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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Chp 99. Christmas in Mizoram

I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas. Love and prayers to all of you.

Mizoram is probably one of the most memorable places to be during Christmas. Preparation starts a month early, with each locality decorating their area and Churches, followed by a hectic last-week shopping frenzy and all the tailors of Mizoram toiling their ass out on stitching more than a hundred new suits a day.

I took a couple of snaps of some of the decorations on the streets (I plead guilty to being an amateur photographer!)

Christmas eve included the usual Church service and caroling. Later in the night, my sisters and I placed the Christmas gifts for our two nieces (age 4 and 9) on the “thlang-ra”, a large traditional plate used as a substitute for the westernized version of Christmas stockings meant for Santa’s gifts.

This is a pic of my two nieces (and friend) on the morn of Christmas day, as they tore open the presents from “Santa”.

Here is me infront of our Christmas tree, dressed in my brand new Christmas suit. Hehe. I didn’t notice that my tie was knotted too short in the front and I went to Church like that! Lolz. Well what can I say, I’m an old-timer. *silly grin*

The next day after Christmas, we had the grand feast. This takes place at every locality in Mizoram every year. The day starts at 6 am, where everyone gathers at the feast location to prepare for the feast. The various work is divided, like some group cut the veggies, peeled the potatoes, sliced the meat, constructed the dining area and wash basins, cooked the rice etc etc. It's entirely a voluntary group thingie: That’s what you gotta love about a close knitted society like ours. This is known as “fatu”, which literally means, preparation for the feast.

Close friends, (Dr!)Rintluanga, Valpuia and Muansanga coming for the “fatu”.

With my other closest friends, Sanga & Tluanga (the twins), Mapuia and me waiting for the rest of our gang to arrive at Matea’a place so that we could all go “fatu-ing” together.

Below are some of the snaps taken during the “fatu”.

Veggie section ::

Now comes the meat section! After all, you won’t find any other community that loves meat as much as we do. Pork is our favorite. In Mizoram, pigs are bred with the utmost care on specialized farms, fed with the best food possible, inorder to get the most scrumptious and tastiest yummy meat. Sluuurrp! [Warning: Explicit content. Not meant for the faint hearted or timorous la-di-da metropolitan. ]

In the evening, when all the food is finally ready, the feast starts. People take turns at the counters, serving the others, only to be replaced by those who finish eating. And meanwhile, groups of 16-18 years old guys roam around the locality as designated “security” because this is one occasion when nobody’s at home anywhere.

Feastings like this pull everyone closer and closer. There is no such thing as a class divide or social status difference; all are equal. Man you gotta love Mizoram for that.

And all over our locality, the KTP, Kristian Thalai Pawl, roughly translated into the “Christian Youth Wing”, has put up posters everywhere.

“Let’s spend Christmas and New Year merrily without alcohol and drugs”.

“Jesus does not want you to celebrate his birthday with alcohol and drugs”.
“Let us all spend Christmas and New Year with Jesus.”.

And last but not the least, this is what my “Santa” got me from UK. Authentic Arsenal jersey, Official 2007 Arsenal Calendar and an original Arsenal muffler. Wooohooo!!!

Once again, season’s greetings everyone! Peace.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Chp 98. Alcohol: Knowing the enemy

The Christian World is broadly divided into two camps: those who say drinking is a sin and those who say it isn’t. But both sides agree that being drunk is indeed a sin. In a way this reminds me of my friends Valerie and Nunpuii arguing over which football team is better: Holland or The Netherlands.

There are various verses from the Bible [Source] that encourage people to stay away from alcohol: Leviticus 10:9; Numbers 6:3; Deuteronomy 14:26; 29:6; Judges 13:4,7,14; 1 Samuel 1:15; Proverbs 20:1; 31:4,6; Isaiah 5:11,22; 24:9; 28:7; 29:9; 56:12; Micah 2:11 and Luke 1:15, while verses that prohibit Christians from getting drunk are: Ephesians 5:18; Proverbs 23:29-35; 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 2 Peter 2:19 to name a few.

Drinking alcohol in itself may or may not be a sin, but it sure does open the big glistering gate of sin, beckoning us to step inside with every additional drink that we imbibe. And before we can say hic, we’ve already done something that we regret.

Deputy-speaker (at AGAPE Gospel camp) Malsawma gave a very good sermon on the topic “Sin”. Translated to English:
Two guys were walking by the riverside when they saw something floating down the river. It looked like a blanket that somebody must have discarded from upstream. First guy jumped into the water thinking it was his lucky day. But as he swam against the rapids and grabbed the “blanket”, it turned out to be a big brown unconscious bear that fell into the river. The bear regained consciousness and shocked to find itself in that situation, grabbed back the first guy.

Second guy from the riverbank shouted to his friend in the water, “Is it a blanket?”

The first guy replied, “Hell no! It's a big fat ugly bear and it’s still alive!”

Second guy, “Then why are you still holding it? Let go of it!!!!”

First guy screamed back, “I’m not grabbing it any longer. The stupid bear is grabbing me!”

And with that, both bear and man disappeared beneath the strong current never to be seen again.
The above anecdote makes you contemplate a lot, doesn’t it? In a way that’s what you and I go through during our short life here on Earth. We grab hold of a sinful life and when we realize it is wrong and try to let go of it, it is already too late; that sinful life has already taken control of us.

Mizoram, one of the only two States in India to enforce the Liquor Total Prohibition Act (MLTP), has been criticized vehemently by the Anti-MLTP lobby, verbally expressing their heart-felt displeasure on the involvement of the Church when it comes to Politics. Some even go to the extent of saying that Jesus himself turned water into wine; so drinking is not a sin. In defense to this statement, I’ve seen Pro-Prohibition Act supporters claim that the wine mentioned in the Bible need not be fermented and that it is just grape juice. And the debate goes on and on and on.

For once, let us stop moving in an endless circle and try to accept that the wine mentioned in the Bible is indeed wine, fermented wine, the type that gives you a tingle sensation, that makes your head spin around after a couple of drinks, that stains your favorite business shirt, that gives you a terrible hangover, that makes you a dad or a mom nine months later…

So, Jesus and his disciples drank wine, alcoholic wine. Fine. In the midst of all the debates and discussions, most of us fail to discuss one very important point. Did the Bible ever mention anything like,
Jesus and his disciples drank wine, ordered a second jar of wine, got another jar free because it was happy-hours, Paul and Philip challenged each other on who could “bottoms-up” an entire jar first, Peter started stripping and dancing on the table, John started bitching about his ex-girlfriend of a fisher-woman, Simon grabbed the fiddle and started DJ’ing, while the remaining disciples roamed around the street beating up anybody that crossed their path.
I’ve read many well-written articles by intellect Mizos at various Mizo websites/forums displaying their discontent on the MLTP Act. One can literally feel the passion and anger while going through such articles. Although I admire such profound compositions, I do find most of the articles only revolving around the issue of whether drinking is a sin or not, and no discussions made on the person who is actually drunk.

Some of you may not even remember clearly how life was like before the Prohibition days (1995). I certainly do. After all, I live directly opposite one of the most popular and infamous bars in Aizawl: Sertawk Bar. Those days, there weren’t that many other concrete buildings next to ours in our locality. Hence, everyday around 10-20 strangers, most of them drunk, would knock/bang on our door asking us for money because “they wanted to drink more but suddenly realized they were out of cash and we looked rich enough to pay for their drinks”. My three sisters and I could not step out of our house after sunset because of all the drunks loitering outside our house and fighting/puking everywhere. Relatives and friends dreaded to pay us a visit. It was definitely not the childhood memory any father would want his son to have.

Prohibition changed all that. No more persistent broke drunks. No more fear of what’s lurking right outside our very own door. No more bolting of doors and rechecking of all the latches on the windows at night. We could finally sleep in peace. Ofcourse it is no secret that Sertawk Bar still “manufactures” illicit arrack after the MLTP Act came into force, but the number of drunkards making a public nuisance outside our house has tremendously reduced.

I know in this era of democracy and secularism, some might even feel that Prohibition stands in the way of development or modernism, while some may call it a talibanization of Mizoram and terming it as a gross denial of basic freedom and prerogative of the common man. I completely empathize with such sentiments, but, as someone once said, “your right to freedom ends at the beginning of your neighbor’s right”, can the Anti-MLTP lobby assure that the person who’s drunk is not going to pick up a fight with innocent bystanders, run over children with his car, beat up his wife when he reaches home, abuse anyone within his reach and end up ruining his career and family?

