animals, death, Existence, Philisophy, Philosophy, Photography, Poem, Poetry, Reality, romance, snake

Still Death

The life that once was,
Stripped of all it’s meaning,
Flesh and bones,
Like sticks and stones,
Hardened like the human soul,
The life that once was,
Gazes at me in fear,
A develish smile remains,
Frozen of all it’s meaning…

The wanderer asks..
In these fragments that I pieced,
Am I the human,
Or am I just the beast…

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Adventure, Birds, Branches, Existence, Flowers, Grass, Philisophy, Poem, Poetry, rain, Reality

Become…


Become like the call of the nightingale’s chirp,
Become like the roar of the elephant’s birth,
Become like the soul of the daylight break,
Become like the rustle of the tree stalk shake,
Become an existence that is larger than you,
Become an ideal of all that is true,
Become like the light that shines over all,
Become the voice that answers every call.
Become someone larger than pride and strife,
Throw out the verbal dagger and knife,
Become like a bouquet of roses and bloom,
Spread the fragrance of love and swoon,
Become like the smile of an infant child,
Become like the innocence of the beast in the wild,
Become like the serenity of the corpse deceased,
Become like the terror of the awaiting beast…
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causes, culture, india, rape, religion, sexual assault, Travel

The Second Citizens of India

The recent rape of a photojournalist in the metropolitan city of Mumbai was reported in the global media extensively. As an Indian expat living in the US, the coverage of my homeland in the western media vacillates from one extreme to another. Readers in 2008 perhaps would remember the blistering rise of the next global superpower. The reports seem so exuberant and so incredibly optimistic; one would be forgiven for fearing that we would soon all be ruled by Indian Engineers. This positive coverage was fleeting. Reality soon crept in with familiar force and the news soon transformed itself into the negatives, the rampant corruption, the flaccid growth in the Economy and then… the sexist and misogynistic attitudes of the Indian male.

The last one seems to becoming more and more evident these days. Multiple gang rapes, constant reports of Indian and foreign women being harassed seem to be reported on a daily basis. As someone who spent a few years in India, these reports are not at all surprising. They are heartbreaking no doubt, but I have seen this way too often. There is always a particular case that captures the media and the populist sentiments, people rally, the Govt. comes up with promises to do more, the opposition blames it all on the party in power and we go about with our lives, soon forgetting the incident, too captured by the allure of Bollywood actors and our never ending attempt to vicariously live through them. I began thinking about this recently after reading the CNN article about an exchange student and her experiences in India. To say that it made me ashamed would be an understatement. It made me hate my country. It made me despise my culture and the people from it. Trolls on the comment boards seem to indicate that this was not an Indian problem, but a global problem, I reject this notion. It’s a little broader than that, it’s a south Asian problem, and also an African problem. I will focus on the Indian continent, mainly because; I know the most about it.

Sexist Religions: India as a land represents a cultural and mystical nation to the rest of the world. The history of the nation goes back thousands of years. The ancient Indians were the pioneers of astronomy and mathematics. The Indian land has made ubiquitous the many spices that constitute our exotic cuisines. Cloaked in its mysticism, is a history that reeks of sexism. You see, the reason for most of India’s problems could be ascribed to politics, corruption etc. but fundamentally, the reason why to an outsider, it bay appear backward, is because very little of the ancient culture went through a transformation and modernization. Some traditionalists are perhaps proud of this very fact. Take the religions for example. Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Its main texts, The Ramayana, The Bhagawat Gita and The Mahabharata were written thousands of years ago with the oldest preserved parts found around 400 BCE. And the traditions and customs espoused in these texts solidified the traditional role of the Indian Male and carved that into the social fabric for generations to come. The head of the household was always the Father. The Mother or Wife was there to serve the needs of the husband and take care of his family. There is a phrase that is used ubiquitously in these texts, and that is “Pati Parmeshwar” which basically translates into “My Husband is God”. A barbaric practice (outlawed by the British) was Sati, where a widow would jump into her husband’s funeral pyre as a mark of sacrifice. The other main religions in the country are Islam and Sikhism. Both of these religions are resultants of cultures that discriminated against women. In Islam for example, In a trial, the testimony of one man is equal to two women. Even for inheritances, men get a larger share than women. Of course, the religion tries to introduce reforms and mask its bias by citing the larger responsibilities of men, it inherently creates fertile grounds for people to take it and run with its message. The Ulemas and the Priests interpreted these in the harshest terms and the masses enforced their ill-conceived understanding of it.

