been just Bran's story, you can tell who's going to die just by the heavy FORESHADOWING that he leaves in just for you, and George doesn't like to be a douchebag with the show's writers.

Peter is actually different from Tyrion in the books. Just certain basic physical things. He’s taller than Tyrion. And he’s considerably more attractive. Peter is a good looking guy and Tyrion is not. But none of that matters when you see him performing. He’s Tyrion. There he is. And it’s perfect.

Peter Dinklage makes me so confused, because he's a sexy guy, but he's also a little guy, so all my old pounded-into-my-head notions are like, "Whaaa? What's happening over here?" I love when my Notions are Challenged. Here's his Reddit AMA, where you too can sigh in fangirly glory.

Read the whole interview here.) 

Right. Back to Misandry in Haiku, and let's make clear it may or may not be a satirical site, AND it's just funny given all the "make me a sandwich" memes that float around the internet on a near daily basis.

in a rocking boat
with my rocking sisterhood
sailing to freedom

Comments on the site from some include: "Why are you such a gigantic bitch? You know what, I wasn't going to do this but your blog is the last straw. It is now my personal mission in life to make the lives of women intolerable. I will close doors on them before they can reach them, I'll trip them as they pass by, and I'll knock over what they are carrying just because I can. You have yourself to blame, bitch." 

Ah man. Troll Dudes! You make it SO easy!

i’ll never date you
because you are gross. friendzoned?
no. enemyzoned.
ALSO:

misandry is not
a real form of oppression.
shut up men’s rights groups
 Whoever runs this blog, and I'm imagining a Lady in a long Greek style white dress (yes, I know haiku is from Japan, but for some reason in my head she's sitting at a desk, surrounded by clouds, with a pen) also answers all snarky questions with a haiku.  For example:

What do you think trans people are? Crazy people who are just pretending? I'd like to know what exactly is broken in your brain to dismiss trans* folks as you do. You seemed like an intelligent person before I read your FAQ.
Anonymous
i seemed smart before
you realized i don’t agree
with you? haha k!

Just ending with a few choice haiku thoughts for this glorious Sunday.

a proposal

all the ladies will
abandon society
that oppresses us
with only banks
of refridgerated sperm
we’ll build hateless worlds
 ***
"Misandry is mean,
And all the men will hate you!”
^I don’t give a fuck.
***

“women are weaklings!”
i’m strong enough to carry
your corpse to the woods


Update: I read the FAQ only after finishing this post, because I'm blind, and here are a few questions answered:
this blog is run by a 22 year old radical feminist. i’m white, poor, a nursing student, and the terfiest.
men have institutional privilege over women. women can not oppress anyone on the basis of sex or gender because we gain no privilege from being female. naturally, the people who are oppressed are going to be pissed at the oppressors.

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Vote with your conscience: reading material for election day

10 April 2014

Ah man, election day in Delhi and I am far away in Bombay. I'm going to choose to vote by reproducing my friend Smriti Lamech's Facebook status, something that already has over two
hundred shares since she posted it yesterday. I think it says it all.

For the last year or more I've posted links, given data, opinion pieces and a lot more on one of our PM candidates. I've engaged with you, debated and persisted. 

Tonight I'm going to stop because it won't matter once you've cast your vote. 

I am deeply shocked and horrified by those who choose 'development' over human rights. Mostly because we're all educated people who can read the data, watch the video clippings and make up our own minds. Yet some of us have chosen to be brainwashed by the Modi PR machine.

Which leads me to wonder if its not brainwashed but a deliberate choice to turn a blind eye towards Modi and his Hindutva agenda. If in fact it's not just a blind eye, but at some level a belief that it is justified. That 'those people' need to be put in their place. 
If it is, perhaps I have made poor choices in my friendships. 

