Journalist attacked with water balloons for writing about children’s reading habits

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Dholakpur: A freelance journalist, Nirdosh Pirzada was recently attacked by children for writing a controversial article about how kids should be encouraged to read. The five accused go to the same preschool in Dholakpur. The attackers used water balloons which were prepared in advance and threw a barrage of them at the hapless journalist when he was coming out of his car, parked outside his residence.

The intensity of one of the water balloons was fierce and caused Pirzada to lose balance, as a result of which he fell and suffered a scrape on his knee. The attackers made sure to finish the prepared balloons on the man and ended the violence with a spray of cold water, on his chest, delivered through a water gun.

They fled from the spot soon after their mothers called them back home to finish their homework and milk. Pirzada is currently admitted to an expensive city hospital where he is undergoing treatment to cure his scrapes and post-traumatic headache. Doctors have said he will need intensive care and will be charged five times of what the treatment actually should.

Meanwhile, the children have been taken into custody for questioning and investigation by the Dholakpur police. One of them, Titoo aged 6, said, “He has no right to tell us children that we should read, look at our ministers and leaders, they don’t read. I want to be like them when I grow up.” An emotional Titoo started crying after this and was consoled after he was allowed to play with his favourite action figure, which he proudly called Namoo. The other children weren’t available for comments since they were occupied in a ceremony organised by their school, applauding them for their deed. The school has also named five squads in their honour.

Pirzada, a journalist since one year was enraged and is planning on taking the matter to court. “I won’t let these kids go free. Their minds have been poisoned because they drink cow’s milk, I am telling you buffalo milk is A1.”

Pirzada fainted after his Facebook live session.

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The Neighbour

My relationship with wooden panels dates back to college days when I stayed in a paying guest accommodation that had rooms separated by thin cardboard like panels. One could easily hear the girls in the adjacent room talk on the phone, giggle and make small talk with each other or their parents. While it was tolerable in the day, during the nights you could just bang on the panel to let them know that they could be heard. Some wouldn’t stop even then.

The second time I encountered wooden panels, it was 2 years later.

There’s a particular spot in our rented house where I like to write. It’s a comfortable sofa with a puffy to keep one’s foot on, sounds luxurious and it is one luxurious sitting spot too. The cosiest in the house, according to my mother. If there’s a downside to this spot, it has to be it’s close proximity to the dreaded wooden panel. This panel is more solid than the one in my pg in Delhi and connects the other side of the floor through an equally strong wooden door.

My neighbour is a Parsi lady of big built, short salt and pepper hair, wears spectacles, and has a friendly but usually loud voice. She lives up to the image you might have of a Parsi lady in her 50’s. My neighbour lives alone and works at a hospital during the day, takes piano lessons twice or thrice in a week and makes really good tiramisu.

Almost like a ritual, she calls up a woman, whom I will call the lady on the phone, between 8-9 in the evening. The next one hour is followed by my neighbour, gossiping, catching up and sharing trivial details of her life with the lady on the phone.

I mostly saw this as a nuisance since I find it difficult to find interest in what my neighbour ate during the day or what she plans to do after she keeps the phone. I usually didn’t cope with her conversations very well, since it would make me get up from my favourite spot. If you have ever met me at my house between the hour of 8-9, you will know that it’s not the best time to visit.

One such evening, I was sitting with my laptop struggling to come up with something to write for my blog, I had been struggling for days now. Mind you, my blog may not have readers, but publishing on it is good writing practice.

Meanwhile, from the other side of the wooden panel, I could hear a phone ringing. It was my neighbour’s call to the lady on the phone, she had put it on speaker. Before I could roll my eyes again, I started listening intently.

My neighbour went on and on, taking few breathers in between to listen to the lady on the phone. The lady on the phone had rather few inputs to give. my neighbour would start with when she woke up, what she did when she left the house for the office. My neighbour would laugh in between, mimic someone she met during her day dramatically, laugh even more loudly and the lady on the phone would follow up with an equally loud laughter. My neighbour’s peculiar habit, to keep the volume of the receiver very high, so the lady on the phone’s voice was audible, a fair mumble of words and crystal clear laughs.

My neighbour would mention the advice she gave to a person called Nazeer. Often, she would complain about her weight and her inability to lose the fat.

Sometimes, there were detailed comparisons of people’s dressing sense, with detailed comparisons or why she doesn’t use Jet Airways to fly to Bombay.

