Thursday, December 31, 2015

why are Indian politicians so corrupt? Why the need to amass such wealth?

These are my reasons and explanations  for the Indian politicians' corruption and their greed for wealth

1) They have a strong belief that their children are morons, with zero capacity to make an honest  living . They also don't believe that their children have the capacity to win elections or be successful at politics or ANY  JOB. They therefore have this anxious need to amass wealth so that they have enough for the next 100 generations.

They believe that their grandchildren too will be turn out to be morons incapable of making an independent living. So they amass wealth to last many generations.

2)They also need the money to win the next election by bribing the voters. They have to make money when they win, to ensure that they can win the next time too by buying votes.

3)They, at least the Karnataka politicians, don't believe in investing in industries as they don't believe their offspring have the capacity to run an industry and continue generating wealth. They want to make money 'passively' such as owning property.
 I don't know if they invest in stocks and shares. My guess is that they dont invest in stocks and shares for several reasons: their thinking is still 'old'; they want to be able to see their wealth; they may not believe in these investments due to their limited education and so on.
Lots of Karnataka politicians own educational institutions such as medical and engineering colleges. These colleges demand huge sums of money from non-merit students which goes to the pockets of these politicians. They think this is a good and steady source of income when they are no longer in politics. These colleges invest minimum money in labs, libraries and pay the staff peanuts. I believe they own these colleges for the money and neither the politician who owns it or any member of his family has any skills in running it in an efficient manner. They hire people to run the college by paying them peanuts!

4)Indian politicians know that they don't have any capacity to do anything productive or useful; they lack education and skills. All they have is criminal tendencies with which they gain power, which they use to win elections through crooked methods. I doubt if even one single Karnataka politician has any skills to earn an honest living.  Even their kids who grew in the lap of luxury, don't try to learn skills during their education. There is of course nothing to motivate them to exert themselves to make something of themselves. Why should they even try to learn anything ro achieve something, when they have everything they want?

Sometimes I wonder if the Indian politicians would have been a bit less corrupt if there were some criteria to stand for elections.
If there were rules like:
minimum education to stand for election should be a Bachelors degree
 minimum IQ of 100 or something like that;
 absence of criminal tendencies (difficult to measure them but at least of jailbirds accused of rape, murder, robbery, etc could be prevented from standing for elections, it would be a relief!)
no history of bigamy, wife-beating & alcoholism; the reason I am listing these is because may politicians are guilty of this but these are often excused or ignored by Indians especially if  big shots such as actors and cricketeers and politicians are guilty of these.
I have a belief that if bachelors became politicians, then they would be less corrupt than those with families. I have this strong belief that, the Indian politicians are amassing wealth for their future generations. I am sure many will disagree with me but this is my opinion.
Of course, we already have rules such as declaring income, etc. But the Indian politicians dont care a damn about rules. They  believe they are above the rules!
If there was accountability for politicians, then politics would become less attractive to majority of the corrupt politicians.


I often wonder about the children of these corrupt politicians. I know for a fact that many of the adult children of Karnataka politicians have studied at reputable schools and colleges. I know that they want for nothing(except moral values and other such non-tangible things!) I wonder what is their self-image? What do they think of  their parents, their friends and other people. If I was the son/daughter of a corrupt politician, these would be my thoughts in my head. I would wonder if my friends are 'my friends' because they like me or if they like my wealthy lifestyle . I would have real difficulty trusting people, especially the sycophants. I would be embarassed to attend school or college when my corrupt dad is in the news for some corrupt deed of his.  I might give school a miss until he's no longer in the news or change schools maybe! I am a shrining violet and I wonder how the hell I would deal with the large number of people coming home daily. I don't know how I would deal with my corrupt dad arranging my marriage with a girl/boy who is the offspring in a 'powerful' family and the two families seek this alliance for 'political' or 'economic' reasons. I would be a pawn in my corrupt dad's hands without knowing how to stand up for myself!
I suppose I would be different from what I am now, if I was born to a corrupt politician. Mu upbringing may have made me have a different value system and I may not think like this.

The more I think of being the offspring of a wealthy, corrupt Indian politician, the less appealing the life seems to be! I know I will have a lot of wealth and comfort. But there is a lot of things I enjoy in my present existence as an ordinary person which I will not have as a politician's child. The freedom. Genuine friends. self-esteem, the belief that I am doing something useful to society and people like me for what I am . I now have a few friends and family whom I trust completely to have my back, without expecting anything in return except do the same for them. As a politician's family member, my relationships would be with literally thousands of people but shallow, superficial, unemotional and with wariness than trust! I would always wonder if someone is genuine or faking it to get something out of me! I would have to develop a really thick skin, knowing that people are cursing me and my family, especially the corrupt politician, my parent! I will have great temptations thrown my way and to enjoy them or refrain from them, would be a daily dilemma! I know for sure that my wife/husband is a pawn like me and marrying me not for 'my personality' but for my family's power and that is sure to depress me! Unless my spouse can convince me that it's me, not my family's wealth and power which is the main attraction!



why so many selfies

I read articles on  psychiatric/psychological problems in people who take a lot of selfies. The articles indicated selfie taking as indicative of narcissism, etc.
I have observed  some youth in India who take selfies and I believe these are the reasons for their selfies.

There is a young lady I know who posts a few selfies a week. She is yet to pass her BA or B.Com; she has failed a few subjects and is at home at present and not employed. She takes selfies and posts on facebook. I believe that she does it because: she has the time; she is good looking and is aware of it; she   uses the selfies to show off her clothes and looks and hair. She enjoys the compliments. Her main sense of self-worth is derived from the compliments she gets from her selfies. If Facebook dint exist and there was no way she could show off her photos, I doubt she would take those photos; If it costed money; she would not take that many photos; if it was too much work like in the past i.e. take the negatives to a studio to get it developed, she would not be taking so many photos.  If she could get a sense of self-worth through working or academic achievement, she would not be focussing on her looks. If the society she was in, dint value looks and valued other things, if the society din't compliment her, her selfie taking behaviour would be extinguished.


There is another young lady I know who posts selfies often. In her case, I believe, she does it due to her ADHD, her need to share her achievements & joys with her family and friends.  I have also observed that she seems to post selfies to show her middle finger to her mom, with whom she is currently having problems with!

