Tuesday, August 12, 2014

For Robin


Anyone who knows me knows just how much I love the movies. I speak in movie quotes and I basically live my life like a character from a Judd Apatow film. Which is why, when a member of the film community passes away, it feels little better than losing a close friend.

When Philip Seymour Hoffman passed, I thought I’d never feel that bad about a celebrity death ever again. The man was a legend, an inspiration to many and one of the greatest actors to have ever graced the screen. It was like losing a part of myself.

Then I heard about Robin Williams.

When I was a little kid (I would’ve been five or six at best), Star Movies used to show Children’s movies every Saturday morning. It was the only day of the week I’d get out of my all by myself with little effort from my parents. I’d brush my teeth, bathe, eat breakfast and finish off anything that had to be finished off that day well before 9 AM, which is when the show began.

On one such Saturday morning, Star Movies was supposed to air a movie I’d been looking forward to watching (I can’t even remember the movie now), but a last minute glitch led to them airing a movie that changed my life forever – Mrs. Doubtfire.

This was my introduction to the genius that was Mr. Williams. The man was so effortlessly funny. Even the six-year-old me, who was just then beginning to watch films outside of Bollywood, could see that this man was unlike any other actor I’d ever seen. Mrs. Doubtfire made me laugh more than anything had ever made me laugh in my entire life.

I was hooked.

From then on, I made it my adolescent life’s mission to watch every Robin Williams movie I could get my hands on. I borrowed VCDs from my friends, scanned the giant, decorated walls of Palika Bazaar and waited in front of the TV hours before a movie of his was to be aired. I watched Jumanji, Flubber, Popeye, Patch Adams, Jack, Good Morning Vietnam. Heck, I even re-watched Alladin when I found out he was the voice of Genie.

When I was about fifteen, my father recommended I watch Dead Poets Society. Robin Williams had been a man who (and this was rare) everyone in my family found equally funny and I was hardly surprised when my father suggested a movie of his. What was surprising, though, was a little tip that went along with the recommendation.

“The ending is not going to be easy to watch, so prepare yourself for it. It isn’t happy”.

You have to understand that fifteen year olds are obnoxious little shits who believe that the sun shines out of their hormone-fuelled bums. Instead of trying to explore a side of Robin Williams I’d never seen before, I thought “Why on earth would I want to watch a sad Robin Williams film?” and discarded the idea completely.

The first time I saw the film was at the age of 19, and it did for me what Mrs. Doubtfire had all those years ago. Robin Williams was a man who could make you laugh till your sides hurt, but his portrayal of John Keating could move grown men to loud, shameless tears. It was time for round two of my Robin Williams marathon.

I saw The Birdcage, I saw Good Will Hunting and, much to my disappointment, I consented to watch Night At the Museum mostly because he was in it. This was a man who couldn’t fail. Even in his last years, he stuck to the game with his sitcom “The Crazy Ones”. What a horribly unfunny show that was, and how hilariously convincing was Robin Williams in it.

I know now that he spent most of his life battling alcoholism and depression. It should make me sad, maybe dent my image of him as a perfect, golden god, but it doesn’t. It makes him a bigger hero than I could’ve ever imagined. Mr. Wiliams took all that pain and suffering and turned it into something beautiful. He turned it into laughter and joy that was so terribly infectious that it spread to every corner of the world.

I am writing this now because I know that even though Robin Williams is no longer with us, he will never truly be gone. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s so much more than that.

Robin Williams taught me that nothing was off-limits and everything could be made fun of in Good Morning Vietnam. He taught me that sometimes, laughter is the best medicine in Patch Adams. He taught me that all that was really important was a good vocabulary, a love for art and a desire to seize the day in Dead Poets Society. He taught me that you could always go the extra mile for the ones you love and that there was nothing shameful in a man dressing in women’s clothing if he so chose in Mrs. Doubtfire. He taught me that an alternative sexuality didn’t mean you were a freak or any different from a mainstream sexuality in The Birdcage. He taught me that no matter how tough things got, you could get by with a little help from your friends in Jack.

