Why Obi, do I see two watches on your wrists?
Chris Martin (Coldplay), VH1 Storytellers
All images copyrighted to LIFECo.
This song is a song that just came out of the blue, out of nowheer, one night in Wales and originally it was like a Neil Young song, or it sounded like a Neil Young song but it was missing this key word. And it used to go, ‘Look at the stars, look how they shine for you. And all the things you do…’ and there was this gap. And I remember showing this song to John, he was playing darts. But it was missing this key word. So I was sitting there singing this song and I looked at the nearest book to me and it was the Yellow Pages. In an alternative universe, this song would be called ‘Playboy’. But it isn’t. Thank goodness, that book was there…
Chris Martin (Coldplay), VH1 Storytellers
All images copyrighted to LIFECo.
Well, let’s say, when you were little, you always dreamed of some day getting a lion. And you wait and you wait and you wait and you wait and the lion doesn’t come. Then along comes a giraffe. You can be alone or you can be with the giraffe.
After the somewhat raving reception to our last edition of “A guide to understanding lesbians”, we have written the sequel which provides deep insight into the workings of a lesbian mind.
Q: Is lesbian sex as good as straight one? How?
TC: Actually, it’s better. What’s better than two boobs? Four! Math trumps everything.
Also, NO BIRTH CONTROL! Yayyyyy!!!!
Q: What sort of sexual activity do you indulge in?
Broom: The fun kind. The kinky kind. The romantic kind. The missionary kind. The same kinds as the spectrum of straight people do, basically.
TC: Naughty, naughty! If you want dirty stories, why don’t you just watch some porn? Are not getting enough? Why beat around the bush? Ohmaigod, I punned.
Q: How do you indulge in penetrative sex?
Broom: First of all, not all of us do. And if we do there’s 10 fingers and countless sex toys.
TC: I am convinced you are not watching enough porn.
Q: Which is the most comfortable sexual position for women and why?
Broom: It depends on the woman, moron.
TC: Hey! We are only throwing in a Grammar 101 for free. For sex-ed classes, please send cheque for $101. Videos provided separately. Taxes may apply.
Q: Are sex toys readily available?
Broom: In London, they are, yes.
TC: Seriously, who’s going to pay the rent if we spend our cash on toys! We usually improvise with whatever blunt phallic-shaped household items we can lay our hands on.
Q: Do some lesbian go around or have sexual flings with men to double check if they’re lesbians or just bi-curious?
Broom: Do straight men go around having sexual flings with men to ‘double check’ if they’re bi-curious or just straight?
TC: Children, the plural of lesbian is “lesbians”. To answer your question, it is the unavailability of handsome men like Karan Johar and Anderson Cooper that has driven us to seek pleasure in women. Nothing less will do.
Q: How would you define an ‘appealing lesbian partner’? Physically and emotionally.
Broom: Someone who looks like Chitrangada Singh, is kind, rich and intelligent.
TC: Maybe I was not clear when I said I NEED MORE CLOTHES. MOOAARR.
As long as she is the same size as I am and is generous enough about sharing her clothes, I am super happy. If she can also wax, manicure and pedicure, I would marry her. If she can cook, I’ll co-sign loans, leases, a pact with the devil…ANYTHING!
Q: Say in a group of ten girls at a party, if three are lesbian, what’re the indicators you would use to spot them?
Broom: All lesbians tattoo rainbows on their boobs - it’s the law. So if we suspect someone is a lesbian we ask them to flash us so we can know for sure.
TC: If you turn off the lights, our private parts glow in the dark like little beacons of gayness. Beacons? Runways? Landing strips? Get it? BAZINGA!
Q: Do you try influencing straight people to convert to ‘lesbian’?
Broom: Yes! All the time. We publish manuals on the top 10 ways to encourage people to convert to lesbianism. We have a reward system similar to Amway, for every straight person you convert you get a commission for her and for every straight person she ends up converting. Hide your mothers and sisters, we’re coming to get you.
