Archive for August, 2006

Are India’s elderly not being given their due?

30 August 2006

BAPU SATYANARAYANA writes: Seventy per cent of Indians are below 35 years of age. It is a common perception that if India has achieved progress the ‘young turks’ in technical fields are behind it.

It is often derisively imputed that the elderly have lost touch with reality and have passed their prime to do anything good and the best thing they should do is retire gracefully and give way to the young.

Unfortunately, a cursory examination of those in politics reveals that those who have a say in progress are all above 65 years. Why, the scientists who met the Prime Minister recently on the nuclear deal were all over 65, as indeed is the PM himself.

Even those who fashioned the growth of giant corporate entities are elders who, no doubt, rose from their young days but probably gained wisdom well past their prime.

The following statistics may hold the key to this progress:

While in developing countries only 2% of those who are above 65 years are actively working while in India it is a whopping 60%. Also in India 20% of those who are above 80 years are active.

Of course it is the old who are suffering due to ill health. Of these only 20% are without any problem of a serious nature while 65% suffer from bad eyesight, 36% suffer difficulty in walking, 10% suffer from breathing problem, 8.5% sufer from skin disease, 7.4% suffer from nervous debility, 6.3% suffer from heart problem and 5.8% suffer from hearing impairment.

Other factors worthy of note are: While 6% live in India live without support of near and dear ones, the corresponding figure is 40% in USA. Also in rural areas, the old are looked after by youngsters, but those living in urban areas are neglected by their children and subject to severe hardship, mental and physical torure.

If India is making waves in all spheres, the question arises who are behind this progress? Is it possible that 20:80 rule is applicable? That is 20% of the old are responsible for the progress of the remaining 80% of the people?

What can we infer from the following?

A. At the age of 67 George Bernard Shaw wrote Saint John

B. Francis Chickster sails solo  across the Atlantic Ocean-4000 miles in 22 days at 69 years.

C. Benjamin Franklin invents bifocal eye-glasses at 79 years

D. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe completes his masterpiece Faust at 82

E. Betrand Russel says ‘I, personally have succeeded in living nearly 85 years without taking any trouble about my diet.

F. Mahatma Gandhi fasts at age 77  to quells religious violence

G. AT 87 Sophocles writes his play Phioctetes

H. At 98 Dimitrion Yordannidis runs  marathosn in Athens  in 7 hours and 33 minutes.

I. Ichijirou Araya climbs Mount Fuji at 100

Sick of your bank? Don’t be. Do unto them what they do unto you.

30 August 2006

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN forwards a letter written to a bank by a 98-year-old woman. Apparently, the bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the New York Times.
***

Dear Sir:

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored to pay my plumber last month.

By my calculations, three ‘nanoseconds’ must have elapsed between his presenting the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honor it.  I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire salary, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years.

You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways.

I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.

From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan payments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application Contact status which I require your chosen employee to complete.

I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative.

Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be ountersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me.

I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further.  When you call me, press buttons as follows:
1– To make an appointment to see me.
2– To query a missing payment.
3– To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
4– To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
5– To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
6– To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.
7– To leave a message on my computer. (A password to access my computer is required. A password will be communicated to you at a later date to the Authorized Contact.)
8– To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7.
9– To make a general complaint or inquiry, the contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.

While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call. Regrettably, but again following our example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year.

Your Humble Client

(Remember: This was written by a 98 year old woman)

Is it all right to steal flowers in the name of the Good Lord?

29 August 2006

T.S. SATYAN writes: A few days ago when my wife and I returned home after a day trip to Bangalore, we were aghast at finding that all the flowers in our pretty little garden, including the fifteen large Hawaiian hibiscus of varied colours we had counted before our departure, had disappeared.

For years we had patiently borne the theft of a few flowers every morning but were not prepared to accept such wholesale thieving. It was then that we started implementing our longstanding need-––to increase the height of the metal grill on our compound.

Stealing flowers, particularly among the pious, is very common and everyone seems to have taken it for granted as a phenomenon neither your presence nor absence can avert. Men and women of all ages seem to get a childish thrill in collecting flowers on the sly from the gardens of others. Their greed increases especially after the first monsoon showers when trees also begin to bloom in gorgeous splendour.

Even those who are otherwise highly ‘respectable’ and would never think of picking up even a small coin lying on the road, do not hesitate to change their mind when it comes to pinching flowers from other peoples’ gardens. Unfortunately, this weakness seems to be prevalent even in those who have their own gardens, though their numbers are dwindling.

The other man’s garden is more attractive than one’s own and, as for pinching flowers, it is all done in the name of the Lord and so no sin is attached to it.

During my early morning walks I am witness to the sight of people of all ages casually plucking all the flowers within their reach across the compound and filling their plastic bags. The old seem to think that stolen flowers (like the stolen kiss!) are always sweeter and more pleasing to the deities. Youngsters who indulge in this pastime often get kudos from their elders.

In Karnataka, even in early April, the May flower tree is impatient to burst into bloom in glorious red. I have seen that vandals do not spare even these glorious Gulmohar trees. Last summer, when it was still dark, I was witness to a group of villagers who were chopping and carting away some Gulmohar branches. When questioned, they had the audacity to tell me that the tender leaves, flowers and buds were the favourite of their cattle and sheep!

Flower pinchers make an interesting lot. I get up early in the morning and, without switching on the light, move the blinds on the window just a bit and take a peep. A Dowager-looking fat woman appears on the scene across the road. Despite her weight she manages to pinch flowers within her easy reach. To assist her in the unholy endevour, she sometimes brings along her young servant maid whose agility she cannot match at her age.

Yet another person, holding a long bamboo pole with a small sickle-like contraption attached to it manages to remove the flowers at the top of plants or trees. On the eve of big festivals when he needs more flowers he can be seen cutting branches of a tree only to gather a small quantity of flowers.

The Manasagangotri university campus in Mysore is a paradise for morning walkers. The area boasts of champak and other flowering trees. Once I saw the combined operation by husband, wife and son who seemed determined to denude the trees of all the flowers. These pious predators tackled the bloom from various points. While blooms at the low level were easy to grab and were taken care of by the wife, the husband handled the middle level. The son easily climbed up to the top of the tree. It was an amusing spectacle to watch to see the lady stretching the pallu of her sari to receive the flowers dropped by her son from the treetop. A little later I saw an equally amusing sight–– four women in their nightgowns, with their husbands in tow, making a nice pile of stolen flowers.

On some days, I see a lean, bedraggled person who prefers to operate only at dusk preferring to pinch the buds of hibiscus that are supposed to be the favourite of Lord Siva. He once told me that he wraps them in a thin wet cloth to let the buds bloom in time for the morning puja!

I have noticed that some people have stopped planting the flowering species close to their compound in preference to crotons etc. Surprise one of the flower thieves then, say a very respectable-looking old man, freshly bathed and in a fresh dhoti, and he will stammer out an explanation prefacing it with a Sanskrit verse extolling the virtues of flowers for worship, even if they are stolen ones, uttering “for the gods, you know, for worshiping my family deity….” In an atonement of his act, he mumbles, “you will be blessed, too….” You will find yourself mumbling, “ It’s all right, all right.”

Incidentally, who can ever continue to extol Mysore or Bangalore as garden cities? According to one observer, Bangaloreans are inordinately vain, however, about their Lalbagh or Cubbon Park because everyone else in India praises them. Come to think of it, seriously, it is not much of a garden city anymore and urbanization and the aggressive building activity has swallowed many open spaces.

Flying over Bangalore in a helicopter, I have noticed that even Lalbagh is surprisingly bare and unwooded. While flying over Chennai or New Delhi, my eyes have feasted on more greenery. New Delhi, has more well-laid-out and meticulously maintained parks and flowerbeds running alongside footpaths, Bangalorean’s or Mysorean’s envy.

And, in Delhi, no one steals flowers, not even from its open gardens like the Buddha Jayanti Park, the Nehru Park or the Children’s Park near India Gate. Flowers are allowed to bloom and brighten the curbs and the city’s roundabouts. Thieves in Delhi are after much better prizes than flowers anyway!

