Archive for March, 2011

When spring in Vancouver is sworn in…

Spring was, of course, not far behind but still late by a couple of weeks. Soon, it was sworn in as the ruler of these parts of the earth. As far as winter was concerned it did give way to spring but not before leaving traces of its contributions so that spring will find it difficult to make its presence felt at the outset.

The main job of spring is to stretch the days longer and longer backward and forward so that night becomes an eight hour affair!…and it is contrary to what winter does.

So, the people, as usual, expected bright and sunny days and did experience the thrill of such an atmosphere only to be duped by the traces of winter’s leftovers! In fact, winter was playing spoil sports by restraining the enthusiastic spring. There were intermittent rains and cool winds. But wait! You will recall some of the good qualities of the winter when spring is at its peak! [When the days are too long and your sleeping hours are reduced to the minimum].

Time to choose…

Was this the face that launched…?

The old woman was at it again! She seemed to be fed up with the teenager’s repeated, “No grandma….”. I was busy myself, looking for an apt book that could be gifted to my friend’s daughter on her birthday. Though I had selected the book I wanted to buy, I kept on pulling out books from the shelves so that I could listen to the dialogue between the grandma and the teenager. Not that I was very inquisitive but the language they spoke [and the accent too] was exactly the same I was familiar with…the language of my native town where I was born and brought up. It is decades since I left my native town but whenever some tourists spoke that language, I used to overhear them!

On this occasion, it was at that book stall! I had selected my book but curiosity made a rare turkey cock of me! The tug of war between the old woman and the teenager came to an end when, finally the dame accepted the boom selected by the old woman. I glanced at it from a distance just to know the title of the book but the girl went to the cash counter, saying, “good earth or bad earth, I take it”.

There was a smile on the grandma’s face as she accompanied her grand-daughter to the counter where the girl’s father was waiting impatiently.

The bespectacled, lean old lady was none other than Hyma who was my classmate decades ago when we were studying in a government high school. She was a brilliant student…a rank holder..but that was all. I do not remember the rest of her life. May be she got married soon after her school days or it could be anything…but, before I could verify these facts she got into a car parked in front of the book stall. The other family members were waiting for her impatiently—she looked at me once or twice, may be because she too had the same curiosity!

Freebies, freebies, all the way!

There seems to be a surfeit of freebies in some states in India. The list of such items is too long to repeat them here. Most of the items are meant for students who are supposed to be poor and down-trodden. Of late, freebies have transcended all limits and it is almost ‘free for all’. Since there are innumerable political parties in each state, it is difficult for the senior or recognized parties to capture power and , once they are there at the helm, the struggle to retain it starts from day one. Not long ago, the party in power would make a huge list of welfare measures which would benefit the public at large—development of infrastructure, supply of certain essential commodities through government-run shops etc were some of them; but the opposition parties can easily misrepresent facts so that the ordinary people would be under the impression that they have not gained any personal benefits. So, the parties in power [in some states, of course] realized the fact that there is more in individual benefits than meet the eyes; and the result was freebies ranging from cycles to other expensive items to each and every family. The poor and downtrodden get a “rich and uplifted” feeling and they take a vow, “we are with you…long live…”

But the party in power may get itself tangled up in a web of troubles when the next elections are round the corner. The opposition may have succeeded in reversing people’s loyalty to the existing government on the eve of the elections…but the ruling party plays the freebies card again. This time it is some other expensive items [announced through election manifesto].

But all said and done, freebies make the people less active or ambitious and more complacent; and they are unaware of the consequences.

In search of leak proof materials

The best of the worst!

‘Sympathy’ channel was on its unique path of spotting the worst performers in various fields ranging from sports to music. So far, they have already picked up the worst performers in sports and games; the worst painter, the worst in general knowledge and so on. And finally, it was music. In order to make sure that the viewers would watch this dreadful programme, the channel announced the best award for ‘patience’, meant for the viewers! Ironically, the three judges were the best music directors.

Here are some of the valuable comments made by judges.

(1)    “Awesome! Your voice was so rocky that I felt like running away. You have to try your best to make your pronunciation still worse” The two other judges simply said, “exactly”.

(2)    Your pronunciation was so colloquial and apt for the occasion but the song was a bit melodious. It has to be still more unpleasant. The other two judges nodded their heads for a while and one of them said, “you have to be a little more noisy”.

(3)    “Terrible… terrible. We felt as if we were in a zoo. You are all in one… lion, elephant, fox… wonderful”.

The third was declared the winner. The viewers’ award went out to a deaf and dumb school drop out!

Some resemblances

Ooty and Vancouver may be poles apart, literally, but there are certain similarities, climate-wise and to some extent, between people. Not that they look like distant cousins or have same food habits or language. Though Ooty is one of the cities in Tamilnadu [south India], the inhabitants have different backgrounds ranging from languages to festivals but all are perfectly at home with Tamil, the state language. On top of this, even Taxi wallahs and porters manage to communicate in other languages, including Hindi and English!

Vancouver too is cosmopolitan. Apart from Europeans, here you come across all sorts of people from Asia and Africa. All of them speak English though the accent depends on the country they belong to (the younger generation, especially the school children speak exactly like those natives whose mother tongue is English).

Though there are sophisticated shopping malls here and there, there are also shops owned by Asians and Africans where items preferred by Asians and Africans are available. If you happen to step into any vegetable shop you [hard-core Indians] may find it difficult to select the exact vegetable, specially the leafy ones. Of course, these are all neatly packed but could be of any leaves! “Do you have pumpkin?” you may ask and pat comes the answer, “over there”; it means, it is upto you to pick up what you want! Fruits are very attractive but the color of the same need not be natural! Anyhow, we have to be thankful to them for selling the items you need. In Ooty, there are umpteen fruits and vegetables stalls, though the buyers have to squeeze themselves through the narrow gaps…..but the colors of the fruits and vegetables are natural!

Vote sharing!

Globalization of Regionalism!

There is no denying the fact that India is democratic to the core and the people enjoy various rights that go with democracy. But there seems to be an overemphasis on rights and belittling of duties. With the advent of coalition politics, the prime minister of the country and the chief ministers of certain states become less powerful or rather, just figure heads. The politicians know very well that their survival depends of people’s unrest and towards this end they also know how to provoke people.

Most of the state governments have to dance to the tune of parochial elements and linguistic fanatics. One glaring example is the rules pertaining to sign boards put up by shops and at bus stops or even boards which indicate directions or distances. It is not the business people or shop owners who have the right to choose the language to be used on their sign boards! The fanatics would permit only the regional language, even in big cities. It may be a small victory for the fanatics but a big loss to entrepreneurs, big and small and also to the tourism department and the state itself.

The tourists from foreign countries….why, even those from other parts of the country find it difficult to locate the places they intend to visit.

At a time when globalization is at its peak, here are people who are more concerned about regional languages than other interests and benefits. It is not as if India alone has such problems. The effects of the same kind of fanaticism are experienced in other parts of the world as well.

Vote bank politics

Cartoon by P U Krishnan