The Minor Majority

I am a nationalist.
There. I said it.

And I’m not ashamed of being dubbed one. I’m just sick and tired of how this concept has become one associated with rebels and radicals.
With the rise of the so called ‘pseudo-liberal’ junta in our country, nationalists being compared to terrorists is not uncommon.
Our country has just recently passed 3 landmark judgements. The abolishment of Triple Talaq, removal of Article 377 and allowing women to visit the Sabarimala Temple.
Now these judgments are instrumental, and they have given relief and happiness to millions of Indians.

However, our so called ‘Liberals’ don’t seem satisfied.
Rehana Fathima recently raised furore all over the state of Kerala after breaking into the Sabarimala Temple without permission and causing nuisance.

In doing so, she instantly made headlines all over the country, in a bid to revive her dead modelling career. But did she ‘really’ need to do it?
Fathima doesn’t really care about Lord Ayyapa, the main deity at the Sabarimala. She just wanted to prove a point. In the midst of that, she created nuisance at the temple and hurt the sentiments of thousands of ‘true’ devotees. Did she really need the publicity so bad?

Such stunts are quite prevalent in our country now. They seem hidden to the public eye. But after some observation, I’ve seen that these stunts are quietly ubiquitous.
‘Sanju’: A biopic on Sanjay Dutt, released to much fanfare this July. While the movie was enjoyable, the hidden assault on Hinduism was in very bad taste. While it is well known that Dutt was friends with Dawood Ibrahim, the film decided to portray underworld via a Tilak-clad Ganpati devotee. Now this is not a one off instance. Who can forget the ‘Shiva’ scene in P.K?

Even during festivals, there is sudden increase in news articles about the harms that firecrackers pose towards animals and how Idol immersion is bad for water bodies.

I do agree that these practices are harmful but the way our media portrays Hindu festivals is obnoxious and cynical. Where are they when Bakri-Eid or Moharram is on?

Similarly, why didn’t Rehana Fathima chose one of a thousand mosques where women aren’t allowed?
Why didn’t she hesitate to do the same at a place considered sacred by people of another faith?

‘Oppression’.

This is the word which would’ve been in the headlines if Sanju included Dawood. If articles got published on Bakri-Eid. If Fathima trespassed a mosque. If a person from the minority community is asked to stand up for the national anthem.
Why can’t we call a spade a spade and drop the victim mentality?
It’s high time facts stop being twisted to suit one community and target another.
It’s high time we start treating others as equal.
It’s high time we stop disgracing nationalism.

Advertisements

King

Long live the King“, the Friday Daily Mail screamed.

Keith ‘King’ Bell had finally decided to hang up his boots.

He lay majestically on his bed as the sunshine shone on his forehead from the window. A bed whose size was in accordance to his nickname. It was 7 AM. He woke up. Today was his final game.

After 15 years in cricket, Keith had become the world’s most feared fast bowler. But cricket was not his sole love.

He had as many headlines on page 3 as the number of stumps he’d rattled in his career. Tall and well built, he was feared on the pitch, and loved in the green rooms. A transition to action films was stirred up, but never taken seriously.

Being a media darling surely helped sustain his ‘Most Eligible Bachelor’ image all this while. A photo of him with any of the new movie bombshells was a prize catch for the ravenous paparazzi.

But it was all over now. After 15 years of physical and mental strain, he’d finally called time on an illustrious career.
Thousands of teary eyes were spotted at the Mecca of cricket during his testimonial match. No one wanted him to go.

Keith wasn’t really sure of his future goals.
Coaching? Never. He hated all his gaffers.
Commentary? Meh.

Reaching home after his final match, all he wanted was sleep. Enough sleep to rest his madly overworked torso.

Sadly, the siesta was cut short by a call.
A call which shook him to his core.

The caller had also mailed him a picture. Of him with Kubal Malik.

The King with the most wanted bookie of the sport.

“It’ll be on the Daily Mail tomorrow”, quipped the caller, cutting the call abruptly.

It was over. His 15 year old legacy was shredded to bits.

He shouted, disbelief in his voice. A 30 second call had turned a 15 year old career into a scam.

The shouting dried down. He wept now.

The clock chimed as the needle hit 6.
It was dark outside.

His heart was full of regret.
It was dark inside.

He slowly crawled into his bed, with a small black bottle in his hand.

