Don’t tell me what to eat!

This rather angst-ridden post comes at a time when the country I reside in (India) is going through something along the lines of what can only be described as a shit-storm. There is a reason to why I choose to call it the country I reside in and not my country, and that reason has a lot to do with my disregard for the glorified nationalism that is patriotism; but that is something I will (hopefully, if I remember and have the energy) address in a later post. Today, however, I wish to talk about the most recent malady gripping this nation: a food ban.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this particular atrocity, here is a brief, heavily biased summary: The ruling political party in the country, the BJP, has launched a thinly veiled communal movement against religious minorities in the country in an attempt to make the country a “Hindu” nation. The controversial prime minister recently made the appointment of an even more controversial individual, and a Hindu religious leader no less, as the chief minister of the most populous state in the country (UP); a state with a larger Muslim population than Saudi Arabia. Understandably, a host of events has taken place since then, furthering the already mammoth divide between the left and right-wing individuals. I will not go into the host of issues I have with the government, but just highlight the one that is currently on my mind: the new UP government has started a crackdown against “illegal” slaughterhouses, under the guise of which hundreds of thousands of

Understandably, a host of events has taken place since then, furthering the already mammoth divide between the left and right-wing individuals. I will not go into the host of issues I have with the government, but just highlight the one that is currently on my mind: the new UP government has started a crackdown against “illegal” slaughterhouses, under the guise of which hundreds of thousands of meat vendors, the majority of them being Muslims, have been put out of business. Repercussions of this have been seen in states across the country, where vigilantes have taken to violence against even the legally operating meat vendors.

It does not take a great leap of understanding to see that this crusade against meat and meat vendors fits snugly into the communal image of the BJP. Hinduism has been mistakenly associated with vegetarianism for hundreds of years now (I say mistakenly because the archaeological and historical experts have agreed, time and again, that the oldest practitioners of Hinduism weren’t bothered about who ate what, and, what’s more, even sacrificed animals as part of prayers), and the BJP covertly seeks to make India a Hindu land, and thus a vegetarian one. The recent introduction of Hindi, a language which people, again, mistakenly, associate with India and Hinduism, into non-Hindi speaking states is a further example of how the Centre wishes to rebrand “India as is Bharath” as Hindustan.

For the purposes of this post, I’ll drop my “leftist” agenda which condemns the central government. I’ll even let slide the obvious linguistic chauvinism which is currently threatening the diversity of one of the most beautifully diverse nations of the world. What I cannot let up, however, is people telling me what to and what not to eat. We are a secular nation, which entails the freedom to be who we are, do what we want (as long as it is within the legal limits) and eat what we bloody want. Not going into the whole shenanigans about how necessary animal protein is for people, it’s a simple thing to understand: people have a right to food.

People who choose to follow religious limitations (yet again, a topic which I feel strongly towards and hope to speak about soon) to the extent of depriving themselves of certain things are more than free to do so, but who gives anyone the authority to restrict people not only from eating whatever it is that they wish, but also take away a major source of livelihood? What right does a democratically elected leader have to say that the practice of a religion should be done stringently, and to subsequently encroach upon the basic human rights of his people?

Tomorrow, if a leader is elected who bans the “illegal” sale of leafy greens, are we supposed to silently sit back and withstand the deprivation of an essential component of our diet? Fuck that, if the government decides to ban the “illegal” sale of chocolates, would we stand for it?

If yes, then, honestly, very little can be said here. People who are willing to submit so utterly to authority (authority which is barely educated, has a skewed world view, and takes religious communalism to a whole new level), then what are free-thinkers to do? How can anyone win in a fight where the other side has already decided that there is no competition.

If no, then why stop me from eating my tenderloin steak if I don’t stop you from eating whatever dismal cabbage creation you’ve concocted? Is it because my food offends you more than yours offends me? How can food be offensive to a person, unless you’re taking that offense as part of something larger, say a religion. If my food offends your religion, don’t eat my food. Why should I stop eating my food because it offends your religion? You religion is the primary religion of the country, you say?

Check again.

We live in a “secular” country where trying to get things like beef, which is now a traditional part of many Muslim households, is like trying to score drugs. I have a simple question, aimed at the prime minister and the chief minister of UP (whom I affectionately call Dhonginath; we have an understanding): if I don’t force you to eat meat as part of my religion (that of the Flying Spaghetti Monster), why do you stop me from eating it?

