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Thursday, February 25

Railway Budget 2010-11: Bitter-sweet Kerala

Thank you Mamataji, two-and-a-half hours of verbal orgasm in the imperious Parliament building...

552 pair of ears live on the stage...Millions listening on the idiot-box, and for updates here on webspace (though Sachin Tendulkar cruelly overshadowed the spotlight on Mamata and her trains by that epic-script at Gwalior). Railway Budget is a matter of huge interest for the infrastructure-development geeks as well as for the common Indian public.

And as usual after the ritual, the cross-examination begins. The coalition partners haaaaaappy and rapturous, the opposition states frowning, the Commie West Bengal Govt caught in political doldrums even as this was  almost a jackpot hit for the state, the experts in media analyzing the pros and cons of the Budget. Afterall we all need some job.

For Kerala? It's a mixed bag. Check out the major promises: (I'm not including the whole list of proposals for Kerala. You can access the entire budget speech from the link provided at the end of the passage)
  •  7 new trains 
Ernakulam- Mumbai Durando
Ernakulam- Pune Superfast
Trichy- Mangalore Express
Trivandrum- Calicut Jansatabdhi via Kottayam
Trivandrum- Bhopal Bharath Thirth Circuit train 
Shornur- Nilambr Passenger
Ernakulam- Kollam MEMU
  • 3 Trains extended
Coimbatore- Calicut Passenger extended to Kannur
Trivandrum- Ernakulam Intercity to Guruvayoor
Kochuveli- Yesvantpur Express to Hubli

  • New water bottling plant in Trivandrum
  • Survey for 5 new lines
 Punaloor- Trivandrum
Chenganoor- Trivandrum
Madurai- Kottayam
Dindigul- Kumily
Calicut- Angadipuram
Mysore- Thalassery  line (approved)

So there! The list is too long is it? May be because it is stuffed with that list of Survey proposals which turn out to be a relaxing 'roam-around and sight-seeing' picnic project for officials. Thank God most of these surveys are not realized, otherwise Kerala would now be having more railway lines than Panchayath roads.

A few proposals for new trains have been made but we were promised a similar list in the last budget as well. Ahmed saar managed to flag-off a few longies but the Durando/ Thurantho/ whatever-you-call-it, promised last year still runs only on paper. Same is the case with trains promised via Nagercoil to Tirunelveli from Trivandrum. Where are they Sir?

Railway Budget is by far the best exercise in India which delivers what it promises, unlike the Union Budget projects, plans and proposals of our Corporations or the ridiculously hollow addresses by the President and Governor in their respective houses. To be fair, Railways most often deliver what they promise, and within a reasonable time frame. There are patches of dead-black soot though.

Kerala CM Mr. Achuthanandan and his Railway in-charge Mr. Vijayakumar are not impressed by Kerala's plate. They are cross at didi that our 'much cherished'  Railway Zone has not been granted. A good few high-ranking railway officials from our own state have repeatedly conveyed that an exclusive rail zone is not going to benefit the state much, other than satisfying the misplaced ego of some politicians. We still need more railway lines and also another Division in the state or from our neighbours to constitute the Zone. So we have to set our priorities right, the projects beneficial for the majority of common travelling public should get the chunk of budget allocation.

Only Attukal Radhakrishnan can confirm for sure if all these trains will commence operations before the next rail budget. E. Ahmed deserves an acknowledgment for his efforts; he has done well in the show-off game. Still, the travel woes remain.

After the Venad/ Janasatabdhi leaves Ernakulam at around 1800hrs, there is a 5-6 hour gap before the next one to the state Capital. Hopefully the new Janasatabdhi via Kottayam will solve this issue, we need a train between 1800- 2000hrs when the demand for a South-bound train is still at its peak.