Face it, we Mizos are a hot blooded lot. Other people under the influence of alcohol usually misbehave too, but most of us seem to take that extra mile when it comes to drunken follies. I’m speaking purely out of experience as a heavy drinker for the past 6-7 years. Medical experts proved that drinking a glass of wine a day rejuvenates the body and assuming that drinking a bit of alcohol is not a sin, let us just try to picture a Mizoram with no Prohibition Act. Do you genuinely believe that our children and grown-ups of today are going to spend an evening at the local tavern gulping down just one glass of wine/rum/whisky?

Seriously, how many of us consume alcohol because the doctor said a glass a day can make you live till 90? Is that why we drink 5-6 glasses a day hoping we can live till 300? I used to drink a bottle of Old Monk a day during my extreme days, but I sure as hell didn’t drink it for the “health benefits”; I drank purely just to get drunk, so that I could enjoy the dizziness, the way everything became so seemingly clear and at the same time surreal, the way it made me feel like I am Casanova reincarnated and the way all the not so attractive women around me (pardon me for saying that) suddenly started looking like Victoria Secret models…

We may be the most unified tribe in the North-east, but sadly most of us like to do things in excess, be it the amount of tobacco we consume, the way we dress, the accessories we buy, the music we listen etc. It's in our blood to do that. And speaking in that wavelength, what makes anyone think that we are not going to drink in excess given the opportunity?

Even when I was on the verge of becoming an alcoholic back in Bangalore, I’ve always been in support of the Prohibition Act. That is the reason why I never showed up for the Bangalore MSA debate where I was supposed to participate [Topic: MLTP Act] because I felt it would be hypocritical of me to voice my support for the Prohibition Act while I was getting drunk every night. All my closest friends (regular drinking buddies) who know me well will vouch that I’ve never voiced my displeasure at the Prohibition Act even once (Had to add that line incase some of you might think I am saying all this because of my Camp experience). But now I don’t feel any hesitation to speak my mind openly anymore.

Among many of the online articles that I have read, one such prominent Mizo writer even boldly claimed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit as he spoke out against the Prohibition Act and criticized the Church’s policy, while preposterously blaming Prohibition as the sole cause of the Great American Depression! Questioning the Church is one thing and resorting to gaudy rhetoric is another, but to mock the Holy Spirit is pure blasphemy of the highest order [Mathew 12:32 “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come”]. Pray do tell me, if such men are leading the Anti-Prohibition movement, don’t you think you might be better off not following blindly like lambs lead to slaughter?

People say the Prohibition Act failed because of the numerous illegal breweries still existing. I boldly say Prohibition is a success. At the micro level it may look like it failed because one can still acquire illegal booze, but from a broader perspective, it certainly did not fail. Because of Prohibition, the common man now has to shell out more money to buy one decent bottle of liquor when he could have afforded 4 bottles if there was no Prohibition. Because of Prohibition, our streets are cleaner and safer now. Because of Prohibition, more families are having a peaceful and quiet dinner together. Because of Prohibition, people who drink are labeled as pariahs by the society, hence putting more pressure on them to quit drinking. And yes, because of Prohibition, many of our drinkers are atleast getting some (healthy) physical exercise because of the difficulties in obtaining alcohol

In conclusion to this article, I think the most important issue is not to haggle fruitlessly over whether drinking is a sin or not but rather focusing on your true inner self and honestly asking yourself this important question: Do you really think that if Prohibition is lifted, the condition of the lives of our youth is going to improve? That the majority of people are going to drink without getting drunk? Remember, the enemy is within all of us, regardless of whether we are thieves or pastors. And that monster within us will rear it’s ugly head out the moment we start losing control of ourselves, making it easier and smoother for us to fight / gravel / provoke / slur / gossip / cheat / break promises / flirt / indulge in casual sex or be unfaithful / break marriages / utter obscenities / envy / loathe / steal / etc. Sure you may still be able to walk straight or remember where you live, but you are no longer your usual normal self; you are now under the power of alcohol. And that my friend, is indeed a sin, indisputably.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Chp 97. Sunday School

Today is a big day for all the Presbyterians in Mizoram, the largest denomination in this almost 100% Christian State of India. For today is the MSSU examination.

MSSU stands for the Mizoram Sunday School Union. In Mizoram, every locality has a Presbyterian “Kohhran” that consists of the Church, the Church elders, pastor, Church members etc. (Some localities have split into 2-3 separate Kohhran due to its voluminous size in population but are still unified as one single locality when it comes to VC, YMA etc.)

In Mizoram, Sunday School literally means that; a School on Sunday. Each Presbyterian Kohhran is divided into 7 departments: Beginners, Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Sacrament, Senior and Puitling (adult) according to their age group in the ascending order. Only the Puitling category sits in the main Church during Sunday School while the rest go to a separate location like a recreation hall or a school. Each group is further divided into sections and is headed by a qualified Sunday School teacher appointed by the Kohhran council (unsalaried ofcourse) except on special occasions when the respective department’s leader takes over the entire proceeding.

There is even a roll-call every Sunday, where the registered Church goer with maximum attendance are awarded at the end of the year by the community. Now that the end of the year is approaching, it is also time for the annual examination.

I was up last night till around 10pm helping my two nieces revise for this exam because the rest of my family’s busy studying too. I don’t have to give the exam because I am not registered in the Church due to the fact that I stay outside Mizoram most of the time.

It’s quite funny to see people of all ages sitting in silence in different corners of the room and mugging up for this exam and going through all the lessons that they were taught this past one year. And the kind of questions each group is asked differs and is compiled according to their respective IQ level.

For example, my 10 years old niece who is in the Junior department, has questions like
  • What was the name of Josiah’s father?
  • What is the meaning of the name “Gideon”?
  • What was the name of Naomi’s husband?
  • What’s inside the Ark of the Covenant?
  • Who was the first martyr?
  • Who was the first missionary to reach Mizoram?
  • What is the meaning of Pentecost?
  • Who were the seven elders chosen by the apostles?
  • What was the name of the city that banished Paul?
  • At whose house did Jesus stay at the city of Jericho?
My 5 years old niece on the other hand has to prepare only for an oral examination. Beginners and Primary department exams are oral, Junior dept members can choose between oral and written, and Intermediate dept onwards it is strictly a written exam. Some of the Q&A she has to learn are:
  • Who gave names to the animals and birds?
  • Where did Adam and Eve live?
  • What was the name of Moses’ father?
  • What was the name of Jesus’ mother?
  • Who tried to kill baby Jesus?
  • Where did Joseph and Mary flee after Jesus was born?
The syllabus of the puitling (adult) department for this year is the entire gospel according to Luke. And trust me, the questions aren’t easy at all! I struggled through the first few questions I came across so I stopped after that. Let’s see how many you know
  • What was the name of John the Baptist’s father?
  • Who was the son of Levi?
  • What was the name of the town where Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant?
  • Explain the significance of the places Korazin and Bethsaida.
  • What was the name of the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household?
  • Where did Jesus heal the ten lepers?
  • What was the name of the village where Jesus appeared to Simon/Cleopas after his crucifixion?
  • Explain the relationship status between Herod and Pilate before/after the crucifixion.

Pssttt! Stop googling! I can see you!

Nobody can flunk this exam . But those who score first divisions and honors (distinction) are awarded (Bible, cooking vessel etc). Sunday School in Mizoram is something that I completely missed out because I’ve stayed in a boarding school outside Mizoram since 3rd standard.

The invigilators for this exam come from adjoining Kohhrans and likewise, elders from our Kohhran go to other Kohhrans to conduct this exam. The entire procedure is very systematic.

In a way, this shows that nobody is too old for school. We keep on learning as long as we live, and learning from the Bible rejuvenates the spirit within us each and every passing day.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Chp 96. "AGAPE" Gospel Rehab Camp

“Hnehna chu Lalpa ta a ni.”

Translation: Through God, anything can be conquered.

