Whistleblower's musings... Then some trivia. Write to me at ranjanyumnam@gmail.com

Thursday, April 29, 2004

What women want
You must have read all those jokes about women - rednecks, blondes, etc., floating in the net, which are funny but neverthelss uncharitable to the fairer sex. Why a bottle of beer is better than a woman sort of jokes are dime a many, and off course they are often a near reflection of a woman's true nature. Browsing one website that cataloques such misogynistic jokes, I am surprised to find this one, which exactly is not a joke. Read it; it is poignant, gripping, and touching, with a twist in the end.


"Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him, but was moved by Arthur's youthful happiness. So he offered him freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer; if, after a year, he still had no answer, he would be killed.

The Question: What do women really want?

Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and, to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query.

Well, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end. He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everybody: the princess, the prostitutes, the priests, the wise men, the court jester. In all, he spoke with everyone but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. What most people did tell him was to consult the old witch, as only she would know the answer. The price would be high, since the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.

The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no alternative but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer his question, but he'd have to accept her price first: The old witch wanted to marry Gawain, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend! Young Arthur as horrified: she was hunchbacked and awfully hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage water and often made obscene noises. He had never run across such a repugnant creature. He refused to force his friend to marry her and have to endure such a burden.

Gawain, upon learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur. He told him that nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table.

Hence, their wedding was proclaimed, and the witch answered Arthur's question:

What a woman really wants is to be able to be in charge of her own life.

Everyone instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared. And so it went. The neighboring monarch spared Arthur's life and granted him total freedom.

What a wedding Gawain and the witch had! Arthur was torn between relief and anguish.

Gawain was proper as always, gentle and courteous. The old witch put her worst manners on display. She ate with her hands, belched and farted, and made everyone uncomfortable. The wedding night approached.

Gawain, steeling himself for a horrific night, entered the bedroom. What a sight awaited! The most beautiful woman he had ever seen lay before him! Gawain was astounded and asked what had happened.

The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her (when she'd been a witch), half the time she would be her horrible, deformed self, and the other half, she would be her beautiful maiden self. Which would he want her to be during the day and which during the night?

What a cruel question! Gawain began to think of his predicament:

During the day a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his home, an old spooky witch? Or would he prefer having by day a hideous witch, but by night a beautiful woman to enjoy many intimate moments?

What would you do?

What Gawain chose follows below, but don't read until you've made your own choice.




Noble Gawain replied that he would let her choose for herself!

Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time, because he had respected her and had let her be in charge of her own life.

Isn't that beautiful?

But really now, what is the moral of this story?

If you don't respect women, things are gonna get ugly!"

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

A taste of Gmail
As a regular user of blogger, I now have access to gmail, which offers 1 GB of storage, for free. I tried to send myself heavy MP3 files, and hey, it worked!!! The uploading was a breeze, despite the size of the attachements. The inbox comes inbuilt with a search box to enable the user to dig out old mails. The ads that privacy hawks lose their sleep over, are conspicous by their modesty. All my thumbs are up, except for this: it is not yet available to public. I have to wait to share my music with my friends (I am a home studio enthusiast). My new email id is : ranjanyumnam@gmail.com.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Democracy inaction
I am already eligible to cast my vote as a citizen of India, but I have never exercised my adult franchise. Either I was too young; and when the Election Commission finally included my name in the voters' list, I happened to be away from home, as I am now. From a detached vantage point in Delhi, I am only following the elections in Manipur, choosing not to be a part of the great Indian political shopping.

I have no regrets, though. Had I been in Manipur, I would not have cast my vote at all. The elections have become an exercise in which you choose the lesser evils, not a capable leader. It's a ritual that has lost its meaning, other than murdering your conscience just to keep the democracy running.

The real irony can be read in the measly voters' turnout. Reports in E-pao say it is about 50%; the winner may well get only 20% of votes and rot in the parliament for the next five years - dumb and speechless. And I have problems with leader who gets chosen by a minority of voters, at the expense of the majority of us who cast the ballot (or don't).

But, people get the leader they deserve. At least, the same can't be said about me as I have not inked my nail yesterday. That's why I don't regret my staying away from polling booths. Nobody can now point fingers at me and say "You have also a role in putting that illiterate moron in the Parliament".

Friday, April 23, 2004

Things we can't do-Take 3
(We can't be promiscuous)
We, unlike the more promiscuous Americans, lead a conservative life. We tie the knot only once, and our marriage is far more stable, rock solid. Divorces, separation and adultery are alien practices, which we identify only with the Hindi maa bahu soaps in the National Doordarshan and newspaper reports of Beckham-Loos-Victoria kind. We are a clean society with no dirty khudei to wash in the public. Or in private.

