Hellholes and the Global North

As we began the new year of 2018, a certain president picked on a few Global South countries calling them ‘shitholes’. Most responses to this statement have been calling the president of the US a shithole himself, his residence lit up with ‘shit hole’, calling out the racism that lies behind such a statement, highlighting the role of the US in creating said shitholes, and stressing on the progress of identified “shithole” countries despite oppression of the global North.

We all know that the Global South isn’t the epitome of cleanliness and privilege. Historic oppression, coops, internal conflict, dictatorial rule, colonialism, problems with the global economic and social order, and various various explanations exist to explain away the situation in the Global South, of which potus has an imagined idea anyway. However, my thought immediately is that of a glass house. To what extent does the Global North reflect on their countries apparently not being shitholes, and what do they have to justify it? The belief of comparative ‘objective’ criteria (mind you these criteria are set by the Global North itself or bodies controlled by the elites in these geographies anyway) determining their comparative non-shitholeness is often unchecked. When thinking of it, I realised that there isn’t enough to describe the experiences of and in these Global Norths from outside. Within we see a very large chunk of the global norths plagued by rampant racism – just see the literature on racism available regarding these geographies. But as an outsider, I do not feel I have come across anything that expresses the feelings triggered by living in the Global North. As so I wish to commit myself to doing this from today.

In my experience, barring the courteous formal friendliness of people, and the relatively higher wages and the somewhat organised manner of some aspects of life, the UK feels like a hellhole. A shithole at least has some potential to be cleaned. There is a chance that said faeces can be cleaned away, infrastructure can be changed to support people, and so on. A hellhole however is a place in which the cons outweigh the pros. Going to hell implies that you have indulged in something evil, or have done something that is biblically wrong. The Bible has its problems, but nevermind, it serves my purpose of suggesting that the punishment is eternal damnation. This is an abstract concept. We can only imagine what hell and its associated holes are like. We can imagine the idea of hellfire – scorching and ever-lasting. We can imagine the torture associated – have a look at how the Sandman series presents Lucifer’s realm; it is beautiful while simultaneously being awful.

Like Lucifer’s hell, there are many levels of hellhole-ness of the UK.

Below I articulate a few. I start with Level 1: Weather and the surround

Although the UK has a beautiful diversity of cultures – a move around the country represents the variation in behaviours, histories, industry and so on –  there is a strange subtly about how these surroundings are managed with awkward negotiations of space-use on closer observation. Furthermore, the weather is usually grim. All the time.

Level 2. The fear of touch and affection

In addition to the cold grim weather is the cold grim attitude to others. Generally, this implies that to complement the weather, there is no warmth by way of hugs or kisses as greetings. Even a handshake is an awkward ordeal, and they want to get it over with. Here is your next level of isolation.

Level 3. The undetected-from-inside ‘isms’

A next layer of hell here is the embeddedness of various negative isims, including racism, classism and sexism. These have been most glaring to me, though I suspect many others exist. On a personal level, I have found that the UK has racism and sexism woven into its very fabric. It is so in-built that one cannot identify where and how it manifests, and therefore most of the privileged, being white and/or male, do not see it. I have found that living in the UK has made it difficult for me to talk to male people, particularly heterosexual ones.

Level 4. Desert and deserving

In this hellhole, the materialities of life are abundant. There is no shortage of food. There is no real economic issue, jobs are only relatively hard to come by, most facilities work well including the internet and transport. Yet, in terms of access, not everyone has it. If you have bought yourself some privileges, you are relatively better off. Yet in this hellhole, in the bitter cold, one finds homeless people strewn across major cities. Most of these people are not refugees as could be the common perception. They are white poor people.

I often speak about the problems of living in the UK to my fellow non-UK friends. I do not have a problem doing so. Perhaps it is our shared trudging through these hellholes.


Footnotes on Globalisation: Movement

The current idea of globalisation is closely linked to and emerged from the industrial age. The difference lays in the power relations, the violence, through control over spatiotemporal dynamism. This period was a race; in order to get ahead, colonial powers then started to draw out populations from their ‘place’ for the purpose of cheap labour. We may observe this through the way in which migration was promoted during the 1800s in England. Migrants, therefore, appear in vast quantities through this process.

