Susheela Raman Vs Old School Mauritius

So I was all excited about going to the Susheela Raman concert, which was going to add to my 27th birthday celebrations, till I came to this post on her official facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/susheelaramanofficial

VERRY HAPPY and privileged to be in beautiful Maritius to play but VERY UNHAPPY to be told on arrival that we a cannot play the Murugan-related songs ‘Paal’ or ‘Ennapane’, which are centrepieces of both the album VEL and our live show, because some minority ultra-conservatives within the Tamil minority are upset by them. We have been give a choice, after a 26 hour journey: either agree not play the songs or cancel the show, which has been sold out/much anticipated. Hrrmph.

I was quick to youtube Paal, which is supposed to be a song about a sacred pilgrimmage for Lord Muruga:

I did not find in this video anything that would sound more “offensive” than any of her other carnatic songs. What I think happened is that some “ultra-conservative” religious group wanted to make themselves heard and did not even bother to carry out real research on Susheela Raman songs, but just picked the first two most popular ones and with the most references to the words “Vel Muruga” and decided that they were “offensive”. Which in my opinion, totally defeats the purpose, because most of her carnatic songs, which constituted 70% of the concert, contained religious Tamil terms. What is even more astounding is that these songs were freely played (and appreciated) in places such as Mumbai and Pakistan, and (wait for it) in the holy seat of Lord Muruga, Tamil Nadu itself. Would the reaction of these hotheads have been the same had these songs been performed by an old lady in a saree, wearing glasses and playing an harmonium? Or if the songs had been first over-mediatised and glamourised and accepted by Bollywood mainstream?

So does that mean that multi-cultural, key to the Indian Ocean, ex English and French colony Mauritius is more conservative than India itself? Or does that mean that society, or in this case, the organisers, feel that they are too vulnerable to the power of the voices of a few religious hotheads?

So what was the point of the ban? And most importantly, how come these voices had to be heeded to? Do we live in a society governed by “ultra-conservative” religious hotheads? Is this the kind of society we want? Is Mauritius a religious state?

I think that the paradox of Mauritius is that we want to be too many things at once. We want to be fervently religious, we want to be westernized, we want to conquer Africa, we don’t want to forget our roots, and we want to be modern at the same time. In this case, we want to bring Susheela Raman to Mauritius because she is an world-renowned artist, but we do not want her to sing Paal and Ennapane fearing that this might offend some easily offended hotheads. Which happen to have the power (and means) to organise potentially violent demonstrations. Why? Because something like religion, which in this case is itself a branch of Hinduism, leads to feelings of sectarianism or the “nou ban” effect and fires up tempers easily. It is human nature to protect one’s “own” with tooth and nail, agreed. But after more than 40 years of independence, is this normal? Or desirable?

Are the whims of religious groups to be tolerated? Is this going to fade away as the current generation retires making place for the new one, that is, for us? Or are some of us being brainwashed by fanatics and groomed to gush out the same old sectarian bullshit over and over again? Mine is good, mine is sacred, yours is bad, yours is blasphemy and nothing else matters. Do politicians who use this weakness in the Mauritian society to their own good when it suits them, to blame? Or are we the ones to blame, the passive ones, who sit through a Paal and Ennapane – less Susheela Raman concert, with a nondescript smirk on our faces, knowing full well of the absurdity of the ban, but who wish to remain in our comfort zone of letting it go, just because it is the safer and easier option?

As a side note, I have to say that listening to the album Moksh by Whosane has had the merit of making more than one take the time to sit down and leaf through the Bhagavad Gita. What’s wrong in making old religious texts and mantras accessible to a jaded youth who is so desperately looking for something to believe in?

At least Susheela had the guts to stay true to herself and voice out on the absurdity of the ban and hold a one minute silence in protest. Respect…

Twenty-Seven

So today I turn 27. I must say, it feels quite good. I feel grateful to be alive, in good health, independent, content, inspired. I have not made any major breakthroughs, or saved the world, and I don’t earn tons a month, but still, I laugh at myself and with myself on a regular basis and, I can say, I do enjoy my own company very much. I have fond memories of being 17, I felt on top of the world and all pumped up to go out there and put my mark on the world. At 27, I feel much wiser, much more grounded on my place on earth. I look at the future with hope, but also well aware of the fact of how little control is in my own hands, and I am OK with that. Like Virginia Woolf said, I am like the stream flowing gently on the pebbles, dancing in the graceful sunlight, patiently following my course. I am grateful for all that I have achieved so far, for the great people accompanying me on this journey. For knowing what I love in life: art, music, nature, humour, books, adventure, movies, philosophy, good food, hot tea, laughter, friends, family, writing, the beautiful feeling of achievement when you have worked so hard for something and you finally get it. Thank you, Life. And I look forward to more 🙂

