Media

Jesus, Gandhi and Mother Teresa act for UNICEF: Anybody can be a saint!

UNICEF

During a dinner given for the  people who dedicated their lives to goodness and peace, a Swedish average Joe finds himself among Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Jesus.
I particularly love Dandy JesusChrist delicately sipping his glass of vintage Bordeaux!

This is my favourite:

There are three videos you can see on Amigos de India

The UNICEF site

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Vintage Commercial for Peugeot 206…

The Salon de l’Automobile is taking place currently, in Paris. This is a huge exhibition where you can go and see all the new cars, from the cheapest to the most expensive. I hate this event because it creates horrible traffic jams and it makes the tramway overcrowded as everybody wants to go there!

But never mind! Let’s celebrate the French Car Festival by watching this 10 year old commercial for Peugeot 206.

For your information, Raja Mushtaq sings the song called Heaven is a Place on Earth! Click here if you want to dance!

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Pakistani Commercial: a Romantic Way of Advertising Tissues…

I was looking for information about rose culture in Southern Asia when I saw this romantic and sweet commercial for Rose Petal tissues. It’ll make you feel like getting stained!

Song Narmi Say Cho Jaey by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

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Indian Women’s New Beginning…

Women facing the Police's water cannons in Delhi

Woman facing the Police’s water cannons in Delhi

I don’t like sad news.

So, it was difficult for me to deal with the subject of this post, on the one hand because I was too heartbroken to read all these terrible reports in the media to be able to write anything, on the second hand, many Indian bloggers have done it far better than I could. However, now the mediatic storm has settled a little, I need to write something. I will also quote some Indian bloggers I like so that I will have the feeling I share with them this painful but decisive episode for the Indian future.

 The terrible gang-rape of a young woman on a bus in Delhi (read Insight’s post for further details) overwhelmed the whole world. During the Christmas period, in every French News Flash, there was a report about it. They didn’t give much information ; the reports lasted for about one minute; as often, when French TV deals with countries like India, all seemed very far, as if all this was not real or was happening on another planet.

She…

What stroke me was the fact they didn’t give the name of the young victim. She was just “l’étudiante indienne victime d’un viol collectif dans un bus de Delhi”. Since then, I’ve realized that naming a woman who had been raped was forbidden. Blogger Vicky Nanjappaexplains this law: The law clearly states that any person disclosing the name of a rape victim shall under punishment for a term of two years.There is a law which clearly prohibits anyone from revealing the name of the victim and this is enshrined under Section 228 A of the Indian Penal Code.

That’s why some journalists had the idea of giving her a symbolic name: Nirbhaya (was given by The Times Of India, Amanat ( means “treasure” in Ourdou), Damini, (the heroine of a Hindi film)… The debate has intensified when Minister and writer Shashi Tharoor stated on Tweeter: Unless her parents object, she should be honoured & the revised anti-rape law named after her. She was a human being w/a name, not just a symbol

But today, She is more than a name, more than the victim of six demons. She has become India’s daughter. Like tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi whose death had launched the Arabic Spring, she is the martyr whose life has been sacrificed for a new beginning.

She is the one who has made India stand up.

Demonstrators (Le Figaro)

Demonstrators (Le Figaro)

India in the Streets

In her moving letter to her “sister from Delhi”, the author of The Revolution Breathes Fire writes: We did nothing to protect you. And we couldn’t do anything to save you. Forgive me, Sister.delhi_3

 Rahul from Insight introduces his post that way:Most of you would feel ashamed after reading this real incident happened in my country 2 weeks back! Yes, I belong to a country where brutal acts and sexual abuses against women and children are increasing day by day. But why?

Indian people feel ashamed but they shouldn’t, because Indian people have stood up, they have shown their anger and have raised their voices. Unfortunately, this feeling of shame has increased when the demonstrations in Delhi have turned into a battle between furious protestors and the police.

Where is the Ahmisa of our Gandhi-led society?Asks the Conjecture Girl.

My friend Françoise from Indomaniaque published this cartoon. I find it so meaningful.

However, this anger is positive. Revolutions often start with anger. It is the first step before taking decisions.