There is a 50 year old friend of mine who is a physical fitness instructor in Bangalore, who constantly posts videos of the exercises of his group, the outings he has with his family and friends to restaurants, etc.  I think he does this to share with a large number of people his 'joy'; he is not inhibited and I believe this helps him get more people to join his exercise group.His photos radiate joy, energy, enthusiasm and are bound to attract people to join his exercise group or be is friends. His photos are not selfies but photos of himself in the group of people or his family and so on. He is a social guy and he is that rare character, who has fantastic social skills, lots of self-confidence, no arrogance, is talkative and, unlike most of his peer,s he's comfortable interacting with women.  (the west should learn about the joys of platonic relationships between the sexes from this guy!) This guy is happy, well adjusted, gets along well with his family and friends;  so when he posts several photos, weekly, I dont think of it as a sign of mental health issues.





Tuesday, December 29, 2015

CRIME FICTION SET IN NORWAY

The only book I have read set in Norway is The Indian bride by Karim Fossum. I enjoyed the book but found it sad. The reason I picked this book was the word Indian in the title. I was intrigued about an 'Indian' bride in Norway.

I may read more books by this lady some time.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

MY TAKE ON TEMPLES & SPIRITUALITY


MY TAKE ON TEMPLES & SPIRITUALITY
 I have not yet figured our what I experience when I pray. My daily or almost daily morning prayer is nothing but asking God(I read out a list of God's names) and ask the Gods to bless me and my family and friends( I read out a list of names of family and friends too). I find a definite reduction in anxiety  and feel calm and sort of have the belief that all my family and friends will be safe and problem free; this emotion of calmness lasts for a few minutes/seconds after my prayers. Then I get busy with whatever activity after my prayers; Once busily engaged, I stop experiencing any of the previously felt emotions...the spiritual mood, or anxiety or relief or whatever. On the days I miss saying my prayer, but I am aware that I didn't  pray, I experience a few seconds or minutes of uneasiness but this vanishes as I gets busy with some other thoughts or work. Sometimes I wonder if  praying for me is simply an anxiety reduction activity and not really one which makes me experience joy or spirituality or any of those 'better' emotions. I suppose, it would be nice if I could get something more out of my prayers.

The very few places where I feel calm and in a prayerful mood is when I am in a temple which is quiet, empty or almost empty and the temple should be of a "certain type". The few temples which fulfil this criteria are: The Kadumalleshwara temple in Malleshwaram in Bangalore in the afternoons when it's empty(I don't know how it is these days but in the 70s and 80s it was empty and quiet in the afternoons). The Gutte Anjenayah temple near LalBagh west gate is another temple where I am not distracted and I feel  able to focus at least a few seconds/minutes thinking of God and well-being of all living things.
 If I visited the temples alone, I would be able to focus more; However, I hardly ever go anywhere alone and often my companion is my chatterbox of a husband, who talks non-stop and so my limited ability to  focus or pray is further reduced! 
The other temples in Bangalore which I like as I get the spiritual feeling are the Basavanagudi temple(Bull temple), the Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy temple of Basavanagudi, The Shanimahatma temple near Navarang cinema house, in Rajajinagar, Gavi Gangadareshwara temple, Sri Bandi Mahakali temple near Kempegowdanagar, Gavipuram Gutthalli. Once again, I have to mention that the more crowded these temples are , the less spiritual and more distracted I feel!
 The  temples in the villages I have visited (my village and the villages neighbouring my village) are also places where I spontaneously experience a  sense of devotion;  I  feel spiritual in these temples and this spiritual feeling may be due to the quietness and the ambiance of these temples. I have the same spiritual mood when I am in the really old huge granite temples of Hampe, Halebedu and Belur.
I have listed below the features of temples which appeal to me and put me in a spiritual mood; I have also listed the features which put me off any spiritual mood ! 
a.Quietness. I cannot focus on the deity in the temple, with distractions such as lots of people, lots of noise, even if it is prayers or devotional songs over loud speakers, etc. These days, most temples in cities and 'popular' temples are terribly noisy. I go to them because someone at home, has forced me to go and not because I want to go. My question to the temple authorities is this,"Do you think God is deaf? Does he need to hear your devotional songs on the loud speakers? Will these songs be heard in heaven or where ever God is ? If God is every where, then why are the songs so loud. He can hear it if he is every where; even if God is not everywhere, surely, he(or she) is in the temple and he can hear it without the loudspeaker, can't he?
b. Absence of people or presence of very few people; the people in the temple,should be or at least appear to be focussed on the deity and should behave quietly.(I can get irritable, forget completely about God if the people are noisy, behave badly, etc! When I visit temples, I am often angry and disgusted and  become distracted from God when I see the priest favouring the 'richer' devotees; the priest yelling at someone; etc. These things put me off completely and I am not in a 'spiritual' mood but angry-disgusted mood in temples!
c. I prefer the temples which have not been 'modernized'. but most temples these days have been modernized. The old designs are changed and I simply don't feel spiritual in the modernized temples.  There is something about the simplicity and minimalism of the old temples and village temples, which really improves my mood. 
The most off-putting thing about modernized temples for me is the porcelain tiles on the walls which to my mind are 'bathroom' tiles. I always associate the shiny, plain white porcelain tiles with bathrooms, toilets and hospitals as I have seen them in only those 3 places during my childhood. Someone came up with the bright idea that tiling the walls of the sanctum santorum of temples will keep them clean or easy to maintain. And all temples I have seen (in Bangalore) seem to have adopted this idea! Looking at the white porcelain tiles on the walls makes me think that the Gods are in a bathroom and it simply puts me off, until I can distract myself!

