Monday, June 28, 2004

A heart-warming story or Why India is a great country

Sonepat, June 28
A glowing example of brotherhood among the Hindu and Muslim communities has been set in Nangal Kalan village in Sonepat district, where the marriage of a Muslim girl has been performed by donations from the villagers in a temple.
According to a report, the marriage was performed by the villagers last night after the girl’s father Sharafat Ali was left in a lurch when a wealthy man of the village backtracked on his promise to fund it.
The villagers then came to the rescue of the hapless father and collected funds from each household for the marriage of the girl with a Meerut-based groom, the report said.
The duo tied the nuptial knots with pomp and show much to the relief of Ali who profusely expressed his gratitude to the villagers, it added.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Decoding the political matrix for you

LK Advani’s address to the BJP national executive in Mumbai.
What he said: “Prudent politics for the BJP would be to carry along its cadres the Sangh Parivar and its ideology alongwith it.”
What he actually said: “Enough of this governance shit. We should have paid heed to our friends from the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal in the first place and indulged in our favourite sport — minority-bashing — during the election campaign. That Modi chap had got the formula right. Now if that old buzzard Vajpayee shuts his trap, we can get back to some good old hate politics.”

Dreamgirl Hema Malini at the same venue.
What she said: “I am just listening to everyone right now.”
What she actually said: “Duh!”

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Thoughts on Reliance Industries vice-chairman Anil Ambani filing his nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha:
In Ram Gopal Verma’s seminal film on the Mumbai underworld Satya, Paresh Rawal, who plays the role of a high-ranking police official, says about underworld dons, “Bhag gaye to Dubai se dhanda chalayenge, pakre gaye to jail ke andar se dhanda chalayenge.”
The same is quite true of the Ambanis, till now they have dictated government policy from outside, next they will do it from inside.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Ever wondered what astronauts wear in space?

New Delhi, 16 June
Space clothing is not so drab as it appears to be in photographs showing the “robot-like” get-up of astronauts as those on the space odyssey are given a catalogue to choose their clothes, a Russian report says.
Space suits are worn only during the launch, docking, undocking and landing while rest of the time during missions, astronauts wear simple clothes, Russian news bulletin Ria Novosti Scitech Bulletin reports.
Astronauts are given a space catalogue for having clothes of their choice. “The purpose of the catalogue is to make clothes not only comfortable but nice as well,” it says.
The report says the presence of women on space missions has made their male counterparts more careful in the selection of clothes.
“Sergei Treshchev, a cosmonaut, asked for new sports shorts... He would feel awkward wearing boxer shorts in presence of a woman,” it says. (Jockey might just have found a niche market for itself.)
While underwear is made according to the standard measurements of the rest of the clothing, the personal taste of an astronaut, besides the shape of the neck, length of the sleeves and colour preferences are also taken into account, it says.
The clothing for a woman astronaut is unique with tailors designing clothes to make her feel like a “real woman in a spaceship and not just a fellow astronaut”. Space clothing designers have produced bathing suits and various types of underwear for women, it says. (Can Victoria’s Secret be too far behind)
Peggy Whitson, an Americam astronaut, selected modest clothing for her space flight which included long underwear without trimmings. Claudie Haignere, a French astronaut, picked up a “pretty bikini and tops with lace”. (So what’s new? Flash Gordon’s chick did it all the time)
“Many years ago, cosmonauts on the Mir space station had a shower cabin. Designers created bathrobes out of terry cloth for cosmonauts to wear after a shower but when they put on the bathrobes, it rode up almost to their ears,” it says. There is no shower on international space station with astronauts and cosmonauts using wet towels, it adds.
As all clothes ride up (kind of reminds you of Marilyn Monroe in The Seven-year Itch), sports shirts are made long — almost kneelength, it says. Also, clothes cannot have buttons as they can tear off in weightlessness and fly around the spaceship creating unexpected problems. Thus, zippers and snaps are used instead.
Cosmonauts are also given a sleeveless and collarless operator’s suit made from knitted fibre which helps them maintain a comfortable body temperature, the report says.
They rarely wear footwear and are given one pair of shoes on even long flights. In everyday activities, they wear thick terry socks. As clothes are not washed, used clothing is put in special packages and loaded in a cargo spaceship. After undocking from the station, the cargo spaceship together with the dirty clothes is burned up (if feminists ever went to space it would give bra burning an entirely new dimension) in the atmosphere.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

I bunked office today. And after a long time experienced the diurnal magic of sunset and sunrise. These are indeed the two most magic moments in a day. While my sleeping habits effectively mean that I miss nature's morning show, my office hours deny me from enjoying the pleasures of dusk. So, today I stood at the verandah (sounds much better than balcony) and watched life pass by, people returning from office, children going to the park, young couples taking a walk.