Time to act:

 There are long term and short term goals to get rid of the problem. Short term – Making stringent laws. Long term – changing the mindset. (Amit from Mashed Musings on the Conjecture Girl’s post « Scared for Tomorrow »)

After the shocking bus-rape event, immediate measures were taken to stop rapes in buses in Delhi:

In a report by Channel France 2, Delhi’s women talk about the problems they daily face on these buses which seem to be the perfect places for sex harassment and “eve-teasing”. In crowded buses, men stick to girls to touch them. “Forget skirts! You must be covered from head to toe. When a man touches you, shouting is useless, some other men on the bus even smile, as if they were excited.

Unfortunately, most of women must take the bus which is the only way for them to leave their household and be independent: “It is my only means of transport. I don’t go out at night and I always check if there are other women on the bus with me,” a young woman explains.

Cartoon often seen on Facebook

Cartoon often seen on Facebook

So, Delhi women should be relieved by the following measures concerning only Delhi and its buses, which seems a little absurd by comparison with the mammoth task that India will have to face across the country.

No more curtains and tinted glasses in buses. During the young student’s ordeal, the bus was said to have passed across several police checkpoints and they didn’t suspect anything because of the curtains. But shall we also ban the doors and the windows in houses to prevent some men from raping their daughters or in-laws?

Private buses, when not in use, will have to be parked with their owners and the drivers will have to be checked. I was very surprised to hear that bus drivers used their bus as a taxi after their usual working hours!

The 24-hour helpline for women which will be in connection with the police-stations in Delhi: number 181. I don’t really understand why they have to launch a special line only for women in distress! The police are supposed to help anybody in distress, aren’t they?

– At last, I read on I Love My India Facebook, After 7 PM, if any Autowala refuses any girl for going at any place, she can take Auto’s number, Dial 100 and complain to Police. Traffic Police will charge that Autowala with a huge fine, on the spot. to prevent women from getting on illegal chartered buses if they have no other means of transport.

Policewomen during the Delhi demonstrations

Policewoman during the Delhi demonstrations

Measures to come:

During the demonstrations, people demanded different things. Will they manage to maintain pressure on the authorities to get changes even after public passions have calmed down?

People, not only women, have to be protected:   There will be more policewomen in policestations:  Studies show that women are more likely to report sex crimes if female police officers are available. India has historically had a much lower percentage of female police officers than other Asian countries. (The Washington Post )

There will be more police patrols at night. On his blog, Ramanan commented on this article from The Washington Post which is really interesting:   Delhi, for example, is home to one of the largest metropolitan police forces in the world with some 84,000 officers. But only one-third are involved in any kind of actual “policing” at any given time, while the rest provide protection services to various politicians, senior bureaucrats, diplomats and other elites. According to the Times of India there is one officer for every 200 citizens and about 20 officers for every VIP.” 

This reminds me of Pavan K. Varm‘s book Being Indian in which he explains that for Indian elites, the signs of power are the most important. So, being overprotected by plenty of bodyguards or policemen doesn’t always mean that you need it but that you are very powerful.

delhiRapists have to be punished severely, -some protesters ask for death penalty and chemical castration- and courts have to be more effective. Procedures and trials are too slow and complainers often withdraw their complaints to preserve their family’s honor. Thus, according to France 2, only one case out of 635 in Delhi has ended to a condemnation. On the other side, can death penalty and fast procedures work together? Can the judge make a decision rapidly when the sentence can be irreversible?

The way people consider women has to change. I won’t write a post about “women’s conditions in India”, but persistent sexism and modern freedom are conflicting in a duel in which some people, even among public people, are a bit lost. Some of them don’t even seem to realise what they say and left many bloggers in shock: “Dr. Anita Shukla like many other women have questioned like imbeciles, why the victim was out of her house after 10 pm? Unless, one chooses to shun the mindset that these pathetic women have, India cannot change. Unless the same women teach their sons to respect women and not ask their daughters to stay cocooned in their homes once the sun sinks, India cannot change.” (Sharmila Ravinder )

We won’t rest in peace if you just hang a person or two,

You can’t change the world, until you bring a change within you!

( I won’t rest in peace, Pseudomonaz )

Thanks to all the bloggers I’ve quoted. If you want to be removed from this post, let me know!

You may like these posts:

On my Bookshelves: Desperate Housewives
Satyamev Jayate: Aamir Khan Makes the Truth Triumph (Female Foeticide)
Trishna, by Michael Winterbottom

Categories: Media, Society | Tags: | 6 Comments

Zee Tv: Discover the Surprising World of Indian TV!

