Thursday, October 27, 2011

Zoos: Animal heaven or hell?

“I know zoos are no longer in people's good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.”

In "Life of Pi", (if you don't know what I'm talking about, get off your laptops, run as fast as your legs can carry you to the closest bookstore and don't come back here until you're over with it and in love), Yann Martel produces some convincing untrodden arguments surrounding the fairness of cooping animals in zoos.

Zoos seem like a dreadful, inhumane idea of a home for animals who were originally made to live in open, wide spaces. But weren't we made for the same natural, bare earth too? We choose to be a part of a convenient modern society: where wood, stone and bricks from the outside we turn into little homes, to be filled with all the survival tools we need. The concept of the zoo is a small-scale application of modern human social structures: necessities from the wilderness favourably packed together and brought to our doorstep.

Humans and animals like consistency. Just as human beings like to accustom themselves to society and a general routine, animals prefer the regularity of life in the zoo compared to the dangerous unpredictability of the wild. Animals at the zoo like having ample food and water brought to them instead of having to go on a quest in a battlefield for their essentials. They are being cushioned from a harsh hierarchy and territory warfare. They hardly escape their homes, even when the opportunity arises.

In a way, humans that form parts of social orders are zoo-ed creatures: Protected from the wild behind strong walls. On the other side of the walls is a vast, intimidating world where humans and animals alike can do the unthinkable in their crusade against death.

How do you feel about restraining animals in zoos for their homes?

Interesting image by cartoonist Leichnam

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Habitophobia: the fear of getting too used to earth

I made Habitophobia up, but it must be real because that's I find myself suffering from at the moment.

Kids find everything fascinating. Notice a baby's eyes as it takes in its surroundings. Sometimes what the baby sees around is too exciting to take: it flaps its arms, makes little shrieks and looks around at everyone else to see how they're taking it. The baby's probably thinking, "I guess I'm the only one who can see all this amazing stuff." The baby stares at its own fingers in wonder. Take one stroll in a zoo and you'll notice the sheer fascination on all the kids' faces, the squeals of delight: "GORILLA, Mommy! That's a GORILLA!"

"Yes, yes, gorilla..." come back the bored adult replies.
Have you noticed how just a stroll in the park can be the funnest part of kid's life?

At what point did earth begin to bore us? When did we have enough of it? The children can't be exaggerating- we were all equally captivated when we first looked around us. The earth isn't undergoing metamorphosis as we grow older- it still harbours the same phenomenal miracles. Is seeing our beautiful, magnificent home everyday enough of an excuse to be disinterested?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dubai roads....and what they tell us about life

Seven months ago, I wrote about my long, tiring quest for the driver's license... the license that would empower me with the ability to be wherever I wanted to be...whenever I wanted to be... (if my mom was okay with it)

The moment I felt the smooth, sleek surface of the plasticized card beneath my fingers, I had to hold it up to the light, just to make sure that really was my name and face staring back at me. Once this was confirmed, I slid the card into my wallet and ticked one of the items on the virtual check-list stuck at the surface of my mind's ceiling. Little did I know....

The long quest was only the beginning. The day I got my license began a whole other quest: this time, for approval to drive alone. For a month I cowered in the driver's seat, clutching onto the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white, feeling like a baby fox who must now learn how to venture into the forest. The world before me was a totally different one than the one I was trained to live in. The Judgement sitting next to me *cough*MAMA*cough* missed nothing: no messy turns, no sudden braking or excess speeding escaped her eyes.

Then one of those days, I was declared fit. Randomly. Just like that. "You're too much of a coward- you need to build up some guts, and you can only do that when you become your own judge."

My driving instructor didn't teach me anything. My mother did. And today, while driving back home from university (a journey that lasts between an hour and two) I was thinking about life and how representative roads are of it.

Dubai drivers, as a rule, stick to the basics of driving rules: driving in the center of a lane, stopping at a red light, starting at a green one, slowing down at speed's just when it comes to the details that it gets a bit messy. Like signalling before changing a lane, giving way to others, considering how much of a pain you'd be if you're in the wrong lane during a round-about, deciding not to block the path for twenty other cars just because you forgot to take your exit....

To the drivers that get on your nerves because they're not following the rules, you could react by:
a) Deciding to teach them a lesson by not co-operating: This sounds cool but it doesn't work- the driver isn't going to repent on seeing this and realize their mistake. The driver will fight back, and you will end up angry, humiliated and having changed nothing.
b) Co-operating: This sounds like "giving in" but it isn't. It's just realizing that your life and the lives of others matter more to you than your ego and your assumed responsibility of changing the world. Actually, there is more of a possibility of teaching the wrong driver a lesson in this case. Sort of like embarrassing them into being polite.

Sometimes, the noncooperation of other drivers could distract you from the route you're planning to take. Remember that all roads lead to Rome and that there are many paths to the same destination. You won't come across any road where you won't have to deal with others like you. Some of them may be nice, some not-so-nice, but as long as you have your destination in mind, you needn't worry one bit.

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