Friday, March 9, 2007

All this can probably define IRONY


This article is no litany of complaints or an ostentatious display of personal frustration, dejection and disapproval. The points stated below are purely written on the basis of what I have heard, observed and imbibed. It is not an exhaustive description as my experiences are limited by my age and outlook. Just that these have made me think hard, think hard of life and the IRONY that intertwines it.


For instance take India, etymologically trace its name to the word Indus which in turn is derived from “Sindhu” in Sanskrit. We all glorify womanhood and claim India as Mother India, yet census reports show the ratio of females to males as 927:1000 and we see figures worse than this when the antecedent dips down to a meager 780 in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. The practice of female infanticide prevalent in villages in Tamil Nadu, with its intensity at apex in 1992 -95 received world wide attention – many schemes were introduced since then to prevent the infernal practice.

Ironically, we still see cases where a husband refuses to lift his baby because it’s a female child; turns his back in perfect sync with his relatives, to the nurse holding the new born in her hands while the mother is still lurking under the influence of anesthesia and is as oblivious to the treatment meted out to her first child as she is to her fate for having delivered her. I have seen this happen 5 years back at St.Isabels’ Hospital, Chennai.


We have our President talking of dreams, igniting minds, the Indian youth being the country’s livewire etc – there is absolutely no grievance with what he preaches but can he EVER do something about the 1017 of this YOUTH who have gone missing since the break of militancy in 1990 in Jammu and Kashmir.?

Ironically, the parents are not even aware if their kids are still alive or dead. Over a decade, they have waited faithfully for their return, sobbed on media which reaches their doors when they cannot gather much news on Bollywood, Ash-Abhishek affair and Cricket.

The government has been so indifferent to their outcry that the parents and concerned relatives have formed an "Association for Parents of Disappeared Persons" – their only hope - to see their son/brother/husband alive (or atleast, know if they are still alive) who went missing from a tea shop or a bus stand years back; they hope battling against all odds, against the high probability or the harsh truth of their getting killed in fake encounters. Read more on


I have seen some Tamil communities displaying this very strange behaviour - when a girl attains puberty, they celebrate it in so much grandeur that it appears a week long festival. Relatives come in from all possible places, feasts are thrown out to the whole village, men party all night. What merely needs to be treated as a physiological change and left aside is publicized and exhibited in all elaborate ostentation!
Ironically, if the same girl is harassed/molested or sexually abused, there is none to fight for her justice or punish the wrong doer. More than a handful exist who willingly curse the girl for her fate, for having brought disgrace to the family and this handful leave her in such deplorable state that the worst episode of her life can neither be battled nor be forgotten.

This thought struck me after watching the movie “Black Friday”.

The blasts that took place in Mumbai in 1993, that gory episode of bloodshed and violence which took toll in three if not four figures has left a spectre, still looming in the air, of the possibility of terrorist attacks or communal riots; anytime, anywhere in the nation and across the globe.
Sixteen full years, it took to solve the case and get the culprits to terms of imprisonment and all that colossal loss of life and property was to wreak vengeance for the act of demolition of Babri Masjid that stood for a long time and was considered holy by a group of people who have as much right as anybody else in the nation to practice their religion and stick to their faith.
And what had to be built at the site of demolition after trampling upon people's faith and clearing all the debris ? A Ram Mandir –YES, in veneration of Lord Rama who left to forest for a span of 14 years giving up his rights on rule and kingdom, solely because it was a request from his ailing father.
Also ironically, in praise of a lord who suspected his wife on her virginity and put her to litmus test(that's the closest term in English I can get for Agni Pariksha in Hindi) more than once even though she loyally waited for her husband to return and accept her with all affection.
What are we endorsing? All husbands can rightfully and endlessly suspect their wives and put them to test whenever they want? Probably, Lord Rama had many qualities to make him an example worth elucidating but this trait of his which I read from the well acclaimed epic has been one hard fact for me to digest.

