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Archive for the month “March, 2017”

The tale of the dancing girl – #nsfw

Demonstration of a Lapdance - Wikipedia

Demonstration of a Lapdance – Wikipedia

The post will be adult/mature in nature. So those below 18 please excuse. The post is about an anecdote almost 20 years to date, The result its being posted is due to dinner conversation where my friend thought it would make for an alternate view rather than the status quo shared by most people. The conversation was though about being young and foolish in which I shared the anecdote. The blog post was supposed to be about ‘Aadhar’ which shocked me both in the way no political discourse happened and the way the public as well as public policy was gamed but that would have to wait for another day.

History

I left college in 1995. The anecdote/incident probably happened couple of years earlier so probably 1992-1993. At that time, I was in my teens and as a typical teenager I made few friends. One of those friends, who would remain nameless as since we drifted apart, and as I have not take permission from him, taking his name would not be a good idea.

Anyway, this gentleman, let’s call him Mr. X as an example. Couple of months before, he had bought an open jeep, similar but very different from the jeep being shown below. The Open Jeep had become a fashion statement few months back (in those days) as a Salman khan starred movie had that and anybody who had money wanted one just like that.

Illustration of an open jeep, sadly its a military one - wikipedia

Illustration of an open jeep, sadly its a military one – wikipedia

Those days we didn’t have cell-phones and I had given my land-line phone number to very few friends as in those days, as the land-line itself was a finicky instrument and we were under the belief that if we use it more, it will get spoiled/broken soon.

One fine morning, I get a call from my friend telling he is going to come near my place and I should meet him at some xyz place and we would go for a picnic for the whole day and it is possible that we might return next day. As it was holidays and only a fool would throw away a chance to have a ride in open air jeep, I immediately agreed. I shared that my friends had organized a picnic and giving another friend’s number (who didn’t know anything) got permission and went to meet Mr. X. This was very early morning, around 0600 hrs. . After meeting him, he told that we would be going to Mumbai, take some more friends from there and then move on.

In those days, a railway ticket from Pune/Shivaji Nagar to V.T. (now C.S.T.) costed around INR 30/- . I had been to Mumbai few times before for various technical conferences and knew few cheap places to eat, I knew that going via train, we could go and come back spending at the most INR 150/- and still have some change left-over (today’s meal at a roadside/street vendor easily passes that mark).

The Journey

I shared with him that it will be costly and I don’t have any money to cover the fuel expenses and he said he would shoulder the expenses, he just wanted my company for the road. Those days, it was the scenic Old Mumbai-Pune highway and we took plenty of stops to admire that ghats (hills and valleys together). The only way I can describe the experience was it was fun and yet breath-taking at the same time. Spring-time on Pune-Mumbai Old highway was magical. At times we were parallel with the Pune-Railway railway line and we would think of ourselves as Rajesh Khanna and his sidekick wooing an imaginary Sharmila Tagore on the Railway line –

That journey must have taken us around 7-8 hours while today by the new Expressway, you could do the same thing by 2.5/3 hours.

The Hotel

Anyhow, we reached to some swanky hotel in South Mumbai. South Mumbai was not the financial powerhouse that it today is, there was mix of very old buildings and new buildings like the swanky hotel that we had checked in. I have no memory nor any idea whether it was 1 class, 3 class or 5 class and could have cared less as had been tired from the journey. We checked in, I had a long warm water bath and then slept in the king-size bed with curtains drawn for a long time. Eventually, evening came and we took the jeep and picked up 2-3 of his friends who were from my age or a year or two older and we went to Nariman Point. Seeing the Queen’s necklace from Nariman Point at night is a sight in itself. Whenever I am in Mumbai and if I have the time, I make it a point to spend at least some time at Nariman Point/Marine Drive/Queen’s necklace whenever I can. While the rest of the city is humid due to the moisture from the sea, Nariman Point/marine Drive always has a gentle breeze. Before the turn of the century, when I had much more of a free time I would go to Mumbai, book a lodge near Marine Drive and just sit at the edge for hours together. While I don’t know swimming, whether it was the call of the sea or just the sound of the waves breaking against the stones that used to get me in zen-like/serene state after being few hours there.

