Monday, 30 June 2014

Sex and the Education

A new debate has gripped the nation over the past few days. Sex education – should it be banned from schools ?? It’s highly unusual that anything related to sex is the talk of the town in a society as conservative as ours. It all started when our new health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, who coincidentally also happens to be an ENT specialist, said in an interview that sex education should be banned from being taught in the schools in the country. He went on to mention that our culture, values and morals are enough contraceptives we need.

Let’s look at this objectively and start from the beginning. What is sex education ?? The bookish definition being – “sex education constitutes instructions on issues relating to human sexuality, including human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, health and birth control.” Phew!! That’s a lot of sex for today.

What the conservative Indians fear about sex education is their misconception of it being the theoretical and practical knowledge of what porn sites are made of. No, absolutely not sir. Sex Ed classes do not intend to arouse your sweet innocent child. Instead they intend to educate him/her of the consequences of that arousal, just in case he decides to act on it. Sex Ed also does not mean a vocational degree in the act. It will not come back to haunt the conservative values as the child’s highest educational qualification. S.N. Gupta, Masters in Sex.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan also mentioned that we do not need condoms to prevent AIDS. Maybe we don’t if we belong to a super-human race possessing exceptionally intelligent reproductory organs. He proudly advocated the values, morals and our culture in the same statement. Unfortunately, they hold no value once you turn off the lights and get under the blanket and the canoodling begins. It’s not like saying a prayer before sex will scare away the sperms. Also, the culture that he mentions about, gave the world Kamasutra- the greatest hands-on guide to producing babies. The epic Mahabharata maybe repeated soon because without the safety of the condoms, we may well have bunches of Kauravas running around. Hum do, humare 101.

Probably his statements have been misinterpreted. He could’ve had an underlying argument. His prime minister has a vision for a technologically advanced country. This is an era of internet. Why waste time, money, manpower and patience on sex educations when lots of detailed tutorials are easily available online ??

Let’s consider a former cabinet minister. With his children, he can field a team in basketball, volleyball, organize competitive inter-family championships in chess, badminton, tennis, carom, snooker, sprint races too, write all his children’s name in a 3x3 matrix, and find the inverse, transpose, disjoints etc. and borrow two more players and field his team in cricket, football and hockey.
Before the internet came along, a lot of the above had already happened in the country, propelling us to the second spot on the ‘Most Populated Nations’ list.

The truth remains and that is we need a structure like Sex Ed to educate the youth of the outcomes the lack of knowledge may bring. There are higher cases of teen pregnancies in India than even the U.S. and U.K. It would help the cause if we, as a society, are a little open minded and do not treat contraceptive advertisements as an explosive our children need to be protected from. Family planning and the responsibilities of parenthood need to be on the back of every mind, even the little ones while growing up. The school going children are at their most naïve and vulnerable stage. They are curious and curiosity leads to a lot of things.

A lot has been tried to limit the population explosion. Education should be all round. Huge amount of money is spent on implementing plans to eradicate illiteracy by extending basic educations to the poor. Why not make an attempt to include sex education as a part of that process as well ?? While they learn to play with numbers and alphabets, might as well tell them why they have a dozen siblings. After all, we do not want to have intelligent mathematicians having already reproduced multiple times just because of lack of knowledge.

Sex education is not any less sexy than 36-24-36. It might just help prevent a family from being the biggest in the neighborhood unless of course they want their own squad of newborns at the Olympics. Let’s all be humble and let China be the most populous nation and stop competing with them, for once.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Selfie – The Selfish Phenomenon

The invention of the camera was a cute moment in the technological terms. It was a huge one really, but the cuteness is attributed owing to its current use. Gone were the days when moments were recorded in the memory and were rejoiced the same way even after decades. They rarely faded away. Camera helped us capture those moments and print them on a piece of paper, frame them and rejoice nonetheless.

These bulky devices were then miniaturized and fit into the pocket sized cellphones and their quality improved overtime. We could see people roaming around clicking their friends and random strangers being asked to click a group photo because no one volunteered to be left out of the group photo. All was well and good until one day someone wondered “let me see how I look” when no one else was around and since necessity is the mother of all invention; he pointed the camera at himself. Lo and behold, the selfie was born.