Please don't allow yourselves to be turned into cold, compassionless people. Please don't believe that development is a higher goal than secularity and humanity. They're not mutually exclusive. 
Please don't be a part of the horrible history that our children are going to look back at in disgust, like Hitler's Germany. 
Please don't believe that 1984 cancels out 2002 - every life is precious. An eye for an eye makes us all blind. 
Please remember that we have a Sikh PM at the moment and the community has never been persecuted again. 
Please remember that every riot is something to be ashamed of. Don't justify it as a reaction. 
Please remember that the BJP has shown its corruption too (Adani, land allotment, petrol pump, Kargil coffins...) and really can't be the first one to cast a stone. 
Please remember that you're voting in corruption again, this time with the added topping of fascism. 
Please remember that you might be a smug majority today, but someday and in some way you won't. Once they're done with the Muslims, they will, like the Shiv Sena, come for the South Indians, the women, the queers.. the list is endless. When they're done with everyone, they'll come for you, as the old saw goes. 

We have a history of bloodshed and to reward the man who masterminded one of the worst, is something our country should be ashamed of. When we talk of inventing zero and yoga, please remember we're wiping out all our past glories with one fell swoop. We'll be the country that voted a murderer in to the PM's seat, not inspite of his failings, but because of them. 

If anything, this election has shown us up for the people we are. Shown up our prejudices and our deliberate, wilful denial of what is. Yes, it is important to have friends from every walk of life, with differing points of view so that we can have a dialogue, learn. 

But there are some non-negotiables and this, is one of them. It's a shameful display of power and just the sort of thing cowardly bullies indulge in. 

Elections are fought every five years and everyone has an opinion. This is the first time there has been such vitriol and polarisation and it's for a very good reason. Rarely do you get to see the face of evil so clearly and rarely do you see people you like and respect, go over to the dark side.
Am I going to cease to be friends with those who've shown their inclination for this sort of thing? I suppose not. But things will never be the same. We'll see each other in a different light and it's not going to be pretty.

If you've ever felt defenceless, ever felt marginalised, ever felt like a minority, ever felt vulnerable, have family who live in a country where they might be minorities, think twice before you vote for Modi. 
If you've ever thought of yourself as fair, compassionate, open-minded, just, think twice before you vote for Modi. 

On a different note, I wonder if there's any hope of them giving us someone else as their PM candidate. That would be too much to hope for, wouldn't it?

And lest you accuse me of being unfair and whitewashing over the 1984 riots (though in my books--the excuse "they rioted, so we can riot also" is wrong. Also the Congress has apologised for the 1984 killings, whereas a certain Mr Modi can't even bear to be on TV for two seconds let alone take any responsibility for his party. Oh my god, you guys, PLEASE let this not be our future with a PM who refuses to answer any questions!) /endrant

Another friend in the DNA, Pragya Tiwari speaks to survivors of the 1984 riots about their voting choices this year. It's a gorgeous piece, full of little takeaways of sorrow.

This sense of immediacy pervades Kawaljeet’s entire narrative – his loopy, terrifying, sometimes incoherent narrative of what happened in those three days. There is something disturbingly child-like about him. It is as if he could turn a corner and find himself back in 1984 in a heartbeat. The beatings left him broken, mentally and physically.
Read the whole thing here. 

And if you're in a position to, vote goddammit.
 
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Bombay reads: Street food in Bandra, street shopping everywhere else, AND who you should vote for, because.

7 April 2014

I've been in Bombay, and the city is so delightfully insular, it seems like all the newspapers have only Bombay news, and all anyone cares about is Bombay stuff (except for the elections, everyone cares about the elections.)

As a result, my worldview has become of this reclaimed piece of land as well, and I've been reading with more attention, stuff that makes Bombay, Bombay.
***

I've always loved Mitali Parekh's blog Swasta Ani Masta, where she puts up pictures of her street internet advice, went for a long walk down Colaba Causeway, and bought two dresses. One is a hippie-ish thing, which I'm informed by the Good Thing, shows off my entire silhouette when I'm in the light ("Maybe you could wear it to the beach or something?" he offers, sweetly.) and another, which is actually quite nice, but not OMG, THE BEST DRESS EVER.
Image courtesy Google/ Gia Says That
shopping. She's like the street shopping whisperer or something, and manages to get pretty things from each of her trips. Meanwhile, I, following her

Mitali in Time Out Mumbai, talks about her street shopping experiences:

I've been through all stages of consumerism, ASOS.com OD, credit card debt, hoarding (four Mary Janes of the same make and colour; six pieces of Cotton World’s 2011 “le marinière” tees), trend reactions, purges through garage sales and outof- character buys, high-street fatigue and treating them as outward expression of my internal self (“this is so ME!” Shut up, Mitali. The only thing so you is your abnormally high level of testosterone). Now I crave to fall in love, to be taken by surprise, to find that perfect amalgamation of fabric, print, quality, detail, silhouette and craftsmanship all under R350.