Coldplay 5 Oct 2011 Cape Town

Ok, as promised, here’s how the night went as far as I can remember…

We walked from the waterfront to Greenpoint Stadium and reached there at 1500. We queued in front of the main doors for 2 hours and heard how people had been there since morning, or worse, had slept there overnight. The bands were soundchecking inside and this got the crowd more and more excited.

The gates opened at 1700 and we were the first ones at the concert merchandise store. We were lucky enough to get places at the very front of General Standing, which were right behind Golden Circle, or about 10m from the stage.

The Parlotones, a band from Johannesburg, which I only heard once from an OC soundtrack, started at 2000 sharp. It is a weird feeling discovering a band in these circumstances, I loved them! They have this powerful, heart-renching, soulful quality to them, they make me think of a less commercial version of Green Day. The 17 year old South African dude next to me was going crazy, he knew all the lyrics to all the songs! They played a full one hour set, the following of which stuck to my mind: I’m only human, Giant Mistake, Beautiful, I’ll be there, Push me to the Floor. The lead singer Kahn Morbee modestly spoke about how the bands were huge Coldplay fans since Parachutes, and how honoured they were to open for them.

The Parlotones left the stage, after a few minutes of silence, they started playing Jay-Z’s 99 Problems. After a few seconds of surprise, the crowd started dancing and singing along. Then, drumrolls… fireworks… and when everybody looked down from the last fireworks in the sky to the stage, the band was already there! They started with It hurts like Heaven from Mylo Xyloto, Chris Martin was on the piano (see link).

The set went by really quickly. The second song was Yellow, all the lights on the stage turned yellow, and the crowd was going crazy. Then, there was In my Place, Paradise, Viva la Vida, Violet Hill, The Scientist… Chris Martin is great on stage, the energy was contagious. They came to the very end of the stage to do an acoustic set, which included Shiver and Fix You. Then Chris Martin disappeared for a second, the crowd started singing the opening to Viva la Vida, then he appeared again and started playing Clocks, and the closed on Every Teardrop. The crowd went mad and there were fireworks again to close the concert.

And the night was complete with running to catch the last train home (no kidding). A once in a lifetime experience… worth every muscle cramp! Check out the rest of the videos on youtube..

Satyamev Jayate Episode 1 – Female Foetecide

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For once, I thanked my Behenjis for their efforts in making me learn Hindi. I just finished watching Satyamev Jayate on youtube and had to use several tissues to wipe tears from my eyes. Objectively, a nice philanthropic effort from Amir Khan. The research and the real life cases of the victims of female foeticide in India were real eye openers for a problem that society has long ignored. How can mother in laws, themselves being women, force their daughter in laws to abort female foetuses? And in much of the cases subject to force or extreme violence? (one of the victims’ mother in law pushed a new born premature baby girl down the stairs to try to kill her, one mother expecting a daughter had her face badly bitten, another one was made to abort 6 times without her knowledge) How can the notion that a male foetus is a much better prospect than a female one be so deeply enshrined in people’s minds that they don’t mind going to incredible levels of cruelty to achieve that goal? I can understand that in the Stone Age, the men were the food gatherers, that they were physically more strongly built than their female counterparts, and that some decades back, only men used to be money makers in families. But hello we are in 2012. In my circle, most of my female friends earn more and have achieved more, or at least as much, as my male friends. At university, and at school before that, it was a known fact that the girls were more academically intelligent than boys. And as for the matter of physical strength, we no longer live in a society where we have to hunt for food. Actually, in my opinion, the whole notion of masculinity is kind of overrated in the time where we live in. And I am not saying that only because I tend towards feminism. I mean, if you ask me to name male actors that portray virility, I would have trouble coming up with more than a couple of names (actually the only two that come to my mind are Sunil Shetty and Daniel Craig). I mean, let’s get real. David Bekham. Ryan Gosling. Leonardo Di Caprio. Justin Timberlake. John Abraham. Shah Rukh Khan. Metrosexual much??? Just have a look at what’s trendy for male models on Fashion TV: nicely chiseled androgynous faces!!