Once a harried police official in Bangalore known to me bemoaned that retired bureaucrats and officials who maintain home gardens, throw their weight about, pestering his department to bring the culprits to book. Technically, however, the purloining of flowers cannot even be registered as a complaint. It would seem, therefore, to be a matter for the individual conscience.

The pastor, the nun, the bishop and the donkey

28 August 2006

KANCHAN HARIHARAN sends us this forward: The pastor entered his donkey in a race and it won. The pastor was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in the race again,and it won again.

The local paper read: “Pastor’s ass out front

The Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the pastor not to enter the donkey in another race.

The next day, the local paper headline read: “Bishop scratches pastor’s ass

This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the pastor to get rid of the donkey. The pastor decided to give it to a nun in a nearby convent.

The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the following headline the next day: “Nun has best ass in town

The bishop fainted. He informed the nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10. The next day the paper read: “Nun sells ass for $10

This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the nun to buy back the donkey and lead it to the plains where it could run wild. The next day the headlines read: “Nun announces her ass is wild and free

The bishop was buried the next day.

The moral of the story: being concerned about public opinion can bring you much grief and misery…and even shorten your life. So be yourself and enjoy life… Stop worrying about everyone else’s ass and you’ll be a lot happier and live longer!

Is this the beginning of the end of cricket?

28 August 2006

MARK BRADSHAW writes: What’s cricket finally coming to? Having survived bodyline, apartheid, Packer and matchfixing, is it getting to the ‘end game’? 

Should Inzy and Hair settle their score with a gloves-off boxing bout? Let’s see the events as it happened.

1) Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove notice something ‘funny’ happening to the ball sometime before tea on the fourth day of the Test between Pakistan and England. Pakistan, playing for ‘pride’ has a good chance to pull one back and England is fighting with their backs to the wall.

2) When Kevin Pieterson got out at 96, the ball is with the umpires. There are still, few overs to go before ‘Tea’. It’s then Hair notices the ball, which has slightly different colour in some area with seam looking gouged, consults square leg umpire Billy Doctrove and signals pavilion for a new set of balls. He selects a new ball and also signals the scorers for addition of 5 runs. He doesn’t consult Inzi at all during all this time.

3) Inzi, slightly slow, walks up to umpires when they were selecting the ball, but Hair mumbles something and is going ahead with the process. Either there is a communication breakdown or whatever, game proceeds without any problem! 

4) It’s after the tea break when umpires are already there, Pakistan doesn’t take the field registering their protest, an ill-advised move, no doubt. Both umpires and the not out batsmen wait for the fielders. Hair, talks to the batsmen and whips the bails (Good stumping, that!) signifying the match is over. 

5) Only then, fearing the worst, Inzi troops out with his men to be told the match is over. 

6) David Gower and Michael Holding keep the audience informed as to what could be happening and Pakistan Board chief Shaharyar Khan pleads with Holding that even when both teams are ready to play, Hair says, the match is over. Finito.

7) ICC’s Malcolm Speed says, it supports the umpires and hints at disciplinary action against Inzi after match referee Ranjan Madugalle is free. 

Subsequent events:

1) Inzy says, if he is penalized, Pakistan won’t play one dayers.

2) Hair wants to quit and wants US$ 500,000 as parting fees. Right now cricket is in its biggest crisis. Australians, as usual with their Prime Minister, jumps to Hair’s support so also Musharaff and their Parliament. Now it’s no more cricket. 

Following questions arise: 

a) Was Hair ‘hasty’ in penalizing Pakistan? Did umpires take unilateral decision without first warning  and consulting him give him a chance to explain, but jumped the gun and held them guilty of cheating?

b) Should Inzy and team walked to the ground as per rules to play and left it to Zaheer Abbas and coach Bob Woolmer sort it out with match Referee. They could have still given an official letter of protest and threatened to pull out if this was not sorted out before commencement of play next day. The players did what they were not supposed to do, i.e. abstain from playing and officials did not do what was expected of them, to take care of team’s interest.

c) Should Hair & co. have agreed for continuation of the match, keeping the interest of the paying public, and also the disciplinary action against Inzi going so that the crisis could have been averted?

d) Was ICC found wanting in their efforts to douse the fire and save the game and uphold the interests of paying public. Did they act like pussycats, when it mattered most? 

Unfortunately, the crisis is turning gradually in terms of race with Sri Lanka jumping in to the fray vis-vis Murali incidents. India is wisely keeping itself out of this, but will be dragged in to this, if some settlement doesn’t happen quickly. 

How will this tamasha end?

Friends, Indians, countrymen: Why are we taking this nonsense?

26 August 2006

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN asks some simple questions on the controversy surrounding the arrest and subsequent release of 12 Indians for the hoo-ha on the flight from Amsterdam:

1. Is is because we are Asians, look different and always look ‘suspect’ in the eyes of westerners? Is apartheid back again?

2. Is it because, the Airline staff felt a set of Indians / Muslims travelling together means ‘trouble’ for them and should be deemed ‘guilty’ until proved otherwise?

3. Is it because ‘funny looking’, (they are not whites) passengers did not adhere to the rules of sitting with the seat belt strapped, when the flight took off and were seen passing their mobile phones?

4. Is the matter ‘over’ because the government of Netherlands say we ‘regret’ the action.

5. What about the humiliation suffered by the handcuffed 12 or shall we say’ India’ which is put in a cell of 4’X 4′ and interrogated for 72 hours?

6.Where was the ‘Intelligence’ of the Dutch Govt / Airlines which can sniff better than the dogs? Why didn’t they find out beforehand and how did they goof?

7. Should India only ‘protest’ and accept that these things are bound to happen ,and nothing big, when it has happened to its former ‘Defence’ Minister George Fernandes , who incidentally did not even protest and suffered silently?

8. How should India make sure that it or its citizenry treated with respect by other supposedly developed countries?

Any Answers…..?

Karnataka Largesse, Bumper Draw

25 August 2006

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Based on the recommendations of Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT) and a high-power committee, the Karnataka Government sometime back, gave a salary of Rs 25 lakh to one of its employees, a doctor, for absenting himself from work for 19 years.

While the period from 1970 to 1972 was considered ‘Leave ‘, the remaining 17 years was considered, ‘ waiting for posting’. It was also recommended that the doctor should be given his retirement benefits in full.’

This decision is hailed in Management Circles as a milestone and watershed in principles of Arbitration. The IIMs, London School of Economics and Harvard Business School have asked for full details from the GOK so that they could make this a case study for their MBA Programme.

I was lucky to get the Secretary of the High power Committee entering the Vidhan Soudha through the back doors. Lucky, because I had seen the Economist and Wall Street newshounds were waiting for him at the front gates.

“You must have been tired and worn out working day and night calculating the lifetime salary package for the doctor who did not work for the last 19 years.”

“Yes, it was not easy. In all the years he did not work, God knows what the doctor missed out in terms of merit increment, cash that goes with Dhanwantri award etc. We did not reckon the normal increments he would have got, and even left out free samples of medicine, new year gifts such as tabletop calendar, penholder, clips etc.”

“That’s terrible! But you did well by including his retirement benefits.”

“Naturally. Where will he go after his retirement? Since he has never practiced all his life, we wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t know which end of the sthethescope he should put his ears to. When his own pulse has gone quite weak, it’s grossly unfair to ask him to see a patient‘s pulse. It would be cruel on our part.”

“Do you often get cases where you have to grapple with such moral, legal issues?”

“Indeed, yes. In another case, a trainee engineer did not get the recruitment letter from a State PSU though he was informed of his selection immediately after the interview. The Appointment Letter sent thro’ ‘Speed Post’ did not reach him for years. When he called up, they asked him to wait for the speed post and join duty with the appointment Letter. Recently, when the Company announced a VRS scheme in the Newspapers. The trainee Engineer, who is now 52, has opted for VRS along with claims of stipend, salary, medical benefits, LTA etc!”

“Really! Won’t it cost the Govt. a fortune?”
“I am afraid, it would cost a bomb. This time the trainee –er, the elderly gentleman has included mental cruelty, which you were referring to earlier. He has claimed damages for anxiety while waiting for the postman, erosion of knowledge over the years, agony due to public scrutiny etc..”

“How much it will all come to?”