How Nariman Point/Marine Drive looks

Keeping with the innocence, I was under the impression that we had arrived at our destination, at this our host, Mr. X and his Bombaiya friends had a quiet laugh saying its a young night still or something to that effect . We must have whiled away couple of hours, having chai and throwing rocks in the sea.

The Meeting

After a while, Mr. X took us to another swanky place. My eyes were out of my sockets as this seemed to be as elitist a place as could be. I saw many White European women in various stages of undress pole-dancing and lap-dancing. I had recently (in those days) come to know the term but was under the impression that it was something that happened in Europe and States only. I had no idea that lap-dancing was older than my birth as according to Wikipedia. So looking back now, I am not surprised that in two decades the concept crossed the oceans. Again, Mr. X being the host, agreed to bear all the costs and all of us had food, drink and a lap-dance from any of the dancers on the floor. As I was young, somewhat confused seeing all the beauty and probably shy (still am) I asked Mr. X’s help to pick a girl/woman for me. The woman whom he picked was auburn-aired, was either my age or a year or two older/younger to me. IIRC entrance to the place ensured one or two lap-dances as well as appetizers and couple of drinks or something similar to that.

What proceeded next was about 20-30 minutes of totally sexualized erotic experience. While he and all his friends picked girls to go all the way, I was hesitant to let loose. Maybe it was due to my lack of courage or inexperience, maybe it was not in my city so couldn’t predict the outcome, maybe was just afraid that reality might mar fantasy or maybe I was not ‘man enough’ to do the needful I dunno till date. Although we kissed and necked a lot, I guess that should count for something.

The conversation

After all my friends had gone to the various rooms, sometime after I excused myself, went to the loo myself, peed a bit, splashed cold water on self, came out and had couple of glasses of water and came back to my seat. The lady came back and I shared that I was not interested in going further and while she was beautiful, I just didn’t have the guts. I did ask her if she would give me company though for sometime as I didn’t know anyone else at that place. Our conversation was more about her than me as I had more or less an average life upto that moment. There were only three unorthodox things that I had done before meeting her. I had drunk wines of different types, smoked weed and had a Magic Mushrooms experience the year before with another group of friends I had made there. Goa in those days was simply magical in those days but that probably would need its story/own blog post.

When I enquired about her, she shared she was from/around Russia and she rattled off more than half a dozen places around the world where she had been to. This was her second or third stint in Mumbai and she wasn’t at all unhappy about the lifestyle and choices she was leading. I had no answer for her as a young penniless college-going student. Her self-confidence and the way she carried herself was impressive, with or without clothes. During course of the conversation she shared a couple of contacts from whom I could get better weed at slightly higher price if I ever went to Goa next.

Few months later, I found those contacts to be true.

Back to the present though, after sometime, Mr. X took all the women and ourselves, around 8-9 people in his jeep (how he negotiated that is beyond me) and we went to a hygienic Pani puri and Bhel (puffed rice mixed with variety of spices typically tomato, potato, coriander chutney as well as Tamarind Chutney among other things) place and moved them to tears (the spices in bhel and Pani puri did it for them) and this was when we had explicitly asked the bhel-wala guy to make it extremely mild with just a hint of spice in it. Anyways, sometime later, we dropped them at the same place, dropped his friends and came back to the hotel we booked and got drunk again.

After-effects

Few years later, it came in the newspapers/media that while India had broken out of financial isolation just few years back (1991) and were profiting from it, many countries of the former USSR were going the other way around and hence there was huge human trafficking and immigration that had taken place. This was in-line with what the lady/woman/Miss X had shared with me.

The latest trigger

The latest trigger happened couple of months back where I learnt of a hero flight attendant saving a girl from human-trafficking.

Till date, I am unsure whether she was doing it willingly or putting a brave smile in front of me, because even if she had confided me in any way, I probably would have been too powerless, penniless to help her in any-way. I just don’t know.

Foolishness thy name

While my friend took advantage of my innocence and introduced me to a world which otherwise I would probably not know exists, it could have easily have gone some other way as well.