Read for tips and the occasional laugh-out-loud sentence, but remember street shopping is a gift and it does not belong to all of us. (I only get lucky in my home city, where Sarojini Nagar is like a beacon, calling, calling.)

***
And my friend, Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi in Mumbai Boss, who I dare you to read without getting hungry, in fact, I'm quite peckish right now, even copying in her link. Roshni spent time in one of my favourite Bandra stops--Bazaar Road. It's not the glitzy glamour of Carter Road by night, it's not the twee coolness of one of the many Cafes-That-Are-Also-Other-Things-And-Charge-A-Lot-Of-Money-For-What-Is-Essentially-Food-Made-With-"Local"-Ingredients-From-The-Neighbouring-Kirana-Store. But it does house the place that makes the most exquisite  beef chilli fry, beef chilli fry that will make you weep from the spice, beef chilli fry that is not your friend the next day, but oh so good on a monsoon-y evening. Sigh. I miss Bandra.

Jim-me Hsuing, the owner of Jim-me’s Kitchen, moved to the city from Kolkata in 1973, operated Chinese Home in Kala Ghoda where Chetana restaurant is today, then conducted business at a restaurant called Rose Garden in Bandra where Salt Water Cafe is today and then moved to this spot on the fringe of Bazaar Road in 1991. The head cook has been working with him for the last 35 years. The food is mostly Hakka and Cantonese and the sort of affordable, familiar, intensely flavoured Indian Chinese and Chinese that tastes even better after a few drinks. Their speciality and bestseller are their stir fried preparations, and the spare ribs JK Style have something of a cult status in the neighbourhood.

Anyhow, read the two part pieces here for Roshni's delightful meanderings, such as:

The oily fish is sun dried for three to four days and then mixed with pickling spices and vinegar. When I visited their stall this time, the Nunes also opened a jar of sweet-spicy prawn balchao and stuck it under my nose. “It’s verrrry tasty!” they said.
 ***

And finally! Voting day! Don't know who you should vote for? Um, OBVS, there's a website for that. You move a sliding scale with a virtual budget of Rs 100 to see what your priorities are, and ta-dah--you see who you're most aligned to.

(It told me I should vote for the BJP, because Is Mass Genocide Okay: Yes or No? wasn't an option.)

Check it out here. 




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What Happened After: Malory Towers

3 April 2014

(Part of a series of posts I'm doing on children's books characters growing up and living in the 21st century. See the last one (and the uproar! how DARE I touch Enid Blyton!) over here.)

My name is Gwendoline Mary Lacey. I am about to die.  I am not afraid of death, all right, that's my first lie, I am terribly afraid of death. This whole place, this nursing home, smells like death.
Picture courtesy Enid Blyton Society

This is my deathbed, I have been put here to die, and now, in my dying, I must tell the truth.

My whole life's path can be traced back to when I was twelve years old and sent to boarding school. It was a lovely building, a bit cold even in the warmest summer, but it is not that I think of, as I lie here.  I was an only child, born late in life to my weak mother, who had been told she could never have children, and my father, who never wanted to be married in the first place.  My mother who was always ill, wanted me close to her for as long as she lived, and can you blame her? Can you? I cannot. They hired a lady to tutor me and make sure I was well behaved, and she--a childless spinster--came to us at thirty, and stayed with my family until she was in her 70s.

