Geneva Diaries #16

Cyberlaws – Wanted Dead or Alive – Women Equal Pay for Equal Work


Dear Roger,

I sitting down to write on my new desk in my new room. Yes, things have been juggled once again and I am where I started off…Snakes and Ladders I guess, but all i want to play is LUDO  (a game for me with a Indo-French accent that i was introduced to while visiting family in Pondicherry which I can’t wait to introduce to you!). 


Ludo an Indian Board Game:

 I will now borrow your wand for a while to which I shall add my kisses… 

I agree with you regarding the rain check on my trip to Paris, I can’t wait to visit. Especially now, since my newly acquired hairdo with the spiky ponytail has finally merged me into the Japanese comics I once mentioned and straight into the arms of my Japanese comic counterpart (do you remember that story?). In this surreal slightly altered state of OD’ing on Ovomaltine I find myself imagining What If…I do eventually morph into my avatar and cease to subsist but minimally on this earth. And here, in the realm of avatars, I find my one true love. However, in his case, he is just here for a ride and he lives and breathes in the real world. What If…we meet explore and fall in love. He loves everything he sees, everything he hears and experiences: The long lustrous hair, the sparkling eyes and the tiny waist and athletic frame of the avatar. What If we have a marriage, a virtual marriage, a virtual life and a brilliant and creative companionship… and What If he is still not satisfied. What If… decades hence he decides to embark on a quest/an ordeal of discovery, to find the warm breath behind the being. What If he finally tracks a spot on the earth from where the signal was strong and bursts in on the room to find Java the Huts twin sister! And as you may have guessed its no longer What if.

Unlike the movie Avatar, this story does not have such a happy ending. What Then happens to my 20 years, our 20 years online, all our babies (bundles and bundles of artistic expression/creative cohabitation)? What happens to our virtual home, assets, friends, relationships? What about our virtual marriage, is the time I spent, my 20 years online, devoting each moment to his every quirk, every need, every sms, all just virtual? My commitment and effort were real, my time spent tangible (to the extent that that space became my primary residence), our understanding to marry/co-habit was tangible in the sense that anything is which is recorded and stored by two consenting competent adults. Where would I go for redress,  what is the appropriate forum? Who has jurisdiction?What are the rules that apply, And finally but most significantly, which temples are recognized? I would love to hear you!

Talking about temples, I must tell you that even though I did not get back to Murakami on the Shore, I have returned to Richard Dawkins and my unfinished book, The God Delusion. After watching his brilliant performance on youtube clips where he effortlessly decimates the opposition, I decided to revisit his book and read him anew! As I peered at him from behind my facade of agnosticism, I was blinded by the stark reality of my overburdening handicaps dragging me kicking and screaming from my original position to this sickeningly hedged, all appeasing, all appealing agnosticism. My conclusion is that Dawkins IS a higher life form!

The Case for Atheism– See below Dawkins reasons for why there is no god – (don’t miss that impervious smirk):

Despite the diarrhea, I also managed to check out the New Freakonomics ( the first book was brilliant). Unfortunately, despite engaging topics like: drowning in horse manure, how a street prostitute is like a department store Santa and why should suicide bombers buy life insurance, all sounding VERRY Murakami-ish, the book was a bit of a let down. However, it did end with a colorful splash about an experiment with capuchin monkeys where it was demonstrated that monkeys can recognize the concept of money to the extent that they can be induced to purchasing favors,Yes, paying money for SEX! Incredible is the chaos that is created in the life of the “chap” the minute money is introduced! Don’t you agree?

Back to my favorite topic of journeys, I wish to share with you a wonderful evening here in Geneva where the host was not just brilliant but most entertaining, (a serious contender for the next host of Comedy Central), where we discussed the journeys of food and language and how in some parts of India Arabic and Persian have evolved and merged into the common language of the people Urdu/Hindustani. The process of evolution and the roots are well recognized, whereas in the south(India), many Arabic words have been assimilated “wholly”, directly without any recognition of its origin or source (as I discovered with the story of the dish “Ish-too”, the local distortion of the word stew which is then incorporated in to the local language, local cuisine as a local dish called Ish-too which has no connection, bearing or similarity with its English cousin and is a delicate gruel made out potatoes) , like with many things that come from the sea whose source and origin is unknown but become a part of us. As you know, we have in India among the various communities that appear to have held on to some of their ancient origins, the Syrian Christian communities and the Kerala Jews (who trace their origins to an incredibly ancient time before the fall of the first temple), but once again like all exotic things that come from the sea, no one can really place the root, time or the origin of the journeys of these peoples and these gifts of people and language are assimilated as a whole.