The long standing cry for a better rail connectivity to Bangalore from Malabar/ Trivandrum has yet again been axed down mercilessly. The little blue-birdie says that its the 'Bus lobby', which makes merry in the Malabar- Bangalore route, in which one of our Ministers has a pie as well but shhhh... I didn't tell you this. ;)

Interestingly E. Ahmed has worked for Rail connectivity to 3 Kerala ports viz Azheekkal, Beypore and Thalassery. Something tells me that the Railways missed something big here, or may be its just me. (Survey to the Vizhinjam Harbour line is going on, so I guess it's not an appalling miss)

Malabar may have received a generous hand, especially with the Palakkad Coach Factory receiving final sanction. But the Wagon Factory at Cherthala may well have to wait. Also Ernakulam North has been included in the list threatening to convert it into International Standards. (Trivandrum Central received the red-alert a few years back, still Shankaran is right up there on the Coconut tree).

The MEMU promised between Ernakulam and Kollam is good news but nobody knows for sure how a frequent shuttle service is going to operate on single track between Kayamkulam and Kerala's commercial capital. The doubling works needs to be expedited, if not it will lead to serious delays in the services between Central and South Kerala.

Kochuveli Station woes are sure to continue for another year. The budget has allocated 92 lakhs, probably enough to chop off the grass and clear the shrubs in the enormous wood-lands like area. Something for the NDTV new-age politician to look into seriously.

So an over-all bitter-sweet affair, though nothing much to be too much elated about. Fair-play to E. Ahmed and Mamata for handing over a better token to the state, at least the name Kerala appeared more than once on the Budget speech (unlike when Lalu/Balu/Velu were doing the job). Still its been a dinner without starters or desserts, well that's how I feel. How 'bout you?

Click for Full Railway Budget Speech of Mamata Banerjee. 

Kerala Railway map courtesy

Sunday, February 14

King Khan and some flop clans

Is there anything more enticing for an actor/producer than the release of his flick run the show in newschannels, tabloids as well as mainstream newspapers, the netspace head over heels about it, even the state legislature discussing publicly about the movie to an extent that the Chief Minister comes down to see the film! A frenetic aura surrounding a movie release as if it was an Olympic Opening Ceremony happening in town. Still, you have butterflies in your stomach on the release Friday, even if you're the SRK... Bollywood's King Khan.

Honest confession:  I'm no SRK fanboy. I admired his work when he was the old simple Shah Rukh Khan who gave us Circus, Kabhi haan Kabhi naa or Baazigar but lost his fine skills somewhere on way to becoming the SRK.

But the point of talk here is entirely different.

This spring-storm blowing through the nation in the name of the Khan is not just about this one person, or one city standing upto partisan politics, hate play and hooliganism. There is a larger vistarama frame to the whole turmoil. The My Name Is Khan aftermath has sent out the right message to 'leaders' of the wrong breeds: Everything you do wont be tolerated everytime.

Shiv Sena and its moth-eaten kingpin, who always had a spell over Mumbaikars has been peed on twice in less than a fortnight. Rahul Gandhi made a dumbass out of the Thackerays last week, and now SRK and an enterprising Mumbai have pissed right on his face.

Somebody on Twitter designed a new logo for the old Sena tiger...the once very fearsome Tiger. How very symbolic!

Is this an indication of a maturing society, identifying  and isolating the sectarian forces and standing upto them?

Isn't this a proof that denominational dogma doesn't rule the senses of majority and the educated new generation is ready to dump them?

Does this not prove beyond any shadow of doubt that if our rulers are determined to maintain decorum, then it stays put more often than not. Kudos to Maharashtra Govt who made a statement by using the arm of the law to crush down the ruffians.

Not to mention the sublime power of unity among the countrymen to utilize all possible channels; Facebook, Twitter, blogs, you say it, to crack down on the mob-ocracy.

You see, it doesn't matter if MNIK fails to break Box-Office records, no matter if SRK's characteristic over-acting, this time as an Asperger's Syndrome individual (doh!) again fails to impress, no matter if Karan Johar has once again managed to churn out a mediocre dampener, MNIK will go into pages of history as an event which unified the nation against the 'elements'.

