Wednesday 29 July 2009

Kinsey -- Unfolding the taboo word

Surfing channels is a nice way to kill time and criticise the trash doled out commented one great man. Well, sometimes doing that also makes us stumble upon some nice piece of work. This time it was the movie 'Kinsey.' As I was randomly switching channels, I saw this classroom scene in a channel devoted to movies. Any classroom scene gets me interested and this was from the movie 'Kinsey.' Its a 2004 release and the frequent use of a word albeit scientifically made me linger on and watch the movie. The word: SEX. It was interesting as I had previously heard about the Kinsey reports and their revolution in the United States of America. Well, this movie was a biography of Dr. Kinsey. A rather well knit movie where one could observe the personality of Kinsy and his methodical research on sex. His passion and commitment for the subject was brought out well in the movie.

The relationship between Kinsey and his wife, Mac, though cannot be categorised as 'ideal,' was complete in many aspects. The thin line between sex, love, emotions and feelings were brought about in a very nice manner. Not preachy or philosopical but the way it ought to be. While talking about sex, one generally blushes, shies, etc. but Dr. Kinsey was to the point: he treated it as science and nothing else. This was the attribute that made the film lovable despite the taboo subject. My wikipedia tells me that this was the only film permitted to show human genitalia uncensored in Japan. Hmmm.

Stripped of love, emotions and other aspects, sex remains only a biological need of the human animal. Often many factors like morality, convention and others attach a very high priced tag to sex. The movie scientifically adresses the topic and the actor who portrayed Alfred Kinsey, Liam Neeson did full justice to the role.

A movie that one can watch for learning, unlearning and relearning many things that have so conditioned our minds over and over the ages.

Friday 24 July 2009

Moving in the dark

Sometimes when I am doing something that I think is absolutely important, the electricity goes off. Now, considering India, this is a pretty regular feature which has almost become as natural as scratching one's back with the dominant hand. The first reaction is to get angry and frown over the timing of the power cuts. The act that was engaging me has to be suspended in mid air as there is no point in continuing it. But then, there is also this thought that forces me to continue doing what I was doing albeit in the dark. If you notice, as soon as the electricity goes off, the first few minutes are the darkest which seem spine chilling but eventually the eye gets used to the darkness and it seems as if we were always conducting ourselves in this fashion. Perhaps somewhere in our genetic make up there is a bit of the caveman days still ticking softly. I try to act that I have always been like this -- in the dark. I even try to imagine myself like a blind individual. The experience is very humbling. Why? One: The power of vision which we have taken for granted is a gift which many have been deprived of. Two: Moving in the dark enables us to hone other faculties, which, again we take for granted. The second factor enables me to relate to animals, which according to us, have five senses (though humans often pride in the fact that they possess 'six' senses). No matter how consciously one tries, the using of the other senses like smell, touch and auditory are largely limited or rather not used at all. We use the sense that we are familiar with and have grown comfortable with. We can take any activity be it courtship, eating, walking, etc. Everything uses the power of vision predominantly.

The modern civilisation with its glitz and glory has rendered many of our faculties scarce and rather dormant. Responding to the simple touch of a dew drop or a cat is slowly fading away apart from existing in a few pockets of the human race. Smelling the freshly made dosa or the aroma from the coconut chutney is taken for granted which is almost subsumed in the din of the hectic mornings. Giving a ear to the gentle rustle of a leaf or trying to locate the source of a sound is becoming something that takes away 'precious time.' To remind myself of the existence of the different faculties, power cuts come in handy which enable me to move in the dark as comfortable as moving in the light for as the wise man said "Light and darkness are two sides of the same coin."

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Me, myself. The supreme 'I'

A lot of instances in the past week have left me ruminating about the way people like to place themselves at the centre of everything. I know I must be very specific in this context otherwise it can be slightly misleading. First: This entry is not about celebrating the supremacy of the self. Second: This entry is about considering oneself the most important and placing the self above everything else.

To be very precise, I am a person who firmly holds to the notion that only when one loves/admires herself, she is able to relate to others effectively. But there are also inviduals who take this principle rather literally and would like to assume that they are the centre of everything. Let me illustrate this with an example:

A: You hurt me . . .

B: I realise that I hurt you but then this was an experiment for my self growth and you had to go through this along with me.

A: But then it did not go well with me . . .

B: Well, I learnt my lesson, now its up to you.

In the above example, B is the classic example of an individual who values her life and position above anything else. B is totally oblivious to the fact that A is hurt, angry and broken. B, though can sympathise with A, she cannot go through the position of A with an objective mind.

Well, people like B are quite prevalent in today's world. If I am making a sweeping generalisation, reader, you must understand that I come across people like this very often. If I can mention, these are the very people who present themselves as being truly 'liberated,' 'sensitive,' 'caring,' and all other attributes that make for a 'wholesome' human being (if I can say that).