Cultural Summary: The bottom line was this across all religions in the Indian subcontinent; women exist for the pleasure and comfort of man. Even now, majority of the nation’s women do not work and are traditional homemakers. There is nothing wrong in this, if it is the choice of the woman, but in most cases it’s not. This thinking is indoctrinated into the psychology of every one, adults and children. A woman who chooses to work and mingle with men is judged and has to fight the judgmental eyes of her family and also her community. Sexual assault victims are blamed because they wore clothes that aroused the men around them. Of course leaders throughout its history have tried to introduce reforms, but these only go so far and are often lip service. The traditional rural and even urban gentry have not changed.

Modern India: The modernization of the country has brought about challenges to the established order. The traditional roles of men and women are now being redefined by the youth. And therein lie the hope of the nation. This is perhaps the only way there will be a social change. But it will be extremely messy. The percentage of literacy is still drastically different between men and women. Women still are confined to the home in many older families with the elders disproving of those who venture out of the house and choose to live by themselves or work. These are staggering realities of India; these cannot be solved by protests or by speeches by politicians. These need to be understood by the people of the nation, and this will only happen when the younger generation controls the country. So we are atleast a couple of generations away from that. The current demographics are interspersed between half of the population under 25 years and half older. The numbers will rise for the younger generations but a lot depends of the older generations as well. They need to understand that they can no longer marginalize the women of India. They are fighting the oppression, making drastic gains in education, innovation, entertainment and even politics. They are at the table and demanding respect, equality and to be treated with respect. They are tired of being looked at as baby making machines or objects of sexuality. The Indian male, the ugly Indian male, needs to realize that he is just one wheel of the Indian bicycle.  They can try to stop them, but I can assure you, they will not be successful.
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Government, Islam, Muslim, obama, politics, syria, US Arab, USA, War

Syria: To Bomb Or Not To Bomb

Looking at the way the events of the past few days have transformed, it’s interesting to see the discourse of the Obama administration shift. There is no doubt that President Obama is one of the most isolationists of American leaders. In my opinion, this is not due to his thinking that America is weak and needs to “lead from behind”, but merely his attempt to toe the populist line. The American public is fatigued by wars. The past decade has largely been consumed by two unpopular wars that resulted in trillions of debt, thousands of Americans killed, hundreds of thousand marines suffering from PTSD, and a veteran’s affairs department clogged with bottlenecks. To top this, the country is still suffering from a global recession, or even as the most optimistic of all economists say “on the pathway to recovery”. So it’s safe to say that America has other things on its plate.

When the Arab spring started, the world for a brief minute held its breath in expectation as it seemed that the deluge of popular uprising would engulf the entire region and leave behind the lasting fertile grounds of peace and democracy. Unfortunately, this is a very simplistic view. The Arab uprising is not and will not be like the revolutions the western society has studied. Here are the reasons.

The Arabs hate each other: As much as we in America like to think of the Arabs as a monolith, they are perhaps the most fragmented and divided of all people. There are Sunnis, Shias, Bathis, Alawites, Mahdi’s, Salafis, Wahhabis, Moderates, Catholics, Coptic, and an endless subset of groups that somehow occupy the same communal space. These groups have historically hated each other and if anyone has any doubt about this, I recommend studying about the original caliphate and the subsequent rise and fall of it. There is a fundamental strain of un-secularism that stretches the entire region. Quick example, Saudi Arabia has been one of the quietest nations of all in this bloody uprising. And as much as we like to think of them as an ideal Arab nation (they are in fact a very close ally to the US), the nation itself is very fragmented. There are entire cities that do not allow anyone except Sunnis to enter. The highway leading into Mecca actually has an exit sign about twenty minutes away from the city center that tells you to refrain from entering if you are anyone except a traditional Muslim. Further checkpoints will ensure that all the adventurous travelers get the point. This is not your average city. Similar intolerance is shown for minority sects like Mehdi’s, ahmedis etc. Their subsequent mosques need to disguise themselves as traditional mosques and the followers need to meet in secret. Now for those who argue that Saudi Arabia is an extreme society, then Iran is perhaps the next example. The Iranian regime is an Islamic fundamentalist government. But little does the west know that they are primarily a “Shia” society. Sunni Muslims and other Muslim groups are not awarded the same rights as the majority. This uprising is really a struggle for independence between the majorities and the minorities. It is not a civil war in the truest sense where the fight is for land, resources etc. It is a civil war for identity, where the battle is for the survival of thought and their ideals.