“We are prepared to settle for Rs 5 crores and hope he will not insist on VRS Payment. Since he never joined duty, the legal dept. feels he is not eligible for VRS benefits.  If he agrees for the amount, instead of sending by post, we will invite him and ask the CEO of the PSU to hand over the cheque to him!”

‘Nagalinga raised his arm. Behind was a charging elephant cow’

25 August 2006

ARUN PADAKI writes: Experiencing the wild from close quarters is thrilling and one that I would cherish forever. At times this could send chills down the spine too. Sometime back I had this opportunity.

It all started on an early Monday morning from the cramped suburb bus stand of Mysore. Eager to reach the forest very early, I took a bus to Gundlupet and hitched on a bike ride to join other volunteers in the Bandipur National Park as part of the team to assist in the Habitat Census, the habitat that supports Panthera Tigris.

As we awaited the Forest Department jeeps at the Range Office to proceed to our camps, the driver announced that one of jeeps had broken down. Many of us got packed in a single jeep and within minutes we moved to another camp on the National Highway connecting Wayanad.

As we feasted on the hot rice flavoured with few tomatoes and more chillies, a briefing on the tasks ahead of us followed a demonstration of the same. As we all gathered in the shade at the camp waiting for to be dispatched to various camps deep inside the jungle, we made new friends, some veterans to the forest, some just eager, like me to see the real jungle.

As we waited and waited from afternoon to late evening, the warm and dry day lead to a cool evening. Done with two rounds of black tea we badly needed the third one to keep us warm as the nightfall turned the forest cold. With the camps allocated, it was time for another cramped ride, this time inside the forest and a bumpy one too. A short journey it was to Camp Kolachi, where we were to live for the next week, following a strict regimen.

Our team consisted of two volunteers, three watchers and a guard. Of the three watchers, Nagaraja was one, a kuruba from Bandipur well acclamatised with the forest and its denizens. He seldom spoke. The other watcher was Nagalinga, agile, strong and always fetched the wood for the kitchen. The senior most, of course the guard, was Puttaswamy, in his fifties, knew the forest like the back of his palm.

The other watcher was Huchaiah, experienced with over 15 years of service, swift mover, could talk about the forest for hours, an excellent cook and a loud talker as well. He always slung the vintage rifle across the shoulders and carried the walkie-talkie too.

Alighting at Kolachi wishing others and unloading our ration for one week, we walked into the make shift shed that had come up few years back to house the staff to fight the poachers and now serving as a camp to the department. Light wind, shivering cold and adequately lit by the moon, the forest looked simply superb.

With instructions not venture out of the camp alone while dark, we settled in the camp that had an open kitchen in a corner and a store room. The kitchen corner was the most loved spot as we badly needed warmth. For supper, Huchaiah’s menu looked impressive that included hot ragi mudde and soppina saaru. With our pullover, denims and socks on, we hit the sack immediately as a strenuous series of exercises lay ahead of us starting early next morning.

Our task commenced with a study of the plant life, herbivore life and the tree canopy cover of the park within the area allocated to us. Though it sounded very boring to identify the grasses, plants, picking pellets of the herbivores and guessing the canopy cover, the ideas was to assess the state of affairs of the wealth of plant/grass life that supported the herbivores, and a healthy herbivore strength that supports the carnivores, while the canopy cover and the plant life study revealed the regeneration of the vegetation.

We had to do this at numerous locations, and believe me, it was a tiring exercise. We had loafs of bread and jam, presumably from a bakery from the nearby Gundlupet and can full of water to keep going. As we wound up this exercise, we just waited for our next meal from Huchaiah.

Post lunch, we were to walk around the dry streams to look out for traces any carnivores, and the carnivores themselves if lucky. The carnivore tracing drew no positives, as the closest we could get to see were the foot prints of tigers, leopards and wild dogs. And loads of elephant dung too.

Our endeavour on that afternoon came to an abrupt halt, as Huchaiah received a message from the Range Office that officers from Bangalore are on their way to Camp Kolachi. At the camp, it was a general tête-à-tête with them about what we do to eek out our living in the cities, followed by lemon tea.

Soon it was nightfall, biting cold, hot supper, sleeping sack with the deep sleep occasionally getting interrupted with the croacking walkie-talkie.

Greeted by the chill morning breeze as we woke up at 5 AM, we headed directly to the kitchen corner. Sufficiently warm, all of us set out on our trail of herbivores. Drawing negative again, we were disappointed to having not seen a single animal satisfactorily.

Looking at the disappointed faces, confident that he was, Huchaiah said we will get to see some in our next trail. With renewed enthusiasm writ large, led by Nagalinga and Huchaiah we set out with Puttaswamy Guard, as he was called, following us behind. Nagaraja this time stayed back to manage the kitchen.

We walked for about an hour towards Thallallikere, a pond that drew water from numerous streams within the forest. Our route was one of the dried waterways, which even some three weeks before had water flowing gently.

As Nagalinga removed the thorns in our path with his small sickle, we marched in the direction of Thallallikere to position ourselves at a safe place to watch animals that walk up to quench their thirst. With a thick layer of sand under our feet, and almost walking into the third hour, we wanted to get to the pond as quickly as we could.

The next moment, as Nagalinga raised his arms to clear the thorny bush ahead of us, his raised arm posture was in the direct vision of a charging elephant cow which we completely missed due to the curvy stream. Making a loud noise, she charged towards us from a distance less than ten meters.

A mammoth charging at, thick layer of sand underneath the feet, not knowing where to run, with no clue of how to out smart the hardy animal, I could only think of running as fast as I could in one of the two directions available, either to the right or the left of the cow. Yelling at my cousin, the other volunteer to follow me, we ran to the left, the direction we had come walking on the stream.

It was the fastest I ran on sand and soon realized that she had not followed us, but went after Huchaiah and Nagalinga. As luck would have it, Puttaswamy Guard ran behind us. Else really can’t imagine where we would have run that afternoon.

He quickly suggested we move up the stream as it is not easy for the elephants to climb heights of 10 feet quickly. Sitting atop the bund, with trees and bushes covering our view of the forest, unmindful of the multiple tick bites, we were unsure of what lied ahead of us.

Could there be another attack?

Were there few more elephants behind the cow?

What if the herd had a calf and felt threatened? And of course, will we ever get to see our homes?

How unlucky we were to have walked for hours and get cornered?

Living the longest quarter hour of my life, thinking about my profession as a banker back at Bangalore, voices of Huchaiah and Nagalinga from a distance brought us relief. As they walked towards us with loud noises to drive away the herd, as it was a herd indeed, we descended the bund and regrouped.

When we met, Huchaiah narrated how lucky the day was, as he got away by a whisker. At one point in time, the cow staring at him down the trunk and exhaling on his face, it was thick bush that saved him.

With one slipper lost in the battle to save himself, the mightily hopeful saviour, the vintage rifle, was trampled by the cow rendering it useless.

The walkie-talkie was a shade lucky as it escaped with a scratch from the pounding feet. Quick on his feet, Nagalinga was a few meters away from the dangers that hounded Huchaiah. Holding on to the single slipper, he summoned us to continue and walk to Thallallikere.

With every drop of water in the body having evaporated after the charge, with folded teak leaves serving as containers, every drop from the pond brought back life. The water did taste divine. The pond and its surroundings were captivating tempting us to stay on for a few more moments. Dry season driving animals to the water hole made us decide to move away. A decision that was more than welcome.

The walk back to the camp was a good two hours away. Walking back through the bushes and thorns, we heaved a huge sigh of relief when Camp Kolachi was in our horizons. After a while, with lime juice washing down, with a smile, Huchaiah asks if we are satisfied with the wildlife of his forest. And he did ask the right question.

With the right quantity of adrenaline now pumping into and breathing properly, pondering over what we went through a couple of hours ago, it was amazing to witness the commitment and courage of our hosts. Having got away from being a victim of an elephant attack, up on his feet, unshaken and taking things in his stride, Huchaiah’s commitment was beyond imagination. He was a hero.

And there are many more.

My experience apart, their conviction was a strong pillar to all the conservation efforts. Their very routine, though draining on them physically and mentally is handled with lot of vigour, enthusiasm and no qualms, every single day, with minimum or at times non-existent paraphernalia needed for their profession.

