Newsbytheway's Blog

January 30, 2010

Talibanisation of Goa

Filed under: Musings — Rabea Khan @ 3:59 pm
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Goa is marred by yet another rape. After Scarlett Keeling, it is a 9-year-old Russian girl.  But this rape has instigated a different  debate altogether. Are women to be blamed for being the victim?

Copyright Rabea Khan 2009

“You can’t blame the locals; they have never seen such women. Foreign tourists must maintain a certain degree of modesty in their clothing. Walking on the beaches half-naked is bound to titillate the senses.”

This statement is not by a Taliban but the Goa’s deputy director of tourism, Pamela Mascarhenas, (Mail Today newspaper, New Delhi).

Appalling, more so, since it comes from a woman. How can I woman think the way one dresses leads to rape? Should women be asked to wear burqas?

It is a classic case of passing the buck. And what she probably forgot to consider that the girl was merely nine years old. It is insane even to think that she could have ‘titillated’ the wrong doer in any way.

And saying that ‘locals have not seen such women’ is implausible.  Goa is the ultimate beach destination not just for Indians but the foreigners; more so for the latter. Goans are used to foreign women roaming on the beach and on the streets in bikini. It has become part of Goa’s backdrop now.

Ban on govt ads with bikini

Copyright Rabea Khan 2009

The goa government was quick to spring in action and announced scrapping of all ads displaying bikini babes. Times of India quoted the state tourism minister saying ‘Goa is a family holiday destination and not a sex tourism destination. We will make sure that bikini babes do not symbolize Goa tourism”.

Accepted, but how on earth will this superficial move do to dissuade rapists? Shouldn’t security the top agenda. Whether goa government accept it or not, Goa is a beach destination not a family holiday spot. There are families who go for holidays in Goa, but the numbers of youngsters, college, 20s and early 30s crowd outnumbers them.

Goa government should look to make the beaches safer without letting it lose its identity. And something should be done without more ado lest the paradise is lost.


January 21, 2010

From books to films and vice versa

Filed under: Entertainment — Rabea Khan @ 3:08 pm

I recently watched Sherlock Holmes, and it was one of the very few times I didn’t came out disappointed after watching a movie inspired by a book.

Source: Wikipedia

Sherlock Holmes pleasantly surprised me because Holmes’ character in the movie was not a complete adaption of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes.  He was dynamic, fun, more like James Bond minus his gadgets and cars.  The reason, this adaption doesn’t disappoint because it deviates from the original work giving more scope for imagination.  It cannot surpass the book but it doesn’t make you feel cheated as well.

Most Books are better than the movie that adapts them. Period. If you have read a book you are always left wanting to more after watching the movie. It’s very rare that the film gives you more than the book. Good ones equal the book but rarely surpass the original work.

Harry Potter series is the perfect example. With all due respect to it’s directors, the harry potter films have disappointed every single time. They have been big hits no doubt because the fans of the book are too loyal to miss anything related to potter.  And people who have never read harry potter series; don’t enjoy the films at all.

But there are some adaptions that have done full justice to the books. Godfather, Shawshank Redemption, Jurrasic Park, Forrest Gump, One flew over the cuckoo’s nest to name a few. But what about the books that are inspired by films?

Books based on movies

Believe it or not there are certain authors who are original enough to based their books on films. More than anything, these books are mere tools to cash-in on the popularity of the film. Mummy is one such example.  There is an entire series written which tries to replicate the movie but falls flat on its face.

The idea to write a book based on a movie in itself is ridiculous. I am sure who so ever came up with this idea wasn’t a book lover. The fun of reading a book is imagining. You imagine as you read. And if there is a movie based on the book, the book lover will try to compare the movie with his or her imagination. If the film doesn’t equal or surpass the imagination, the filmmaker hasn’t done a good job.

But if you write a book based on a film, there is no scope left for imagination. All you can think of while reading a book is the movie. And you would rather watch the movie than read it. That’s the reason the trend of writing movie inspired books hasn’t caught up yet (thank fully). It’s a sheer wastage of resources.

Book or a film, it is a world of imagination. Reading a book is like cooking your self, you are free to cook and how what you wish. While a film is like a take out food; you know what you want to eat but it is someone else’s creation.  But both are different means to same end. Enjoy your meal!

