War Is Not The Answer

The attacks on 26/11 have scarred Mumbai, but Mumbai has bounced back. The streets, the hotels and the stations are all back in business. In fact, Leopold opened its shutters within two days and as a symbol of defeat to the terrorists, has been crowded with people sipping from beer towers throughout.

One thing that will not bounce back is the faith in the government and administration. The citizens are enraged. They want answers and most of them have solutions themselves too. The political parties are red faced, and they might do something but that’s a whole different issue.

For one, many people I meet are convinced that we shouldn’t be tolerating Pakistan’s support for terrorism and we should attack Pakistan. Hang on, the terrorists are trained in Pakistan, but that doesn’t mean the country supports it. My friend who’s a journalist in Pakistan says that they too, face the same issue. She attends a concert and two days later the venue is blown up. We should support and help Pakistan figure out effective means of combating terrorism.

There was a video on YouTube, in which a Pakistani journalist criticises India for pointing finger to Pakistan, every time there’s an attack. Certain points are true, but, you clearly see that the media in Pakistan is creating an anti-India sentiment. ‘They ask me why I am pro-India, and I tell them of the love I found in my Indian friends. But they’re so shallow they do not understand,’ writes my friend. She is my soul-mate, somebody who held my hand through tough times and somebody who loves me for who I am. And without a word exchanged, she knows I reciprocate the same.

Just as we are pointing fingers towards Pakistan, they will soon point fingers right back at us. At such a stage, a war will only add to the animosity between the countries and undo all the efforts that we have put in for the peace process.

History stands witness that a war only kills innocent people and rarely targets the real cause that stands behind a war. The innocent lives, the enraged emotions give birth to a hatred that knows no reason. These symptoms breed innocent minds that are vulnerable to terrorism. They are trained in the name of the ones they lost, in the name of revenge and in the name of Allah to wield weapons and kill even more. This doesn’t do much for their cause, but yes, some larger power out there ends up using them as a puppet to execute a horrifying plan that unfolds in the darkness caused by terror.

If we go to war right now, I only see more hatred, more lives lost and more destruction. The terror outfits will have succeeded. They want us to be Indians vs Pakistanis, Hindus vs Muslims etc. They want us to be divided.

I stand for being one. One power, one religion that believes that lives are precious. A power that believes in fighting as one and learning from the diversities. Am I dreaming? Yes, maybe I am. But I will not let the bastards grind me down.

I love my country, I am just as enraged and disturbed by the acts of terrorism. However, I do not want a war of any form. Not a religious war, not a inter-country war all I want is a movement to develop higher value of emotions and people.

Idol Worship

Getting to work on a Tuesday is a nightmare. Not because the Monday morning blues hit me a day late, but because it’s the day to pray to Lord Ganesha. I have to usually pass through an area that is home to one of the most revered (also read: glamorous) Ganesha Temple in Mumbai- Siddhivinayak Temple.

The queue to catch a glimpse of Ganesha spills out on the road, causing a terrible traffic jam. Add to that the flower-sellers, policemen, hawkers. But on a day when the superstar family- The Big B (Amitabh Bachchan), Small B (ABhishek) and Bahurani (Aishwarya Rai), decide to drop in on foot- the chaos goes to a super higher level. I do wonder, how many of them come to see Ganesha and how many to see the Bachchans?

Faith drives people to do crazy things. They give up an entire day to wait for hours for darshan, which literally means- a glimpse!

Yesterday, there was another line around the curb. The queue poured onto a playground and was much longer than the usual one. The queue was made up of young boys mostly, dressed trendily as opposed to traditionally. This line looked pretty different. I assumed they were waiting for the superstar. But he had come and gone. A big billboard read- Indian Idol 4, the Mumbai auditions. The audition was happening in a thater complex right next to the temple. These people were waiting for their chance to be an Idol and not just a glimpse of an idol.

