Queer Pride Keralam

Today will be marked in the history of Keralam as the first queer pride parade in Keralam is happening at Thrissur today. It starts from Regional Theatre, Thrissur at 4 PM today and will come back to a public meeting at 6 PM. Why today, July 2nd? Their blog says, “July 2nd of 2009 is the day when the Delhi High court decriminalized homosexuality by rereading section 377 of Indian Penal code. We celebrate pride on this day as we see the judgment as a historical moment in the lives of queer people.

I think it will be really interesting to see the response of common public to this event, particularly in a conservative society like Keralam. It wouldn’t be so surprising but still, the shock treatment would begin today.

Checkout their blog here.

Love Jehad?

Three of my good friends who are Christians married Hindu girls. All three of them were either studying or working together when they first met and fell in love. The girls got converted to Christianity. What do I call this? Love Crusade? I would like to know what Catholic Church has to say about this.

Two of my Hindu friends married Christian girls. The girls got converted to Hinduism at Arya Samaj offices. What do I call this? Love Karseva? I would like to know what Viswa Hindu Parishat has to say about this.

I have mentioned this over and again in many communications that at least in Kerala, those who have to compromise on their religion for a wedding happen to be Women. I have said that this is more of a gender issue because I have never heard of a boy converting to his girl’s religion to get married.

However, when the boy happens to be a Muslim and the girl happens to be a Christian or Hindu, why is it linked to the word Terrorism and an immediate interest in calling it Love Jihad? Why is it that our media even called it an organization without even investigating a little? Why are they remaining silent now that the DGP has submitted a report before the court that there is no such organization and no indication of anything like Love-Jehad? How could the Catholic church shamelessly join hands with VHP in keeping the numbers of the herd intact?

To conclude, an old online acquaintance of mine who happens to be a Muslim married a Christian boy some years back. Both of them have not changed their religions.

What do I call THAT?

What has made DHRM possible?

On September 23rd, a 61 year old ordinary citizen from Varkala went for his usual morning walk and was brutally killed by a group of militants with swords. By evening, the police arrested a member of DHRM (Dalit Human Rights Movement) in connection with this murder, which was followed up by the arrest of 6 others from the same group. The victim had no proven political links and the police stated that this murder was done by DHRM “to get public attention and to prove their strength in ranks“. Police also said that they are inquiring to see if DHRM has any terrorist links.

The obvious reaction of the public to all this was the utmost anger towards such outfits which use the measures of terror to gain publicity. But then I read this article in last week’s India Today (Malayalam edition) about the Varkala incident. I was surprised, because it is not in India Today’s nature to present a view that is contrary to the public opinion and I read that weekly for their local news section in the first couple of pages and then the ‘masala’ section in the last pages. Saritha Balan, a reporter of India Today (Malayalam edition) has written in detail about the backdrop of the murder in Varkala. She says it is important to ask how such an organization like DHRM could influence a majority of the Dalit communities in Ernakulam, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts.

Highlights of the India Today report:

  • DHRM stood for the well-being of Dalits as per some of the residents of Dalit colonies
  • Hundreds of families in the Muthaana, Thoduve colonies are living without the basic facilities
  • There is not even one cent of land for one house in Thoduve colony, where there are more than 600 houses
  • A family has to live in a ‘house’ that we can hardly call a ‘room’ by the public measures
  • Even the primary education is luxury here
  • There is not even a radio set for ‘luxury’

DHRM came to the scene in such a situation. As per some of the colony residents, DHRM gave them hope and they taught them to live responsibly. Most of the Dalit men were under the influence of drugs and alcoholism but DHRM conducted study classes for them. Saritha reports that an 8 year old Sandhya told her that DHRM study classes ask the children to study well and look after their parents.

โ€œMy husband would drink all day and was a total waster,โ€ 29-year-old Kochumol, a mother of three, says. โ€œHe turned a teetotaler after attending DHRM study circles.โ€ Soon, she followed him to these Sunday gatherings where, over five hours, Ambedkarโ€™s life would be recalled and advice given on daily affairs. Cultural shows at the end were a big hit. Despite their meagre earnings as wage labourers โ€” they call themselves โ€˜cooliesโ€™ โ€” everyone would gladly pay Rs 30 for the events. [via]

The India Today report also quotes the colony residents and says that Shivsena activists have been threatening them. We can understand the concern of the political parties here. Communists who have been benefiting from the Dalit communities in Kerala since a very long time would not like another outfit to take the leadership of Dalits and contest in the elections. BJP and Shivsena alike would not like such a Dalit uprising as they have been trying hard to place themselves as the alternate shelter for Dalits in Kerala.