January 14, 2010

Boxing the beard ban

Filed under: Religion,Sports — Rabea Khan @ 5:52 pm
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Muslim and Sikhs amateur boxers are all set for a fight. But, this fight will be outside the ring and against the body that represents them.

Copyright: Elmarto; Source: Flickr

The Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE) has recently ruled that all boxers need to be clean shaved. Their reason: it’s for the health and safety of the boxers. The ban is the outcome of appeal filed by a Muslim boxer last  year. He was stopped from playing even though Sikhs were allowed to have facial hair.

There is little logic in the association’s newfound allergy to facial hair as beards are allowed in the professional ring.

And most important question is why now? If the beard was harmful they should have been banned from the beginning. Why it took a Muslim to make them realize that beards are unsafe? It casts a shadow over intentions of the association. Is it their way of keeping ‘radical muslim’ away from the game?

Majority of the sports in the world have no issues with facial hairs. But there have been few exceptions.

Talking baseball, till 1999  Cincinnati Reds had a ban on any kind of facial hair. Rules changed with change of ownership.  Greg Vaughn loved his goatee and persuaded the new owner Marge Schott to remove the ban.

New York Yankees baseball team also prohibits long hair and facial hair.

In Irish football, there is ban on growing more than two inches of facial hair. This was the outcome of an ugly fight between the two players when one pulled the other down by his beard.

These rules and decisions are fair and acceptable since they do not have any religions undertones. They are been enforced for the sake of practicality and discipline. It wasn’t a Muslim on the field that instigated the a ban.

Players love of beards

It is sort of a tradition in certain sports where players allow their beards to grow from the beginning of the playoff season and they don’t touch the shavers until the playoffs are over. One such example is National Hockey League where teams that follows the supersition of playoff beards religiously.

Source: picapp

Many other sportsmen also shun their shavers for the sake of style. Beard was a rage in 2007 rugby world cup. English playerGeorge Chute made headlines and the French player, Sebastien Chabal, was even nicknamed ‘caveman’ when they sported beards.

When Beckham grew a beard last year it became talk of the town. Many made fun of his latest style statement. But words like ‘ban’ and ‘safety’ were not mentioned at all.

And Cricket has Monty Panesar, Saeed Anwar, Hashim Amla and many others who have a beard for religious reasons.

So why when a Muslim boxer sports a beard, it suddenly becomes a contentious issue. It is time to look beyond religious identities and let the deserving player play the game. We can keep religion out of sports at least.

January 11, 2010

Securing our airports

Filed under: Terrorism — Rabea Khan @ 12:23 am
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Recently Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced new security measures to be introduced in major British airports. Among other things full body scanners will be installed in airports very soon, starting from Heathrow.

Copyright Rabea Khan 2010

No doubt that these scanners will be a step forward in securing our airports, but are they enough to prevent a repeat of 9/11?

Al Qaeda, the most persistent and deadliest of all terrorists group has time and again beaten us. They are far too innovative. This world would have been a far better world if half of the brilliant minds, working for Al Qaeda, were doing something for humanity rather.We need to think ahead of Al Qaeda now, think of new and smarter ways to beat them.

May be Israel has the answer.

El Al, the Israeli airlines, is said to be the safest airlines in the world. They don’t depend on the machines; they go by their intuition. Anything that looks ‘out of the ordinary’ is probed. Anyone who looks a bit suspicious is stopped and questioned at length. It can be defined as racial profiling but it is more of using common sense than anything else.

Racial profiling

It is a fact that terrorist today has a specific profile. A typical terrorist-

  • Is a Muslim
  • Is Educated and/or radicalized in US or UK
  • Belongs to Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan or any other similar country

If racial profiling were used, it would have prevented the bombing attempt on Christmas Day in US. Abdulmutallab fulfilled all the conditions of a typical 21st century terrorist. Then it makes sense to have a debate about using it now.

There are fears that it will lead to seclusion and harassment of Muslims all over the world. Truth is, it may. But I am sure ways can be devised a have a system considering all such drawbacks. Let at least one Muslim be a profiler in the team. This will not only avoid any possibility of harassment, but also give faith to the Muslim passengers that they won’t be unnecessarily targeted.

This may not be the ideal solution but I believe this is the price Muslims need to pay. I am ready to pay the price, for securing my loved ones and myself.