I live my life by a lot that Mr. Williams taught me. I try to see the glass as half full, I try to make people laugh as much as I can and I try to turn the times that aren’t as good into art that is. In that and so much more, Robin Williams will never truly be gone from my life.

Here’s to you, O Captain, my Captain. 



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I get by with a little help from the friend-zone


The thing about hope, and it’s a sad thing indeed, is that it comes with its share of disappointment. In the case of a conversation I participated in recently, though, the disappointment was almost immediate.

A couple of weeks ago, drunk on more than a few beers and the joy of the upcoming weekend, I got roped into a heart-to-heart with an acquaintance I’d barely spoken to previously. What started as a conversation about movies and music and the soul-crushing hurdles of the corporate life quickly spiraled into a discussion about the “friend-zone”.

You know the friend-zone, right? It’s the idea that (for the most of it) women, considered almost universally as the more irrational half of the species, find themselves constantly chasing men who, for lack of a better phrase, treat them like trash and; as a corollary, reject the men who've spent themselves treating them as they should be treated.

“I’m a decent guy” said the acquaintance, “I don’t have archaic, Khap Panchayat-esque views about how women should behave. I don't think they're responsible for the sexual crimes against them and I’m all for letting women live their lives the way they want. Why, then, do women not see this? Why can’t nice guys finish first?”

Hope and, sequentially, disappointment.

Hope that, at the very least, there is a marked change in what constitutes the right approach to treating women (I apologize for using the words “treating women” repeatedly. I don't mean to put down womankind as a separate group to be dealt with through a blanket attitude. It feels wrong just to type that. It fits in this context, however, so bear with me.)

His statements are mirrors to the changing perception of women’s rights among, at least, the urban educated male population in the country. They are clear signifiers that sensitivity, rationality and a preference for equality are gradually, albeit slowly, becoming traits to be desired. The fact that there is a rising awareness among men that kindness and respect, rather than force and claim, are the way of the future implies that the potential for equality exists, that the possibility of a society completely founded on romance through consent, though dim, is visible on the distant horizon.

On the flipside, and I quote, “Women aren’t machines you put niceness coins into till sex comes out.”

The hope came with the immediate realization that believing in the equality of the sexes was an achievement for the person sitting across the table. In his mind, the ability to even consider allowing women to live life on their own terms made him a catch. The way he saw it, he was one of the nice ones, the ones that were exceptionally rare in a patriarchal world.

The disappointment lay in the fact that equal rights and mutual respect between the sexes wasn’t the natural order of the world for him. In his head, going out of his way to place his faith in the wild and radical ideas of feminism entitled him to a spot higher than men around the world. Secondly, the disappointment lay in the fact that he believed that by virtue of believing in these radical notions made him eligible for a members only buffet (excuse the language, but I’m trying to make a point) of the women of his choice.

What worries me, however, is that he may have been right about the first one, and that he will continue to believe he is right about the second.


I don’t have an ending to this post. Yet. Maybe someday I will find answers to all the questions flooding my mind about this and I’ll make sure I keep you in the know.  Until then, if there is anyone out there who has anything to say about this, please do leave your thoughts out here for the other readers and for me.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Delhi: The land that Oxford forgot


Delhi is known for many things: Khan Chacha, Chandni Chowk and the fact that Shambu loves Priya, as is very effectively demonstrated on the walls of the fort in Hauz Khas Village.
It is also known for blindingly white cars that run on an astonishing amount of overpriced petrol and abundant road rage, an entire gender that spends its day leering at women's behinds out of "respect" (because we all COME from women, after all) and everyone's father, who, apparently, everyone else is supposed to know.

