Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Aamir Khan controversy

Normally, I do not respond to triival controversies on issues that do not even remotely touch my life. However, this issue clearly touched everyone's lives, and so, here I am, taking a stance on it. Before that, however, let me take you through the entire controversy. 

Aamir Khan's initial statement was made HERE at the Indian Express' Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards recently.

Within hours, he was being attacked. Although he was purportedly quoting his wife KIRAN, he was being accused of being a seditionist! Thousands of messages across social media were painting him in black, asking for his head, asking him to leave India with his family, accusing him of being anti-national, of being a traitor and of false description of the state of India.

Another video gave a more balanced view-point and gave an opportunity to Aamir to explain what he had said in the Goenka awards. However, the so-called Indian patriots continued to hoot and bray and shout against him. Then, someone had a "bright" idea to punish SNAPDEAL whose brand ambassador Aamir is. They uninstalled the app from their phones and exhorted others to do so as well. Within a few days, as per one news report this was being done with the hashtag "Appwapasi" and "SayNoToSnapdeal". In some reports, I gathered that more than 6.5 lakh people (650000) uninstalled this app and sent a message to Snapdeal via social media that they would not buy anything from them unless they removed Aamir Khan as their ambassador.

The controversy raged on. On the one hand, there were open letters to him that ridiculed him and all the other "Khans", others that added a religious touch to it (equating the whole thing to Muslims feeling intolerant), and still others who created and circulated jokes on his supposed desire to leave India (there was even this image of Salman Khan escorting him on his back to Pakistan in a sort of Bajrangi Bhaijaan 2 - replacing the head of the girl with a photo of Aamir in an intelligently done Photoshop). One of those who joined the rabble rousers was Anupam Kher, whose saffron chaddi is always visible.

Soon after, support for him surfaced - Rahul Gandhi, A R Rahman, and some others started the ball rolling, Soon, the intellectual class joined in and cleared the air, slowly but surely. He had never said anything anti-national. People who claimed they "tolerated" him because they went to his movies were exposed with the statement that they saw his movies not because he was a Muslim but because they liked his work. In the same way, their sails were knocked out when it was pointed out to them that they were, in fact, displaying the very same intolerance that Aamir had accused them of. If you analyse those criticising him you will find that none of those criticising him were Muslims, but many who started supporting him had Hindu names!

The controversy is slowly moving from the front pages to the back-pages. When I searched for him on the Times of India website, I couldn't find anything for the last few days. I do hope that better sense prevails. It was sad that Aamir had to give out follow-up statements, but I am proud to report that he stood by what he had said and found no reason to change the statement. Also, he firmly said that he was an Indian citizen and was always going to stay so.

This, then, was the way the controversy developed,.

My own take: Ignore the rabble rousers. Aamir Khan's original video shows that he never meant to mix religion into the statement. He was merely talking about insecurities. Much like how parents feel insecure when their daughter returns late from a party. Or a wife, when her husband isn't home at the right time. Perhaps the last 7-8 months have seen some degree of individual remarks by people within the Saffron Parivar. Those statements should have been nipped in the bud by their mentors or organisations, or at least criticised by the PM. They weren't, but the anti-Muslim dialogue has taken wing and is growing more and more as the days pass. Hence, the kind of insecurity Aamri spoke about is quite natural to understand. 

What do you think? Join me in the comments section.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A week past in the UK: Interesting tid-bits of the UK Life and Living

Several amazing aspects of life in a developed country have assaulted my senses and my mouth has often dropped in surprise at seeing some of the things which I do not think will happen too soon in India. I am just going to recount some of these and see if it evokes a response from you.