When I landed back here in Mizoram two weeks ago, my parents wanted me to go to a Camp (spiritual rehab). I always used to consider myself to be a “good enough” Christian: someone who goes to Church on Sundays, sleeps during the Sermon most of the time but concentrates seriously during prayers, breaking many of the laws inscribed in the Holy Bible but at the same time never blaspheming the Word of God, proud to tell my other non-Christian friends about my faith but at the end of the day getting totally wasted together over a bottle of rum or a joint of cigga-wee and trying to convince myself that God understands what my flesh wants so He won’t note this down on His Book.

Just going through some of my past few posts on my blog will echo what I have stated above. Ah the folly of ignorance! How can anyone call themselves a Christian when they choose to follow/practice only what they desire and knowingly ignore the rest?
1 Samuel 15
1Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord”.
3 “Now go attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare anyone”.
7Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Eygpt.
9But Saul and the army spared king Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and the lambs – everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
10Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I am grieved that I have made Saul king because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.”
13When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”
14But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
Saul thought he obeyed the Lord’s command when infact all he did was obey a part of it. That would be the same as disobeying His command. Suppose you were told to peel four baskets of potatoes, and you end up peeling only two; Eventually it means you did not peel four baskets of potatoes, regardless of whether you peeled two or three baskets. Many of us are like that: We think we are all leading the life of a good Christian when we do only a part of what we’re actually supposed to do.

Eventually in the end, David took over the throne of Israel from Saul.
1 Chronicles 10 13Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, 14and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.
I underwent 5 days of camping at “AGAPE”, Durtlang, under Evangelist Zairemmawia and his group of amazing counselors last week. At first I was a bit hesitant to go to the Camp, because a part of me didn’t want to change. Ofcourse rehab does not necessarily mean you have to change if you don’t want to, but I was thinking more in the lines of “what if I change?” I was afraid to let go of my current lifestyle. I prefer materialism to spiritualism. I like reading and taking part in various discussions because of a strange thirst for knowledge and have an open view/opinion on almost anything from Islam to creationism to racial issues to relationships. I was wondering how some of my so-claimed “unbiased opinions” and “rational thinking” would be affected if I suddenly change. I was also afraid I might turn into a zealot, or worse: one of those people who are more devoted than you are and hence throw around their “Holier than thou” attitude around you. I really hated those people.

How am I feeling right now? Honestly speaking, I’ve never felt this relieved in my entire life. Now I know why so many of my friends who’ve been to camp and who know me well pester me incessantly to go to the camp. When we experience something so great, we like to share it with our loved and dear ones. During my party days, whenever I check out a new discotheque and it turned out to be amazing, I always text message all my closest friends to make sure they go to that place too. In a way, that feeling is similar to this, except that the former comes genuinely from inside while the latter lasts only till the next morning, unless it is accompanied by a head throbbing hangover.

Well so am I a "born-again"? No, but my idea of what a “born again” feels like was completely misguided. Born again does not mean all immoral desires and temptations from Satan will suddenly disappear just like that. All those temptations will ofcourse still be there; but you’ll now have more Power to resist it. Having the desire to revert to your old self is only a way of reminding you that you are only human, just like the rest of us. Born again does not necessarily mean you’ll suddenly start dancing wildly in Churches consumed by the Holy Spirit and start talking in languages nobody on Earth understands. It also does not mean you can suddenly start healing the sick with your hand and prayers, or quit your studies or job to become a missionary in a Country where Christians are persecuted.

Born again is about seeing the light that you’ve been seeing all your life, but this time without using any filters or lenses. Born again is about being face to face with God without the surrounding environment bothering you, and not about wondering what clothes to wear to Church or whether your friends will ridicule you for standing up and clapping your hands when people are singing the hymns. Born again is about realizing how short the Church sermon suddenly seemed and wishing it could go on for atleast another extra hour or two.

Born again is about expressing your true passion during prayers by standing up, raising your hand and shouting out praises to Him rather than asking stupid questions like “whether we can lie down and pray before we go to sleep as long as the urges came from within”. If such urges genuinely came from within, you will definitely not be lying down and praying. Imagine you just won the lottery or India beat Brazil in the Football World Cup Finals: would you casually lie down and nonchalantly remark “yay”?

There are so many other things I want to say but will astutely refrain from talking about it now due to space constraint. Right now, I’ve never felt this much joy and completeness within me in my entire life. During my peniel, I asked the good Lord to give me the wisdom and sapience to write about Him and make me His instrument. Sure this means I will be losing a lot of my regular visitors to my blog, but if my writings can bring Home even one lost sheep, that is far more worthy than leading a thousand sheep away from Home.

This new era will also mean a lot of people will be challenging what I’m saying by quoting different verses from the Bible / scientific propositions and postulates / our Mizo culture and tradition / rationality / different Christian beliefs etc. Let me put it down straight: I may not have the answer you require; you’ll just have to experience what I’m experiencing in order to find all your answers.

Halleluiah. Hnehna chu Lalpa ta a ni.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Chp 95. Mizoram, My Mizoram!

The first few rays of the pristine radiant sun-light
Simmers into my room, like a passionate penetration.
I open my sleepy eyes and smile with subdued might
For I am now back, in the Land of abysmal devotion.

Ah Mizoram! Sweet Mizoram! Resplendent Mizoram.
Nowhere else is the sky so blue nor the hills so green.
The mist covered mountains and many a hillside farm
Entwined together to carve out a Home so serene.

I rise from bed and walk outside my tiny room,
Staring at the scenic beauty and inhaling the aura.
Such picturesque exquisiteness dispels all gloom
T’is far more exotic than Paradise or Shangri-la.

Idyllic silhouettes, Nature’s creation at its best,
A natural wonder personified many times over.
Especially after a brief rain, leaving you breathless;
A concoction of tranquility and serenity shower.

Mizoram, my Mizoram, land of the gallant Zo braves,
With Tlawmngaihna everywhere and nothing to fear.
Here’s where I was born, and here will lay my grave,
Nothing is more honorable than to be buried here.

Now the sun is visible over the looming Durtlang
Its rays permeating through the air so lucid.
Lighting up my little room perched on Chaltlang
Still, everything around me is calm and placid.

Morning birds flutter together in uniformed flocks
Chirping their way through the diaphanous mist.
Until they can find their home in a distant hillock
Only to be disturbed once again and flight persist.

As I admire the beauty that cannot be described
I realize why I am back here narrating this story.
The captivating sceneries need to be inscribed,
So that others too can bask in Mizoram’s glory.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Chp 94. Racism I: Chinky - What me insult?

“Oye chinky”
“Abey saala chinky”
“Ching chong bhen ch*d chinky”

These are just some of the few racial slurs people hurl at you everyday when you walk the streets of Delhi or other metros here in India if you happen to have a mongoloid facial character.

You’ll get that treatment everywhere for committing just one simple sin: Being born with “slit eyes”. Ah! What a crime! Completely unforgivable! Society must never accept such a heinous violation of our Indian Constitution. Burn every slit eyed male and female you see so that they don’t dilute the proud Aryan and Dravidian bloodline.

A regular follower of my blog will know that I for one am the last person to be insulted by the word “chinky”. I even received a couple of heated comments from some of my respected readers for using the C word too freely. I humbly apologize again if I had hurt anybody’s sentiments in any way.

I guess one reason why the word doesn’t mean anything to me is because of my upbringing. I’ve always been in a really diverse multi-cultured gang of friends where we used to utter racial slurs, expletives and other profanities freely at each other and none of us were the least bit offended by any of those “insults” as we were the closest of all friends (which doesn’t mean that we utter racial slurs at other people we don’t know. This was strictly only within our gang thingie). We still use those words even today (Read my upcoming post on “Racism: When is it “ok” to use Racial slurs?”).

Yet as my small World started getting bigger and bigger, I soon came to realize that people, a hell lot of other people, people I haven’t even met before, would cuss at me using that racial slur. The difference between my closest friends calling me a chinky and these strangers calling me a chinky is HUGE. The latter does it so in a very derogative, demeaning and offensive manner, all because of my race. Even when you don’t mean to offend anybody, identifying other races with a racial slur meant for that particular race is indeed a racist action (although I personally feel it is ok to use racial slurs with your closest friends as long as they are not offended by it, and as long as it is only between the two of you).