TC: How can I explain this grammar rule? Okay, people who follow Hinduism are Hindus. People who follow Islam are Muslims. Hence lesbians follow?
Therefore the question should be framed such, “Do you try influencing straight people to convert to ‘lesbianism’?
Look machan, it’s all about the moral salvation. For every lesbian we convert, The Secret Society of Awesomesauce Lesbians ensures that we get a free pass to lesbian heaven, an exclusive after-life club. But with the proliferation of lesbian porn and openly gay celebrities the straight folks need fewer persuasions to come bat for our side. More and more lesbians are crowding our once-exclusive club. All the riff-raff has gotten in and it’s no longer as special or privileged as it used to be. *Sigh* The good ol’ days…
Q: They say, mostly girls who are child abused, grow up to be lesbians. How true? Or why false?
Broom: The only abuse I faced as a child was having to drink Bournvita every morning. Maybe that turns us into lesbians? I should use Bournvita to increase my conversion rate & earn higher commissions.
TC: The question should be framed thus: “How true is this? If false, why?”
Yes. True. As a teenager growing up in the 90s , abuse came in many forms. Seeing Vivek Mushran act, Govinda doing pelvic thrusts, Anil Kapoor baring his chest again and again. This repeated visual assault was aggravated by lyrical ignominies like, “Achikoo Bachikoo Kachikoo”, “Chin China China”, “Hata Saawan ki Ghata”. The only respite was Madhuri doing Dhak Dhak and Kimi Katkar giving Chummas and Juhi going Tu Tu Tu Tu Tara and Raveena’s gyrations in Tu Cheez Baree hai Mast Mast. The 90s were tough times. I am going to lie down now.
Q: Do you always play the ‘husband’ or you flip?
Broom: We take turns. One of us wears a dhoti-kurta & the other wears a sari. While I’m the husband I boss my wife around, don’t do the dishes & demand a dowry. One time I tried to set her on fire. That back-fired when it was her turn to be the husband, though.
TC: I’ve done everything I could to get her to grow her body hair. Once I bought her a Groucho Marx get up, as a hint. But it mysteriously disappeared the following day and no mention was made of it. The next week, I could hear our neighbour groaning “Oh, Groucho! Gimme Mo!”
The best we can do these days is leaving the toilet seat up, just to shake things up a bit. When we feel particularly adventurous, one of us cracks a fart joke!
Q: Do you find yourself more attractive than the other straight girls in your group because men
Broom: This question was incomplete when it was sent to us. Maybe a COPY-PASTE fail?
TC: Look, son… We’re lesbians. Not mind readers.
Q: If a guy proposes you, how would you refuse?
Broom: By shaking my head vigorously? I’d also call our brother organisation ‘Gay Conversions’ and send them a potential lead for converting a straight man into a gay man.
TC: I always start by saying I like women. The nice, understanding blokes feel a bit crushed but they take it well. The ones who insist that we are just confused? I say, “Okay, but I am not a chaste virgin.” That makes 90% of them disappear. The ones who persist, I tell them about my STD. That always works.
Q: When you think about your partner, what do you fantasize?
Broom: I fantasize about her putting away her shoes, doing the laundry & cooking me a nice dinner so I can find the time to fantasize.
TC: I fantasize about wearing her shoes, freshly ironed clothes and the steaming dinner she cooks for me.
Q: Do lesbians have g-spots?
Broom: Is the lesbian in question physiologically a woman? Yes? Ok, does that answer your question?
TC: What are G-spots? No relation to polka dots I suppose? A skin affliction? The only spots I know are the ones zits leave behind.
We also have G-strings, if you’d like to wear some.
Q: What you miss about having sex with a man?
Broom: Missing the point, aren’t we? AGAIN.
TC: The correct way to frame this question is, “What ‘do’ you miss about having sex with a man?”
Where do I begin? Perhaps having my nipples being tweaked like the dials of a radio? Or maybe the part where I must bargain to do a week of chores in exchange for wearing condom? Or perhaps having my head pushed down in the hopes of getting blown? Or maybe the part where they roll over and sleep when we’re done? God, I miss it so much… I am cruising the straight bars tonight.