The elements which we have to be wary of, who're as lethal as the 'internationally branded' ones from across the LoC.

The same elements which feast on the fear-factor of public, plaguing on our misinformation, illiteracy and poverty to good use to cash-in on their treacherous, hideous  and misplaced agenda.

The elements which work to fragment our nation in the name of caste, language, culture and sundries.

The SRK-Sena showdown was seen by many as a guerrilla marketing strategy, but I care less. Afterall who is the loser? Only those who had to be defeated. That's the whole point. Dignified press persona Barkha Dutt, Pranab Roy (NDTV), Rajdeep Sardesai (IBN), Aaj TakStar News et al endorsed MNIK as if the movie was their collaborative in-house production released by the Press Council of India.

 SRK fans cheering in Mumbai image courtesy The Hindu

Shah Rukh, you've managed to accomplish something unprecedented. You turned the whole mass-media contingent into an advertisement board, the usually sedentary and cold-footed Maharashtra Govt wake up to perform their duty, brought out entire net-gen to campaign ferociously for him (even people who can't stand him), even managed to arouse the watchful and tongue-tied Bollywood co-stars join hands and raise voice for him, instilled confidence in the multiplex-mall owners to be brave enough and reminded for once and all the citizens of the Mumbai megalopolis that the city belongs to them and not to some impious partisan advocates.

Bottomline? Thackrey and his ShivSena bite the dust...Period. 

Remember the last time such a widespread public anger and unity was seen? After Mumbai 26/11.  Then, it was the 'foreign' terrorists that lost out to Mumbai, this time the home-grown outfits... How ironic!

And ouch... The Khakhiwallas are enjoying their open-air workout in front of cameras! Make sure these whacks are remembered for long! :-)

It seems things have come the whole circle for Senas of all breeds. I mean, for this guy Muthalik and his Sree Rama Sena, the Kannada incarnation of Shiv Sena; only difference that its been a fart without sound. The same cowardly beast who laid hands on hapless women last year. Well, he got something well and truly deserved. lol..

By God, Muthalik is talking about Democracy, and condemning act of 'Goondaism'! GOD! *goosebumps* *goosebumps*... For him Democracy = men assaulting women in public; Goondaism = inkstaining... Next what, Osama Bin Laden preaching peace and harmony?

The message from the public appears clear: A Thackarey or an itch like Muthalik is NOT going to dictate terms to us. India is a democracy and we have full rights to act within the boundaries set by our Constitution, who the heck are you to draw the lines? You have no place in modern society, neither have you any role in building the India of tomorrow.

image courtesy: Shahrukhkhan.fotopic.netSonyahallet, The Hindu

Monday, February 1

The quintessential "mallu"

"Malayalees are sex-starved or perverts", says Paul Zacharia, noted writer and social activist. Newslink

"The journalists don't look at my face but at my breasts", the reason given by Arundhathi Roy for refusing to attend a press conference in Kerala.

What does the tailpiece read?

Haven't we had enough of this gelling together of the apparently all-too-global nature of the 'malayalees' or rather should I use the term "mallu" when I speak about forbidden impulses and rot behaviour?  Some people suddenly seem to grow a tongue encircling their throat when they speak about the 'mallu' sexuality and perversion. Now why is that?

Is it because of the seemingly endemic character of the mallu-men to ogle and drool at women, whichever part of the world they are?

Is it because of the stereotypical paradigm created by the old Malayalam movies, which were too bold and 'un-natural' for the rest of the nation?

Or is it because of these women, perhaps? Especially the one with that thunder thighs who rejuvenated and reinforced the above mentioned mallu prototype.

Or may be it is because of the omnipresent nature of the mallu to investigate what's brewing hot in his neighbour's backyard and bedroom?

Whatever, the search engines display an all too obvious caricature of the quintessential 'mallu', a comfy aper├žu for the 'malayalee' or rather for the Keralite. This is what Google exhibits on Page #1 if you look for  'mallu'.