In my three years as a blogger, I have politely requested many bloggers who would generalize and identify us (Northeast people) as “chinkies” on their blog not to do so since the word is a derogatory slur. There are many Indian blogs out there where people would say stuff like “there were many chinky people there”, “he’s a stupid chinky”, “it sounded like a chinky language”, “we decided to eat chinky food”, “the waiter was a chinky guy”, "we watched a chinky movie", “there were two chinkies playing for the opposite team”, "the pub was filled with chinkies, like a bloody invasion" etc [These are all actual entries made by people on their blogs]. I never protest to such statements but rather try to tell them gently that chinky is an offensive slur. Some of them even replied that they didn’t intend to offend anybody. I don’t think “having no intention to offend anybody” gives that person the right to use racial slurs meant for other races. And if they really did not intend to offend anybody, then why use a racial slur in the first place anyway? I find that strange.

Ever since I got my nokia 3650 phone cam, I’ve been clicking away whenever I am with my friends. I have more than 4000 snaps taken from my phone cam stored in my PC now! Below is a collage of some of my closest friends over the past 2 years.

L-R: Amol, Shubha, Izzy, Ankita, Monu, Amra, Sowmya, Sanjeev, Adonica, Tommy, Kini and Amar. Amazing bunch of friends. My greatest treasure. They have what one might say a “typical Indian face”. And people will always associate such faces with India.

Below is another collage of some of my closest Mizo friends taken with the same phone cam over the same period of time.

The difference between this set and the previous set is that, the second group is usually not identified as an Indian face. They are insulted as “chinky” on the streets and even called “Chinese” even though they are as Indian as the people who called them are. They are all working/studying in Bangalore and everyday they have to not only put up with eve-teasing but also try to ignore racial slurs hurled at them from all directions.

The origin of “chinky”.

I used to wonder why other Indians would call us by that name just to have some strange satisfaction. Because “chinky” is actually derived from the racial slur “chink” which was solely in reference to the Chinese (not that I’m saying that’s ok). And by Chinese, I mean a person hailing from China. Not Japan, not Korea, not Thailand. I guess to a narrow minded ego-centric “stereotyper”, every mongoloid person comes from China, and still holds a valid Chinese passport, just because “we all look the same”. Lolz.

The Collins Cobuild English dictionary third Edition makes no mention of Chink in its list of words, while the Oxford dictionary defines Chink (also chinky) as “noun. informal. offensive. A Chinese person.” The
Racial Slur Database even defines “Chink” as:

Asian equivalent of "Nigger" for blacks. Two possible origins: the dictionary definition is "A narrow opening or slit", meaning a reference to their eyes. Or could also refer to the sound of someone working on a railroad, which Chinese immigrants helped build in 1800's America. Technically should only refer to Chinese, but used for all Asians.

The slang Dictionary also defines “Chinky” as:

Noun. 1. A Chinese person. Offensive.
2. A Chinese restaurant or takeaway. Offensive.
3. Chinese food, often a takeaway meal. Offensive.
Adj. Chinese in nature. Offensive.

Yet somewhere down the line, the word “chinky” suddenly transformed into a word meant to insult other Indians from India’s North-east. As if to show us that we are not welcomed to the rest of India, or to remind us everyday that we have a “non-Indian” face and that anybody not having a picture-perfect “typical Indian” facial feature is not accepted as an Indian.

The other day, I was watching one of my favorite comedy sitcoms “Scrubs” on StarWorld. Ofcourse I’ve already watched the complete season from 1 to 5 thanks to piracy (Forgive me for borrowing pirated DVDs from my friends), but that particular night I got no better things to do so I decided to watch the one running on StarWorld again. One incident deeply struck me.

In the original Scrubs episode that I’ve watched earlier, the script goes like this. Janitor asked JD to help him with his crossword puzzle. Janitor gave the clue “A dash in the armour, five letter word, used to describe a weakness of a particular thing”. JD thought for a moment and then suddenly exclaimed “Yes I know that one! It’s a chink! A chink!” And then suddenly Dr.Wang the Chinese resident doctor appeared out of nowhere, stared at him and said in much disgust “I knew it, it was you!” and after that, every Chinese doctor and intern were out to get JD’s blood. Ofcourse the joke here was, Janitor who was always trying to make JD’s life miserable at the hospital, managed to do it once again by tricking him into saying that word so that the entire Chinese community would deal with him.

The funny thing here was, in the same episode aired by StarWorld that night here in India, the part where JD exclaimed “A Chink!” had been completely censored.

I’m sure it was not the Indian Censor Board that censored that particular part, after all, when have they ever given a shit about us. Some people from the Northeast found that popular Amir Khan’s Coca cola Ad “thande ke tadka” offensive because of the way he imitated the Mongoloid Race, especially after Northeast students all over India immediately became the butt of crude comments such as “chinky ke phadka” thanks to Coke and Amir Khan. I personally don’t find anything wrong in that Ad but there’s this other Ad by a dog food company called Pedigree, where the dog featured in that Ad is ostentatiously called “chinky”. And the people in that Ad would throw a bone or a ball and proudly say “chinky, go fetch” and laugh their hearts out. And that Ad appeared like a hundred times on National Television (even till now). I’m sure members of the Censor Board too must have had a hearty laugh at the dog being called “chinky”. (I don’t know anyone who would name their dog “chinky” and even if you do, would you use that particular dog’s name of all the dog names in the World and show it on TV, especially when that name is a racial slur? I certainly wouldn’t.)

And then there is a certain bi-weekly business magazine... which is best left unnamed. When I was in IIMB, they gave a free copy to every student (to increase market share I guess) but one article in it really made my stomach churn. I think it was about China’s foreign policy or something like that. There was a picture of the Chinese Premier in the article and above, in bold letters was the headline “There’s a CHINK in the armour!” I found that extremely tacky and unpalatable, especially for such a renowned National business magazine.

(Speaking of ethnic slur, Beard and Cerf, in “
The Official Politically Correct Handbook”, p. 123, report that an administrator at the University of California at Santa Cruz campaigned for the banning of such phrases as "a chink in his armor" and "a nip in the air", because "chink" and "nip" are derogatory terms for a "Chinese person" and a "Japanese person" respectively) I never bought another copy of that mag again after that. But the fact remains, that whoever censored that part in Scrubs, did it so as not to hurt the sentiments of the Chinese and “slit-eyed” population.

India still has a long way to go in terms of educating its masses that there are also people of mongoloid lineaments included in what constitutes an Indian. But until that is done, India’s so called “chinkies” will continued to be stared at, goggled at and even jeered at by the vast majority that simply do not understand us.

Many renowned writers have boldly stated that all of us are racists, atleast a little bit. I believe in this theory as racial bias has always been ingrained within many of our cultures. One of the main (if not the only) cause of racism is stereotyping. And many notable psychologists have proved that all of us stereotype. John Dovidio, a professor of psychology said that even those of us who believe that we don’t stereotype, actually do. Various tests have proved this. According to psychologist Joshua Correll, the more a test-taker tries to not appear biased, the more bias shows up in the test results. John Stossel and Kristina Kendall in their article “The psychology of stereotypes” said that it is normal for people to stereotype other people, and that the biases in our head are harmful only if we act on them.

The only solution to this gross stereotyping (misunderstanding) is Education. School children should be made more aware of India’s Northeast at an early stage. One paragraph mentioning briefly about the Northeast in our geography text books will not do. So many people don’t even know the seven sister States of India (eight including Sikkim. Bro Sonam, you owe me a treat for saying that ), and some of those who do know a bit about the existence of these States, think people from these places are all cannibals, a hilly jungle occupied by tribals ready to bite off your knockers anytime. Some people even think that every mongoloid person walking around in India is a Nepali. Yes, I know learning about Rana Pratap Singh or Rani of Jhansi is important in our Indian history syllabus. But I feel learning about India’s North east is also equally important, if not more. Because these children, the future of tomorrow’s World, are going to grow up where they will never meet Rana Pratap Singh again but most definitely will meet a person from India’s North east.