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The more the merrier

 

This post was cleverly scheduled to come out on Valentine’s day; but as those who are familiar with this little corner of the Internet will know, I am not the most punctual of people. Indeed, when asked why I do no take up writing as a profession (assuming I could write professionally), the foremost reason I cite is my inability to meet deadlines. What is life, I daresay, without a little bit of procrastination, and the gnawing regret that comes after the time to affect change has passed?

Ah, but there I go again; prattling on about something that has nothing to do with the theme of this post. Today, sitting by a steaming mug of filter coffee, I wish to talk about the nature of romantic relationships; rather, the nature of relationships in general. More specifically, I wish to present my case in favour of something we’ve come to learn more and more of in recent years: polyamory.

I have long been of the opinion that for any relationship to be truly sustainable, it needs to have a certain degree of “openness”. Relationships which are rigid in their definitions and closed off in their approach to society often find that a claustrophobic environment is non-conducive to their growth. The reason for this, to me, seems quite simple: we are complex beings with complex needs, and so we need to derive our sustenance from a host of people, and not just one person at a time.

Don’t you think it’s a little impractical, really, to assume that one person is able to satisfy all your emotional, physical, and intellectual needs? Conversely, isn’t it a little unfair that you are required to fulfil the very same needs, single-handedly, for someone else? I can, of course, see the charm in this: that one person is all you need for everything, ever, is undoubtedly a charming concept, but how much practical value does it really hold?

Humour me for a while, and picture this: you have your significant other with whom you have a blossoming relationship. Yes, there are fights, but you are able to “kiss and make up”, and you perceive things through rose-tinted glasses. Now it just so happens that you are plagued with an issue which your partner is not adept at handling, or which requires a view which your partner is unable to provide. You seek solace in another individual to whom you attach some value, and your qualms are put to rest.

Polyamory, most people fail to understand, is not just about having multiple sex partners, though that is very much a component of it; neither is polyamory a way to justify promiscuity. Polyamory is about understanding that more than one people should be allowed to influence your thoughts on love, career, sex, and all the other facets that make up life. Polyamory is about embracing the change that is brought by opening up to more and more people, instead of being confined to a box, with only one other mind for company.

Yet another aspect I’ve seen people have trouble with is that of relationships being a spectrum, and not a binary switch between polyamory and monoamory. It IS possible to sustain an emotionally polyamorous relationship without also making it physical. In fact, that has largely been the nature of my relationships for a long while now, and it has caused me little to no discomfort. On the other hand, it is also possible to have a physically polyamorous relationship without having an emotional one. There are hundreds of other combinations which abound when one truly considers the diversity of people, their needs, and the rationale behind relationships in the first place.

As is often the case with my personal posts, I shift the blame for things onto society. Society has conditioned us to make two things an integral part of our lives: labels and definitions. We spend our early years growing up in a society which has an obsessive need to label and define everything, relationships included. A couple who does not wish to label or define their relationship is still called a couple, because how else are we to attach stereotypes and conventional tropes to them. Even the most progressive of us get caught in the rigmarole that is the need to define, if not label.

There is a person, of remarkable intellect and a face which the gods must have forgotten to fault, with whom I sustain a relationship. What kind of relationship, you’d be tempted to ask, and therein lies the problem. Is it not enough that there is a relationship of some sort? That there is something physical (barely, to my displeasure), something intellectual, and something emotional in this relationship is enough of a definition. Our need to define things by assigning labels to them limits our expansion and growth as human beings; this is a belief that has only strengthened with time.

It is not as though I have taken a pledge against labelling, however; I understand the need for certain labels, such as defining certain things as harmful versus safe, or correct versus incorrect. Where relationships are considered, though, I cannot understand the obsession with monoamory, which seeks to lay possessive claim on another person. Relationships are deeply personal things; in fact, they are deeply interpersonal things, and with over seven billion people in the world, to limit the interpersonal interaction of a person to just “the one” other person seems to me inherently selfish.

Bonds are fickle things; they break and form in the blink of an eye. Bonds strengthen when they are allowed to mingle with other bonds, and form a network. Polyamory provides for that chance; the chance to strengthen not just one, but many bonds, by exposing the individual to the treasures of the human mind. Yes, there is a chance that in a polyamorous relationship your paramour would give someone else more importance than they would give you, but that is a risk you both are taking. And, in my very honest opinion, the risk and the (possible) jealousy are worth it, because at the end of the day, you are developing a more honest, a stronger relationship.