While I’m still unsure of the choices I made then, I was and am happy that I was able to strike a conversation with her and attempt to reach the person therein. Was it the truth or an elaborate fabricated lie to protect myself and herself, this I will never know.

Oppression

I understand the fact that as a ‘customer’ or somebody who is taking part in either of those performances or experiences it isn’t easy in any way to know/say that whether the performer is doing it wilfully or not as the experiences are in tightly controlled settings.

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Tale of two countries, India and Canada

Apologies – the first blog post got sent out by mistake.

Weather comparisons between the two countries

Last year, I had come to know that this year’s debconf is happening in Canada, a cold country. Hence, few weeks/month back, I started trying to find information online when I stumbled across few discussion boards where people were discussing about Innerwear and Outerwear and I couldn’t understand what that was all about. Then somehow stumbled across this Video, which is of a game called the Long Dark and just seeing couple of episodes it became pretty clear to me why the people there were obsessing with getting the right clothes and everything about it. Couple of Debconf people were talking about the weather in Montreal, and surprise, surprise it was snowing there, in fact supposed to be near the storm of the century. Was amazed to see that they have a website to track how much snow has been lifted.

If we compare that to Pune, India weather-wise we are polar opposites. There used to be a time, when I was very young, maybe 5 yrs. old that once the weather went above 30 degree celsius, rains would fall, but now its gonna touch 40 degrees soon. And April and May, the two hottest months are yet to come.

China Gate

Before I venture further, I was gifted the book ‘China Gate‘ written by an author named William Arnold. When I read the cover and the back cover, it seemed the story was set between China and Taiwan, later when I started reading it, it shares history of Taiwan going back 200 or so odd years. This became relevant as next year’s Debconf, Debconf 2018 will be in Taiwan, yes in Asia very much near to India. I am ashamed to say that except for the Tiananmen Square Massacre and the Chinese High-Speed Rail there wasn’t much that I knew. According to the book, and I’m paraphrasing here the gist I got was that for a long time, the Americans promised Taiwan it will be an Independent country forever, but due to budgetary and other political constraints, the United States took the same stand as China from 1979. Interestingly, now it seems Mr. Trump wants to again recognize Taiwan as a separate entity from China itself but as is with Mr. Trump you can’t be sure of why he does, what he does. Is it just a manoeuvrer designed to out-smart the chinese and have a trade war or something else, only time will tell.

One thing which hasn’t been shared in the book but came to know via web is that Taiwan calls itself ‘Republic of China’ . If Taiwan wants to be independent then why the name ‘Republic of China’ ? Doesn’t that strengthen China’s claim that Taiwan is an integral part of China. I don’t understand it.

The book does seduce you into thinking that the events are happening in real-time, as in happening now.

That’s enough OT for now.

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Population Density

As well in the game and whatever I could find on the web, Canada seems to be on the lower side as far as population is concerned. IIRC, few years back, Canadians invited Indian farmers and gave them large land-holdings for over 100 years on some small pittance. While the link I have shared is from 2006, I read it online and in newspapers even as late as in 2013/2014. The point being there seems to be lot of open spaces in Canada, whereas in India we fight for even one inch literally, due to overpopulation. This sharing reminded me of ‘Mark of Gideon‘. While I was young, I didn’t understand the political meaning of it and still struggle to understand about whom the show was talking about. Was it India, Africa or some other continent they were talking about ?

This also becomes obvious when you figure out the surface area of the two countries. When I had started to learn about Canada, I had no idea, nor a clue that Canada is three times the size of India. And this is when I know India is a large country. but seeing that Canada is thrice larger just boggled my mind. As a typical urbanite, would probably become mad if in a rural area in Canada. Montreal, however seems to be something like Gwalior or Bangalore before IT stormed in, seems to be a place where people can work, play and have quite a few gardens as well.

Rail

This is one thing that is similar in both the great countries. India has Indian Railways and while the Canadians have their own mountain railway called viarail. India chugs on its 68k kilometre network, Canada is at fourth position with 52k network. With thrice the land size, it should have been somewhere where Russia is or even better than them. It would be interesting if a Canadian/s comment about their railway network and why it is so bad in terms of reach.