ZeeTVLogo

French version here.

I’ve subscribed to Zee TV and Zee Cinema Channels for only, well, not so only, 15.99 euros. For that price, thanks to my Freebox, I can watch the worst best Indian soap operas in which mothers-in-law, daughters-in-law and aunts have cat fights and make nasty faces to each other. I can also have collective yoga courses given by hairy gurus in orange shorts and I can endlessly watch Bollywood movies that most of us have forgotten.

 

 

For instance, yesterday morning, I was surprised at seeing charming Aamir Khan playing the electric guitar before a pagal audience, dressed in a skin-tight black undershirt and wearing a green rapper-like cap. Believe me or not but I hardly recognized him! ( Akele Hum Akele Tum, 1995 )

Akele Hum Akele Tum, 1995

Akele Hum Akele Tum, 1995

Later, I was wallowing on my sofa after a hard working day, watching in an in-between doze a trembling school teacher being metodically beaten up by a bunch of naughty गुंडे , when suddenly, Amitabh Bachchan in his forties and in his marvellous grey flared trousers appeared as a miracle to save the poor man. (Khoon Pasina, 1977)

 I’ll spare you the details about the funny strip-tease performed by red-underweared Sohail Khan in Heroes as well as the stunning black turban worn by his famous brother in the same film.

Sohail Khan (on the right) in Heroes

Sohail Khan ( right) in Heroes

Now, I can pride myself on knowing everything about food-brand Taj, White Pearl Basmati rice and I can sing the insurance company’s slogan « don’t delay, claim today » by heart! However, the commercials which regularly interrupt the films are not so bad since movies usually last nearly three hours and one really needs pee breaks, coffee breaks or chocolate cookie breaks between two clingy-jean-superheroes’ fights.

 All the same, you quickly become hooked to this kitsch atmosphere, to the choreographies which are always spotless whatever the quality of the film is, you’re hooked to Amitabh’s hoarse grunting, to the punch battles and their inimitable sound effects, to the Hitchcock-violins during the moments of suspense

 And, what? Isn’t there any better way to study Hindi than watching Hindi films?  ज़िंदगी, इंतेज़ार, कभी कभी, मैं तुमसे प्यार करता हूँ , मेरा नाम विजय है, मेरा दिल तेरे लिए , oh! मेरा भाई , oh! मेरे बापू , oh! मामा , oh! चाचा , oh! मेरी बेटी, and so on, and so forth!

 But above all, Zee Cinema allows you to discover some « pearls », some real good movies, the beautiful Hindi films in which there are no simpering girls, no He-men rolling on the ground without ever spoiling their blow-dry! It often happens at around 9 pm.

 And sometimes, there are magical moments; these moments when Salman Khan starts to cry and becomes really moving, moments when Karishma Kapoor finally plucks her eyebrows and stops playing the innocent little virgin, moments when Abhishek tells Aishwaria that he feels like a bee caught inside a lotus flower…

 That’s the way it is on Zee TV!

यह कौन है?

यह कौन है?

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Does India celebrate Halloween?

Flyer for a Halloween party in Mumbai

Indian people have so many festivals for so many religions; do they celebrate Halloween? Nowadays this festival has nothing to do with religion, not even with superstition. But in some countries, it is an unescapable tradition, in others, it is vade retro satanas! What about India?

A Western festival:

Typical Halloween Cake

In the USA, and more generally in English speaking countries, this festival is still really popular. In the end of October,

shop-windows are filled with cheeky pumpkins, dusty witches, fang-shaped candy or black and orange spooky cakes. People organize barbecues, fancy-dress parties and children go Trick-or-Treating in the streets of their neighbourhood and even at school!

By contrast, in other countries like France, Halloween has almost disappeard. It is nearly impossible to find the least Halloween stuff in Paris’s shops. You often have to go to English stores like Mark and Spencer on the Champs Elysées or WHSmith bookshop rue de Rivoli to find a few plastic cobwebs or ghost cookies. In France, Halloween was fashionable during the 90s but people rapidly forgot it: too ugly, too stupid, too close to Christmas, too disrespectful to All Saints’ day and… too American! Yes, the French are sometimes suspicious towards the American culture which is may be considered as vulgar, superficial and which may endanger our own French culture. (see the fight between la Grande Cuisine and fast food restaurants, Hollywood against French cinema, and so on and so forth.)

