23 things in 2013

A list of the “first time” things I did in 2013—

1. Hiked in the Grand Canyon (first day of the year).
2. Biked on the Chicago Lakefront trail.
3. Couchsurfed.
4. Hosted a couchsurfer.
5. Saw a celebrity on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Helen Mirren).
6. Saw/heard an opera—Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.
7. Met the new love of my life—shiitake mushrooms.
8. Took a week-long solo trip.
9. Taught myself (with the help of two friends) how to ice skate.
10. Saw a play—Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party.
11. Went for a music concert—Mika.
12. Worked part-time as a tutor and proctor.
13. Paid income tax.
14. Attended a live music performance (BB Kings Blues Club, and House of Blues).
15. Saw from the outside both of Obama’s houses (White House and the one in Hyde Park).
16. Went to Disneyworld.
17. Went to beaches on the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean.
18. Ate at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown on the Chinese New Year.
19. Participated in a pride demonstration outside the US Supreme Court.
20. Saw the moon, Saturn, Uranus and some random stars through a telescope.
21. Experienced really cold temperatures (-20ºC = 4ºF).
22. Sent postcards to people I don’t know (via Postcrossing).
23. Started a blog!

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The worst way I can insult anyone is to be disappointed by them. Anger fades over time, frustration fizzles away, can’t care enough to hate and can’t care less to be indifferent. But disappointment, it stays, it is irredeemable. Mistakes can be forgiven, regrets can be fixed but nothing can be done to displace disappointment if it takes root in my being. I’m writing this post because I have been disappointed, by an institution that I believed in, one I thought would always do the right thing.

Two days ago, the Supreme Court of India pronounced its judgment on the fate of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the one that criminalises homosexuality. It reversed the 2009 decision of the High Court of Delhi to hold that 377 is constitutional. There are many things wrong with this reasoning, be it from the moral or legal or philosophical or whatever standpoint. It is a blow to the idea of India, to all Indians, gay or straight, and to every single person out there who cares about justice and equality. Because what is wrong, remains wrong, no matter how many people say otherwise. It is a shame for a court that prides itself on the role it has played in expanding the scope of human rights in India. An act of cowardice.

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

I was in Washington, DC on March 25 & 26– the days when the US Supreme Court was hearing the arguments in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases. I remember walking up to the hill to come across the colourful demonstration on the street in front of the SC building. So many people– young, old, gay, straight, white, brown, black, yellow– a rainbow of opinions. I must have stayed there for hours, soaking up the passion and pride, watching history being made, feeling part of something much, much bigger than myself. I remember feeling hopeful, that the US Supreme Court would usher in a new era of human rights jurisprudence, and that the Indian Supreme Court would follow suit in a few months’ time. Like the cherry blossoms that I did not get to see that spring, this is another wish that didn’t come true.

For a nuanced analysis of this decision and its implications, see–

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/12/12/carnal-injustice-india-s-outrageous-court-ruling-against-gays.html

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/A-queer-judgment/articleshow/27227195.cms

http://kafila.org/2013/12/12/we-dissent-siddharth-narrain/

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
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