I had a frisk at some similar shortys like 'gujju', 'bhojpuri' etc but the results were pretty much bland... I mean, no spice or steam even when classical contemptible stereotypes are in place about them all. Wanna read this article, from Big Fish magazine?  if you feel urged to know more about them stereotypes.

So why just mallu? Because 'sex' sells my mate... The most searched word on the www is 'free porn', 'sex' and the likes. And the mallu-word got an embryonic attachment to the obscenity due to many reasons. 

Let me reel-off a personal experience while working in Mangalore a few years back. I shared the apartment with a couple of folks from Orissa and another from Bihar. During a regular weekend booze, the chit-chat on women and sex was initiated and one of the Oriya men had a bizarre doubt. He wanted to know why most Kerala men preferred 'women on top position' while making love. Since we all (the 3-4 mallus in the group) looked bewildered, he rephrased the querry with a rationale that "women are more educated and forward in Kerala, so they like to be on top of men while doing sex." (!!!) Take it, we were not scholars on how people behaved and positioned themselves in copulation but found the reasoning obviously ridiculous.  But the Oriya and Bihari fellas were as sure as sun that it was a gospel truth and everyone in their states knew the 'fact'. Ahem!

Ah, since we were all genuine bachelors at the time our opinions had no face value, and we were taken to the cleaners. They just laughed off as if we were arguing that 'sun rises in the North-west'. Not done, our friends were also of the opinion that Malayalee women were too easy to get laid but they refrained from enlightening us with the reason then. We found out why a tad later....Hold on...

"South Indian men are all ugly and skinny and so the Kerala women feel magnetized by the men from the outside". Outside in the sense, not within the four linguistic states... Well, the idea seemingly was pregnant from the movies, especially Tamil films of the times were 'handsomeness' was not a requisite for the heroes. The voluptuous and gorgeous female actresses raving for the dark-skinned, short-statured heroes must've send out the signal to the peanuts of the err....macho men from the North.

True, the local movies at the times prominently featured real-life heroes and never had a 6 feet he-man like Amitabh Bacchan or chocolate heroes like Rajesh Khanna.

Movies are pretty powerful medium and see how it has created a stereotype. And the objectification got naturally displaced to the mallus.

The Malayalam films of the 70s and 80s, which depicted sexuality and womanhood in a palpable and artistic angle did create build the stereotype. But very often these Malayalam movies ended up as soft porn in big cities, like the movie 'Thamburatti' (Princess) a bold mallu movie of the late 70s was released as "Thamburattiyude Aadyarathri" (First night of  the Princess) in Mumbai. Even now a good number of the ultramasculine Northies associate Malayalam film world to erotica. Many believe that Kerala produces just 2 kinds of movies: the award category Adoor types and second, the raunchy and ticklish Shakeela types.

The indulgence of the ordinary Kerala women in choosing professions like Nursing, Teaching or other service oriented jobs poured more into the stereotype as they further feathered classical male sexual fantasies. This help build the stereotype and it transferred onto any mallu girl. Wishful thinking... :big grin:

Recalling that argument in Mangalore, almost 6 years after it occurred, it isn't too tough to see how horrendously wrong people could be. There is no magic cure for ignorance, especially for something as sheer as the above, but also left me wondering. F**k matters, is there a rule-of-the-bed that woman should scream only under you, always???

My advice: refer Kamasutra; but even Vatsyayana appear an undergraduate about sexual positions when considering the in-depth research and analysis our Orissa and Bihar dudes have done.

 Depiction of sexual positions in Kamasutra

There is one right fact about all stereotypes... They are all wrong.

Saying that, there is one glaring fact and I don't intend to be in a denial mode about that. The way some of our men conduct themselves around, especially outside the state borders, has earned the state some pretty stinking reputation. A joke around Mangalore was that mallu men may go to bed even with a stick wrapped in a salwar. Many a times than not, our own men are too eager to brand a woman as 'easy', or as a 'whore' if she appear social and companion-esque. In cities like Bangalore, the Kerala men goes on with their ogling habits and naturally people feel that we are desperate to stick the dick into any wayside hole.