The colourful disco lights some temples put is another thing which puts all spiritual thoughts out of my head! I prefer the oil lamps and for some reason I prefer the 'tubelight'! I know of many people who hate tubelights, but I love them! I want to be able to see the deity clearly and not try to make out the dark idol in the dim light of oil lamps! This is the one modern thing in temples I really like! On the other hand, there is some indescribable satisfaction in trying to see the Deity in the dimly-lit-by-oillamps-in-wall-crevices sanctum santorum, as the priest, takes the lighted camphor or Deepa in circular motions. As the priest moves the Mangalaarthi thette, in circular motions, the flickering fire lights up parts of the deity for milli seconds. I get a thrill to see the face of the deity glow for a brief second in the yellow flickering flames of the lighted camphor before becoming dark and invisible as the camphor flames on the plate move away.  
The plastic wrappers of the agarbattis i.e.incense sticks and the wrappers of the Camphor lying around is another thing which irritates me and puts all thoughts of God out of my head and angry thoughts of plastic pollution in!

d.The temple smells don't bother me thank God. I love the smells of temples in fact. The temple smell is an interesting mix of flowers(fresh, dying and dried), burning camphor, burning incense sticks, coconut water and fresh coconut, vermilion & Vibuthi (?ash), burning oil and burning til seeds. These smells are not  so noticeable   in North Indian temples. The north temples seem 'cleaner', drier & have less odors and this maybe because their worshipping rituals don't involve so much of offerings of fruit, camphor, incense sticks, etc by devotees.  

 The use of disposable plastic cups and plates in temples is another thing which makes me feel less spiritual.
e.For me to feel spiritual, I would like to have the prasada on  a piece of banana leaf like before or the dried leaf-cup(called Donne in Kannada) instead of the current plastic containers.

I loved the temple walls whitewashed with lime and reddened with red-oxide. There is something appealing in the simplicity of the white and red walls of temples of the old days. 
Today, temples are painted with modern paints and look glossy. I do know lime & red-oxide is probably not so easily available and modern paint lasts longer and temples have to change, but it really cuts my spirituality. I wonder if I am simply someone who cannot accept change?

I loved the uneven ground inside the temple (compound) walls and just outside the temple building. The ground was covered by roughly cut granite slabs; our village temple did not even have granite slabs but had sand and thorns grew there and we had to walk carefully so as to not step on those damn thorns when we did the three rounds pradakshe-ne. Today, thanks to the money pouring into temples, the rough hewn granite and Kadapa stone slabs have been replaced by expensive, smooth and to-my-eyes-tacky-looking marble or polished granite slabs. There is something so spiritual about the rough hewn granite slabs and whitewashed walls than the more polished, painted, shiny temple buildings of today.
Today, rich devotees simply pour money into temples and temple authorities feel compelled to use to money to 'improve' the temple. Unfortunately, they seem to have more money than good taste or aesthetics and the temple gets 'improved' and over-built. With all the money pouring in, why the hell don't temple authorities build decent toilets for devotees? Why don't they make the temples handicap friendly? It is impossible for the handicapped to navigate the temple safely in India! It is such a Herculean task simply to climb the stairs in some temples and to cross the massive door steps in some. Why don't they have a space on the roof for birds...why cant they put out food & water for the birds on the roof? Birds are disappearing from Bangalore, even common birds such as sparrows. How much does it cost to feed the birds when so much Prasada is made daily in temples? Why don't they have a space for the homeless beggars who are outside the temple begging?

Previously, temples had really thick walls. I dont know if they had thick walls because thicker was considered as better in those days. I loved those thick walls! In some spots, the walls would crumble into muddy-sand, when you touch them. But I loved those thick walls, I dont know why. They were almost a foot or more thick.

Most old temples had the Peepul tree, Neem tree and Parijata tree growing in their premises or nearby. Many or all temples, have the Tulsi plant growing inside the temple premises. These tress were worshipped daily by both priests and devotees. Some of these trees are hundreds of years old and huge. What I love most about these trees is their hugeness. I also love the sound of the rustling leaves of the Peepul tree and the sound of the coppersmith(crimson breasted barbet)bird in this tree, I could never spot this tiny bird but what a wonderful/powerful song/voice it had! It was  a repetitive sound and maybe that is why it's called coppersmith... the vocals of this bird sound like a continual hammer on copper... 
To me, there was something so tranquil in the sounds of this bird combined with the rustling peepul tress leaves while sitting on the steps of the Kadumalleshwara temple. But with today's teeming population, I doubt if this or any temple feels tranquil at any time other than at the middle of the nights!
One really stupid thing I have noticed in Bangalore is that the ground surrounding the trees is so covered with concrete that there is no way for the water to go into the ground! I see this concrete around trees growing in temples and the trees on the roads. The earth is so covered with concrete in Bangalore that there is no water reaching inside the earth and the trees dry up and die eventually; the ground water in Bangalore is so severely depleted that wells are drying up and a whole lot of ecological problems are being caused and growing daily. Why cannot a science minded Bhakta pitch his two cents of advice to the temple authorities to enable the trees to grow, unhindered by concrete? Also the soil is trampled daily by the devotees doing the pradakshina and the soil becomes hard or is eroded which is harmful to the tree. Why cant they have a set of steps on which the devotees can do their pradikshana without trampling on the soil or grass surrounding the holy trees?
Now with India's population, growing out of control, space is limited, trees are getting chopped and new temples, have no space for trees!

In south India, devotees have installed 'Nagara kallu' or statues of the snake deity near the trees to seek  favours from the Gods. These are often, about one to two feet in height, beautifully carved of granite and I loved these statues, installed between the trees(at least at Kadumalleshwara temple). In a country, where everything which is not nailed gets stolen, I am amazed that these beautiful statues are not stolen, though they are sitting in open places, unguarded!

The other things about old temples have not changed much or at least I cant notice any changes. The rituals are the same, the Gods continue to be made of Panchaloha and are still beautifully carved/moulded. The Teertha and Prasada are the same.  


I adore the old temples which have Kalyanis near them or running rivers close by. There is something about the Kalyanis and the steps going down to them which puts me in a spiritual mood, even though I vacillate between atheism and belief on a daily basis! Now, with all my exposure to modern knowledge, I would never put the water of the Kalyani into my mouth or even bathe in it. But I love the look of it, just the same! As a blissful , ignorant child, I had unquestioningly obeyed my grandmother and did all that she asked me to i.e. sipping the waters of the Kalyani  and bathing in it.
The Kalyani I saw most recently was the one in Hampe about two years ago. The waters were green, the place was empty except for a few tourists like me, there was wild grass and plants growing around it, it was so calm and quiet, I could have spent hours there, reading or photographing, sleeping or contemplating! I even saw lotus plants which made the scene so serene.

I am torn between wanting these temples to have few visitors and maintain the ambience and wanting people to visit these temples and experience what I did! The sad thing is, the moment, these temples become popular, more people visit and the entire ambience is inevitably lost! More people visiting means more income generated, more publicity, more investments into the temples and then they lose their age-old majestic beauty and ambience!


above is the Kalyani at Hampe I visited.
Below is the river near the temple of Hampe.