January 8, 2010

OPEN: Confessions of a dangerous mind

Filed under: Sports — Rabea Khan @ 12:16 pm
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I have just finished reading Open. Empty and sad… I am not describing the book but the feeling I am left with now when the book is over. It’s that good.

Copyright: Chris Josefy, Source: Wikipedia

Andre Agassi’s autobiography is brutally honest, where he lets the reader peek into not only his life but his mind as well.

You are left wanting for more, wanting to know him more, wanting to share few more anecdotes…

The book covers his career right from the very beginning to his last match. He underlines his hatred for tennis quite a number of times in the book. Yet the book is an account of life in between various tournaments. This illustrates his passion. Even if he hated the game, he hated it with a passion. That passion in the end made him excel.

Agassi has made a player more human by laying bare his thoughts during numerous matches. Whenever one is watching any sport, one tends to think of people playing as mere players. They are players of course but they are human beings too. That might be thinking about their girlfriend, their parents in between sets, but that seems impossible to us.  They should be and they must be thinking about the game.

The book is full of inane things he used to think during matches. And also strategic thinking that decided the outcome of the match.

You would want to watch all those matches again, now that you know what was he thinking when he played that particular shot or how he felt when lost a match to Sampras.

Agassi’s love life

The book also mentions his various relationships over the years and he doesn’t choose to be private here as well.  If his marriage with Brooke Shields comes across as a mistake, he let you think he is a romantic fool when he pursues Steffi Graf. In fact his love for Graf is evident even before he marries Shields. When he marries Shields you almost wish to tell him, please don’t marry Brooke, you love Steffi.

Thankfully, he doesn’t sermonize or ponder at any point of time. The Book is all about ‘when’ and ‘what’ and not ‘why’.

Reading Open is like renewing your vows with tennis. You will fall in love with the game again…more so with Andre Agassi.

January 6, 2010

New Delhi to London.. Via Colombo and Male

Filed under: Travelogue — Rabea Khan @ 10:15 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Money can make you do crazy things. Crazy enough, that in order to save some you can convince yourself to take a 24-hour journey to a destination 9 hours away. I was crazy.

Copyright Rabea Khan 2010

1910 I boarded the Sri Lankan Airlines flight UL 196 to Colombo. It was slightly delayed but I didn’t let myself  to get annoyed  too much.  After all it’s just a pre cursor to my journey. Food: passé .In-flight entertainment: nil.

2300 I landed in Colombo. My flight to London is scheduled at 1115 next day. I am so not looking forward to spending a night at the airport.  Disembarking from the plane I vowed never to book a multi-stop flight, no matter how cheap it is.

I contacted the information counter, to figure out which lounge will be my destination for the night. She forwarded me to the transfer counter saying that you’ll be provided with accommodation in a hotel.  Suddenly the idea of taking a via Colombo flight didn’t seem so stupid. Bless you Sri Lankan airlines.

Copyright Rabea Khan 2010

0100 I reached the hotel called Brown’s Beach.  My expectations weren’t too high. Was just glad to be able to see the city, breathe the fresh air, even if it was for few hours.  Receptionist gave me a form to fill up and directed me to a lounge sofa. I look up and realized that I was just 50 feet away from the beach. It was a beach resort! God bless Sri Lankan airlines.

0715 I woke up and it took me few minutes to realize where I am.  My cab is expected at 0830. I got ready quickly so that I can grab a few bites aka breakfast buffet before I leave for the airport. The receptionist gave me the news that my flight is delayed and the cab will now be coming @ 0950. I never thought one can be happy when flights are delayed. Bless you Sri Lankan airlines.

I thought of utilizing my time by having a lazy breakfast and take a stroll at the beach. After a quick stroll I ventured out of the hotel. It’s still early in the morning so shops are closed and there is nothing much to explore. I returned to the hotel looking forward to a coffee and some sunbathing on the beach.

The transit holiday was uneventful till an elderly man approached me. He looked decent and I thought he was just trying to have a polite conversation with a fellow countryman. After exchanging niceties I was bidding him goodbye. He replied smiling

“ Why are you in such a hurry? We can spend some time together, if you want I can come to your room.”

I stared and curtly replied “ no thanks” and left hurriedly.