The element of irony gets only better in that I am apparently one of those who pens down “Sri Rama Jayam” a 1001 times in my notebook on the Rama Navami Day upon instructions from Mom. In fact, it has become such a regular practice that I no longer require any instruction from her, I do it pretty faithfully and I am no atheist :)

There are many more such instances which reflect irony at its best- the Indo-US nuclear deal, the recent friendly ties between the two nations, probably a thing that needs to be welcomed with an open mind. Just that, it is ironical to note, a country looked down upon us so heavily for more than a decade during the period of cold war, it now wants to embrace us so fondly.
Not to forget, an all time low between US and India in 1970s, when Pakistan backed by USA inflicted atrocities on people in East Pakistan and perpetrated genocidal activities (refer to the blood telegram - for more information).
Neither the then US President nor the Secretary of the State did anything to control the atrocities.
And what does the United States of America do TODAY - classify Iran, Iraq and North Korea into an AXIS OF EVIL, join hands with India to fight acts of terrorism which it full fledgedly bolstered for years, discuss at table whether Darfur(Sudan) conflicts need to be classified under world's list of genocides AND for every single minute spent in such discussion there is a home getting destroyed/displaced in Darfur. ....... ....... ............................

An endless list of such things exist about which I think of and where thinking leads me nowhere, that's precisely what Irony is all about – a water tight compartment of every aspect and routine of our life – probably, the one that adds spice to it as well.

Friday, March 2, 2007

That would be one Great Compliment :)

A Beautiful Mind – that’s a book I grabbed some time last year not really knowing it would serve some excellent reading. A book written by Sylvia Nasar, on the life of a Nobel Prize winning Economist and Mathematician, John Forbes Nash, "A Beautiful Mind" describes the professor's childhood years, episodes of college days at the Princeton and MIT, his battling a mental disorder by the name schizophrenia and emerging a winner, a winner of Nobel Prize in the year 1994.

The book,undeniably, is some good material for yielding motivation and provides great insight into how consistent personal efforts and undying support from near and dear ones can be effective in overcoming any disorder, whatever be the degree of severity.

The better part comes in now – in that I happened to watch the movie, loosely based on this novel and by the same name recently. The movie has Russell Crowe playing the lead role and was released in the year 2001. The movie has some exemplary performance by Russell Crowe, our own Gladiator :) , one of my favourite actors.

Right from the start, every scene of the movie was studded with commendable performance by Russell Crowe, his days at Princeton as a very reclusive,“Better with Numbers” kind of a guy to the days when he serves for the Department of Defense – hallucinating all the time and paranoid, his erratic conduct and the multiple schizophrenic episodes he tries to battle, his self-sequestered way of life when he gets back to teaching after the illness, backed by a personal drive and an unceasing support from his wife and some close friends, thereafter, the mettle to achieve greatness - WOW !! its just a treat to watch such multifaceted performance, all in just one movie.
There is a scene where some students come and place a pen in front of Prof.John Nash (Russell Crowe) as a mark of respect – AWESOME is the word for it or you get me a better adjective !

Well, that’s not the end – there’s more to the movie… that’s when the Professor is announced a recipient of the prestigious Nobel Prize in Economics for his outstanding work on Game Theory.
All eyes on Russell Crowe when he climbs on to the dais to deliver his speech and you are rendered speechless.

Here are the words – simple yet as beautiful as words can get.

I have always believed in numbers, in equations & logic that lead to reason. After a lifetime of pursuit, I asked “What truly is logic and who decides it reasons?”. My quest has taken me to physical, metaphysical ,delusional and back and I have made the most important discovery of my career , the most important discovery of my life. Its Only in mysterious equations of love that logical reasons can be found. I hit it only because of you, You are the reason I am. You are all my reasons.Thank you.

And you see the Professor's wife shedding a secret tear with a radiant smile on her face - the audience in standing ovation.WOW !!
I am not sure if the professor in real life said these words when he was on the podium receiving the honours but those clips in the movie,I must say, are worth watching, any number of times.

That night, I dreamt of my husband (I am not married as yet but I guess you have all liberty to dream futuristically ;)) winning an award – not necessarily a Nobel Prize … but some award, some big honour and delivering a speech along similar lines.
And I stand upright with pride, all priase for him with thick glasses and grey hair and yes , of course, with secret tears in my eyes.

It sometimes means a bigger honour and invokes a greater sense of pride to stand by a person you love and respect , at all times, against all ordeals and see him/her reap success and achieve a sense of greatness from that. It is more remarkable an achievement than you being out there on the dais yourself.
And lines like those stated above, will make the world’s best appreciation , an endorsement, one of its kind, the only one. For all the support and love extended, the above would be ONE GREAT COMPLIMENT!!