But this girl defies everything I know about Manipuri women
I know a woman who has been in a live-in relationship with a guy since the last four years. I have nothing against this, and I always thought they would marry each other ultimately. They were a perfect couple; sometimes I envied them. In part because they seem to be so happy, and in part because I was a singleton, who had none to accompany me to walk into the sunset hand in hand and exchanged sweet-nothings with me.

But, just recently, a storm hit their relationship, and sadly and beyond my belief, the girl ran away with another guy and got married. All these happened so swiftly as if the main players in the story had only a few days to live.

What shocked me the most was not that the woman threw the original boy in the bathtub (he is 5 years younger), but that she came back to live with him, barely 5 days after the marriage. Her husband lives and works in another city. The husband apparently agrreed to live separately on her insistence that she would not leave her job in Delhi.

Based on the accounts of the boy, it is also very clear that she sleeps with both. Either her husband is the most stupid man in the world or he is the epitome of liberalism gone too far. I am confused, maddened and shocked. What should be my proper reaction to this rare event in my life?

Are they really aliens?

Monday, April 19, 2004

Things we can't do - Take 2
(We can't be street beggars)
How often have you seen beggars in the streets of Manipur? You can count on the finger. The beggars I have seen were all mentally deranged people who didn’t know what they were up to. They picked up rags, worn wall-clocks in their necks or swaggered like a character straight out of Charles’ Dickens’ novels in the broad daylight. I used to watch them as a child, amused and frightened at the same time; their sightings were few and far between. I have never seen a pauper who talks like you and me, and was normal.

Oh yes, few victims of Kuki-Naga clashes once came to my house asking for food and clothes. But, I don’t consider them beggars; they were actually barterers. They brought with them bamboo and cane products of high craftsmanship, like mora, phak, and so on – all items we really needed but didn’t find the convenience of time to purchase from market. My mother gave them old clothes and rice, and they would leave us with valuable household items. The exchange was to the advantage of both the parties.

So, is the lack of beggars in Manipur an indication that ours is a prosperous state? I vote a big NO. It only means that we are an incorrigibly proud people who think it is beneath ourselves to beg. Our ego takes precedence over the hunger pangs. We can steal, extort, rob, cheat the bank, anything…hey, but no begging! Our parents are wonderful. They almost always give in to the persistent nagging of their son to buy the latest Nike shoes and the Enticer motor-bike for a fortune, with money loaned by some local usurer.

Though we are never reduced to the condition of a street beggar, we are nevertheless beggars – big time beggars. The state is in a financial mess; it can’t even pay the salaries of the workers. Our leaders are tigers in the state, but are kittens outside it. Every time they go to Delhi, I suspect they hide a big begging bowl in their briefcase.

The hypocrisy is split wide open when they open it before their masters at Delhi, who threw crumbs on their faces.

Meaning we are not street beggars. We are only beggars.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

After a week-long, non-stop backbreaking exam, I am finally breathing a little easier. I had my last exam yesterday. I thought I should enjoy a well-deserved nightcap, and so planned to buy myself a bottle of claret or beer. Great idea. With soft caressing music of Norah Jones in the background and with some good food, I would be winding down, free from all the tensions of the world. But none of these happened.

As soon as I reached home, I threw myself to bed like a log of wood. After about half an hour, I woke up to a phone call, chatted for a while and exchanged some sms with a friend. I was too tired to go out and buy the stuff for indulging myself. Meanwhile my roommate brought in the dinner. A very ordinary dal and rice. Then I drank lot of water.

Life’s like that.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Things that we can't do - Take 1
A Manipuri, how handsome or pretty he/she is, stands very little - almost nil - chance of becoming a Bollywood star like Salman Khan or Preity Zinta. You know the answers: First the language, second the Korean looks we are born with, and third our different cultural ethos. Can you imagine Kamala committing a "Murder" in the shoes of Mallika Sherawat? Would Medha agree to star in Jism as the seductress, the role originally essayed by Bipasha Basu, complete (or incomplete) with G strings and suggestive lingeries? Can any Manipuri hunk holler like "Kutte kamine Main tera Khoon Pijawunga," with as much gay abandon as Dharmendra? Just ponder.

