Thursday, September 21, 2006

Of Gays and Straights

Chapter XVI (Offences affecting the Human Body), Article 377 (Unnatural offences) of the Indian Penal Code 377 states:

"Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine." (Explanation- Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.)

Interesting to me is that what is "against the order of nature" is really not explained. I assume that it refers to non-procreative sex. So no blowjobs or butt sex. Which is really not the sole domain of the homosexual. However in India it is used as a tool to marginalized men who have sex with men (funnily enough women who have sex with women are really not thought of when it comes to 377, I guess most people assume that what lesbians do is not "real sex," but I digress).

In India groups have been fighting to get 377 of the books for years. In all honesty, the battles really have not really gone anywhere, but this year there have been a couple of great wins for the against-377 camp. Namely:

(this is the National AIDS Control Organization telling government that 377 is in the way of good public health against HIV) - NACO readies action plan to help gays

(this one has 100 of India's best and brightest talk against 377) - Backing gay rights

But the question still remains, "even if the law is repealed, will society at large change their opinion about sexual minorities?" Let's be honest here, the US the alleged bastion of democracy of the world, still oppresses same-sex behavior.

Yes, the movement has to start somewhere, I don't argue that. But after working with sexual minorities in India for the past 6 months, I realized that for most of the vocal ones what they want is to be apart from society. Asking for things like separate hospital wards and separate public restrooms for transgenders. I mean come on. What happened to not asking for special rights, but equal rights!?

India's gender dichotomy and lack of a cohesive sexual minority community will definitely slow down the movement towards mainstreaming.

Part of the reason I bring all of this now is that India is hosting an Asia and the Pacific region consultation on Men who have Sex with Men and HIV. Entitled "Risk and Responsibilities" the consultation hopes to address:

"the increased risks that men who have sex with men face through sexual practices and cultural vulnerabilities, and the risks of not addressing these with adequate, appropriate and sufficiently funded HIV prevention, treatment care and support interventions. This also flags the responsibilities of men for protecting themselves and their partners, and the responsibilities of governments, donors and other stakeholders in ensuring resources and environments that enable good-quality HIV programmes and services for prevention, treatment, care and support."

Not bad for a country where same-sex sexual activity is illegal.

So I will be in Delhi for the next 5 days, talking about what needs to be done and how can countries collaborate and streamline their initiatives. Mainly I'm going for the entertainment value of it. 300 fags, queens, and trannies from all over Asia coming together to "dialogue" with government representatives and donor agencies. Should be fun!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Birthday Calculator

My friend Manu forwarded me the following link ( It's pretty interesting. I'm fascinated knowing about all the things that were going on the year I was born. I had pretty much assumed all life started after I came along.
27 July 1976

Your date of conception was on or about 4 November 1975 which was a Tuesday.

You were born on a Tuesday
under the astrological sign Leo.
Your Life path number is 3.

Life Path Compatibility:
You are most compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 3, 6 & 9.
You should get along well with those with the Life Path numbers 1, 2, 5 & 11.
You are least compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 4, 7, 8 & 22.

The Julian calendar date of your birth is 2442986.5.
The golden number for 1976 is 1.
The epact number for 1976 is -1.
The year 1976 was a leap year.

Your birthday falls into the Chinese year beginning 1/31/1976 and ending 2/17/1977.
You were born in the Chinese year of the Dragon.

Your Native American Zodiac sign is Salmon; your plant is Raspberry.

You were born in the Egyptian month of Paopy, the second month of the season of Poret (Emergence - Fertile soil).

Your date of birth on the Hebrew calendar is 29 Tammuz 5736.

The date of Easter on your birth year was Sunday, 18 April 1976.
The date of Orthodox Easter on your birth year was Sunday, 25 April 1976.
The date of Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) on your birth year was Wednesday 3 March 1976.
The date of Whitsun (Pentecost Sunday) in the year of your birth was Sunday 6 June 1976.
The date of Whisuntide in the year of your birth was Sunday 13 June 1976.
The date of Rosh Hashanah in the year of your birth was Saturday, 25 September 1976.
The date of Passover in the year of your birth was Thursday, 15 April 1976.
The date of Mardi Gras on your birth year was Tuesday 2 March 1976.

