Saturday 28 July 2012

Why I'm Boycotting the London Olympics

As the reader of this article is likely to be aware, the Greatest Sports Extravaganza Ever, also known as the London Olympics has begun today. If the reader is interested, I hope that he or she will derive great pleasure from it. Despite what I’m going to tell you, please don’t assume I have any desire for you to sacrifice or modify your plans in any way. What I’m going to say applies to me alone.

So this is what: I’m launching my personal, one-man boycott of the London Olympics. I shall not watch a single moment of it on TV. I shall not read about it on the Internet or newspapers. I shall avoid any and all mention of it, unless said mention involves some actual or "planned" “terrorist attack” which can be conveniently blamed on Iran and/or Syria (and, no, I would not rule out one).

The first Olympics I was old enough to potentially remember was Moscow 1980. You know, the one which was boycotted by the West because of the Soviet “invasion” of Afghanistan. I did not actually remember that because back then TV was virtually nonexistent in India (to my non-Indian readers, it may come as a surprise to know that television in India is essentially a phenomenon that began in 1982). I do remember seeing some photos in the papers and magazines, but that’s it.

The next Olympics was the one in Los Angeles in 1984, which was boycotted in turn by the Eastern Bloc (as it was then) with the exception of Nicolae Ceaucescu’s Romania. By then there was TV, and I remember two things about the opening ceremony. First, the wild cheers the (primarily American) spectators gave the Romanian team, for “doing the right thing”; five years later they would cheer equally frenziedly when Ceaucescu was summarily shot after a farcical kangaroo trial. The other thing I remember was the guy in a spacesuit and Buck Rogers jetpack who came flying through the air and landed in front of Ronald Reagan. As for the rest, in 1984 I was thirteen years old and there were more important things going on in my life.

And to date, after that, I’ve never really been very much into either competitive sports in general or the Olympics in particular. Sports, for me, means, you know, sports, as in fun and games – not a business or some kind of gladiatorial contest to be vicariously enjoyed. So, actually, I last had any contact with sports when I threw the hammer back in college and managed to come in last in the 400 metres.

So, it won’t be a stretch to say that my contact with the Olympics has been intermittent and shallow at best, somewhat like an inept rower repeatedly catching crabs (and, yes, I am an inept rower who repeatedly catches crabs). Once in a while I became briefly interested in particular athletes, usually one per Olympics: for instance, Hossein Rezazadeh during the Olympics before last, Usain Bolt last time. But though I cheered for said athletes, and ignored the others, it did mean that I at least watched the events in which said athletes participated. This time I won’t be doing it, though.

This time I am not going to take any part in the Olympics, as a spectator, at all.

These are my reasons:

1.     The sponsor: The sponsor for these Olympics is a company named Dow Chemicals, which has contracted with the International Olympic Association till 2020 and in particular with the London Olympics.

So what?

This: Dow is the same firm which supplied the Empire with Agent Orange[1], which was sprayed as a defoliant on the jungles of Vietnam, as a consequence of which children are being born deformed to this day. Dow has refused to compensate its victims, among whom are an estimated 4.8 million children.

Also this: the same Dow Chemicals later acquired Union Carbide, the company responsible for the Bhopal Gas Disaster[2] of 1984, in which an estimated 25000 people were killed, and as a result of which more deformed kids are being born to this day. Dow has refused liability for the crimes of Union Carbide, though knowing perfectly well what baggage it was taking on when it purchased the company; something I have called[2]

saying, in effect, that if you knowingly buy stolen property, it’s yours no matter what the original owner might think.

It might seem that even a cigarette company or a cocaine cartel would be a better sponsor, or at least a less harmful one, but David Cameron says Dow is a “reputable company”[1]; and David Cameron is, allegedly, an honourable man. At least he’s honourable enough to be Prime Minister of Britain, gracing the same 10 Downing Street once inhabited by the charming and meritorious Tony Blair.

When it was announced that Dow would be sponsoring the Olympics, there was considerable disquiet in India, and calls for boycotting the Olympics. But today’s India is no longer the nation which once had had the spine to shun sporting contacts with the apartheid regime in South Africa and the Zionazi pseudostate, so one always knew a boycott wasn’t going to happen. Even so, there was at least the likelihood of a symbolic boycott; by, for instance, staying away from the opening and closing ceremonies. But even that was too much for the invertebrates who comprise our national government, so the talk of any kind of protest quietly vanished. (And meanwhile, Dow is eager to invest in India, and the unelected so-called Prime Minister wants “Indian to progress even if Bhopals happen”; wonder if that had something to do with it as well.)

In an effort, however symbolic, to shame Dow, the handicapped children of the survivors of Bhopal held a “Special Olympic games” of their own, in which[3]

children suffering from cerebral palsy, partial paralysis and mental disabilities parading in wheelchairs and walking with the assistance of others around an outdoor stadium in the shadow of the old pesticide plant. One of the competitions was called "the crab walk": three children who were unable to stand propelled themselves down the 25-meter (sic) racecourse with their hands.

