Mar 22, 2014

A Bug's Bite

Image: Courtesy Wikipedia
A regular day. Nothing extraordinary. Get up, go to work, come back, have dinner, watch TV, head off to bed, to start another day. Sounds simple, right? Sure as any day could be, however this one turned out slightly different.

Half way through my sleep, started getting an itch, which started on my hands. Scratched it off, a couple of minutes later, came back again. Wiped that one off, and then a few minutes later, started scratching the calf of my leg. A few minutes here and there, woke up wondering what in God's name was the scratch all about? Still clueless, woke up, had a glass of water (a feeling that my skin might have dried off), back, but this time decided to find out what it was that was causing this grief.

A couple of checks and the shock of my life. A Bed Bug!! Could not believe my luck. A Bed Bug? Impossible. Never had it in my house for years, and here it was. Further checks along the bed sheet showed a few more, crawling out of a pillow sheet, another one on the edge of a mattress, another one running off another pillow sleeve. This was impossible. It was just like a never ending nightmare!

I just went on finding more and more, picking them up one by one (with tissues of course, not bare hands), flushing them down, throwing them out of the window, and you suddenly find another one. I was on the verge of getting a panic attack. I mean, this is not something that you see every day; the last time I had gone through this was during my College Hostel days, but then, that was a Hostel. This was my Home !!!!

Anyways, getting my wits around (it was close to 3 AM by then), managed to get quite a few out, then a sudden thought. Slowly pulled out my bedsheets and well, what do I say. Did not find hundreds (thank God), but found a couple more, but what was more distressing and nearly stopped all my heart beats was the fact that the edges showed bug eggs, that were laid.. Of course it still needed time to hatch, but then, the ground was set. Managed to pull out the sheet, wrapped it all out, and dumped into a bucket of water. 

Luckily enough that was the last of it, and some how managed to sleep (in what ever was left of the night), with a follow up the next morning. Thankfully, the bugs were all gone, as the particular sheet seemed to have the full lot of them. Sheets, pillow cases thrown, the house through a good pest control swipe, contributed to some unpleasant thoughts being eased. But then, how do you clean every single piece of cloth that you own?

However still could not but help to think, as to where I did get the attack from? One of course is very careful, but the more I investigated, the more I realized, how prone we are to problems. My source of problem was the laundry where my bed sheets used to go for Ironing. Thankfully, it was one / two sheets, however I cannot but help wonder.. How many more clothes of mine could be effected. A bigger question: How many more houses could be effected?

Also led to the hard and factual realization that we today are so dependent on support functions to manage our lives, we are simply at the mercy of others, no matter how much we think we are in control of ourselves. The Grocery man who delivers goods to our houses, who we tell to pick our stuff, the laundry man, the dhobi, the person who comes to clean our house, the restaurants we eat from, the hotels we stay, the common shares that we have with community as a whole.

I am not scaring myself or any one for that matter, but just a reality that we are so dependent on each other, we run the risk of not only sharing others traits, but also their problems. As we grow, as populations grow, as civilizations increase, we are moving more towards a society which is cramped, less spacious and more prone to diseases that simply at the end of it pass from one to another.

My quest for further enhancement of my knowledge on the wonderful species : The Bed Bugs gave me more insights than I expected. The Wikipedia defines them as parasitic insects that feed exclusively on blood. More interesting was the note that they were nearly eradicated some where in the early 40's, but have increased since 1995!! It took man centuries to get rid of it, but only half a decade to bring it back and expand it to such an extent, that is nearly out of control. 

The after effects one realizes are at times traumatic (despite what one says), that every scratch, every itch that one feels on their body after even a full clean up of one's house / clothes, cannot but make wonder, am I in for another attack? It makes you ask a question to which one probably does not want an answer. Who is the parasite?

Interesting Read: How to find Bed Bugs?

Mar 8, 2014

The Touch of a Man.... Or a Woman?

Google Images - A Man's Touch
Recent article in the Times of India (not that the paper is any great), but a very relevant topic of coverage no doubt. The Bombay High Court recently put out a declaration while listening to petition about a man touching a woman that "Only the Girl can decide nature of Touch".

What was interesting was the number of comments on this post, with many getting personal, upset, upbeat, depressed and the works. Comments ranging from happiness to utter despair (this includes men on both sides) that the ruling was fair / unfair.

Now, leaving aside the technical aspects of the ruling, and science, where it states that when a man touches a woman, her body temperature goes up by 0.3 degrees C, this does bring about an interesting debate as to whether the ruling was in place or not. Why do I state this? Simply because all of us, men and women, live today in a society where we interact with each other daily, and in many cases, a number of times a day.

With the work force no longer being dominated by men, as it was a probably a century or two ago, and women being a similar dominant force as men, it is inevitable that both men and women do come across each other, where a touch may be part of a daily chore, a handshake, or even a meeting that may be associated with a hub, or a simple mis-touch between two people.

