She Baba is off to be a She Babu
Yes, it’s true. God moves in mysterious ways His wonders (blunders?) to perform. I’ve just quit HT after almost-four intense years, to take up a new assignment for the MEA as Director of a new India Cultural Centre in Bangkok. My new boss there will be our Ambassador to Thailand. So if you’re in Bangkok, do swing by the India Cultural Centre, will post coordinates after I join, which, Inshallah, is next month.
It’s a new learning curve for me, so please wish me luck, dear HT readers and bloggers, who have enriched my life so much these past few years with your feedback – including the sticks and stones!
Being in HT has been a terrific learning experience, I’ll miss the work and the people very much. To be Editor, Religion and Culture, was like being a super chef, cooking with the best ingredients, because Religion has attracted some of the best minds in the history of thought. To read them and try and understand them was – is – like going to a luxury spa for the mind. As for the music part of Culture, well, anyone who relates to this blog knows they have to face the music. (Dreadful pun, couldn’t resist).
By way of ta-ta thoughts, I’d like to share a few favourite songs.
Here’s Numero Uno, an abiding, moving joy. The lyrics are by Kaifi Azmi. I am usually in tears by the end of it and it was great to hear the Warsi Bothers sing it one magical evening in Delhi’s Hailey Road, at the house of senior journalist Nalini Singh (the Warsis’ father had set the lyrics to tune originally for MS Sathyu’s film, Garam Hawa).
And here’s my favorite raga, which is represented in miniature paintings as a pale ash-smeared ascetic: Raag Kedar, whose prahaar or ‘appropriate time’ is early night. The song here is a naat (prayer in praise of the Prophet, beseeching him for aid) and you don’t need me to tell you which film it’s from or who composed the music…
And here’s Kedar as a ‘Ragini’ if you please, at the Prince of Wales Museum in Bombay. It’s like a mystic picnic by moonlight, a frolic with Shiva and music, isn’t it? I wonder if it’s actually the variation called ‘Chandni Kedar’. This one’s in the Bundi style and if you want to know more, Jiwan Sodhi’s Study on the Bundi School of Indian Miniature Painting is a useful guide. Btw, Bundi paintings are the only ones with shaded cheeks on the faces, a quaint ’spot the difference’ point.
If you, like me, sometimes wonder if there’s life outside office, there is. I mean, there’s gotta be. As the old Citi ad went, ‘No one ever worked so hard that milk squirted out of their nose’. Just another way of saying, stop chewing cud, get a life. It took me a while to figure that this ‘life’ is not outside, it’s basically in our own heads.
So I praise Vaak (Saraswati), whose grace sustains me and gives me ‘life’.
And yet, and yet…
How can we hide from the fact that mythology is ‘a peg to secure the tents of the status quo’? (Found this sharp phrase in UK lawyer Helena Kennedy’s amazing book on how British law treats women criminals, called Eve Was Framed).
The tents of the what?
The patriarchy, what else?
To rape and kill a woman does NOT deserve a death sentence, according to the Delhi High Court’s judgment yesterday, in the case of 59-year-old Dawn Emilie Griggs, a trusting tourist who landed in Delhi in 2004 and took a pre-paid taxi from Palam airport. Her body was found in a deserted field later. Besides having been raped and throttled, she was stabbed with a screwdriver by the two cabbies in the taxi.
This seems like such a male judgment to let these men off for their ‘natural’ urges.
Almost all the cruelty in the world comes from hetero men (you know I don’t mean you good fellows out there, but, alas, is this not true?).
Yet Baba Ramdev wants to litigate against gays?
Are gays ‘perverted’ and ‘unnatural’ or are old men with little girls perverted and unnatural?
How can we fool ourselves that it’s ‘natural’ to pay money to a man’s family as dowry?
The hetero world is the most callously transactional system in operation. And lakhs of women suffer because of mythology and the way it pressures hetero society’s behaviour, builds expectations, conditions the gaze, plants a microchip in minds.
We can pray all we like to Saraswati, the rakshasas run free.
But we have to pray anyway to Saraswati, to illumine the minds of people like the judges who saved these rapists from execution.
They had the opportunity to send out a strong retributory signal to our society that rakshasas can’t run free in India, that we are a zero-tolerance society for bad behaviour that hurts others. They didn’t take it.
Will anyone, like say Baba Ramdev, file a petition against this judgment that gives Dawn Emilie’s killers a lifetime of roti,kapra and makaan at our expense, with probably an early release for ‘good behaviour’?
How come THIS judgment hasn’t got Baba out sermonizing on turbo? Is raping and killing a woman in tune with our sanskriti?
I respect Baba for making yoga popular.
I cannot however admire his mytho-enforced worldview that perverts Saraswati herself with all that sturm und drang about gays…
She Baba says a fond Namaste to all, with a how-can-we-forget song…