But, amidst all the baseless (true) stereotypes that have engulfed the capital completely over the years, there are a few things that people don't know about Delhi:

1. The government functions out of this city: No, seriously, it does. Of course, there are three things wrong with that sentence:  The word "functions", the words "out of" that imply the government really gives two shits about anyone living outside of Delhi or a metro of comparable prosperity and the word "city", because Delhi is not so much a city as it is a pit-stop for a few hundred thousand people trying to make it to Gurgaon by 10 AM every morning.

2. DTC buses do still exist: Seriously, did everyone just forget? Its like since the metro network came along everyone completely discarded the faithful, overcrowded roadkill-generators that got them from A to B. They still work people, and when they break down you don't have to listen to the annoying man with a fake accent tell you about the "vilambh" and how he regrets it oh-so-deeply. The most communicative bus-drivers will tell you how you need to get off the bus and "ticket waapis nahin hoga".

Which finally brings us to...

3. DELHI IS LANGUAGE HELL

I'm Punjabi, we take language seriously. We make sure our children learn perfect Hindi throughout the first half of their lives and then ensure we spend the other half cursing them for not knowing Punjabi. We also do a very decent job of English on occasion (the occasion being three pegs of Teacher's).

If you love any language, its not easy growing up in the Capital. We like our language like we like our women, bent to our will. Delhi is to proper use of grammar what Faizal Khan is to Ramadhir Singh at the end of Gangs of Wasseypur. (If you didn't get that reference but know any of the songs from SOTY, or what SOTY stands for, you need to evaluate your life-choices)

In the 21 years I've spent growing up in this place, I've picked up a few things Delhi People say that annoy me more than Bigg Boss or LSR Girls. So far, I've come up with five:

Toooo Good

Nothing in Delhi is ever excellent, superb or fantastic. All these involve having to deal with more than one syllable in a single word, and that frightens us. If its better than average, its "too good". This re-affirms my theory that Delhi is easily impressed. We're like a little kid that asks his parents about sex, so they just show him a piece of glass and go "oooh, shiny" and, hey presto! No more sex talk.

What exactly do you mean by "Too Good"? Is the Coconut Chutney at Sagar Ratna "too good" for the Dosa? When I make a funny joke, is it "too good" for the occasion?

Why is everything "too good" for you Delhi? Have you set the bar that impossibly low? Have you really brought your expectations to rock-bottom so everything anyone does is "too good" to be true?

You sadden me, Delhi. You sadden me.

Red Light

We don't have traffic lights in Delhi, we have red lights. Even when they're green. We believe the yellow and green colours on Traffic Lights don't really serve a purpose great enough to deserve any kind of verbal association with the traffic light.

So we have red lights, every time, all the time. Delhi has so many "red lights" that if Mr. India was made in Delhi, Mogambo would have found and shot Anil Kapoor within five minutes of first hearing about him. (Boom!)

The whole thing is ridiculous of course. To suggest that the entire city's traffic is governed by monochromatic traffic lights would be to suggest that traffic lights don't really serve a purpose at all, and that people in Delhi can just drive wherever they want, regardless of the indication on the traffic light that clearly tells them when to stop and when to...oh wait, that's right, we do that.

Places thats alwayss ends ins Ss

People say Bombay has no place for singularity, that it is one collective, living breathing unit (which is preposterous, because everyone knows Bombay has as much room for anything to breathe as the inside of a Nazi Gas Chamber).

To those people, I say, come to Delhi. We're taking collective to a whole new level. We're so collective, we don't even believe singular nouns exist, especially when we talk about places.

Which is why, when you want to go out drinking with the guys, you go to StrikerS. When you want to grab a bite with your friends, you go to Big ChillS.

You watch a movie at WaveS Cinemas and go shopping at City WalkS.

We're a city obsessed with multiplicity. Everyone has two phones, three cars, five houses and ten family friends that can get them passes for the Akon concert (Remember when Smack That came out? Good times.), so it makes sense that we'd want to multiply everything around us. I just think things might get awkward when you try to tell your friends you are thinking about a PIS.

Take your time, you'll get it.