To get back on topic, female foeticide is so cruel it makes my heart ache. And it is an equally alarming practice in China as well. Cheers to Amir Khan for having used his stardom to sensitise people on the subject. Strictly on the TV show, I thought it was well brought together, you can see that lots of research were put into it. True to India, having most members of the audience cry, added a “sensationalisation” aspect to the show, but then again that’s India where people usually cry even at children dance contests. To complete the debate, I would have personally liked to also watch an interview of one of the bad guys, one of the pros of female foeticide. I guess that might have either been too difficult to obtain, or the show’s objective was not to have a balanced debate. But it would have helped its credibility, sometimes most people live in their own cocoon and have trouble believing that such cruelty exists. Well sensational or not, Satyamev Jayate is a must see, and I will certainly watch the next episode.

Window to the World

ImageHello world, I am back! 😀 Yes indeed, I have been laptop deprived for almost a month, but now my dear old Sony Vaio is back and feels like new, and it feels so good to have my window to the world restored back to perfect health! You only realise how much time you spend in front of your computer screen when you can no longer do it! Yes I have to thank my sister who has generously granted me a few minutes on her Dell to check my facebook from time to time, and I have managed to fill up some of the time with good old TV. I have been amazed once more at how my 17 year old Sanyo TV set still works and marvelled at the uselessness of most of the channels on Mauritius MyT, or how they got several utterly boring Indian channels for free and gloriously added it to the “Bouquet MyT”. I did enjoy YogaCity on NDTV Good Times and a nice movie with young Brad Pitt with long blond hair on TCM last night though. And I put some of the spare time I had in testing my cooking skills (Yesterday I made a smoked salmon quiche which miraculously earned myself a 7/10 on my sister’s scale of appreciation) and I courageously continued on my mission to educate the youth in my backyard to watching some good movies. Actually, considering that I did not have a laptop, I needed my cousin’s DVD player to watch some DVDs and at the same time thought that the youngsters could do with some award winning inspirational movies to add to their repertoire of Bollywood, Fast and Furious, Hanna Montana, and some more Bollywood. Verdict: I at least managed to convert one of the four little brats to intelligent animated movies and I for one enjoyed How to Train your Dragon, even if it was dubbed in French.

So what else happened in April? We went to see My week with Marilyn, Michelle Williams was brilliant, I already thought she was pretty great in Blue Valentine, but this time, for someone who does not know much about Marilyn Monroe except that she was an iconic blonde diva in an age when I was not yet born, she really made Marilyn re-live for me. Just watching that movie, I could capture at least some of the essence of the icon, the sultriness, the innocence, the pretty blondeness charm that made generations succumb. There is no one in the current generation of stars who can come close to that kind of charm. It was to say the very least, magic.

And then today the French go to vote, and all the polls say that Sarkozy is going to lose. Only time will tell us what a Hollande Republique will bring to the world. I have to say that I will personally miss Mr Sarkozy, who had solid charisma, and who has been trying so hard to be one of the rocks behind the Euro.

No comments on May 1st in Mauritius, just the same faces bickering at each other, not real sustainable solutions, just the same music.

This week is going to be decisive for Mauritius Offshore Industry. At long last the Minister of Finance, according to the newspaper article I read today, seems to be waking up to the threat and how India keeps using Mauritius as a scapegoat for all of its fiscal problems. This is a sticky situation because everything relating to a country’s taxes is highly political. If the Indian government continues to ignore the billions of rupees of taxes it loses due to the DTAA with Mauritius, it will lose popularity and hence votes from the general Indian population. No government in its right mind will ever take a decision favouring capitalists over the general population. So I think GAAR will prevail, investors who used to invest into India through Mauritius will chose Singapore as conduit in the short term, and the bigger investors who can afford to do so will try to build greater substance in Mauritius by opening offices and actually employing staff. The way of doing business in Offshore in Mauritius will definitely have to change. It is a time for change in the Industry, Mauritius Offshore has to become Mauritius Expert Professional Services instead of mere double taxation exploiters.

And winter has definitely come in Mauritius. My university hoodie is out, I have already had my first change of season cold, the winter rains are here, days are getting shorter, and it’s becoming harder to wake up in the mornings. And it will certainly be hard to drag myself out of bed to face another week of deadlines at work tomorrow. But hey, two more weeks before my birthday week! 😀 :O