  1. Every public place can be accessed by a ramp - making life easy for those who are on wheel-chairs, kids in prams and those with walking and climbing difficulties. This includes bus entrances which can be tilted to allow chairs to be rolled on/off, all foot-paths, buildings, stations, etc.
  2. Pedestrians are respected by all sensible motorists, so that they will stop or slow down when they see a pedestrian crossing ahead of them; likewise, pedestrians will generally avoid walking on the road, and will go the extra "mile" to reach a proper pedestrian crossing.
  3. Individual privacy is very important, and Britons do not generally encourage idle conversation between strangers. You might have to wait before someone approaches you and offers to help, to, for example, tell you the time, or show you the way to a certain destination.
  4. They like to be addressed by their first names, and this is not frowned upon. OTOH, they may feel slighted or insulted if you did not call them by their name, as it implies that you did not know their name.
  5. "Are you okay" is the ubiquitous phrase they employ when they see someone in trouble; however, this is not just when they see you fall or when you are in real trouble, as we imply for the phrase in India, but also when they find you"lost" and looking for someone or for some place that you want to go to. We often thought British were very, very private, but when it comes to this aspect of their thinking, I find them very open and very helpful.
  6. Still on the privacy issue. My colleague tells me that all people in the UK have poor social communication. I beg to only partially agree, because I have found that although they do suffer from a "No-first-greet" policy, they are extremely warm once you take the initiative and break the "ice", so to say. Not just that, it seemed to me that they were actually "waiting" for you to start it off, so eager are they to want to communicate, even if it is as inane as asking how you are,
  7. Sales people in stores and malls, on the other hand, are very, very cordial and effusive when you reach your turn at the check-out counter (known here as the "till"). They are, however, quick in their work, just like the guys and girls back in our country. Vegetables and fruit are not weighed before, near the veg and fruit counters, as is the case in India, but by the check-out person himself/herself. 
  8. Loose change is never a problem, unless companies have a policy not to return change. I have heard that some bus services in other cities like Preston/Manchester routinely pocket the balance if you don't have the exact change as per their established and publicly declared policy.
  9. Supermarkets do not routinely store Indian or other world cuisine. You need to go to bigger stores to fetch those. For example, I could not get any pulses from my friendly, neighbourhood store; even at a bigger one, Sainsbury, I got only some, but not all the pulses. Yesterday, I was at the biggest store in Blackpool, viz. Tesco Extra, and even here, tur dal was not available, though a lot of other Indian and Asian stuff was. I wonder whether this is because of the shortage of the dal back in India!
  10. And, finally, in this post, I am going to write about the way bus and train services are organised, A little here, but I guess I might devote an entire post later ... either here, or on my UK Blog. At bus-stops, there are three basic displays: one tells you where you are and what stops each bus will do; the second tells you the same in a map with colours coded for the various bus routes; and the third will display timings for each of the buses in a chronological sequence over the night and the day.  
          At railway stations, there are well-lit and displayed electronic boards not unlike the ones we 
          have in India; however, they are smaller, much more compact, and simply in a portrait style
         with a display of the route and the time and the platform number on the first line, and the var-
          ious stations it will halt at in the subsequent ones. This should be enough for a new traveller 
          to find his train. Inside trains, the comfort is amazing, even when the train fills up. Standing
          customers never invade the seating space. Inside, in the seating area, some trains have seats 
          facing both ways, and there are many four-seats with a large table in between, especially on 
          long-distance trains. Many also have full-fledged toilets which are spotless and well-mainta-

And that's about it for this post. Do comment about the various things I have written on here. Thanks very much!

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Announcing a new blog and some other news

Just a few days ago, I created my new blog which, like the Arabian life blog, will take forward my experiences in the United Kingdom. Check out the blog HERE. While I cannot promise that this blog will reach the top ratings on any scale, I do promise that you will see much more colour and fun in this blog as compared to my arabian blog, as life is likely to be more colourful and enjoyable there. However, my prediction is that while I posted fairly frequently from Saudi Arabia, I may not be able to do the same with my UK blog as my work schedules are likely to be much more tight. Be that as it may, do check out the new blog and read my first post ...

In other news, I have just completed sleep studies on my own self as I have had obstructive sleep apnea since 25+ years. The study showed that I was getting OSA almost once every minute. This means that my airways would collapse so much that oxygen supply to my lungs would stop to the point where my body would suffer from a lack of oxygen almost every minute. It might explain why I have had numerous other side-effects of it such as forgetfulness, tiredness, day-time sleep, an increased obesity and so on. The technicians then attached a small device which will blow air into my lungs through a nose-piece that I would have to wear every night for some years to come. He repeated the night study with this device in place, and it showed, not surprisingly, that my apneas virtually disappeared and I had markedly improved oxygenation of my blood through the night. I have therefore decided to purchase the device and use it for the required period to resolve my snoring and OSA problem.

Yesterday night, I met with a small accident when I braked my two-wheeler suddenly to avert banging into a car that swerved left ahead of me without a show of turn lights or hand signals at one of the densest roads in my area - Mohamedali Road. As a result, I sprained my right hip and right shoulder, in addition to a scrape on my left knee. 

And that, basically, is the news for now. Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, November 01, 2015

The last ten days

The last ten days since I last wrote on this blog have been eventful indeed. In a nutshell, here is what happened:

a) I went with Nishrin, my better half, to Nanded on last Thursday and Friday, to visit all the important intra-city gurudwaras.

b) From my return hour to  Mumbai on Saturday morning, I straightaway boarded the car of my friend Dr. Vijay Chile, and joined him and three other class-mates (Suryakant Pol, Arun Sali and Mohan Kembhavi) on a 4-day trip to the Konkan strip south of Mumbai. Our destination was Ratnagiri, from where we travelled to Kudal and Devbagh, and did many interesting activities that made my weekend and the next few days memorable and enjoyable.

c) Upon return from this unexpectedly enjoyable holiday, I visited the Visa Application Center of the UK Visas at Nariman Point and learned that my UK visa application had been successful, and that I could now plan my travel to the UK to join Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust as a ST4 Paediatric Registrar.

d) I began planning on what things I should buy and take with me, and what I shouldn't. In addition, I started planning how to call my close friends and home members for a small get-together to celebrate my success and to give them a great good-bye.

One by one, the various plans are coming to fruition. On the other side, I am facing some health issues - nothing serious, though, and I am planning to tackle these as soon as possible, so that I have the fewest possible issues when I am in the UK.