Archive for November, 2010

The white-clad winter

After a relentless struggle against the forces that controlled everything from the heavens, the sky unburdened itself under the watchful eyes of the sun who seemed to be in deep slumber for three or four days. What I saw in the morning was something that I have read only in books and newspapers now and then. The snowfall in Vancouver was so thick that one could see only whitewashed houses, whitewashed vehicles, whitewashed gardens and roads all along. It was as if someone as had poured pots and pots of dough (something like idily maavu as the South Indians call it!). It may be a routine annual affair in a place like Vancouver, but not to me.

Hereafter, I will be less excited whenever I see frost all over Ooty during winter. “It is very cold up here, if you want to experience bone chilling winter, you have to be here”, I used to tell my kith and kin. “But, it is not the chillness which is special, but the frost. It is as if somebody has scattered salt on the hills and meadows (Of late it is confined to the race course alone) ”. This is not to belittle the beauty of this hill station – it is not for nothing they used to call Ooty the queen of hill stations.

From cabbage to king, she handles any subject with ease. Not that she is an expert on these subjects, but serves as a bridge between the callers and the guests who answer the questions relating to various subjects like education, job opportunities, medicine, fashion fabrics, facials, finance and investments, and so on.

Most of the information seekers ask identical or long winding and unintelligible questions, which land the experts in confusion. On such occasions, ‘she’ steps in with a smile and puts them at ease.

Compeering is an easy looking tough job, mostly handled by ladies. Many of them help young talents shine in their respective fields, but these are the ones (anchor persons) who corner all the glories, not with an eye on self-glorification, but with a view to making the programs interesting and informative… These are the ones who take the TV watchers beyond entertainment, or news and views.

Miles to go!

“India is no longer an emerging power… it has already emerged”, President Obama said during his visit to India and the whole world would have taken note of this emphatic statement. And, undoubtedly, it was music to the ears of Indians, specially to the ruling front headed by the Indian National Congress. But the consequences of such an encomium would undermine the chances of the opposition front to stage a comeback before long.

Close on the heels of President Obama’s visit, there arose a big question… “Has India risen?” and this gave rise to certain vital questions regarding the percentage of poverty in India. Facts and figures went their rounds – inadvertently, assuring the India watchers, specially those in the race, that India has miles to go before occupying such a position.

Then, the eruption of corruption charges against a central minister took its toll… The rest of the story is in tune with what India in recent times is well accustomed to.

Old order changeth; yielding place to new…

Whiter than snow and as sweet as SWEET could be. Yes, you are right. I am talking about sugar, the refined offspring of the sugar cane. Its siblings, the jaggery brown and jaggery black got only a step motherly treatment from the customers. Sugar seemed to be the indispensable stuff for coffee, tea and all those expensive sweet items. Jaggery, on the other hand, were the inevitable choice of those who could not afford to buy sugar [for certain types of sweets like ‘payasam’ which happen to be the main item in the menus of some famous temples, jaggery alone is used]. But appearances are deceptive. The very same sugar is seen as the harbinger of certain diseases and the rich and the poor, these days, go for the less harmful [or harmless?] jaggery—in its new Avatar, of course with a new name: “Brown Sugar”. There seemed to be a tie-up between physicians and health conscious people, as is evident from their pro-brown approach. Now, the demand is for brown sugar, brown rice and brown so and so. The white on the other hand, is facing a situation similar to the fate of the so-called forward communities which are deliberately discriminated against.

Have some patience, please

Freedom of expression is one of the jealously guarded rights in a democratic country. We don’t have to swallow the government’s version of any issue. The rejoinder from the affected party pops up almost immediately. Maybe both are misleading but you are at liberty to accept or reject either of the two versions or both. The media people have the knack of blowing things out of proportion by clinging on to some off-the-cuff remarks made by some leading politicians. People are quite used to such gimmicks and they know very well that all these affairs will blow over in a few days.

Thus far, it is ok because these are just internal affairs of a country like India. But when a foreign dignitary is visiting our country, we make sure that he is extended a warm welcome in keeping with our rich tradition. They enjoy their visit and are even tempted to say a few sweet words about our hospitality. Their spouses dance with our kids and the whole nation is in a festive mood. If at all there are differences of opinion about a particular issue, we used to wait till the departure of that leader to air our views. That is how it should be.

But, of late, neither the politicians nor the media have the patience or manners to put off the unpleasant remarks for a few days so that it won’t hurt the feelings of the visitor concerned.

Global Warming… New Experiments

And now, it is “Animal agriculture!”… yet another culprit identified by the experts as the perpetrator of green house emissions. Hitherto, cars, trucks, planes and factores, besides deforestration were found guilty of polluting the atmosphere and damaging ozone layer.

There is of course greater awareness among the people about the negative effects of global warming and matter has become a serious subjects at various internationals forums, the blame game notwithstanding.

Whatever may be the cause for global warming, it is an undeniable fact that the climate change has made its presence felt.

We have rains, when it should be warm and it is bright and sunny when it should be raining pit-a-pat.

As far as “Animal agriculture” is concerned, it is the non-vegetarians who will have to bear the brunt because it calls for drastic cuts in the consumption of meat so as to save millions of dollars in the fight against climate change.

Anyway, when you spend less on meat you will have to spend more on vegetables. It is of course a blessing in disguise. Farmers and peasants will earn more and the lands for cultivation will not diminish any further.

And hopefully, rain water harvesting will get the much needed momentum.

The other side of the show!

“Undue importance is being given to the so-called…”

“Do you think the intellectuals should keep mum?” The person who conducts the debates on some TV channel interferes, without giving an opportunity to the participant to complete his/her views—may be because the said participant seemed to upset the plans of that particular channel. “Not exactly” ,that participant tries to air his views but the host cuts in again: “What do you mean ‘the so-called intellectual’?” Only those who dance to the tune of the said channel are allowed to complete their sentences!

But still the debates go on. If the matters are not political, the chances are that the participants are allowed to have their say. At the end of the debate, the viewers [if they have not switched over to other interesting channels] find themselves in a mini debate with their kith and kin at home!

Then, there are stage-managed debates which serve as propaganda stuff for certain leaders who are eager to gain some political mileage.

Amidst all these wars of words or one-up-man shows, we do get an opportunity to enjoy the pleasure of listening to the flow of beautifully-worded ideas. And, rarely though, we have healthy debates which bring to light the plight of helpless people, especially of certain students who are brilliant but sidelined by the society simply because they belong to the so-called forward communities. Some good Samaritans come forward to extend monetary help to these bright students.