As far as food is concerned, somebody shared this

Also, have no idea if Canadian trains are as entertaining as Indian ones, in terms of diverse group of people as well as variety of food to eat as also shared a bit in the video. I am not aware whether Via Rail is the only network operator and there are other network operators unlike Indian Railways which has monopoly on most of the operations.

Countries which have first past the post system - Wikipedia

Business houses, Political Families

This is again something that is similar in both the countries, it seems (from afar) that its only few business houses and more importantly political families which have governed for years. From what little I could understand, both India and Canada have first past the post system which as shared by its critics is unfair to new and small parties. It would be interesting to see if Canada does a re-think. For India, it would need a massive public education outreach policy and implementation. We just had elections in 5 states of India with U.P. (with respect to area-size and population density) and from the last several years, the EVM’s (Electronic Voting Machines) tries to make sure that nobody could know which area which party got the most votes. This is to make sure the winning party is not able to take revenge on people or areas which did not vote for them. Instead you have general region counting of votes with probably even the Election Commission not knowing which EVM went to what area and what results are there in sort of double-blind methodology.

As far as Business houses are concerned, I am guessing it’s the same world-over, only certain people hold the wealth while majority of us are in hard-working, non-wealthy status.

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis

Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis

Apart from all the social activities that Montreal is famous for, somebody told/shared with me that it is possible to see the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis can be seen in Canada. I dunno how true or not it is, while probably in Montreal it isn’t possible to see due to light pollution, but maybe around 40-50 kms. from the city ? Can people see it from Canada ? IF yes, how far would you have to go ? Are there any companies or people who take people to see the Northern Lights.

While I still have to apply for bursary, and if that gets ok, then try getting the visa, but if that goes through, apart from debconf and social activities happening in and around Montreal, Museums, Music etc. , this would be something I would like to experience if it’s possible. While I certainly would have to be prepared for the cold that would be, if it’s possible, no offence to debconf or anybody else but it probably would be the highlight of the entire trip if its possible. This should be called/labelled as the greatest show on earth TM.

Science Day at GMRT, Khodad 2017

The whole team posing at the end of day 2

The above picture is the blend of the two communities from foss community and mozilla India. And unless you were there you wouldn’t know who is from which community which is what FOSS is all about. But as always I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Akshat, who works at NCRA as a programmer, the standing guy on the left shared with me in January this year that this year too, we should have two stalls, foss community and mozilla India stalls next to each other. While we had the banners, we were missing stickers and flyers. Funds were and are always an issue and this year too, it would have been emptier if we didn’t get some money saved from last year minidebconf 2016 that we had in Mumbai. Our major expenses included printing stickers, stationery and flyers which came to around INR 5000/- and couple of LCD TV monitors which came for around INR 2k/- as rent. All the labour was voluntary in nature, but both me and Akshat easily spending upto 100 hours before the event. Next year, we want to raise to around INR 10-15k so we can buy 1 or 2 LCD monitors and we don’t have to think for funds for next couple of years. How will we do that I have no idea atm.

Printing leaflets

Me and Akshat did all the printing and stationery runs and hence had not been using my lappy for about 3-4 days.

Come to the evening before the event and the laptop would not start. Coincidentally, or not few months or even last at last year’s Debconf people had commented on IBM/Lenovo’s obsession with proprietary power cords and adaptors. I hadn’t given it much thought but when I got no power even after putting it on AC power for 3-4 hours, I looked up on the web and saw that the power cord and power adaptors were all different even in T440 and even that under existing models. In fact I couldn’t find mine hence sharing it via pictures below.

thinkpad power cord male

thinkpad power adaptor female

I knew/suspected that thinkpads would be rare where I was going, it would be rarer still to find the exact power cord and I was unsure whether it was the power cord at fault or adaptor or whatever goes for SMPS in laptop or memory or motherboard/CPU itself. I did look up the documentation at support.lenovo.com and was surprised at the extensive documentation that Lenovo has for remote troubleshooting.