The DHRM has a notable influence among the Dalit community and they have contested elections from Attingal constituency and won 5217 votes in the last parliamentary elections. The question to ask here in this context is, did they (DHRM) have to do such a brutal murder in order to get public attention? They were already popular among the community that they work with and would they go ahead and make such a stupid decision to kill someone and get negative publicity? If it is not the DHRM, then who did that brutal murder? The questions remain unanswered until the final verdict on the case comes out. The DHRM members say that they trust the judiciary like we do and they hope the real culprits would be sent to justice.

Also read:

What is DHRM and why do they kill?
Ambedkar’s Lost Boys?

(Image courtesy: Tehelka)

“Kerala Kerala, Quite Contrary”

Kerala Kerala, Quite Contrary

Book title: Kerala Kerala, Quite Contrary
Category:
Anthology
Editor:
Shinie Antony
Publisher:
Rupa & Co.

When I received the copy of “Kerala Kerala, Quite Contrary“, the first story I read was written by Vinod Joseph, my friend and author of the much-talked-about “Hitchhiker”. What I generally see in the writings about Kerala by the people of Malayali descend who stays outside Kerala, is that they are always critical of Kerala. But Vinod’s short stories never go judgmental but observant. Whether it’s the “Stories from Simhapara” or the one in this book, “A matter of faith“, you can see a slice of Kerala and honesty in his writings. His story in this book, “A Matter of Faith“, tells about the growing Charismatic phenomena among Kerala Christians and it’s a good read.

The book, edited by Shinie Antony, is an anthology. There are 26 pieces in this book which describes Kerala through the individuals’ point of view – through stories, essays, excerpts from books and interviews. A few of these individual view points lack to see Kerala in it’s truest spirit, probably because most of the authors are outside observers who come to Kerala for an annual visit to their ancestral houses.

Take D Vijayamohan’s essay for example. His whole piece turns out to be an anti-Communist tirade. Even though he rightly points out at the old and idiotic stands of Kerala Communists like the one against Computers, he see evil only in the Communists and squarely blames them for the State’s problems. He never mentions anything about the successive Congress governments who are equally responsible. And he also has not seen what Communism (not the present-day Communism) has contributed to the social thread of Kerala. But we are not to be surprised because he is Malayala Manorama’s Delhi bureau chief.

But there are other interesting articles. “The Strange Sisters of Mannarkkad” by William Dalrymple, for example. It talks about how Goddess Bhagavathy and Virgin Mary co-exist in the village of Mannarkkad and Christians and Hindus pray to each others’ Gods. A rarity of religious beliefs which can most probably be seen only in Kerala. The other interesting reads include Satchithandan’s piece on evolution of literature in Kerala, Rtd. DGP Hormis Tharakan’s memoir, a history of Anglo-Indian community in Kerala, a speech transcript of Shahi Tharoor on development etc.

Artist Yusuf Arakkal in his piece complains about the Malayali’s lack of ability to appreciate art. What he fails to understand is that, from an audience/appreciator part, the appetite for Art – especially modern art – generally comes along with money. In a crowded place like Kerala (or India for that matter), where people strive hard to feed off their families well than themselves, art comes secondary or the last thing in their lives. They don’t have time to study or appreciate art and it’s different forms. People in America or France can, perhaps. So it is obvious of artists to migrate to other countries or other cities of India where their art will be appreciated and bought off for some grand bucks. The majority of people in Kerala do not have that luxury so Yusuf will have to excuse. It is changing though, as the number of richest people increase (or rather, the rich becomes more richer) in the cities of India. So Yusuf can stay there and sell off copies of his paintings (which he probably means by “appreciating art”) for thousands or lakhs of rupees, but his complaint is not so valid back at home, given the constraints. And it is not a Malayali phenomena but an Indian phenomena generally.

Musician Rama Varma has a piece on music in Kerala that writes about Sopaana Sangetham, which is originated in Kerala to the present-day musical reality shows. There was nothing more than a sentence about Kerala’s folk music tradition though. He also explains Karnataka Sangeetham doesn’t mean “music from Karnataka” but “Karna-Ataka-Sangeetham” which means “Music pleasant to the ears”.

Another interesting piece is by Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil who openly says, “I would also like to explode the myth – that Syrian Christians in Kerala were originally Brahmin converts. I doubt there were Brahmins in the first century in the Malabar Coast.” This comes as a blow to the caste-Christians (mostly Syrian Christians of Kerala) who proudly claims to have Brahminical ancestry.

Overall, this book is a good read for both Malayalis and non-Malayalis and I would say it is also a slice of India that this tiny state decorates in it’s southern end.

After a short break

I was away for the past 3-4 days on a short break.ย  There was a betrothal function in the family on Saturday and a song recording session on Sunday morning (details of the song to be followed soon). On Sunday afternoon, I and my friends in the hometown went to Munnar for a one-day trip. It was not much of a sight-seeing trip, but a chance for us friends to spend some time together after a long gap. A time for the boys-turned-men to be boys again. ๐Ÿ™‚ I couldn’t shoot enough pics as my digicam stopped working in between. So I had to rely on my mobile phone cam and here are some snaps from the place.