Q: Ranbir is polular amongst who’s the one amongst lesbian? And why?
Broom: Another horribly typed question. I’m assuming he meant Ranbir is popular amongst the gay community, who’s popular amongst the lesbian community - I’m thinking the answer is Katrina.
TC: This question contains so much gibberish, I don’t even know where to begin. I will attempt to demystify this cryptic puzzle.
Do you mean pustular? What a terribly rude thing to say. Also two much amongst in there for my comfort.
Oh POPULAR. Yes, yes, he’s certainly popular. We’re just using Ranbir as bait to bond with seemingly straight women. After a few drinks, we have them convinced that we’re soul sisters and then we devolve to being soul-mates. All a part of the grand-conversion-scheme.
Q: Do lesbians meet girls for ‘no strings attached sex’?
Broom: If he knew MJ, he wouldn’t ask that question!
TC: Are you asking for G-strings again? Way to be, subtle… jeez!
Q: Are there ‘lesbian call girls’? Or have you ever heard about it?
Broom: I haven’t heard about it, but I’m sure there are.
TC: Yes. But I am not giving you their number!
Q: What type of lesbian you wouldn’t date?
Broom: The kind that’s in the closet & refuses to ever come out. Although, once upon a time that was me.
TC: The correct way to frame this question is, “What type of lesbians would you not date?” (note: A kind reader pointed out that, this could be written also written thus: ‘What type of lesbian would you not date?’)
As for the answer to your question: The ones who are thinner than me. How will I ever fit into their clothes?!
Q: Are lesbian pornons [sic] popular?
Broom: Yes, amongst straight men, mostly.
TC: Porn-ons are no turn-ons.
Q: Do lesbians feel more masculine with a strap-on dildo for [sic]?
Broom: Depends on the lesbian. And not all of us want to/need to feel masculine or need a strap on to make us feel like masculine - whatever ‘masculine’ means, anyway.
TC: HELLO! Mind reading, again? Didn’t your momma teach you to complete your questions?
Q: Do leasbians discuss sex more than straight couples together? Are they more passionate?
Broom: Is there a quantifiable amount that defines how much straight couples discuss sex? It depends on the couple.
TC: Okay, I said grammar lessons. NOT spelling classes.
As for your answer, could you perhaps be kind enough to send us a taped weekly recording of all the sexual conversations you’re having with your partner? I promise to not judge or share. But if we must compare, we need to work with real quantifiable data. For passion quotient, we will create an impartial panel consisting of gay men since they neither belong to your team nor mine. Okay, brother? Winner buys sex-toys.
Q: Are they also more sexually active?
Broom: Depends on the couple.
TC: Please send weekly stats as stated above. Protection from feeling inadequate, not guaranteed.
Q: Tell us about lesbian quickies?
Broom: There’s no such thing! Lesbian sex lasts for hours, sometimes days.
TC: Funny story. Once we competed with Maggi noodles to see which would be done faster. We forgot about the competition and the noodles on the stove and our house caught on fire. But we kept it up through the raging flames. Yes, we live on the edge.
Q: You have sex during your period?
Broom: I try not to do anything that requires any energy during my period.
TC: We stop for nothing! Periods are for wimps! We live on the edge!
Q: Do you also check for STDs?
TC: NO! WE LIVE ON THE EDGE!
Q: What is it about a lesbian that’s most ‘beautiful’?
Broom: It’s the rainbow tattoo on our boobs.
TC: Never having to worry about birth control! No more condoms… Booyah!
Q: Are threesome popular amongst lesbians?
Broom: No idea!
TC: The only time my partner and I tried it with an over-enthusiastic third wheel, our limbs got horribly mangled and we were stuck together for days, until we were separated through surgical means.
And on that note, we conclude this exciting compendium of incisive answers to The Straight Man’s questions on “What are lesbians made of?” Please feel free to leave your own answers in the comments to any questions that catches your fancy.
Children, it’s Friday the 13th. We have our own version of horror that we will share with you today.