It was 7 AM.

He lay majestically on his bed as the sunshine shone on his forehead from the window. With foam on his mouth.

Long live the King. The King is dead“, the Saturday Daily Mail screamed.

Shivansh Mishra

Same Love

Yuri was tired.
A long day at work. Busy intercepting signals between Pyongyang and Seoul all day. With no luck.He reached his bungalow. The sight of his girlfriend Ana at the door cheered him up slightly.
He wondered sometimes how they ever wound up together.

Ana was tall, athletic and bubbly. Youth radiated from her face. In contrast, Yuri was several years older. Fine lines had started to appear on his stoic face. Ana was a researcher at the University of Moscow. She met Yuri by chance at a military conference held by the University. Yuri was on the advisory panel, and Ana’s charisma stole his heart.The conference led to a coffee date together. They clicked, and now, 3 months later, she was with him.
Yuri made himself comfortable on the couch and turned on the telly. A Raj Kapoor classic was playing. He turned the volume up. ‘Mera Naam Joker’ was his favourite. In between the iconic dialogues, Ana and he talked.
Ana’s slightly accented Russian had been the first thing which caught Yuri’s eye when they first met. He didn’t care much. She was Polish.
A solution was sought for Yuri’s perennial tiredness. His performance standards were dipping, which wasn’t a good sign for the country. Not that he’d told Ana he worked for the nation. He wasn’t allowed to.

It seemed Ana had a magic wand in her hand. She cut the tension, and soon Yuri was all giggles. Her eyes. Whenever they lit up, so did Yuri. It was magic. With Raj Kapoor infront, and Ana beside him, Yuri became the most comfortable man on earth in minutes.

Ana was worried about Yuri’s increasing restlessness. She knew it was time to open up her Pandora’s box of solutions.

And then they deliberated, jotting down pros and cons of each method. Their chemistry was infallible. To an outsider, they could easily pass off as a decade old married couple.

After a lot of deliberation, they decided on a short vacation. Their first one together. It’d rejuvenate Yuri, and help him spend some quality time with Ana. The destination was decided. France it was.Yuri was a tad sceptical. France wasn’t really on the best terms with his country. Going there could be lethal.

But when he saw the way Ana’s eyes lit up at the mention of the Eiffel Tower, he knew he had only one choice. He went to the Kremlin and asked his boss for permission, which was duly granted.

Yuri Linkov was never denied by the Kremlin.

“Last call for Air France F13”, the announcer blared. Yuri felt slightly uneasy. He only travelled abroad for work. Going abroad for pleasure was a strange feeling.
But Ana’s comforting smile rested his nerves. He looked at her. Her deep blue eyes pierced through him. At that moment, he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He really did. He was going to propose to her beneath the Eiffel. Tomorrow. He’d finally found Mrs. Milkov.

The D-Day was here. They’d finally landed at Paris.They were greeted by an eloquent gentleman, claiming to be their chauffeur. They left the terminal.
The Eiffel was visible at a distance. Yuri’s eyes gleamed expectantly, as he tried getting inside the car.

And then came a piercing Swoosh.. and Whaam.. sound.

The gentleman’s baseball bat developed a crack from the sudden impact. He roughly dragged Yuri’s motionless body into the back of the car. He congratulated agent Anastasia Roberts. The MI6 agent had helped them finally nab the world’s top spy, KGB top gun Yuri Milkov. Anastasia remained silent. There wasn’t a speck of regret in her cold blue eyes.

She boarded the next flight to London.

Shivansh

Playing hard or Paying hard?

As I pen down this article, the greatest sporting spectacle on earth is underway.

32 nations from 6 continents are fighting tooth and nail for the Jules Rimet trophy. The FIFA World Cup.

But isn’t it just another quadrennial sporting event?

What makes it different from the others?

To truly understand the magnitude of the event, some statistics might help.

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was aired to an estimated 3.2 billion people, which is 46% of the human population.

Yes, almost half of the whole world tuned in to watch football during this phase !

The cup has witnessed a meteoric rise in popularity since its humble beginnings.

The first world cup in 1930 could only gather 13 nations, most of them being European. This is quite in contrast to the upcoming 2022 Qatar WC, slated to host 48 nations from over 6 continents.

The 211 countries part of FIFA further cement the dominance of the sport over any other. That’s 18 more than the number of United Nations members.