There are so many perils attached to their routine, as they can be mauled by animals, targeted by poachers besides the snakes and insects. Then there are the night beats when poachers’ presence is sensed inside the park. Living away from their families and lives fraught with dangers, they are an uncared lot.

Tigers have vanished from Sariska and now are on the verge at Ranthambore. Sandalwood trees have disappeared from our own forests. The existing decent tiger population and good forests of Karnataka needs protection. By addressing elementary issues like good and timely salary, health care, schooling, recruitments and equipments for their job and more importantly the feeling of having cared for restored, will secure our forests, its inhabitants and the woods further.

Life is the same back in cities. Sitting back, in a far away land, as I re-live those moments in the deep deciduous forests of Bandipur, Huchaiah’s commitment makes me salute him. Huchaiah…wasn’t he mad about his job.

Who should inaugurate Mysore Dasara this year?

17 August 2006

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Ajji was doing ‘tulsi’ pooje, while I was sitting by the tulsi katte and reading the newspaper.

“Ramu, I want to see the ‘Sound and Light’ programme in Aramane,” she said.

“Ajji, it’s still not clear when it’s going to start. Minister Jayakumar said the other day they have got the script all wrong and the show won’t be ready till next Dasara’.

“Is this an exam or test to get it right or wrong? I thought it is a show depicting events of history as they occurred.”

Ajji, sometimes is like, Dalmiya. BCCI may leave him. For sure, he won’t leave BCCI.

“You are right in a way. The tourism minister just contradicted Jayakumar this morning. He says, everything is fine, and it will start from this Dasara itself.”

“I just can’t understand. Why are they saying two different things on the same topic in a matter of two days? Is it really ‘Sound and Light’ or Kanna muchchale aadta idaro, aeno….”

“These things are quite normal in politics, Ajji.”

Adu sari.. Are they getting ready for Dasara.. Have the elephants started their march towards Mysore?’

“They have just started. We don’t know who will inaugurate Dasara this year. They have short-listed a cricketer, a space scientist, a playwright and an author. Probably the CM himself will select one of them.”

“Ramu… Isn’t Dasara, Naada Habba? How will our people – especially the rural folk connect with any one of them – A majority of us can’t even read and write, leave alone knowing what they have done?”

“But Ajji, a famous personality is supposed to inaugurate.”

Ajji interrupted me. “What famous personalities when a vast majority doesn’t even know their names? Dasara has to do with devotion for a cause, commitment and dedication for welfare of people, spreading a good message everywhere. Nobody had thought that environment should be protected until an illiterate woman from rural Karnataka came on the scene and opened our eyes. We should be proud she is one of us..

“She is ‘Saalumarada Thimmakka‘. We need more Ramakkas to preserve our environment, heritage. By honouring her, we will encourage more Thimmakkas in future.  She did Vana Mahothsava every day for more than 20 years without expecting an applause, a medal or a man of the match award! We have to honour her by asking her to inaugurate Dasara which in a way is, thanksgiving. Then only ‘Shakambari’ alankara during Dasara makes sense. Otherwise it will be mere ‘Ona Mahothsava!’

The cost-benefit ratio

17 August 2006

SWAROOP DEV writes from Dubai: A man and his ever-nagging wife went on vacation to Jerusalem. While they were there, the wife passed away.

The undertaker told the husband, “You can have her shipped home for $5,000, or you can bury her here, in the Holy Land for $150.”

The man thought about it and told him he would just have her shipped home.

The undertaker asked, “Why would you spend $5,000 to ship your wife home, when it would be wonderful to be buried here and you would spend only $150?”

The man replied, “Long ago a man died here, was buried here, and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can’t take that chance.”

Pepsi chief Indra Nooyi’s Mysore connection

17 August 2006

CHETAN KRISHNASWAMY writes: Apparently, there is a Mysorean who has played a significant role in the making of Pepsico’s fabled Indian CEO Indra Nooyi: her husband Raj.

A news report in a leading financial daily says that Raj Nooyi graduated in electronics and communications engineering from the University of Mysore. Later, he went on to to do his MS in industrial engineering from the University of Texas and MBA from the University of Chicago.

The man ”originally from Mysore” was President at Amsoft Systems, a global software development company for a few years before he want on to do other things.

The report says that ”Raj has been a pillar of strength for Indra ever since they met in the US and got married…”

When the intrepid reporter called him at the Nooyi residence in Connecticut, where they live with their two daughters- the Mysorean is supposed to have said ”in his typical unassuming style” ”It will not be proper for me to talk to the media. It is not relevant. I suggest you talk to my wife.”

A modest Mysorean is a rare species. An oxymoron.

Also read: The commencement address Indra Nooyi made

The Israeli PM gets a phone call

16 August 2006

ROHIT K.G. in Dubai forwards a joke from a friend in Beirut: “Abul Abed is a folk hero in jokes. He is a Sunni Beiruti.”

***

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sitting in his office wondering how to invade Lebanon when his telephone rang.

“Hallo, Mr. Olmert!” a heavily accented voice said. “This is Abul Abed, down at the tea house in Beirut! I am callin’ to tell ya dat we are officially declaring war on you, yes you!”

“Well” Olmert replied, “This is indeed important news! How big is your army?”

“Right now,” said Abul Abed, after a moment’s calculation “there is myself, my cousin Mustafa, me next-door-neighbor Abou Khaled, and the whole team from the tea house. That makes eight!”

Olmert paused. “I must tell you Abul Abed, that I have one million men in my army waiting to move on my command.”

“Holy jeez,” said Abul Abed. “I’ll have to call ya back!”

Sure enough, the next day, Abul Abed called again. “Mr. Olmert, the war is still on! We have managed to acquire some infantry equipment!”

“And what equipment would that be Abul Abed?” Olmert asked. “Well sir, we have two Mercedes 180, and a truck.”

Olmert sighed. “I must tell you Abul Abed, that I have 16,000 tanks and 14,000 armored personnel carriers. Also I’ve increased my army to one and a half million since we last spoke.”

“Ya lateeeeef,” said Abul Abed, “I’ll be getting back to ya.”

Sure enough, Abul Abed rang again the next day. “Mr. Olmert, the war is still on! We have managed to get ourselves airborne! We modified a helicopter with a couple of shotguns in the cockpit, and four more neighbors have joined us as well!”

Olmert was silent for a minute then cleared his throat. “I must tell you Abul Abed that I have 10,000 bombers and 20,000 fighter planes. My military complex is surrounded by laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites. And since we last spoke, I’ve increased my army to two million!”

“Lah lah lah lah,” said Abul Abed, “I’ll have to call you back.”

Sure enough, Abul Abed called again the next day. “Olmert I am sorry to have to tell you dat we have had to call off this war.”

“I’m sorry to hear that” said Olmert. “Why the sudden change of heart?”

“Well, sir,” said Abul Abed, “we’ve all sat ourselves down and had a long chat, and come to realize there’s no way we can feed two million prisoners.”

Moral: Lebanese confidence cannot be shaken.

JOKE OF THE WEEK: The Bengali & the Sardarji

12 August 2006

MURALI KRISHNAN writes from New Delhi: A Sardarji and a Bengali, both suffering from serious diseases, share the
same room in a hospital. They were violently ill and both could not even utter a word.

After a few days of living together, the Bengali gets really bored and wants to start off a conversation with his fellow patient.

He realizes that he has not enough energy left to say a sentence; so he just attempts to say a word.

After much effort he turns to the Sardarji, points his finger towards himself and says “Bengali”.

Sardarji doesn’t want to let the poor Bengali down who has struggled so hard to start a conversation.

Sardarji musters all his energy and says “Punjabi” gesturing the same way as Bengali did.

Bengali is happy now and wants to continue the conversation. After much more effort this time he says, again pointing his finger towards himself “Sharath Bose

Sardarji after some effort says “Devindar Singh“.

Bengali is even happier that they now know each other’s names.

After some time, Bengali turns towards Sardarji and mustering all his energy says “Cancer”—again doing the same gesture as before.

Sardarji smiles and with some effort says “Aquarius”.

The training camp Pakistan couldn’t bust

12 August 2006

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The BCCI called for a special Board meeting to discuss India’s perennial problem of losing in fFinals in most the tournaments after the last World Cup.

Sharad Pawar, dressed in Army fatigues, started off the proceedings.