Wikipedia defines selfie as “a self-portrait, typically taken with a handheld digital camera or a camera phone and often shared on social networking platforms”. This invention coupled with Facebook and Instagram has swarmed the social network with self-obsessed teens and self-obsessed narcissist adults behaving like teens posting numerous self-shots passed through the filter-beautifications. Selfies are selfish no denying that, as is obvious.

And the selfies however are not as bad as the criticism they face although, obsessive selfie-taking is said to be a mental disorder. Selfies eliminates the need for a second person to perform the task. This leads to efficient utilization of the human resources available. Also it teaches the youth to be independent, to do the needful single handedly instead of kissing people’s asses begging them to ‘take a pic’. Also you get to be full on narcissistic, as much as you like.

For some who find it embarrassing to pose for photo and smile on cue (remember Chandler ??), this new revelation takes away that embarrassment. Just go find a nice washroom and click away my friend. And please, please for the sake of humanity make sure there are no poop-seats and urinals in the background. 

Also selfies fulfill another purpose. The camera nowadays doubles up as a mirror in the absence of the real thing. Front camera in smartphones is a boon. Girls carry a compact mirror in their resourceful handbag. Guys have their smartphones to thank, because that hairstyle just gobbled up a significant quantity of the expensive gel and needs to be spot-on accurate right down to the last hair.

Selfie, in itself, is an art form. You need patience, perseverance and practice. Only a few have mastered the art. Not being a sexist, but if you need tips on how to take a perfect selfie, ask a girl. They mesmerize us time and again. Such beauty. Guys, on the other hand, take a while to get in the groove. Just because you are ugly is no good reason to give up on your dream of perfect selfie, worthy of being on social network in public viewing.

They , the selfies do not define the art completely. There are subcategories. There is the pout-face, the ever so popular duck-face, the occasional shit-face and the unofficial one, which exists in abundance, the what-the-f***-is-that-face.

Selfies are the norm today. It’s just a start. I just read in the news that selfies may be replaced by a new phenomenon – dronies, that is drones taking aerial pictures on your command.  In words of Catwoman, “There’s a storm coming.” We better be ready with our ‘block’ options. Selfies are here to stay. Make peace with it.

Also published on Campusghanta.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Cricket, Football and Hockey Walked Into a Bar...

Cricket, football and hockey walked into a bar. The gathering cheered heavily for football and free drinks were offered. Cricket sulked and occupied a rather lonesome corner, unusual for it to get treated with such anonymity. Hockey paid for the drink and stared contently at the TV set, which ran Chak De India, coincidently.
A completely new and never seen before football fewer has gripped our country. Well, the whole planet for that matter but it’s particularly unusual for India. For the current generation, it is strange for them to see cricket not being on the front page in commandingly highlighted news reports when there are some pretty decent series going on. To be honest, Indian media does not care about other country’s cricket tours. What’s rather surprising is that they ignored the Bangladesh tour of the INDIAN team. Cricket is being meted out the treatment reserved for other untouchable sports like… well… say Hockey and this may have hurt their ego, the BCCI I mean.
Hockey was once the one sport we Indians knew how to dominate. It was our only chance at glory. We supported it like crazy. The national side repaid the country’s faith in them by decimating the opposition, winning medals by the bulk. “He scores goals like we score runs.” Sir Don said in the honor of Major Dhyanchand. Of all the teams that have dominated a sport – Brazil in soccer, Australia in cricket, India’s complete domination of the pre-1980 era hockey may be a more intimidating story to tell. Tragically, the lack of media fan-frenzy during those days meant those wizards and their wizardry could never be a part of the legend.
Then a group of players collectively termed as underdogs defeated the two-time champions and favorites to lift the Cricket World Cup in 1983. The foundation was laid for a new religion to be born. Hockey, on a slide downwards in terms of performance, was pushed aside completely. The cricket bats and tiny little cricket balls became the default first toys of the newborns. Overtime, the newspaper got a new and exciting sport to fill their sports section with. With the turn of the millennium, cricket in this country had reached an unprecedented following with Sachin being unanimously chosen as the deity to be worshipped.
The overdose of cricket after the advent of IPL did hamper the mass delirium this sport generated. India hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2010, and amidst all the scams, it did help some lesser known sports being recognized. A new interest out of curiosity was developed. But the 2011 Cricket World Cup win brutally butchered the slightest opportunity other sports had of being recognized, and mind you, for some of them it was their best chance.
Football, amongst everything, never had the fortune of being a recognizable sport in the country. First there was hockey, then cricket to overshadow any heroics that the football team achieved, if there were any. We’ll never know because the media never cared a bit, or maybe we didn’t. As a result, our FIFA ranking lingers around the 150 mark, 154 precisely as of this moment. The needs of the handful of football fans are satisfied by the English Premier Leagues, the La Liga, Serie A and so on.
Having said that, the attention to the FIFA World Cup by the media, fans and even some non-football fans is a welcome change. Sunil Chhetri is guaranteed a place in our memories, if not as the captain of the national football side, then at least as the pseudo-expert on the Himmatwala-esque pre-match, mid-match and after-match blood sucking so-called talk show that provides insights and analysis of the matches. Yeah, right. KRK would have been a more interesting and insightful analyst.
News channels are riding on the fact that the matches are telecast in the night and more often than naught, sleep gets the better of the excitement of quality matches and against our wishes, we have to turn to one of these news channels first thing in the morning to know what happened.
To sum up, it feels good to finally see the cricket fans, like me, getting pumped up by the soccer mania and ignoring the recently concluded series in Bangladesh which, incidentally, we won only because Bangladesh played like Bangladesh. I hope Indian national side qualifies for the World Cup finals before humanity is erased off the planet, even if we get to play like England.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