I thought faith makes us do crazy things, but fame beats faith hands down. People quit jobs, colleges and even get loans to just get that one chance to be famous… With fame come glitz, glamour and money. And those three have a fan-base that’s stronger than that of faith.

People have a lot of faith in fame. With that faith in fame, a Maria decides to cheat on her boyfriend to hopes to land a dream role. With that faith in fame, the media splashes her face across television. The same faith in fame drives thousands of people to frustration every day, sometimes pushing them to extremes. A producer kills an actor, a young boy robs a shop, girls agree to compromise on their morals and the list goes on.

Losing My Religion

When one looks at a film like Khuda Ke Liye, a story of religious fundamentalism and racial profiling in the western nations, one expects to see how the West drives young Muslims to commit acts of terror. Blame it on my lack of research but I was treating it like just another film that may glorify religion and terrorists, yet, I wanted to watch it.

 

I was curious to see a film that came from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a country I have always been curious about. And surprise me it did.

 

Khuda Ke Liye, is a bold attempt to bring forth the hypocrisy under the name of religion. The film is about the people who interpret religion according to their own benefit, the film is about innocent youngsters who seek an answer to the dilemma of religion vs their heart and the film spells out how erratically societies across the globe deal with the monster called religion.

 

The story revolves around two brothers Mansoor (Shaan) and Sarmad (Fawad Khan), urban Pakistani youth from affluent families. The brothers work together on music, their passion, much to the dislike of their devout grandmother. Sarmad, the younger brother starts getting fascinated with a Maulavi who brainwashes him into quitting music because it is wrong in the eyes of Islam.

 

What follows is a dilemma in Sarmad’s mind in making a choice between his passion and his religion which is very intelligently demonstrated by an indirect debate between the Maulavi and Mansoor, Sarmad being the medium. Meanwhile, Sarmad’s uncle and his cousin come down from the UK. Mary dreams of marrying her white British boyfriend. Her father wants to save his future generations from being Kafir and plans to cheat her into marrying one of the cousins.

 

While Mansoor takes off for the US, Sarmad runs away to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to marry his cousin and save her from the horror of insulting the will of Allah.

Both the brothers travel to an alien environment, one into a western and the other into an anti-western world. While one tries to find his place in an international environment, the other brother struggles with his conscience over fulfilling his so-called religious duties. While one tries to convince a white American girl not to marry him, the other forces his own cousin into marriage and even rapes her. As one brother is tortured because of the religion he belongs to, the other is tortured by the men who interpret his religion. And as one brother loses his senses, the other regains them and comes back to music.

 

The film reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend of my Dad’s. He argued with me that there is nothing as cruel as religion in this world. He is of the opinion that religion does not give any reason for you to educate yourself and move ahead with times. Instead, it forces you to be lost in the past. Besides, the world over, the amount of crimes committed in the name of religion are alarming.

 

After seeing the film, I started seeing where this guy was coming from. Sarmad is forced to rape a woman, kill innocent humans in the name of Allah. Mansoor is arrested and tortured out of his senses because he’s Muslim. In our own country a missionary from Australia was burnt alive in a car by a Hindu fundamentalist. In Turkey, women are killed for the honour of the family while in Somalia, parents perform the cruel act of female castration on their own daughters to honour their religion. We Hindus force widowed women to lead a monotonous life, just because their husband is dead.

 

These are just the things off the top of my head. If I delve deep, it would be depressing to find just how many are killed and how many are left devastated in the name of religion, across the world.

 

I don’t identify with my religion. I have eaten beef and dare I say, I enjoyed it (beef is taboo in Hinduism). But I do visit temples when I can. I pray at Mt. Mary Church in Bandra and I have kept Rozas. I believe in picking bits and pieces from different religions that my heart agrees with, to satisfy the ‘religion’ drive within. I know many of my friends do. But our minds are restless, still looking for answers. The lack of conviction in our religion drives us to ask questions, questions that leave us depressed many a times.

 

Blind faith after all is immense peace of mind.