I did the usual take out the battery, put it back in, twiddle with the little hole in the bottom of the laptop, trying to switch on without the battery on AC mains, trying to switch on with battery power only but nothing worked. Couple of hours had gone by and with a resigned thought went to bed, convincing myself that anyways it’s good I am not taking the lappy as it is extra-dusty there and who needs a dead laptop anyways.

Update – After the event was over, I did contact Lenovo support and within a week, with one visit from a service engineer, he was able to identify that it was a faulty cable which was at fault and not the the other things which I was afraid of. Another week gone by and lenovo replaced the cable. Going by service standards that I have seen of other companies, Lenovo deserves a gold star here for the prompt service they provided. I probably would end up subscribing to their extended 2-year warranty service when my existing 3 year warranty is about to be over.

Next day, woke up early morning, two students from COEP hostel were volunteering and we made our way to NCRA, Pune University Campus. Ironically, though we were under the impression that we would be the late arrivals, it turned out we were the early birds. 5-10 minutes passed by and soon enough we were joined by Aniket and we played catch-up for a while. We hadn’t met each other for a while so it was good to catch-up. Then slowly other people starting coming in and around 07:10-07:15 we started for GMRT, Khodad.

Now I had been curious as had been hearing for years that the Pune-Nashik NH-50 highway would be concreted and widened to six-lane highways but the experience was below par. Came back and realized the proposal has now been pushed back to 2020.

From the mozilla team, only Aniket was with us, the rest of the group was coming straight from Nashik. Interestingly, all the six people who came, came on bikes which depending upon how you look at it was either brave or stupid. Travelling on bikes on Indian highways you either have to be brave or stupid or both, we have more than enough ‘accidents’ due to quality of road construction, road design, lane-changing drivers and many other issues. This is probably not the place for it hence will use some other blog post to rant about that.

We reached around 10:00 hrs. IST and hung around till lunch as Akshat had all the marketing material, monitors etc. The only thing we had were couple of lappies and couple of SBC’s, an RPI 3 and a BBB.

Aarti Kashyap sharing something about SBC

Our find for the event was Aarti Kashyap who you can see above. She is a third-year student at COEP and one of the rare people who chose to interact with hardware rather than software. From last several years, we had been trying, successfully and unsuccessfully to get more Indian women and girls interested into technology. It is a vicious circle as till a girl/woman doesn’t volunteer we are unable to share our knowledge to the extent we can which leads them to not have much interest in FOSS or even technology in general.

While there are groups are djangogirls, Pyladies and railgirls and even Outreachy which tries to motivate getting girls into computing but it’s a long road ahead.

We are short of both funds and ideas as to how to motivate more girls to get into computing and then to get into playing with hardware. I don’t know where to start and end for whoever wants to play with hardware. From SBC’s, routers to blade servers the sky is the limit. Again this probably isn’t the place for it, hence probably we can chew it on more at some other blog post.

This year, we had a lowish turnout due to the fact that the 12th board exams 1st paper was on the day we had opened. So instead of 20-25k, we probably had 5-7k fewer people pass through. There were two-three things that we were showing, we were showing Debian on one of the systems, we were showing the output from the SBC’s on the other monitor but the glare kept hitting the monitors.

While the organizers had done exemplary work over last year. They had taped the carpets on the ground so there was hardly any dust moving around. However, I wished the organizers had taken the pains to have two cloth roofs over our head instead of just one, the other roof head could be say 2 feet up, this would have done two things –

a. It probably would have cooled the place a bit more as –

b. We could get diffused sunlight which would have lessened the glare and reflection the LCD’s kept throwing back. At times we also got people to come to our side as can be seen in Aarti’s photo as can be seen above.

If these improvements can be made for next year, this would result in everybody in our ‘Pandal’ would benefit, not just us and mozilla. This would be benefiting around 10-15 organizations which were within the same temporary structure.

Of course, it depends very much on the budget they are able to have and people who are executing, we can just advise.

