Sunday, June 2, 2013

Prisoners of Uncle Sam



Alia:

Its an usual Monday morning and as I rush for my office, I get a glimpse of her. She stands there on the 9th floor window everyday behind the faded beige curtains and waves to her husband. Her husband works in a financial major in New York city. He is a corporate professional who spends 8 hrs. of his day in a swanky office amidst the bigwigs and techies, amidst appreciations, appraisals and promotions intercepted with perks like mini skirts and stilettos.

Alia's day starts after he leaves. She starts her day with the usual India calls. The discussions are aimless ---about the weather, a handful of random recipes intercepted by current affairs and gossips. The calls get over as the time zone in India slowly reaches midnight. Then the usual stuff starts at the kitchen... cooking lunch and dinner amidst aimless posts on Facebook and then finally waiting for the evening when her tired workaholic husband comes back home. Weekends are spent in long drives, grocery shopping, cleaning the house or visiting similar species who are at onsite with H4 wives and finally its back to weekdays again.

Alia Khan, was a Microbiologist topper from Pondicherry who wanted to complete her MS in Immunology. She married when she was 25. It was a love marriage. Alia's husband, a rising techie works for an US financial major. Alia left her parents, her career, her passion and her own space years back just driven by the desire to stay with her husband.

Alia Khan currently holds an H-4 visa, issued to the spouses of H-1B professionals in America. The United States government does not allow H-4 visa holders to work or or pay taxes or issues any Social Security Number for them. Their identity in this part of the world is reduced to and defined by a mere 'dependent' visa tag. Once a budding microbiologist, Alia's achievements are merely reduced to washing clothes, grocery shopping at Patels and Apna Bazaar and cooking Bhindi Masala inspired by YouTube Sanjeev Kapoor shows and of course being the wife of a coveted H-1B. She can buy Louis Vuitton, can drive her husband's BMW and can wear Victoria's Secret and boast about the beach vacations in Florida on Facebook.

There are hundreds of Alia Khans all across United States. The stringent visa procedure was perhaps done to stop the influx of H-1B professionals from the third world by some 'intelligent' US bureaucrat but our part of the world boasts of Alia Khans who can give everything up for the sake of love, marriage and togetherness. And Alia Khans do not repent; they dream of a life where someday their sons will be born as US citizens in a land where Alia Khans are termed as 'aliens' or 'dependents'.
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Ashima:

I just saw that shy 7 year old call 'Maaaa' and she responded-- 'Ki holo'. She comes to the park quite often with the little kid. Her slow walk and unsure steps are a result of her old age, unfamiliarity and reduced vision which she tries to hide desperately like her grey hair. Her English sounds forcefully learnt for her accented US citizen grandson. The autumn wind plays with her printed chiffon saris which is merely an amusement for the Californians. Ashima Banerjee, 75 year old lives with her son and daughter in law in Los Angeles, California.

Her son Hrishikesh and daughter in law Sheetal are proud green card holders of United States of America.  Hrishikesh is a lawyer and Sheetal a techie in an IT firm. Hectic work hours and busy schedule hardly leaves them with anytime for their family or their son Ved. So Ashima has been brought all the way from her 1 bhk south Calcutta residence to Orange County to bring up this kid and manage the Banerjee family.

Ashima takes great pride in her role and boasts about it to all her relatives and friends when she goes back to India after every 8 months. The relatives get token supplies of Bath and Body Works, Hollister and Tommy Hilfiger and praise about Ashima's responsible son. Their discussions range from how organized, how beautiful America is and how wise her son has been in grabbing the right opportunity right on time.

Ashima's husband, Animesh died a few years back. She stays alone when she goes to Calcutta for 4 months. She loves it here in US-- the  mall hopping, cars, the long drives, grocery and of all things Ved calling her 'maa' gives her an immense power and satisfaction.  She considers her role in their family of utmost importance. She still converts the dollar and the Indian rupees and finds a strange satisfaction in it. Hrishikesh and Sheetal will be applying for her citizenship as well. So that she can permanently stay here for the rest of her life.

When I look at her I'm always curious how Ashima Banerjees adjust here, away from home, giving up their own space and raising their grandchildren -----why is it that something tells me that all is not well with the Ashimas.