Recently, we were contacted by someone from a Men’s Magazine that shall not be named but I can tell you that their name begins with an ‘F’, ends with an ‘M’ and has a middle initial of ‘H’. We were asked if Gaysi would be willing to answer a ‘witty questionnaire on lesbian sex’. Witty? Warning bells! But you know how we have a penchant for attracting these sorts.
As lesbians, we’re all too familiar with straight men’s fantasy of what lesbians are like. So with much trepidation and dread, we waited for this supposedly ’witty questionnaire on lesbian sex’. When the email finally arrived, we were more than prepared for some idiocy. However, we were ill equipped to handle the total ignorance and homophobia that came neatly tied in a red bow. We wanted to give them the tiniest benefit of doubt and I shot them an email to let them know how I felt.
The response? I was told I was upset because the questions were sexual in nature! We love being told by men, why we feel the way we do, don’t we? Yessum.
If he perhaps took the trouble to read our very colourful erotica section or even attempt a 3 minute conversation with MJ, he’d be forced to reassess the parameters of what he considers ‘sexually provocative’. His magazine would look like secondary –school level fiction in contrast to what is penned by our lovely Srini.
He was also deeply hurt we called his organisation homophobic, because hey, how can someone with trophy gay friends be homophobic, right? Wrong. They are one step higher on the moral plane.
‘we’re not homophobic since we have at (sic) different organisations supported LGBT cause’.
We were perhaps being too generous about their level of their writing. Secondary school kids have better grammar. When he claimed that these questions had been asked by ‘magazines worldover’ we performed the obligatory Google search to get to the bottom of this. And voila! He had indeed directly lifted a couple of questions from said, ‘magazines worldover’.
I asked him to name any one organisation that they had supported for the LGBT cause and we are yet to hear back. But we are not holding our collective breaths on that one. So The Cathartist (TC) and I have decided to be kind and answer some of their questions because we are quite confident no other self-respecting LGBTQ organisation will. In good cop-bad cop style too, because we all love our sweet-and-sour chicken soup.
What’s more, we’ll also throw in a Grammar 101, for FREE!!
Q: Being a lesbian is more about emotions or sex?
Broom: Ok - not terrible. Stereotypical question, but not offensive. Here’s your answer: To me being a lesbian is about being in love/being attracted to/ wanting to be with someone who happens to be a woman.
TC: Firstly, the correct way to frame this question is, “Is being a lesbian more about emotions? Or sex?”
As for the answer, being a lesbian for me is actually neither. It’s about closets. No, not THAT cliched closet. To be more precise: my shrinking wardrobe. I bet you weren’t expecting that one, eh? Let’s face it, dolls. The economy is sinking faster than your hearts did when you watched India play in Australia last week. I don’t have enough money to buy all the jeans and shirts I need. So how best to solve this clothing crisis than to find a female lover (of my size, of course!) who will be happy to pool in our precious resources. The sex is just a bonus.
Q: Do you hate men? Or are they not as emotionally sound you would want them to be?
Broom: O.M.G! Gee! I don’t know. Do straight women hate other women? Do straight men hate other men? No?! Really? Hmm. I guess we don’t hate men then.
TC: Lookere, I dated a few men in my prime. I don’t hate them. They’re quite lovely when they’re not leaving the toilet seats up or controlling the telly remote. But you’re right, they’re emotionally stunted creatures. One of them cried like a baby every time Messi missed a goal. Another one couldn’t take a crap unless he read the newspapers every morning. One couldn’t sleep at night unless he had dealt with at least one troll on the internet. And the last one? He needed tranquilizers to calm down every time George Lucas revised Star Wars.
Women on the other hand? Piece of cake. If you can accurately predict when “that time of the month” is (you know… emotional tantrums, the bitchy comebacks etc.) the rest is a walk in the park.
Q: How would you deal with an intervention session by your parents/friends about you girlfriend addiction?
Broom: COPY PASTE ALERT! The original question was “Your friends gather together and ask you to come. They’ve decided to do an intervention around your girlfriend addiction” and was lifted from here.