One evening, there was a bit about how one lady called Rajni has been messing around with Jyoti. I also knew that as part of her preparation for her trip to Mashobra, she had packed her warm Adidas sweater. “Maine toh Kuch Nahi Karna wahan, main Toh Apni saheli se milne ja rahi hun,” she explained, laughing.

My neighbour had met her mother one morning, she started that bit by telling her friend where her mother was sitting. She also appreciated her mother’s spontaneous nature and how she would have agreed to go for a trip to Shimla, on a short notice.

My neighbour has numerous things to say, I wonder if she uses WhatsApp like we do, constantly, to give fragmented snippets of information about our lives to various people. My neighbour, I am assuming fits all those text messages into one long hour of verbal dialogue.

Maybe I will listen again, the wooden panel, me and her unending phone balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons from a Cartoon’s Life

Bored Bob is a cartoon character I created when I was 6 minutes old.  After I was done with the mandatory post birth crying indicating I was alive, I signaled my mother to bring me a paper and started drawing Bob.  Bored Bob’s character spans the life of a face (he doesn’t have a body because I never got to that out of sheer lack of the urge to make it.)   Why it is important that Bob is a cartoon is because being a cartoon he is just observing the people around the world, he is not biased. Since he is not human, he offers the most neutral opinion on how human beings conduct themselves.

Why I drew Bob is a question I can’t answer, since I fail to find the answer even after an extensive google search.

All I know is that Bob was inspired out of boredom and the feeling of being unamused by almost everything in the world. Bob is pessimistic since he wants human beings to think about the downside of being in a certain situation. He expects you to think about the negatives before the positives. Having said that, Bob is a practical individual too, since through his pessimism he is constantly trying to improve. It’s efficient pessimism, in other words. Or is that called being a realist?  He wants you to not find a silver lining always. Bob feels that boredom can lead to great things. Take for instance, the case of a glass that is half filled with water, or empty. Compare this to the entire volume of water that the earth has inside it today. If we keep thinking that the glass is half full and are satisfied by that thought, we will never be able to look at the problem of there soon being a dearth in the water supply. Hence, Bob’s practicality is established.

If you are still not convinced, think about it, if you are always happy and moderately satisfied with your life, how will you be able to drive change? You will continue to be in a very comfortable bubble and keep doing the same things till you die. It is only when you feel bored that you think about other possibilities and other great things you can do with your life. Bob does not encourage pessimism to the extent that there is no coming back from it, he just urges you to think if you are amused or excited about anything, often enough to keep you going.

Bored Bob was very happy being in his mother’s womb, but now suddenly, he was out in this cruel world. A world in which people chase useless things. Someone is running after money, some people are running after getting themselves degrees to hang on their walls. Some our building resume’s so that they get a higher paying job which is equally un-interesting. Worse, some are just fulfilling their parent’s expectations because they are too chicken to follow their passion, which they don’t even know exists. They think it is okay to do drab work and have a few hobby’s on the side. Little do they know that maybe those hobbies could be what could fuel a brilliant life. So, finding a silver lining everywhere will lead you no where.

“If you expect the worst, you’ll never be disappointed.” is  a quote by Sarah Dessen and it couldn’t be truer.

Bored Bob knew what kind of a world he had entered into. He always knew that he had to chase boredom, critique and comment on everything that the world was up to.

He was greeted with negativity as soon as he was born. Negativity related to his father not giving him enough attention because he was clicking selfies with him, negativity because his own mother was off to work after delivering him, skyping to console Bob. Bored Bob was lonely minutes after stepping into the world. As a mechanism to protect himself from the cruel world, he became a hard core pessimist and decided that nothing will make him happy, so it’s better to bring to light these negativities so that more people realise how dysfunctional they are. At least that way they know that things need to be changed. Boredom is a like a point of inflection between being average and being great.

When he was born, his parents were amused by the number of cares he could not give.  There has been one exception though, there was a time when Bored Bob chuckled for a duration of 30 hours. He just couldn’t get over how humans follow routines every day. They wake up at a certain time of the day and get ready to work and complain. Why do they get caught in these ruts, is not understandable. Imagine a world where there’s a majority of people doing what they love. There will be less depression, less worries and more peace.

