Of Passwords, Panties And Patriarchs

In the last five hundred years or so, mankind has progressed from martial rape to marital rape, except perhaps in Ukraine, Myanmar, and Haryana, where the old style still prevails. And, as further proof of our progress, we in India are still debating whether marital rape (MR) is rape simpliciter and should be a crime (at the moment it is not). And then there is that other perverted provision of law- “restoration of conjugal rights” which is nothing but juridically disguised and sanctioned marital rape in another form. The Supreme Court occasionally grapples with this question between long vacations and longer adjournments. The Union govt. has told the court that MR is the bedrock of marriages in India, proven by the fact that our divorce rate is one fifth of the USA. Mrs. Smriti Irani, the Minister for Women’s Development has, of course, not addressed the subject, in keeping with her penchant for avoiding all issues not related to Rahul Gandhi or Silly Souls.. The patriarchal conscience keepers of our society are aghast that the question is even being asked, given that the Manusmriti asserts that a wife is the  property of the husband. The Income Tax department is yet to decide whether a wife is moveable or immoveable property (subject to depreciation), and whether capital gains tax will apply to a divorced woman on her remarriage, but I have no doubt the Chairman CBDT will apply his mind to these questions as soon as he gets his next extension in service.

No matter. The issue will soon be taken out of our hands, thanks to technology and a few crazy nerds. I learn that a company in France has developed a range of panties protected by a password . The PPP (Password Protected Panties) cannot be taken off without a valid password ! It’s the famed chastity belt come of age: had this invention come a few hundred years earlier King Arthur could have gone on the Crusades and slaughtered a few more thousand heretics with an easier mind, having left Queen Guinevere to the tender care of Sir Launcelot. No doubt the PPP shall soon be available on Amazon and Flipkart in their forthcoming End of Marital Rape Sale. Protection for a wife is now assured: any attempt to forcibly extract the password from her, or to hack it, shall now be a crime under the Information Technology Act, even if the subsequent sex is legit.

PIA (Pakistan International Airlines), I am convinced, had these PPPs in mind when they recently advised their cabin crew to wear “proper underwear” on duty. The social media outrage was totally uncalled for. Had PIA not been forced to withdraw this very caring advisory, they would in all probability have issued a second circular advising the air-hostesses to never share their passwords while in the cockpit, and to change the password after every, uh, layover.

But, as usual, I have allowed myself to get diverted from the main thrust of my blog: this is not meant to be about panties, but about passwords. They have become the bane of my life; these days I am juggling about 50 passwords, and at my age that’s not funny. One needs a password or a PIN for just about everything: bank accounts, gmail, microsoft, Fasttag, govt. agencies like Income Tax, gas supplier, Railway bookings,, Amazon, mutual funds, credit cards. And one has to change them frequently AND remember them.

The average Indian has an English vocabulary of about 2000 words, and after about 10 years he’ll run out of words for creating passwords. Then again, the blessed things are supposed to provide security, and one is advised never to write them down -really? Since no one other than Vishwanathan Anand can remember 50 passwords, and Doctor Alzheimer can knock on my doors anytime, I have my passwords written on slips of paper scattered all over the house; the multiplicity of slips is needed since I  also cannot remember where I have put a particular slip. It will not take a burglar-hacker more than ten minutes to get all my passwords and empty all my accounts, sell my car, mortgage my house for a loan, send a mail to Neerja that I am divorcing her, and order a copy of  Chetan Bhagat’s Half Girlfriend  on my account, a book I have sworn I shall never read. So I’ve put a password protected lock on my main door, and I’m certainly not going to tell you where I have written down that particular password. You’ll never find it, dear reader, not even if you look behind my mailbox.

The only person who has nothing to fear about his passwords being hacked is Shashi Tharoor. It will take many lifetimes (and sets of dictionaries) for a hacker, weaned on two syllable Twitter words, to exhume Shashi’s passwords. By the time the hacker discovers ( by chance only, mind you) “lalochezia”, Shashi would have moved on to “floccinaucinihilipilification.” At this point the poor chap will happily kill himself, no doubt: either hang himself from a tap if he’s in a police station in U.P., or jump from the sixth floor of a building if he’s in Russia.

But I’m beginning to learn a thing or two about passwords. I’ve learnt, for instance, that an ideal password is like a girlfriend- you never share it with anyone, you change it every six months, and you have to make sure that your wife never finds out about it. I think I’ll just about survive my remaining years with this new-found knowledge, but what if St. Peter demands a password for entering the pearly gates? I’m told that for that other place down the road paved with good intentions one doesn’t need a password, just the PAN card. That’s not a problem, but the place is rather warm and crawling with politicians, lawyers, real estate developers and insurance agents. So methinks I’ll log into my account with St. Peter: time to contact Shashi Tharoor for some neologism nuggets ?

Avay Shukla retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains. He divides his time between Delhi and his cottage in a small village above Shimla. He used to play golf at one time but has now run out of balls. He blogs at http://avayshukla.blogspot.in/

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.