Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Save the Tiger - Teaching Selfishness to the Innocent

The Sunday gone by, the 9th of March, was being observed as a "Save The Tiger" day all across the country. Ironically, we were on our weekend holiday to Jaipur and on our way back we resolved to pay a visit to the Seriska Tiger Sanctuary in Rajasthan. All excited about watching and spending some quality time with the beautiful beings of nature, we drove down the rustic setting between Shahpura (on NH-8) and Alwar. The scene was being built up with wildlife roaming around us, starting from camels to deer to langurs on the way. But, as fate would have it, we landed up a half hour late. The counter there closes at 3:30 PM between October to March and at 4:00 PM between April to September. Entry is prohibited after that plainly because the objective is to leave the place, rightly so, before sunset. So all the excitement was met with disappointment at the counter being closed.
We reached back home at Gurgaon around 10 in the night. I was just surfing through the news channels and most of them were covering how kids were running the campaign of "Save the Tiger".
It was appalling to see how the current generation is being taught to significantly distance themselves from the word called "empathy".

The campaign was meant to bring to light the importance of saving the tiger, the national animal of India. One would have expected self respecting individuals to be showing genuine concern over the issue that the population of tigers in India. The population as per the latest tiger census is less than half of what was reported in 2001 (from 3642 to 1800)! However, it turned out to be a sadder, and deeper revelation of how the children of today are made to think.

Far from having genuine concern for the Royal animal, kids, when asked on why they feel the tiger is important, gave responses which were more self centered than concern for the animal. One kid, was taught by her science teacher in school that protecting the animal kingdom, is, in a way, essential to protect the ecosystem of the earth. Needless to say, that was the answer being rattled off her mouth! Ignorant of the fact that more than the ecosystem, the very fact that a life is to be protected is more important! Just because I am part of this ecosystem, I want to protect the tiger. What are we teaching the children today?

There was another one who wanted to protect the tiger "because tiger is our national animal and pride and if we fail to protect them, we cant show our face to the world"! Dont you sense a strong feeling of "Me, Myself, Mine" coming in the attitudes here? Another girl was singing "a song relevant to the situation", which was "Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna". Yes, a song well put in the context. But one can bet anything that she would've been told to showcase her singing talent when on TV. Another "Me, Myself, Mine" coming in.

What more shame can be brought to the country than failing to have empathy for others? Today, we keep cribbing that the US is inconsiderate and likes to have its own ways. We find huge passion in discussing how our politicians are glad to pile up their own kitties without having regard for the people of the country. How passionate are we when Indians are abused by the Oz team and we keep quiet? Did we ever look into ourselves to see what we are teaching our young generation to be? Do they even know that there is something called genuine regard for others?

Of course, I am not saying that I have done my bit of saving the tiger. But, at least, if you are genuinely not doing anything to improve society, dont at least fool yourself or others into believing that you are doing something.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The bright year 2006

2 yrs 2 months and 20 days.... No thats not the age of a random toddler I am referring to, nor is it the number of days left for the apocalypse to come, nor is it the work experience one quotes in his rather boastful CV.. its just the period of slumber that this blog has been through!!

Now, what really got me blogging again?! Wouldnt prefer to call it the New Year Resolution syndrome, because as records show, the resolutions are never kept.. hence if I do blog out of a NYR, it would be plain paradox. Its nothing really, just that the fingers felt like caressing the keyboards, translating the rather random thoughts that pulsate in this throbbing lemon of mine (which happens to be a reference of the head, as in one of Wodehouse's quotes "The old lemon started throbbing fiercely!").

So then, Wish all you folks a very Happy New Year. Now, that is the most ironic of all greetings/wishes. Year after year, we all have been hoping that the New Year will usher in a much more sensible world, bringing with it loads of wisdom for our country's politicians who are desparately in need of it, fill hearts with humanity which is now found more in the quadrupeds than the bipeds, a year to turn a new leaf and all that! All these years, I have been quite skeptical of how hypocritical the New Year's Day was solely because it never brought in any change in the world. The dacoticians (a term for our politicians with strong attitudinal traits like dacoits) remained the dacoticians, the murderers remained the murderers, the cricketers continued to be murdered, the bull at the exchanges remained a load of bull, the Asiads remained a quadrennial humiliation ceremony very close to our hearts, the Indian Hockey team cut more grass than they hit the ball, the employment exchange had nothing to exchange, the Kerala ping pong between the Left and Congress continues every five years and a long list thereafter!

But............ this year surely does bring with it a real ray of light. Although not much of the above list is going to change, the year bygone has been a very heartening one. Lets take a look at some of the heartening moments which are any indications of things to come:

1. Sanity prevails in the Indian judiciary.. finally!!! Though a renowned figure of the same class lost the sanity for a brief period, but the verdict was worth it. The much awaited and long fight for Jessica Lal finally came to an end with what the citizens of India have been screaming for..... Justice. The country has finally awaken and realised its power in the people. Hats off to the biggest victory for humanity in the country in 06. Isnt it great that the country is now vociferously fighting for justice? Will this bring in some more sanity the next time you trudge towards the ballot box? It should! This would just pave the path for the Mattoo case and of course the Manjunath case too.

