Thursday, 20 June 2013

Rantings of a Bookworm

I have read quite a few books in my life. If you’ve read my review of Law of Averages on this blog you will know, that I love reading. I've spent many a-nights hurdled under a flashlight in my quilt with a book, even as mum screamed at me to leave the god-forsaken book (every book I ever read) and go to sleep, and if this isn’t bad enough, I’m one of those OCD people who can’t leave a book half way through. I mean don’t get me wrong I can leave conversations half way, work, and even food in dire circumstances, but ask me to leave a book half way through, and I’ll look at you as if you’ve just asked me to kill my own first born.

Having said that, this not-leaving-a-book-half-way-through obsession is quite a pain in the ass at times. This was one such time. Before I narrate this trying tale, let me just say that I understand and respect the effort and time it takes to write a book and so as far as possible I don’t trash any book. However there is that odd book now and then that forces me to say it: I hated this book, it would have been better if this person had not written it at all! Having said that, I will still refrain, for the purposes of this post to name the book in question. Let’s just call it The Book (I know creative right?) and call the forebearer of torture in this case Mr. Author.

The Delhi International Book Fair is a magical place. Every year I go back there ready to spend an afternoon sorting through books. The smell of freshly bound pages, the sight of posters hanging everywhere, the odd book reading here and there, and the artistically displayed bookstands, did I mention it is a magical place? This year was no different. With my elder sister in tow, I walked into the India International book Fair on its last day. The fact that I was at the time in between jobs and broke, should testify to my devotion.

After walking around for about half an hour my sister informed me that we had only 2 hours to spend at the fair. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. How can you expect someone to short through 5 halls full of publishers and authors in two hours? So I decided to prioritize. I decided to visit Hachette, Penguin, Harper Collins, Rupa and the international stalls.

The reason I am going into so much detail, apart from the fact that I can because this is my blog, is to set a backdrop so that I can justify my buying this god forsaken book. Fast-forward two hours. I was almost at the end of my allotted time, and I had just entered the Rupa stall. Realizing that any second my sister was going to start nagging about leaving I started frantically leafing through random books. See Rupa is a great Indian Publisher whose main appeal is the rather economical price of their books. For a cash strapped me, it was definitely an important go to on the day. So on whim I picked up The Book.

The Book is about a medical college and the first year students there. Not only is the book over the top, unbelievable and written in stilted sad English, if it reflects anything about the actual state of affairs at a hospital or a teaching medical college I would sue the place before you could say Hello. At one point it talks of a musty old delivery room with a woman in labour lying alone on the OT table with no one around. On enquiring the first year medical student realizes that ALL the doctors are out to tea and a nurse had wheeled the patient into the labour room before rushing off to fetch a doctor. The first year medical student in question freezes in shock and on hearing groans of pain from the lady in labour jumps into action scrubbing in. While he is washing his hands for the required 3 minutes (thank god for small mercies) the lady starts pushing and at that point he lunges forward using a lifetimes worth of cricket training to catch the child before he falls to the floor.

In what realm is this funny? I was so flabbergasted and outraged to read this, I doubt I will ever have kids of my own or go to a hospital if I ever do! Thanks to The Book I’m definitely going the mid-wife way. The fact that The Book is written by a doctor makes me even more nervous. Every time I think of the incidents in the book a shiver runs down my spine. I remember a sequence when during a government sponsored vasectomy camp a 5th year resident tries his hand at the simple procedure and in the absence of a supervising attending “cuts everything in sight” and then sews up the prostate of not one but two patients. This of course leads to the two men returning later that night with extremely swollen testis filled with blood and complaining of a lot of pain.

Over and over the book resembled a medieval torture device that should be used to punish public offenders. I have –never in my entire life- read something so vile. The real mystery is why Rupa decided to publish it. Although I am not going to reveal the name of the book, because I am sadistic that ways, I will right now laugh at you for if and when you ever do read the book. hahahahahaha.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Queer-y

Oxford English dictionary describes a Homosexual as: a person who is sexually attracted to people of their own sex. Notice how the definition does not mention anything about it being an abomination or a cardinal sin? That should be our first clue that it isn't. But of course for the most of us, its in the subtext.

I am not an out-and-out supporter or condemner of homosexuality. I believe that its in freedom of choice. Everybody without exception has the right to be happy. It is not up to us to decide who or what makes them happy. So by that logic I guess I am a supporter of homosexuality.

When the majority of us are heterosexual we don't stop and think what it must be for someone to feel like they are different and that its a bad difference, because it makes them an outcast. We hear enough about homophobia and bullying to know that there is a problem. Many straight people still view homosexuality as a state of mind or disability.

Without thinking about it, we violate a person's most fundamental right. The right to be yourself. And the problem is we never really think about what it means to be different from what is socially acceptable. For many of us we are the definition of stereotypical girls or boys, and we never think, for one second what being different would be like. Are ideas of difference, our little rebellions in life are limited to sporting a tattoo or going goth or heaven forbid wearing  uncoordinated colours.

Yesterday I saw a short film on YouTube. The movie explored a world where being gay was the norm and being straight made you an outcast. The end of the movie was predictable, and the storyline cliched. Girl has existential crisis over being different, girl is picked on at school, girl is hit and ridiculed, girl kills herself from the pressure. However, despite all this I could not understand why the movie had impacted me so.

