Send this to 10 more people and the monkey in your closet won’t bite you

I probably don’t blog as much as others, but one of the main reasons I started was because I was curious to see how memes and personal communication methods worked. I wouldn’t call myself an early adopter of the Internet in India, but I certainly was fortunate enough to have a dial-up (blech) when not many others had it in the neighborhood.

Good times were had, chatting on the internet with babes on Yahoo! and IRC. I got quite a few long-term e-pals that way. I also became an early A/S/L impostor, when my Dumb-C teammate and I pretended to be a 16-year old girl and played havoc with the emotions of a young Romeo. And all this from our slow-as-heck college computer…

But I digress. Here’s a link to a websurvey, inviting bloggers to participate. It’s not your average chain-mail hoax, it’s from MI-freakin-T.
Take the MIT Weblog Survey

So what’s a Nation-State?

I had always maintained the view that the ethos of a country represents the ethos of its people. A very simple example : The acts of Germany in WWII were tacitly supported by its people. When the majority of people in a country stand for something, the country itself stands for it. Although a broad generalization, it captures what each nation represents in a global arena. Another simple example: When the U.S. invades Iraq, it is because a majority of Americans supported the invasion — representative democracy in action.

A while ago, I was speaking to my friend from Serbia. An inevitable discussion came about the Serbians and the ethnic cleansing. My friend told me about the days of constant shelling of her city and the meager supplies of food. I raised the question that was bothering me, “So why didn’t you do something about the genocide?”. Her reply was : “Do you think the average person cared about what her government was doing? Making ends meet was an ordeal by itself. Not all of us are evil.”

I could see the validity of her position. A few minutes later, we started talking about the Albanians and their insistence for their own land carved out of Serbia. And then she told me,”Those Albanians – they are an uncultured bunch. They multiply like crazy and now they want their own country”.

The dichotomy of her position didn’t escape me. She could divest herself of her national identity when the situation required it and use it when she needed to. I realized that I too am guilty of this convenient separation.

And thus my realization, that a country’s people are not always representative of the country as a whole. This might seem a trivial fact to some, but it always seemed to me that those who are proud to call themselves Indians and Serbians should take responsibility for India’s and Serbia’s shames too.

Satire in print

Twelve years ago, I got my first glimpse at satire. It came in the form of a book called Prince Harry’s First Quiz Book. My father, who knew about my interest in quizzing and quizzing related activities, brought this home one day, thinking his son would eventually learn enough about Brittania to participate in the original BBC Mastermind.

I started reading through it and began to wonder where all the trivia about british royalty was hidden. All the content seemed to be poking fun at the monarchy through subtle wordplay and not-so-subtle profanity. Understandably, my father gave me a strange look when I quoted my favorite line from the preface of the book :

“Shall I be plain? I want those bastards dead.” – Richard the Fourth.
(The line was obviously made up.)

I haven’t read much in satire since then, other than the occasional Internet article. So when I got the chance to read “America – the Book”, I was happy to see satire again in its most unadulterated and concentrated form.

The book takes aim at almost all branches of American politics, and I learnt about the political process more than I could have imagined. The best parts — and the most eye-opening ones — were the chapters about the lobbyists and the media.

Give it a read if you can find it somewhere. It makes excellent coffee-table reading if you’re only midly cynical.