Just let that sink in.

So after all the praise I’ve heaped on the sport to prove its dominance, a pertinent question may arise in the reader’s mind – “Why the hell am I questioning the World Cup’s benefits at all?”

After all, shouldn’t the countries continue fighting over hosting rights for such a lucrative tournament?

However, hosting a world cup isn’t just another hunky-dory affair. FIFA’s extremely high standards lead to a battle before the actual war in getting the infrastructure ready.

It especially hurts those nations which need football the most.

South Africa stands as a prime example. In a country and continent as culturally and ethnically diverse as it is, football acts as a binding agent.

So nothing short of a renaissance was expected when South Africa won the hosting rights of the 2010 tournament. The fact that $3 billion of tax money was spent only raised expectations.

Naturally, the key word of 2010 for the Africa masses was Hope.

Only to turn to despair.

Though the tournament is remembered as a success, it hasn’t really helped the nation.

The FIFA anthem of South Africa 2010 – “Waka Waka” is remembered endearingly.

The same cannot be said for the country’s football players.

They have continuously underperformed at the international level. So it was no surprise when they failed to even qualify for the 2014 or 2018 cups.

The stadiums have been severely under-utilised, as the weak local league hasn’t been able to maintain them. Most have been dismantled.

Brazil 2014 went several steps ahead and the government spent $ 11.6 billion, almost 4 times the previous WC’s spending.

Hope was in the air, again.

Only to be crushed, again.

Instead of improving even slightly from its predecessor, this WC was embroiled in even more controversy.

A politically charged Brazil with nearing elections pumped up the detractors of the spending. The mysterious deaths of construction workers did no better to help its case.

The final nail in the coffin was the constant decline of the already struggling Brazilian economy.

Qatar 2022 has a budget of $220 billion, more than 60 times that of the 2010 WC.

To put things into perspective; that’s approximately equal to the net worth of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates combined.

That’s a bizarre sum of money, even if it’s being invested in an uncharted territory.

And still, this cup hasn’t gained the confidence of the masses. The corruption charges against FIFA top brass such as Sepp Blatter have severely tainted its image.

There are a few positives, yes. Germany recorded a significant spurt in child births 9 months after the 2006 World Cup, which was quite unusual for a country with declining population. Also, tourism during the world cup does see a sharp spike.

But do they outweigh the negatives?

Hell no.

Tourism spikes are very transient. With the upcoming unfavorable locations (Qatar), tourism is even less likely to be a valid argument.

Contrary to the way it was marketed, the 2010 World Cup did not create solidarity amongst the nations, in sporting terms or otherwise. Most of the African footballers still find no opportunities at the base level, and the talented ones still move to greener European pastures.

Qatar’s astronomical budget can very well be employed in other suitable avenues, such as helping curb conflicts in the volatile Arab region, rather than being used to build state-of-the-art structures destined to be miniature ghost towns.

The world cup remains the biggest and most seen quadrennial sporting event. Its relevance or need remains unchallenged. However the way the countries are selected as hosts, or their spending definitely needs to be kept in check. A balance is needed so that the success of the sport is assured without misusing public wealth. If the current system prevails, a day shall come when the World Cup becomes yet another corporate gimmick masqueraded as a sporting event.

I can only hope that day never comes.

Shivansh

The Curious case of Chindians

It’s Sunday.

A day which starts rather late in the City of Joy; it’s a rest day after all.

Yet, I’m up early. 6 AM, the clock says. I’ve lived in the city for 8 years now, but today’s gonna be the first time I visit the city’s original Chinatown- Tiretti Bazaar.

The roads are empty and the air is fresh, quite unlike the scene you’ll observe just 4 hours later in the same place, as it transforms into just another vegetable market full of dusty bylanes and litter. But for now, it is peaceful.

As peaceful as the face of the first vendor we visit. He’s been here a long time now. He’s seen his people come and go. Some went to Tangra, fondly referred to as new Chinatown. Most took a bigger leap and went all the way to Canada, Australia and Singapore.

He persisted, though.

