Monday, 29 June 2020

An ode to Wikipedia

When we began our research, the first writing advice given by my supervisor then was that we should not quote/cite from Wikipedia. His reason was that since it was something where anyone could edit the content, the authenticity was questionable. That was impressed upon my mind and I gave the same advice to my students. I altered my stand a bit and told them that they could start off reading their basic information from Wikipedia and then follow it up with the references given on the same page towards the end. Of course they love their Wikipedia and the depth of information it offers and I cannot but accept that fact. Wikipedia is easy, basic and comprehensive and quite useful for a beginner who is seeking information on any topic. But the copyleft philosophy of the website is something that is quite impressive - free for all to edit, contribute and use.

Piqued by curiosity on being a Wikipedia editor, I signed to become an editor and voila! the process was quite an easy one. I began editing content and then realised that one cannot be frivolous about the additions and deletions. Since the content is out there for everyone to read and cite, there is a greater responsibility associated with the same, I concurred.

But this present post is a dedication of love to Wikipedia for certain pet peeves of mine. Here it goes: In the recent years, say five years or so, the availability of films on various platforms has been mushrooming at a quicker pace and these have enabled people like me to access many films which were hitherto inaccessible. While I watch these films, mid-way I pause and quickly change the tab to Wikipedia and read the entire plot of the film. I know that this dampens the thrill of watching the plot unfold but not for me. I know the plot but like to watch how it has been handled by the director. And here, Wikipedia is something that succinctly provides the content for me - Not IMDB which is limited in content but good in rating; not the reviews which are mostly one-sided and not useful to know the storyline. But Wikipedia gives out the spoilers and the other sundry stuff which is quite interesting to read and is a separate thrill altogether.

Well, so I am armed with the exact storyline possessing full knowledge of the killer, the twists and other giveaways and I watch the film - with the same intensity if I were watching without knowing the storyline. And , Wikipedia has always been my faithful ally except in some cases where the information furnished is short and just a peek into the plot.

Well, Wikipedia is definitely the go-to place for me when it comes to reading film's storylines and spoilers.

Raising a toast to the humble Wiki and here's to many more Spoiler Alerts!

All images are from Wikipedia - the copyleft website!

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Red Salute aka Lal Salaam

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club's CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG 2 where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of May to the 7th of May, 2020.

The colour theme for today's post is RED. 

Red brings to my mind, the Left and the pioneers who have led the movement upholding the rights of people, especially the marginalised and the voiceless (read as the ones being silenced!). It is but the vibrant red which has the place of being attached to a cause - that too a most pressing and vocal one that! The fiery attitude, the hot words, the bloody slogans - all worthy of the colour and the movement. Yes! I am talking about the Leftist movement also known as CPI and popular in the states of Bengal and Kerala.

I was introduced to this greetings Lal Salaam while in college. Many of the fellow Malayalees and Bengalis who were passionate about the country and equality, used to greet each other with a chirpy Lal Salaam and many of us who were slowly getting initiated into this whole history of Marxism and Leftist ideology were fascinated with the greeting. But then we weren't members of either of the states, hence we upheld our Dravidian greeting of Vanakkam which was a safe greeting devoid of any ideology or colour. Bland, apolitical and neutral yet a beautiful three-syllable greeting. I'm digressing here.

But when I say people from Kerala and Bengal, don't be mistaken that everyone is so. NO. Only a fraction of the citizens who passionately believe in the cause of the oppressed and the marginalised greeted so. Some people who didn't support the Communist party were also keen to the causes of the people and saw themselves as part of the ongoing struggle. It wasn't a fashion statement for it was loaded with energy, zeal, mission and urgency. You knew that if one uttered the words, they were aware that they were privileged by education, money and a certain standing in the society, yet knew that they were in the battle of the masses.

It has been proven that the red state of Kerala is in the forefront of the present day Covid-19 battle. With the plans, press meets and the immediate actions undertaken by the present government led by Shri. Pinarayi Vijayan, the state has been cohesive in bringing together many brains and ideas to redeem the situation. While naysayers and critics continue harping on the loopholes of the Red party, it is for everyone to see how Kerala has flattened the curve against the virus, having previous experience of tackling the Nipah virus which shook the state in 2018.

