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Rakhi brothers!

I love India today!

Today is what Indians call Rakhi, or Raksha Bandhan, an auspicious day when sisters tie a sacred string around the right wrists of their brothers. Young or old, this is done throughout the subcontinent first thing in the morning. And then they exchange gifts from their hearts.

I love it because this is such an age-old tradition to remind siblings of the ties that bind. In the western world, the relationship between siblings is not as strong as in conservative cultures such as India and China.

Although it is a Hindu ritual, it is something else the world can learn from India.

Check out

http://hinduism.about.com/library/weekly/aa080800a.htm

for more about the festival and

http://www.flickr.com/photos/gargi/36825664/

for photos.

Brutal treatment of a thief

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Things seem to happen at breakfast in India!

This morning, I was aghast at a “Live India” TV clip showing a group of men brutally beating up a thief in the state of Bihar. But I nearly puked while having breakfast when he was dragged through the street tied to the back of a motorcycle ridden by a policeman!

The crowd of about 50 or so did absolutely nothing to prevent the young man from such brutal treatment. Several were seen punching and kicking him in the head, chest and back. Another used what looked like a belt to whack him across the face and his back.

Then a man tied up the young man’s hands behind his back with what appeared to be wire. He was dragged by a policeman in a safari suit. The young man fell, and the next scene was him being dragged behind a motorcycle for several metres.

All this while, that young man looked utterly helpless. He was shown saying something in Hindi which I do not understand, but presumably pleading for his life.

The man, who looked like a teenager, had apparently snatched a chain from a woman in Bhagalpur district in Bihar. The chain was recovered.

Shocked at this treatment, I rushed to my room knowing that this would be shown on TV over and over again. And true enough it was. Unfortunately, I couldn’t upload this to YouTube, but if you go to the Sydney Morning Herald’s website (www.smh.com.au) today, Aug 29, you will be able to view it although I think the paper has removed the clip about him being dragged behind a motorbike.

You can read the story at www.ndtv.com/.

I do not know the plight of the man or the fate of those who watched, and especially those two cops. But I hope they get the most severe punishment for condoning such brutal treatment, and worse still, taking part in it.

What about the crowd? Why did they do nothing? Or were they enjoying the spectacle?

What about the TV station which showed the footage over and over again? Who shot this video? Was it the TV cameraman, or someone with a mobile phone?

If it’s the former, then there is the serious question of journalistic ethics. Should a TV cameraman continue to film this brutality without calling for help? Or was it a case of shoot-first-talk-later?

From the wider perspective, should journalists stand by and watch while an offence is being committed, for surely this is taking the law into one’s own hands? Or does the news come first?

Sex in the air

Airlines know that sex sells too (see “Sex for breakfast, lunch and dinner” below).

This morning, the Times of India reported that the national airline, Air India, is lowering the age to 50 when all flight crew will no longer be allowed to fly. The limit is now 58 for men and 50 for women.

“This sudden realisation has come from the fact that Air India’s closest rivals in overseas flights – Jet Airways and Kingfisher – have an upper age limit of 35 for their cabin crews,” said the Times. But Kingfisher (owned by the ultra-suave politician and industrialist Vijay Mallya) has a new age limit of 27 for those newly recruited.

The Times quoted a source as saying that Air India’s founder, J R D Tata, was “ahead of his times”. “The cabin crew in his time could fly till the age of 30. This slowly became 35, then 45 and finally 50 for females. There was a legal tiff and the airline then – owing to political pressure – allowed females to fly till the age of 58 in certain circumstances,” the paper quoted the unnamed source.

So, does sex in the air sell? Most assuredly it does!

Singapore Airlines has a similar policy although I’m not sure what the age limit is. Having flown SQ for years, I have yet to meet a flight stewardess older than 40, maybe even 35. And to top it all, girls are recruited based on beauty and weight. If you tip the scales at 75kg, you can forget about becoming a flight stewardess on SQ. Many of them, in fact, look anorexic!

Contrast that to airlines like British Airways, United Airlines, Qantas where you are often served by women who could be your aunt or mother!

Sex at breakfast, lunch and dinner

I had sex for breakfast this morning.

Ok, now that I got your attention, let me confess: I DIDN’T. What I got was a raunchy TV clip of some Indian singer doing her thing. It was shown in the breakfast room.

One of two girls sitting across the room moved her chair so she could watch what’s-her-name belting a rollicking Hindi song. The choreography was blatantly sexy, with the cameras zooming in on the back-up dancers as they thrust their hips forward and backward as if in a sex act.

The girls were rather scantily clad too, with outfits that were more like bikinis with a piece of cloth covering their crotch, but just enough to tantalise the audience. Indian MTV is ultra-sexy and you seem to get this throughout the day.

But this afternoon, as I got back to my hotel, I saw a bunch of girls leaving the Lyallpur Khalsa College for Women, Jalandhar.