Just like his cuisine. The dumplings I taste there are nothing like any momo dish I’ve had before. The Chicken broth is again distinct in taste. The Red bean bun, an item I’m trying for the first time, is incredibly soft and subtle at the same time.dsc00020

The man is a native Chinese, and his ancestors belonged to the Hakka region of China. It is believed that they were brought along way back during the time of Warren Hastings, by a man called Tong  Achi, to work in a sugar mill. After fragmenting into different professions a few years later, most of them amalgamated into the local culture. A good number of them worked in the tanneries, which were huge back then and employed a lot of people.

Apparently, some of them even went ahead and established licensed opium dens, popularly called ‘Cheena Bazaar’.

A lot of them got married to Indian locals, leading to another distinctive class of people, who we today call Chindians, a portmanteau of their two ancestries.

A lot of them can also be found in Singapore and Malaysia, naturally as a result of the significant incoming of the two ethnic groups in these countries. It wouldn’t be a big surprise to hear a name with a very Chinese sounding first name and a typical South Indian surname.

Inspite of being a rather small group, Chindians have been excelling in many areas. Take for example, Nicol David whose name is almost synonymous with female squash after holding the World No.1 ranking for a record breaking 108 months.

Closer home, one of India’s biggest names in badminton, commonwealth gold medallist Jwala Gutta also belongs to this rare group. Drifting away from sports, Singapore’s Foreign Minister, Vivian Balakrishnan is another addition.

Despite having such big names amongst the group, Chindians haven’t really had the same amount of recognition  as other mixed race. They are a prime example of a small community which came together due to certain limitations. A good extension to this would be the case of Guyanese Chindians,  who came about just because the country had an oversupply of male Chinese workers( coolies) with no Chinese women to balance the scale. They married Indian women instead, adding to the Chindian population.

It’s fascinating how communities come together, and our species slowly evolves in the process as well. Chindians are just a small chip in a huge wooden block of such mixed race communities.

It would definitely not be a big surprise to have our descendants reading another such write up on an human-alien race in the near future.

  • Shivansh Mishra

Why the WWE continues to live on.

The year is 2008. It’s Royal Rumble time. As known to die-hard fans, the stakes are high here: the winner gets a shot at a world championship at the grandest wrestling event of the year, WrestleMania.
John Cena is the last guy to enter a crowded but perplexed ring of heavyweights. Perplexed as this is a guy who was out with injury and supposed to enter a wrestling ring 3 months later.
The crowd is loving it. The 9 year old me is loving it. Triple H, the last man apart from Cena, is shell-shocked.
And then the inevitable happens. Triple H is eliminated.
Cena wins the rumble.
I am elated.

Exactly 10 years have passed.
In between those 10 years, the WWE went through a lot of changes, as did my attitude towards the company and pro-wrestling in general. For starters, my worst fear about WWE came true. I couldn’t keep track of the amount of times I was told that it’s fake.
And then, the truth dawned with a Wikipedia article.
WWE is scripted, it said. All results and matches were determined beforehand.
I was shocked.
This meant that behind the hair-raising Cena victory at Royal Rumble, was a commonplace screenwriter was it for me . I was done with WWE.
Till last year.
Somehow, a random WWE related video on YouTube translated into me binge-watching content day by day.
Some might call it nostalgia, but I found that 10 years on, something still made people consume WWE content.
To be completely honest, the promos had deteriorated exponentially. The once machoistic foul-mouthed wrestlers had transformed into kids fighting over a candy stick.
The wrestling had improved considerably though.The superstar’s ability is now given much  more focus rather than his body shape. This goes against WWE Chairman Vince McMahon’s love for the so called ‘big’ guys. WWE’s paradigm of  female wrestlers had fortunately shifted from a sexist ‘Diva’ image to a more professional one.
The way the company treats it employees also underwent a radical shift. With earlier employees being highly susceptible to drug and steroid overdoses, the company’s new Wellness Policy has been a great addition . Apart from this, better writing from the screenwriters has resulted in some great storylines .
The company has now started targetting the masses, with it realising that children are great potential lifelong clients.
There is still a certain charm that I find in a WWE contest. The referees, the pinfalls, the submissions, the signature manouvres, the reversals.  The way the company has preserved and evolved this aspect is something that still draws the older crowd. This is inspite of them knowing that each event is scripted.

After so many years, it is perhaps this aspect which made me touch this product again.
The 9 year old Cena fan inside me still remains spellbound by WWE.
As for the doubters, I would quote the great Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson : “It doesn’t matter what you think”.

-Shivansh Mishra
Continue reading