Red also denotes the struggles of the Dalits, transgenders, adivasis, and number of voiceless people/communities, where blood has been shed for mere survival in a democratic country. Red unites the people all over the world in spite of numerous internal factions and diverse mindsets.

Red says STOP. The red party also says STOP to the aforementioned struggles.

Stop closing your eyes.
Stop pretending that you are the heir of privilege.
Stop saying, "We don't need reservation."

Lal Salaam.

Image courtesy: 1. Shutterstock 2.

Today marks the last day of the #CBCVIBGYORBLOGTAG2. Please do visit the blogs of KaushikClementKumutha and Pratip who are also participants of the #CBCVIBGYORBLOGTAG2.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Orange is the new . . . return to boredom

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club's CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG 2 where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of May to the 7th of May, 2020.

The colour theme for today's post is Orange. 

The colour Orange invariably, of late, reminds me of the series, 'Orange is the new Black.' It was quite a hyped series which streams on Netflix. I saw a few seasons until I became quite bored of the episodes. Series appeal to me in the initial few seasons but after a certain point, I tend to give up. Netflix still reminds me to complete the series but I do not think that I would. It was for the same reason that I gave up on 'LOST,' another gripping series which kept me engaged for quite some time. And then dead people started reappearing in different timelines and I was thoroughly distracted, pausing now and then to view other tabs. But I must say that these series momentarily take your mind off certain aspects of life that you wish to temporarily forget.

'LOST' was a case like that for me. I was undergoing some crazy situations which troubled and stole my peace of mind. 'LOST' found me and made me lose my pain - It was a drug that I willingly administered to myself without the guilt of time and work. I was on long leave and could indulge myself how much ever I had willed. But then things began getting better and 'LOST' became a slow drag that I started avoiding. Now even Netflix has taken it off air.

Coming back to 'Orange is the new Black,' it tells the story of a woman named Piper who goes to jail for possessing drugs and the series is about her experience in prison with diverse inmates who are both crazy and wild. It is easy to get caught in their travails and motions of life and for some time, I was a voyeur to their lives. Then slowly the episodes started getting the better of me. The same lesbian-drugs-power-politics-affairs-scandals and so on started doing the rounds and I gave up. I must say that I'm in great awe of everyone who has the will to complete the series that they start watching. I could complete only series with limited episodes such as 'Sex Education,' 'YOU,' 'Lust Stories' and 'Four More Shots Please.' I, of course did not much enjoy 'Four More . . .' nevertheless I completed it because it was short.

Please do visit the blogs of KaushikClementKumutha and Pratip who are also
participants of the #CBCVIBGYORBLOGTAG2.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Yeah they were all Yellow!

Look at the stars
Look how they shine for you
And everything you do
Yeah they were all yellow
I came along
I wrote a song for you
And all the things you do
And it was called "Yellow" . . .
(Coldplay "Yellow")
This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club's CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG 2 where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of May to the 7th of May, 2020.

The colour theme for today's post is Yellow. 
Today was the second day that I went for a long walk in our beautiful campus. Some restrictions were imposed during the earlier weeks on the timings of the regular walks and the radius of distance and all that has been cleared. It was the same campus and same beautiful trees but my eyes lapped them up greedily heady with delight and happiness.

Golden showers scientifically known as Cassia fistula. A flower used for Vishu celebrations in Kerala, locally known as kanikonna

I have always enjoyed my walking time - a time of solitude and campus-bathing with the trees, birds, river Zuari smoothly flowing and the chirpy voices of students and others playing. But today summer has bathed the campus with yellow - it was a golden delight to savour the cassia, copper pods, frangipani and other beautiful flowering trees. These trees sway in the gentle breeze taunting me to capture them and save for posterity. I have lost count of the 'yellow' pictures that I have in my many folders and presently on my phone's gallery. How much we try to steal and save these sights - sometimes I never see them again but social media has given me a nice way of storing them and viewing them time to time.

While the campus is bathed in yellow, the sun also reminds me that it is summer time and alas! we aren't in London to exclaim, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day" for that would be the end of any romance. But strangely I also basked in the glory of the evening sun in spite of sweating and panting during the walk.

