Sunday, June 19, 2011

Vancouver's Night Of Shame

The Stanley Cup run has come to an inglorious end, thanks to a bunch of thugs and hooligans who went on a rampage after the Canucks' 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins. The sense of pride and achievement still hanging over us after the successful conduct of the Winter 2010 Winter Olympics has now evaporated into thin air because of the destructive acts of a few bad elements. Overturned cars and trucks being set on fire, breaking of store windows, looting of merchandise, general destruction of public property everywhere and billowing smoke in the downtown core have seriously damaged the reputation of Vancouver as the most livable city in the world. On top of the pain of having lost the Stanley Cup after getting so close to it, now Vancouver has earned the notoriety of being the city of sore losers as well.

Having come from a country of rabid cricket fans, I have always been confounded by the behavior of fans after a game loss. If the cricket team won, the players were lauded as heroes and celebrated to the utmost, but if they lost a match, their homes were pelted with stones and rocks, the chairs in the stadium were set on fire, buses were burned, government offices and public buildings came under attack, and sometimes, the players even received death threats. It begs the question how someone can keep winning all the time. Don't we win some, and lose some? What about being gracious in defeat? Is winning a game the be-all and end-all of our existence? Seriously, guys, grow up! How about showing some class and grace and acknowledging the skills of the other team and giving them credit for their victory?!?

One common truth that jumps out of this chain of events is that fans are RABID, period! Whatever part of the civilized world they are from, when it comes to winning or losing a sport, they are all governed by elemental emotions that blind them to decorum and basic civility of any kind . Sanity takes a back seat, and the mob mentality takes over. True fans would never resort to violence and destruction as those in Vancouver have, rather they would applaud their team for having come this far along in the game, to the finals, after 17 years! They would congratulate their team for their mettle and perseverance, and egg them on to victory in the year to come. Sadly enough, sane-minded people and loyal fans have now been left hanging their heads in shame because of the atrocious behavior of a few hooligans who have brought on untold shame and embarrassment to this beautiful city. I hope to God Vancouver gets a chance to redeem itself in the eyes of the world soon enough!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Exam Fever

It's that time of the year again when school days are coming to a close and examinations are looming large on the horizon for students of all ages. Private academies, tutors, and cram sessions are the order of the day, and the air is abuzz and crackling with examination fever everywhere. The kid at home is taking his exams as well, but unlike other homes, there is a relative calm and eerie quiet here, something that startles me as a parent and scares the bejesus (sorry God!) out of me! In one of my earlier posts about learning styles, I'd commented on how different my approach to exams was from my son's. Nothing has changed much since then, as I school myself not to panic about his nonchalant attitude to exams.

The kid has taken on an ambitious challenge this year. As a student of the International Baccalaureate Program, he has completed the Grade 11 subjects in Grade 10 itself, so in addition to the regular Grade 10 Provincial Exams, he is also taking the Grade 11 exams, all within ten days' time. After 5 days of rest, he plans to start the Grade 12 classes in Math and Biology or Physics during the summer vacation, then take those exams as well. So that makes it three Grade Level exams in two months' time. Though we worry that he might probably be biting off more than he can chew, he seems confident that he can pull it off after all. He's aiming to do the best he can, and seems to think that even if he misses out on a mark or two in any exam, he can always take it a second time with the other regular students and improve his score.

Mom, as always, is a nervous wreck, unlike the cool kid who always treats an exam day just like any other regular school day. There is no compromising on his sleep at any cost - "I need my regular hours of sleep, you know," is his usual comment. He wakes up only at 6.45 every day to take the 7.30 bus to school, and it's the same even on an important exam day like Math or Science. No waking up early, no reviewing the books in the morning, no cramming till the last minute before he enters the exam hall - all of which are his mother's usual style. It completely confounds me how one can remember what one studied the previous night, without having to look at the books in the morning for a last minute review! Well, that's my son for you! I feel as if I've gone through a wringer every exam period, while the kid's nonchalance carries him through with aplomb and he emerges unscathed, with nary a scratch. To be very honest, the exam fever in the title is just for the Mom, and definitely not for the kid, I must confess! :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Keeping In Touch