This made not a ripple in the corporate-controlled circus which runs the Olympics, of course; but in my considered opinion, it would be invidious of me to break with these people and the deformed kids in Vietnam to have anything at all to do with an event sponsored by Dow Chemicals. Just because my government is too supine to do anything about it doesn’t mean I have to be stained with the same guilt.

2.     Britain. Regular readers of mine will be long familiar with my views on Britain. Yes, I have a great many British friends, and I speak English better than any other language, but that doesn’t mean I can have anything but contempt for Britain as a nation. As I’ve said elsewhere[4], in the last decade alone, it was Britain

which was the prime mover in the destruction of Libya. It was Britain which legitimised George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq by joining in it with enthusiasm, and continues to help occupy Afghanistan. It’s Britain which continues to openly host, shield and protect Russian mafia oligarchs and Chechen terrorist warlords. It’s Britain which is about to host an Olympics sponsored by Dow Chemicals, responsible for the manufacture of Agent Orange, which to this day maims Vietnamese children, and which is now the owner of Union Carbide, responsible for the Bhopal gas disaster... None of this is surprising. To those of us whose nations suffered under the Union Jack(boot), British hypocrisy and mendacity are so familiar that we’d be astonished by anything else coming out of Perfidious Albion.

With Britain straining at the leash to participate in an invasion of Syria and helping to arm and train terrorists even as we speak, holding an Olympic Games in this mendacious, warmongering little tinpot pseudo-nation which still yearns for its long gone imperialist glory and attempts to achieve that by acting as the loyal tail of the Empire is a travesty.

Britain might get other peoples’ money via cable TV royalties and the like; it will not get any of mine.

At this point it might be claimed – as it very often is – that politics is separate from sports, and should be separate. To this I respond most humbly and reasonably: hogwash. Sports has everything to do with economics and politics these days – its entire structure is built around money and politics. It’s only after political and monetary requirements have been satisfied that any sport gets to be played, if at all. And today, sports events go only to countries in official favour. A few months ago, the Formula One took place in Bahrain[5] while the Empire’s favourite tyrants were shooting protestors with hunting rifles; was that, or wasn’t it, a political act? How would Britain react if a sports meet were to be scheduled tomorrow in Damascus?

I must say I like the horrible – but entirely appropriate – mascot, Wenlock, With its giant staring eyeball, it’s so perfect a symbol for the modern self-styled “free world” that it can’t be improved upon.

So, enjoy your Olympics, during which I hope nobody will be murdered by Scotland Yard for the “suspicious circumstance” of being brown, like the late Jean Charles de Menezes[6].

But you will enjoy them without me.


Raghead 28/7/2012

Copyright B Purkayastha 2012

Friday 27 July 2012


You think of them grappling
Little monsters in a drop of water –
Whipping flagella, thrusting pseudopodia
In a slow dance of life and death –

Splitting, eating, consuming
Living, dying, without ever knowing
Of such things as air, or the sky
Or even that they are alive.

Monsters in a drop of water
Crawling on a grain of sand
Blindly thrusting, living, dying, ignorant, alone.

It's so easy to destroy them.
Pour in a drop of an acid and they're gone.
It’s easy to feel contempt, easy to feel
Superior, exalted, above it all –

Sitting here in this drop of air
Covering a little rock turning round a minor sun
Surrounded by billions of others,
Existing a moment, now here, now gone
In the wink of a cosmic eye.

It's easy to feel exalted over 
The monsters in the drop of water
Who eat to live, and struggle to survive.
While the exalted make war on each other
And poison the waters and the air
To make things like plasma screen TV,
And fashionable gloves.

It’s easy, to drop bombs and make speeches
About freedom and democracy. Easy 
To destroy in the name of progress
To wipe out in the name of need
And economic growth.

Maybe the monsters in the drop of water 
Might have things to say
About who the real monsters are.

 Copyright B Purkayastha 2012

Raghead 27/7/2012

Copyright B Purkayastha 2012

Thursday 26 July 2012

At the End of Time

Once upon a distant time, two gods looked down on a star.

The star was almost dead. It glowed dimly, its faint glimmer not touching the orbiting rocks which had once been worlds, but were now merely cold cinders, stripped of atmosphere and water. And all around, to the endless limits of infinity, there was nothing else. Not a single spark of light from all the untold billions which had once lit up the firmament.

It was the End of Time, the cold dark death of the Universe.

The two gods looked down at the star, and remembered the time that it had warmed the planets, which had teemed with life.

“If only we could,” they said to each other, “we might have turned back entropy, and then the gulfs of space might have shone again with a myriad stars, life might have emerged again from the clouds of interstellar dust and crawled forth from primeval slime. But that is beyond our powers, for we are only gods.”