Yellow has seeped into my being and left me like the lyrics of the Coldplay song,

So then I took my turn

Oh what a thing to have done

And it was all yellow . . .

Please do visit the blogs of KaushikClementKumutha and Pratip who are also
participants of the #CBCVIBGYORBLOGTAG2.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Greening the conscious

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club's CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG 2 where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of May to the 7th of May, 2020.

The colour theme for today's post is Green. 

The colour Green is an oft abused colour when it comes to expressing the natural world around us. Anything environmental/eco-friendly is green. Conferences on ecology/environment have splashes of green all over and the staff members also proudly display their green coloured attires complemented by green coloured folders, pens and other paraphernalia. Of late, many news reports and conscious citizens have reduced the effects of the corona virus to mention that there is less pollution, the air is clearer, the mountains are visible and so on. Some exclaim, "The green world is happy!" While this realisation is dear, it is also a gross reduction of the whole environment that has improved in say one or two months. 

A fern that I captured with my mobile camera while on a trip to Amboli, a hill station in South Maharashtra in August 2018
This is incidentally called an 'eco-hotspot'

One of my academic peers and ecocritic, Stacy Alaimo writes on her Facebook wall,

"Just because people are hearing more birds, and cetaceans are hearing fewer ships, doesn't mean that the oceans are not full of plastic, the world isn't full of toxic chemicals and radiation, and countless species and habitats and ecosystems have already been destroyed. Those species will not magically return. . . ."

The same birds which have been there are singing everyday but given the condition of the quiet around, people are waking up to the same. Green has come to signify the earth and anything that concerns the earth but sadly it stops with just that. There is an 'eco' prefix in many activities be it a corporate company's CSR or a cosmetic product which often lures probable customers with the 'eco' prefix. Synonymous with the colour green and the prefix 'eco' are the words, 'organic,' 'natural,' 'bio, and so on. It's wonderful that many of us have become aware of the ongoing climate change and the rapid acceleration rate of habitats and ecosystems but how much could we contribute and take responsibility.

I leave you with the words of Alaimo,

"The broken and horribly unjust systems will cause the most vulnerable to suffer and die during the pandemic. And struggles for social justice and environmentalism will most likely be even more daunting once things return to "normal," given that the crisis will be used as a reason for accelerated extractivism and social austerity."

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Bleed Blue

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club's CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG 2 where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of May to the 7th of May, 2020.

The colour theme for today's post is Blue. 

Bleed Blue is a popular tagline of cricket fans in India when the team is playing and sometimes this tagline applies for the local IPL matches too when the team Mumbai plays against any other team. I wonder who came up with that tagline because bleeding for me is mostly associated with the menstrual cycle or washing clothes with colours that bleed. Well, the tagline always gives me images of the colour blue just washing off and the players wearing blue get drenched in blue fluids and the ground is slowly turning blue because the players are bleeding blue and finally when it is done, the players' clothes are white because the blue has been washed off and the ground is soggy. The match has been cancelled. So much for 'Bleed Blue.'

But the vivid image that I associate with Blue is the musical blues, which originates in the African-American belts of the US in the 19th century. The music tradition is a lively one and the name means melancholy or sadness. The intensity of slavery and the condition of the blacks in America was depicted in these songs and often these songs became the anthem of Black slavery also falling in the category of 'protest music.' Perhaps that's why we often exclaim, 'I'm feeling blue,' 'Oh if I could drive the blues away!' and connecting the idea of moods and blues, I would often exclaim, "Ah! This time of the month gives me the blues" - a blend of the red flow and blue moods. And the fine result of blending these colours give another vibrant colour - Magenta, which luckily isn't part of Vibgyor!

Blue is also the favourite colour of gender-benders who work for discouraging gender related colours where blue is almost always preferred to signify boys and pink for girls. But I must admit that men look good in blue, be it shirts or denims and sometimes that factor reduces their ilk to blue which further transforms into a stereotype which demands to be followed. 

Well, so much so for the colour Blue. But I won't let you go without a favourite Blues song by B. B. King. 

Please do visit the blogs of KaushikClementKumutha and Pratip who are also
participants of the #CBCVIBGYORBLOGTAG2.


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