As I have said time and again, keeping in touch with friends, family, and neighbors hasn't always been easy for me. As one gets caught in the vicissitudes of life, communication with others slowly deteriorates and gradually comes to a standstill. Moving away from one's home country exacerbates this whole thing, and eventually even the little communication one had with others completely grinds to a halt. So had been my case, until I decided to take matters into my own hands. It's been almost 14 years since I left India, and since my siblings and I all live in different countries, I haven't been able to see much of them at all. Not once have all the four of us been under one roof at the same time, and it really sucks big time, to be with just one sibling and miss the other two at any given time.

The same can be said for having missed out on weddings, births, anniversaries, etc., etc. I wasn't there for my only nephew's wedding, and now that he lives in Australia, his wife and two children are still strangers to me. My niece got married last year, and as usual, due to work commitments, I wasn't able to attend her wedding as well. She celebrated her first anniversary last week, and it's sad that I really don't know her husband at all. Most of my cousins' children were babies or young kids when I left India, and they don't know me as their aunt. Some of my cousins live abroad elsewhere and it's very sad that I haven't seen them or their spouses in a long while, and sadly enough, I have never seen their children at all.

When one lives far away from family and friends, one begins to realize how precious they are. Thanks to Facebook, I decided to reach out to some of my long lost cousins in the extended family, and to all their kids as well. In many a case, I had to introduce myself to these youngsters, an aunt they never realized existed in another part of the world! I decided I would be the "cool" aunt who would stay in touch with these children and be a part of their lives, albeit in cyberspace. It's lovely to know what's going on with them, but I feel a pang that my son is missing out on all those unique experiences of childhood, such as going to the grandparents' home for vacation and having a jolly time with his assorted cousins. Time and distance and work/study commitments, as well as monetary considerations have wreaked havoc on annual travel and visiting everyone on a regular basis, but I hope to keep in touch with everyone via Facebook at least, as the years roll by. Little compensation that, but I'll take it gladly any time!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sexual Risks

Just when the entire world has been riveted by the risque behavior of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, who is so infamously under house arrest now for the alleged attempted rape of a New York city hotel maid, another Democratic politician has been making waves in the media outlets these days for all the wrong reasons. And what exactly has Anthony Weiner been guilty of? You guessed it right - for none other than risky sexual behavior! The Congressman has been downright stupid indeed to have photographed his private parts and emailed/tweeted them to several young women he had never met in his life. What was he thinking, or then again, was he thinking at all?

In my last post, I'd talked about successful men in power who engage in risky sexual acts, knowing very well that if their behavior is exposed, they will fall from grace for sure. Then why on earth do they do it? Their behavior reveals an underlying compulsion that prompts them to take calculated risks, and the power they wield in society gives them a feeling of invincibility. When they do not get caught the first time, it emboldens them a great deal, and they go farther and farther with their kinky behavior till they are royally trapped one day, with no means of escape whatsoever. We see this drama being played out time and time again with many of the famous and powerful men who treat women as sex objects or take them by force to cater to their lust. Some go to ridiculous extremes in their dalliances, such as Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, the aged President, who is experiencing a political fallout because of his penchant for wild parties and orgies with nubile young women young enough to be his grandchildren.

For a rising star in politics like Anthony Weiner, who hobnobs with the powerful elite such as the Clintons, and whose wife is expecting their first child, this behavior of his screams "Narcissism!" That, and compulsion combined, is a logical explanation. The Republicans and many Democrats too are crying for his blood and calling for his resignation, but how it will play out eventually remains to be seen. Weiner has refused to quit, and says he never met any of these women or had a physical relationship with any of them, but his cyber exploits have raised so much of discussion about ethics in politics and the like. All that can be said for now is that public memory is short-lived, and when the next scandal comes out, the existing one gets blown away into oblivion. That may be one of the reasons why these powerful men indulge in such risque behavior with impunity. Perhaps Weiner is doing just that, waiting for the next scandal to become public, so the media will forget his foolishness and latch on to the next victim quickly enough.