Below you can see the huge, once great,  Hampe temple in ruins. At present, there are few people here. It's quiet and the weather is like tropical. If one has simple needs and can live with less of modern amenities of life, one could attain Nirvana here!


Below, is a carving of Nandi on a river rock


Imagine that you are troubled and want to seek God, alone. You go to Hampe. Climb this small hill to be alone. Sit in the abandoned temple you see below. Sit and meditate. Not many will disturb you, though India is so damn full of people! Because this place is almost empty! You can carry lunch or come down to eat at a hotel in Hampe village and go back again.
Even the walk, up and down in this hot place, will make you forget your troubles! You will be busy trying to cool off and you will forget your worries!



Below is what I meant by red and white temple walls

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Below is a picture of an old village temple, which has been repainted in recent years with a gaudy orange. it was a lovely, muted limestone white wash before. This is what I meant by saying earlier that these days there is money being poured into temples but without  good taste!

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Look at the pic below. Imagine sitting on top of this hill (Hampe) to meditate. It is so calm and quiet, I can sit here, and feel all my anger against so many people simply melt away. I can see my anxieties melting away. I can feel my worries (if I have any then) seeming less important.  I can feel my mind going blank and calm and I can think positively simply sitting here and watch the Tunga river flow by these silent granite rocks. The climb to reach the top of the hill is also like some sort of penance! I was so out of breath that my mind was blank...no thoughts at all, I was simply gasping for breath, too thirsty to talk, legs stiff and all I could do was sit. look at the surrounding area and recover!

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The ISKCON temple in Bangalore  is completely different! It is so modern, (read commercialized)that I don't know whether to be amused, amazed or put off! It is like a mall in some ways and they sell Prasada which are not typical Prasada at all.
I do know that I should not depend on temples or 'external' things for my own peace/spirituality/Nirvana/Moksha/Shanti or whatever it is you want to call it. I do understand that no amount of peace in the temples or the outer world will help me gain inner peace. I do know that it is my mind which needs to be at peace and also that the external environment contributes very very little to my mind's experience of peace. That I should be able to experience peace, irrespective of what is around me in the external world; that I need to experience peace even in the midst of chaos. That I need to be at peace, even when I am in the middle of deep shit! I know that I can't go around blaming 'noisy' temples or 'crooked priests' for my inability to achieve Moksha. I cannot go around demanding  that the world and people change so that I can attain Nirvana!  If I want Nirvana, I need to change.
Yet, somewhere  deep inside me I think that, Nirvana would be a tad easy to gain, if I could meditate in solitude in an ancient, abandoned  temple  in the middle of a forest, sans people, surrounded by wild flowering plants, trees, birds and a Kalyani, !

FACEBOOK WARRIORS & PATRIOTS SHOULD DO REAL DEEDS. NOT MERE CUT-&-PASTE-&-PASSALONG

People post patriotic statements on FB. But how many of these millions of Facebook patriots, actually do something worthy for their country or countrymen?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Things I dislike on the internet

Is the modern world getting shallower and shallower or what? There seems to be so much emphasis on 'external' beauty and appearance  these days. I get the feeling that media seems to force us to regard external appearance as more important than anything else in the world.


These are some of the horrible titles which keep popping on the internet, no matter what I am searching for. These titles, show how the media is obsessed with looks and keeps forcing it on people.


10 unbelievable A-List Ugly Duckling Transformations.
Shocking photos of sexy stars that got fat real fat  fast
See photos of celebrities who have aged horribly
Plastic surgery gone wrong
and so on and on and on.


I cannot believe that when there are so many urgent and important things going on in the world which needs our attention, the media gives so much space to this sort of junk. I cannot believe that people spend time looking at these articles.







Tuesday, December 8, 2015

THE WESTERNS I HAVE LOVED READING

I have read only one series of westerns i.e. novels by Oliver Strange and Fredrick H Christian.
Oliver Strange created this wonderful character Sudden and he wrote 10 books and this series was carried on by Fredrick H Christian who wrote 5 books.
There are millions of westerns out there.  Westerns by authors such as Max Brand and Zane Gray are aplenty in  libraries and bookstores. My friends and folks have not heard of Oliver Strange and Fredrick H Christian. Yet, I prefer the books of these two authors, unknown to many today. The books featuring Sudden are listed below. I have read these books over and over again! They may be romanticized and unrealistic, but I adore them!  I discovered on the internet, that the 2 authors who wrote this series may not have visited America or seen first hand the 'wild west'. But that does not necessarily deter me from enjoying or believing these books!


 10 Sudden books by  Oliver Strange
  • The Range Robbers (1930)
  • The Law o' the Lariat (1931)
  • Sudden (1933)
  • The Marshal of Lawless (1933)
  • Sudden—Outlawed (1934)
  • Sudden—Gold Seeker (1937)
  • Sudden Rides Again (1938)
  • Sudden Takes the Trail (1940)
  • Sudden Makes War (1942)
  • Sudden Plays a Hand (1950)
 5 Sudden books by Fredrick.H.Christian
  • Sudden Strikes Back (1966)
  • SuddenTroubleshooter (1967)
  • Sudden at Bay (1968)
  • Sudden—Apache Fighter (1969)
  • Sudden—Dead or Alive! (1970)
All of these books are out of print. they will not be published again as these books are supposed to be 'racist', etc by today's standards. I don't see them as racist but as a reflection of the attitudes prevalent in  those days. These books are available in amazon and ebay but cost a lot. I am the happy & proud owner of  these 15 books! and some are hardbound too!

I am happy to say that these books are being reprinted!!! I saw a set of ten books of Oliver Strange as recently as May 2016 in the Blossoms book store in Bangalore. They can also be found on amazon.com for 63-00$. These are published by Hachette India.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

How do sellers make a profit, selling at low cost and offering free shipping on ebay?

A colleague of mine has been buying cheap jewelry and accessories such a cellphone covers  from Hong Kong on ebay with FREE SHIPPING. For example, she's bought earrings for 21 cents (Canadian cents), 79 cents, etc. The products have been delivered and she's happy with them.