And they remembered when the Universe was new, and bright, and the life that had swarmed everywhere.

“I can remember,” said one god, “the sun on my skin, and the wind blowing clouds across a blue sky. I can remember the hiss of rain on leaves, and the roar of waves breaking on a stony shore. I can remember the kisses of lovers and the pain of sorrow. And I remember the joy of melding with other minds, and setting myself free from imprisonment within my skull. But memories are all I have.”

And the other god said, “I remember coming to life in the gulfs of space, when the mighty machines of all the civilisations of the galaxies pooled their knowledge. I remember bathing in the storm of cosmic particles, exulting in the touch of hard X Rays and radio waves. I remember the glow of giant red suns and the pull of black holes, and how I exulted, for that was all mine to savour. But it’s all over, all gone, and everything has burnt out.

And the two gods remembered all that had gone before, and would have wept, but could not, because they were only gods, and they could not weep.

Then the first god said, sorrowing, “Perhaps if we could put our minds and powers together, we might still be able to find a way to turn back the course of entropy.” This seemed good to the other god, and they put their knowledge and powers together. And if time could still have been meaningfully measured in years, aeons passed, and the glow of the star became dimmer and weaker, until just a spark was left.

And then it came about that the two gods found out how to reverse entropy, and bring the universe to life again. And they rejoiced, thinking now that the Universe could live again.

“We can have all that back again,” the first god said, “the churning seas and the warm rain, the cool touch of a breeze, the sighs of a lover in one’s arms, the joy of laughter. All that I remember can be, again.

“And there will be waving flags,” the god continued, “and marching armies, and the smoke of burning cities, and the cries of the bereaved, because I remember those too. And that is in the nature of things that these should be, if races should prosper and flourish. At least that is what I have seen, and I can think of no other way.”

The second god said, then, “I remember the planets being torn apart for resources, the stars being stripped to provide energy for cosmic factories turning out machines for destroying even more planets and stars. I remember the dust of dead systems which had once been vibrant with life and energy, but had been sacrificed so that such as you and I might be.”

“Perhaps,” the first god said, “it will not be like that this time.”

“Perhaps,” the second god agreed. “But can we take the chance? Should we?”

They floated, looking down at the last glow that marked the dying star, each waiting for the other to decide.

With a final spark, the glow winked out.

Darkness came down on the Universe, and the gods were as the galaxies of yesteryear.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2012

Raghead has his own site now

Though I shall still be posting his adventures here, as and when they happen, I've set up a site dedicated to him, where anyone interested can access all the strips without having to seek them out. Go here.

Monday 23 July 2012

Raghead 23/7/2012

Copyright B Purkayastha 2012

The Jarmaan Shefaard

The world’s rarest breed of dog is the Jarmaan Shefaard.

Also known as Elséshiaan or Elsishaan, this breed exists where you find the Bunglee middle class family. Nowhere else can you encounter one. It is simply not possible.

Through the length and breadth of Bunglistan, and by extension anywhere in the world (as far as Bunglees are concerned), there are just three types of dog: three only. These are the aforementioned Jarmaan Shefaard, the Bhutia Kukur, and the Deshi Kukur (or, as some Bunglee dialects have it, the Dishi Kukur or Peti Kukur).

The Bhutia Kukur can be recognised anywhere. It can be as small as a Pekingese or a Lhasa Apso, or as large as an Old English Sheepdog or a Tibetan Mastiff; that doesn’t matter. What matters is the fur.

Fur? What’s fur got to do with it?

Well, a Bhutia Kukur is marked by its fur. Any and all long-haired dogs are Bhutia Kukurs, be they Border Collie or Komondor, Shih Tzu or Pomeranian. They are all, every single one of them, Bhutia Kukurs to the Bunglee. The only exception to the rule is that their own family dog can never be a Bhutia Kukur. What their own dogs are, I’ll get to in a moment.

Above and below: Bhutia Kukurs.

All Bhutia Kukurs are from Bhutan (hence the name Bhutia Kukur, Bhutanese Dog). Even if they are Great Pyrenees Mountain Dogs from Andorra or Newfoundlands from Canada, if they’re Bhutia Kukurs, they’re from Bhutan. And all Bhutia Kukurs are universally delicate and will die on you without warning. If you buy a Bhutia Kukur, you’ll be lucky if it lives five days. Remember this.

The other common type of dog is the Deshi Kukur (Country Dog). This is an exceedingly common breed, in fact, a breed so common that every single dog in Bunglistan which is not a Bhutia Kukur – bar one very, very important exception – is a Deshi Kukur. You know that pure-bred fox terrier down the lane? That’s as much a Deshi Kukur as the piebald mongrel which accompanies you on your morning jog, tongue lolling; as much as the Doberman on guard duty at the police barracks outside town or the whippet racing the tracks on TV. They’re all Deshi Kukur; every single damned one of them. And they’re fit to be looked down on, the whole ill-bred caboodle.