But why is Bored Bob important at all? He is important because he stands for all those people who couldn’t care less about the world. Who couldn’t care less about what you ate for lunch, or how many babies you want when you grow up. Bored Bob and his followers, which are none at the moment, stand up for the right to be indifferent to all the non-sense humans have created.

Agreeing to what this giant leprechaun once said, ” If it were not for pessimists, optimists would be all the people in this world. “

“I am depressed”, says Feminism

A millennial feminist’s diary entry on 30th January 2017

 “I am an urban Indian woman, the third wave of the feminist movement is in full swing in India and world over. From what I see and hear, I guess that the movement is about sharing articles we read on social media and blaming societal codes and men for the hardships women have to go through. I am a 19-year-old feminist who is doing her best to take part in this wave of change. 
 
I often come across Buzzfeed articles like  “23 Times Feminists Shut Men up” and “17 more Times Women had the Perfect Comeback. I also read “The Sexism Row over Natural and Circular Flip Phone” and “9 Signs that a Girl you like has friend-zoned you permanently. So many people share such articles on a daily basis, so it’s easy to stumble upon them. In fact, not having read about feminism in school or anywhere else, these articles define for me, what it is to be a feminist today. Since I relate to all or parts of them, I share them and so do a thousand other youngsters like me. 
 
As a young girl, these articles that I read continue to shape my nascent and developing mind a lot.
 
I am taking part in the movement wherein hundreds of girls and maybe a few boys who think like me will share what they relate to on social media with captions that will convince the world that we know what we are talking about. Do you realize the kind of impact we are making? One post shared by each person reaches a hundred more people and so on so forth. There we have, a brigade of unaware, men and women, women and men.  
 
I feel good on days like International Women’s Day where I use discounts and get a plethora of services for free. It is just another day, but with less spending and a blinding acknowledgement of women’s existence. I read up online that International Women’s Day dates back to 1909 and was started to acknowledge the movement for women’s rights. It has now become a haven for profit making ventures. Girls and boys like me know little beyond that.
 
You see, I was brought up in an urban environment and I haven’t faced most of the issues that form the cornerstone of the feminist movement. Most of my discussions about the movement go something like this. “We should start questioning why we have long hair. Having long hair is very sexist.” “I agree with you, Sheetal, the longer the hair the more shampoo you have to use. These guys just want women to pay more. ” “I am going to hold a candlelight march against this ” “Yay Sheetal! So many people will relate. Go Feminism!”
 

Feminism’s journal entry on 30th January 2017

“I know a lot of you hate me and my existence. Although ‘popular’, I am mostly infamous. I am going to change my name to ‘Equalism’ for now because I saw a human rolling his eyes when he heard my name in a conversation. This hurts me deeply because I stand for the hopeful human reality called gender equality. But somehow I have managed to find haters.
 
There is a forum on Reddit where the members believe that it is men, not women who have been “socially disenfranchised.” So I sometimes wonder, am I encouraging hatred among the sexes?
 
Years of mind numbing marches against bras and boys have somehow left me misunderstood. I don’t hate men, I do not want people who follow me to nitpick and play the blame game. But alas, that is what is happening today. Right now, people are calling themselves ‘equalists’ just for knowing the definition of the word and also because they ‘believe’ in the idea. I am not asking every human to do field work, to hold marches, but I am asking humans to have a clearer picture of what they are fighting for.
 
What do you see as the goal of equalism? To have larger pockets for women in their clothes? Or would you prefer young girls, boys and the queer giving shape to a world where we advance as humans. To have more Elon Musks, Barack Obama’s, Indra Nooyi’s and George Orwell’s?
 
We can build spaceships and carry out an expedition of this mighty universe. Damn, in front of things like these, I feel trivial. The possibility of a world like this may sound Utopian, but unless we imagine something great, it won’t happen to us. We’ve got to be ambitious here.
 
Unaware girls and boys, men and women are using my name to protest and march against sexist tampons. Today, equalism is a perpetual circle where people whine about redundant things and the majority of the planet continues to agree to those things. They keep shouting, people keep agreeing, the cycle sees no end.
 
If I look to the left, I see women in rural areas of third world countries dropping out of school because they can’t afford sanitary pads. According to UNESCO, 1 in every 10 girls in Africa, drop out of school because they can’t afford it. Sanitary pads are a basic necessity without which women can feel uncomfortable and face problems due to poor hygiene. Young girls miss out on school during menstruation and some girls completely drop out after reaching puberty. While organisations like Zana Africa are making some serious dents, there are never enough helpers in this world.
 