Why do Hrishikesh and Sheetals impose their responsibilities on someone who should have been taken care of at this age? Its difficult for the Ashimas but I guess here lies the magic of Uncle Sam and his dollars. He has always managed to be the winner whenever it comes to human emotions. He buys all our hearts based on its rising economy, land of opportunities, highrises, beautiful locales  and brands which is often termed as the 'Quality of Life'--- The quality of life which is well defined by money in this part of the world.
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Ahana:

The other day at Shoprite, a grocery store in Minnesota, I saw Ahana. A fidgety 30 year old was busy doing her grocery with her husband Nikhil. From a distance, she seemed a confident working woman dressed in her Armanis. Her branded sandals and her Gucci bag was well coordinated with her lipstick.

Ahana was a Bengali Honors student from Jadavpur University who currently works in a pharmaceutical company in California. Ahana once wanted to be a writer.

This was a usual work week and people were rushing into the isles with overflowing carts. Ahana picked up a couple of soda cans and looked at Nikhil and suddenly she lost her grip. The cans slipped from her hands. "You asshole bitch you fucked it up again...You can't manage a thing properly"--- her husband almost screamed at her.

I  was so scared I could not look back at her. I could hear every word that man told his wife and I could feel what Ahana was going through as she could not reply back to her husband. She swiftly picked up the cans and arranged them neatly on the rack as if it was her duty. Her eyes over brimmed with tears of humiliation which desperately wanted to run away. But where would she go? She left her space way back in life.


Ahana Mukherjee, 35, lives in Minnesota. Her husband rising high up on his Wall Street career often forgets to value Ahana's emotional need to be respected amidst his hectic and stressful schedules. Well, being short tempered is not something that needs to be changed. Nikhil believes it is justified to abuse her as he has the right , the right that comes out of marriage and love and Ahana-- she is bloody immature. He is caring and takes care of Ahana a lot. But Nikhil has no control over his temper when it comes to his wife. Ahana is not financially dependent on Nikhil like Alia or Ashima but she is legally married to him and so as our society says she is bound to submit to its rules. 

Ahana had a love marriage and she was desperate to be with this man for the rest of her life. Nothing could ever come between them. So every time Nikhil is abusive and Ahana shattered, she consoles herself by thinking everything can't be perfect in a marriage. She must have some fault in her, for him to behave like this.

Ahana wishes she was perfect, the way Nikhil wanted him to be. She wishes she was as beautiful like the women he ogles at on the streets, in his office or  the ones he compares with her. Ahana tries and she never gives up.

But then there are days when Ahana wants to escape far away. Away from this ordeal of achieving perfection, from comparisons, from Nikhil's idea of beauty, maturity and confidence. But she fails miserably.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"India will awake to Life and Freedom"


14th August, 2012, Tuesday:

An early morning conversation between A and B:

A: Your friend called from India. They have a holiday there tomorrow.

B: (Busy packing lunch, doing the last touch ups) --- Holiday in India?

A: It's 15th August! Come on!
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14th August 2012 Tuesday @ Work:

X: Hi, did you watch the Olympics?

Y: Yeah I did. So how many medals did your country win ?(with a smirk)

X: (Clueless)...I don't get it you are from Maharashtra right?

Y: Ah Plzzz. Gimme a break... I'm here for the last 10 years and I have applied for US citizenship. I don't belong to that country of 1 billion bastards.

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It's 15th August tomorrow. India's 65th year of independence. Six decades have passed and new India boasts of nuclear power, IT bigwigs,glitzy malls, branded cars and carefully hides its grim third world reality...

65 years back:

14th August, 1947: A small town in Dhanbad, Bihar. Somewhere the radio blared Jawaharlal Nehru's Tryst with Destiny speech:

"At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom."

A little kid rushes to his mother and badly wants her to buy the Indian flag for him. She consoles the kid and promises him that they will make one of the best tricolor, better than the ones his friends bought.

She takes out one of her starched white saree and prepares the vegetable dye for the tricolor.

On a August midnight, as India was about to celebrate her freedom, at the backdrop of a dim lantern light in a small town in Bihar, the mother and the son deftly etched each stroke of Ashok Chakra on a cotton starched saree.

