A few days ago we had a discussion in this space on zoos, circuses and bullfights. Researching for more material I came across this disturbing video and write up here and here.

As for fights using animals it is another horror story - read about it here.
Please visit PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) to learn about the cruelties inflicted on animals for the amusement of humans.
As the banner line on one of the sites says:
"Please say "No" because Animals cant!"

As you come out of the Bannerghatta national park in Bangalore there is an enclosure which says: The most dangerous animal.You step in and you see yourself a mirror.May be it is true.
Can Woman exercise all the professions as Man?

It was Simone de beauvoir who said "one is not born a woman.One becomes a Woman."("On ne nait pas femme, on le devient") When I read it first I was about 20 and I interpreted it to mean that through cultivated behaviour and training which makes her gentle, charming and beautiful she flowers into a woman. I thought it was a positive thing to do train oneself and become that kind of woman. Little did i realise that it was precisely this that Simone was criticising - the conditioning which makes a person forget her personhood and become the role of a woman in its various forms - the subtle process of objectification by which she becomes something useful and acceptable for a man to have and showcase.

In the past 50 years women have demonstrated that they are equally skilled when it comes to professions which require mental and emotional skills. The balance is tilted more towards the male of the race where it comes to professions requiring physical strength. There are people who argue that a woman is not designed to do as much physical labour. I am not sure if this is true. I have seen that women who work in fields have a lot of physical strength and energy. Our body gets adapted to the kind of work we do. I have seen that if women work out with weights they develop atheletic arms .Perhaps we have not trained our body to do the same kind of physical work that men have been traditionally doing and if we started doing them I think our physique would get adapted and we could become as efficient as them there too.

In this context I remember a placard I read in a news item covering a protest by women in France which said: "There is no Housework Gene!"("Le gène du ménage n’existe pas") I guess that goes for any kind of work. We are not genetically incapable of doing this or that but it is just the rules imposed by our mindset born out of generations of social conditioning.

What do you think - can Woman exercise all professions as Man?
(I am not asking if they should or not which is a different discussion altogether.)
Well , love is in the air once again whether you like it or not - red hearts, red roses and teddies with the request " be my valentine" adorn shop windows.
Culture police is getting active in some cities to protest this "assault" on our culture.

Tv channels and newspapers are stopping people on their way to their business demanding their opinion on whether V day should be celebrated. No one has ever asked for my opinion on such important issues so I decided to use this space to air my opinion.(All those India today polls on such important issues like religion, education, sex, government, corruption one has ever asked me or anyone known to me. Who is responding to these?? Why am I not included in the sample????!!!)

Anyway coming back to the main issue, should Valentine's day be celebrated?
I believe anything that increases the general happiness quotient among humanity is to be welcomed even if it is just the gift shop owners ROTFL on the way to the bank - I welcome it. If there are more people, young and old , feeling happy today because of feeling loved and feeling special or simply because of receiving gifts, it is totally welcome.

Is anyone listening?I am all for Valentine's day, the cards, the celebrations and yeah the gifts too....but not those red hearts please I find the sight of human organs slightly troubling. I feel nausea and no love when I see a red heart.What next? kidneys and intestines? Please don't mind, i'll pass those.... I'd rather stick with wine and chocolates and cards and music ( That was just in case anyone was wondering how to make me feel special!! I feel particularly special with a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape or Inniskillin Ice wine..)I hope there is no age limit for celebrating this "festival"??! I have been told that I will be "18 till I die", so don't let my age deter you.

Happy Valentine's day to those who think it is important and for those who don't
a happy feb 14th -hope you have a great day!

P.s: This is a post I wrote for valentine's day last year. My views remain the same and my readers have changed so I reposted it so as not to let this important day go unposted!!
I know I have been distracted with dogs and cats and their names while I ought to have been studying. But I had a genuine reason for needing this distraction - I had classes over the weekend and on Sunday on the way to class I lost my purse with all my credit cards, debit cards and my driving licence and it has been stressful making sure everything is in order. yesterday, there was a bandh call in this state and I could finally sort out things only today. So now I can get back to more serious issues for the argumentation.

Are you for or against the idea of Zoos,Circuses and games like the Bullfight?