2. The Left, after a long time, in Bengal, won the urban elections too!! If Consumer Confidence Index is any indication of the Bengal elections, well, the very people who have been criticising the Left for anti development attitude, have realised that the pit cant be any deeper for the state and its only the current leadership that can bring about the positive change in the state! Though I am not too much of a leftist (one might strongly argue because I am a Mallu born and brought up in Bengal), hats off to the Laughing Buddha!!

3. The Indian selectors have slowly started spelling the words m-e-r-i-t and p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e. If the dropping of Sourav, his reselection, sending back of Irfan Pathan, all these are any indications of things to come, the day is not far when we shall see the Nawab of Najafgarh wielding a lath in the lush fields of Haryana rather than a bat on the cricket field. But he does a good job with the bat I must say. Every single match he played, he edged the ball so well and sharp that he ensured that the shine from the ball went off! He's not to blame if others didnt perform, he was doing it for them!! Pah! Well done, Colonel Vengsarkar!

4. The bull finally rose! And boy, did it rise!! It just skyrocketed crashing all records.. 11k, 12k, 13k and even 14k!! The bull which was whining is now shining with Investor confidence increasing in the nation. Of course, as typical Indians, there are the cynics who missed the bus and say, "Ah, just wait, this is another Harshad Mehta kind of episode". Sad to say, Legionary Perennius Pessimistus, the economy is booming and this is no harsh ad!

5. Greg Chappel was posing for an ad for Handiplast after one of the matches in Kolkata, but the media interpreted it as something very obscene and rude! Ah, this media I say, poor chappie was only nursing an injured finger!

6. Mamata Banerjee was advised by her doctor to control her diet because of some gastro problem. Now how could she avoid Teler Bhaja, Maccher Jhol and the phuchkas?! She needed motivation to go on hunger strike and sure enough found it when she wanted the Buddha to say Tata to the Tatas! The Budhha was aware of the lady's gastro ailment and cooperated with her hunger strike. Someone please tell me, after 25 days of hunger strike, is it really really humanly possible to be in ones senses, speak to the media on the microphone, address people in public meetings??!!! She must be a superpower, but for that she has to first learn to spell s-u-p-e-r!!

7. The Nuke apartheid finally came to an end and in India's favour! Dont have expertise in this field, honestly, hence not writing much here!

8. Uncle Sam is finally here in India!!! The much awaited entry of Walmart is finally destined to happen in 07... and of course Mr. Ambani has found a strong competitor in Mr. Mittal. More jobs coming up, higher pays, better returns for farmers, the economy is just not looking back!!!

9. Finally, yes, FINALLY...... India has its very own Super Hero in Hrithik Roshan after his popular stunts in Krrishh and Dhoom 2... the Indian Superman is finally here.. the only problem with him is that he looks a bit gayish... (pardon me HR fans, but just voicing my thoughts).

10. I finally learnt to speak fluently in Malayalam after being posted here for almost a year now!

So thats what 2006 was like.... sure enough quite a few disappointing moments, but most of it, yes, I must say, for a change, looking towards the positive side. Of course, we as Indians, choose to be optimistic when we like to. Jan 1st we are optimistic, but then, the very next day, we turn out to be the devils advocate for everything. What is, however, heartening, is that the proportion of optimists is on the rise and this is good for all of us.
Thats all for now, junta.... this blog is alive again!
Cheerio.. I need to now eat Phuchkas.. Have a blast of 2007!

Saturday, July 31, 2004

What's in a name, they say

Looking at signboards and remembering names of places becomes an in-built tendency in a sales person's job. I had heard this some day, somewhere but little did I realize that this would even stand true for an Ukkath Variam Raghuvir Krishnan Varier i.e. me. If one really observes names closely, the individual (being not a sexist, I deliberately choose to avoid the conventional "he" here) would realize that this is a very entertaining pastime. So much so that one has to watch his/her step before going into splits of uncontrollable splits of laughter.
Even more so amusing is the fact that
(i) some names are proudly displayed on big boards outside shops
(ii) Some names are grossly mutiliated, giving in to the creator's desire for proving his knowledge in Inglis/Ingreji/Angrezi aka English.

The first of these amusing instances occurred at a lodge in a small town in Bengal. Waking up to the fragrance of fresh human excrement by the chawl next door is an experience in itself. One has to take shit in such a job, a wise senior had said. Didnt know he was so literal in his words. I should learn to delve deeper into each and every sentence/advice given to me henceforth. Anyways, after the normal ablutions of the day, I called for the bearer and asked him to get me some tea. There was a glass on the table which by the looks of it gave me the impression that it would serve exactly one peg of liquor (not neat, but with condiments/soda..)in it. Given the miserly quantity of tea served in these parts (which is one peg neat i.e. 60 ml approx), it would have been a gross insult to ask for a single tea in it. Dont wanna get curse by a mould of silicon dust in the morning. Their curses are believed to be very powerful. Hence to avoid the glass... I shall call it a tumbler since it deserves more respect...so to save the tumbler from humiliation, I asked him to get me two teas in the tumbler. That was the opening of the funny pronounciation/name of the day. "Saer, Dobbol Cha?".. Er.. excuse me?? The old lemon started throbbing fiercely and then settled on a decryption of the sentence. "Ah, yes, Double Tea..". The tea and the customary cigarette and subsequent/consequent ablution followed. We all work for the sake of the stomach ("Hum sab pet ke liye kaam karte hain"). There is also a saying in Hindi "Pet mein chuhe kood rahe hain" i.e. "Rats are jumping around in my stomach" meaning to stay that I am hungry to the extent that I could eat live rats right now!!! God bless the soul who discovered rats in his stomach. So that followed and once again I had to beckon for the Dobbol Cha boy.
"What can I get for breakfast here?"
"Dim Maamlate.."

