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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Paavam Shoaib

Yesterday, the media went full throttle about the Shoiab-Sania-Ayesha-Maha love quadrilateral. They have exposed every geometric aspect to this relationship possible over and over again. And just in case, our brain manages to quietly manufacture  some new cells which still haven’t heard the story, the channels play it once again. It quickly dawns on our newborn brain cell why all the other cells around it are blowing their .. well, enough of that line of thought.

As a Chennaite, I was quite surprised when I read about poor Shoaib’s story. If only he had caught a flight to Chennai before he ran behind the hottie from Hyd. Here’s what would have happened.

If this is too small, click here for larger version

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One of the unstated purposes of this blog is to ensure that the readers are exposed to certain topics which they may not have come across in the normal course of the day.

In my earlier article, I had discussed about the ironical twist that while Saudi women were beginning to a semblance of freedom, the women of the Swat Valley in northern Pakistan were slipping more into dark ages.

Pakistan’s neighbor, the Taliban over-run country of Afghanistan has taken the deploration of women’s rights to an all new low. The President of the country, Hamid Karzai, signed a law that legalizes rape of women in the country.

This is not a gag, he actually did that.

Article 132 of the law states that a it is legally permissible for a man to have sexual intercourse with his wife whenever he wants even if she refuses it.

Women therefore have been reduced to mere objects like a plate or a pair of slippers which can be used by a man whenever he would want to. Using the term women’s freewill in places like this would be an oxymoron.

In case you are wondering whether a legal / political system in Afghanistan did not object to this before the President signed, it is interesting to know how the bill came to his table. The law was debated by 249 members of the Lower House, which incidentally had 68 women also, some of whom (get ready for this) voted for the law.

It is even more saddening to go a step back a little more and understand why this happened now. The bill had been lying dormant for more than a year, when suddenly it was pursued with renewed interest by the President. Not coincidentally, the elections are right around the corner and passing this law would ingratiate him with the minority Shia community and thus strengthen his allied stand in the elections. The law was not read in the Upper House (1) and when the members of the lower house voted for the bill they had no idea what they were voting for(2).

burkaWomen in Afghanistan, are required to wear blue burqas wherever they go. They are not allowed to be schooled. Now if they want to leave the house alone, they would have to take the permissions of their husbands. If all this was not enough, they have been reduced to nothing more than a cigarette -to be used whenever the pleasure is desired and snuffed under the foot immediately after.

One can completely agree with the statement of Afghan parliamentarian Fawzia Koofi, “In Afghanistan the sacrifice in political games in women and children.”

Do you think there is any hope for the women Afghanistan? Where will it come from? Have you seen any other instance where women’s rights have turned around for their betterment? Share your views.

(2) CNN
Picture reproduced from http://peacecorpsonline.org/

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One Step Forward

This week has been a week of reforms. I was extremely delighted to see this headline on the front page of my morning paper on Feb 15th, 2009.

Saudi Arabia appoints first woman minister

Saudi Arabia has appointed the kingdom’s first woman minister in a cabinet reshuffle that also saw the dismissal of four ministers and heads of the powerful religious police and judicial bodies. King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz appointed Noura Al Faiz as deputy minister for women’s education, in a move considered a milestone in Saudi Arabia. more..

I was thrilled to read this. A woman has finally made it to the high command in Saudi. And it wasn’t in some meaningless role either. She would be a woman representing the women’s right to education in the Kingdom. Saudi women usually do not get this privilege. Their education is usually limited to reading and reciting the Holy Quran. They even lack the ability to perform simple arithmetic, owing to a lack of education in the same. Since the Saudi government is ruled by a very strict adherence to their interpretation of Islam, women’s rights in the society are much curbed. They cannot drive by themselves, they should always be covered from head to toe in a black veil when in public, they cannot go anywhere with any one other than their husband, father or brother, they may be one of four wives that her husband has and their participation in decision making, whether it be in family matters or governmental or corporate issues, is generally frowned upon. See further reading below

In spite of all this, some women have managed to educate themselves and there is a slow movement for a change in Saudi Arabia. All they ask is for fairness and equality, something that every human being is born with, but which gets taken away from them seconds after she is discovered to be a she.