For a brief shining moment in my life, I was loved. I was well and truly, thoroughly, absolutely loved. My governess, Miss Winter, was never very good at mathematics herself, so we meandered through whatever she had to teach me. History or science, English or French. Because I loved her as she loved me, I didn't tell my parents that she didn't know the subjects she was meant to be teaching me. Because she loved me and she was scared for her job, she told them I was a genius. My poor ill mother gazed at me with pride over her breakfast tray, just after Miss Winter would give her my weekly report. My father--if he was there at all--would rustle his newspaper, and attempt to make me say my multiplication tables. At which demand, I would cry and hide behind Miss Winter's skirts. My mother, listening, always listening, would tell him to leave me alone. I never saw my father much, he was a vague mythical creature, but I grew up cossetted by the love of two women. Women were safe, women were my refuge, how was I to know they would also be my bitterest critics?

Ironically (now that I am older, I have begun seeing irony in more things. It makes my life bearable), my mother outlived my father by twenty years, but she was spoilt by his loss, a melancholy, sad woman to the rest of her days. She loved him, she had been the heiress to a vast fortune left to her by a rich bachelor uncle, and she gave it all to my father when first he promised to marry her. And then he lost it all. He tried to kill himself in my final year in school, a year marred by his fights with me. I was hoping to run away, to escape, my mother had promised me a finishing school in Switzerland since I was eight, and this was the escape I was running towards. Being at home with him, his cruel voice, his even crueler silences, were suffocating. Besides, I had seen the way Miss Winter and he looked at each other, and I wanted to cry, "Fool! You know more than anyone what he really is!"

At Malory Towers, that final year, they called me bitter and heartless to speak that way about my father.  "He's fine," said that Darrell Rivers, that perfect Darrell Rivers with her perfect life. I had nobody to tell, and how could I hint at what was really happening: my father's hand on Miss Winter's knee, my father's even voice--oh, he never lost his temper loudly--as he demanded more money from my mother.  Her pleading, she saved it for me, for Switzerland, but he forged her signature on her private trust and got into her account. I don't even know if he had to forge it. They were easier in those days treating women like chattel.

Every now and then, in the mail, I used to get a plain cardboard square inviting me to a Malory Towers reunion. They were all sent by the president of the Mallory Towers Alumna Society, Mary Lou.

We were all three new girls at the same time. Darrell Rivers, Mary Lou, and I.

One day, watching how the other girls played, I pushed Mary Lou into the pool. If I could go back in time, and take back any moment--any moment at all, including my father's attempted suicide--this is the one I would undo. It was that push that set our lives on three different courses. Mary Lou The Weak, Darrell Rivers The Defender, and I, Gwendoline Mary The Enemy.

Every year, I tried to make new friends, tried in the currency I knew: secrets. That's what girls did with friends, they exchanged secrets. Every year, I watched as my new friends were taken away from me.

You would call them bullies now, but then they were the most popular girls in school. Sally Hope, dependable, Darrell Rivers, head girl, Alicia, so smart, so whip smart that her words flayed along the back of my legs leaving welts only I could see.


I went to one of the school reunions, you know. I went, and stood in a corner, trying not to pull at the hemline of my new dress, bought, penny pinching, from a sale at an expensive boutique. Everyone I loved once, was dead. I lived alone, in a small bedsit, with my dog Morris, and I spent all my money on him. I loved that dog. But it was still important to me to wear a nice dress to a school reunion, perhaps I was going soppy in my old age, but I wanted to see my old friends, listen to their stories again. I stood in a corner and no one spoke to me except Mary Lou, in kind, pitying tones. I turned to go home and overheard Mavis speaking to Bill. "Is that Gwen? Goodness, she's grown fat." And Bill's voice, "You know, I heard that Miss Grayling said that she was one of Malory Towers biggest failures. Darrell told me."

I am about to die, and I was considered the biggest failure of one of the finest schools in Britain. Those with their sharp tongues and sharp brains were successes, those who were good at sports, those who were good at their classes. I, uncoordinated I, with no special talents, had to sink or swim. And I sank. Once, I tried out for the pantomime the fifth form were doing, but "how dare you aspire to be a star?" asked Alicia, and I was made to be a servant. I saw Mary Lou playing the part of Cinderella, with her large brown eyes and her long brown hair, oh, she was very clever, Mary Lou, she pretended to be scared of me the rest of her time at school, and won the sympathy points.