When I look to the right, I find that around 47 million girls and boys in India drop out of school post the 10th standard. The reasons could be lack of motivation, difficulty in coping or family pressure to find work. Why am I telling you about boys when the debate is about, ‘feminism’? Because I am a logical being,  I believe that if an organisation wants more women to join school, they can use the same effort, same people and save so much time and resources by including everyone deprived of something potent. This also proves that I am not self-obsessed.
 
I have a distant cousin, called sexism, who I am not very fond of. She, like me, is also misunderstood. She appeared in a question posed by a reporter from the New York Times, Yamiche Alcindor. She asked Bernie Sanders if running against Hillary Clinton was sexist. This really upset sexism and I. Humans are so well read today and despite of this, they continue their moronic behavior. Oh I will call Yamiche a moron, because she has no excuse! She went to college and has been a journalist for quite some time to be behaving like she did.
 
Take another case of a journalist gone berserk, read the following example. In an article citing reasons for reservation of women’s seats in public transports, she says the following, “Why should I be a hapless victim of a perverted moron when a simple seat can bring me mental calmness and physical safety? I would better raise my voice for a ladies’ seat than fighting these morally-challenged eve-teasers found in every public transport.” Firstly, how is a seat going to make anyone calm and physically safe? I didn’t know that sitting forms an invisible and unbreakable layer around a person which the eve-teaser cannot get through.  Secondly, this journalist is so rude towards these eve teasers. Wait, WAIT before you rage and call me names. You see, most eve teasers are known to have been conditioned in a certain way. They think what they are doing is “fun” or shows that they are superior. But this lady here says that telling them what is right is less important.
 
If we follow her thought process, we should encourage young boys and girls to stay at home rather than do something about the thieves and kidnappers who pose a danger to them. She ends her article like this, “The topic of concern, and the final point I make, is that we, The Woman, would better claim a rightfully-reserved ladies’ seat than depending on the mercy of a decent man (are there any left, by the way?).”
 
To explain why I think the journalist’s approach is wrong, have a look at this YouTube video. I wouldn’t go on explaining my point, watch the video and see if you agree with what it’s trying to say at all.
 
Currently, it has become so easy to express. Let me show you some stats about this. In one minute on the internet, 40,000 Facebook posts, 278 thousand tweets and 72 hours of YouTube videos are generated and shared. If a cranky boy wants to crib about his boo boo, he can write a blog about how “my mom is a pain in my tiny butt.” Some people WILL read this and some will also relate to it. Doesn’t mean we HAVE to waste our energies on it.
 
Aah, I literally have to spoon feed you all.
 
I was planning to reach great heights, which I have now, but standing at this point I feel like jumping and putting an end to this. Please don’t make me. Just read more, spread the correct message, have more meaningful debates and include all humans in this struggle. “
Clearly, feminists and feminism are not on the same page.

Owners of Nothing

It’s 2017 and I already find myself being the user of so many services that help me to outsource my day to day errands. I no longer need to go out myself to buy milk, I also don’t need to buy my own bread. I have the option to not do these tasks because there are services and apps that do it for me. At a cost, obviously.

Recently, I read an article published by the World Economic Forum which prompted me to write this post. The point of the post is no more than a wondering or a thought. You can refer to the WEF article, here.

The article talks about how most services will become free of cost, people will no longer pay rent and will be using green sources of energy by the year 2030. Bottom line is, how products have become services by the year 2030.  Which is so true and relatable at the moment. So many products today, have already become services. For instance, I don’t own a mode of transportation, because of services like Uber & Ola. Furniture for me is no longer a product since I rent it. You & I, we also have the option to rent clothes.

My view of 2030 is slightly different, though. It doesn’t look at everything becoming free of cost. The reason why the author thinks services are free because individual  A understands that B can use her living room for his office meeting. My view point however, definitely sees 2030 as the year where we will be the owners of nothing. I imagine a 2030 in which I am still paying for all the services I use.

Another point, I’d like to talk about is how the emotional detachment as well as general detachment of people from things and people is also leading to the ‘renting everything’ state of my mind. Most people I know around me, won’t refrain from moving to another city or even a country to do what they want to. Their fluidity and dynamism is what ultimately makes them detached from their environment. This kind of a mentality implies that they do not want to buy a lot of things when they might just move to another place a year later. Not a lot of people want to invest their time and money into searching for the perfect piece of sofa, for the car that gives them a lot of mileage and for a house with a large balcony. So renting makes sense in this case.