“I am unable to sleep for days before we play the finals against any team. I did not face such a situation even when I had to quit the Congress over the issue of a foreigner becoming a Prime Minister nor before the BCCI Election against Dalmiya.  When it comes to the finals, it seems the whole country knows the result even before a ball is bowled! How do we change this? By the way, Pakistan has lodged a complaint with US that we are running a secret camp somewhere in the outskirts of Bangalore. Condoleeza Rice is coming here to check it out. I am also not sure how it will help the team to win the World Cup, if I move around in military kKhaki from now till the Finals? ”

The Army deputy chief replied: “Our secret camp was mainly to toughen the boys. They have mastered martial arts, tai- chi, jujutsu and karate. They can handle AK-47 and AK -77 which is yet to come in the market. They can start campfires on their own. As for your khakis, it will send a strong message to ICC not to mess around with BCCI, Sir.’

Greg Chappell piped in: “My main worry is, the boys have forgotten to play cricket during my absence. I was shocked to see Viru holding the bat upside down like an AK 47 while facing V.R.V. Singh. When I threw the ball to Harbhajan, he let out a war cry and ran away from it as if it were a grenade. I found it amusing to see Kumble eyeing the batsman between his thumb and forefinger as if he is peering through a telescope.”

“We have made the team stronger by making them jump from 50 ft. heights, climb 100 ft. rope ladder and eat out of a can for three days. They also sip fluids thro’ a tube 0.15mm dia. This will make them survive in a jungle as well as a 5-star Hotel. It will improve their stamina.” That was from the physio.

“I think the boys have even forgotten basics of cricket. Instead of running between the wickets, Tendulkar was chasing Dravid all over Chinnaswamy ground with a raised bat  and worse, Dravid, while running backwards, was using his bat as a shield  over his head! This is ridiculous. Probably it had to do with John Wright’s book about Dravid’s declaration when Sachin was unbeaten on 194!  At night, I saw Sreeshanth and R.P. Singh guarding the camp crossing each other once every 3 minutes till morning. At this rate, we can go to West Indies only as tourists. May be we can earn some money for the Board by providing security to all the other teams!” said Chappell airing his frustration.

The Physio continued, “Some of the boys showed they can be without water for 3 days even though they had to do ads for colas in between. Dhoni jumped off a plane without a parachute and fell on the lawns of Yelahanka Army lawns and came out unscathed. This should help the captain to eliminate the slips cordon and shortleg from now on. Dhoni can dive 20 yards either side from deep point up to leg umpire.”

“Whatever little cricket I knew, I will forget if I continue here any more. I would like to resign as the coach with immediate effect.”

Sharad Pawar intervened. “Greg, don’t get excited and do things in the heat of the moment like Sourav Ganguly and  repent later. We can always sort it out…. I am still not convinced why I should go around wearing this silly army olive green dress.’

Chappell had the final word. “I will tell you why you need to wear this, Mr. Pawar. Now that Dalmiya is back, you will need this all your life. There is a small uprising in the East, which could result in mutiny. You would need all the military manoeuvres that you could muster for your survival. HE is coming and I just want to resign and go before he comes to Mumbai’!”

Once upon a time, during the Quit India Movement

8 August 2006

T.S. SATYAN writes: I was in the first year of my BA class at the Maharaja’s College in Mysore, when Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement in 1942. Students boycotted classes, poured into the streets and went in procession shouting patriotic slogans. They were in the forefront of the struggle.

Those who led and inspired us then were my college mates—H.Y. Sharada Prasad (who went on to become a well-known journalist and Information Advisor to the Prime Minister) and M.V. Krishnappa (who became a minister in the central government).

I also remember my affable friend, Abdul Gaffar, whose inspiring speeches in Kannada are still ringing in my ears. Our English teachers, J.C. Rollo and W.G. Eagleton, were surprised that their favourite student, the suave and brilliant Sharada Prasad (then the Secretary of the University Union), had been chosen as our undisputed leader in the Quit India agitation.

“Showrie”, as we affectionately called him, was a soft-spoken, frail and mild-mannered young man and no one credited him even with an iota of aggressiveness. The compulsions of any occasion, it is said, throw up a leader and Showrie was one such. He came from a family, which valued Gandhian ideals. Always dressed in khaddar, he was self-reliant and an idealist, qualities he inherited from his parents.

Sharada Prasad’s speeches electrified the students who willingly courted arrest, and filled the only jail in Mysore. Talking about those days, he says: “There were not many to advice us to device plans and programmes. Some elderly lawyers told us that it was the turn of the young to show the way to the old.”

Showrie conceived a novel idea—the Cycle Brigade. Bicycle squads not only went round the streets of Mysore but also fanned out into the surrounding villages, shouting Quit India slogans and exhorting people to join the Movement. The students picketed government offices and courts.

The news of Showrie’s arrest spread like wild fire and his name became the talk of the town. Many of his followers marched behind him when he was taken to the Court of the First Class City Magistrate. The tense gathering inside the Court waited for the judicial worthy to pronounce his order. The judge shuffled his papers, picked up one and held it aloft to pronounce his judgment. He began saying, “The All India Congress Committee met in Bombay on 7 and 8 August, l942 and passed a resolution to quit India.” The assembled crowd burst out in laughter. The magistrate corrected himself and, after reading the charges against Showrie, sentenced him to eighteen months of rigorous imprisonment.

Recalling his entry into jail, Showrie says: “A convict-warder who led us to our barracks gave us a piece of sound advice: ‘Take good care of your things. This place is full of thieves.” He was himself doing his eighth term for house-breaking!”

Writing about his jail days in his lyrical prose laced with some anguish. Sharada Prasad says: “The outside world suddenly seemed so far away. It was as though we were encased in a capsule of silence, cut off from the aching joys and dizzy thrills of the Movement. But, within a couple of days, the world began flooding in through the walls. Students were brought in by the dozens and scores. Then there were groups of villagers from far and near. I remember the cheerful face of a village elder who had a forearm with a bullet embedded in it. They took him to hospital to have it removed.”

Showrie also recalls with a tinge of anguish how, one day, after a minor dispute with the prison authorities, the reserve police were called in and a fierce lathi charge was ordered. “There were scores of students with broken bones and bad bruises. We were locked up without food. Word came that a high school student, Shankarappa, was so badly injured that he later died in hospital.”

Along with Showrie there were some six hundred political prisoners. “The jailers sought our help in dealing with them and keeping order. We also set about holding literacy classes for the unlettered villagers. For the younger students we organized classes of political education and introduced them to important political books.”

The police force in Mysore was rather mild earlier in treating the young ‘law-breakers’. However, in order to demonstrate their loyalty to their British officers in Bangalore, they hardened their stance as the Movement gained momentum and the agitators were taken aback by their aggressiveness and brutality. Among them was a once-charming sub-inspector who transformed himself into a sadist. He wielded his baton with gay abandon and took the credit for arresting the largest number of demonstrators.

The City Magistrate of Mysore did one better than the police officer. Earlier, he had earned a reputation for being gentle, educated and highly cultured. He was also known for his philosophical bent of mind. Many in Mysore were surprised to find that even he allowed himself to be provoked by the agitating students. Pressured by his senior officers in Bangalore, he ordered the police to shoot at the demonstrators when a student named Ramaswamy got killed. Five years later, when India won freedom, the government gave official recognition to the popular sentiment of the people by naming the road junction near the Maharaja’s College Hostel in Mysore as Ramaswamy Circle.

There was a comic angle to the agitation. There was our lone college mate who had his crazy ideas about the Movement in which he did not participate. He was always dressed immaculately in a three-piece suit, be it summer or winter. His clipped accent resembled that of our English professors. While all of us abstained from our classes, he was the only one who dared to enter the college. Our efforts to dissuade him from doing so were in vain. The anger of the student community reached the limit when he started referring to the Mahatma as ‘Mr Gandhi’. The students who wanted to beat him up ran after him in vain. He gave them a slip and took shelter in the residence of J.C.Rollo, our Principal and Professor of English.

Many years later, our friend distinguished himself in academic achievements, became a principal of a college and also sat on the selection committees of the Union Public Service Commission. Likewise, many of my classmates rose to high positions in the administration, judiciary and the arts. Some others became ministers.