True, a fair number of Kerala men act like Casanovas and feel and behave like 'kaamadeva'. No excuse from my part, this form of eve-teasing should be chained. Many roadside Romeos firmly believe its a kind of masculinity to drool and ooze at females, even to poke and feel some sensitive parts. Its fun, they think, until their sister or mother gets to the receiving end.

Kerala society, as per Paul Zacharia, suffer from the disease called 'moral policing' while being extremely hypocritical about own selves. The recent Rajmohan Unnithan saga forced his tongue but to any novice observer it would appear that there is a dark sinful cloud over the Kerala social-scapes. Our society is still conservative; too orthodox, rigid and maligned as per people like Zacharia. But my question is: has this trait just evolved exclusively for Kerala, or fine tuned by mallu men?

Zacharia carries on: "I have lived in Delhi, I have lived in Mysore, I have lived in Chennai but I have not seen such starvation anywhere and I have not seen people peeping into another person's affairs, especially the affairs of a man and a woman, at this level anywhere." 

Well, isn't it in Tamil Nadu that all kinds of  issues broke out on the 'condom issue' which landed Khushbu and the likes in trouble? I find it comical that Zacharia has mentioned New Delhi, where men barging into the ribcage of women, groping incidents and other forms of sexual misconducts are the order of the day. Every other day we hear issues r/t rape and assault in Goa, and even kids are not safe with even a Minister going on to say that Goa is the rape capital of India. How safe is our cosmopolitan douche-bag Mumbai?  How many shocking and shameless incidents of mass groping/ public assault on women has occurred in Bihar and its neighbours? I don't see any reason to single out mallu-men when the issue w.r.t disrespect and disregard to the fairer sex seems to be a pan-India problem.

What did a newschannel in Bangalore do in the name of Moral policing? They broke into the house of a prostitute, and exposed her to the whole world. Excerpts, courtesy Bombay Dosti

News9 made a sting operation and found that a service apartment in Bengalooru was being used for prostitution by a Russian lady. The channel team member posing as a prospective customer discovered this fact. After confirming that she was indeed in the business of selling sex, the team returned with a camera. They broke open the apartment and started recording. Apparently she was with a customer. What gives these journalists the right, to violate the rights of a woman, even if she were a sex worker. She was wearing a two piece suit, when they broke open and the channel had the audacity to force her to reveal her body. She was trying to cover her breasts and her face with her hands. Two men pulled open her hands to reveal her body and face on camera. WTF!!!!!

No, Kerala society hasn't degraded that much. Oh God, NO! Wonder why Zacharia failed to notice all these...

We've had Sooryanelli, Vithura, Kilirur and it IS upsetting and excruciating, but as serious social crimes such cases have to be seen in a different perspective. If one society can raise more voice against eve-teasing, molestation and crimes against women then I believe it is Kerala. Except for the Metros, Indian women still live in a shell. The mallu-women may harbour the same orthodox character, is subjected to injustice and may not be socially-liberated like widely believed, but they're far more free and empowered. (I repeat, I'm not talking about the Metros)

Strolling on a deserted street at 12am, having a sip at a pub or wearing micro-mini isn't exactly what I mean by free and empowered women... Kerala has to acquire more cosmopolitan attributes if you wanna see that. 
image courtesy The Hindu

But a lack of cosmopolitan culture, proportionately higher no: of wannabe skirt-chasers and playboys imitating the silver-screen chocolate heroes doesn't mean the whole state is a pervert-house. No denying the fact that our social behaviour could be more refined ,but sex-starved and frustrated? Too overboard.

You see why I don't feel intimidated by Ms. Roy but has taken serious offense of Mr. Zacharia?

Image courtesy: DU ,Wikipedia, The Hindu

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