Archive for October, 2014

Before I start I’d like to put out a disclaimer. The title of this post is misleading. This is not about any prediction or prophecy. It is an attempt to sound clever by combining two different topics which were discussed on the 26th of October 2014. This time the Bengaluru Freethinkers Meet had a brand new venue. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at the 1MG Road Mall.

mgroad06

Picture Courtesy: http://www.onemgroad.com/

I walked in around half an hour late to find the tables being arranged to accommodate our group. Around half of those who had turned up were familiar faces. The turnout was a little lesser (roughly fifteen) than that of the previous meetings (I would blame the Diwali holidays for it), We settled down looking at new menus rather than the Coffee Day ones which we had grown accustomed to. The usual round of introductions ended very briefly. There seemed to be an urgency in getting to the discussion.

This time around, there were two topics that were scheduled for discussion.

– Astrology and its ill effects on society
– LGBT rights, sexuality and homophobia

It was not surprising that there was not much support for Astrology. Participants shared their personal experiences with astrologers. Also instances, where their relatives or friends were influenced by Astrology. The methodology in astrology was also touched upon. Since we did not have an astrologer present we were mostly left with speculating how good an astrologer is at his craft or whether there is merit in calling it a craft. An interesting question raised during the discussion was whether astrologers themselves believed in astrology. If they did they would be sincere in their advise. if they did not, then it would imply that they are an industry of con artists. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that this is true. Astrologers do change their opinion when they are bribed.

Then there is the thriving marriage industry rooted in astrology. Astrology becomes the first criteria when you are searching for a bride or a groom. The fact that the practice is widespread makes the outlook even more depressing. There was also a brief discussion about astrology in different cultures. From the zodiac signs to Chinese. The lack of expertise among the participants prevented an in-depth discussion. In the initial part of the discussion there was a focus on why people believe in astrology as well. People tend to remember the hits and forget the misses. The vague language used by astrologers and cold reading among other tools used by the practitioners to reinforce the belief were also some of the topics touched upon.

Coffe Bean

A random picture of the coffee table. Entirely irrelevant.

The discussion moved on to the second part “LGBT rights, sexuality and homophobia”. It started with the announcement of the Pride March which would be held on 23rd Novemeber (Sunday) which would also be the next time the members meetup. LGBT issues put forward were new for some of the members. Intersectionality was a term which was new to me. Two of the members admitted, how the discussion changed their view on LGBT issues which was for me the highlight of the day. The discussion moved on to Sec 377 of the IPC and what it exactly means and why it makes no sense. With decriminalizing of consensual gay sex being a big obstacle, marriage equality is a distant dream. The lack of empathy from society toward LGBT issues was a feature of the subsequent discussion. The older generations are not even willing to acknowledge the existence of the LGBT community, making the coming out process harder than it already is. The lack of acknowledgement makes it hard even to discuss the topic. Satyamev Jayate also came up in the discussion for taking up LGBT rights into the mainstream media.

There was again a call for moderation to make discussions more structured. Whether we could have a venue with a projector available. If the topics could be decided in advance giving participants time to read up on it.

After the scheduled closing time of 1pm members started leaving. Around half of the group stayed back hunting for a restaurant. After a bit of deliberation we settled on a place that offered Mexican food. We continued our discussions over food and drinks (Also a bit of magic).

P.S: A link to an article about the Pride March done last year. The picture features at least seven nirmukta members.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/sexuality-minorities-march-with-pride/article5387020.ece