I’m not even going to bother answering this one because if my parents and friends had an intervention session because they thought that I had an addiction because I am in love with a woman then they are clearly psycho.
TC: Surely you’ve studied possessive pronouns in school? No? Okay, let me send you a Wren and Martin for your birthday. When referring to my addiction, please write, “your girlfriend addiction”. Okay? Good. Now for your answer.
Usually, I deal with this intervention attempt by saying, “Would you rather I get knocked up by a man?!” That usually shuts them up. Because seriously, desi parents would rather have a virtuous lesbian daughter than an unwed pregnant one. Duh!
Q: When a girl kisses you, would you feel the same when a man would have?
Broom: It depends on who’s kissing me. Personally, I like kissing my girlfriend WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY(^infinity) more than I liked kissing my ex-husband.
TC: The correct way to frame this question is, “When a girl kisses you, does it feel the same as kissing a man?”
Men of “international monthly men’s lifestyle magazine”, I ask you, have you ever tried kissing your broom? No, not our darling Broom! But a broom, that thing your maid uses to sweep the floor? No? To understand our sentiment about kissing a man, I implore you to kiss your broom. If that seems daunting, try your wife’s hair brush. How do you like that bristly feeling in your mouth? Not so much, eh? That should answer your question. On the off chance, that you may have enjoyed it I think it’s time for serious introspection. New exciting encounters await!
Q: When did you first ask yourself ‘Am I a lesbian’?
Broom: When I fell for my girlfriend.
TC: When I watched Fire by Deepa Mehta. That was her plan all along, anyway. To get all of us women to ask ourselves, “Am I a lesbian?”
Q: Your girlfriend is going on a business trip. You:
Broom: COPY PASTE ALERT! The original question was exactly the same and was also lifted from here.
I can answer this very easily. My girl left on a business trip to India on Saturday. She left for the airport at 6.30 am & there was no way I was waking up that early on a Saturday. So I sleepily hugged her back when she hugged me before leaving & gave her a kiss & mumbled something about flying safely & then went back to my beauty sleep.
TC: I usually do all of the above. I take her to the airport, kiss her good bye, wish her good luck, watch her plane take off, buy a ticket to where she’s going, board the next plane out, secretly use my lesbian powers to ‘finagle’ a duplicate key to her hotel room, wait for her to return and jump on her screaming, “BOO!” when she enters the room. The last time I did this, she thought I was an intruder and whacked a champagne bottle over my head. When I came to, I realised restraining orders were also included.
Q: How would you react when you see your partner watching porn alone or with another girl? Does that make you insecure?
Broom: Alone? I’d ask her if I could join in. Another girl? There would be big drama if that ever happened.
TC: We have a weekly porn-club which is sort of like a book club, but for porn. We watch it as a group, critique the different plot lines and techniques and discuss the anatomical anomalies in the actors used in the film. Seriously, some positions portrayed are just ridiculous!
These are only half the questions and we needed to pour ourselves a stiff drink, after answering these. The path to enlightenment is paved with many bottles of whiskey. For more insight into our lesbian ways, please wait for our next installment of “A Guide to Understanding Lesbians”. We’re going to take a deep breath now.
Originally posted on GaysiFamily.com.
I have tried to come up with a hearty “happy new year” post for many days now. But suffering from a debilitating affliction which strikes the best of us - Writer’s Block - I was unable to write one sufficiently creative or celebratory. But this video has shaken me out of my stupor.
I am sure all of you are familiar with the “It Gets Better” project by Dan Savage. This provides some context to this video. As an editor at Gaysi, I have read and edited many many coming out stories. Some serious, some humorous, some awkward but all very heart-felt and soul-stirring. It is indisputable that the process of self-discovery and eventually coming out is hard for all of us no matter if we are L, G, B, C, D, E or from any of the fastly growing queer alphabets. But this is further compounded for those of us who are desis and then some more for those who come from conservative religions. This video is moving as the speaker shares his journey in which he has to contend not just with homophobia but racism and parental opposition and several other obstacles. His story is also hopeful and inspirational as he reassures us that there is light at the end of the proverbial dark tunnel. And because we’re so special (actually I pestered him a bit), NYScholartist spoke to Gaysi about why he decided to make this video:
I made this video to answer some of the hard questions that queer South Asians face in the United States and to provide a message of love, hope, and acceptance. If we can understand where we belong in this society, and what we can do to fight injustice, racism, and homophobia, then we’ll truly be able to enjoy the pursuit of happiness.