Celtic cross

The origins of Halloween:

Let me tell you a few words about the origins of Halloween because they are interesting to answer the question asked in the title of this post.

To be short, All Hallows’ Eve comes from celtic rituals in Great-Britain and in the North of France. A long time ago, on the 31st of October, the night before All Saints’ Day, the spirits of the dead were supposed to roam about the villages. To prevent them from entering their homes or destroying their harvest, people dressed up as monsters and lit fires to frighten them. They also put food onto their doorsteps to soothe the spirits’ anger and keep them outside. That’s certainly why children go Trick-or-Treating today.

Thus, the origins of Halloween are not American but European although everybody agrees that American people, -to be precise, Irish immigrants- were those who gradually turned this festival into the garish-ghoulish carnival.

Pitru Paksha…: when Hindus celebrate their dead.

But I haven’t answered the question yet! Do Indian people celebrate Halloween?

The answer is no! …and yes!

Like in every civilization, Indians celebrate their dead. But they don’t put flower pots on tombs like in France on the 1st of November, which should be difficult especially in Hindu cemeteries. (Ah! Ah!Ah!)

Pitru Paksha Shraddha

India is well-known for its long and complicated festivals. Pitru Paksha is one of them and lasts for two weeks; ( पितृ means fathers and पक्ष, fortnight). The dates are not always the same because it depends on the full moon day. It can be in September or October…the same season as Halloween! For example, this year, it was from the 1st of October to the 15th of October. During this period, people’s ancestors are supposed to visit their families. To keep the souls peaceful, people, -especially the oldest sons of the family – must perform rituals everyday.

First of all, you draw two flour-feet on the ground. These feet represent the ancestors walking into the houses*. Everyday, you must pray for the dead and give them some food and some water. These offerings are called Shraddha; they usually take place by the water and are guided by a guru. You must make candles float on rivers or ponds to light your ancestors. You also feed the birds because they are the spirits of the dead and the messenger of Yama, the god of Death.

The rules to perform Shraddhas are very complicated; you have to use special ingredients, and specials containers; there are even tutorials on Youtube to learn how to prepare them! In addition, there are different rituals according to the regions: you can fast or avoid eating meat or shave your head…

Finally, if the ancestors are pleased with the Shraddas, they can give health, wealth and even access to moksha – the Hindu salvation – to the person who performed them. Then, you draw two feet walking away on the ground in front of your house to symbolize the ancestors’ departure*.

Stangely enough, I have been surprised by the common points between Pitr Paksha and All Hallows’ Eve Pagan Celtic rituals: feeding the ghosts, trying to satisfy them, lighting fires, the importance of seasons and astrologythe pumpkin (also called yellow gourd) can also be found in the food given to the Hindu ancestors! And somewhere, in a crazy corner of my mind, I can see Rajiv o’ Lantern hanging around aimlessly in the darkness since it is what may happen to the Hindu son who hasn’t performed the Shraddha properly!

 *I read this foot story while surfing the web but I think this ritual is not so widespread.

But Today’s Halloween?

Ad for a Halloween Party in Singapour

As far as the modern version of Halloween is concerned, the American trend has definitely influenced a small part of the Indian population. As many Indian people go studying or working in the USA, they often get back to India with Halloween in their suitcases! That’s why many companies in India organize Halloween parties. This festival is considered as something funny and friendly, a way to have fun with your colleagues and pals. In The Times of India, you can find a great deal of pumpkin recipes, dicotheques in cities organize big Halloween nights and Bollywood still remembers Hrithik Roshan’s Halloween Party – a baaash as they like saying there! – in 2010 and I can tell you that seeing Arjun Rampal as the Joker or Fardeen Khan as a Prince Charming… it’s very scary! (click on the link above if you like being scared!)

So, yes, some people celebrate Halloween in India, like in France it is another excuse to put an ugly costume on and go downtown to have fun.

But after all, the real question is: Why should Indian people celebrate an ugly Western festival which has nothing spiritual anymore whereas they only have to wait for a few days to celebrate a moving and beautiful holy day of their own called Diwali?

Trick or Treats?

 Wherever you are, these are my little treats for you for Halloween!

 The first one is a piece of news!