I saw the late afternon sun mellow into an extended twilight before dusk pulled down the curtains on the wonderful show and the streetlights flickered to life to drive home the message that the show was over.

There's something very melancholy about dusk and it never fails to remind me of the Suman Chattopadhyaya song, "Mon kharap kora bikel manei megh korechhe."

Saturday, June 12, 2004

For the record, I didn’t stop blogging, I just had a writer’s block that lasted one-and-a-half years. (With apologies to the Eagles.)

Ramblings will resume bringing to you thought-provoking\yawn-inducing articles, self-indulgent essays and often one-sided opinion on matters of national\international\personal importance.

Assuming that somebody is\will read\reading these “ramblings”, I will be looking forward to your reactions (no profanities, please), so please feel free to click on that ‘Comment’ button and have your say.

The following PTI report set me thinking about the controversy over the uniform civil code. Though it is an emotive issue with Muslims and I personally feel there should be consultations before it is introduced in the country in order to dispel any impression that it is being forced down the throat of a particular community, the following incident just makes me wonder if the Muslim leadership is capable of taking a balanced and fair view of the whole affair.

Controversy over 'talaq' in Orissa village


Bhadrak (Orissa), June 1

Sher Ali was drunk when he had a tiff with his young wife Najma Bibi a few months ago. As the argument continued, Ali in a fit of rage mumbled 'talaq' three times.

The episode in Kantabania village near Bhadrak town has now escalated into a full-blown controversy over the question as to whether the 'talaq', issued in an inebriated condition,
was valid or not.

The couple, at the centre of the raging controversy, now are pleading that they want to remain man and wife. But they have remained separated following the dictates of the local
'chauda mahalla' (a body representing the Muslim community).

The issue had been taken up by the National Commission for Women (NCW) and the State Commission for Women (SCW) with the former deputing a five-member team to inquire into the

The team arrived here on May 21 last and talked to people explaining that 'talaq' given in an inebriated condition was 'not valid'.

According to Superintendent of Police Mahendra Pratap, Ali said that he was drunk when he issued the 'talaq'. But the community took the position that they could not live together as 'talaq' had been issued by the husband.

It was also alleged that Ali had been roughed up by some villagers for staying with Najma who, they claimed, was no longer his wife.

Police had instituted a case in this connection against 16 persons in the Bhadrak town police station. Ali, who belonged to Nanga Mohalla, was staying with his in-laws in Kantabania after his marriage.

Meanwhile, the 'sahi sardars' (local leaders) of Kantabania and Nanga Mohalla had directed that the couple should live separately till the decision of the 'chauda
mahalla' committee, its president Shaikh Abdul Bari said.

But the story of Ali and Najma appears to have receded to the background with the 'chauda mahalla' leadership deciding to organise a silent procession here on Thursday to protest against the "interference" by outside agencies in matters relating to the Muslim Personal Law.

"We have decided to protest this interference," Bari said.

Najma and Ali, who had first contacted a NGO Ashiyana, after the problem arose, were advised to get the opinion of a mufti (an expert on Muslim theology) in Dhamnagar. The mufti ruled that the divorce was not valid as it was given in an inebriated state.

Bari, however, did not agree and the matter was referred to another mufti who said that the 'talaq' was valid.

Najma has now requested the 'chauda mahalla' committee that the matter should be placed before a third mufti, Bari said.

Amidst this controversy, Najma and her four children shifted temporarily to a short stay home run by Ashiyana, Abdus Salam, who works as a family counsellor in the NGO, said.

Salam said the matter had been taken to the family court at Cuttack by the SCW which ruled in favour of the couple living as man and wife.

Najma was now living with her parents while Ali was staying in his own village.

If the 'talaq' is held valid, then Najma, local Muslim leaders said, had the option of 'halala' for reunion with her husband.

It meant that she should marry another person who would issue her 'talaq' again. Then she could return to her first husband.

Najma, however, disagreed. "If my new husband refuses to give me talaq, then what?," she asked, according to social activist and former member of the SCW, Namrata Chaddha who was a
member of the NCW team.

She said the NCW team was of the view that the couple should be allowed to live together.

Chaddha told PTI in Bhubaneswar that she intended to file a petition in the Orissa High Court in this regard. "The papers are being processed now," she said.

What stupidity is this? I mean who are these ‘chauda mahalla’ jokers and why should anyone give any credence to what they have to say? These kind of incidents just strengthen the perception of Muslims being an extremely rigid and fundamentalist community. Somebody should just tell these self-appointed guardians of the community to bugger off. But, at the core of the problem remains the fact that the community needs to look within. It needs go beyond all these triviality, shed its ante-diluvian mindset and try to reap the benefits of modern education in order to integrate itself with the national mainstream.

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