He also wishes he had more desi lesbian friends. You know what that means: Go watch the video, show some lesbian love and spread the word. As promised by Broom, we want to feature more voices from Desis across the globe. So here’s to new beginnings and many happy endings! :)
It could be because of the new women I’ve started to follow on Twitter or it may be that this stems from an emerging (good) trend where more and more people from the east have begun to reassert their identity as they themselves choose to define it (as opposed to being seen through a ‘western’ prism).
As a brown person who has lived in an Arab country for over 20 years, I am not only a target of racist stereotypes formed by local Arab nationals but also by Western expatriates.
What I am however against is this routine bashing of all white people as though they are a monolith that represents complete ignorance. It is ironical that the idea behind such writing is to protest against stereotypes and racism. While I don’t have many specific examples to illustrate my point, the most glaring example I can see is this blog.
As someone who has volunteered in Africa and lived for a long time with American, Canadian, European and Australian volunteers, I know and understand where the creators of this blog is coming from. There are a few volunteers from these regions who have never travelled outside their respective countries and are very young (18-24). Their motives for volunteering could be to just have this trip added as a trophy philanthropic achievement on their resumes. Their overwhelming sense of amazement and wide eyed wonder at everything ethnic is occasionally funny and frequently jarring. But they all mean well. In their own, small, seemingly insignificant and often clumsy ways they do the best they can to ‘make a difference’. Their idea of what needs to be done to ‘save africa’ is a far cry from reality. That said, not all ‘white gurls’ or volunteers are the unidimensional white-trash that they’re made out to be.
What I’d however like to see is volunteer organizations that educate their volunteers instead of creating exotic-voluntourism packages. To mock them all does not educate them in any way. It is mean spirited and a form of racism, no matter how much you deny that it isn’t.
This just an example, of course. But in every debate when you reduce Americans to a caricature of ‘ignorant/gun toting/war loving’ group, you must question if you’re perhaps committing the same mistake that you’re protesting against.
The best kind of books are the ones that make you want to write. The Reward by R.Singh (ISBN: 978-0-9842019-0-7) does just that.It starts off interestingly as the writer uses rich imagery to paint vivid pictures of his childhood. The writing here creates such strong impressions, that I shared his nostalgia, when he recollects his childhood memories towards the end of his life. It momentarily made me pine for some of my own childhood… a phase of my life that I like to think about, very little.
But for me, the story is as much about the words as it is about the pictures. There are portions, where the writing takes the form of staccato; short, clipped sentences, as though the narrator is pausing for emphasis. Like in music, I find the effect more annoying than poignant.
The man in the black coat motioned me back to my father’s table. It was starting to feel cold. We ate shrimp in silence. Families came and went. We looked at our water glasses, and occasionally, each other. We were both very tired.
The narrator, Antonio, is incredibly self aware as he relates his childhood experiences, his relationship with his parents, his parents’ tumultous marriage, his sister, his best friend Ramon… He shares every thought, no matter how flippant or meaningful.But then he outs himself to his friend Tika in a self-conscious blurt, almost unexpectedly. I found it jarring that his awareness about being a ”maricón” was never mentioned in the story before. It was as if that awareness was meant to be a secret from his readers. I was surprised by own emotional response to this incident. I felt betrayed, like he had let me down somehow by not sharing his secret with me first. I was no longer rooting for him, as I read along. I also felt little empathy for him when he indulged in self-pity.
I lost interest in church. Where was God’s brain? They mess up, so I have to be a homosexual? I get treated badly, and it’s their punishment? If God made us in his image, why did he make mosquitoes?