The most dangerous consequence all these can have is that, a victim of racism usually turns out to be a racist himself. Check my upcoming post on this topic. Somebody who’s continuously a victim of racial discrimination will only end up stereotyping the “other” Race. Anything that befalls him, he will blame it on racism: restaurant bill taking a long time to arrive, impolite dickhead cutting the queue and standing infront of him, beaten up by a bunch of drunk rowdies, being flunked by a teacher at college, referee showing him a red card during a match, not being selected for a job at an interview etc. he will blame all that on racism. Such incidents will only heighten the insecurity of the minority group. It will soon become a case of “us” versus “them” (it already has, to a certain extent). This is not good, not good at all. Some of my Mizo friends are completely skeptical of every North Indians they come across especially Delhiites just because they've been tormented everyday by a section of people from there. In Kolkata, most Mizos prefer to take cabs driven only by Sardarjis because other “races” “always cheat them”. Many Northeastern students all over India hardly mix with their classmates from other parts of India because they feel they are insulted behind their back by everybody around them. By stereotyping others, we are just becoming as bad as those who stereotype us. I know, easier said than done you may say. But for a moment, just close your eyes and think. Would you rather take out your gun and shoot back, or try to remove all the guns that exist?

Eventually in the end, all of us do stereotype. We are humans and it is only natural of us to do that. What counts here is that we must always keep such biases to our heads and not act upon them. Remember, the more racists we get, the more difficult we are going to make this World for our children.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Chp 93. I'm horny, you're horny

I’ve just saw NDTV’s investigation on Mumbai’s dance bars yesterday. The clandestine video recordings definitely put a severe dent on the dance bar owners’ credibility when they claimed that these dance bars were just a place of employment for women and that there was nothing illegal or immoral in what they do. Two serious causes of concern, Prostitution rackets and Police corruption, once again resurfaced.

I’m not saying these two had never been around before. Corruption is more or less the oldest practice in the World and Prostitution is labeled as the oldest profession (Unless ofcourse you firmly believe in the Creation, which in that case would make “Animal naming” or “Apple picking” as the oldest profession. God only knows (pun not intended!) what Adam was doing all alone before Eve came along ).

Can prostitution ever be clamped down completely or legalized in India? Ofcourse if I ever suggest that Prostitution should be legalized in India, I would be lynched and my blog probably tagged as “unpatriotic”. However we stand at a crossroad where prostitution in India is neither legal nor illegal. SITA (Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, 1956) now known as PITA (Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act, 1986) doesn’t say Prostitution is a crime but forbids Prostitutes from practicing their trade within 200 yards of a "public place" or a "notified area". Very obscure law indeed. One might call this DITA (Disarray over Immoral Traffic Act, 2006)

Do you know that prostitutes in India cannot be charged with “prostitution” since it is not a crime? Hence, they get booked with vague charges like "public indecency" or being a "public nuisance" . And meanwhile, as some sections of the society protest against the flesh trade, a large majority of people from the same society are responsible for enabling this industry to flourish. It takes two to tango dude.

Face it, we are all a horny lot. No matter how much we campaign against such an immoral activity and brand it as something against our “culture”, deep down within most of us men are bubbling-hormones raging ferociously like a wild hungry tempestuous Sea devouring a lone ship on a dark and stormy night. The roar from such depths is thunderous and deafening. Be it sea or Psyche. If only it could be heard by people around us.

I still remember one joke I really love: A survey was conducted on what men do as soon as they have sex. 10% said they pee, another 10% said they smoke, while the remaining 80% said they go home.

Guys, there is nothing wrong in being horny. It is a part of our core objective as a species . Even the former most Powerful man on this Planet was caught taking out his cigar from his cigar-case . Horniness knows no distinction. It cuts across all class, sex, race, religion, creed, culture, tradition, you name it. When couples do it, atleast one of them is horny. Otherwise how can you explain the population explosion? I don’t think guys who don’t feel like doing “it”, would/could do “it”. If so, then I find that “hard” to believe .

We guys have a gift. We can automatically “turn it on” anytime we want like a switch, while women have to be “turned on”, like slowly cooking rice or potato in a pressure cooker waiting for what seems like eternity for it to start hisssssssing. God must have found this unfair so He gifted women with multiple-O. And the debate on who got the better off these two deals still continue even today .

I used to have my own little theory on why most of us are “horny”. I was brought up in South India. Went to School and College there. Since boys and girls weren’t allowed to talk to each other and dating was considered a taboo, I thought maybe the sudden exposure to women later on in life brought out all those bottled-up feelings. Naah! That was not the reason. Other Indians from a liberal background like the Northeast or from Metro cities around the Nation are as horny as those from a conservative background. A survey result shows 67% of High School students in America have sex. My friend S said most teenagers in America and other people here in India have sex at an early age because of curiosity rather than, to put it bluntly as I had put it, horniness. I argued that curiosity and horniness cannot be two different criteria because one can be curious and horny at the same time.

Infact you can mix horny with any emotion or state of being. You can be intelligent and horny. You can be dumb and horny. You can be drunk and horny. You can be sober and horny. You can be lonely and horny. You can have company and be horny at the same time. You can own a cycle and be horny, or own a Private Jet and be horny. You can even be horny and horny! (Dunno what’s that like, although I can pretty much imagine… )

Look at India. Even though this trend hasn’t caught on, there are many young women and men out there who have a “fuck buddy”. Yeah, it’s called FB. An FB is usually a friend or a colleague that you trust but aren’t romantically involved with. It’s something like a sexual fling, except that it’s more personal. You wouldn’t have read about FBs in your cosmo or other girlie mags, or read articles about it in prominent news websites. But it is very much in practice, especially among the urban College going youth of today. No Indian women or men of a sane mind are going to come forward openly and say “Yeah, I have a fuck buddy” . I guess we can say FB is the complete opposite of a platonic love affair. I know people who started out as FBs but are now in a committed relationship. Similarly, I know people who insist that their FBs should be faithful to them, while others don’t mind having multiple FBs. I guess this brings us to a debatable question. What is the difference between a sexual attraction and a “normal” physical attraction? Or are all physical attractions sexually oriented, even though we may not know it intrinsically?

I am not here to judge anyone based on what they do on their beds (or on the kitchen table), but one thing is for certain, there are more negative consequences to being sexually active than the positive ones.

Be it prostitution or FBs, one negative consequence is ofcourse the spread of AIDS and other STDs. Then there is the alarming increase in number of rape cases and other sexually oriented crimes. Not to forget those sick demented paedophiles. And then there are the various distractions you experience making it difficult for you to concentrate on your work. Breaking marital vows is another serious consequence: dude, you’re breaking up a loving family just because your wife ain’t around? My advice: Grab a magazine and run to the loo. Lecherous roadside romeos and irritating eve-teasers are another set of people suffering from HO (Horniness Overdose).

Being horny itself is not bad or evil, as long as you don’t let it get out of control. Be the master of yourself. Control the snake. Don’t let the snake control you!

You’re horny, I’m horny, and we all live in a horny little World. Cheers!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Chapter Interlude: Arsenal 1 ManUtd 0

One of the most awaited EPL games this season ended with my team beating arch rivals ManUtd 1-0. ManUtd ended our unbeaten run in 2004. I’m mighty glad we returned the favour tonight.

Arsenal not only recorded our first win of the season but also exposed ManUtd’s grave weakness in the mid-field section. Playing five men at the center, Arsenal clearly dominated the mid-field, and the last line of defense was completely formidable too. But not without paying a price. Lack of a striking force saw Arsenal missing a lot of chances, including a penalty by Gilberto.

For me, the most prominent name of the game was not Rooney or Adebayor. It was Sunil Taneja. Yup, that was the name of the dude who did the Hindi commentary on my TV. Yes! Poor me here in Mumbai had to sit through one of the best matches on ESPN listening to a Hindi commentary. Anyway, I understood a bit of Hindi (he actually used “bhalle bhalle” to describe what the Gunners were doing after Adebayor scored!) but after sometime I realized the Hindi commentary was not in sync with the game!!!! Aaaargh! ESPN really need to look into this. There’s nothing worse than a delayed commentary, English or Hindi, in a LIVE Soccer match and so I finally muted the TV and blasted my music system as I watched the amazing game with my best friend, Mister Old Monk.

The man of the match was Fabregas. John Dykes gave them both (Scorer Adebayor and provider Fabregas) a bottle of champagne. The Soccer Pundits immediately said that it was funny because neither of them were hardly old enough to drink. LOLz!!! Fabregas is 19 and Adebayor 20.

Anyway, I differ from ESPN’s view. My man of the match would definitely be Lehman. Fantastic saves from the German as usual.