(I will be serialising on this theme for a while. Check out daily, and send me your thoughs too. May be I will compile them into an article)

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Brave new generation
LAISRAM INDIRA'S contention that the exodus of Manipuris to metros is not a feature in permanence is, well, not a permanent truth. The mindset is changing at a breakneck speed, and three out of every five working Manipuri professionals whom I know have confided in me that they are not returning to their homestate. The reason is not far to seek: going back practically means self-annihilation. You stand to lose your assidously built career, prospects and the financial security that jobs afford you. It's a suicide. Realising that no bed of roses is awaiting them at the Tulihal airport, the younger crop of Manipuri careerists are now gravitating towards the idea of settling in the cities where they work. Welcome the brave new generation.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Exam Blues
I haven't posted anything in the last few days. My exams are closing in, and what adds to the panic is my lack of time for any preparation. I took some notes to office to pore over during breaks. Lucky that there are also some holidays ahead this week. And don't be surprised if my posts get shorter and shorter. The situation won't change until 16th April, when I will be breathing a sigh of relief from these exam blues.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Media's dilemma
Yesterday's gruesome mob attack on the four American "private security workers" in Falluja, Irag was reported widely by the international media. Editors of the major news outlets agonised over the merit of publishing the photographs that showed the charred remains of the bodies being mutilated by the mob. Chunks of flesh were hung from a telephone line and railing of a bridge, while the Iraqis looked on, cheering. Some of the readers and viewers were shocked by the images, which they said were offensive and gratuitous. Editors, however, maintain that showing the grisly pictures were central to conveying the exact news as it happened. They are caught between the journalistic instinct to publish the unfiltered news and respecting the readers' sensitivities.
Look at this interactive graphics at NYT. (You will need to register)

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Why I love Google and KaZaA
Internet is a great leveller. I have access to the same amount of information as Bill Gates does, and I can research about Zulu tribes of Africa as fast as him, and maybe even faster. If this billiionaire can communicate with his programmers in India, sitting in his Microsoft's office in Redmond, I can also chat with my friend in Australia from the comfort of my rented apartment. I can even spam his hotmail inbox.

I don't have a grudge against the richest man on the planet; in fact I salute him for his contributions to making the myriad possibilities of the internet a reality. But two men whom I hold in awe and are more deserving of our praise is Sergey Brin and Larry Page: co-founders of Google.

Google has become a part of my life, and for that matter, any netizen's. Google is the place where you take your first step in any online journey -- be it for news, serious research materials, images, games, downloads, or just cheap thrills. It's simple, minimalist design with its almost funny logo has endeared itself to internet novice as well as hardened cyber animals.

The meteoric rise of google also symbolises a story that we all love: triumph of the underdog over giants. In 1998, when google first came into the internet scene with its search only utilty, few people recognised its worth. Now, it is the world's most popular search engine, and riding on this strength, google is eyeing other lucrative avenues in cyberspace: today's google homepage introduces a shopping channel, froogle, that will soon rival that of Yahoo, its chief competitor. Google also has announced that it will also foray into the email service, a decision that might have already sent chills down the spine of Yahoo and MSN. I am eagerly waiting for the google's email service to start functioning, not because I am a 'goonatic'(I just coined it) but because it will solve two of my worst enduring nightmares -- limited mail storage capacity and spams. Gmail, google's email service, is offering -- hold your breath -- 1000 MB of storage free, with in-built search functionality to boot, and no ad banners. Google is also rolling out its IPO, which is shaping up to be to hottest offering from the Silicon Valley in many years after the dotcom bust.

I suppose I don't have to wax eloquent on why I am a Kazaa fan. Internet is all about freedom of choice, and if some music labels think that is ruining their business, it's because we have realised thier greed, and no longer willing to be taken for a ride. Even mainstream artist like George Michael has railed against the exploitative tactics of record companies; he has decided to release his album through internet to escape their stranglehold. Following him is Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall, who described recording contracts as an “absolute disgrace” which belonged to “a Dickensian era”. He is particularly against industry practise in which singers pay for recording and the music labels retain the rights, keeping to themselves all the profits while the artists get peanuts. Fed up with this "immoral" system, Mr Hucknall has set up his own company and plans to re-record old output and release it in competition with existing recordings.

It should delight both Michael and Mick that Kazaa is already undermining the records' abillity to dupe the public; sales of CDs and cassettes are going south as file-sharing takes on a global proportion.

Then, Kazaa, like Google, is also a great leveller. I downloaded the Billboards' top 10 without having to pay a penny. Isn't this great? All talks about North-South disparity should end here. Long live Kazaa!!!