My name is Gwendoline Mary Lacey. Once, people who loved me called me Gwen. Then, people who despised me called me Gwen.  Once, I was loved by women, then I was hated by women.

Remember me, remember me.






 

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Why Dilli Haat is going to the dogs despite being a really good idea

2 April 2014

Jaya Jaitley in the Indian Express did a long column on Dilli Haat and how corruption kinda ruined it.

In 1994, the entry ticket was Rs 10. Stall rents started at Rs 75 for small spaces and platforms to accommodate very small producers selling paper or clay toys. Rent for 180 pucca stalls was Rs 2,250 per fortnight. By 2012, a flat rent for all sizes and shapes of stalls was arbitrarily hiked to Rs 8,470 per fortnight. This became tough for poorer craftspeople to afford and easier for traders to step in. On an average, over 150,000 people visit Dilli Haat monthly, bringing in handsome earnings to Delhi Tourism from entry tickets and rents from food and craft stalls. Today, Delhi Tourism earns a profit from Dilli Haat that is only exceeded by revenues from its sale of liquor.

I was an early Dilli Haat adopter, and my friend--whose mother worked in Delhi Tourism--and I went often when we were 13. There used to be this little machaan kind of hut where you could sit, and because she was a big shot's daughter, the momo stall (only one back then) would deliver the food to our perch on high. After, we'd walk around, and maybe get colourful threads braided into our hair. Teenage girls: the same for decades.

The original purpose of Dilli Haat is forgotten. Making money is now the only goal, whether it is through indifferent public policy or private greed. Some years ago, an appreciative visitor sent a letter to the editor of a national newspaper saying, “Why can’t all of India be like Dilli Haat?” Instead, Dilli Haat has now become like the state of the nation; corrupted, inequitable and shabby, yet somehow holding up.
Picture courtesy Google Images/Pleasure Mountain

Jaitley said she was one of the original founders of Dilli Haat, and that's why it makes her so sad to see how it's going. I am not one of the original founders, but it still makes me sad. The last time I went, all the times I go now, actually, it's packed. But it's not as bad as all that: there's still the yummy raja mirchi pork curry from the Nagaland stall, the only place to get Maharashtrian food in Delhi, and a nice walk on a spring day past all sorts of pretty things. Some stuff is obviously more rubbish than it used to be, there are loads more stalls selling the kind of tourist tat you'd see on the side of the road in Baga Beach, and prices have gone up majorly.

Many stalls have been handed over for permanent occupation to government agencies no different from middlemen. Traders have printed visiting cards giving the number of their “permanent” stalls, brazenly challenging the rotational concept. Customers regularly notice and comment on this, but no one cares. It is easy to guess why. Traders offer to pay Rs 3-4 lakh as bribes to be allotted a stall, or Rs 50,000 as inducements to genuine allottees to sublet their stalls. Honest officials who try to implement regulations have been subjected to vigilance inquiries while the crooks are always one step ahead.

Read the whole story here. 
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Mumbai cops find a secret tunnel connecting a bar and a set of flats

31 March 2014

An underground TUNNEL! Disguises! Secrets! This is like something out of an A rated Five Find Outers. Mumbai cops have been trying to nab this bar--Honeycomb (awesome name)--for a while, but the wily owners have been too canny for them.

Unfortunately, the bar owner's informants got wind of the police action, and before the cops could charge in, the girls mysteriously disappeared. Surprised at their sudden disappearance, Singhal and his team started searching the place. 

Their initial efforts were in vain, but after a few minutes, Singhal's team saw him banging away at a wall. Thinking he was hitting it out of frustration, the team was taken aback with Singal asked for a hammer and started breaking down the wall. The team quickly joined in and brought down the wall in a few minutes.

Sometimes, you can tell that the  reporter is having a really good time telling a story.

When the police finally managed to enter these homes, they saw women dressed as housewives. A search of their cupboards, however, gave up the game.

Who owns the movie rights to this piece of genius?