(Also, what's the deal with House Khas? You can't say Hoz? Or call it "The Village" like other people that love Swedish House Mafia?)

Vag Burger

This one pretty much writes itself.

                                         

Propose Maarna

You remember when you were in school, and said all kinds of stupid shit? The thing is, asshole, that you're not any more. You can't just be stupid and expect to get away with it without any kind of judgement. I'm not saying school kids aren't judgemental. In school, you were always too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too cunning, too naive, too ugly or had too many Pokemon Tazos for a normal, healthy human being (Really? That was just me?)

But the judgement you receive in the real world matters more than what your class-mates thought of you. In the real world, people get fired over things they say, lawsuits are filed, scandals are reported in the media and, in the more gruesome cases, someone gets invited to live in the Bigg Boss house.

Which is why you cannot continue to say things like "Bhaskar ne Nandini ko propose maara". Bhaskar, the man who saw too many bad 80s romantic movies with Aditya Pancholi in them growing up, built up the idea of a romantic liaison with Nandini in his head to the point where he asked her to hold hands with him as they went paddle-boating at old fort.

He wanted her to be his girlfriend. That's cute in a very Hyderabad Blues kinda way.

To propose, however, builds a very different scenario for me. You propose when you're sure there is no one in the world you'd rather be with than the person you're with right now. You propose when you are absolutely sure you want to wake up next to this person every morning for the rest of your life without ever tiring of it.

More often than not, however, you propose when she says the three magical words every Indian guy wants to hear..."New Honda City".

      

So here's what I "propose" Delhi. I am willing to understand that issues of governance and safety and moral dictatorship are too deeply ingrained in the system to be changed overnight. I'm willing to wait these out, give you time to get your act together.

But, like the foreign-returned cousin who compensates for his astonishingly low IQ and lack of any discernible talent with his new-found love for the American accent and large Ziploc bags filled with gifts of Chocolates easily available at Big Bazaar, I need you to, in my mother's words, "look presentable" while you do it.

That's not asking too much, is it?

(Author's note: LSR girls don't really annoy me. Some of the best people I know are from LSR. (Its a "canteen" though, get the fuck over yourselves)).


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Guest Post - Let's Talk About Rape


Author: Ajeta Kapoor (Follow her on Twitter)
(No Edits)


LET’S TALK ABOUT RAPE

I recall giving ‘looks’ to my mom while she would say ‘be careful’ as I would get ready to go out. I
never understood why she would say that. I was always careful.

When I grew up a little, I realized, it was not about me refraining from stupid activities. It was about
me being aware of my surroundings so as to protect myself against the very thing we all have been
actively protesting about lately.

And it’s not just Rape. Because Rape is just a part of it. It’s a whole lot bigger than that. It’s bigger
than you and it’s bigger than me.

My lack of confidence in the city’s police force took birth when a few years ago some random guys
clicked pictures of me and my friend and made some lewd comments while we were in an auto, in
broad daylight. It was the first time something like that had happened to me. I had heard stories. But
this was real. It was happening to me. It was happening right there. Feeling helpless I dialed up 1-0-
0.

I realized my mistake with the first bell that rang. Instead of talking about the issue in hand, they
kept asking me about my name, my father’s name, where I live, what my father does.
HOW IS THAT IMPORTANT?
So I did what I thought was my last and best option. I hung up the phone and I tried to forget about
it, like it never happened.

It is a misogynistic world.
It is definitely a misogynistic country
Fourth in the world as the most dangerous place for women to live in.

Crimes are committed ‘as a lesson to put women in her place’. What is this place exactly, if I may

ask? Is it a corner, where women are supposed to be sent off to in the light of them asking for their
basic entitled freedom? Is it a podium, where they are called names, thrown acid at and put to shame
by public for daring to refuse a man’s proposal of marriage? What is this place? And how has this
place come to being?

We need actions.
We need safety.
We need solutions.
We need impressionable minds learning the physical and emotional harm rape is capable of doing to
a human being.
We need changed mindset.
Something. We need something.

