Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Who needs an election manifesto?

If you've been following the news in India's financial capital Mumbai, the big story is that of the principal Opposition Political Party(I almost shudder to call it that), the Shiv Sena, is busy opposing the release of a movie starring Shah Rukh Khan who is India's biggest film star.
So what is so objectionable about a movie to raise the ire of the good people at Shiv Sena?
Nothing at all, frankly I would'nt be suprsied to see Shiv Sainiks lining up to watch the movie when the dust settles.
The provocation, if it can be called that , is a rather silly if painful narrative.
Sporting ties between India and Pakistan had been snapped by the barbaric incidents of 26/11.
In India where cricket and politics intersect more than one would like, we have the IPL (Indian Premier League) which is essentially the NFL with no salary caps.
Now recently the IPL held an 'auction' to select players. The Pakistani's who are world champs at this format of cricket, were up for auction, but did not attract a single bid.
There was much heartburn about this on both sides of the border.
Shah Rukh Khan, who is a owner of one of the teams, did'nt put in a bid himself, but did express sentiments along the lines of the Pakistani players would be welcomed and so on.
All perfectly legit. This has raised the hackles of the Shiv Sena, who have gone to the extent of calling Shah Rukh a desh drohi(traitor) not to mention engaging in violence to stall the release of his movie.
So far Shah Rukh has stood his ground and refused to 'apologise'.
Now that the background is done I cna move onto my take on this.
The Shive Sena has been in the opposition for the last 3 election cycles.
Its not like they have been kept out by great governance(The ruling congress has been disastorous ).
"How shit do you have to be for me to beat you?" , seems to be the Congress theme to the Sena.
Is it a political party's job to enforce what people say in a free society?
It sounds an awful lot like Hitler's SA.
Are people supposed to vote for you, because you tear down movie posters?
How does that help anyone? Call the electorate what you want, but in the end they seem to have made the best of 2 bad options.
The second aspect of all this that I hate is the standards Sena is applying to Shah Rukh.
Why does he have to prove his loyalty to the Nation by denouncing Pakistanis?
Does Bal Thakeray have to prove his loyalty to the nation?
The partition happened. India has a 120million+ muslims(those numbers might be off).
I am sure there are a few bad apples, but do all of them have to keep jumpoing through your hoops to prove how Indian they are?
Its not just unfair , its plain stupid.
Alienating such a big chunk of the Indian population will probably do a lot more harm to India, than Shah Rukh Khan saying something nice about Pakistani's.
Disclosure: I don't really like Shah Rukh Khan, and I have never watched a complete movie featuring him.

Friday, February 05, 2010

In Pursuit of Happiness

Yes I shamelessly borrowed from Hollywood, but the title was way too apt and I couldn't help myself.
Recently I was told that I was a happy person by someone who had known me not too long. I was taken aback, mostly because I have always viewed myself as someone who is just as happy or just as sad as the next guy. I always viewed myself as a critic, someone who could poke holes in anything. Sure I am happy go lucky , but I was also a brooding contemplative type at times.
I wanted to say at that point "Walk a Mile in my shoes" . Wisely I chose not to.
Cut to today. This week and the past one have been difficult for me . Just as things looked like they couldn't get any worse, they just did.
So when the guy sitting next to me on the subway asked me "Why are you smiling, you look happy." , I was taken aback. Though I had no fathomable reason to be happy with life, I apparently was happy enough that a stranger could see it.
He went on to ask if I was happy with my life. I almost instantly replied yes.
I guess what I was thinking for better or worse was , "Is this life worth living?"
And the awnser was a 1000times YES!
So how could I possibly be not happy with my life.
After a little contemplation I replied that I was not where I wanted to be in life, there are a lot of people a lot better of than me, and a lot more people far worse off. And for that reason alone I concluded I was happy.
I got off soon after after shaking the strangers hand.
I never did figure out why he asked me what he did. But I am glad he did. It made me realise something entirely precious, I was happy even though I thought I was unhappy.
I guess a very cynical way to look at it could be no matter what your condition is be thankful, cos it could be a lot worse.
Sure this wisdom is not new and you hear it a 100 times over(not necessarily from a stranger on the subway) , but realisation is something that can come about internally.
In conclusion I am Happy, Happy for the lives I have managed to touch in some minuscule way(I am hoping I have made more than one person laugh or smile),
Happy to see happiness around me, Happy I have massive biceps(I am always happy to flex em), Happy for the opportunities in life that have come my way, Happy in the Hope that there are more coming, Happy for the music I love so much, Happy for all the love I have received(and given) , Happy that Jon Stewart's single handedly keeping Fox News's at bay. I can go on and on But you get the point!