As of 9/19/2006 8:10:19 AM EDT
You are 30 years old.
You are 362 months old.
You are 1,573 weeks old.
You are 11,011 days old.
You are 264,272 hours old.
You are 15,856,330 minutes old.
You are 951,379,819 seconds old.

Celebrities who share your birthday:

Alex Rodriguez (1975)Triple H (1969)Maureen McGovern (1949)
Peggy Fleming (1948)Betty Thomas (1947)Bobbie Gentry (1944)
Jerry Van Dyke (1931)Norman Lear (1922)

Top songs of 1976
Tonight's the Night by Rod StewartSilly Love Songs by Wings
Don't Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John & Kiki DeeDisco Lady by Johnnie Taylor
Play The Funky Music by Wild CherryDecember, 1963 (Oh What a Night) by Four Seasons
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover by Paul SimonKiss and Say Goodbye by Manhattans
If You Leave Me Now by ChicagoLove Hangover by Diana Ross

Your age is the equivalent of a dog that is 4.30958904109589 years old. (You're still chasing cats!)

There are 311 days till your next birthday
on which your cake will have 31 candles.

Those 31 candles produce 31 BTUs,
or 7,812 calories of heat (that's only 7.8120 food Calories!) .
You can boil 3.54 US ounces of water with that many candles.

In 1976 there were approximately 3.1 million births in the US.
In 1976 the US population was approximately 203,302,031 people, 57.4 persons per square mile.
In 1976 in the US there were approximately 2,152,662 marriages (10.1%) and 1,036,000 divorces (4.9%)
In 1976 in the US there were approximately 1,921,000 deaths (9.5 per 1000)
In the US a new person is born approximately every 8 seconds.
In the US one person dies approximately every 12 seconds.

In 1976 the population of Australia was approximately 14,110,107.
In 1976 there were approximately 227,810 births in Australia.
In 1976 in Australia there were approximately 109,973 marriages and 63,230 divorces.
In 1976 in Australia there were approximately 112,662 deaths.

Your birthstone is Ruby

The Mystical properties of Ruby

Ruby is said to open one's heart to love.
Some lists consider these stones to be your birthstone. (Birthstone lists come from Jewelers, Tibet, Ayurvedic Indian medicine, and other sources)

Your birth tree is
Cypress, the Faithfulness

Strong, muscular, adaptable, takes what life has to give, happy,content,optimistic, needs enough money and acknowledgment, hates loneliness, passionate lover which cannot be satisfied, faithful, quick-tempered,unruly, pedantic and careless.

There are 97 days till Christmas 2006!
There are 110 days till Orthodox Christmas!

The moon's phase on the day you were
born was new.

Copyright © 2006 Paul R. Sadowski (

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Indians LOVE festivals, holidays, or any excuse to drink, party and be merry. And from what I've gathered all such occasions begin with a religious undertone. After all, who is going to oppose a celebration in the name of religion? Smart thinking.

The Ganesh Chaturthi or Ganesh Festival, is an exercise in organized chaos. Celebrated over 11 days, it seems to be the event of the year in Mumbai and one that brings out the spiritual side of even the most jaded. Kinda like Christmas but without the presents. Similar to Durga Puja in Kolkata there were temporary temples (known as pandals) all over the city which housed the idols for display before between taken on the procession for immersion. I was feeling lazy and didn't take my camera along so I have no photographic evidence of them. BUT, I did take some snaps of the procession down to ChowpattyBeach.

The sea of people was more monumental than the sea itself, which welcomed the idols.

Honestly, I think I liked Durga Puja better. Granted my DP experience was more organized. But in Kolkata there was definitely a more "community celebratory feel" to the whole thing. Peeps in Mumbai said that Ganpati is more of a family celebration.

Though one does see the competitive spirit that emerges out of who has the biggest better pandal (it always comes down to that doesn't it), the lines that form out of some of them are counter productive. I'm sorry but I'm not going to stand in line for 2-3 hours to look at a big paper maiche and plaster elephant, no matter how pretty and significant it is.