Because I am helpless here.
Because I am laughing at the absurdity the government is throwing at us every day, every second,
because otherwise it is too depressing, to think that these are the kind of people who have the power
of my life, my future, in their hands.
Because now all I can do is write about it.

So please, let’s talk about freedom. Let’s talk about safety. Let’s talk about Rape.

Yours faithfully
Afraid Citizen

Monday, December 31, 2012

Of Rape and Honey Singh



The word "culture" is thrown around a lot these days. Culture shapes individuals, builds communities, defines a people and, if people are to be believed, breeds misogyny, molestation and male-privilege.

Unfortunately, just like the words "Strategic Decision" and "Bro", the word culture receives its fair share of abuse by the masses. Its used far too often for comfort, and often in the wrong context of things.

Given the events of the last few weeks, I've had a lot of fodder to think about, particularly about my culture. I say "my" and not "our" because I don't think I can impose my understanding of what my culture is on anyone else.

What is culture, then? How does one go about finding this culture? Is my culture as good as anyone else's?

I hear culture is inherited. Its the hundreds of values and principles that passed down to us from our learned elders, the infallible, sacrosanct beliefs that are the perfect solution to any moral dilemma.

The thing with inheritance, however, is that it can't be altered in any way. In the same way one inherits undesirable physical characteristics from one's parents, values, too, are far too difficult to be interfered with. The problem begins when the culture we inherit loses its relevance in a dynamic world.

We have a long, global history of sexual double-standards, fierce patriarchy and male-privilege. From medieval witch-burnings to tests-by-fire for chastity in Indian Mythology, the world has not been fair to the fairer sex. The times, they are a changin', however, and we must change with them.

The world may have a long way to go, but one cannot deny how far we've come. We have, in a lot of places, moved on from obsolete, ridiculous concepts of Sati, Homophobia, Caste-discrimination. I know these problems are existent still, but there's no denying the fact the decline in the widespread belief in them.

It can safely be said, then, that culture isn't an inherited characteristic. It can be altered, changed and created.Hence, blaming our problems on "The Indian Cultural Mindset" is simply taking the easy way out.

The other side of culture has received its own share of criticism for promoting sexual biases and misogyny  This is the culture that changes with every successive generations, sometimes in time spans even shorter than that.

This is pop culture.

As with the culture we claim to inherit, the culture that manifests itself in the mainstream of any generation has its own pros and cons.

Honey Singh drew a lot of flak for his misogynist lyrics and demeaning views on women in the music he makes. I suppose when you make a song titled "Balaatkari" you kinda have that one coming.

But is Honey Singh the problem? Is Kareena Kapoor the problem in "Fevicol Se"? Is Mahesh Bhatt the problem? Is Emraan Hashmi?

From Snoop Dogg to Lil Wayne, Hip-hop, more than any other genre of music, has had a "glorious" history of sexism, male-superiority and "bitches n'hoes". Even when a Missy Elliot (or Hard Kaur) find their way into the limelight, they cannot compare to the acclaim received by their male counterparts, even at their best.

In an industry ruled by men, women are expected to "be in their place", which mostly ends up being "on the pole" or "on her knees".

But have we not perpetuated this culture? In its very essence, pop culture is CREATED by the people. It may borrow elements from all sorts of places, but its born from nothing.

Honey Singh wouldn't talk about raping women if we didn't all download it and giggle as we played it on phones in the bus. Objectification wasn't invented by 50 cent, nor will Honey Singh be the one to end it.

Companies wouldn't create virtual rape games if there wasn't a market for it.

In a very good example of irony, we're all crying foul over a culture we've all created for ourselves.


So here's the deal. Banning Honey Singh isn't the answer. Banning Fevicol Se isn't the answer. Shutting clubs down early isn't the answer.

The answer is realizing the demand we've created over the years for this stuff, realising that this content exists because we want it to, that instead of asking for this content to be thrown away, we may need to think about why we're being fed with it in the first place.

