Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dubai Shopping Festival

Today was the last day of the festival, and I had been pretty busy all these days, so I decided to go to Al Seef and walk the carnival area to the abra docks. Got there by water taxi.

Rode a ferris wheel for the first time in living memory, and took some birdseye pics of the creek area.

The yacht wharfs

Midstream Deira skyline, the typical Bollywood introductory shot anytime Dubai needs to be mentioned.

The rest of the games and shopping area in Al Seef, with downstream Deira as the backdrop.

After some indulgent carnival snacks (deep-fried, of course), I strolled around the shopping area, the so-called "night souk". I was a bit hurried, but I managed to grab one thing I have been seeking for a couple of years at least.

Finally, my very own Daruma/DaMo doll. I shall fill in the other eye when I graduate.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Indian Ethos Taliban get "Pantsed" on V-Day ... Ha Ha Ha

... a posse of hard-line Hindu activists barged into a pub in the south Indian city of Mangalore last month and roughed up young women clients who were enjoying a quiet drink. ...

Susan, a 29-year-old journalist, decided to counterattack.

With several associates, she launched a group on the social networking Web site, Facebook. They called it the "Consortium of Pub-Going, Loose and Forward Women." And they unveiled a plan to dispatch piles of pink knickers to the leader of Sri Ram Sena in a nonviolent gesture of defiance.

The women chose Valentine's Day. This day particularly rankles right-wing Hindu extremists, who consider it an immoral commercialized Western import....

In other news,

Young secular Indians are organising their own vigilante groups - some armed with Taekwondo moves, others with pepper spray - to protect unmarried couples from Hindu radicals looking to disrupt Valentine's Day celebrations.

For the first time, several secular groups have organised patrols across the country to combat the Hindu nationalist organisations which they accuse of trying to "Talebanise" India. The secular groups decided to act after television coverage showed activists from the Sri Ram Sena (Lord Ram's Army) attacking women in a pub in the southern college town of Mangalore last month.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Traditionalist Taliban of India

The self-appointed guardians of "virtue" and "traditional culture" usually make Valentine's Day at least a mild annoyance for many couples, harassing lovers and vandalizing greeting card stores (this year, they will force couples found expressing affection to either marry or declare themselves siblings).

But this time they decided to give Mangalore a little preview of what happens to those who dare to flout their interpretation of Indian traditions, by beating up women in a pub, presumably for the offense of acting in any way resembling Western culture (monolithic and supremely decadent, as they all "know").

While I am not a huge fan of pub culture, this just goes too far. It's not that they assaulted women, but that they are using violence on anyone to force their views of "proper" culture on those who make their own culture. As much as the Hindu religious right likes to favorably compare the religion it politically abuses with foreign "Semitic" faiths in terms of tolerance and freedom, they are turning it into another Taliban-like cult of social and cultural oppression every time they resort to despatching their version of the Mutaween to wage war on harmless expressions of personal liberty.

As if it were not bad enough that otherwise-sleepy Mangalore experienced some religious violence of late, culture war is also coming to town. This is happening despite how the city is finally developing economically and progressing socially. Or perhaps because of it; there will always be some reactionary movement that arises from the collision zone where tradition and modernity run into one another.

"No Cussing Club" Promoter Still Receiving Harassment

I think this is a commendable initiative given how often swear words are overused sometimes, but I have to wonder what kind of person would be so virulently set against the concept that he/she would make threats against its creator.