But at the end of the day, I have realized one thing. The rivalry between Arsenal and ManUtd was not as intense as it once used to be. Ever since the little known Chelsea suddenly came into the scene two years ago and dominated the top spot on the EPL table, the fire that used to rage between the Gunners and the Red Devils had definitely died down. How I miss the good old days when Keown and Parlour would jump over Nistlerooy while Viera and Keane would engage in a fisticuff at one corner of the field. Damn you Chelsea! And damn you and your dirty Roubles, Mister Abramo-look-at-me-Im-so-freaking-rich-vich.

I guess the most shocking incident of the game would be when Sir Alex substituted Rooney. I clearly didn’t see the reason behind that, especially when he substituted Scholes too. But then, their pain, our gain. So I ain’t complaining. Har har har! Go Gunnerssssss!!!!!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Chp 92. Arsenal: New signings, new formations

So after a much tensed week (atleast for me), the final team roster for Arsenal was finally released on Friday morning as the EPL transfer window came to a close last Thursday. Bad start this season but no worries. Things are about to get real hot at the Gunners Camp.

Cole out, Gallas in. Woohoo!!!! In place of a controversy ridden discontented lately underperforming turn-coat left-back, we got an excellent and enthusiastic fresh centre-back replacement, plus £5 million in transfer fees! How cool is that. And with Wenger, Henry, Diaby, Flamini, Clichy and Aliadière all French, Gallas is bound to have an amazing chemistry with the team.

No doubt what Arsenal needs right now are new defense signings. The loss of Vièra was costly. Too costly. From creating the EPL record of the longest run of unbeaten League matches (49) in 2003-04, we were reduced to a Club struggling to barely qualify for a UEFA CL spot. But the young Gunners once again justified why I am their most ardent and loyal fan, by reaching the Finals of the UEFA Champions League ’06, setting a new CL record on the way by playing 10 straight matches without conceding a single goal!

Another new signing, Czech Tomáš Rosický, already spotted and signed by Arsène Wenger way before the rest of the World came to know who he was after he scored two goals against USA in the last World Cup, is a formidable force at the Midfield/Forward sector. With Pires and Bergkamp gone, he can fill the void they left behind (I am comparing him with the Bergkamp-of-current-form, not the once-upon-a-time-God-Bergkamp).

Many people say Henry is God. Nah. To me, he is just a Demigod. The real true God of Arsenal is Arsène Wenger. The Club’s first non-English non-Scottish Manager in its history, Wenger is a Maestro when it comes to spotting future talents. When I first started supporting for Arsenal, Henry was still on his way to stardom. The people who really caught my eye then (around 1999-2000) were players like Emmanuel Petite, Kanu, Bergkamp, Keown, Parlour and good ’ol David Seaman (hehehe). I had just missed the Ian Wright era. Wenger made Henry what he is today. And believe me, Van Persie and Walcott are going to be the next Thierry Henry (I just don’t like the way young Walcott is currently being over-hyped unnecessarily by the media).

Another new signing, Júlio Baptista (aka The Beast), on a loan exchange from Real Madrid, is an attacking Midfielder known for his power shots from long distance. Although he won’t do justice to the role that Vièra used to play (which was more defensive), I think it was a good deal to exchange him for another unhappy player Jose Antonio Reyes (plus £3 mil). Reyes was a good deal but I felt he underperformed at Highbury. I guess EPL isn’t for everybody. Look at how eager he is to get back to Spanish football. Wish you all the best Reyes.

Then there was a rumour for sometime that Arsenal was planning to buy Tevez. Hehe, when the final list came out on Friday morning, I wasn’t surprised at all to find him (and package-deal partner Mascherano) not at Arsenal. But yeah I was bloody hell shocked to find them both at West Ham. Read here and here for the various conspiracy theories and discussions that developed immediately after this transfer. I mean, two players worth more than £50 mil are bought for £5 mil each, that too by a Club like West Ham? Sure I know WHU used to have players like Rio, Lampard, Joe Cole, Defoe, Kanoute, Glen Johnson and Carrick before, but do take a look at their current squad now. You catch my drift?

I truly believe in the Conspiracy Theory, that since these two players are owned by Media Sports Investment (MSI), either they’re planning a West Ham takeover or Chelsea’s Big Boss Abramovich who has a 15% stake made sure the two players moved to any Club as long as they are not Arsenal, ManUtd, Liverpool or the other biggies. Because Abramovich now knows very well after the Gallas episode that he cannot keep stacking up all the good players at Chelsea as they become discontented after some time even if he offers to triple their pay or a season starting line-up chance (See, some players still have passion for the game and aren’t entirely driven by money), so now he is distributing the good players to smaller Clubs before the bigger Clubs lay their hands on them. Just like the way he outbid us on SWP last year with his dirty roubles when we needed him badly, and then hardly played him at all during the season. Bastard! He has truly prostitutionalized (don’t even know if that’s a legit word ) the entire EPL.

Anyway, Arsenal is not that desperate to get additional attackers right now. I am truly happy for the Hammers and wish them all the best. For the Gunners, with strikers like Henry, RVP, Adebayor, Aliadière and young Walcott, and others like Baptista, Rosický, Ljungberg, Fàbregas, Gilberto, Flamini etc all capable of attacking, more concentration should be given to defense. With the three most prominent Arsenal defenders of my era MF Vièra, Campbell and Cole now all gone, it is up to the new signings and Arsenal youth to provide a strong defense line at the back.

And oh, before I conclude, the last signing of this transfer window, young Brazilian Denilson (Brazil U-19 Captain). The moment you read this, I’m sure any Arsenal fan will immediately think “Ah, good ’ol Wenger, thinking of the future again aye?”.

With that, the first team of Arsenal for the year 2006-07 are forwards Henry, Van Persie, Adebayor, Aliadière and Walcott, midfielders Gilberto, Fàbregas, Rosický, Hleb, Song, Ljungberg, Baptista, Denilson and Flamini, defenders Touré, Clichy, Senderos, Lauren, Djourou, Eboué, Hoyte and Connolly, goal keepers Lehmann, Almunia and Poom.

According to this article by Jonathan Northcroft, Arsenal sold Cygan for £2, exchanged Cole for Gallas plus £5, exchanged Reyes for Baptista plus £3, bought Denilson for £3.5

Arsenal finished the day with £6.6m in their pockets, the best defender in the Premiership in their squad, both “the Brazilian Steven Gerrard” and Brazil’s youth captain arriving, and two underperforming players and a malcontent off their books. If they ever remake The Sting, Wenger and Dein should get the Robert Redford and Paul Newman parts.

Hehe. Wordddd! “Some people” prefer to buy the Title, while we Gunners prefer to do it the old fashion way: through hard-work, discipline, dedication and determination. Add loyalty to that list too.

Over the past eight transfer windows Arsenal’s spend has been £63.9m, while Chelsea have paid out £325.7m, Manchester United £117.7m and Liverpool £95.6m. It’s easy to get swept away by the thrill of the purchase. Any shopper knows it’s only when you return home and open up the bags that you see what you have actually got. Some clubs may have felt pangs of regret the moment the deadline passed on Thursday night. At the Emirates stadium they couldn’t believe their luck.

All I can imagine now is Wenger sitting all alone on the plush leather sofa in his huge private office with the lights dimmed and a glass of scotch in one hand while rubbing his chin with the other, absentmindedly staring at the Arsenal Team Photo hanging on the wall while grinning devilishly all to himself… Hehehe…

My ideal starting line-up:

--------------------------- Lehmann -------------------------

Eboue ---------- Toure ----------- Gallas ---------- Clichy

Van Persie --- Fabregas -------- Gilberto ------- Rosicky

---------------- Baptista ----------- Henry -----------------

Imagine the impact this attack would have on the opponents. Ah! Sheer power!

While Clichy is out, Flamini can play in his spot, but once Senderos is back, will Wenger play him at CB and push Gallas to LB? Only Wenger knows…

Another formation that Wenger can keep as the starting 11, taking into consideration his favorite 4-4-2 formation and his preference over either Hleb or Ljungberg playing at right.

Anyway, as I fiddled around with my hands on Paint Shop Pro™, I got a bit carried away as it was really easy to move the players around. So I came up with a couple of other “formations” for various other occasions. Hehehe.

This one is the formation of the Gunners when the play was disrupted by a naked male streaker running into the football ground.

Abramovich and Mourinho ran after the streaker immediately to sign him up for the Chelsea squad, just for the heck of it, since they have the money.

