Friday, November 7, 2008

Thank you.

Early on Wednesday my phone rung at 6.10 in the morning. Usually an impossibly heavy sleeper, I was wide awake as I reached for the phone and heard the words, ‘We’ve done it! We’ve done it! America has a black president!’

Many people have asked me why I was so involved in the US elections. Why, for almost a year, I followed the New York Times, the Guardian, You Tube and Salon as they relentlessly tracked the nominations, then the campaigns, then the elections themselves. Why I read the blogs, laughed at the SNL skits, never missed an episode of the Daily Show. Why? I’m not an American, I don’t live in the US, and have only visited the country once. And yet, when Barack Obama took the stage on Wednesday morning, he was speaking as much to me as to anyone in his audience.

I come from a generation without a cause. I grew up in surroundings where being political was considered a waste of time, where feminist was an insult, not a badge of honour, where Paris Hilton and Bollywood stars were the people we admired. I grew up at a time when my countrymen killed tens of thousands of people in Gujarat in a religious genocide and the world did not bat an eyelid. I lived to see the man who orchestrated this horror re-elected by a large majority. I was eighteen when the World Trade Center came crashing down, and sent the words war, Iraq, Iran, and terrorism flying like splinters into all our hearts. I learned the hard way that idealism is dead. I grew up in a generation without religion, without faith. Causes failed us. We never had 1968, nor the civil rights movement, nor the struggle for independence, nor the fight for suffrage. What we had was Channel V and McDonald’s. The biggest wars seemed over by the time we got there, and the mold had hardened. The things that remained undone seemed destined to remain undone for ever.

And then, last year, suddenly, the most powerful country in the world was to elect a new leader. They had elected Bush twice, and the world was confirmed in its view that American voters were idiots, who deserved what they got. The war in Iraq was killing so many people that death was becoming passé. Afghanistan was forgotten.

And then things began to change. A woman and a black man. And this woman would have been enough, had it not been for the black man.

I was in the crowd of a hundred thousand that was in Berlin this June. I waited three hours in the blazing sun, leaning on the shoulders of strangers as we waited for Barack Obama to come out and speak to us. And when he came, it turned out he was no rock star, no god. He was a thin black man in a suit, who spoke to us as if we could understand. He made no lofty promises, but he said things we had all been thinking, things everyone knew. He saw the change we wanted, and we knew he wanted it too. He treated his audience as if they were not idiots, but smart people, just like him. He told us we were people who could make things change if we wanted to. And we believed him. And we did.

But it was not only for Barack Obama that I followed this election. He was only a part of it. We all watched as he came to embody change for an entire country, and for an entire planet. For three months we watched, as one people, as the thin silver thread of opportunity was grasped by the American people. So many things have gone wrong these past years. We have let down the planet, our fellow men and women, entire nations. We have made so many mistakes. And the worst one was apathy. But in one gleaming moment, we saw the opportunity for redemption, and we took it. We watched as the same people that we had branded as fools for electing Bush made calls, knocked on doors, made decisions, and finally turned out in numbers never seen before to be the change they wanted to see.

And on Tuesday, we watched together as they got what they wanted. They say a people get the leader they deserve. Well, in this case they got what they deserved. They got a symbol of change, of hope for a better future, of a chance of healing. They got a leader they can be proud of and that the world will be proud to follow. And they showed us that it can be done. If we want it, it can be done. Next week there will be another war, another atrocity. There are people whose lives will never be touched by this. But for this one day, we can be proud to be human. Proud to be alive. Proud to be young with the desire for change burning bright within us. Proud to have lived through that night, and proud to belong to a world where these things can still happen. Thank you, America. And well done.

Monday, August 18, 2008

And meanwhile in Pakistan...

Celebrations broke out across the country after Musharraf's announcement, with people dancing and handing out sweets. "Thank God he's resigned. The country will do much better now. It's a victory for the people," said Mohammad Ilyas, 30, in Karachi.
Didn't they say almost the same thing right after the coup? I'm just saying...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

News Flash: Chips Taste Better Than Veggies

Oh, such a shock. Who knew a 16-year-old would rather eat chips (french fries to the rest of us) than queue for a meal of organic veggies or whatever it is they are feeding kids these days?
I'm all for providing diet alternatives, I benefit from them everyday, but you can't hold someone down and make them eat what you want them to eat. Even if 'someone' is a 16 year old. Back off, mom.