While India attained freedom in August l947, the princely state of Mysore retained its identity for sometime. Many of the states were not yet integrated in the political structure of sovereign India. The freedom movement had inspired the people of Mysore State to launch an agitation for Responsible Government with their Maharaja as the constitutional head. They began to demand a full-fledged elected legislature leading to the Mysore Chalo agitation when the earlier hostility of the police became even more manifest. Brutality, arrests and ill treatment of demonstrators became the order of the day.

I remember the strong-willed and much-loved freedom fighter, Thagadur Ramachandra Rao, who dared the police to snatch the tricolour he carried. But Thagadur had devised a novel method to puzzle the police. He wore a saffron cap, a white shirt and a green dhoti representing the colours, in that order, of the national flag. The innovative ‘walking national flag’ baffled the police who snatched away Thagadur’s cap and tore his shirt. But they did not remove his dhoti for obvious reasons.

The Movement for Responsible Government became so intense that it had to be ushered a few months after August l947. Some among the principal Congress leaders found ministerial positions. I remember photographing the first Chief Minister of Mysore, K. Changalaraya Reddy and his cabinet colleagues when they drove down to Mysore to speak at the mammoth public meeting held at the Subbarayanakere grounds. My first news photo coverage of this important event got published in India Magazine of Bombay that had just been launched.

When Dean Jones threw up a second time

8 August 2006

PDCS writes: I sincerely hope that Dean Jones never comes back to the subcontinent again, in any capacity. He had displayed his ignorance consistently, while competing with Kiran More to be the worst commentator that I have had the privilege of listening to. But by calling the South African batsman Hashim Alva Amla a terrorist, he has shown himself to be an ignorant bigot.

This is not a stupid mistake. This is not an innocent joking remark a white man would make. This is the sort of ignorance which breeds intolerance and alienates good, moderate people.

Such comments have no place in cricket.

Such people have no place in cricket.

I sincerely hope Ten sports, ESPN-STAR, ZEE, Sahara, Doordarshan and PTV will overcome their white skin fetish while hiring commentators.

In 1986, Dean Jones was widely praised for his courageous double hundred. This time around, we have to say: shame on you, Dean Jones.

Namma nadu Kannada, namma nudiyu Kannada

8 August 2006

PDCS writes: Yesterday, Mysore’s Kannada intellectuals and activists were in the streets again, demanding the status of classical language to Kannada. Here is a comprehensive report in the Hindu on yesterday’s events. Their chosen target this time was the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), which as its director Dr. Uday Narayan Singh rightly pointed out does not have the statutory authority to accord the status.

Anyway, today’s controversy isn’t about where Prof. Jaware Gowda and his friends chose to protest. Dr. Singh, who was out of town, responded to the demands of the agitators in English, which has made Prof. Gowda mad. He wants Dr. Singh to be removed from his position for not knowing/learning Kannada.

Is it incumbent upon the Director of CIIL, a Central government entity or its employees to learn Kannada?

Moreover, while chasing the classical language status for Kannada, are we ignoring much needed work that needs to be done to bring Kannada language and culture into the twenty first century?

In that sense, do we need to emulate and support entities such as Kannadasaahithya.com, Kannada Ganaka Parishat and Sampada.net, all of which are doing interesting and valuable work?

Is it then time for us to begin a new discussion on the Kannada Kattuva Kelasa, as B M Shri famously said nearly a hundred years ago? Will that task involve seeking classical language status for Kannada?

Time for a new Churumuri campaign / brainstorming, I think.

Sorry, Sherlock Holmes is not a block of flats

7 August 2006

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Purvankara, Shobha, Sankalp and Brigade are some of the biggest names among property developers and builders on the horizon. As Bangalore is growing faster than Kempe Gowda’s wildest dreams and is on the verge of becoming a nightmare at his grave, people have resigned to the fact it can’t be contained anymore. Everyday new developers come on the scene and offer features that make the ones offered the previous day, a big yawn.

Recently there was an exhibition at Kanteerava Indoor Sports Complex (The stadium is also known for conducting National Games, Binnys Vs. Blues Football Match etc) of builders, landscape specialists and developers on the future of the industry. Some of them explained their USPs to the media and public.

“Italian marble floorings, Thai furniture, Turkish bathtubs are passé.  The future is already here! Whenever the CM and Deputy CM of the Jugalbandi or Jagalabandi fame move around or ‘Siddu’ sprints to Congress Bhavan with a new found zeal, the traffic is always a mess in Bangalore. We cannot depend on these roads and the auto rakshasaws anymore! We’ll be offering a helicopter drop service—‘ Jatayu’—to our residents from our proposed 100-storey “Himalaya” complex to their schools, offices and back. Jatayu will also pick up and drop boarding-pass holders to HAL and Devanahali airport and back. We are constructing a helipad on top of our building.” This was from Dhruda Sankalp.

“The future is now! We offer fantasy to our residents. We will have our own Airbus 380 parked at the tarmac. During weekends, we will fly them to London for breakfast, lunch in New York, dinner at Dubai and bring them back to Bangalore for work on Monday! Depending on the season, we’ll take them to Holland to watch tulips, Wimbledon for tennis, Oscar awards in Hollywood, World Cup at West Indies. Some of the names that have applied for accommodation in our “ 2 V- Vishwakarma Villa” are : the Bills, Clinton and Gates; Beckham and Zizou as well as Sr. and Jr. Bush. Triple A, if you still don’t know who they are, i.e. Anil, Amar and Amitabh will be our weekend guests,” said Prabha Developers.

“There’s no future anymore. It will always be present! We are unrolling our new concept for the first time.  We‘ll be building a city that will have everything in it. Shopping Malls, Water Falls, Skating Rink… you name it. The works. Those who are our exclusive members of our ‘Siti City”, will have a lifetime of only new experiences! If they want to listen to Bryan Adams, Bhimsen Joshi, Britney Spears, Lata Mangeshkar we will get them here. If they want to watch the World Cup, cricket or football, we will sponsor and get them to play right here in Siti City. At the flick of a button, they can have the rains of Mumbai, the New York Snow or sunshine of Bahamas. No need to wait for seasons anymore!” That was from Paschimankara, who is known to specialize in features that tickle your funny bone.

The media whose collective mouth was wide open, managed to squeak in a question. Will there be any takers for the dream house or fantasy, which surely would cost a mega bomb?

“Takers?? We are over booked!! There’s one problem, though. We know how to take approvals and ‘ reguralise’ things from BMRD, BIAAPA, KEB, etc!! Since the roads here are generally either under water or always bursting at seams, we want to fly our residents. We don’t know where to apply and the ‘rates’ for license for flying our helicopters, and planes in and around Bangalore!”

When shall we be heard?

7 August 2006

PDCS writes: Star of Mysore reports on yet another threat by the Pourakarmikas of Mysore City Corporation: that they will keep off work during Dasara, if their demands aren’t met.

So what do they seek: regularisation of service, scrapping contract system in garbage collection and providing employee benefits similar to those of State Government employees.

Now we could talk until cows come home on the race to become government employees and enjoy the benefits. We could discuss the (mainly untouchable) social groups from which these workers come from. But I want to pose a different question: When shall they be heard? That is, when do the Pourakarmikas hold some leverage to make themselves heard? Obviously, during Dasara, one can not have no garbage collection.

Does that work though? It didn’t last year, when they did stage a protest but withdrew their threat when the district minister in charge made some promises. This time they don’t want to budge.
All this reminds of something a friend said recently: right now, perhaps a good and safe business in Mysore is to undertake to clean private office buildings. Given what has happened to Mysore, it isn’t easy to find inexpensive labor but the prospects are pretty good. Banks, corporations. even educational institutions and other such entities would like to outsource cleaning work, rather than employ attendars, peons and cleaning people. For some of us, this is already an everyday occurence: i.e., an employee of some cleaning service showing up to clean our offices.

While I don’t like to be in the ‘how to become an entrepreneur’ advise business, here is thought, though. Sure, a government job, with benefits, is quite tempting. But how about utlizing some opportunities that are available. I do not want to suggest that Pourakarmikas should stay in the business of cleaning, given the caste angle here. They ought to be able to do whatever they choose to do. And I do hope that their grievances are addressed by the government. But as we all know, some minister will make a vague promise and not much will come out of it.