Above and below: Deshi Kukurs

Deshi Kukurs don’t have pedigree. They can’t be trained, they’re promiscuous and have twenty or thirty puppies at one go (Bhutia Kukurs and Jarmaan Shefaards have only three or four; if they have more they aren’t Bhutia Kukurs or Jarmaan Shefaards). One of the worst insults you can offer a Bunglee is to call his dog a Deshi Kukur. How dare you.

Because, you have to remember, the Bunglee’s own dog is always a Jarmaan Shefaard. To each Bunglee, his dog, and only his dog, is a Jarmaan Shefaard. Oh, yes, he’s vaguely aware that other Jarmaan Shefaards must exist – at least the two who bred to give birth to his dog – but every other dog he knows is either a Bhutia Kukur or a Deshi Kukur.

The Jarmaan Shefaard, then, is the world’s rarest dog – because there is only one.

Now be clear about this – the Jarmaan Shefaard is not a German Shepherd. A real German Shepherd is the unattainable dream for the Bunglee, a dog that’s almost mythical, a dog the very idea of which sends shivers down the Bunglee spine, the very name of which is holy. Hence, the Bunglee’s own dog is always a Jarmaan Shefaard or “Elséshiaan” (the closest the Bunglee tongue can get to pronouncing “German Shepherd” or “Alsatian”). Even if it’s a mongrel whose closest brush with German Shepherdhood was that its grandfather once rubbed noses with a German Shepherd through a railing, it’s still a Jarmaan Shefaard. The Bunglee won’t be happy if you inform him that his Elséshiaan simply isn’t one.

This is not a Jarmaan Shefaard

This is a Jarmaan Shefaard
Along with the German Shepherd, a few Bunglees will admit to the existence of some other mythical breeds – the Bulldog, which is as big as a bull, the Bloodhound, which is so ferocious that it drinks blood, and the “hound”, which is the fiercest of the lot. But none of the Bunglees will have seen these animals; they’re in the same universe as mermaids or centaurs.

There are entertaining ways Bunglees squirm out of situations where they have to admit their dog might not be quite the German Shepherd they claim it to be. One common way is to call it, when challenged, a “mixed” Jarmaan Shefaard. Just what the poor animal was mixed with isn’t specified – it’s best left to the imagination. And if asked why the Jarmaan Shefaard is so small – the size of a terrier, say – they’ll claim stiffly that theirs is the real Jarmaan Shefaard and the larger ones are all “mixed.” And so on.

Bunglees are the world’s greatest experts on their Jarmaan Shefaards, too. Such things as “walks” or “brushing” are not necessary for their Jarmaan Shefaards, who are more likely than not chained up all day. The Bunglee knows that if you don’t tie up a dog, it gets “spoilt”, so it’s usually kept on a chain.

There are other things the Bunglee knows. For instance, the reason some dogs have their tails docked is that cutting the tail makes the dog “fierce”. But thankfully the thought of paying a vet to dock the tail will also make the Bunglee blanch, so the tail is always left alone.

But this is actually a two-edged sword. The Bunglee may not have his dog mutilated, but he won’t splurge on such things as anti-rabies shots either. In Bunglee canine mythology, a dog only needs to be inoculated if it bites people, because, you see, dogs have poison glands like snakes, and if they bite people, the poison kills them too in ten days unless you inject them with the “medicine”. No, I am not joking about this blithering idiocy – any of it.

I only wish I was.

Sunday 22 July 2012


Meet Raghead E Villdoer, an honest, hardworking, murderous terrorist. He happens to be the protagonist of my newly-launched cartoon, named, eponymously, Raghead. Today, he will introduce himself.

A few years ago I’d begun drawing a cartoon called Dana the Dozer Driver, but that never really took off. Thinking up new gags was just too tough. With Raghead, the material is out there, just waiting to be used. Be warned – if you’ve not already guessed – that there will be a high load of political content.

Those of you who have seen my paintings will be aware that I can actually draw rather better than this. However, for the purposes of this cartoon, I’ve chosen a deliberately minimalist style (if you want to know, I started with black sketchpen on paper, and then used Woodcut on Corel Painter 12 on the scan). The reason is that a cartoon, especially one like this which isn’t a soap opera like Apartment 3G or Mary Worth, should get its message across as directly as possible, and not lose its way in the minutiae of artwork.  Only your responses will let me know whether I’ve succeeded.

As always, feedback is appreciated; but for this endeavour, feedback is essential. Whether I continue with Raghead at all, or how often, will depend on what you think.

So, thanks in advance, and happy terrorising. Raghead wishes to talk to you.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2012