Much of my knowledge has come from the book – Princess by Jean Sasson. It is an shocking, yet amazing tale of the true life of a Saudi princess as revealed to the author. I am now reading the sequel Daughters of Arabia, which talks about the life of her two daughters. I would strongly recommend reading these books, as it may inspire someone someday to take up this cause more fervently.

I was surprised at first and impressed moments later to read what Dr Fawziyah Abu Khalid, professor of Social and Political Studies at King Saud University in Riyadh, had to comment on the appointment of Noura Al Faiz as the first woman minister in Saudi Arabia-

“The appointment of Dr Noora Al Fayez as deputy education minister for women’s education department is a small step in the long way to recognize the input of Saudi women in fields of national and private development in the Kingdom,” Dr Fawziyah, a poetess and author of several books on social science, stressed. …

“If someone looks at the empty part of the glass, the appointment of a woman in a government post – even though it is not even to the level of a minister – is definitely good, but is not what women in Saudi Arabia are looking for. We have waited too long to take such a small step forward and time is running ahead of us in many aspects.” more..

Two Steps Back

In the same week, Pakistan in an attempt to curb raising agitation in the North-Western front of it’s country, has ceded to enforce Sharia law in the area. The militants are the Talibans and they have been demonstrating their might, by blowing up (among other things) women’s schools in the area.

Excerpt from Xinhua on 22nd January 2009

The Taliban militants have also banned female education in Swat valley. Officials said that Taliban have destroyed over 150 schools, mostly girls’ schools, in Swat valley in several months. more..

The war has been spearheaded by Maulana Fazlullah, to establish Sharia law in the peacful and scenic Swat valley. The Pakistani government has been fighting a losing battle with them and many see this move as a government capitulating to the demands of terrorist uprising, a model which, seeing the light of victory, would be undoubtedly emulated.

The Talibans for their part say that they are pro-education and scientific advances, but were against the western way of living and culture that was creeping in the Muslim society.

The BBC notes the changing ways of governance in its article which states

It is the first time the strict code, based upon the teachings of the Koran, has been in force in Pakistan in the country’s history.The bill gives Sharia precedence over secular provincial law and stipulates that every Muslim will be bound by it. more..

I cannot say I am against the Sharia, which unfortunately, I have not had a chance to learn, understand and comprehend. My views may also be lopsided, considering that I am only exposed to the bitter manifestations of it. There may be many good aspects about it as well.

However, I wonder if any society which can allow for such manifestations to occur all all as a part of it’s routine functioning can serve as a road-map to a better tomorrow.

Further reading
– An explanation of the Sharia law by Wikipedia and The Guardian
– Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia – linkClick on Women’s right and go through the 4 reasons why women cannot testify in a court of law.
– The history of the Swat Valley in Pakistan – link

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Being Farhan

Why do I think Farhan Akthar is so cool?

– He directed Dil Chahtha Hai

– He acted in Rock On, his debut film as an actor he delivered a memorable performance

– He sang for Rock On, and showed us all that he could sing .. and how! Couldn’t get enough of “Tum Ho Tho

– He has a talk show – Oye! It’s Friday – and this seems to make him more accessible.

Lately, I have found that I have started copying his accent and voice. It isn’t very hard to copy. You only need to imagine that that you are speaking with a tablet stuck in your throat. You need to sound as Metro-Indian (you know what I mean) as you possibly can, and bob your head up and down everytime you speak, to sound and look pretty sincere.

The guy seems to be a great guy and I have complete admiration for him. I used to be ardent fan of Aamir, but Farhan has managed to upstage him. Proof:- Ghajini downloaded, Luck by Chance, first day.

Anyways, I think Farhan has somehow come to know of this ardent fan of his. I discovered his latest movie and quite frankly it has made by day! You will also note – that they got the spelling right .. finally!

http://movies.indiatimes.com/articleshow/3857678.cms

Farhan Akhtar in “Kartik Calling Kartik”

Farhan Akhtar Farhan Akhtar’s next film as a leading man is titled Kartik Calling Kartik and the director-cum-actor says the title was chosen to generate curiosity. “Isn’t that an intriguing title? It’s supposed to generate curiosity. And to that extent it succeeds,” says Farhan, who debuted as an actor with box office hit Rock On. “I’m very excited about the film because I get to play the title role,” he added.