My little bit of knowledge of the local language helped me decrypt at lightning speed that Dim means egg and anything that sounds like a maamlate, which could be made from eggs can only be an Omelette.
"So be it. Make it a Dobbol Omelette please", said I.

That was it for the morning. This is how it all began. The quest for new pronounciations/names. Names are more interesting than the pronounciations. And there are plenty of them in and around this place. I shall take you through a few of them. For example, there is this famous place (so called famous) in the district which goes by the name of Jhantipahari. Anybody with a reasonable grasp on the Hindi language would decrypt it and start thinking why the hell the place has been named so? There are so many more decent names!! Jhantipahari would literally mean "A mountain of pubic hair"!!! How disgraceful !!!! It couldve been named Dimagipahari - "A mountain of brain" or Crappypahari "A mountain of crap" given the freedom to crap that our country follows. Interestingly the freedom to crap is prevalent among all classes of the Indian society.

Right from the village boy who s(h)its by the railway track to the biggest of politicians in the Sabha and even some of the fraud corporate strategy makers. The difference lies merely in the medium of excretion and the material - ranging from biological to verbal or both (with due respect to the constipated!!) respectively. Well, coming back to Jhantipahari, I figured by the powers of imagination how the place was named. Perhaps the people of the villages nearby shaved hair from all parts of their bodies and dumped them in some place. As time passed, biological degradation, coupled with the scorching sun and the effect of the bacteria and microbes, the accumulated hair degenrated into a solid mass of land suitable enough to live on. Because of the dumping over the years, the place was also slightly elevated and hence the name Jhantipahari.

Another trip to the interiors of the state. Met a gentleman on the local train who deals in potato business. Being a long journey and the chatterbox that I am, I thought of striking a conversation with him. After a few general interrogations on native places, professions, marital status, number of children, number of parents etc. the topic came to the names. I chose to lie and named myself Rasiklal Mandal. (I pride on the fact that it is difficult to figure that I am not a localite because of my grasp on the language). Totally ignorant of the fact what my verbal counterpart's name would be...... Shit !!!!.... Yes sir!! That was his name - Shit. Mr. S.C. Shit a la Bond... James Bond!!! My power to think and speak went dead on the tracks, literally (Remember, I am on a train). Now it would have been very rude to tell him that he was joking. I chose to look out of the window instead and imagine his parents. They probably were very similar to the parents of the kid named "Ahu Ahu" in the Glycodin ad. Maybe they went to a Sadhu for his naming ceremony and the auspicious crow chose the right moment to crap on the sadhu's palm when he cried out "Shit!!!". Quite a possibility. After all, Television is a reflection of life they say. Or was it Cinema? Whatever.

So I was having a jolly good time with Mr. Shit. Shit deals with potatoes. Shit sells. Shit mints money. Shit shits every day. Shit reads paper every day. The paper incident reminds me of a prof who used to pronounce "Sheet" as "Shit". He had gone to the extent of forcing us to imaging an "A4 size Shit" lying on the floor!!! The dear guy must have had some capacity to excrete like that!! Call it coincidence or whatever, as I peeked out of the window, I saw a truck by a godown with its name painted in striking red for the poor passersby to get a rude shock. It read "SHIT ROADWAYS".

Now I was convinced that Shit is a pretty common name in these parts. But a few localites were not very convinced by the name. Instead, being a bit literate in English, they were obediently squatting by the truck and performing the act. Gross, I know. But face the reality dear friends. Well these are but a few incidents I came across. There are more to it. Like the proud owner of the electronics shop who wanted the people around to know of his ability to service electronic equipments to match the best in the country. I do not doubt his servicing ability and knowledge of electronics at all. But somebody please go and tell him that his shop should not be named "Jhantu Electronics" as it has been. (It means something like "Screwed up Electronics" which speaks volumes of the credibility of the dealer.).

The last one is the killer. Some people are grossly undereducated when it comes to placing signboards. Take for instance the Gynaecologist in the town. I was passing by reading signboards on the walls and above shops. Having gotten into the flow of reading them, I suddenly came across this one: "Dr. Dasgupta, Gynaecologist Delivery assured in 6 hours, anywhere in the country" !!!! Ouch.... now THAT must be a very talented gyno, thought me. To my relief, a deeper introspection made me realise that these were actually two different signboards, the second one being that of a courier service. God save this place from creative names!!!