The other thing which had been missing last year and this year is writing about Single Board Computers in Marathi. If we are to promote them as something to replace a computer or something for a younger brother/sister to learn computing upon at a lower cost, we need leaflets written in their language to be more effective. And this needs to be in the language and mannerisms that people in that region understand. India, as probably people might have experienced is a dialect-prone country. Which means every 2-5 kms, the way the language is spoken is different from anywhere else. The Marathi spoken by somebody who has lived in Ravivar Peth for his whole life and a person who has lived in say Kothrud are different. The same goes from any place and this place, Khodad, Narayangaon would have its own dialect, its own mini-codespeak.

Just to share, we did have one in English but it would have been a vast improvement if we could do it in the local language. Maybe we can discuss about this and ask for help from people.

Outside, Looking in

Mozillians helping FOSS community and vice-versa

What had been interesting about the whole journey were the new people who were bringing all their passion and creativity to the fore. From the mozilla community, we had Akshay who is supposed to be a wizard on graphics, animation, editing anything to do with the visual medium. He shared some of the work he had done and also shared a bit about how blender works with people who wanted to learn about that.

Mayur, whom you see in the picture pointing out something about FOSS and this was the culture that we strove to have. I know and love and hate the browser but haven’t been able to fathom the recklessness that Mozilla has been doing the last few years, which has just been having one mis-adventure after another.

For instance, mozstumbler was an effort which I thought would go places. From what little I understood, it served/serves as a user-friendly interface to a potential user while still sharing all the data with OSM . They (Mozilla) seems/seemed to have a fatalistic take as it provided initial funding but then never fully committing to the project.

Later, at night we had the whole ‘free software’ and ‘open-source’ sharings where I tried to emphasize that without free software, the term ‘open-source’ would not have come into existence. We talked and talked and somewhere around 02:00 I slept, the next day was an extension of the first day itself where we ribbed each other good-naturedly and still shared whatever we could share with each other.

I do hope that we continue this tradition for great many years to come and engage with more and more people every passing year.

To say or not to say

Voltaire

For people who are visually differently-abled, the above reads –

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize” – Voltaire wrote this either in late 16th century or early 17th century and those words were as apt in those times, as it is in these turbulent times as well.

Update 05/03 – According to @bla these words are attributable to a neo-nazi and apparently a child abuser. While I don’t know the context in which it was shared, it describes the environment in which we are perfectly. Please see his comment for a link and better understanding.

The below topic requires a bit of maturity, so if you are easily offended, feel free not to read further.

While this week-end I was supposed to share about the recent Science Day celebrations that we did last week –

Science Day celebrations at GMRT

Would explore it probably next week.

This week the attempt is to share thoughts which had been simmering at the back of my mind for more than 2 weeks or more and whose answers are not clear to me.

My buttons were pressed when Martin f. Kraft shared about a CoC violation and the steps taken therein. While it is easy to say with 20:20 hind-sight to say that the gentleman acted foolishly, I don’t really know the circumstances to pass the judgement so quickly. In reality, while I didn’t understand the ‘joke’ in itself, I have to share some background by way of anecdotes as to why it isn’t so easy for me to give a judgement call.

a. I don’t know the topics chosen by stand-up comedians in other countries, in India, most of the stand-up acts are either about dating or sex or somewhere in-between, which is lovingly given the name ‘Leela’ (dance of life) in Indian mythology. I have been to several such acts over the years at different events, different occasions and 99.99% of the time I would see them dealing with pedophilia, necrophilia and all sorts of deviants in sexuality and people laughing wildly, but couple of times when the comedian shared the term ‘sex’ with people, educated, probably more than a few world-travelled middle to higher-middle class people were shocked into silence. I had seen this not in once but 2-3 times in different environments and was left wondering just couple of years back ‘ Is sex such a bad word that people get easily shocked ? ‘ Then how is it that we have 1.25 billion + people in India. There had to be some people having sex. I don’t think that all 1.25 billion people are test-tube babies.

b. This actually was what lead to my quandary last year when my sharing of ‘My Experience with Debian’ which I had carefully prepared for newbies, seeing seasoned debian people, I knew my lame observations wouldn’t cut ice with them and hence had to share my actual story which involved a bit of porn. I was in two minds whether or not to say it till my eyes caught a t-shirt on which it was said ‘We make porn’ or something to that effect. That helped me share my point.

c. Which brings me to another point, it seems it is becoming increasingly difficult to talk about anything either before apologizing to everyone and not really knowing who will take offence at what and what the repercussions might be. In local sharings, I always start with a blanket apology that if I say something that offends you, please let me know afterwards so I can work on it. As the term goes ‘You can’t please everyone’ and that is what happens. Somebody sooner or later would take offence at something and re-interpret it in ways which I had not thought of.