It made me wonder: Why is Bollywood so different from traditional India?

Indian girls are among the most conservative in the world. They are covered from their necks down; Bollywood likes to take their clothes off as much as possible.

Indian girls have arranged marriages but Bollywood is full of sex scandals.

So what gives? I suppose the answer can only be this: Bollywood knows that sex sells.

A bright, light idea!

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I love the way traffic lights at major intersections work in Jalandhar, India, where I am now and will be for the next week.

Above or by the side of the lights, there is a large LED which shows the number of seconds before the light turns green. What a wonderful idea!

Surely this is one thing the rest of the world can learn from India? It will ceretainly cure the impatience of some motorists who toot their horns the very second the light turns green.

They should install this in Saudi Arabia. There, according to the Saudi Gazette, motorists toot the horn one or two seconds after the light turns green! The Saudis obviously don’t understand that it takes more than a few seconds to change gears!

For more pictures from a moving car in India, check out: see my photos on facebook

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=11600&l=81fc8&id=591406802

Left is right, or right is wrong?

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What’s with newspaper editors who think nothing of flipping images such as this in an Indian newspaper just today.
On the front page was a picture of an Indian beauty looking towards her right (woman wearing blue at top right). But turn to the back page and she is looking left.

Which is right? You decide.

Personally, I hate it when editors do things without considering the consequences (changing a person’s mole from left to right, for example. Or making his hair part the wrong side).

Why can’t editors respect pictures as much as they respect words?

Visual Pollution

Signs of the times

As Indians become more and more affluent, airlines are fighting for their rupees.

Jet Airways, admittedly the best airline in the country, has just announced regular flights from Delhi to Toronto where there are thousands of Indians, besides Pakistanis and Arabs.

The competition is fierce in the travel industry. Just take a look at the signs along a street in Jalandhar. What a mess!
Someone ought to put some order here!

We don’t need visual pollution any more than we need environmental pollution, which in India, is pretty bad.

Incredibly, even in big cities such as Mumbai, men, women and children do their business by the roadside. I’ve seen women squatting down by the side of the highway leading from the airport to the city defecating unashamedly!

Having a pee in full view of the public is nothing in Madras! There, they do it at bus stops, for heaven’s sake!

A must-read book

I salute men such as Robert Spencer and Serge Tripkovic who have the courage to write about Islam in not-so-flattering light. I salute them because they face a possible fatwa against them.

But a book I am now reading is even more courageous. The book is “Why I am not a Muslim” by Ibn Warraq, who was born in Pakistan but left Islam after researching deeply into its whys and wherefores.

This is a full-on treatment on the important matters concerning Islam. The chapter headings should give you an idea:. Here are just some of them: The origins of Islam, The problem of sources, Muhammad and his message, The Koran, The totalitarian nature of Islam, Is Islam compatible with democracy and human rights?, Arab imperialism, Islamic colonialism, Women and Islam, Taboos: Wine, pigs and homosexuality, and Final assessment of Muhammad.

Wow!

Warraq has strong words for western liberals and intellectuals who delight in self-abasement of their own culture, preferring the “noble savage” approach to the ills of western societies.

The only thing I have against the book is that the author hides behind a pseudonym, although that is quite understandable. But I guess he would not have lived long had he used his real name.

Warraq is obviously anti-Christian too. In the latter case, he quotes extensively from discredited sources, non-believers and left-wing liberals to back up his case. He misunderstands Christian doctrines and therefore puts them in a very bad light.

Still, if you want to know some of the truths about Islam, get the book!  http://www.prometheusbooks.com/

India 2020: A dream?

Ice cold drinks, anyone?

Hello world. Greetings from India.

I’m on my 30th trip to this amazing land, and each time I can’t help falling in love with this place. India has much to offer the world.

Just before he left office last month, the Indian President Abdul Kalam Azad said he would like to see the country gain developed status by 2020. But I’m wondering how this is going to be possible.

Just think about this: There are more than 1 billion people scattered in dozens of metropolises, thousands of towns and millions of villages.

The metropolises such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore may become developed well before 2020, but the problem lies in those villages.

Many of them even do not have safe running water, electricity and basic infrastructure.

Millions of Indians eke out a living doing jobs that First World folks would not dream of doing. Hawking in the streets, pulling rickshaws in the grubby streets of Calcutta, riding trishaws and what is known as three-wheelers (scooters with carriage), hawking odds and ends like tissue paper and sticks of cigarettes at traffic light junctions, and a thousand and one other menial jobs.

How will India hope to provide the teeming millions with jobs that will earn them enough money to rank them among First World wage-earners?
How is India going to find the resources to replace the millions of motorbikes, broken-down taxis that ply the streets, rickshaws, trishaws, three-wheelers and other modes of transport?

First World in 13 years? That’s asking for the moon, I’d say.