To all believers:

When we die, one of us is going to look very, very silly. But there's still a chance I might be able to explain to someone that I backed the wrong horse. Who are you going to talk to?
Picture Courtesy:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Antichrist Walks Among Us

Kook Warning: This post is the product of too much spare time and some insanity, and is not meant to be taken seriously, and/or offend anyone. You have been warned.
I have a pet theory about Saint Angelina and her twins. Remember the Astronaut's Wife with the delish Johnny Depp? I enter that movie into evidence as Exhibit 1: the aliens walk among us, and are trying to have alien babies.
I argue, milord, that Angelina Jolie is an alien, whose purpose on earth is to bear the twins who will destroy all creation. On what, you ask, do I base this valid and insightful theory? Well, the answer lies in that picture above. Look closely. How is anyone human supposed to be that perfect-looking? How, I ask? And I'll tell you also. Because she's not human. She's the aliens' idea of what perfection looks like. Her task was to find the perfect genetic material to reproduce with. Presenting Exhibit 2: the perfect genetic material standing next to her. I mean, he may not be to everyone's taste, but it doesn't get any more perfect than Brad Pitt. And now she's subsumed his identity, making them: BRANGELINA. It's too much. Angelina Jolie (and don't even get me started on that name) and Brad Pitt have twins in the South of blessed France. I rest my case. The end is approaching, ladies and gentlemen. You'll find me in the nuclear-proof bunker, clutching the cans of spam and the flashlight.
Oh, and picture courtesy the lovely Jezebel. Right, where's that garlic-garland?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Taking Back the F Word

Kira Cochrane's got an interesting piece in the Grauniad today, about how the campaign for gender equality is regressing. Women's bodies, she says, are being picked apart today as never before. Every wrinkle, every 'extra' pound on a celebrity's body is up for scrutiny by the public. Go look at ANY issue of any tabloid, and behold the criticism on what Equality in the employment field is a distant dream, with women recieving up to 17% less pay for full-time jobs than men on average. And that's just in Britain. I'd be frightened to hear the figures for that in India. Of course, that's not even taking into account the fact that women tend to go into fields of employment that are traditionally associated with care-giving (nursing, old age support), or appearance-related, which tend to be lower paid, and don't have as much labour representation. It's still accepted for women to be passed over for jobs because, you know, we have this annoying habit of giving birth to children and allowing the maternal instinct to turn our brains to mush.(Alan Sugar on this lovely trend: we're not allowed to ask, so it's easy. Just don't hire them. Thanks, Mr. Sugar. Now we know why all of your apprentices seem to come with penises as a prerequisite.)
Rape convictions in the UK are dropping, rates of single motherhood the world over increasing exponentially. Pro-choice is still a bad word, because you know, what a woman does with an unwanted conception is still apparently everyone's business but her own.
I heard today about a case over the New Year where two women were assaulted and molested in front of the Gateway of India (symbolic, what?) by a mob of forty men, and a Google search for 'women molested New Years' turned up not just this one story, but ELEVEN others.
The Times of India says there's a rape every hour in Delhi, the vast majority unreported.
We all know that bunch of guys, whether at a club, a pub, in class, at work, who 'rate' the women in the room. One of the gems I once heard, from a group of guys I know, looking at pics of a mutual acquaintance, 'What are you talking about? She's not fat!' In a different situation, about a different woman, by different men: 'Yaar, she's a bit of an enthu-cutlet, but killer boobs'.
Then there's Zoe Cruz, senior executive at Morgan Stanley, who had contributed billions to the organisation, slated to be the next CEO, who was the first to be turfed out when the subprime crisis hit. She was nicknamed 'the witch', 'the czarina', and 'the cruz missile', because a woman that reaches the top has to be, you know, a ball-crusher. Morgan Stanley also settled a massive sex discrimination case out of court recently, brought by dozens of female employees who argued that women were not given the same opportunities for advancement.
I can't count the number of times a woman has said to me, 'oh, but I'm not a feminist. I love men.' When did feminist become a bad word? When did it become the new F Word? When it did become about man-hating, flag-waving, bra-burning (and for the fortieth time, that NEVER happened) lesbian viragos? Well, hell, I'm a feminist. I'm not a victim. I'm no survivor, either. I'm just a person who won't be told that her uterus will dictate her life choices, and who wants what anyone else wants. The right to live her life on her own terms. Those choices might include marriage, children, and a home. Or a career. Or having a BMI of 45, or getting cellulite on my face, if I choose. Or walking home at 3 AM by myself. Or wearing a short skirt on a summer's day. Or, you know, AND, or any combination of the above. But I don't believe there's anyone that can tell me which of those choices is the right one, because of which gender I choose to identify with. So there. I'm a feminist. I'm taking the F word back.
Oh, and I'd just got to this point of righteous rage, when I found this little gem. Hee hee hee. All is well with the world. You've got to love the delicious buffoonery of comparing MEN to the Jews in 1940s Europe. Chortle chortle. Who's an angry little mannie then? Who is? Chuckle.

We Live in Interesting Times

Here's a charming set of three (allegedly) Chinese curses:
May you live in interesting times.
May you come to the attention of those in authority.
May you find what you are looking for.

One down, two to go.

Beijing Welcomes You! Enjoy the pwetty video!