Copyright Rabea Khan 2010

Fuming I reached the lobby. The cab hasn’t arrived yet. Gladly there was a wedding photo shoot taking place at  the beach with a  pretty bridesmaids and a lovely bride in white flowing gown. Quite a picturesque setting. It did uplift my mood.

1000 I left from the hotel looking forward to seeing the city in the daytime.  Driver was nice and chatty and gave me an express tour of the town.  I reached airport by 1030

1400 Flight UL 509 took off from Colombo finally. I was seated next to a chatty woman from Maldives. A bollywood enthusiast, she knew more gossips about the Indian film stars than me. We reached Male, Maldives @ 1515 on an airport situated literally in the sea. Amazing.

Copyright Rabea Khan 2010

1615 We took off from Male for our final destination, London. I was again seated next a woman from Maldives and I realized that I am capable for not speaking for half a day, even if some one is just sitting next to me. We didn’t exchange a single word. At least the aircraft had a TV set. I watched four movies.

0400 I am at last in London. Local time 2230. Temperature: -3.  Lowest temperature I have ever experienced. Thankfully the cab I have booked was prompt and I reached uni in no time.

Overall it wasn’t such a bad experience, long journeys can be fun too.

I asked myself, Will I do it again? No way.

I am not crazy.

January 2, 2010

Sex, lies, videotapes and media

A head of state, 86-year-old politician, served as chief minister of two states, at one time he was a serious contender for being the Prime Minister. And he is caught on camera having a foursome.

Times of India Frontpage

The perfect reason for media in any country to go berserk.And why not? The story has all the right ingredients. He is so old that he can barely walk but was in bed with three women, one of them who is 7 months pregnant! He can’t even deny it since it’s all on tape.

Expect sensation. Expect controversy. Expect dirt from the past. Expect some more skeletons tumbling out of the closets. Expect confessions.

Wait a minute, I almost forgot, it happened in India. He is N D Tiwari, an Indian politician. Zip. All Indian public figures are saints.  Even if they get naughty at times, the media act as a tolerant parent, hit a stick or two on the knuckles and moves on.  Hence the top-selling Indian english dailies came out with the blandest headlines possible-

Times of India: N D Tiwari denies role in sex tape. (Obviously he is going to deny it)

Hindustan Times: Andhra guv battles sex taint (Makes him  sounds like a hero almost)

Only Indian Express showed some courage by having a sarcastic headline “His sexellency?”

But imagine if something like this would have had happened in UK or US.  Actually you don’t need to imagine. Think Bill Clinton or Tiger Woods more recently.

I bet Tiger wished he was an Indian.  If he were, the entire incident would have only appeared as an accident in the papers.  Bribe the policemen and they will say what you want them to say to the media.  And the media will accept it wholeheartedly. Say ‘no comments’, and they won’t bother you.  No interview from past girlfriends. No smses or voice mails to worry about. Public apology on the website? Are you crazy ?? God doesn’t apologies.

Media-celebrity nexus in India

Celebrities are untouchable in India.  They are literally stars. Be it actors, cricketers, politician or industrialist.  You can admire them from a distance never knowing what happens when they not acting, playing or doing they respective jobs. There is no concept of paparazzi. I am sure many came to know the term ‘paparazzi’ in India only when Lady Diana’s death hit the headlines worldwide.

But then we don’t want paparazzi in India.  What we want is a courageous journalism where spade is called a spade without any fear. Not in the name of sensationalism but truth.

December 30, 2009

A cinematic dream called Avatar

Filed under: Entertainment — Rabea Khan @ 4:13 pm
Tags: , , ,

Watching Avatar is like dreaming, only you are in your full senses to experience the mind-boggling world James Cameron has created.

Copyright Rabea Khan 2009

The story line is simple and predictable- victory of good vs. evil told umpteen times.  Avatar is set in the year 2154 involving US armed forces on a mission to obtain a rare mineral from a planet called Pandora.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a crippled ex marine who ends up in a project called Avatar. The project allows him to walk again but he gets caught between two camps: nice scientists led by Dr Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) and evil mercenaries led by Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang).

No points for guessing that the climax is a war between the naïve and brave Na’vi people and the cunning and evil humans.

The end is predictable yet the special effects will keep you hooked. So much so that you will not blink your eyes lest you may miss something.