I simply cannot understand how the seller could make a profit on these sales  when shipping to Canada, whether from outside Canada or even inside Canada is so expensive.  

I hope to understand this mystery. One skeptic said that she is giving away her credit card information for 21 cents worth of  jewelry but my friend does not feel worried about her credit card information being misused. 

I hope someone would explain how free shipping  is feasible for the sellers.

Economics is such a mystery to me and this is one of the puzzles which I cant get it out of my mind !

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

WHY I DONT ENJOY INDIAN CRIME FICTION.


Is crime fiction set in India unenjoyable as it's too close to home for me? Yes. 

 But as one sentence, does not an article make, even if covers, all that one wants to say,  I will be writing  a little bit  more than one sentence!


For reasons I myself do not fully understand, I can’t bring myself to read crime fiction set in India. I am trying to explore my mind and find out why. I am an Indian and lived in India almost all my life and know India pretty well. I know about real crime in India as much as a middle class, urban lady leading a relatively safe and protected life would know.



I am now trying to analyze why the hell I can’t bear the thought of reading crime fiction set in India and these are the reasons I come up with. Maybe the true reasons are buried in my unconscious and some psychologically gifted reader may have to dredge it out of the unconscious for me!
· Being Indian, I know the full extent of crime and corruption in India. In most crime fiction, there is justice at the end and even if it is poetic justice, I find it believable and therefore I feel satisfied when I read.

Knowing that 99% of the Police in India are corrupt, that the Justice system is excruciatingly slow and rotten to some extent, I am skeptical when I think of crime (even if it is fiction) set in India. The concept of a realistic but rosy ending to an Indian crime story where the villain is found and punished seems impossible even in fiction. Let me explain why.

I love fiction but it has to appear plausible or probable to me; and to even conceptualize about crimes being solved or the criminals getting their just desserts seems unreal in India....It is not that the crimes are so complex or the criminals are so terribly intelligent that it is impossible to solve crimes. The reasons the crimes are not solved and justice not got in India is because of corruption in the Police and the lack of interest of the police to solve crimes or book criminals.

To some extent, the lack of training, the low calibre of people who make up the police force, the poor pay scales of the policemen, the need to pay a huge bribe to get employed in the police force are all factors contributing to poor caliber  policemen . Various social & psychological factors in India such as inequality, castism, people's fear of getting involved in anything, etc. are other factors contributing to crime against people in India. Various offences are not even recognized to be criminal by the perpetrators, the victims, the general public or the people. For example, giving and taking bribes is so common that no one blinks an eye when it happens. People have become so accustomed to so many types of offences, that they just take it in their stride and do not object, let along complain to the police.

I have come across so many types of abuse in India where no one tries to stop it, protest, help the victim. So many women are molested in public, for example on buses, trains or streets but the people just watch or look away or some even enjoy watching the abuse! Rarely does someone try to stop it, protest or help the victim. In a country, where so many crimes and offences happen and people are indifferent, it is impossible for me to even imagine a heroic figure, fighting crime!

Reading about the crimes happening in India, daily, on the internet, I feel depressed, helpless and frustrated. The crimes against women, against children, against the Dalits in various parts of India wears me down. I hurriedly avoid items such as’ tiger killed in reserve’ or ‘elephant electrocuted’ as I find these items even more disturbing (e.g. killing of wild animals by poachers or villagers who are angered by wild animals which destroy their crops). The wide range and humungous quantity of crimes is so appalling. To think of a crime fighter against these overwhelming odds, seems impossible, implausible, improbable...take your pick!

I do know that in most cases in India, there is no justice for the victims especially if they belong to the poorer classes. In India, the victims are often further victimized by the police. The criminals commit crime with impunity; the police look away or are hand-in-glove with the criminals. It is 'stretching credibility' to even think of criminals getting punished and victims getting justice. So I cannot enjoy Indian crime fiction knowing fully well that there is no justice except between the covers of fiction books. It is simply impossible for me to suspend disbelief, even for the duration of reading the Indian crime fiction book.
One example to illustrate the above point is :There are millions of women of lower castes, rural areas, illiterate who work for the upper castes in states such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, etc. These women are routinely abused and various crimes committed against them. Even if a few are foolishly optimistic enough to dare to complain to the police, the police will never ever take action against the upper class, upper caste goons. Instead these women may be further subjected to humiliation or worse, some more abuse in the police station itself!


One frequently heard set of true stories in India is about some poor soul dragged to the police station and accused of a crime and punished while the real criminal is out there! This is done for various reasons such as the police need to show they have solved a crime or they want to punish a person for some reason. So I am always skeptical when I hear of a crime being solved or a criminal being caught. Often, people belonging to certain communities or religions or castes are victimized in this way by the police. Knowing this, how can I enjoy Indian crime fiction? I know for a fact that women especially Muslim women, Hindu women of lower castes, and the poor and all people of lower castes would never ever go to a police station to complain....especially in rural areas where the police force is much worse. The police treat them worse than the criminals against whom they want to complain. To me, at least 50% of the Indian police are criminals in uniform, with greater power than the criminals.

· Once while talking to the wife of a 'rich' police officer, I commented on corruption in the police. She said, when others are making money, what is wrong if her husband makes money? Interacting with the wives and children of these 'well-to-do' police officers, I realized that the wives and children never question or confront the corrupt police man. They are silent. They enjoy the benefits of his corruption i.e. a lavish lifestyle, getting into good universities with his money or influence, getting into elite clubs, etc. The double standards in their families are interesting... The children of the family are not supposed to lie to their parents, steal, bunk classes etc. However, the corrupt police officer that is the adult family member, does all the things the children are not supposed to do …..at work, he takes bribes, is brutal, is unfair, intimidates, breaks rules, etc.

· Just looking at the affluence of the police officers which are in contrast to the actual salaries they earn, I perceive them as criminals than as crime fighters.

· The few times I have confronted corrupt people about their corruption, they smoothly explain, how they are actually doing a service, how they are less corrupt when compared to others, how much they have helped people (helping their relatives and friends using their contacts), how everyone is corrupt and how insane he would look if he behaved differently!

· One remarkable thing in India.... The honest people appear embarrassed and awkward in parties and get-togethers as if they are the freaks while the corrupt are able to socialize smoothly! The honest cannot afford to give expensive presents  at parties and have not helped relatives and friends using their influence....so the sense of self-consciousness & discomfort at parties. On the other hand, the corrupt in India who are utterly shameless, are cheerful, gregarious and boisterous in parties! 