Anywho, these are a few pics of the immersion at night (it was WAY too hot to go during the day), that is before the police told me to stop taking pictures because apparently there was a bomb scare. Granted why would a terrorist be taking pictures of the end of an event if he was hoping to blow it up, is beyond me, but who am I to question these things.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Things about India I hate (or just plain annoy the fuck out of me)

Living in a developing country definitely has its fair share of crap that one has to get used to. Not to say that developed countries are perfect, but I think the nature of the things that one has to put up with is different.

The items in the following list are by no means unique to India, but since this is where I have been living for the past 12 months their context is all Indian. And it does wear you down.

1) The Traffic - allegedly there are some sort of traffic regulations that drivers are meant to follow. Supposedly there is some sort of licensing procedure for prospective drivers. Theoretically in India one drives on the left-side of the lane. IN PRACTICE HOWEVER, none of these things hold true. The roads in India are a chaotic mess of blaring horns (there has to be some sort of genetic disorder which forces Indians to constantly pound on the horn for no good reason, or maybe its some sort of advanced Morse code where drivers have conversations with each other. Who knows, but it is fucking annoying), meandering animals, auto-rickshaws, decrepit careening buses, pedestrians, cars, carts, bicycles, and trucks all vying for the same piece of space at the same time, coming from all directions. Fun! It's like a live version of Frogger.

2) The Rude People - I do understand that rules of etiquette vary country-by-country. However, name one place where it is consider polite to push and shove, and not even attempt to form some sort of orderly system to get serviced or acknowledged. So while I just accept it out of fear of mob rule in my head I scream: "Yes motherfucker I was standing here before you, No you cannot place your order before me, or after me for that matter that lady there is next". "Bitch, you see this group of people here, they ALL arrived before you, go to the end. No one cares that you are late, next time leave earlier". "Yo asshole, I would have moved if you had asked nicely, push me one more time and I'll go ghetto on your ass". Ugh!!

3) The Corruption - This may not be Nigeria (which by all accounts is the most corrupt nation in the world), but the corruption here is pretty ridiculous. I'm not too familiar with the issues at the higher levels, but I have had to deal with police trying to get bribes (and succeeding a couple of times), having to pay an extra Rs.500 to get a package sent to me because "We don't acknowledge a US passport as valid proof of ID." Give me a fucking break!

3) The spitting, pissing, shitting in public - Either Indians are the phlegmiest people in existence or they have way too many upper respiratory problems, compound that with the incessant chewing of betel nut , paan, and/or tobacco, and you have a nicely splotched vista. Most public (and private) spaces have signs forbidding spitting, yet you find tell-tale red splotches everywhere (even the courthouse - I've witnessed one too many lawyers expectorating their juicy remains unto the walls.) We also have the men (and occasional women) who seems to be unable to wait till they got home or to their next place of business to relieve themselves. In case no one has had the distinct pleasure of smelling festering urine cooking in the afternoon heat, well you don't know what you are missing. And lastly, there is poo everywhere! Major urban areas, and particularly Mumbai, has housing shortages. Which creates this whole group of people known as "the pavement dwellers" which the US would classify as homeless. Well being homeless means you have no bathroom and living in an urban area means that there are no fields. And human nature being what it is. Well you get the point.

4) The obsession with skin color (namely fair) - This seems to be a global phenomenon. Most people want to be lighter than the next guy, except if you a re white which then you try to be tan, but not too tan because you don't want to be dark either. India has a whole industry around whitening products, "Fair and Lovely" for women and "Fair and Handsome" for men and two of the major brands. The advertising for these are absurd bordering on the insulting. It grates on my nerves when people say, "you can't be from the Caribbean you are too fair". From skin lightning creams, lotions, soaps, foundations, make-ups, you name it. Anything to achieve that apparently perfect concept of beauty - White!

5) The unprofessionalism of the NGO sector (and at times government) - For the record, I have learned since moving to India that expecting meetings to start and end on time, to have meeting agendas, to expect people to pay attention, turn their mobiles off, stay focused on the issue, keep records, document findings, follow policies and procedures, et al is a western concept and I will have to be patient for people here to adopt these practices. Fucking Bullshit! Sounds business practices are sound business practices. Its not asking too much for people to follow fucking deadlines, especially when money is involved and particularly when I'm paying you. You want to know what's hindering development in India the lack of ownership and accountability that is permeating the system.

Sigh! I guess that's enough for now, I should leave some more to have something to bitch about when I leave India.