It has been a full year for him, what with producing, singing and acting in films. And now Farhan is having a ball anchoring a chat show “Oye! It’s Friday”… “This has been the year of experimentation and new experiences… acting, singing, hosting… I’ve had a good time doing all of it. I enjoyed the concept of ‘Oye! It’s Friday’. “I knew it would be fun because I’d be hanging out with my friends from the industry,” Farhan said.

He is committed to doing the first 12 episodes of ‘Oye! It’s Friday’, and then it’s back to films for Farhan. “Then I get busy with the release of Zoya’s film and subsequently my own Kartik Calling Kartik.”

But before director Vijay Lalvani’s Kartik Calling Kartik and the release of his sister Zoya’s directorial debut film Luck By Chance, Farhan plans to take a two-week holiday at the end of the year with his wife and two daughters. “I think I’ve earned it,” he said.

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A 1,474 Megapixel Shot

The event was momentous – the swearing in of the 44th U.S. President –  and David Bergman ensured that nothing but the grandest of technologies would capture the spectacle.

He has uploaded the entire picture with some nifty pan and zoom features. In his own word –

I made a panoramic image showing the nearly two million people who watched President Obama’s inaugural address. To do so, I clamped a Gigapan Imager to the railing on the north media platform about six feet from my photo position. The Gigapan is a robotic camera mount that allows me to take multiple images and stitch them together, creating a massive image file.

My final photo is made up of 220 Canon G10 images and the file is 59,783 X 24,658 pixels or 1,474 megapixels. It took more than six and a half hours for the Gigapan software to put together all of the images on my Macbook Pro and the completed TIF file is almost 2 gigabytes.

Click here for the amazing picture. I’m sure you’re going to lose plenty of hours just zooming in and looking at people’s faces.

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The Ducati 271

It’s been ages since I have seen something in the newspaper that has lit up some corner in my heart.

This Christmas wasn’t particularly great in terms of living up to the “season-of-giving”. I think people may rather refer to it as the “season-of-give-you-a-gift-when-I-lost-my-job-&%$@”

Inspite of all this, some products managed to sell so much that they managed to go out of stock. People couldn’t gift enough of them apparently.

The Nintendo Wii, Ugg Boots and the Amazon Kindle are some of the big names. After the Xmas season, Kindle stocks have been reported as unavailable for the next 8-10 weeks. Wii is nearly impossible to find anywhere right now and has been in short supply from Nov 06. Wii Music and Wii Fit have also established their own and are equally tough to get one’s hands on.

I didn’t receive any gifts this season. I think it has something to do with the fact that I didn’t give anyone any.

However, if some kind-hearted sould reading this decided to give me a gift and assumed that this post was hinting in that direction (Wii, Ugg, Kindle), you’d be right about the hint, but wrong about the product.

What I would really like to see on me is the

gift-wrapped-small

The Ducati Model 271

Nope. That’s not a car, and that’s also not probably what you’re thinking right now.

It’s the creme-de-la-creme of gifts right now. A gift so popular that people all over the world are placing orders for it in advance. The company is so overwhelmed by demand that they are actually hiring people. Not a bad idea, since their sales have now gone up 4 times over the last year.

No other gift can give anyone as much bragging rights as this one can.

The Ducati 271

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Fatima, the Wedding Planner

Fatima is UAE’s first woman marriage registrar

After successfully managing to spook a Ms. Hima and her grandmother at her wedding in Trichur earlier this year, Fatima has now taken it up a notch.

Fatima became the first female marriage registrar in the UAE according to a statement from a government official, Ugotobiki Deengmi, who had a hard time keeping a straight face. In an interview, Fatima mentioned to a CRC reporter – “I plan to ensure that all marriages from now on have a major suprise in each wedding. I feel that weddings have become very mechanical with people going through the motions. There isn’t enough of a shock factor to prepare the newly-weds for the years, days and even seconds of marital life. I plan to institue an award which will ensure that the people who manage to give newly weds a very shocked expression on their face will be given free access to Orkut for a single day.”

On being asked whether she had been told that she resembled someone else, who was not a lady, she remarked, “Never have I been told anything so atrocious”. This reporter also noted that the tea served a few minutes after asking this question had a particularly different taste to it. On a completely different note, this reporter was bed-ridden for a week after the interview.

Fatima, we wish you all the best in ensuring that the people in the UAE have weddings that they can never forget!

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This article is a spoof. You can view the original page here. Congratulations to the real Fatima Saeed Obaid Al Awani

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