A Layman's Guide to Football

There were two World Cups running simultaneously. The other one gave up and decided the champions. So now there is just one and yes I am talking about the mania that is FIFA World Cup 2014.

Football needs no introduction in a world where a country is born and one of the first things they do is put up a national football side in place. Nevertheless, Indians are not part of this world. We had a national cricket team in place even before we came into origin constitutionally. Some genuine fans do exist, but in a country obsessed with cricket, their numbers constitute less than the percentage of bacteria that Dettol leaves breathing.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to educate the youth and non-youth of the intricacies of the sport that is football. Now this may not be accurate, but I am studying to be an engineer and accuracy in explanations is not supposed to be my forte.

Note : Football may refer to both American Football and Soccer. Before you go bald scratching your head, l’ll be talking about Soccer.

Teams and playing field…
There are two teams of 11 players each, with each consisting of a wicketkeeper equivalent of soccer – a goalkeeper. These teams do not have the bowlers, batsmen, all-rounders or Sir Jadeja, instead defenders, midfielders and forwards. The playing area is not egg-shaped, sorry ‘oval’. It is huge rectangular field, the length and breadth of which may well be Munaf Patel’s ultimate nightmare, considering how the 22 yards are a marathon to him.

It is both a structure and an action. As a structure, it stands 7.32mX2.44m. As an action, it is thrill. Scoring a goal is soccer equivalent of taking wickets, only it is more like a 5-wicket haul every time a goal is scored. The goal post is manned by a huge giant commonly known as a goalkeeper, usually two Parthiv Patels in height. It is like the wickets in cricket at which you aim at. And unlike cricket, this keeper is positioned in front of the goal. Absurd, some cricket maniacs might think.

Any tough guy shit in the penalty area, and you have just gifted the opposition an advantage. This is very much like throwing a ball at the wickets from half the pitch with full strength.

Duniya aur cricket gorund gol hai, isliye usme corner nahi hote. A corner is awarded to the opposition if you hit the ball back over your own goal line.

Own goal…
Comparable to being out hit-wicket. Equally embarrassing.

Penalty shootout…
The super over.

No, this does not refer to Dada’s strongest scoring area. It’s like bowling at an empty strike, with no batsman to defend the wickets, which legally is not allowed. Similarly, I soccer there must be at least one player of defending team (other than the goalkeeper) between the opposition striker and the goal post.

These are the boundaries in a football field. A direct hit over this line does not give you a 6 goal advantage, sorry to disappoint you. When the ball crosses the field of play as marked by the touch lines, it is followed by a throw-in, which again, does not mean throwing the ball back to the keeper.

Cards (yellow card, red card)…
Not some placards with some random GRE words written on the back. The yellow card is a caution, the first warning. Another yellow gives you a red card. (What kind of shitty color mixing is this you might ask). A red card will send you off the field and your team will be left with one player less for the remaining duration of the game. And unlike cricket where you lose match fees, football seems to be like a fast-track court. And you may not demand trial by combat either.

Shit, this game is tough to explain.
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