McApple Pie of My Eye

Eyestrain Productions

If you know me personally at all, chances are you’ve heard about The Pie. Maybe I’ve even taken it out to show you, let you touch it, encouraged you to sniff it. The Pie is legend, and has been for a great many years now. And if you know about The Pie, then you know we’ve just passed a significant milestone on its journey through the ages and into immortality.

The rest of you I’m going to have to bring up to speed.

I mentioned an important anniversary several weeks ago in this blog. Not the one related to the blog itself, nor my comic book work. I’m talking about that other, mysterious anniversary, I was so specifically vague about. The twenty-five year anniversary.

Rather than recap the whole sordid story from the beginning, let us instead begin at the end – or at least the end as it stood…

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Man, woman and violence

With the increasing number of sexual crimes being committed in the country, I am both alarmed and disturbed. What has changed that has marked such an increasing rate of violence against women. Violence seems to be the only answer our men have, whether it is the comfort of their own homes or workplace. What I believe is that men in general think that sexual subjugation will give them a semblance of control that they are fast losing in the ever-changing “equal” world that they live in.

Most of the people that we work along with are not sexual predators, they are not even close to being violent people, but why has this streak of violence surfaced in the recent times. I believe as the female population all over the world is busting myths, taking over the so-called male bastions, it is making the other half of our population insecure. places which they considered sanctimonious, jokes which they considered were their birthright are now being questioned. What they fail to understand is how this “physically frail” and the  “intellectually incompetent group” has been able to take a place in society that is rightfully theirs. This anger has to manifest itself somewhere, whether it is at home or outside. Men are born with the perception that they are superior beings and if  a woman is doing something, it is because they allow her to be the person she aspires to be.

It is disturbing to see that the so-called sophisticated and educated population of our cities also follow this kind of the thought process. The behaviour pattern changes with the kind of company they keep. A lot of men keep their sentiments to themselves and others protest vehemently complaining and getting agitated if a woman around them is gaining some control over her life.

Is it so difficult for people to accept that women in general can have aspirations that go beyond the boundaries created by men in their lives and that they as human beings have a right to be free to think and live as they choose?

Apne apne Ram…. to each his own

One of the most misunderstood characters in our Indian mythology is Ram. Who is Ram? The eldest and the most dutiful son of Dashrath, who was the heir to the throne of Ayodhya. Due to the evil scheming of his step mother, who wanted the throne for her own son, Ram was sent to the jungle for 14 years. For fourteen years, Ram traversed the jungle along with his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakshman. In this time his wife was abducted by the Rakshasa king Ravan and Ram fought a war with him to get his wife back. Ravan was killed in this battle and his kingdom was handed over to his youngest brother Vibhishan. When ram returned to Ayodhya after 14 years with his wife, his subjects started casting aspersions at Sita’s character as she had been abducted and was at the mercy of king Ravan. Thus after a test of her purity and her character Ram was compelled to leave a pregnant Sita in the forest, even though she was proven to be pure!!!

What I have narrated above is a very short and maybe a biased version of the epic Ramayana as I see it. I believe as a person grows in age, his perception towards a lot of things which have been constants in his life, change. He starts to see things differently.

Ram is perceived to be a god in our country. He is one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. In my own mind, I see Ram as a man who is trying to stand right by whatever his beliefs are. He is called the “Maryada Purushottam”, which literally translates to “the best amongst men who knows his boundaries and respects them”. when I was younger I saw him as a very cruel person who left his wife and couldn’t protect her just because somebody had raised questions about her character. What my young mind failed to see at that point was that Ram was supposed to protect his subjects as a king too. It was one of his supreme dharma’s or sacred duties. If the subjects could not trust him with their beliefs and their insecurities, and in case he was unable to take care of their insecurities, the kingdom that he had left for 14 years, would have become weaker than what it was when he inherited it.

Ram surely could not keep Sita with him due to the social pressure, but he made sure that she was safe and under the care of an ascetic whom he trusted. Unlike the king of those times and Indian gods too, Ram chose to remain faithful to his wife. He never married and never entered into any alliance with any other woman. He even performed a sacred ceremony with a gold statue of his wife kept by his side. Such ceremonies are considered inauspicious if performed without a spouse. Such was his devotion to Sita. Ram was also a very dutiful son. Ram’s stepmother had made his father promise that Ram would go to the forest. He could have refused to go the forest as he was not bound by the promise he father had made, but Ram chose to honour the words of his father as was expected from a future king and a duty bound son.

I have no intentions of portraying Ram as infallible. He had his own flaws. What I do believe is that he had a choice between Ram as a husband and Ram as a king, and he chose to be a king rather than a husband. This choice may not have been  a prudent one, but it was what he thought was best at the time. That is what i admire, to make a tough choice and then to stick by it, because it makes sense for greater good.

He might not be one of the most colourful characters of our mythology but he was one of the strongest. He is one of the foremost examples of my belief that the test of true strength is not how much a person can make the other suffer but it lies in enduring and braving the odds to emerge victorious.

From Ram I have learnt that to maintain a position of responsibility one has to sacrifice one’s own wants and attain a level of patience. To inspire the trust of people you want to live with, you have to first repose your trust in them, even if it is to your personal detriment.

Ram teaches us to be multi-dimensional; to develop humility. If only we all could try to adopt even one dimension of his character, the world would be a better place.

a land of contradictions

It is a very fascinating country that I live in and everyday I am amazed to learn something new and gain a new perspective about the Indian society. It is a diverse and a complex social structure. we are so modern and progressive in so many ways and yet traditional and regressive at times.