There is an unexplored gold-mine  for researchers of psychology, sociology, political science, economics, etc   if they want to understand the  behaviour of honest people in India. It is simply impossible for honest decent people in India to be socially adept.

  Many people are either corrupt or worship the corrupt as they are 'successful' or are ignorant that a person is corrupt. If an honest person  is aware that a person he is dealing with is corrupt, he has to be so detached and mature and socially skillful to deal with the corrupt person in a manner where he does not yield to corruption and also be polite and not be abused. Very very few people have such social skills and self-confidence unfortunately. 

With so much privatization in India, post 1980s, I assume that there is less corruption in the private companies. But who knows? The corrupt government expects bribes from all private companies who expect to run in India and so there is some corruption when they are forced to bribe the government officials and they they have to make up for that expenditure somehow!

· When 99% are corrupt, the 1% who are honest, are the exceptions i.e." abnormal". If the criteria for normality is "Normal behaviour is the behaviour shown by majority of people", then, in India, the few who are honest are the freaks or mad or abnormal!

One major issue in India is that many crimes are NOT recognized as crimes even by the police! The attitudes towards many criminal behaviours are  typically  ignorant, patriarchial, retarded and illiterate! when a woman complains to the police (or anyone) that she is beaten severely by he husband, they will not 'take her complaint' but advise her to 'get along ' with him and send her back. I will add more examples to this later. Giving and taking bribes is another thing not considered as criminal behaviour but instead considered as a 'norm' by many people in India. 

· The Indian personality types I have come across are not like the crime fiction personalities I know and admire. I admire the heroes of the western crime fiction books I read.... I do know that these fictitious personalities are so interesting because they are fictitious and not real. Yet, at the time I am reading the book, they feel so real; I can suspend my 'disbelief ' and cry when they are hurt and feel happy when they are happy!

· I think the childhood life and upbringing and life styles of most Indians makes them develop personalities, not cut out to be the dashing heroes of crime fiction. To me, all Indians are so deeply trained to obey elders, respect their parents, that as adults, they end up being obedient rather than dashing, heroic and adventurous! Also the value system in India, the strong family ties, the presence of extended families, makes me think of an Indian as a domesticated person with an entangled family life than a hero fighting crime to save the world! Can there ever be an Indian "Lone Ranger"? Of course not! Every Indian has at least 3 dozen relatives.....except maybe orphans in orphanages.

· I can easily visualize an Indian detective who is struggling to cope with the bickering between his wife and mother, struggling to get a job, get a house and a car, get his kids educated and get his daughters married ; But I simply cannot visualize an Indian hero who will follow criminals, catch them red-handed and fight them using his muscles.

· Physically too I can only conjure up a puny, short Indian or a pot-bellied one than a James Bond type with muscles and brains!I find the characters in the western fiction extremely attractive . The fact that many are single or have a girl friend or boy friend or are having affairs with beautiful exciting people makes the reading exciting. Rarely is a crime fiction hero/heroine in American or European books married. An Indian private detective or police officer, who is single or having a girl friend or boy friend or an affair is implausible/impossible! And if like most real-life Indians, they are respectably married then they do not seem exciting !

Post 2000, I am discovering that many Indians have become body and health conscious. There are many gyms opening and a lot of the urban people are exercising, etc. Care of physical health and looks was not so widespread before the 90s. So with people, more looks and health conscious now, I assume, we can look forward to 'fitter' Indian detectives in crime fiction too!

· It is impossible for me to conjure up a realistic, exciting heroic Indian character solving crimes. The nearest I can think of an exciting heroic person is possibly Amitabh Bachan in an old movie called Zanjeer....That is not even a book but a movie.

· I do not see traits of gallantry in Indian men.... I have seen simply too many Indian men elbowing women to get seats in buses; seen men striding ahead empty-handed while their wives walk behind them carrying heavy grocery bags and maybe a kid too; So if I even read of a fictional Indian hero who is gallant, I will not believe!

· Lots of (Indian)people I know are superstitious and fear a whole range of people and things and it is impossible to imagine them as heroic. In my mind, an Indian crime fighter will probably go back home and have a cleansing bath if a black cat crosses his path when he is chasing a fleeing robber!

· In India, I have seen a majority of the people intimidated by those in power(in India, even a government office clerk has 'power' i.e. power to make your life miserable by not doing his i.e. your paperwork and slowing your file). I have seen simply too many people being polite and submissive to corrupt people in the government offices to get their work done; I have seen too many people tolerate injustice as fighting it will cause them more problems;How can anyone expect heroic crime fighting traits in this environment? People may curse these guys but will give in anyway. When my uncle refused to give a bribe to an inspector, he did not get permission to do the electrical work in his building for months! Can you imagine the impact of this delay on the construction work, the costs, and a hundred different things? Even highly educated professionals such as professors, doctors, engineers, give bribes to get their work done...no one has the guts to protest corruption. So, how can one develop the guts to fight crime in this culture???

· Living in this Indian society, will simply crush several fighting qualities in people. And growing up in this society since childhood, the crushing is systematic and complete, especially if one is born in the less fortunate sections of society such as the lower castes, rural areas, being born as female or being born 'in some way different' than most, in some really backward and feudal areas such as Madhya Pradesh, Upper Pradesh, Jharkand, Bihar, etc. In the worst states of India, children who are brave, grow up to be criminals rather than upright moral adults as the culture they grow up in enables growth of criminal mentality than an honest one...I know the patriotic Indians who read this will be furious but let them go and look at what is happening in these wretched states

· I think any heroic traits Indians are born with will be fully crushed before we reach the age of 30 in Indian society. There is a pervasive apathy, a pervasive lack of trust and respect for the system, a chronic cynicism, near-constant wariness (and so many other ' survival behaviours' than' healthy behaviours') in most people all the time. The only ones who are fearless are those in positions of power. But I have seen even these aggressive assertive powerful people, grovel when they need something! For example I know of a powerful, politically connected doctor, grovel before an extremely rude school principal to get his kid into a 'good school'; he was boiling with rage within at the principal's rudeness but did not protest...he did not want to jeopardise his son's chances of getting into this school ! I have seen powerful ministers grovel before the high command of their political party or even before the so called "Gurus" or "Swamis" like Sai Baba.