If they shall not be heard, what should they do to make themselves heard?

Wake up call

7 August 2006

PDCS writes: I must admit that it was gratifying to read Star of Mysore reports on a brain storming session by Muslim leaders, bureaucrats and intellectuals this weekend in Mysore. The list of participants is also impressive: Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Rehman Khan, former Union Minister C.K. Jaffer Shariff, Labour Minister Iqbal Ansari, former Ministers Qamarul Islam, B.B. Hindasgeri, Sageer Ahmed, B.M. Moinuddin, former CFTRI Director Dr. H.A.B. Parpia, KSRP DIG U. Nissar Ahmed, IAS Officers Zameer Pasha and Mohd. Sananullah, KAS officers Mohd. Ali Khan and S.N.H. Rizwi, former Vice-Chancellor Dr. B. Sheikh Ali, MP Iqbal Ahmed, Congress MLC Saleem Ahmed and the list goes on.

The objective of the brainstroming session was to address the suspcion with which the community is viewed in light of terrorism and bring Muslims to national mainstream. One can not overemphasize both the urgency and necessity of this task. Terror and the threat of random violence have to be addressed not just by the state. Civil society has an equally significant role to play. We tend to be skeptical of religious or caste meetings, perhaps rightly so. But to address the threat of terror, we have to explore all avenues and all paths.

Let us hope that the Muslim elite will pursue its objectives sincerely and diligently.

Rum and Revolution

7 August 2006

PDCS writes:

Rum has always had a distinctly American swagger. It is untutored and proud of it, raffish, often unkempt, and a little bit out of control. The history of rum tends toward the ignoble, many times pleasingly so. . . . Rum, in short, has been one of those rare objects in which America has invested its own image. Like moonglow, the life of America is reflected back in each incarnation of rum.

So rum is an American drink? Don’t tell that to our desi socialist revolutionaries, who have fought many a battle and sustained revolutionary spirit on the strength of rum!

Jonathan Yardley reviews a new book by Wayne Curtis entitled A Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails. Interesting read, both the review and the book. Here is a snippet from the review to make you rumbustious:

Rum is essentially an accident. On 17th-century sugar plantations in the Caribbean, “sugar wastes were considerable,” chief among them molasses. Eventually, someone figured out that molasses combined with other ingredients could produce a potent if rather vile alcoholic drink that came to be called rum, perhaps as “a truncated version of rumbullion or rumbustion ,” both of which “were British slang for ‘tumult’ or ‘uproar,’ ” which, as Curtis puts it, conjures up images of “fractious islanders cracking one another over the head in rumbustious entanglements at island tippling houses.” Its most common name, though, was “Kill-devil,” the precise origins of which are unclear, but a name that suggests its potency and its power to make trouble.

10 reasons Lebanon didn’t make it to World Cup

6 August 2006

ROHIT K.G. writes from Dubai:

*** 

10.  League wouldn’t accept Iranian or Syrian strikers on their team

9. Firing katusha missiles aimlessly into stands didn’t technically count as scoring goals

8. Thought the league would, as usual, make it so that Israel was the only team who couldn’t use their hands

7. Confused headbutting with just being buttheads

6. Every time the team was being demolished, they thought calling it a tie would be considered a win

5. Terrorist tunnels screwed up all the decent practice fields

4. Their tagline: “Bend it like Bin Laden”

3. Major defense was to line up innocent civilians in front of their goal

2. Coach is hiding somewhere in Iran

1. No one from the UN was on the Referee staff

Jiddu Krishnamurti on love, death, god and more

6 August 2006

T.S. NAGARAJAN writes: Mystics, saints, gurus and philosophers have been my subject of interest. I have seen some of them, met some, heard some, read some and, of course, I have photographed some.

It happens that despite my interest in their lives and teachings, I have remained largely uninfluenced by any of them.

I was especially attracted to J. Krishnamurti because of his fame as an orator, philosopher and as one of the most revolutionary thinkers of the 20th century. I read extensively about him and his books with much interest. His precept that no one needs a guru made meaning to me.

A master of words and a great performer, I found Krishnamurti and his lingo very impressive. He usually picked a subject and talked extempore, urging his audience to proceed with him “step by step, logically, rationally, sanely and intelligently”, until they were ready to “take off” with him. But at the end of it all, often it remained unclear how many took off and how many dropped down.

Years ago, in Delhi, I got an opportunity to see him, photograph him, attend a series of his lectures and write about my impressions for a magazine. That was the first and the last time I saw the famed Indian. Since then, to me, Krishnamurti has always remained an enigma.

For Churumuri visitors, I post here an abridged version of my report on the lectures

***

He sat upright on the dais and greeted the audience with folded hands, lowering his head to the extent his bald patch showed. He wore his silvery hair brushed to one side. As he started surveying the audience, I studied his face in slow movement. A fine face, with large eyes. He closed them for a few moments. His face now looked cast in bronze. Suddenly it took on life as J. Krishnamurti addressed the audience, giving every word, every syllable, its full value and stress.

He talked about many things and posed many questions. He answered some of them himself and left the others to be answered by his listeners. “It is your question, not mine. You are putting the question to yourself,” he kept warning his listeners. He made it clear that he was not playing the role of a guru. What was needed was “communication”. He described communication as “sharing together, not merely receiving”.

But from what followed, all that I could sense was a one-way traffic of ideas from the speaker to the listeners. Some of them kept looking at his face like infants.

“A confused mind. Whatever it does results in confusion…. If you change the social structure out of confusion, what you produce is chaos… Is it possible for the human mind to undergo a radical change… to bring about a psychological revolution, evenly?…. Do we understand each other?”

The speaker paused briefly, looked at the audience as though waiting for an answer. No one uttered a word.

He closed his eyes again and asked another question. “Is it possible for a conditioned mind to bring about a revolution?”

Most of us in the crowd looked away from the speaker. A young blonde was struggling amidst the squatters for a place to sit. She was obviously a late-comer.

“Madam, it is difficult to talk unless you sit down and do not disturb people.” the speaker told her pointedly. The crowd absorbed her at once.

Once again, he looked straight at his listeners, closed his eyes, and spoke. This time slowly and softly, with long intervals between words.

“Can the mind change through analysis? Please observe it yourself; don’t listen to the speaker casually. Share together.”

Silence.

“Oh, Lord! I don’t know. Are you following all this? It becomes extremely difficult if you treat this as an intellectual affair.”

Silence.

“We are fragmented human beings inwardly and outwardly. Pease observe this. You are not being taught by me.

“Who is the examiner? Who is the analyser? Is he not one of the fragments of all the fragments- a super fragment?

“Are you following all this? Please do share it,” he said touching his heart. He seemed to go off again into a state of intense concentration sitting there erect, eyes closed. “If both these, the analyser and the thing analysed, are the same, then conflict comes to an end.”

Someone asked in a faint voice: “Is the observer different from the thing he observes?”

The speaker continued with the lecture. He asked himself questions which concerned the mind, beliefs, conflicts, passion, love and sensitivity. He even talked about the moon (I don’t know why people go there”). Rarely did he say anything without posing it as a question.

Every succeeding question seemed to make the preceding one a little clearer, thereby creating a sense of shared understanding. Towards the end of the lecture bigger issues came up for analysis:

“Psychologically, is there a tomorrow?”

It was past seven. The speaker had crossed his 60-minute barrier. The early darkness of Delhi’s winter had driven away the twilight. The speaker pulled out his pocket-watch: “I don’t know what the time is. You might like to ask some questions.”

A young man stood up in a hurry. The speaker turned towards him and said:

“Wait, Sir. Whom are you asking the question?”

“You Sir,” the young man answered.

The question is important to you and so you want to share it with the speaker,” he said reminding the questioner of the “shared together” appeal he had made earlier.

“Sir, you are using the words you and your mind. Are they synonymous?” the young man asked.

JK: “Is that a question?” ( laughter )

“I think so,” answered the young man firmly.

JK: “Are you your mind? Aren’t you?  What you think, you are… a Buddhist, a communist. Or a Christian. Why do you separate yourself from what you are?”

The questioner sat down. I could not make out what he thought of himself or the speaker.