15th August 1947: The boy proudly lifted up the tricolor on a wooden fence. The tricolor was hoisted up in the air. The saffron was not the perfect shade of saffron neither the green was India green. But the little boy felt a strange sense of excitement and pride as he hoisted the flag.

She stood right there. Her eyes glistened as she looked at her son.

For years she had dreamt of this independant India.

"And to India, our much-loved motherland, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our reverent homage and we bind ourselves afresh to her service.

JAI HIND!"

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On this date, I salute to all the heartfelt wishes and emotions that makes us all proud as Indians.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Prisoner of Life- Aruna Shanbaug

Tucked away from the fast life of Mumbai, away from all the deadlines, away from time lives Aruna.

The smell of ether, moving wheelchairs, uniformed staff and patients are a regular sight at this part of the world. Beyond the huge French windows, stretched out Mumbai city- the city of dreams; the fast city life of a concrete metropolis whizzed past as the tall skyscrapers outlined the crimson horizon. Three decades--where each day brought about a new change; the city changed, its name changed, the people changed and their faces. 37 years or was it more. Aruna does not remember.


It was way back in 1970s, Aruna, a young and vibrant girl from a small village in Karnataka in her mid 20s had joined King Edward Memorial Hospital in Bombay as a junior nurse. One of the most rewarding professions, Aruna treated her patients with all the responsibility and care and brought back a smile in their lives.





It was a spring in 1970s. Aruna met the new handsome junior doctor in the hospital. It started with professional conversations and soon turned out to be something more than that. They were in love. Aruna wanted to settle down with him in life.

It was a pleasant autmn month in 1973. Her marriage was fixed with her fiance in November and both the families geared up with the preparations. Aruna colored her dreams red.


Sohanlal was a ward boy in the same hospital. Aruna was often irked by his negligence and one day she complained to the senior authorities against him. Sohanlal was badly reprimanded by the seniors and he felt humiliated. Sohanlal did not turn up for days.

It was an evening on 27th November, 1973. Aruna was supposed to meet her fiance at the bus terminus. She told him she would wear her favorite red saree for the evening. Aruna's dreams were crimson.

Aruna was a little late that evening. She hurried down the stairs and reached the empty basement washroom to change her clothes. But suddenly the lights went off. Was it a power cut? As Aruna took out the saree, she could hear some footsteps.

It was none other than Sohanlal. He was drunk. She screamed out desperately for help. Angry Sohanlal wanted to stop that voice forever. He strangulated her with a heavy chain. Aruna could only quiver like a half dead prey and was soon lost in some darkness.

Drunk Sohanlal repeatedly assaulted her. Aruna lay there on the floor. Bleeding and unconscious. Alone. It was darkness all around. The thick strain of blood stained the hospital floor.

Her fiance was left waiting at the bus terminus. It was raining heavily. The last bus left but Aruna did not turn up. Aruna could never turn up.

Clinical Report: "Lack of oxygen supply to the brain due to asphyxiation resulting in brain stem contusion injury and cervical cord injury apart from leaving her cortically blind"


FIR report: Case 1013: "Case of robbery and attempted murder"


Aruna's family did not accuse Sohanlal of rape charges. They wanted to avoid the social stigma and save her impending marriage. Sohanlal was convicted. But then he had to serve two concurrent seven-year sentences for assault and robbery. Sohanlal was free after 14 years. It was Aruna, who became the prisoner of life. Forever.


Its been three decades. Bombay changed to Mumbai. India celebrated its 50 years of independence. But life has come to a standstill for Aruna Shaunbag. Frail and wrinkled Aruna is in a vegetative stage for the last 37 years.

Its raining heavily in Bombay today. The moist winds kissed the glass windows in Aruna's room. Aruna's life has come to a standstill. Its the same hospital where she once walked through the corridors in her uniformed dress.Its the same hospital where she had once weaved her dreams and aspirations. Its the same hospital where she had fallen in love; where she received awards for her exemplary performance. Its the same Kings Edward Memorial hospital. Only the years have passed by and Aruna is a patient. A patient who will never be released.


Aruna still dreams. She dreams of red; of her wedding trousseau; she dreams of green; the green fields in her village in Haldipur; she often dreams of black;

Is it too late; is he still waiting at the bus stop for her? Is anyone out there waiting for Aruna. Cold and lonely, Aruna blankly stares at the walls for her answers. She can't speak, neither can she hear nor feel.