 

Fuck it, cut it, bleed it, burn it, then fuck it again

“The outrage!”

“Scandalous!”

“And on a public forum like this, what does he hope to achieve?”

“We should not be exposed to this kind of content. It is shameful, to say the least.”

I acknowledge that many of you may be of this opinion after haphazardly glancing upon the title of this post. If so, I request you to kindly pen down your opinion upon a piece of paper, fold it such that it assumes a nonchalant shape, and thrust it so far up your rectum that it becomes thoroughly coated with excrement, then proceed to dispel it with your ritualistic morning bowel motion. Your cooperation is much appreciated.

What did you just read? More importantly, what did I just write? This post has been long in the making. In fact, it has been so long in the making that this is the third draft that I am working on. I needed to get this just right, however, as the subject of this post is something which has been on my mind for almost as long as I have been writing.

Those who regularly frequent this small corner of the Internet will know of my running feud with institutions of right and wrong, and arbitrarily defined social constructs. Compound that with my sexual orientation, and established codes of morality, and we emerge as sworn enemies. How could this animosity, then, not translate into the things I write and, by extension, things I choose to read?

Ever since civilisations have been around, it would seem, there have been rules that needed to be followed. On a societal level, the existence of rules makes a fair bit of sense: no matter how much sinful pleasure you derive from malicious deeds, a dystopian society would not benefit anyone. Upholding of laws and a basic moral code (again, the very nature and definition of morality are severely in question here, but fuck it) seems essential for the progress and prosperity of any civilisation. The problem comes, at least for me, when these societal constructs are extended into art.

I use the term art very liberally here (hark!), meant to encompass all forms of art, though I primarily seek to speak of the written word. Art has long been a way of escape for many, many greats. It has been a source of comfort and release for ages and has produced great works in being so. Before it was a release, however, it was a form of expression. It was meant to put before the world whatever happened to float across the mind of the artist, and the mind doesn’t think by the rules of society. Why, then, is expression confined to those rules? If the expression of an idea is merely the physical realisation of fanciful notions, why do we put limits on it?

Is it fear? Do we fear that if the sacrilegious thoughts of a radical thinker became public, others would realise their own inappropriate desires, and seek to disrupt the intricate balance of society? What a load of bull. Art is revolutionary, whether it is moral or amoral. What makes art profound and transcendental isn’t its crass deliverance, but its content. If art were to resonate with a someone and push them towards a societal reform, it would be because they identify with the artist and the emotions conveyed in the art. By hindering the full expression of the art form, we kerb the full intensity of the emotion that can be conveyed, which is an injustice to art itself.

Recently, I had shared some explicit, erotic, Harry Potter fan art with a poor, unsuspecting friend of mine, who had honestly expected more innocent content. Needless to say, she was traumatised and verging on a stroke. The art, which shows the male heartthrobs of the saga passionately consuming each others’ bodies (in graphic detail), happens to be some of the best Harry Potter fan art that I have seen, ever. My friend’s reaction reminded me, once again, of how underexposed we are to art as a whole, and to the acceptance of various art forms, and assessment of art for their objective beauty, irrespective of their subjective appeal. It wasn’t her fault for being scandalised by the art, of course; the blame lies entirely on society, for narrowing our spectrum of appreciation of art forms to what it considers appropriate.

Now, I do not advocate subjecting four-year-olds to morbid and nihilistic works, but that does not mean that you do not even lay the path for them to one day discover those works without preconceived notions. Neither do I encourage people to go out of their way to be overtly crude with their delivery of art. It is not about being profane; it isn’t about being the most scandalous writer on the block; it’s about being true to yourself, and expressing whatever you wish to express, in whichever way you wish to express it.

For too long, now, there have been limitations on the kind of thing one can write in a particular context for a particular people at a particular time on a particular forum. How is anyone supposed to express themselves wholly with such limiting shackles binding all free thought? The reason this post is riddled with “age-inappropriate” content is simply to show people that freedom of expression needs to be wholly exercised.

To all those who have taken offence to the presentation of the most more than the actual content: I hope this is the last time.