Meanwhile, confusion and chaos at the Manchester United Camp.

Clockwise from top:
  1. Tim Howard, still pissed off on being replaced by Van der Sar while being loaned to Everton, came out in the field to roughen him up.
  2. Winker Ronaldo being chased by angry English fans. As he ran, he simultaneously did three of his favorite actions: winking, crying and stumbling.
  3. Brown and Heinze doing something useful for the Club finally by carrying out teammate druggie Rio on a stretcher as he’s “totally wasted” from last night’s drug binge with a couple of friends.
  4. Abramovich, under a disguise, spying on the players on who to poach next.
  5. Angry boy Rooney watching the match from the stands because he was slapped with a 6 match ban, right after returning from his 5 match ban.
  6. Giggs dancing infront of the fans for winning the first three matches of the League even though they lost the next 10 games after that.
  7. Disgruntled former Captain Keane hurling out abuses at the current team while cops try to restrain him.
  8. The Neville brothers fighting because Gary made fun of dirty Phil again for being dropped from the team. Daddy Neville trying to stop them from fighting while mummy Neville looks on.
  9. And finally, Sir Alex and owner Yank Glazer. Well, it’s just a picture so I leave it up to you to use your imagination.

While Old Trafford was in complete disarray, at the “Chelsea Only” members meeting held at Stamford Bridge, London, organizers panicked because there were not enough chairs to seat all the players as the number of members were far more than the number of people estimated according to the “official” record.

So there you go. Hope you found it entertaining (or exasperating for all ye ManUtd and Chelsea suckers).

Gunnerssssss for life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    Chp 91. RIP Steve Irwin. We'll miss you.

    Animal Planet, one of my all time favorite channels, has taught me so many things about animals that no text books or magazines will ever do. I learnt so much about wildlife, like how chameleons can move their eyes in opposite directions at the same time, that crocodiles cannot stick their tongues out, that a baby wildebeest learn how to walk and run within a couple of minutes from birth, the lifestyle of a komodo dragon with its bacteria infested mouth, that kangaroos can jump over 30 feet, which snakes are venomous and which are not, what to do when bitten by a snake, or when surrounded by a pack of hungry hyenas, that when a Python or Boa start coiling around you, you must first protect your chest and make sure they don’t get to that part, that a snail can sleep for 3 years, and (the ladies will love this one) that lipsticks are made from slimy stinky fish scales!

    My favorite documentaries from Animal Planet are “The Crocodile Hunter Diaries”, “The Croc Files” and “New Breed Vets”, all featuring the legendary Steve Irwin.

    Today, I got an sms from a friend “Dude, Steve Irwin passed away. The Crocodile man. Check news channel”. Damn! I ran downstairs immediately to the Cyber Café (We have only National news channels on TV here. No BBC, no CNN ) where my worst fear was confirmed. The Queensland Police released this
    official statement about his sad demise.

    According to
    news report, Steve Irwin was stung by a Stingray while filming an underwater documentary in the Great Barrier Reef off the Low Isles near Port Douglas, north of Cairns, Queensland, Australia. It was reported that he was stung either through his heart or through the left side of his chest, causing a fatal wound.

    Man, I really am going to miss him. How can anyone ever forget his “crikey” exclamations? To those who are not fascinated about Mother Nature and the surrounding Wildlife, they might not even know him. But to someone like me, it is indeed a sad loss.

    It is because of Steve Irwin that a guy like me can now identify how an Australian accent sounds like. He was the first Australian celebrity I came to know of, long before learning about John Howard in our GK text books or watching Luc Longley play basketball for the Chicago Bulls during the days of Jordan.

    Steve Irwin is no stranger to controversies. I still remember that incident a couple of years ago when he came under fire for feeding a Croc while holding his baby-son in the other hand. Although I agree he shouldn’t have endangered the baby’s life like that no matter how experienced he was among the Crocs, I found it utterly ridiculous that people compared that incident to MJ’s baby-dangling incident. Those two incidents are on two completely different levels of irresponsibility. Anyway, thankfully, good ’ol Steve never repeated that again.

    He has appeared in Dr.Dolittle2 as himself. He is probably the most popular face in Animal TV. You should watch “New Breed Vets”. My sis and I usually spend our lazy Sunday afternoons watching that show. The show deals with how people (usually zoo officials) take care of animals like chimps, tigers etc who have problems. I’m sure “Irwinites” all over the World must be taking this tragedy very hard. My utmost condolences to you all.

    Rest in Peace, Steve. You have risked your life time and again just to entertain and educate us. Maybe we, the barbaric spectators around the bloody Arena, are to be blamed too for encouraging you to put yourself in the jaws of danger for the umpteenth time, but then, with a passion like yours, who can stop you? Just like how Jackie Chan would never stop doing those life threatening crazy stunts because we find it entertaining, neither would you. You play with fire, you get burnt. I raise my glass to you Steve. You will always be remembered, and your legacy passed on forever.

    Wednesday, August 30, 2006

    Chp 90. Law & Order: SVU

    The dictionary definition for a spin-off is:
    A new organization or entity formed by a split from a larger one, such as a television series based on a pre-existing one.
    We are no stranger to spin-offs when it comes to television serials here in India. Some of our favorite serials and sit-coms are actually spin-offs. Frasier from Cheers, Xena: Warrior Princess from Hercules, Joey from Friends, Angel from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, American Idol from the British Pop Idol, Boston Legal from The Practice, Melrose Place from Beverly Hills 90210 etc. I even found out that my favorite show, The Simpsons, is actually a spin-off from an animated sketch series called The Tracy Ullman Show, and is currently the longest running spin-off in the history of Television.

    Two of my favorite detective/crime investigation shows are “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Law & Order: SVU”. In India, we get CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its two spin-offs CSI: Miami and CSI: NY broadcasted (on AXN), but we get only Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (on StarWorld), which is a spin-off from the original Law & Order series (The other spin-offs from Law & Order are Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: Trial by Jury which are also not aired here in India).

    I guess if we want to compare these two great shows, we must first take a look at their respective Networks. It’s a case of the popular (and infamous) NBCCBS rivalry in the US. Please do read my previous post about the various serials that we get here in India, and which Network they originally were broadcasted on. Law & Order by NBC is more or less in response to CBS’ popular CSI series.

    Anyway, I think when it comes to air time here in India, CSI and its spin-offs are much more popular than Law & Order. But if you ask me, I would choose Law & Order: SVU any day over the CSI series, even though I love CSI.

    Reasons why “Law & Order: SVU” rocks:

    I never used to miss this show 3 years ago when it was aired on StarWorld. But after some time it was taken off the air and now recently had made its way back into the channel with an all new Season. Praise be the Almighty Lord for that.

    What makes SVU stand out from the rest is the way the whole show proceeds: From crime scene investigation to Laboratory analysis to Court room case. I am a sucker for a good Court room drama. And most of the cases are not just about the simple “break a law – get tried – get jailed” open and shut cases. The show involved many complicated and controversial issues, where sometimes the guilty even gets away after managing to find a loop hole in the written law.

    The show mainly concentrate on crimes involving sexual assaults like rape, minor sex, statutory rape, sex trafficking, abortions, artificial insemination, women’s right, sexual discrimination, prostitution, child custody battle, DNA analysis, behavior psychology, drugs abuse, hate crimes, gun control etc Although it’s usually a 50-50 crime-scene court-room drama, sometimes the percentage can shift on either side (like for example, the episode aired on StarWorld last Sunday was entirely a crime scene episode).

    The cast of Law & Order: SVU are amazing too. The main detectives are Det. Elliot Stabler played excellently by Christopher Meloni (Inmate Chris Keller of “Oz”, regular guest appearance in “NYPD Blues”, “Homicide: Life on the street” and “Scrubs”, and was Julia Robert’s fiancé in “Runaway Bride”) and Det. Olivia Benson played by Mariska Hargitay (2005 Golden Globe winner for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, as well as 2004, 2005 and 2006 Emmy Award nominee, and 2004 Screen Actors Guild Award nominee for Lead Actress). Det. Stabler felt it is a moral responsibility to protect all people from sexual assaults especially since he had four children of his own, while Det. Benson was a child born out of a rape.