Those who know me here know my love for animals and hence my views are definitely onesided. I am totally against circuses.
How can there be genuine pleasure in watching tigers and lions behave like frightened cats in a circus? Why do we want bears and monkeys to cycle and elephants to perform? What makes people enjoy a behaviour that is so unnatural to a wild animal? What is it they admire - the ability of the man to control such a fierce animal? What makes them want to see the king of the forest quiver before the crack of the master's whip? What makes the lion afraid - the pain of punishment?
Do human beings have a secret urge to subdue the natural behaviour of other creatures or is it a desire to feel control over others who are strong in their own way? Some times I notice this tendency among parents,teachers and bosses - an inexplicable satisfaction of ego by controlling others through fear and not by exhibiting natural superiority through other qualities.I find them so pathetic.

As for Zoos, I guess they are ok. At least the animals are not forced to behave contrary to their nature. And as their habitat is being slowly destroyed and encroached upon by Man, this is the second best alternative possible and they serve an educational and social purpose too. As long as there is no abuse and they are fed well, I suppose it is acceptable. Even then the issue is that by keeping them in cages and depriving them of their natural activities and slowly making them incapable of hunting for their food are issues that make one feel uncomfortable.

As for games like Bullfight, Boxing etc, I simply cannot find bloodshed amusing. So I cannot see why we cannot get rid of them and turn to other sports.

As I said in the beginning I know my arguments are all on sided but this is where I need your help: please throw some light on the other side, if there is one.

Are you for or against the idea of Zoos,Circuses and games like the Bullfight?
Names, as I have said before, are, like the third variety of greatness that Shakespeare spoke of, "thrust upon you." Well in my school days i'd have liked to be Yamini, Kamini, Ragini or at least Nalini which would have allowed me to share my name with a favourite teacher. But no, my folks had decided that I'd be a Usha. They had a Ravi and Chander before and they probably decided to explore the space in-between and came up with Usha! Or may be it was just that every 3rd child was named Usha in my days and voilà, I was the third wasn't I? Anyway, by the time I was old enough and brave enough to go to the gazette and have a name change, I had achieved enough notoriety to go with this name that I did not want to lose this identity. So here I am and even for writing a blog I could not come up with a fascianting name like Hyperactive Amygdala or Synaptic Catharisis (or Cathartic Synapses) but had to be the plain Usha. This is what happens to you when you are stuck with a boring name for 45 years.

Well, why this rant about a name all of a sudden? Ok, that is because the daughter of lady who gets our clothes ironed came today with a dog in tow. What with my natural instinct for socialising with animals, I needed an introduction so I could chat up the dog and endear myself. So I asked her what the name was and she responded "Rosie". Nice name, better than usha for sure but I had a problem with it. I looked again at the said canine and I could see without any doubt that it was a male. Rosie for a male dog? In my mind this amounted to cruelty and I was about to call the SPCA.
Poor guy, to be called Rosie forever. I was reminded of all the Radhakrishnans and Sitaramans who end up being Radhas and Sitas. But at least the dog had no way of knowing that he had a cute, sissy name like "Rosie" so he responded to that name with absolute dignity as if he was being called Caesar!

Then I realised that most of the mongrels are called Raja or Jimmy or Blackie or Peter if they are male and Ramu (if they're Tamil) and most females of the species are Rosie or Jikki (djikki?). And if it was a pomeranian it was Julie. (in fact my maid thinks Julie is the name of the breed and calls all poms "julie Naayi").In one friends house they called out to "Lakshmi" and out came the canine bounding with joy! My shock was almost similar to the time when I heard so much about a Mittal with the same first name and was so proud of an Indian woman who produced most of the steel in the world and then saw the photo for the first time!

Anyway back to names of dogs
Aren't the bigger pedigree dogs mostly Caesars and Cleos?and sometimes a Bruno if they are brown. Calling call them Tiger shows total ignorance that the real Tiger is a Big cat.Lassie became a common name for golden retrievers after the film and its endearing lead star. Spotty and Puppy and dolly are perhaps the least imaginative.Our colony has some of the dogs with most original names. Our own Sabapathy doesnt qualify for entry here because we "borrowed the idea" from the Tamil Film Sati Leelavathi. So here are the prize winners:
A daschund called Brandy
A Labrador called Pepsi
Another labrador called Random
A terrier called Bayroz
A mongrel called Biscuit ( pronounced Biscoot)
And Shib's dog Shadow ( She wanted to call it Kempe Gowda's shadow - even better!)
Two boxers called Kaaju and Badam who belong to our friends, the Sens.

I was terribly annoyed when I saw these cutest little pups of the world (Pug pups - ya same dog as in the HUTCH ad)at the Alliance Francaise the other day and guess what they decided to call them - Micky and Minnie. Can you believe it - MICKY and MINNIE!!! What is wrong with these people? I was so angry all of that day.