In current times, it is thus strange to observe powers suggest that the movement of people across borders is wrong and will be tackled. It is at this point that we realise its hypocritical nature. When attempts are made to navigate out of non-first world lands, movement is deemed undesired, even illegal. Immigrants become the problem. It is not solely the jobs that apparently will be taken, or the benefits that may be sought. It is the very fact that agency is being used, whether minuscule and run down to its bare essentials such as escaping from a previous land. This agency is what power fears. A challenge, it believes.

It is the nature of power to sustain itself. Be assured that it will do everything to stay this way.


Of the 24,923 cases of rape recorded by the NCRB in India in 2012, we’ve only had an issue with 1.
Considering all the talking Modi’s being doing, and the obsession The Hindu has with him (just visited the page and there are 5 pieces about him), the 33.6% incidence of crime against women in Gujarat isn’t something to be proud of, even though it’s less than twice of that in Delhi (almost 70%).
This is not inclusive of the 991 girls bought and sold to be prostituted nor the 2,563 trafficked (usually girls).
And these are only reported cases based on a binary understanding of sex.

We’re not bothered about crime against women unless it’s publicised. We have no clue about our oppressive economic system because all we care about is “the century belonging (in terms of economic development) to India” and our GDP rising. (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/21st-century-should-belong-to-india-modi/article5248788.ece?homepage=true) We don’t care about our environment. All we care about is some false sense of Nationalism. And therefore we vote.


Jai Hind(u Hegemony)

I will never understand the celebration of hindu festivals as they do today. Pollution-friendly in every way.  Noise, Air, Land, Water. Today as Diwali goes on, my ears feel like they are about to bleed any second. The skies shower residue from blown up rocket-crackers and the after-stink of something burning swirls into the room as my curtains flap. Do I shut the window to counter these inconveniences? It is past 2200 hrs. Past the curfew set for non-hindus. They pride themselves on being the world’s biggest democracy with a secular outlook, when I highly doubt both claims. That book sits, rotting and decadent, and we follow that which is almost a century old, based on other decadent compilations.

Another blast. Were it an Islamic festival, the Hindus would think it to be an act of terrorism. Were it that of any other minority, it wold be looked at as an attempt to step out of line and not respect the views of the State (you know, those bloody anti-nationalists.) I read in the paper today, that sugarcane farmers made an attempt to protest during this festive day, against the low prices of their crops. They blocked roads to make a point, to make people realise that while they are busy burning fuel (and thereby money and resources and adding to the pollution) there are sections who have nothing. It could easily be an attempt at being heard. To ask people to consider them. But they were silenced by guns. The state approves the use of arms in the face of danger. Oh yes. Danger. The population traveling from one region to another to “celebrate” a new year (what for, I will never know) is in danger of not being able to add to the crackers being blown up. Such monsters must be stopped. Monsters who do not respect the Hindu culturally hegemonic way of celebrating their greatness. Kill them. So that the rest in their cars may be pacified and can join in as their families (fat, alive) can sit around with bottles of alcohol (blame those Christians) and set fire to bundles of money, carefully mashed up, in a crafty manner, to form crackers by the sweat and blood of little children. Little children who sit in factories and use their ever so nimble tiny fingers to spot in very dim lit rooms, the correct place to insert those seeds of gunpowder. Because children need to work. Must be those lower caste ones. Those ones who never make it in life. Those ones who have never been educated thanks to the brilliant system in place. Those ones who struggle to get by daily and hope to never have to put their children through the same. But they work. Because their knowledge is not valid knowledge. No, sirr. You need to go to a University to get a Degree. And a Masters. To be smart. You need to be able to sit at home and depend on others for one of those. So that others who have access to those facilities can be fat and pretend to be liberal. And pretend to care.

So kill those farmers who dare to disrupt the peace and harmony that we intend on maintaining as we blow up crackers. And let those children work in dimly lit areas and get paid next to nothing, and have no future as we switch on all the lights possible, waste as much electricity to signify our devotion to some mythological creatures who apparently fought against evil.

Who are the evil ones, again?

Wasting Bucks on Stars

Drowned by the frenzy and the multiple ridiculous claims about Starbucks’ entry to india being a “realised dream”, my in-mouth barf seems to be ignored. However, I’m just part of the privileged class who can afford to mouth-barf food. Of course we have it as a TATA initiative. A bunch of rich people who think it sensible to donate to Harvard.

But then again, what faith can I have in a  Democracy if a Communist setup thrives on Capitalism?