    And then there’s the street-smart Mister Cool himself, Det. Odafin “Fin” Tutuola, perfectly portrayed by rapper and actor Ice-T. B.D.Wong played the role of FBI Agent Dr. George Huang, a forensic psychiatrist and expert on the criminal mind (Trivia: His FBI Badge no. is 2317616, the same as that of Agent Dana Scully of The X-files ). Recently I’ve seen him done a lot of active field assignments, although his initial role was just to observe the body languages and behavior of suspects during their interrogation at the Station. The Medical Examiner is Dr. Melinda Warner, played by Tamara Tunie. Their Captain is Capt. Donald “Don” Cragen, played by Dann Florek. He played the same role from the original “Law & Order” series.

    The ADA (Assistant District Attorney) is Casey Novak played by the oh so hot Diane Neal. She replaced ADA Alexandra “Alex” Cabot played by Stephanie March at Season 5 after she went into hiding (Witness Protection). The SVU that I used to watch 3 years ago featured Stephanie as the ADA and was disappointed a bit to find the change. But now I am really impressed with Diane Neal’s acting, and ofcourse her charm and beauty .

    And last but not the least, the coolest of them all! He is no stranger to detective shows on television. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Richard Belzer, also known as Det. John Munch. Probably one of the most common faces in crime television, this guy is super ultra cool. Even though he hardly speaks in many SVU episodes, there’s always an air of mystery and coolness around him. He played the same character of Det. John Munch of Homicide: Life on the streets for 7 seasons before moving to SVU. And that’s not all. He appeared as the same Det. Munch in many other serials like the original Law & Order, The X-Files, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, Arrested Development and The Beat.

    Together, they make a fantastic team. I guess the only downside to this show is that it is a wee bit unrealistic. In Law & Order: SVU, every case goes to trial immediately and the trial is completed within a few days/weeks. In real life, however, not ever case goes to trial, nor does it take a few days/weeks to reach a verdict. But then, it’s a serial for Christ’s sake. Nobody’s gonna spend an entire year watching the same case go to trial every week . Kudos Dick Wolf. Continue creating/producing Law & Order: SVU. It totally rocks.

    With the main theme in mind, this show rightfully begins each episode with a message:
    In the criminal justice system, sexually-based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories....


    Television series spin-offs
    Official site of “Law & Order: SVU” at

    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    Chp 89. Mumbai Cable TV and the Ban

    Last night, around 11pm, Mumbai Cable Operators finally started airing Cable channels again. StarMovies, HBO and AXN were still blanked out, but atleast StarWorld was back, meaning I can still watch Rockstar: Supernova and the various other sit-coms again. Woohoo! It’s a bummer that there are no more English movies on Cable, but atleast something’s better than nothing.

    With AXN gone, we are going to miss out a couple of good serials like Maximum Exposure, The Contender, The Ultimate Fighter, The Shield, Numb3rs, World’s Most Amazing Videos, Xena: Warrior Princess, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Alias, Fear Factor etc etc.

    Have you ever wondered where all these wonderful serials we get on our television here in India came from? Most of them are from The Big Four. These are the four main Television Network rivals in the US of A: NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX (FBC).

    The percentage of US Households reached by these top four Networks namely NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX are 97.17, 96.98, 96.75 and 96.18 percent respectively! Boy, that is huge. For those of us here in India, to make it sound more familiar, let me try to label which Network our favorite shows on TV here in India actually belong to.

    NBC is responsible for giving us great sitcoms and serials like Friends, Joey, Seinfeld, Frasier, Cheers, The Contender, Fear Factor, The Apprentice, Scrubs, The Office, Law & Order: SVU, Santa Barbara, The West Wing, Baywatch (1989-1990), ER, Just Shoot Me, Caroline in the City, Will and Grace, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Hollywood Squares, Ed, Star Trek, The Pretender, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Knight Rider, Stingray, The A-Team, The Cosby Show, The fresh Prince of Bel Air, Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and Miami Vice.

    Whereas, from CBS (of the Janet Jackson’s breast fame), we get CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Rock Star, NCIS, JAG (except for season 1 which was aired on NBC, but cancelled it in 1996 after it finished 77th in the rating. CBS picked it up and went on to show 9 more seasons of it), NUMB3RS, The Amazing Race, Survivor, The Bold and the Beautiful, The King of Queens, Becker, Yes Dear, Still Standing, Everybody loves Raymond, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Tour of Duty, M*A*S*H and Chicago Hope. Two new serials that are soon to come to StarWorld, Ghost Whisperer and Two and a half Men are also from CBS. (The Oprah Winfrey Show and Wheel of Fortune were obtained by CBS through acquisition of King World Productions).

    ABC gives/gave us shows such as Desperate Housewives, Lost, Alias, Boston Legal, 8 Simple Rules, My Wife and Kids, Less Than Perfect, Monk, Whose Line is it Anyway, The Drew Carey Show, Home Improvement, Full House, The Practice, Dharma and Greg, The Bachelor, NYPD Blues, The Wonder Years, Doogie Howser M.D., Who Wants to be a Millionaire, The Addams Family, General Hospital, Three’s Company, Dynasty, The Fall Guy, MacGyver, TJ Hooker, The Six Million Dollar Man and Batman (of the POW and KABOOM fame).

    From FOX, we get The O.C., The Simpsons, The X-Files, American Idol, Cops, 24, Arrested Development, Malcolm in the Middle, That 70’s Show, Ally McBeal, Married with Children, The Simple Life, 30 seconds to Fame, Temptation Island, MAD tv, Joe Millionaire, Guinness World Record Primetime, World’s Wildest Police Video, The Street, Alien Nation, Beverly Hills 90210, Boston Public, 21 Jump Street, animations from “FOX Kids” like Futurama and X-Men, and ofcourse a serial I so totally love which is not broadcasted yet here in India, Prison Break.

    Yes, if you are as crazy as me about TV shows, then I’m sure you’ll recognize most of the names up there. Some of them might even bring tears to your eyes, because those shows were aired in India long before the entry of AXN, StarWorld and Zee. I used to watch Beverly Hills 90210, Tour of Duty, MacGyver, M*A*S*H, Sledge Hammer and The Fall Guy on StarPlus those days. And even before the entry of Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV Network in India (1991), I used to watch Knight Rider, Stingray, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Cosby Show and The A-Team on Bangladesh Channel during the black & white TV days of yore. Some of us from the Northeast and West Bengal could catch Bangladesh Channel Transmission on our TV antennae (we just had to tweak it a bit here and there), while the rest of India had just Doordarshan .

    Anyway it really sucks that the I&B Ministry had to ban Cable Operators from airing any movies with an A or U/A rating on Cable. Like we used to see “anything” in the first place anyway. Every hot steamy scene had always been censored, much to our utter dismay . I don’t remember seeing any b**bs on Cable, but I think I do remember seeing Van Damme’s bare ass in a couple of his movies . And the way these people say it, “Adult Movie”, makes it sound like those sleazy XXX porn you buy illegally from one of those many black markets in and around the city. Sheesh.

    I think banning of such channels will only encourage more pirated downloads from the Internet and the sale of pirated VCDs/DVDs.

    I really hope they don’t stop StarWorld too because the channel airs my all time favorite show “Law & Order: SVU” which deals with sexual crimes (A post dedicated to “Law & Order: SVU” coming up next). And then there’s Baywatch and the upcoming Miss Teen USA contest to be aired on StarWorld which might be considered “A” too. “A” means “Adult Content”. How vague is that? Animal Planet and Discovery Channel show animals with close resemblance to Human beings happily fornicating in public. Isn’t that “A” too? History Channel shows the biographies of people like Caligula, Cleopatra and Mata Hari infamous for their sexual exploits. Isn’t that “A” too? News channels show news about rapes and other sexual crimes in India. Isn’t that “A” too? Music channels show music videos with models dressed in skimpy skirts and exposing a lot of skin. Isn’t that “A” too? Many Hindi soaps like “Saat Phere”, “Vaidehi” and “Virasaat” have contents about sex scenes, rapes, extra-marital sexual relationships etc. (Source: Mumbai Mirror) Isn’t that “A” too? And last but not the least, Doordarshan shows the Assembly House Session where politicians fight with each other using abusive languages not meant for your children’s ears. Isn’t that “A” too? Sooner or later, everything will be banned at this rate. Damn. No wonder people enjoy better serials in the US of “A”.

    We live in difficult times, my friends…




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