Aruna wets her bed and waits for the next nurse to clean her up. Its an endless wait as the country, its legal orders and Aruna's nurses want her to live.

Aruna Shanbaug lives. And we all hope her journey reaches a destination.




["Aruna Shanbaug (or Shanbhag) is a nurse from Haldipur, Uttar Kannada, Karnataka in India. In 1973, while working at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, she was sexually assaulted and has been in a vegetative state since the assault. On 24th January 2011, after she had been in this status for 37 years, the Supreme Court of India responded to the plea for euthanasia filed by Aruna's friend journalist Pinki Virani, by setting up a medical panel to examine her. The court turned down the mercy killing petition on 7 March, 2011. However in its landmark judgment, it allowed passive euthanasia in India.[1]"-(From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aruna_Shanbaug_case)



(*the post is just a fictitious perspective of Aruna Shaunbag case.)]

Thursday, April 14, 2011

To Love,

Dear Love, When was the last time you knocked my door, showered me with wet kisses and made me realize your presence. When was the last time you welled up tears in my eyes and made me realize you are still there beside me . When was it during an unexpected moment, you held my hand and whispered:"I'm there". I dont remember as it has been ages I was in love all over again; head over heels giggling with my girlfriends sharing little details with a precious glow in my mind. May be I lost you midway. I know you were never bound by completion, goals or aspiration. You only belonged to fools or romantics. I'm a fool. I still need you. I need you to reassure me that yes you will be there...forever. I want you to hold me when I feel lost. When the practicals and ambitious surround me, love I desperately want to be content in your arms. As the twilight sneaks in amidst the bright rays of sunshine, you will also sneak into our lives and never leave. I want on to hold on to this twilight, love. But I know its not there. You have deserted me long back. In my pursuit of practical wisdom I lost you. Love, I'm neither a romantic, nor practical, but I want you back. Do you still belong to me or have you really deserted my life just as the faded autmn leaves gives way to winter----endless and long lasting... Yours truly- .....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Monologue

"Tomay chute chaoar muhurtera ke jaaney ki abeshey dishahara.." What is your status update all about... Cant u read Bengali? Yes i can...Whatever! "Listen Sarmistha, you have to be practical, you cant take your emotions in the market and buy stuff! You need money" "Sarmistha, stop acting like a baby. Everytime you can't just come here and say I havent done this or that" "Sarmistha, for everything there is a process. You just cant take somebody's word and believe it, you have to have written proof" "Sarmistha, grow up!" "Sarmistha please act according to your age. Look at other people of your ageand behave accordingly!" "God Sarmistha when will you become practical" "Life is not smooth Sarmistha, face it!" Are you tired Sarmistha. Are you lonely Sarmistha. Do you want to change Sarmistha. Do you really want to grow up? Do you want to become practical? Answer me back Sarmistha. I need you to answer all of them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

E se Erotica

1960s: The lover amazed by the leading lady's beautiful feet, tucks a note saying: Yeh Haaseen pair zameen pe mat rakhiye mailey ho jayenge

1970s: Tulips, Rekha, Amitabh, Holland

1980s: Silk Smitha seducing the shy Kamal Hasan showing her sultry skin

1990s: Urmila Matondkar in a skimpy white dress running along the beach followed by rugged Jackie Shroff at the backdrop

Come to 2011, Shielas and Munnis gyrating effortlessly exposing her hour glass shape with her titillating jawani that sure turns the nation crazy.

Erotica in 2011 circa is no more about wet chiffon sarees, beautiful feet or sultry silk Smita. Thanks to our exposure to television, Internet and specially our current crop of leading ladies, theres no more mystery left in what lies choli ke peechey and saree ke neechey! 2011 erotica is not about a village belle Vidya Balan sucking Arshad Warsi's thumb its more on the face erotica where clevage Sawants and Emran kiss-me-s have taken over.