More people got up with questions, some clever and others not so clever. But the speaker had an answer to every question- or at least a counter question.

Now it was the turn of an old gentleman, probably in his seventies, who had a green muffler wrapped around his neck. I had seen him nod his head in agreement every time the speaker made a forceful point. He stood up and asked in a rather high pitched voice:

“Sir, do you believe that there is anything beyond man?”

The speaker raised his eyes towards the sky, and, with an enigmatic smile, answered:

“The speaker is saying: do not believe. And at the end of an hour and a quarter, the speaker is being asked: do you believe?”

More questions followed, some of which produced laughter. But before the din of the laughter had subsided, I saw the speaker get up to leave.

I attended two more lectures. The second fell into the same pattern as the first.

Exactly an hour later, the question-and-answer period began. The green- mufflered man asked his questions and got his answers. Again there was more laughter, less understanding.

On the day of the third lecture, I arrived a little early since a larger crowd was expected. The shamiana was full. Everything looked set with all the familiar faces in their places.

It was six. The lecture began. The speaker said that he was going to consider the question:

“What is death?”

But to start with he went into great detail trying to explain what love is.

“If you don’t know what love is, you don’t know what death is.”

“What is love Sir?” he asked looking towards a young man.

The young man sat silent.

“Please Sir, do answer it,” persisted the speaker. Some of the listeners nodded their heads.

“Don’t nod your heads, please… It does not matter if you don’t understand. It is up to you.” said the speaker. By the time he considered this question of love, what it is and how the correct understanding of its meaning was necessary to understand death, it was time to look at the watch.

“Have we time to go into the question of death now? We have fifteen minutes,” he told the audience.

“Yes, yes,” said some listeners. He waited for the noise to subside, straightened his back which was already straight, closed his eyes and asked himself aloud:

“What it means to die.”

“Simply put, coming to an end…which is the ending of things known, not unknown because you are not frightened of it. What you are frightened of is the ending of your memory, words, possessions, furniture…  When you end these, you will know what it means to die.”

The green-mufflered gentleman stood up and asked a question. He had moved away to the entrance.

“Kindly tell me categorically whether there is life hereafter…”

Many of us near the dais could not hear him fully. But the speaker came to our rescue. He repeated the question for the benefit of the audience.

“The gentleman wants to know if there is life after death,” he said and asked back:

“In general or in particular?”

There was a burst of laughter from the audience and even before the speaker had finished with his first questioner, more stood up to ask more questions. One man by my side asked:

“Do you believe in God?”

This led to a serious argument almost bordering on a quarrel between the two questioners. Each charged the other with encroachment.

The speaker remained unperturbed. When the noise abated, he announced”

I shall answer it next Sunday, 5 pm.” and left.

***

Note: I attended these three lectures in  Delhi,1971.  J. Krishnamurti was then 76. He died in 1986.

Indians in Singapore once upon a time, and now

5 August 2006

SHASHIKIRAN MULLUR: Ten years ago, here in Singapore, I’d suffer at the sight of fellow Indians shopping. At Mustafa, where they were a major source of revenue, the staff would disdain them though they mostly bought the things they asked about. At the circular counters in Changi Airport they’d receive a verbal rap on the knuckles when they pointed and asked the price. When sometimes told the price, the Indian line was, “I’ll think about it”—promptly scorned by the attendants. Here ten years ago, the color of Indians was a poor shade of brown, pallid as the rupee.

Today, I sat in an office in Raffles Place, on the twenty-fifth floor, with a view of the ocean up to Bintan. The lovely office belongs to a Kannada couple from Belgaum, and their partner from Maharashtra. They wouldn’t end their praise for this city, repeating examples of all things here that are so easy and stress-free, not like in India. They have been in business in Singapore for six years. They told me Kumaraswamy was here a few weeks ago; that he made a terrific impact; that a lady-officer made an impressive presentation; that all the civil servants looked good; that Kumaraswamy summed things up saying, “I’ll do some things for Karnataka, I won’t do some things for Karnataka, so you investors tell me what you want, and I will clear or reject your proposals here and now.”

It was afternoon and though clouds hid the sun, light poured in through the large windows and lit up the faces of my hosts: a wheaty healthy brown. We were waiting for the phone to ring to confirm an appointment at the Economic Development Board. They were relaxed, happy. Why, I was so relaxed myself.

Once upon a time, tikki, goli, lagori, chinni-daandu

3 August 2006

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: I was in Bangalore the other day. To attend a get together of old childhood mates, mostly from good old Saraswathipuram, but now mostly from the land of the Empire State Building. How I wish I could say the land of the World Trade Centre. But then, that’s another story.

Needless to underline, the gathering brought out a phantasmagoria of thoughts, emotions, reminiscences, memories, images and feelings of times spent in the sylvan setting of the Tengina Topu near the 4th main road. When all of us were young boys with more than a smearing of innocence on our souls. When life was one long beautiful unhurried dream.

When life played itself out in the confines of our personal world where the smallest things gave us the greatest joy; where even the inane and the ribald mixed in one palatable paste to humour, amuse and cheer us; we who were in our own sweet world anyway.

We spoke so terribly animatedly, not in the less fuelled by some good quality scotch, about the evenings we spent in Hari Hotlu on 1st main road ravenously devouring masale dose (aaaaru massssssale, aaaru masssssaaalaai), and drinking 3 by 6 coffee; eating churumuri (swalpa khara irli battre), playing lagori, focusedly aiming at the opponent and cannoning the tennis ball in his direction as if to flush out some indecipherable teenage angst; chinni dandu (Redaaaaay!?) played with Viv Richards’ like gusto with the chinni sometimes spiralling up and resembling a helicopter rotor with one of the guys underneath it, ostensibly in position to catch it but at the last moment misjudging its flight path!

Tikki as we played it on the roads, rummaging for cigarette packs near municipality dust bins like desperate mongrels in search of a morsel – the value of an empty pack of Passing Show—-even if it was dirtily crumpled, meant something like 5000 ( points was it!?)

Goli too was central to our existence. Doosa goli, the big sized one, the small ones, the regular sized ones, colourful, precious gems in our collection and to our juvenile minds, as valuable.

Some of us were so good in hitting the targeted goli that we ended up with quite a haul at end of day’s play. And as we walked back home in groups in sheer exultation, the bulging pockets of our soiled shorts looked like the cheeks of a desperately greedy monkey that had stuffed itself silly with all the goodies that it could lay its hands on in an unattended kitchen!

And as we guys spoke of the good times we had, the innocent middle class fun we partook of as young boys, I couldn’t help but notice through the window of my friend’s Bangalore apartment that the world is marching inexorably. Times are changing. Priorities are being churned.

Something as simple as clean innocence itself has become endangered; competing with the tiger on life’s Schedule 1 list! And young boys of today seem to have as much understanding of lagori and goli and chinni dandu as we as youngsters had about discotheques and step up brassieres!

What was novel yesterday is junk today. What was relevant yesterday is unrecognizable today. Fashions go out of, well, fashion, even before you’ve tried out your new outfit after rushing home from the glitzy mall on Magrath road.

Men and women, boys and girls; a medley of garishness, not only in their dress but also in the accentuation of the contours that the dresses are seen to celebrate; glitz, glamour, colour; the hubbub of metropolitan life; consumerism that’s evident, numbing and mostly dumbing. Consumerism that seems to be scaling new heights by the day, raising the bar of expectations, heightening desire and want. Of the purely, crassly, ephemerally materialistic.

Men (and women too) are in a hurry. In a rush for ever. Clambering, clamouring and jumping in and out of everything in their wake. Be it relationships or autorickshaws. They invariably know not where they are going. But they imagine they are on their way. Where life’s success is entirely dependent on your ability to climb on to the 7.15 Santa Cruz local, if you’re a Mumbaikar. Or hitting the ring road at the crack of dawn if you happen to live in Bangalore. Where money is the moola(h) mantra and earning it necessitates invoking many a tantra.

The next day, I eased into top gear in my jeep down the flyover beyond the Town Hall off lung choking J.C. Road and hit the road to Mysore.

Until next time, allow me to get back to my beloved Tengina Topu. To my Saraswathipuram. When I had more hair on my pate!

Redaaaaay!


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