Slightly unrealistic and judgemental, but we may even rent food by 2030 because people would have dumbed down so much, that they’d pay according to the amount of time you take to eat a particular food item, rather than the actual cost of it.

The author also talks about how there will be no privacy since we would need to be registered for everything we use. Convenience definitely comes at a cost. This reminds me of the dystopian novel by George Orwell, 1984.  This couldn’t be more true, because of the internet, an average consumer ends up sharing so much information with big companies. In turn, this data is mostly used by them to make more money since they are able to decipher who their consumers are, what they are doing, thinking and where their preferences are shifting. So basically, nothing is private, if you’re accessing the internet at all. Even if you are off social media, you might be using online websites. Hence companies offering such services, for instance, grocery delivery companies, know what you are eating and how much of it.

They may sell this data to health insurance companies, who then spike their premiums if they are aware of the amount processed food items in your shopping cart. It’s a hypothesis.This was one of the points in a very interesting discussion about how we can stop privacy from being a luxury good. The debate is about what can be done to ensure that our lives remain as private as they should be. Is that even possible in 2017?

It’s so mind blowing to realise that George Orwell was a genius for writing this way back in 1949. His point couldn’t be truer. Everything we do is known by someone, all our data is out there, in the open. There are businessmen and governments making use of it, of our preferences, of our communications.

So as we are able to afford to rent most things, there is more capitalism, there is less privacy and definitely, more convenience.

That Uber pool rider

We know Uber pool is a great initiative by this meta start-up to save the environment. The idea is brilliant since most individuals will always be attracted to an initiative if it also means they have to spend less.

That’s what happened with Uber pool, you’re saving the environment AND your money, win win.

But as much as I love the service, there are times when I wish I had the money to book an Uber Go.

So to all the Uber pool riders, I do not know if I should smile at you when you come sit next to me. I do not know if I should quietly go about my business of plugging in my headphones and looking at the picturesque view of traffic jams and junctions. I also do not know if I should tell you to stop talking so loudly on the phone, when you do.

Especially when you’re talking in a language I do not understand, it takes away the opportunity to eaves drop. Your constant chatter about how you are wearing the garment you shopped for recently or how you are so hungry, are not more interesting than Dora the explorer or Kipper, for that matter.

When I do smile sometimes, when I am in the mood; you either look away or don’t look at all. I have to keep my gaze constantly to the side, away from you so that I don’t have any scope of making conversation with you while we sit so conscious of our boundaries.

Do you know how lovely the view really is in traffic jam packed cities? It’s amazing and to die for. There’s a million cars around you, with frustrated drivers and riders and the  equally frustrated environment.

The digital age has unintentionally conditioned  us to to avoid any awkward or uncomfortable social situation by taking out our phones and tapping away to ignorance. Sometimes, I aimlessly scroll through social media feeds and get bored to death. But horror strikes when my phone has no battery, and I am stuck in the car seat, with lots of awkward silence, loud horns, an indifferent driver and…. you.

Why do we hate to wait? 


People hate to wait at airports and elsewhere. We dislike waiting for someone or something when we let the boredom seep in through us. 

Your restlessness and frustration with waiting is directly proportional to the fear of boredom. Boredom sucks, it’s the lowest point in a U-shaped curve. Boredom can lead you to do weird things, like eat a lot of food even when you’re not hungry, or sleep when you don’t need any. 

I was waiting for someone at the airport recently when it struck me that I was getting restless only because I was letting myself get bored.If I was reading something interesting or putting my brain to good use I wouldn’t be so piqued. 

After all, what else could I do inside the walls of an airport? A lot, in fact. So I decided to write this and felt very productive. Why do we let someone’s late arrival disappoint us when we can do something fruitful? The next time you’re waiting for your turn to come at your doctor’s clinic or you’re stuck in a long queue, start doodling, or dancing, or singing, or squeaking. Anything that interests you! 

Now, this is my opinion and may not apply to all situations. For instance, it is only normal to be frustrated when you’re driving your way through traffic jams. So my solution to this: listen to new music in that time, catch up with your mom or just put on a podcast.