Be it films, tv shows, group discussions, texts, scraps, titillation is the "IN" word. TRPs are no more about some baritone Bachhan fulfilling the middle class dreams but its about the bold and the beautiful and their bedroom fanatics. From Bigg Boss to Splitsvilla to Calendar Girl, oomph sleaze and porn are slowly being catered to the so called Indian society where things like honor killing, child marriage, female foeticide are still predominant. So what the fuck man...progession is not about banning female foeticide but its about enjoying bare-it-all femme fatales on the move oh and with some emotions please.


For us, the youth (I can still have this much of liberty being the blog owner!) using abuses is just a part of the language. Fuck off is the new mantra which we almost chant a million times in a day. And the next time you are hanging out with friends and you dont know what to talk about, you must have a good collection of 'Non Veg' jokes. So before you become the vegetable in the group start practicing the new mantra!

But media is our social guardian always remember that. Our television channels ensure everytime the F word comes we should hear it with a beep. Well we are in an Indian society, where middle fingers can come at any pretext but on television it will always be with a BEEEP! Family audience hai bhai!

Finally India is the land of Kamasutra. And we Indians love our tradition. So the next time dont have to buy those x rated videos from your local porn dealer, Indian television is out there with its prime time reality shows; all you will get is some half naked women cosying up with multiple partners, or abusing 'beep'y shit to their fellow contestants. And the outcome of these shows--- for the next few fortnights media will cover the same story, focussing on the sleazy footage with big red circles! And the final consequence: if the contestant happens to have any Islamic connection whatsoever, immediate fatwas are declared with the Talibans up in arms against the poor fellow and in case the poor soul happens to be a Hindu...well dude Shiv Sainiks are not far behind!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Amaar Office Para


Na..dalhousie-r jam noy, sector 5 er shuttle noy ba chowringhee metro noy...amar offc para shohor theke besh khanikta doorey...oi je doorer rasta jekhane poth beke geche naam na jaana gramer pash die...jekhane sondheybelar hatey abdul majhi tar aloo potol er poshra nie boshey...jekhane dhankheter paash die boye geche ochena pukur...amar offc para akhon seikhane...

Roj shokale amar offc bus ey chepe jokhon golay bideshi multinational company r tag jhulie, chora rodey kalo choshma lagie jai...tokhon pother dudhare shohorer byastota janjot kichui nei...ache sudhu sudhu mile er por mile shobuj dhankhet...kolmi shaaaker bagan.. ar bohu doorey amar shohorer akashchoa bari...

Amder bus ey shobai amra ottyodhik shohurey...Gramer rastay dhuktei amra mukhey roomal chapa di...Gramer rasta, roddur, gramyo gondho...konokichutei amra obhostyo noi..Amader bus jokhon egie chole, ashe pasher rastar manushra koutoholi chokh nie takie thakey...jeno kono ak onnyo groho theke amra ashchi..amadero hab bhab o aki rokom..oder dike takie...kichu upekha, ghrina or doya makhano shobder byabohar amra saradini kori...

Shunechi oder chash er jomi tey naki gorey utheche amader shilponogori...oder naki ta pochondo noy...shohure babu ra bole "keno...opochonder ki ache...onek chakri peyeche amader doyay..." "employment er sujog korechi amra"..."aha ora ashole difference ta bujhte parche amader sathe oder--etai oder basic problem"

Shottyi hoyto difference gulo thekei jay oder ar amader jibone.. ey shobuj galche pata gram ey, kurey ghorer majhe, fata tirpol er gheratope ey--amar offc ta shottyi akta boro "difference"...parthokyo ta hoyto kichu bochor bade ar thakbena.. karon pichdhala ey rastar akey bakey gorey uthbe aro koto koto SEZ aro koto employment er sujog...sudhu akta difference thakbe...kolmi shaker bagan thakbena, thakbena kantatolar pukur parey kolshir bhir, thakbena sondheybelar gondho...jhijhi pokar daak. Shohorer hawa boibe tokhon.

Shuru hobe dalhousie er jam, sector 5 er shuttle ar office parar bhir...tobey totodine hoyto amader onek kichui aro doorey shorey jabe...
"amader choto nodi choley akey bakey
baisakh maashey taar hatujol thakey..
---
chikchik korey bali kotha nai kada
akdharey kashbon fooley fooley sada
kichimichi kore setha shalik er jhaank
ratey othey theke theke sheyal er haak"