I thought, “So NOW you want to talk to me about this? Too little too late.” But eventually Antonio wins you over and you find yourself on his side again. He doesn’t struggle with his sexuality the way such narrators tend to do. He’s comfortable with it and does not let his personality be uni-dimensional. I’ve often found that homosexuality sometimes tends to be primary way in which some people see themselves. “I am gay first; everything else later”. But Antonio is gay just like he’s ambitious, kind and sensitive. His sexuality isn’t central to the book just as it isn’t central to his life. It’s a part of the journey just as his career and friendships are.When I started reading the book, I was curious about the brevity as the novella spanned a little over 150 pages. Half way through the book, I was convinced it would be a rather unsatisfying finish with an abrupt ending, as such books tend to be. But I am quite pleased, the book ended just right. All loose ends were tied neatly and the book couldn’t have been any longer (perhaps 10 pages shorter).Now for the obligatory standard book review finale: If you want to know what the book is about, just read the first page at the bookshop. It is exactly what it promises to be. Not overwhelming, not underwhelming. Just right. It may not be for people who like happy endings, but I can see it being made into a movie that will do well on the film festival circuit.
Addendum: I read a correspondence from the publisher that leads me to believe the book may not be fictional. If this is indeed true, I would urge more people to buy this book simply to be astonished by the kind of life Antonia seems to have led. If it turns out that it isn’t a real life story, you’ll still be glad for having read it.
Originally written for Gaysi.
Firstly, a big thank you to @chuck_gopal for inspiring me to write about a subject I strongly feel about.
Do you remember the days of Audiogalaxy? I was in school and positively giddy with joy that I’d be able to listen to Celine Dion and Sting and Iron Maiden (questionable choice in music, eh?) without wishing on fairies for the songs to play on TV (that too when I visited India on vacation) or on the radio.
Where I lived, the catalogue of audio cassettes (and eventually, CDs) were reflective of the demographics of the country. This meant a disproportionate amount of Malayalam, Hindi and Arabic music (yes in that order) was on offer. So I went through much of my teenage years listening to pirated music because YouTube was still being invented.
Then I discovered the beautiful world of online radio: Yahoo Launchcast. I even purchased a subscription with my first debit card. If I liked the songs, I diligently made a list and went on to buy music CDs from Planet M. When they weren’t available, I relied on my pirate buddies for a little help. By 2004, I already owned an iPod and my piracy had decreased drastically and eventually, I started buying my music from the iTunes store.
I am not a musician. I don’t understand the finer points of how the music distribution industry works and how much of the money we pay to buy music goes to the artist. But it just feels wrong to enjoy something someone put a lot of effort into making, for no money at all, just because it is out there for free. This isn’t just about music, it applies to books, TV shows, films, software… all of it. People who create art need money to sustain themselves. Maybe 50CENT doesn’t anymore, but smaller independent artists do.
Piracy needs to end and there’s no way to justify stealing/borrowing content. And much of the responsibility for ending it lies with the artists. Make your music available online at a very low price point. It’s much better than people having to steal the music, isn’t it? And some responsibility rests with the users as well. I remember being told that making content available in a certain country/region is linked to the piracy laws in the area and how well it is enforced. United States and UK have stringent laws which has allowed services like Pandora and Hulu to thrive. This is also the reason why much of the content on iTunes is only available to users in the US. I don’t live in the US, so I must use annoying work-arounds to access legal content. While this may not be entirely legal either, it feels right to buy the content than relying on torrents.
As Deepak says, piracy exists for a reason. But that isn’t to promote artists. There are surely better ways to promote artists now. Piracy still thrives because there isn’t a cheap, easily accessible alternative. Imagine if the Indian iTunes had all the Indian music, films and TV shows (although much of it is junk, in my opinion) catalogued for your buying pleasure. You’d never have to reliquish the remote control to your mother ever again. No buffering cricinfo streams, anymore. Just good ol’ live television. Now that’s worth giving up piracy for, isn’t it?