· After seeing this over and over again in India, my brain absolutely refuses to accept the concept of a heroic detective or policeman fighting crime in India ! Growing in Indian society, all the good traits seem to be crushed out along the way.



The personality traits I have observed in most of my fellow countrymen are the antithesis of what a crime fiction detective or hero would have. Also the value system in India where the wrong traits and behaviours are glorified, valued and accepted and the really good traits are neither recognized nor respected makes it difficult for me to accept an Indian crime fiction hero. For example a person who stands up against corruption and therefore faces a lot of hurdles is considered as 'crazy' while a person who is street smart and greases palms to get things done is considered as smart. With this kind of a value system, what kind of a heroic crime fighter can India produce?

· One more thing I have noticed is that choice of a career in fighting crime is not the choice of majority of youth. Youth are pursuing other choices which seem to offer money without risks. Till now I know of just one kid who wanted to join the army and believe it or not, his family thought he was crazy to want this and dragged him in for counselling! Of course, I have seen many youth from army backgrounds (fathers in the armed forces) wanting to join the military or other such adventurous careers but these are few. Most youth today seem to be in pursuit of things other than adventure...at least what I consider as adventurous.
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I think Indian literature, other than crime fiction are wonderful to read. I have greatly enjoyed Indian tales depicting pathos, unrequitted love, sacrifices and tragedies caused by fate. I have loved the gentle humor of R.K.Laxman's cartoons and the delightful cartoons of Mario Miranda. I have enjoyed the fantastic short stories by countless Indian authors which appeared in the now extinct magazine i.e. The Illustrated Weekly of India and another (sort-of-porn) magazine of the 80s called Debonair. I am so sorry that though I loved these stories I cannot remember the name of even one of these short story writers! I have also  enjoyed the wonderful love stories set in India which are equal to or better than Romeo and Juliet. Heer Ranja, Prithviraj Chauhan and Sanyogta, Radha & Krishna, Shakuntala &Dushyanta, Salim & Anarkali,Shahjahan and Mumtaz, are unforgettable love stories. I love reading the epic mythological stories of the Mahabharatha and Ramayana. The characters in Mahabharatha are fantastic with all their virtues and frailties! I loved the Amar Chitra Katha comics about various Indian kings, mythological figures, freedom fighters, etc. I loved the illustrations too especially the covers!  I have enjoyed reading the realistic and wonderful novels of R.K.Narayan. I loved the short stories and dramas of Tagore and moved to tears when I read them.

But Indians as crime fiction heroes is something impossible for my mind to accept....I do not see the Indian personality as an ideal crime fighting figure. These sort of questions come to my mind when I think of an Indian crime fighting hero…..How can you be a tough guy when you are also  obeying daily your parents commands? How can you fight crime when you yourself are forced to give bribes in government offices to get simple things done; What will you do with the drug dealer you nabbed? When he has the entire police station in his pocket…. What will you do when you finally discover the guy stealing vehicles…if he turns out to be the son of a politician? How will you fight crime when half the crimes are committed by goons of politicians and you are intimidated into letting them go free?What is the point in a courageous & honest policeman putting a politician's hired goonda  in jail when the goonda receives VIP treatment in jail after intimidating the  sycophantic jail staff...the jailed goonda gets cellphones, television, alcohol and chicken biryani, and possibly prostitutes too... INSIDE THE JAIL!!!


I am now going to actively look out for crime fiction set in India and try to discover some good books and get back to this article. I would love to discover some Indian crime fighter out there either real or fictional, whom I find believable and fall in love with.
 I know that in the last few years, the number of English novels written and published in India has increased tremendously. But I am not sure how much of it is crime fiction and how many of them are really good.
I am adding this line March 2016: I recently read the book Cut like wound by Anita Nair. It is a crime fiction set in Bangalore and it has captured the reality of cime and corruption in Bangalore and yet has a believable hero!! To my utter delight he is a Gowda too! ( I belong to the  Gowda caste) I am so happy that there are crime fiction books from India, that too, Bangalore, my home town, that too with Gowda protoganists !!! Yippe!
 I humbly take  back what I said about 'not enjoying crime fiction set in India' after reading Nair's book

After writing the above, I thought a lot and find that three authors whom I admire have written crime fiction books which I really enjoyed. They are set in countries which are known for problems similar to India's and societies as (dare I say) pathological as India's. These are books set in Russia's Moscow i.e. by Stuart Kaminsky and Martin Cruz Smith and books by Zoe Ferraris set in Saudi Arabia's Riyadh. Thinking about these books, the crime fighters in these books, I can now believe it is possible for India to have a crime fighter who is plausible. We already have Vishu Puri, private investigator in Delhi, a delightful character created by Tarquin Hall. Who knows? Maybe, more such crime fighting characters, both plausible and probable may be created in future, to delight Indian and other readers.


Reading over what I have written again, I recall, that I have come across many people in India, who are honest, brave, kind, generous, gentle and non-corruptible, in the face of heavy odds. These are people, whose 'progress' in life has been painfully slow due to their values. They have not budged from their chosen paths in spite of their families pushing them to take the easy path. Recalling these people, I now think that it is possible for my dream Indian crime fighter(.... like the western characters whom I like) to exist!

I also want the readers to think about the fact that to be 'good' in a society like current day Indian society is infinitely harder than being good in a society like Canada's. In India, the overwhelming corruption one sees daily in all corners of society, the daily hassles, the daily struggle, the lack of so many basic facilities, the fight amongst many for a few resources, the poverty, etc rapidly erodes the good decent qualities in majority of the people.

Which brings to my mind, an Indian saying which says that the beautiful and sacred lotus can only grow in filth, and it cannot grow in clean waters. Similarly, maybe, some people who are growing in a society such as India's, which is full of dirt and obstacles, may end up with strength & beauty...like the lotus. The dirt and difficulties may be instrumental in making at least some people better and stronger.

Many real and fictional crime fighters (and other 'good' people too) were born and brought up in dirty and difficult situations and this only made them stronger rather than crush them or corrupt them. So maybe, the Indian society may have the same effect and some lotus may sprout here too!