No two people are alike but then at the same time all of us are alike in our own ways. Our chemical compositions are the same. Our cultural and spiritual identity may be diverse but the core remains the same. It is we who make us the way we are. More often, the individuals who are exemplified by B do not realise that they end up hurting people and causing pain. They are well assured that they have done their part and it is up to the individual to take it or leave it.

All said and done, people come into our lives for a purpose, whether pleasant or not. We learn, unlearn and relearn many things in the process beginning from the first meeting till the person leaves (and this can be with or without informing. Some people exit without any clue).

People of these sort enable me to realise the meaning of life albeit from a different angle. They teach how not to conduct ourselves, how not to hurt, how not to trust and above all how losing oneself for love brings joy which people like B cannot fathom.

Thursday 16 July 2009

Stopping aside to relish some Graham Greene quotes

“It is impossible to go through life without trust: that is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.”

“The great advantage of being a writer is that you can spy on people. You're there, listening to every word, but part of you is observing. Everything is useful to a writer, you see -- every scrap, even the longest and most boring of luncheon parties.”

“The truth has never been of any real value to any human being - it is a symbol for mathematicians and philosophers to pursue. In human relations kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.”

"My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.”

“God created a number of possibilities in case some of his prototypes failed -- that is the meaning of evolution.”

“At the end of what is called the "sexual life" the only love which has lasted is the love which has everything, every disappointment, every failure and every betrayal, which has accepted even the sad fact that in the end there is no desire so deep as the simple desire for companionship.”

“Media is a word that has come to mean bad journalism.”

“A solitary laugh is often a laugh of superiority.”

Sunday 5 July 2009

Repealing Section 377 - The Other Side

2nd July 2009 was a landmark day for the members of the LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders) group. The reason: Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which considered sex between same genders as unnatural, was repealed. The judgement was welcomed by different sections of the society - LGBT and others too. People thronged the streets in support of the verdict and the members who were deemed a minority based on their sexual preferences.

But little did I venture to think about another side which considered this verdict with a disdain. Reason: A coversation with one of my friends made me listen to the laments of the so called 'mainstream' heterosexual men. My friend went on to narrate his fear at being attacked openly by a gay. So long, this section of the population were quite sober and careful in their ways but after the act being repealed, the new found freedom would pave way for them to openly flirt and hit on men who were not 'gays.' Maybe they were sidelined down the ages but this verdict would cause the long supression to burst forth with a vengeance. My friend also went on to animatedly explain a few instances of being'approached' by gays.

Well, this was a totally different take on the issue of homosexuals. Many religious groups have expressed concern over the repealing of Section 377 but for the first time I came across an argument that spoke for the alpha heterosexual male who felt threatened and insecure about the law. Maybe the angst of my friend was a bit exaggerated but then it provided a new twist to the whole debate of sexuality. While talking about these issues we often take for granted that it is only religion which opposes deviant sexual practices but never thought about how the so called 'normal' man would react to the entire process.

Arguments and points of view are many about the scrapping of Section 377 and I have but presented only one in this entry. I am sure that there are others who might have reasons for or against this verdict by the High Court.

Photo Courtesy: The Hindu
Date:03/07/2009 URL:

Friday 3 July 2009

Of Shades and Stares

Is there anything in India that does not get stared at. Well, I can talk only about India as its the only place that has had me so far. After great thought and meandering, I finally ventured to buy shades for me as I found the sun too bright for my eyes. I bought one! The number of people who stared at me while walking down the streets made me think whether I was some weird creature that was out on the loose. TII [as my friend would say: This Is India! A tagline from the movie 'Blood Diamond,' where TIA (This is Africa) is used].

This brings me to the larger question that I intended to sound off in this entry: Why do people stare? Ofcourse the usual norm is that a girls/boys (men/women) stare at each other and that can be attributed to biology and harmones. But why does everything get stared at in India? A few examples: A girl wearing jeans, riding a two wheeler/four wheeler, donning a hat, wearing stilettos, bling,etc. You name it and you can always have at least one person for anything you name. This business of staring can actually cause different things to the receiver (of the stares). A person I know used to remark that being stared at, lifts the self esteem as it implies that someone likes the way you dress/look/walk/etc. But then, are all stares the same? NO. It expresses different things that are not always welcome.

Going into the psychology of staring. The fear of being stared at is called Scopophobia (courtesy Wikipedia - How I love this site!) Another info fished out from Wiki: Jean-Paul Sartre discusses "The look" in BEING AND NOTHINGNESS, in which the appearance of someone else creates a situation in which a person's subjectivity is transformed without their consent. I cannot but agree to Sartre as I can perfectly see how one's "subjectivity is transformed without their consent." The object that is stared at, for a few seconds becomes a commodity that in a way stifles the individual. Probably this aspect unnerved the feminists who coined the term 'male gaze' referring to the male who looks at a woman in a sexual gaze and in a way behaves that it is his birthright to do so (the same implies to women too).

Whatever said and done, when being stared at, the individual for a few seconds loses the normalcy that is taken for granted. For some time it seems like a spotlight shone on you and it is so very bright that one feels the need to blink and turn away. Thats what I precisely do - Turn Away.


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