Avatar belongs to just one man, James Cameron. Not only has he imagined an unimaginable world, he created it flawlessly to the very last detail. Every creature in the Na’vi world speaks volume of Cameron’s vivid imagination and ingenuity.

Alien = good; human= bad

Avatar embraces the newly acquired sympathy for aliens in Hollywood. Gone are the days when aliens were evil and mean creatures. Now they have become the oppressed class subject to atrocities by humans. They are the objects of social message.

In District 9 it was apartheid, in Avatar there are references to US’s invasion of Iraq. You also can’t ignore the references towards human destruction of environment.

James Cameron hasn’t created a Titanic this time. The storyline, which is so crucial to any movie, plays a second fiddle to special effects. It fails to touch an emotional chord with the audience. Yet nothing undermines the fact that it is a must watch.  Every single frame shouts one message: impossible is nothing. Watch it to believe in your dreams.

December 22, 2009

Goa: Whose paradise is it anyway?

Filed under: Travelogue — Rabea Khan @ 6:52 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Goa, the Miami of India, defines cosmopolitan in its true sense. It’s so cosmopolitan that an Indian can end up feeling like a tourist in his/her own country.

Copyright Rabea Khan 2009

It was my second trip to Goa. Nothing has changed. It still welcomes you with a breezy embrace on its sunny beaches.  The smallest state of India, Goa, has the biggest heart. Just a stroll on its beaches and lanes will make you realize why.

Here you’ll find more foreigners than Indians. And more importantly more foreigners who have made this beautiful place their home. Most of them living here are on long vacations with their families. They live in nice little cottages on the beach living their dream. Goa is the Bahamas of the not so affluent. It’s cheap, beautiful and feels like home.

Paradise for newlyweds

The other category of people who one will come across in Goa are the Indian honeymoon couples.  They stand out on the beaches walking hand in hand coyly unlike the foreigners who just blend in. Infact non-Indians are an indispensable part of the backdrop of Goa, swimming and sun bathing on its beaches.

You may find few odd Indian honeymooners venturing into the waters. But they are an exception rather than the rule. And sighting an Indian couple in swimsuits is like spotting a rare species while bird watching.  Usually you will find the husband in his shorts enjoying a quick dip while the wife gives him the company from the shore, jeans rolled up till knees.

It’s true that though Goa has opened its heart, Indians are still too conservative to embrace it. While the foreigners have not only accepted the city, they have made it into their home.

No wonder then that for most Indians going to Goa feels like going out of the country.While for those who come from abroad, it feels like coming home.

December 15, 2009

Berlusconi: The New Bush

Filed under: Politics — Rabea Khan @ 7:39 pm
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A cathedral’s replica replaced the shoe but the outcome was the same. A world leader embarrassed in front of the entire world. And the attacker hailed as a hero.

Source: Wikipedia

Silvio Berlusconi is the latest join the list of world leaders who have faced the wrath of a common man. His unpopularity is evident in the support for the attacker, Massimo Tartaglia. Tartaglia’s page on facebook page has attracted over 80,000 fans so far. Comments like “Tartaglia uno di noi” (tartagalia is one of us) are dominating the page.

Unlike Bush, Berlusconi is no instigator of wars. He hasn’t committed any crimes against humanity. But he is alleged to have committed an equally serious crime if not greater. The crime of breaking trust of his people. And he does draw many parallels with Bush junior.

Both are more hated than loved by their countrymen. Berlusconi is a media mogul and has quite a controversial life full of sex, scams and mafia. He was entangled in a sex and politics scandal for allegedly offering a seat in European parliament to an escort. He is been tried for tax fraud. Berlusconi also has been accused of having links with the mafia.

Bush has been the most hated American president in recent history not only in America but in the entire world. Many doubt his rationale for attacking Iraq. Weapon of mass destruction have become a universal joke now. Micahel Moore’s controversial documentary Farenheit 911 points at a hidden personal agenda behind the Iraq war and even connects Osama Bin Laden with the Bush’s family.

They even share a common interest in sports. Berlusconi owns AC Milan, Bush jr co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team. If a contest for Mr World most hated leader is held, it will be close competition between Bush and Berlusconis. Bush junior might just clinch the title in the end, scoring points for universal abhorrence.

But both do have the same policy for the world at large. Here’s a special song dedicated to the two leaders we love to hate.

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