After a lot of soul searching I realized what it was. The film connects on a baser level to every heterosexual person. It makes you, for the first time, feel like you are on the periphery looking in to a world that terms YOU different.

Sitting alone and watching the movie makes you feel like the only heterosexual out there and the gross unfairness of what is being done to the poor girl for just being different. And suddenly it hits you. Is this how a homosexual person feels all the time? Its one of those aha moments that makes you realize how sickening it is to be discriminated against for being different. For being you.

The Cliched storyline and distressful end are ingenious. They put you in the other persons shoes. The point is not wether being homosexual is right or wrong, the point is being punished for being different hurts. For being something you cannot change, impulses that are so inherently you, is wrong.

So here I am writing this post. I am not preaching about the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality. I am talking about the wrongness of discluding someone for being different. The fact is, it really does not matter if someone is straight or gay, if you are comfortable with them being straight or gay, it matters that by virtue of them being humans you need to respect and accept them. Look at the movie and put yourself in the girl's shoes, it hurts everybody to be teased, bullied and HATED, regardless of whether you are straight or gay. The next time you feel like this towards anybody, think about Ashley....

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Random Chatter

I read on Twitter today "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." - Jim Rohn. 

The tweet got me thinking, well the tweet and a blogging competition, got me thinking. The competition is by WeChat, and the fact that they are giving out a MacBook Air to the winner, should in itself, explain my reasons for writing this blog. I actually started weeping when I thought of the video editing I could do on this piece of hot machinery, but also I genuinely liked the topic. The more I thought about it the more interesting it seemed to write a post about it. If you happen to be Blogger do check out the contest. The contest asks us which 5 persons, dead or alive, we would like to have in a WeChat group, you know if we had a WeChat group.

As soon as I read the topic, my mind took a downward spiral. According to Jim Rohn, the 5 person I pick will say substantially a lot about me. So the first think I did was think of the smartest people I could think of.

The first person on my list, Albert Einstein
Reasoning: He's German. As far as I'm concerned that should explain a lot. Also picking him makes me seem smart.
Rebuttal: The more I thought about it, the more I realized (I hate science! Ya I know great epiphany after having almost failed my 12 boards from science), but the realization that I would have more in common with the Einstein bobble heads from night at the museum 2 than the actual guy put a damper on this.


Next person on my list, Yoda
Reasoning: He was on the contest poster and that shit really messes with your mind. He was also among the 25 greatest movie characters of all time, according to Empire Magazine (I guess the empire really does strike back)
Rebuttal: I find the whole talking backwards really irritating and besides his beady eyes really freak me out!

At one point I even thought of calling Steve Jobbs, so that even if I didn't win (which I probably wont) at least I'd still get a macbook out of it! :P

But after much soul searching (read 10 minutes before the contest ended) I came up with the following list:

1. Socrates: I recently finished a course on Coursera.org called Introduction to Philosophy and of the philosophers we discussed Socrates is by far my favourite. I love how he turns everything into a question. For him the best way of gathering knowledge is by asking questions. Socrates says, The unexamined life is not worth living. Also, his abashed manner is pretty cool! So the sheer fact of how much he can annoy everyone else by asking questions means I had to have him in the group!

2. Dumbledore: Well he was also on the contest poster (I'm telling you this stuff really messes with your mind). Also since I am a die hard Happy Potter fan, the choice should seem obvious. As far as I'm concerned R.K. Rowling is a genius and anybody who thinks otherwise..... may think so, there is nothing I can do about it. The next choice should clear matters up more.

3. Freud: Not only is Freud the single most crazy person in history (we have that in common) he was my introduction to the magical world of psychology. But sentimental value aside, I absolutely had to have Freud in the group so that he could psychoanalyze Dumbledore and finally lay the whole, he's-gay-he's-not-gay saga to rest. Like I said in the previous para, yes I am obsessed. I've even read Quidditch Through The Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard thank you very much. So questions like is Dumbledore gay? are vital to my existence.


4. Calvin: The precocious six-year -old from  Bill Watterson's daily comic script sort of got to me. Growing up I was NEVER a comic person. Anybody who knows me will attest to the fact that I am more a book person, but lately I have been introduced to the joys of comics, and well of all the ones I have read, Calvin and Hobbs is my favourite. Calvin is thought to be named after John Calvin, a 16th-century French Philosopher, and well he is the smartest six-year-old around. Plus we have similar ideologies in life. My favourite quote in life comes form Calvin and Hobbs.

Calvin: Inspiration is not a faucet you can turn on at will. It requires a mood.
Hobbs: what mood is that?
Calvin: Last minute Panic! and well I guess the fact that I procrastinated for 15 days and finally put this together at the last minute should prove my point!


5. Sheldon Cooper: BAZZINGA! I absolutely love the socially challenged eccentric physicist from the American TV serial The Big Bang Theory. The Texan mysophobe is one of my favourite TV characters of all time and even though, I should hate him on principle considering that he is a physicist, I cant help but adore him. He might be a few french fries short of a happy meal, but there is simply no one like him. Plus when he turns evil and is the most evil supervillian around it would help to be on his good side!

 And that rounds up my list of 5 people I would Love to have in a WeChat Group. What about you?


Check out their Youtube Channel. http://www.youtube.com/user/WeChatIndia?feature=chclk