The Dead is a Zombie movie made by the Ford Brothers. They have prepared the sequel called…I let you guess…The Dead 2!!! And this new film has been shot in India! The teaser is really exciting! I just hope it isn’t too gory. I like being afraid but not desgusted!

My second treat is a Youtube classic that most of you already know but I can’t help showing it today for Halloween! It is a video from Telugu film Donga realeased in 1985. Actor Chiranjeevi, his red latex trousers and his manly moustache have ended up in the Indian Government ever since!

Information taken from Wikipedia, the Hindu Blog and Astrology Vedic Science.

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Old Photos from India

In the Era of Multimedia, finding old pictures dating back from the British Raj or the early days of Free India is always a little event. At that time very few people had cameras, they were big and complicated; they were very different from the tiny pieces of high- technology that we carry in our pockets today.

In olden days, the subjects had to strike the pose, the light had to be perfect and the photographer obviously couldn’t check his picture before there were developed! Can you imagine, some photographs could be missed without any chance to be improved!

This is for all these reasons that models always seem so serious and still in old photographs, like this group of Britishers below who look so proud, so concentrate and are staring at the camera as if God was in it.

Each photograph was unique and that’s why they are so precious nowadays.

I’m always moved when I come upon a web site showing old pictures of India. Paradoxically, it is our Multimedia Era which allows me to discover all these little treasures!

(Click to see the site where these pictures are from…)

The following pictures are from this great site where you can see thousands of photos!

A Dancer

Garden of the Taj Mahal – 1870’s

Tiger Shoot on river Chambal 1952 (So terrible to see a dead tiger today!)

Studio Portrait of a Young Kashmiri Boy and Girl – 1890’s

Director Satyajit Ray on the Set of “Sonar Kella”

Amitabh Bachchan, Kolkata, 1980

Popular Hindi Movie Actress Tanuja – 1960-70’s

Girl saves her lamb in a flooded Village – West Bengal 1968

Categories: India in pictures, Media | 8 Comments

Aamir Khan on cover of Time Magazine

Never expect to look good on a Time cover…

Many Indians have already been on the cover of Time Magazine, this well-known American weekly that most of us have bought to try to improve our English and to be more cultured but who have never managed to read the least article to the end because it was too difficult and too economically oriented.

Mahatma Gandhi is the champion, of course, since he has appeared three times but only before the date of his death.

      

Being named Gandhi (Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi) would have seemed to be the condition sine qua non to have your portrait on the cover of this magazine if Sachin Tendulkar and his gold cricket-bat hadn’t had this honour too. I find this picture really beautiful, which is unuasual for the Time!

Very few Bollywood actors have had this tremendous honour which means that you have some kind of power or influence in the international society. Only three. Who? Raj Kapoor? Nooooooo! Amitabh Bachchan? You’re freezing!  Shahrukh Khan?  Ah ah ah! Stop pulling my leg! It’s ticklish*!

No, the winners are:

In 2003, Aishwarya Rai (Between you and me, I don’t really know what she has done to be on this cover. Apart from acting in marvellous Devdas and in this stupid remake of Pride and Prejudice… I must have missed an episode…or I suppose she has been the best representative of this new generation of artists who managed to cross the Indian borders to make their mark worldwide. )

In 1976, Parveen Babi was also on the cover… everybody knows who Parveen Babi was, of course! So, if you already know her, I don’t need to tell you that she was a famous Bollywwood actress and  a model in the 70s and 80s and that according to Wikipedia, she had a little canari in her head as she accused Amitabh Bachchan of trying to kill her. She finally died alone at home, in 2005.

    

And in 2012, the third Bollywood star on the Time cover is Aamiiiir Khaaaan! (I know, there was no suspens, the picture is above and it is the title of my post!) He is not a starlet from Bollywood, he hasn’t slept with Danny Denzongpa and has never had the role of Elizabeth Bennet in the film adaptation of a Jane Austen’s novel. No, he is the hoster of Satyamev Jayate I have already written about here. I like the headline: Khan’s Quest which summarizes what I think of Aamir Khan, a man who just tries to go forwards, a man who wants to add a new piece to the jigsaw puzzle of the Indian society but who doesn’t seem to despair even if his piece is tiny.

The patient warrior…

Your intention please! I’ve just discovered that Shahrukh Khan had already featured on a Time-cover BUT… it was just for a 2004 Special Issue called Asia’s Heroes. Better than nothing…

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