At top station, Munnar – this place has a spectacular view of the valley

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Kundala Dam Lake – So beautiful and pristine. Take a boat ride and sit still at the middle of the lake. It’s a great experience in itself.

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Lt Colonel Mohan Lal

MohanLalIn 2007, I wrote a blog post about Mohan Lal’s promotional ads of a liquor brand. Mohan Lal had formed a business alliance then, with the owners of the same brand, Original Choice. When the news became controversial the defenders were of the opinion that Mohan Lal was only promoting ‘evening snacks’ under the same brand name (just like how Vijay Mallya is selling only soda and mineral water under the brand name King Fisher). Die hard fans and Mohan Lal himself had also argued that there would not be any raise in the number of drunkards just because the actor was promoting it, considering the fact that Kerala has the highest alcohol consumption in the country. The opposition’s concern was that the actor has high influence on people in Kerala, particularly the youth who see Mohan Lal as an icon and role model.

Now let us just casually say that Mohan Lal’s celebrity influence on the youth of Kerala was not going to boost the sales of anything – be it gold, lungies or liquor (you might ask then why would the commercial brands use celebrities for promotion and pay them millions for that, but let us just put it aside for the time being). In the last week, Mohan Lal has been granted the Honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army. This honor comes after Mohan Lal’s two successful Malayalam movies (Keerthichakra and Kurukshetra) in which he enacted the role of an Army Major. As per the Army Chief Deepak Kapoor, Mohan Lal will be yet another brand ambassador of the Territorial Army. Defense Minister A K Antony also said that, “this will be an inspiration for the younger generation to join the armed forces“. A CNN-IBN article on this says that, “Mohanlal’s role will be to inspire youth to join the armed forces“.

It is at this point that I have a question – As per the supporters of Mohan Lal during the time of Original Choice advertisement, his influence on the youth did not take any effect in boosting the sales of liquor. Has that changed all in a sudden? Now would Mohan Lal inspire the youth just because it is a good patriotic cause?

Skeptics say that youth is more prone to go under the bad influences first, than good ones.

PS: Some also say that considering the situation, Mammootty should be conferred an honorary position in CBI for his 4 successful movies as a CBI officer, or Suresh Gopi as an honorary Commissioner of Police for his numerous super hits as a highly ranked police officer. ๐Ÿ˜€

(Image source: Google Images)

FM war – The best and worst slogans

You would get to hear the slogans of FM stations everywhere now, since the FM frenzy has caught up in Kerala. The major FM stations in Kerala are Club FM, Radio Mango, BIG FM, S FM, Best FM and Radio Mirchi. The slogans blast at you several times a day in these channels. Let us a have a look and see which of them is best and which is worst – in a descending order.

sFM

6) S FM – Kelkkoo, Kelkoo, Kettu Kondeyirikku
(Owned by: Sun Network)

The main problem with this slogan is that it’s too long. Too long for an FM station that has the shortest name in the market (S FM). And the word “Kelkkoo” repeats. It doesn’t stay in your mind.

bigFM

5) BIG FM – Kelkoo, Kelpikkoo, Life Kondaadu
(Owned by: AdLabs Films Ltd, subsidiary of Reliance group)

Again, it’s too long. It is also identical with the S FM slogan. You wouldn’t want to hear these two slogans repeatedly when you listen to these FM stations. Just that slogan would be enough to make the listener switch to a different radio station.

rmFM

4) Radio Mirchi – Sangathi Hot Aanu
(Owned by: Entertainment Network India Ltd)

It sounds hip and cool when you hear this slogan in English (“It’s Hot”), but the problem comes when you literally translate it to Malayalam. The word “Sangathi” with “Hot” may not go well with every one as it could be interpreted with a dual meaning.

mangoFM

3) Radio Mango – Naattilengum Paattaayi
(Owned by: Malayala Manorama)

It rhymes well (Naattu & Paattu), but the focus of the slogan is on music alone, while the FM radios are meant to be not just for music but also for fun and entertainment. In the local dialect, the Malayalam phrase “naattilengum paattaayi” refers to a fast spreading local news, mostly a gossip. Either way, I don’t think they got it right. But yes, it is a catchy line.

cFM

2) Club FM – Ton Kanakkinu Fun
(Owned by: Mathrubhumi)

It means “Tons of Fun” in English. It rhymes well and everytime I hear this, a box full of fun and entertainment comes to my mind, which itself makes me keep listening to this FM station. Goes to the second place in my rating.

bestFM

1) Best FM – Tringalaalaa…
(Owned by: Asianet)

This gets you straight to a holiday mood. It is short, precise, musical and relaxed. What more do you need to convey with an FM station? Goes to the first place in this rating.

(Coming up: FM stations in Kerala – The best Theme Music)