So here are a few things we can do:

Stop downloading/buying/sharing music that is repressive, regressive and misogynistic.

Start questioning the validity of our inheritance in a world that may not need it anymore.

Stop using the world "culture" for anything that we're too tired fight against.


Yes, all this is largely abstract, its not all specific, its also extremely slow and painful to execute. I don't have the answers, I don't know how exactly we'll get there.

I do know this though:

You are not your parents. You are not the images on your TV. You are not the song on the radio. You are not creepy video-games.

You are not a product of the culture around you, your culture is a product of you and everyone you know.

Get out and make your own culture. A culture where Hip-Hop doesn't HAVE to be all about "Bitches and Hoes", where item numbers with regressive lyrics don't HAVE to be a part of a masala movies, where deodorant doesn't HAVE to get you a lot of girls to sell.

Don't ban what you've made. Learn and recreate.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Images from India Gate - When protest meets mobs


As I type this, my hands are still shaky. I'm backing up nearly every second word I write here because I can't get the letters right. My nose still stings from the tear gas and the pain on my leg from the lathis of the RAF feels a million times worse in the biting cold of the Delhi winter. I've not felt happier in ages.

I was at India Gate today. I went because I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself. I wanted to be a part of the living, breathing change that had collected itself around the humongous symbol of sacrifice and courage squat in the middle of the capital.

I hear now that since I left, the situation took a violent turn and what was once a peaceful demand for beneficial reform and swift action has now turned into a full scale riot. I suppose this is what happens when social benefit suffers the wrath of political agenda. To those creating or encouraging these activities, I plead, don't let this brilliant, and potentially revolutionary, movement go down the same road as everything else in this country. Let's not lose our collective shit.

While there, I managed to catch a few glimpses of the situation on camera. I'd like to share those images with you to give you a better idea of what was REALLY going on there today.

A man walks defiantly into the middle of the tear gas explosions. He has no weapons, just a flag.

When the tear gas explosions and Lathi Charges start, everyone runs. Tear gas burns like the fires of hell and a lathi to the leg in this weather shakes you up completely. But the courage isn't in enduring these pains, the courage lies in experiencing them and coming back to face them once again.

Pro(test) tip: If you're going to protest at any of the locations, wear a muffler and heavy jeans. Tear gas and Lathis shouldn't stop you, but you're not much good to the movement lying on the ground in pain.


A lot of people were calling this a leaderless protest, but I saw hundreds of young leaders, organising people in groups, creating human barricades, ensuring no one got trampled or hit, stopping any kind of violence that started to emerge.











Students stood no more than two feet from the Police, their voices hoarse with screams of "Aap kya kar rahe hain? Aap public ke liye kaam karte hain ya minister ke liye?" Both parties deserve respect, the students for their courage and the police for not losing their heads at this agitation.

While I was there, I was tear-gassed thrice and hit with a Lathi once. All four of these incidents were without any violent provocation from the protesters.The RAF would appear in hundreds every hour or so and Lathi charge the public, provoked or otherwise.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Of Rape, Protest and Family


I sit here on my comfortable chair, in my warm room, typing on my nice little laptop, scrolling through an endless stream of tweets about the events that happened earlier today and it angers me. More than that, it makes me feel guilty for not being there right next to the protesters as they were hosed down, lathi-charged and tear-gassed. I didn't have a job to go to today, I wasn't physically unable to get myself from my room to my car, there was no one in my way. I didn't go because, under the blanket of horror, disgust and anger, there is little I, or most people I know, do to change things. We're a lazy, static, apathetic lot, and we deserve the shit-storm we're in as citizens of this country.

But this one isn't about us, its about the fighters that showed up at 9 in the morning at India Gate to work for a cause they believe in, beside fellow believers they don't know, to take that tiny step towards showing an administration that operates on the concept of "Sab Chalta Hai" that the shit has hit the fan. And while its extremely easy to sit in front of your TV and talk about how the protesters are doing the right thing, it doesn't mean lauding their efforts is any less important than being there with them.