Terrorists love war:No even the most casual observer, it’s pretty apparent that Al Qaeda has been decimated. They were at their peak during the reign of Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden and the US along with its allies was instrumental in defeating them. However, that did not kill extremism. Extremism can’t be eradicated by war. You would have to kill a whole lot of people if you want to do that. Extremism stems not from a religious point of view, but fundamentally a desire to gain political importance. Since Al Qaeda broke up, many smaller groups like Al Shabaad, Tahreeq e Islam, Islamic Mujahedeen etc. continue to operate in smaller groups in the Arab and African peninsula. They now are a disjointed, somewhat disconnected group that likes to bomb random places which many in the world don’t even hear about. These groups hope that one of these events will cause a tremor large enough to start a war. This would give their “fight” legitimacy and they would craft any subsequent war as a western battle on Islam and then use that as a rallying cry to recruit more terrorists.  A western war is perhaps the surest recruiting tool for an extremist holy war.

The US has its own problems: The era of the US dictating its terms to the world is over. It is done, and to those neo-cons who love the idea of the American might, they need to face reality. The US is in deep trouble. The fundamentals of the economy appear strong. Unemployment is at 7.5%, the Dow is at its all-time high and home prices are up… but these are all baked. This is a consequence of the Federal Govt. Quantitative Easing policy, where they continue to pump a seemingly endless supply of money into the markets thereby artificially inflating it with the hopes that this would lead to an actual improvement. It’s the same concept of “fake it till you make it”. This misguided policy has led to the rise of the 1% and exploded the gains of only those investment analysts who play the market. The majority of the country, the 78% of the US that continues to live paycheck to paycheck is struggling. Discretionary income is down and people are spending only if they have it. To throw a war onto the Americans, even if it’s a casual war, with a coalition of the sorority sisters (US, UK and France) will spend billions, Money that the country doesn’t have.

The World is so over the US: Most importantly… It is too late for the US and the west to insert itself into the Arab spring. The Arab spring is perhaps the stupidest term. Its perhaps meant to signify the “spring” of joy and democracy where decades of winter gives rise to the fruits of spring, one which take root deep inside and spread through the region. As explained earlier, this is far departed from the reality of the situation on the group. What’s happening in the Arab world is more like the Arab Winter (Or really Arab Summer more appropriately). Where the long misery of violence will continue and has continued for decades until it naturally comes to a fruition point in which there is either a unifying force, or further fragmentation and division. When John Kerry started talking about the morality of the chemical weapons, and the US leaders started to flaunt their chest for “doing the right thing”, these are all code words. The strategy is to NOT engage in a real war. The strategy is to bomb in a limited capacity, with the intention of reprimanding Assad and in a sense scaring him. It’s too late for that. The bombs will not change a thing. 100K people have died and will continue to die, some by the Govt. forces, and some by the opposition fighters. The US campaign will not hand over victory to any side, but will further stoke violence. White house press secretary said today, that “regime change is not on the agenda”. Well of course not. That would mean an actual war, with both sides being IN IT with actual repercussions. The US wants to play the hero, be the defender of innocents, when in reality; they have lost the right to do this, within the nation and beyond. To the American, the Govt. is guilty of spying on its own citizens, of usurping endless power and mishandling the finances of the nation. To the rest of the world, the US is guilty of always being late to their struggles. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict continues 50 years after it started, the war in Africa continues in Somalia, Mali and many others. The world has outgrown the US, has gotten over it like a high school sweetheart. And like every lost romance, there is no point in calling them back unless you want to commit for a lifetime.
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Autumn, Dark, Essays, Nature, passion, Philisophy, Philosophy, Poem, Poetry, Reality, rumi, Sufi, Travel

The Prayer

The crowd stands in unison,
Shoulder to shoulder,
Like soldiers defending a fallen city,
The crowd stands in unison,
And the call of the muezzin begins…
The prayer of the twilight,
The advent of the feast of the soul,
Begins as angels shower god’s love,
And the revelers bask its blinding glory,
The nameless one remains sheltered,
Cloaked in the mask of disillusion,
The nameless one remains bitter,
Sheltered in the umbrella of his deceit…

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