Read the whole story here. 
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Sex, Lies & Videotapes is the only obvious title for these stories on the Tejpal case CCTV footage

29 March 2014

Manu Joseph in Outlook magazine tries to reconstruct the events by the CCTV footage in the Tarun Tejpal rape case.

A person who is highly relevant to the case but who did not wish to be quoted says that the Young Woman “remembered the traumatic night differently when she sent her first complaint. When she saw the CCTV footage she saw that night with greater clarity”. Moments after the lift doors open, Tej­pal and the Young Woman are in the camera’s blind spot. Here, according to the person, “the Young Woman’s panties were at her ankles before she pulls them up. She is still somehow discreetly pulling them up as she walks. That is why she is walking at that pace though in her mind she thinks she is fleeing.

Ugh. This whole thing has drawn out for far longer than it needed to. Obviously, there has to be evidence against the accused, but obviously also, someone who is traumatized may not remember stuff word for word.

Nevertheless, everyone should have their say. And Tejpal's been asking for the CCTV footage for a while to prove his point. However, by the end of this story, I'm not sure what point that is.

His message—“the fingertips”—would turn out to be the most destructive message an Indian public figure has sent in recent times. Not only did it contribute to public outrage, it also served to strengthen the Young Woman’s claim, which was, at first, that he had tried to penetrate her with his finger, and later that he did penetrate—an act that qualifies as rape according to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013. The message was either sent by a foolish rapist who, after his crime, was implicating himself through an SMS to a competent journalist whose area of special interest was the interaction between society, law and rape. Or, it was sent by a drunken man who thought he was flirting. 

Read the whole story here. A bit fluffy, but by the middle it gets to its stride. A by-the-by, is it now okay to write whole stories about CCTV footage? Isn't that the same offence as leaking the very disturbing first email from the victim?

Also, in Hard News Media (what? Never heard of it before!) there's quite an in-depth story on rape cases and the media by Anusha Rizvi and Manisha Sethi.

Activists should realize that media can be an uncertain ally, at best, prone to be used opportunistically by both sides. If we choose it to fight our causes, we should also be prepared for a backlash when the TRPs on a particular issue begin to decline. Though Tejpal’s call for CCTV footage that he claims will exonerate him, may appear as odious to us but in a case fought through leaked emails and unrelenting kangaroo courts on prime time, this was to be expected. After all the media trial of this case started with leaked emails and not with his demand for CCTV footage.
 Read that here, a bit drier than Manu's storytelling, but makes some interesting points.

Update: Aman Sethi tweeted me a link to a Kafila story by Rebecca John which is a rebuttal to the Hard News Media piece.

Some of this outrage against the new law ( which I did not draft) , is based on ignorance – most opponents have not witnessed a single rape trial or seen how survivors are brutally treated in and out of court. An academic theoretical critique masquerading as an in-depth understanding of the subject is unacceptable when you have little or no practical knowledge.

Read that here. 
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The Bandra Worli Sealink is GORGEOUS

Manjunath Shenoy in Scroll.in shares photos of this bridge in a lovely story. I remember when it was finally done, there were firecrackers you could hear all the way to my house, quite far away from the Sea Link.

Obviously, every time you travel over it, you have to take photos. Here's mine:

  

And from the story: 

At this location, the bridge is parallel to the sea front and can be viewed head-on through an the oversized replica of the Sanchi Stupa gateway. On a sliver of sand here called Dadar Chowpatty, children squeal on inflatable rubber trampolines, and Prince, Shahrukh and Mushtaq swish their tails and pull their pony carts filled with amorous couples.

Read the whole story here.

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Today In Longreads: Windows XP will kill you, why must you hate on porn and/or clickbait, who can write about Bandra? (Everyone)

28 March 2014

Loved reading these four things recently.


First, the mister in Yahoo Originals on Windows XP & how it's being phased out and what you should do (instead of panic.)

Photo courtesy Google Images/Live Mint
My first personal brush with computer 'hacking' came in the late 1990s, when a friend sent me an email attachment containing Back Orifice. An appropriate but rudely-monikered little piece of software, BO was ridiculously user-friendly and enabled anyone to completely take control of their Windows 98 computer over the Internet (also known as “backdooring”, in computer security speak). My friend, gleefully, opened up my CD drive while he was sitting at home and proceeded to flash teenage-taunting messages on my screen.