Anyway what would you like to call the Hutch Pug if he was yours? I will probably call him Karma or Carma, if I want to sound French!
(His/ her real name is Cheeka.)

(And ya, warning: I WILL judge you by the name you give your dog!)
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Can media be totally neutral?

At first sight I found the question totally ridiculous as in my opinion, all media is ethically bound to be non-partisan and simply report facts. Well if it is that simple why is it that we have so many versions of news and why is there a following for each of them?

Why is it people snigger about the dull news reports from the government owned channels when all it does is present the news like it is: without any frills? We used to hear a lot of jokes about the dull and over cautious reporting by the newspaper The Hindu published from Chennai. It used to be said that even if an accident happened outside their office they would publish it only on PTI confirmation. And sports enthusiasts laugh about the "keen contest on the cards" predicted for every single match by the paper.

So it seems that while we complain about sensationalism of news by the media we seem to secretly encourage it too by subscribing to these channels, although not necessarily to their point of view. We like to shift channels between Jaya and Sun or NDTV and CNN- IBN to see what each has to say about an issue. We not only like to know the details of a statement by Musharraff or Manmohan Singh but we want to have an analysis of each, the interpretation of their body language and the elaboration of hidden meanings behind these statements. And when you get opinions from people belonging to different ideologies, it is bound to reflect in their opinion however erudite it is. There are so many channels just for News and every channel has a viewership - obviously they cannot all survive if they all said the same thing? What is it about the general public that makes them want to view these channels?

So in this context, is it possible for a newspaper to be totally loyal only to truth?
(like the Independent and the character depicted by Mithun Chakraborty so well in the film GURU where the criterion for publication of a news item is only that it is true.)

And in these days of grey, is there plain black and white in anything, particularly in politics? So what is more possible is that they do not publish or say something completely untrue or totally speculative. But even that seems to be acceptable in some cases as in the recent Cauvery tribunal announcement where the Television channels were constantly speculating and predicting violence in the state of Karnataka. Like preventive detection, they seem to be giving preventive cautions on what might happen based on previous trends rather than wait for something to happen and then report it without exaggeration.

Additionally, when media depends on its revenue from advertisement, is there not a kind of pressure on them not to be too harsh on their patrons?
As readers and viewers we are also happy to be exposed to different views and anlyses as it expands our thinking and presents diverse view points.The channels are obviously under pressure to grab the viewers with the result that the boundary line between reportage and entertainment is blurring.

Is is possible for media to be totally neutral in today's context? And even if it is possible, should it be neutral or should it take a stand?
"Should a couple tell each other everything?"
Is it important for a happy life together that the couple discuss and share everything?

When we were growing up, we had not seen much of discussion between my father and mother. My mother was aware of the general information on where my father was going what he did and how much of money he could provide for the family, what annoyed him and what made him happy. The details were never known.Sometimes when he asked her opinion on whether she was ok with a certain decision of his she invariably said "ya. whatever you decide." It was almost the same among our aunts and uncles too. When we were growing up there were a few times we resented this and when we questioned our mother on our father's decision and if she could tell us the reasons why he did something. The answer was always, "I dont know his reasons for doing this but I am sure he has his reasons and they are good."
Total surrender of one's life to the other and implicit acceptance of his decisons and reasons. What was at the base of this? Complete understanding and unquestioning love? or was it total submission to male dominance? I can't answer for her and she is not around. But it worked at that time and they were married for many many years.
I have also known families where the men left most of the day to day decisions to their wife or mother and were quite happy to be rid of quotidian headaches and did not even want to hear about what the women did.

Can it work today?
At least among most of the couples I know decisions are not taken unilaterally, the stronger person tends to have their way but a discussion is always there.And when something is left unsaid, it is usually for a reason - not to hurt the other or scare the other person. And usually what is not discussed is a source of a lot of trouble and in some cases severe conflict.
I know some of my friends who even use a common ID for their personal mails. Is this an indication of total openness? Doesn"t it also amount to sacrifice of personal space or are personal spaces redundant and meaningless once they are married? Is there also a sense of insecurity at the base of this need to be together all the time, to share everything, to tell each other everything? Or is it just the done thing and that's it!

Is it important for the happiness of a couple that they share everything?