See link Malabar Vegetable Ishtu

And on the subject of language, specifically Urdu, I was surfing my very favorite actor, director, producer Guru Dutt from Indian Cinema of the 1950s and 60’s , the Bangla Babu, or at least the boy with the Bengali name. His movies had an imprint of his fascination with Bengal and Bengali culture, with the themes, dress,  and style that reflected how he had embraced and so authentically depicted the culture of Bengal. Bengal is dear to me, as Calcutta is a place with many happy memories, so I spent the weekend replaying many of his popular songs over and over again (Chaudhvin ka Chand which I had sent earlier was one). I realized that even though I knew the songs by heart (and soul), the exact meaning of the words eluded me. I had probably taken them for granted all these many many years. And now, since I had acquired this incredible gift of morphing into a virtual form, reaching out into the film, and embracing Guru Dutt in person, I felt intensely that I must know the meaning of the words as I sing them back to him. So I surfed and surfed and surfed for a good online dictionary that would use the English (roman script) and transcribe for me keeping the gist to that which I understood it to be. Let me tell you Roger, it was not an easy journey, and not one that I have embarked upon for the first time, but I found the dictionary of my choice with Hindi, Urdu, Persian, English, Sanskrit (and if required a French Sanskrit dictionary for kids), at the University of Chicago website! It was perfect and it was bookmarked over and over again. How I kicked myself for the nth time for not having gone to Chicago when I had the opportunity, especially now when all my searches uncannily seem to lead me there! Do you know Chicago?

The computer has announced in its robotic alien voice again: its one o’clock, so this will be my last chapter! But, since we are exchanging music clips, (and I have so enjoyed your last few clips), I feel its time I share this one favorite all American melody with you as I reminisce about my time back in California where I eerily used to hear this blaring from my car radio EVERYTIME I got in to my Black Jeep Grand Cherokee and turned on the ignition: Bon Jovi- Wanted Dead or Alive (

What do you think…Am I wanted?…Dead?? or Alive???

Good night!


On Feb 12, 2010, at 4:34 PM, “Roger Stevenson” wrote:

Dear Purnima,

It sounds like musical bedrooms at your place.  Does that mean that you are once again sharing the bedroom the massageathon addict ?

And a ponytail to boot.  Can’t wait to see it, but am curious about the effects of Ovomaltine on your physiognomy, and as far as finding your one true love in a virtual world where you fall in love and marry, albeit to an avatar that can hide the true features of your virtual lover, I am just a bit dubious, as you seem to be also, about the long-term consequences of such a union..  Who knows whether he/it is really a prince charming or a Jabba the Hut lurking in the outer reaches of cyberspace and playing his deadly game with countless beautiful and willing nubile creatures.  And how would you ever know whether you were really right for one another when there was only a virtual osmosis joining your two beings ?  How satisfying can it possibly be to “make love” to a virtual entity where there would be no actual and physical joining and mingling ? and your little creations crawling around a virtual nursery could actually remain such throughout time, never aging and, therefore, never leaving the cybernest ?   And would Google have evolved and morphed into the be-it-all jurisdictional authority to deal with such matters as separations, child custody, alimony, inheritance rights, etc.  Or maybe Steve Jobs will have become the final arbiter of justice with a market place savvy that settles all conflicts with his new i-judge software and hand-held, touch screen, app-driven i-tort (that may actually be a better source of justice than our present, very flawed and political interest driven system or the justice frequently meted out by the religions of the day).

I finished my third tome of Millennium two days ago.  After more than 2,000 pages of Lisbeth Salander, I am more than ready to move on to other vistas.  I was actually a bit let down by the third installment of the trilogy, and felt that Steig Larsson left too many loose threads dangling.  But I read somewhere where he actually had intended to write a series of ten novels in the series before he was felled by a heart attack shortly after delivering his trilogy to the publishers.  There is supposedly a fourth novel in the possession of his long-standing, live-in partner, but whether it will ever be published depends on the Swedish courts’ decisions about who actually owns the rights to it and who should be in charge of editing it.  That’s a tricky legal dilemma for you.  There is no provision in Swedish law for a concubine to inherit anything from her partner if they were not married (That is not the case in French law, but apparently for Sweden, one of the most advanced social countries in Europe, an unmarried partner has no inheritance rights regardless of how much time they lived together).  Larsson’s father and brother have become filthy rich because of the international success of the novels, whereas his life-long partner has absolutely nothing.  I could tell you about another case closer to home, in fact in Geneva itself, but that’s the subject of another email or chat.

What I started to say, however, was that I have begun to read Kafka on the Shore, but I can understand your fascination with Dawkins and wanting to probe his thinking.

Thanks for the great Bon Jovi clip.  I’ve got to try and find one of my favorites from the 70’s.  You are definitely wanted, my dear, dead or alive, preferably alive, but the question you should really ask is : Am I wanted, virtual or real ?

Are you free for coffee on Tuesday morning ?  Do you have a Migro class then ?

Lots of warm hugs on this chilly Friday,


P.S.  I’ve only been to Chicago once, and that was in the dead of winter to attend the annual Modern Language Association of America meetings,  It was dreadfully cold and snowy and I’m glad I survived the treacherous drive down from Madison, Wisconsin.

Roger Stevenson

See below- Incredible is the chaos that is created in the life of the “chap”/capuchin the minute money is introduced!

See experiment in link below where a capuchin (sounds like “chap” and acts like a chap) monkey slams piece of cucumber back into the face of his boss when his colleague is given a grape for the same task. This capuchin should be a poster child for Women- It’s Equal Pay for Equal Work dummy see what the chap/capuchin would do under the same circumstances:


Disclaimer : P

All persons, places, events are fictitious; all imputed relationships purely aspirational. There were no men harmed during the penning of the Feminist Manifesto.

Purnima Viswanathan 

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