It has already been expressed many times that it is country of contradictions. Indeed it is. Let alone the differences and diversity in  two different parts of the country, I believe each Indian, as an individual is also an example of how contradictions in oneself can create a unique person. Not that I am underestimating other countrymen to not be examples of contradictions, they too might be. It’s just that our belief system is so diverse that the blend of our conservative and  modern selves fascinates me. we believe in making a mark for our selves professionally but still believe that we are unable to make rational choices for ourselves personally. We dress conservatively, but our thoughts take us to a world which is more liberated that we have ever thought of.

I have met people residing in the most backward of places, with access to no modern amenities talking and practising “modern” beliefs. They talk and practice equality of ideas, equality of sexes and believe in protecting individual liberties. People who respect humankind. Then there are those who reside in the so-called metropolitan cities, have all the amenities of life and still believe that some men are born inferior us and deserve what they get because they are belong to that strata of the society.

For me freedom of thought, freedom to question our surroundings and the freedom to just be, is the ultimate type of freedom. It should not be limited just because I belong to a particular sex, a particular caste or a particular section of the society. This is the contradiction which is beyond my understanding. I know of the most regressive looking households and people who believe and practice such liberty and I also have seen and experienced very “posh” members of the society who believe that the freedom of others is a luxury that they afford them just because the other person is living in the same household such people firmly believe that the freedom given to the members belonging to the household should be controlled. I believe we can be traditional in our way of living but let us be modern enough to accept and appreciate new ideas.

Indian social structure, like many others is changing. We are trying to imbibe new things. I think we should also try to retain the liberty of thoughts that has been given to us as a gift since ancient times. That is what makes us different and unique.

Austen and me

I am a self proclaimed Jane Austen lover. I got hooked to the seemingly idealist romances written by Austen at a very young age, thanks to my mother, herself an avid reader. I would like to believe that I am an Austen purist. I have devoured hundreds of literature discussing the nuances of her writing. I have seen various movies adapted and inspired from her work and still my thirst for her stories remain unquenched. It always seems that she has so much more to say and we as audience so much more to listen or read through. Its never enough. She is the romance queen after all. I doubt there has been another writer who inspired so much of longingness for a Victorian era England and perfect romances, elsewhere.

The time period that she lived in was fraught with social issues. There were so many changes going on in the society and none of these were mirrored or expressed overtly in the novel of Jane Austen . The beauty of her novels, her writing was, I guess, the way she portrayed and understood basic human emotions. Emotions and needs like the need to be recognised, the need to be respected, the need to understand and be understood in return, and in addition to the all encompassing need to be loved. What Austen succeeded in doing was capturing human emotions that have remain unchanged in the ever changing social fabric. they remain unchanged through continents, generations, time and race. That is where people identify with her, they love her and they adore her. that is why she remains timeless.

Whether it is famous Mr. Darcy’s pride or Mr. Elton’s stupidity and vanity or for that matter Anne Elliott’s stoic acceptance of life as it passed her by, they all carry an easy familiarity, that we, as humans, generally relate to. We have all met people who have similar characteristics. She through her portrayal of such sentiments and her idealism gives hope that humanity still lives and will be there forever.

I salute you austen. You shall always be my ultimate heroine.

Writing again

Day after day, I sit infront of my computer, thinking of writing something. But what I worry about the most is, writing something sensible.

Well, I guess its safe to say, if you wait to say something sensible or wait to say anything at all, words will fail you. When writing or trying to express yourself, its bet to be guided by instinct, as I have been for most of my life. The moment I stopped being instinctive and intuitive, words stopped being my friend.

I am feeling free after a long time, I am able to write, to formulate ideas. It’s amazing to see what boycotting TV only for a couple of days can do to your intellect and imagination. I am swearing off the idiot box forever… or lets say I will try to swear off it forever ;).

The freedom of expression has often been hailed as the cornerstone of civil liberties and to think that it is robbed by a mere television might be over thinking on my part.But that is not what I mean. Television, in itself is one of the most celebrated and greatest discoveries of our time. it has made the world seem smaller, it has made a lot of things within reach, it has facilitated dreams and it has allowed people to  see things that they never would have imagined to see. where I have a problem from this amazing thing is that it has also turned the major population into couch potatoes.We watch television not to entertain ourselves but to merely pass time. We watch it because we have nothing better to do.Some people may argue that this is a very old problem and the newer one plaguing our society at large is that television has now been replaced by smart phones. I agree. I think as our gadgets are becoming smarter our minds are becoming stupid. I remember those idyllic days when I could recall the numbers of all my friends and family without ever having to look at my phone. I could answer simplest of questions without ever having to google it. I miss those simple times. With so much of knowledge that has been made available to us we actually seem more reluctant to absorb it or understand it, let alone to avail the opportunity handed over to us on a platter.

I realised that I was losing my power to think, to formulate and most of all my power to express my thoughts, a quality for which I took pride in myself. I wanted to regain it. I also realised that most of my time was wasted in watching mindless television. something for which earlier I never had the time. now that the time was readily available I did not use it. and suddenly it dawned on me that I always wanted to do so many things with my life and I had never been able to make time for it. Now i did have the time but I wasted it staring at my stupid phone and television.

I am not saying we should not utilise the technology and watch those awesome shows, all i m saying is that we should not lose our creativity in the process

it may seem that i am rambling on and on bout nothing in general but that is what i have wanted to do for the longest time… ramble on. So here I am, ready to make a fool of myself and write what I please and how I please.