P.s: I received a comment once where someone called me a trouble maker - hahah. But honestly, my intention is not to create any trouble. I seriously want other points of view for the argumentation.
Do you think one day Science will find a cure for all diseases?
One of the many questions I have been thinking about these past days. in case you are wondering why I ponder over such serious issues all of a sudden, it is because "Science and human progress" is one of the many subjects on which I may be asked to write an essay or make an argumentation about in my forthcoming French examination - Fourthcoming is more like it as the exams are on the 4th.
As my head was getting more and more muddled with issues relating to culture, society, science and economics I got a brilliant idea - why not ask the question here and take your views and use it all in my essay!
So here I ask the first of the questions:
"Do you think one day Science will find a cure for all diseases?"
And here's what I think about it:
While it is a desired goal to alleviate humanity of all suffering from diseases, what happens if all diseases are curable and humanity becomes immortal? Would the earth be able to sustain the population levels and would we have enough resources to go around? Would we then have to impose restraints on new babies being born? Wouldn't Earth then become a planet of very old people or would a body free from all diseases remain young forever?
On another level, when there is no death to fear, would we be motivated to make the best use of this life? Or would a kind of inertia set in as we know we have "forever' to do everything. What happens if we get bored with living forever? There is no escape route right - no hope of dying! So would we have schemes like a person could opt for death so that a new baby can be sanctioned to the family - someone would be allowed to bear a child or clone someone?
Bizarre right? I guess nature knows its job best and that's why we come with a short life span - so that the population is regulated and it is recomposed every now and then with new life.
While it is necessary to find a cure for killer diseases like AIDS and Cancer that take away so many young people, perhaps it would be a good idea not to find a cure for at least the ones that affect us in old age.
Death is not such a bad idea when you are 100. What do you think?

P.s: A friend pointed out that disease is not the only cause of death. What about accidents and murders and natural calamities? I agree. but aren't these just a small proportion compared to deaths due to diseases and old age? As for the natural attrition of the body, we seem to be waging a war there too with anti-ageing solutions.(Like they say today's 60 is yesterday's 40 and so on...) So isn't disease still a major cause of death?
Or we would then kill each other waging war and fighting for the scarce resources?
And if we are anyway going to kill each other then why even bother to prolong life with finding cures for all diseases?
Most bloggers write in order to be read. When I started my blog, I had all of 6 readers and since the comment feature was not available then, they would respond to my post via email. And if I didnt hear from them 2 days after posting, I would forward the post by email and make sure that they read it! I never felt any sense of impropriety about it because I wanted their opinion on things I was writing about -I wanted their point of view. It just seemed like an online forum among friends. Then the comments feature came in and once in a way someone totally unknown would drop by and share their input and slowly a nice group of blog buddies started developing. - people who you know only through their blogs and their comments on yours; but how does their appearance matter when you know their souls through their writings? Perhaps these are people you will never meet but will always count among your friends. The wonder of Internet.

The purpose of this post is to carry forward a meme whereby each blogger identifies a few blogs which do not get as much readership as they deserve.
Bombay diaries has traced the course of this link-love and it landed at my blog door via Shruthi who was so kind as to mention me in her post. Since the best way to say thanks for such thoughtful acts is to carry forward the goodness, I decided to identify the bloggers who I feel don't get as much readership as they deserve.Ideally of course, I would actually like to list all the bloggers on my blogroute as they all write on such varied topics and deserve to be read. Scanning through the list, I saw that some of you have a good readership and some post very infrequently. So I am choosing just 5 from the list for specific mention:

Chennai Living: Ram Viswanathan writes on a variety of topics from travelogues to politics to tips to non-residents on issues involved in R2I( return to india).. He is very mature and balanced and extremely well informed on technology related issues.

The Rationalfool: Rational to the core and hardly a fool, he touches on social, political and scientific issues of great relevance. Very well researched and well written with links that lead you to interesting information and knowledge.

Mahadevan: I like the relaxed way in which he leads us down the lanes of a bygone era be it while drawing portraits of simple folk or while talking about the irani hotels of Mumbai.

Hiphopgrandmom: This college teacher is naturally worried about issues relating to youth and education and is always there with a positive post - nice pepper rasam for the soul. The mom and grandmom side of her touches on the social aspects relating to women and children. She spins beautiful posts based on her experience as a mom, teacher and an intelligent woman.

Hermitchords:I found him just 2 days ago and have been floored by his writing, his style, the use of words and the flow of thoughts.

Like I said before I'd like you to read all the bloggers on my link and if any of you feel like carrying forward this link-love, please do so on your blogs.

And my original 6 readers, where are you? I here by choose my own blog as my recommendation for you to read and if I don't hear from you in the next week, every one of the posts will be delivered to your mailbox, multiple times until you respond!!!
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