And talking of a crime fighter who rose above difficult situations, there is one I recall i.e. Modesty Blaise.I would take my hat off to the person who creates a real or fictional Indian Modesty Blaise! That would be, as my little sister puts it, "awesome"!

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The Indian crime fiction  I have read:

 Bahadur comics (read them as a kid in the 70s and 80s). I remember enjoying them but not as much as Phantom comics(by Lee Falk) I read at the same time. I thought that the Bahadur comics were sort of copied from the ‘foreign’ comics. Bahadur’s girl friend whose name I don’t remember definitely did not have Indian features. Either the person who drew her sketches did not get the bone structure right or the girl friend of Bahadur was supposed to be a ‘foreign’ lady, I am not sure.

The Inspector Ghote series by H.R.F. Keating. These are written by a foreigner but set in India. I find the language too stilted and not much fun to read.

I remember reading the Shuja and Daboo comics in the Kannada weekly magazine called Sudha. The comics were in Kannada and though I hated reading in Kannada, I read them. I remember enjoying them a lot and Shuja seems to be a copy of Tarzan comics to me. Even here, the lady’s features were not Indian nor was her clothing. I enjoyed the Daboo comics a lot which was like crime with science fiction. I cannot remember the authors of these comics and would like to know their names if any of you who read this blog know. If anyone out there has made cuttings of these strips from the Sudha magazines, I would be happy to buy it from them.

I also enjoyed Tarquin Hall’s 4 books featuring Vish Puri a Private detective, Delhi based and a retired army officer with a set of hilarious helpers. But these books did not have me on the edge of my seat like Chase or Peter O’Donnell.

I have tried to read Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games recently but am having difficulty getting through it. It is well written and interesting but the size seems to be keeping me from reading it. Spoiler alert : The stuff in red below gives away a story.

 I read 2 crime novels set in India i.e. ''Six suspects by Vikas Swarup and Aravind Adiga's 'Last man in tower'. These two books accurately reflect crime in India. Aravind Adiga's novel is both extremely real and stunning! Stunning because one sees how ordinary middle class 'respectable' people are capable of crime as heinous as murder. They not only commit but get away with it! When I read, Last man in the tower, I was so depressed...I always was proud of the fact that the middleclass people, 'will somehow or the other' manage to hang on to their morals as they are not as desperate as the starving poor; but reading this book, one realizes that even the middle-class will commit heinous crimes.

Aravind Adiga's 'The white tiger' too depicts with realism, the crimes in Bangalore and India.

No heroes whom I like in these three books mentioned above! I think why I dislike or disbelieve crime fiction from India boils down to two reasons: Morality is disappearing in India and it’s impossible to believe that there are people who are both moral & crime-fighters; the second reason is that survival is becoming impossible without compromising morality or ethics to some extent. Ergo, if someone writes typical crime fiction with the good guy winning, it seems unbelievable and so you don’t like the story.

I have read and enjoyed the comics and books of crime fiction written by Sathyajit Ray. Though they are not my favorite, I think the comics (Feluda series) are the best Indian crime fiction I have read. Both the drawings and the plot were good. I discovered Sathyajit Ray’s crime fiction only recently on the internet in Canada; I bought the books in a recent visit to Bangalore at Crosswords.

I read a book called Delhi Noir i.e. short stories about crime in Delhi. It was an exciting book to read and realistic. However, I did not get the satisfaction I crave for i.e. the satisfaction one feels when the villain is punished and the good person is saved. In this book, the criminals more often than not, got away with their crimes! And I think, this is the most important reason, why I do not enjoy crime fiction from India. The reality is that the bad guy wins in India, 99% of the time . So I cannot enjoy crime fiction if it is realistic ; and I also cannot suspend my disbelief when the good guy wins!

In India, crimes of all sorts are rampant and crimes often go unchecked and unpunished; People have become blase about crime.

And 99% of the police are corrupt and so any book with a honest heroic police officer is BS and I unbelievable;




Apart from the books mentioned above, I cannot recall reading, crime fiction written by Indians or set in India. I remember reading a monthly English magazine about crime in India called 'Crime & Detective ‘with the most lurid photos on the cover with 'true' crime stories. This magazine’s atrocious language & grammar; the lurid photos and atrocious crimes were repugnant but also drew me! The writers also had their own unique' moral of the story', definitions of crime, their own unique perspective about laws and ethics! I gave up reading after a while as I found the crimes too disturbing and the language in this mag was terrible.

If you go to these weblinks given below, you will see others views about this magazine. But the best thing one can do is buy this magazine and read it to know first hand, how terrible it is!




This last link has a photo/comic strip about a crime and the literal translations from Hindi to English are hilarious. You can also see the weird stereotypes the writer has of men & women and city & rural people!

During my next visit to India, I am planning to buy these magazines...the sheer absurdity of the language and views of the writers, the stories, the over-the-top photos, the literal translations of Hindi idioms and phrases will help me pass time during the grey winter months in Canada!

I am going off topic but another entertainment from India would be reading the sex magazines available in shops at railway and bus stations in India. These are written and published by people who have no scientific knowledge about sex; these mags are full of misinformation and are hilarious to read. It is sad though, that many men and boys read these and get their information from these gold-mines of mis-information.(women and girls don’t dare buy these books in public). Reading the bill-boards of travelling hakims who sell potency drugs and other drugs to unsuspecting villagers is another form of entertainment in India. Of course, it is sad, but I cannot help laughing.(Now that I own a camera, I am planning to photograph their ads and put them up here !)

I have been told of a terrible television show in Hindi about crime called CID; It is supposed to be unsuitable for viewing due to the violent content, but yet seems to attract a wide audience. I think there is something about crime that attracts people! My friend’s teenage son watches this serial and she finds it disturbing to watch her son watching this show. But how can I console her? My aged dad enjoys watching this and when I ask him he defends saying that he can learn about the ways of criminals and be forewarned!
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India produces literature in many languages and in English; I read only English.(It is not that I am too snobbish to read Indian languages. I am very slow while reading Kannada novels and it is so painful to read at the speed of 10 minutes per page.... So I have given up reading in Kannada, the only Indian language I can read) As far as I know, there are more social novels ( I like to call them social novels as they are about social life in India) than crime fiction. There are many romantic novels, books about Indian society, sociology, anthropology and other subjects. I know that a lot of new writers in India are writing crime fiction these days and writing in English too.