Charlie Chaplin - King of self-deprecating humor

From the little sharings and interactions I have been part of, I find people take offence at the most innocuous things. For instance, one of the easy routes of not offending anyone is to use self-deprecating humour (or so I thought) either of my race, caste, class or even my issues with weight and each of the above would offend somebody. Charlie Chaplin didn’t have those problems. If somebody is from my caste, I’m portraying the caste in a certain light, a certain slant. If I’m talking about weight issues, then anybody who is like me (fat) feels that the world is laughing at them rather than at me or they will be discriminated against. While I find the last point a bit valid, it leaves with me no tools and no humour. I neither have the observational powers or the skills that Kapil Sharma has and have to be me.

While I have no clue what to do next, I feel the need to also share why humour is important in any sharing.-

a. Break – When any speaker uses humour, the idea is to take a break from a serious topic. It helps to break the monotony of the talk especially if the topic is full of jargon talk and new concepts. A small comedic relief brings the attendees attention back to the topic as it tends to wander in a long monotonous talk.

b. Bridge – Some of the better speakers use one or more humourous anecdote to explain and/or bridge the chasm between two different concepts. Some are able to produce humour on the fly while others like me have to rely on tried and tested methods.

There is one another thing as well, humour is seems to be a mixture of social, cultural and political context and its very easy to have it back-fired upon you.

For instance, I attempted humour on refugees, probably not the best topic to try humour in the current political climate, and predictably, it didn’t go down well. I had to share and explain about Robin Williams slightly dark yet humorous tale in ‘Moscow on the Hudson‘ The film provides comedy and pathos in equal measure. You are left identifying with Vladimir Ivanoff (Robin Williams character) especially in the last scene where he learns of his grand-mother dying and he remembers her and his motherland, Russia and plays a piece on his saxophone as a tribute both to his grand-mother and the motherland. Apparently, in the height of the cold war, if a Russian defected to United States (land of Satan and other such terms used) you couldn’t return to Russia.

The movie, seen some years back left a deep impact on me. For all the shortcomings and ills that India has, even if I could, would and could I be happy anywhere else ? The answers are not so easy. With most NRI’s (Non-Resident Indians) who emigrated for good did it not so much for themselves but for their children. So the children would hopefully have a better upbringing, better facilities, better opportunities than they would have got here.

I talked to more than a few NRI’s and while most of them give standardized answers, talking awhile and couple of beers or their favourite alcohol later, you come across deeply conflicted human beings whose heart is in India and their job, profession and money interests compel them to be in the country where they are serving.

And Indian movies further don’t make it easy for the Indian populace when trying to integrate into a new place. Some of the biggest hits of yesteryear’s were about having the distinct Indian culture in their new country while the message of most countries is integration. I know of friends who are living in Germany who have to struggle through their German in order to be counted as a citizen, the same I guess is true of other countries as well, not just the language but the customs as well. They also probably struggle with learning more than one language and having an amalgamation of values which somehow they and their children have to make sense of.

I was mildly shocked last week to learn that Mishi Choudary had to train people in the U.S. to differentiate between Afghan turban styles of wearing and the Punjabi style of wearing the turban. A simple search on ‘Afghani turban’ and ‘Punjabi turban’ reveals that there are a lot of differences between the two cultures. In fact, the way they talk, the way they walk, there are lots that differentiate the two cultures.

The second shocking video was of an African-American man racially abusing an Indian-American girl. At first, I didn’t believe it till I saw the video on facebook.

My point through all that is it seems humour, that clean, simple exercise which brings a smile to you and uplifts the spirit doesn’t seem to be as easy as it once was.

Comments, suggestions, criticisms all are welcome.

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