Sunday, April 26, 2009

Drums beating in my head

Yes, that's what I am hearing right now. It is past midnight (1.15 AM to be precise) and there are loud drums being beaten by dozens of people in the adjacent neighborhood. This is the second consecutive day when we (this we is a huge number - about 600 odd families in my apartment complex and few more hundred in the vicinity) have been subjected to these drum beats till late in the night (around 2 AM or later) and it starts again early morning (7 AM or so). Apparently this is a Hindu festival which involves a procession where people dance to these drum beats in front of the temple and adjacent areas. The noise levels are so high that I can hear it loud and clear in spite of closing all doors and windows in my home facing that side. On asking my building security personnel if they could do something about it, I was told that since it is a religious festival they cannot intervene. Also, that this festival will get over only by tomorrow midnight. Should I complain to the police then, I asked? I was told - it won't help, as there are quite a few cops already present to oversee the festival.

This is not the first time I am being exposed to such high levels of noise pollution. During Durga Puja/Navratras, it is at its worst. I looked up the laws in India against noise pollution on websites here and here and found out that as per the Indian law, in residential areas the allowable limit of sound during day time (6 AM to 10 PM) is 55 decibels and that during night time (10 PM to 6 AM) is 45 decibels. I have no means of measuring how many decibels is this noise right now, but I can definitely say that this is a residential area and it is night time. The throbbing ache in my head tells me that the noise is greater than 45 dB. I also have a strong feeling that the Gods and Goddesses whom these people are trying to please are most likely not hearing these drums. So why are we being subjected to this? And more importantly, why religion is considered above law?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I have voted, have you?

Yes, I did manage to cast my vote (my first time ever) today morning. The polling booth was in a college right across the street from my apartment complex. We went around 7.45 AM to avoid crowds and the exercise took hardly 15 minutes. But of course there was a bit of drama - when I saw the voting machine & read all the names listed, I didn't find the name of the candidate who I had zeroed upon (after doing research through this very helpful website - Or for that matter names of any of the main candidates for Bangalore South. I must have appeared quite confused because the poll official told me twice - Press the blue button, madam. But the real question I had was - against whose name?? So I asked them - Why are the names of Bangalore South candidates not listed here? They told me that my Assembly Constituency is Bangalore South (#176) but my Parliamentary Constituency is Bangalore Rural. And all candidates from Bangalore Rural were indeed listed there. Why on earth do they have the same name for assembly and parliamentary constituencies!!! So much for all my research :(

Anyway, at least this time I made a progress from being a chronic non-voter. I wasn't very sure of inclusion of my name in the electoral rolls after submitting my application so late in the game. But fortunately things fell into place for me. Also, I saw a lot of awareness among the usually indifferent middle class - partly due to the awareness campaigns like Jaago Re, Lead India (and its antithesis Bleed India) and partly because we are tired of who we get as so-called leaders and in turn the country we live in. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a better India ..

Saturday, April 11, 2009

TV Tales

I am not a TV person. I can live without watching any TV for weeks. When I say TV, I actually mean TV series, reality/talk shows or even TV news. The only TV I watch is when I have to catch a film (even that is quite a painful indulgence with all these hour long commercial breaks!!). And well, I wasn't entirely truthful when I said I don't watch TV series - I still watch Sex and the City and Friends every time. This, in spite of owning all seasons of both of them on DVD! Anyway, since I mostly watch movie channels, it was interesting to see that many of the movie channels have started showing subtitles for the past 2-3 months. I found it interesting, but soon realized that there was one hell of an editing going on in these subtitles. So every time someone says fuck or shit in the movie, it conveniently becomes darn or crap (depending on the context) in the subtitle. Ass becomes behind (for god's sake, behind?!!?) and words like sex, gay or lesbian completely disappear. What's the rationale here - we can hear these words but can't read them? What exactly are these people trying to do? Oh wait, I already know the answer - preserve Indian culture, right?

Recently I have discovered that 9X channel shows old-ish (mostly 60's through 80's) Hindi film songs from 10.30 PM to midnight almost everyday. The program is cheesily titled Chandni Raatein but I can live with that. The songs are such a welcome change from the repetitive songs/visuals of new releases every other channel seems to be airing all the time. The good thing about these songs is they bring back memories from the past especially when my sister and I watch them together. Like songs from Aa Gale Lag Ja remind us of how Sharmila Tagore saved Shashi Kapoor's life by providing him body heat and got herself pregnant in the process :). Baton Baton Mein is a reminder of how I so liked Tina Munim's dresses in the film and had sketched her red and white stripes dress for our tailor to copy it. Then there are some songs that remind me of hostel days - aajkal paaon zameen par and pal pal dil ke paas used to be the favorite of those who had just fallen in love whereas karvatein badalte rahe and tumhein yaad karte karte were of those longing for their love...
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