 Read the whole story here. 

Why do you hate porn stars, asks Conner Habib in The Stranger. He dated a guy who loved him, sometimes, but didn't love the fact that Conner was in the porn industry. Fair enough, you say? Here's why it's not.

I spoke at a college in Maine about porn and culture. The talk was mostly about the blurry lines between "pornography" and other forms of art. As soon as the Q&A started, a student said: What about sex trafficking?
What about it? I asked.
Well, he said, I know it's going on.
But that doesn't have anything to do with my talk. The two things aren't related.
Women are being enslaved, he said.
Why are you focusing on that after my talk? I asked.
And to the student at the other lecture, I said the same thing.
Out of everything I spoke about, why is that your question? I don't talk about the bad stuff as much because the rest of the public conversation is so focused on it.
Oh, he said. Maybe in academia, but not in the rest of the world. You just think that because you're in academia.
I had no idea what he was talking about. You're the one in academia, I said. I'm talking from my perspective as someone who's been in the porn industry for six years.
He kept talking.

The whole story here. 

While we're speaking about hating stuff, what about the word "clickbait"? Why is it derogatory? Why can't you WANT people to click on your stories? Tim Marchman asks relevant questions in Deadspin.

If journalism were as easy as tricking people into pushing buttons, it would have been automated by now. It's a trade, and the art is in satisfying a bewildering variety of competing interests by working not only in service of all the impossibly interesting stories in the world—some of them very important, some not very important at all—but also the impossibly busy people who might read them.

And finally, Diksha Basu in Outlook talks about the reactions to her earlier article on Bandra, which stirred up a lot of anger (read that one here) and why we hate people talking about the old thing we used to love like it's a new thing.

Even if I return to the same town and live in the same apartment on the same street, like Holden Caulfield discovers, nothing will actually be the same. And that is a frightening idea that forces us to cede control. It is hard to live knowing that we cannot claim sole expertise on a place we like to call home. So much of our identities is braided in with our surroundings. Knowing that nothing remains the same forces us to face a certain darkness. We know that we are being replaced, slowly but constantly.

Read the whole story here.



I'm not sure what you all think about this new links and news section that I've introduced, so tell me about it. What do you want to see more of? The long, thoughtful blog posts take time, they will still appear, of course, but this is a quick way of me giving you updates. Would you like more? Less? Suggested articles? Debate? Tell me EVERYTHING in the comments!



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Narendra Modi Lookalike Chills in Delhi

27 March 2014

I loved this story by Rishi Majumder in Yahoo Originals. I'm not following the elections very closely, but it's hard not to be clued in, when that's basically the only thing anyone can talk about.

The story follows Abhinandan Pathak, Modi's brother from another mother, doppelganger, what have you, and how he uses his coincidental face to.. well, to appear on TV, anyway.

"It's a carbon copy," he says, staring at the face of Modi, his face radiant with joy. As if Modi were the lookalike. As if Pathak was what was stalling traffic on this day on Ashoka Road. 
The reason to keep one eye on election coverage, even if it's really not your scene is to see the smaller human interest stories that emerge from it. Here's a dude, with nothing more to his name than a resemblace to a man who happens to be on TV all the time. Here's how he's capitalizing on it.

He's especially upset with Laxmikant Bajpai, president of the BJP's UP unit, for insulting him when he tried to sit next to him, dressed as Modi, at a function. 

"Nakli Modi, stop this drama!" Bajpai had hollered. 

"After all the work I did," Pathak says.

The whole story here.
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North East Couple Beaten Up For Violating "Curfew"

And this in their own rented house. Really what is this city coming to?
Image via Toothpaste For Dinner

 The couple was beaten up allegedly by their landlord's son and some goons in Munirka on Tuesday for trying to step out of their rented house at 9.30pm. The landlord, who likes to lock the main gate of the house early, was reportedly angry with the couple from Manipur when they asked for the keys. He allegedly called in youths from the neighbourhood to intimidate the victims.