March forth, brave soldiers, and fight the good fight. You're waking up a country and a people that have been asleep and comfortable in their resignation to their condition for far too long, and I salute you for your efforts.

In the ongoing war against the oppression and violation of women in the country, however, its extremely important that we pick the right battlefields. Its vital that protests like the ones today don't fizzle out and, possibly, multiply across the country, bringing to the notice of the government the frustration and resilience that has been building up inside the minds of its citizens for all these years.

At the same time, revolution, quite like charity, begins at home.

Chauvinism, victim-bashing and misogyny aren't class-based evils, nor are they the result of economic circumstances. These ideas and values are the result of a long-standing tradition of the mindless celebration of the half of the country that does't have a vagina. As with any long standing tradition, the results aren't confined to a particular group of people.

These ideas are all around us. Some of us have heard them from our parents, others from uncles, some from a close family friend and some from the old lady across the hall. 
The belief that women are responsible for crimes against them if they act (or don't act) in a certain way is often treated by most of us as a belief that exists in the minds of people "outside our immediate environment". We, understandably, want to believe that these concepts aren't coming from within our family, friends and community. We want to believe these are ideas that sprout from the sick, chauvinist society that starts from right outside our home.

But they don't, they start with us.

Every time your uncle, in a family gathering, talks about how his daughter will "obviously" get married once she finishes college, you shift uncomfortably in your seat and nod along. You don't agree with him, but you won't talk back to your uncle in from of your entire family, would you? Fuck no. That would mean fighting off your entire family that feels there's a "time or place for everything" and demands you apologize immediately.

When hanging out with your friends, you stand and listen to one of them talk about how many women he's had in any amount of time, you don't turn around and say "How about you acknowledge the fact that these women CONSENTED to have intercourse with you and accept that you, being the vile, evil little pig you are, owe it to them to treat the decision with as much respect as you think you deserve for being the man in that agreement?" No, you stand there and high-five their cockiness (pun intended), or you stand and pretend to chuckle, or stand and do nothing at all. You don't want to be that one guy that brings the newspaper to the party.

We live in a society where everyone agrees that rape is wrong, but everyone does their bit to ensure its sustenance. 

We live in a society where we'll laugh and rejoice when 8-year-olds dance on stage to misogynistic Punjabi hip-hop that demeans women and practically implies that an entire gender is just manipulative, superficial whores, but we'll change the news channel when someone says the word "Rape". 

We're part of a system that will take its kids to see a movie with Kareena Kapoor dancing to the lyrics "Tandoori Murgi Hoon Main, Gatak Ja Saiyyan Alcohol se", but will be outraged should someone suggest we include sex education as a part of the school curriculum.

We're part of the system that will openly admit that we wouldn't give our daughters the same freedom and privileges their male counterparts enjoy, stop them from going out to parties, frown at a woman holding a cigarette and put the fear of god in the hearts of our sisters should they DREAM of (*gasp*) dating someone, but will continuously insist that "Women can do everything men can".

We're part of the system that believes in the beauty of the female form across centuries of art and literature, but can't say the word "vagina" without giggling.


In conclusion, I feel I need to reiterate how important the protest today was. It was essential that the people that count on the public for their powers and continued roles in administration are made aware that the people do, in fact, care. It was vital that we, as a people, stopped expecting the government to do the right thing out of the goodness of their hearts and shove the issues we care about in their faces till they realise that the problems can't be ignored without losing out on the largest vote bank in the country, THE INDIAN CITIZEN.

At the same time, its important that, at an individual level, we instil the change where we have the most influence. We can't always change society by our individual selves, but we can change the ones we love and the ones that love us back. We can change the people that put their faith in our opinion on a daily basis. If, by the end of the day, you can get one person you know to change the way they feel about women, rape and/or male-privilege, then you've become part of something much bigger than yourselves.

You are the change.