NIP is a weekly podcast hosted by Shuveb Hussain and me. We pick vague topics and then, talk about (no prizes for guessing) nothing in particular. But I am sure that there is something in there for you. And you. And especially you there – looking as though someone just ran over your puppy. I hope that we can be a part of your car rides, water-cooler conversations, lunchtime discourses and late-evening introspections.
The daily challenges faced by many people in my country do not bother me as much as they used to. Because I let go of the guilt of having had a more privileged upbringing. And I am not skilled enough to fight the system by tweeting about how unfair everything is.
What really bothers me is when the unwritten rules of social conduct are broken. For instance, some of us try to get inside the elevator even when its doors are closing. We do not consider it impolite to ask people to delay their routines because of our selfishness.
Why must anyone set aside their priorities to deal with ours? We are not chasing after Mad Max in a lawless dessert. Unless there is an emergency, we must follow certain rules of social conduct. We simply cannot be inconsiderate of the lives of strangers. Whether or not they can fly is a different matter altogether.
Is it okay to say that female birds are not as attractive as their male counterparts? Or does it make me a sexist? I can’t be sure. Because people pounce on others for saying things that they deem, personally, to be offensive. Context does not seem to matter. As long as they are upset, they will fight you tooth and nail over it.
But I like keyboard warriors, irrespective of their gender or the social cause they support. Generally, their English is good. For some reason, they smell nicer than the average person. And they watch interesting films. Some are passionate about fighting marginalization. Others try and assuage middle-class guilt through their actions.
I am unaware how much good they are doing for the oppressed communities. But it is sweet that they want to do anything at all.
Writing about social issues used to give me fake powers. Arms stretched out, I jogged across a building terrace – pinching the loose ends of my superhero cape. I was on a mission way to save lives. Tackle injustice. Analyze political quagmires. Make bold statements about societal norms. No fear of consequences. Always ready to fight the good fight.
When I reached the terrace’s edge, I put one foot up on a raised platform. I folded my left elbow and cupped the right shoulder with the center of my palm. I looked up to the sky before peering, heroically, at the city below. I saw all the people on the ground. So many of them needed help. They wanted to be rescued.
Sometime in the 18th century, playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton had suggested that the pen was mightier than the sword. It is hard to disagree because writing can be a potent instrument of change. At least, as long as writers don’t take themselves too seriously.
I didn’t exercise my right to vote this year during the State elections. Because I don’t pee in public anymore. See, I am already doing my bit to improve the community. Next year, I hope to stop wasting water while shaving over the washbasin.
Today, I am just flexing my right to complain about the sweltering summer. It’s getting hotter in Chennai. The weather is like an alarm clock going off at full volume. Except it doesn’t have a snooze button. Hell, there are no buttons. The tune sucks too. It’s really hot. To make matters worse, we keep talking about it.
If it wasn’t for Grey-Headed Swamphens, I might have found posthumous fame as the first recorded case of spontaneous combustion. Or jail time for brandishing a homemade napalm gun.
Spread across four continents, black kites are one of the commonest birds of prey in the world. Unlike other medium-sized raptors, they have resorted to scavenging in order to survive. They can be seen hovering over urban settlements across India, looking for food and shelter.
These majestic birds were also classified as Pariah Kites. But it isn’t an affectionate nickname. It’s just proof that we – as a nation – don’t just allow caste discrimination, we celebrate it
Greater Racket-Tailed Drongos are whirling dervishes who frequent foothills. Black is not just the colour of their plumage. It runs through their soul. And it gives them an air of magnificence. They are cloaked in shadowy panache. In human beings though, this end of the colour spectrum is treated with ignorance and superficiality.
I find discrimination by skin colour to be a synecdoche for India being socially-backward. Colourism is as much a form of racism as it is a reiteration of our identity crises. It is omnipresent in the politics of language, religion, caste and economic statuses. It may not dictate major governmental policies or spark large-scale riots.
But there is still a disturbing and popular belief that fair skin will get you ahead in life, whether at work, home or anywhere else in India.
I often prefer the company of birds to people. But I take great pleasure in spreading the love I have for the winged ones. And I reckon that this world of ours could always use more love.
Not today though.
I have neither poetry nor birds to show you. If you are looking for love right here and now, please come back again tomorrow. There will be feathers, songs and happiness.
But today, I am just the bile duct of a disgruntled Indian.
It is my opinion that most Indians are racists. I am no exception despite being a very dark-complexioned person in a country seemingly obsessed with fair skin. I might be ticked off that discrimination is prevalent in modern society. But I am also a racist. I think that makes me a hypocrite.
You can’t call me that though. Especially if you are lighter-skinned than me. That might make you a racist. Or something just as confusing and stupid. So here are 5 obvious reasons why India, despite the paths it has paved for medical tourism, is also destination racism.
Black is just the colour of our hair
Indians consider fair skin complexion to be an added advantage. In bartering one’s daughter to the most affluent bidder. Finding a job. Feeling self-confident. Skin tone is a decision maker in India. A deal-breaker too.