Meanwhile, in my own lovely home, the fight with the neighbours over --what else?--parking space goes on and on. Luckily, the whole building hates on this one set of neighbours, so it is our collective delight to thwart their evil plans.

But I remember house hunting in the beginning and landlords feeling it was their complete right to tell me what time to come home and who I could entertain. Bitch, please. If I wanted to listen to rules, I would've stayed home with my parents. You can read more about my own woes in this old Sunday Guardian article.


The most heartbreaking bit about this story?

The couple is planning to leave Delhi soon.

From here.



(Confused? New thing! I'll be posting small news links as and when they catch my eye. I read a lot of news online and it just gets lost on my Twitter stream.)  

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The Price You Pay For Being A Freelancer In India

24 March 2014

I spend most of my adult life thinking about money. Not sex, not love, not food: money. What was charming and “artistic” in my twenties, being broke, hoarding pre-paid phone cards by giving people a missed call and making them call you back, asking richer friends to buy you drinks, is embarrassing in your thirties. I thought I had forgotten penury, being employed for the past two and half years, but poverty with all its implications was just lurking under the surface.

Image via Google/Urban Outfitters
Most of this is because a company I worked with until very recently has defaulted on most of their bills, and owes me about three months back pay. This was the money I was going to use for the next three months to write my book, this was the money I was going to use for rent.  The freelance writing I do every now and then were to serve as Cake Icing, money for the little luxuries I otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. Now that there’s no word on this money—and not for lack of trying—I am stuck trying to make ends meet with freelance work, which, as everyone who has tried this knows, takes about two or three months until you can break even.

I am living in what they call “genteel poverty”, one of the things, an article speculates that made designer L’Wren Scott kill herself last week. Genteel Poverty is rich, middle class poverty, the kind of poverty where you live in an expensive neighbourhood but can’t eat out, the kind of poverty where you put the AC on in your car but your internet gets shut off because you can’t pay the bill. More? It’s when you hear of the new restaurants from your friends and peers and can’t try them, it’s when the bottle of wine you take to a random dinner party is such a carefully calculated decision (“if I buy this bottle of Sula, even though it tastes like piss, I can afford a taxi home”) that you almost feel like picking up the half drunk bottle and taking it home with you when it’s still sitting there at the end of the night. We forget, sometimes, our privileges, how money smoothens over everything, how money makes most discussions not worth having, how money is the great liberator. Organic food? Nope, too expensive. Independent woman taking taxi home instead of depending on someone else? Nope, too expensive. Money makes it possible to make well thought out informed decisions.

Luckily, as an Indian, I am never too far away from a hand out from my parents. But, as someone who has been rowing their own boat for close to 10 years now, it’s embarrassing; it’s stupid, I can’t keep asking them for money, even though they offer it freely out of love. Genteel Poverty is too much pride, even though the option is there, which is what sets it apart from regular poverty.

In a nutshell: I am not poor, dear reader, but I am broke.

In many ways, I am better off than friends who find themselves in a similar situation. And this is because of one off-the-cuff decision I made in my first flush of riches: I would never have a credit card. Luckily for me, over the years, credit card companies don’t take well to freelance writers with no fixed income, and so even though I answered yes to the cold calls, I never got a follow up. I live on my debit card, and so, I am never in debt. My car was paid for in another flush of richness, paid for in full.

What does this sort of poverty mean? Well, for one, it means the luxury of being able to stretch out creatively has sort of left me. From the moment I wake up, I’m thinking about money, specifically the money owed me. I get excited and then heartbroken each time my text message alert goes off and it’s not from my bank. I’ve sent enough emails to qualify as a stalker, ranging from friendly to stern to desperate. This is not the first time I’ve had to beg, like literally beg for my salary, and I suspect it won’t be the last. You get a job that lets you work from home, and enjoy a certain amount of freedom, and in all likelihood, you’ll get screwed with the money.

I am broke. I could’ve not been broke had I chosen an office life. I swapped financial security for being able to work in my pajamas, and I swapped the luxury of money for the luxury of being able to get up whenever I liked.

Take the job. Or live an exciting life.
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