There is no doubt that a man when he touches a woman or a woman a man, they know the intent and the feeling that the touch infers. The fact that a man hugs a lady when he meets her or even vice-versa, is more the extent of comfort and trust that each have towards the other.. I have a lot of friends, who one would call large hearted, and we hug each other when we meet. There is no discomfort there, no distrust, no hesitation, but a simple greeting hug that each other share. The same applies when two friends having lunch or dinner or even having a conversation, would jokingly punch each other, on a laugh shared, on some thing one wants to share with the other. That again speaks of the trust that each share.

But what was more disturbing about the verdict and the one that got many men riled (including some groups that call themselves the preservers of men's rights), was the one sided verdict that the Bombay Courts had provided in favour of women. It was more the decision that only a woman can determine a man's touch.

Not negating the fact that in a country like India, women are the more oppressed ones, both currently and historically, but the decision was indeed a shocker. The fact that a woman solely and unilaterally decides how she infers a man's touch is akin to proving a person guilty of a crime before he has even committed it. What this does put is, total power in the hands of the woman, who can now decide, that the handshake that any man has with her, has another intention or meaning to it. It implies, that if I am walking out of the lift and if the lady in front of me does not move and my hand rubs off hers, she can complain that I touched her intentionally and with bad intent. It implies that if a lady is dressed in a superb looking dress, and one looks at her, she can complain that the man looked at her with bad intent... And so on.

No doubt this is a land mark decision, but also one wonders if it is flawed and one sided? We do hear of cases where men molest women, but the reality also is that in a lot of places, men are molested by women. Now it may not be because of strength, but simply because of Power. A woman can be in a situation that she is dominating over men, and that power can also give rise to abuse to men, which probably the courts would not look at. There could also be situations, where women are more powerful than men (strength wise) and could abuse men.. Does the court take cognisance of this fact?

The saviours of the Men state that women oppress men 10 to 1 ( and I presume this is one of married oppressed men), with the other side stating that at least this gives Women the right to determine, whether she felt violated, insulted or it was a harmless touch. Society no doubt is split on this, society no doubt will be impacted by this, without a question, women rights needed more ammunition to counter the oppression by men, however this is the same problem that already exists..

You take power from one and give it to another. Whether this will be used wisely, intellectually, abused and whether the coming generations will be impacted only time will tell. I am no doubt divided on this, not sure whether you are!

Mar 1, 2014

Racism.. Is it in us?

Racist !! A single word that destroys a community, a persons reputation, can categorize a country and every single citizen living in it. So easy to call one, extremely difficult to get rid of, once classified as such.

It was the recent article that came up in all the papers about North Eastern Indians being targeted in Delhi. People being made fun of, students being jibed at, students being ragged in colleges, society making fun of these, eventually leading to death.

This has not been the first such case (and probably will not be the last) as reported of students being ragged in colleges, or cities, but the very fact that this episode was given a racist note, puts things into a different perspective. As the matter was delved into deeper, it came out more that this was a pure act of treating a fellow country man differently, simply because of the way he dressed, looked, rather a very simple act of having a different hair style! And again this is not specific to a particular city or state.

I am not getting into the political aspect of the discussion (not that I hate politics), but could not wonder. Are we, Indians, racist??

Simply speaking it is an action, practice or belief, or social or a political system that consider different races to be ranked superior or inferior to each other. We hear a lot about the Britishers and the Australians being racist and treat other nationalities as inferior to them. We have all read and heard about the Nazi's, the Klu Klux Clan, who considered themselves to be superior races and every one else inferior, even leading to the deaths of millions of people. We have all read about the Red Indians, the Aborigines, the Slaves, how they were considered inferior, how they were killed. We hear about the Dalits, the Scheduled Castes, and Tribes and either pity or loathe them. Was that era or the current, not reflective of Racism?

Coming down to modern times, we all call ourselves educated and modern. We consider ourselves to have moved on from the narrow minded societies of the past, where there was a clear demarcation between the nobles of the society and the not nobles. We have learnt from the history of our forefathers that what they did at times was wrong and we have moved on. White never accepted black, today, Black and White are an integral part of society. We see relationships being built on love and not on caste and creed, or on colour. We are bringing in a new world, where future generations are no longer part of a single community or creed, but mixed in blood, religion and cultures.

Yet, we still retain within ourselves some element of dislike against people. We still consider people by their backgrounds. It could be based on religion, or by the type of job that a person does, a cleaner, a driver, a sweeper, or even by nationality. For us these are not people making a life, making ends meet, but people who we and our families should not associate with. We judge them by what they do and how they live, without ever caring how they feel with this insult.

Within our country, and here I speak of India, we are bifurcated into 29 states. Each state having its own culture, its own background. We call ourselves as citizens of a country that boasts of a history going back 5000 years or even more, but yet, when it comes to considering each other as equals, we stop short. 

The North considers the South as lowly, or uneducated, the South considers the North as boorish, the East considers itself more cultural, the West more progressive. Each one considers themselves to be a cut above the rest. This keeps on within our mind set, within our beliefs, the way we live, and ultimately passing down generation upon generation. One may say, that this division of classes is the modern man's invasion, but when looks at the past, it goes back to time immemorial.

Has this been handed down by our forefathers, has this reduced over time, or has this been built even more over time, but the fact does remain and the question does always arise:.

Is this not racism?