Friday, May 30, 2008


My cousin brother J, his wife A, mom and eight month old son were visiting us last week. J completed his MS in the US and is placed with a company in the US. His wife studied in Kerala and was working in Kochi before marriage. They were staying with us so that they could visit relations here and grab a holiday in Kodaikanal before heading back to the US.

During the one week they spent with us, A drove all of us crazy! Before she landed up in Bangalore, she called up my mom and told her that she needed Mineral water to sterilize the baby’s bottles and utensils. She wasn’t too sure of the Aqua Guard water we use in the house! My mom obliged by asking the Kinley suppliers to ensure a continuous supply to the house while they were with us.

What happened next had me boiling impotently! From the time we picked them from the airport till they left, the lady had everyone on the edge and that included her mother in law who accompanied her to spend some time with my Mom!

From the airport to the house, A regaled us with tales of troubles she encountered when she landed in India a week ahead of hubby with the baby. She had apparently flown Lufthansa who were very helpful to passengers like her traveling with a baby. The domestic leg of her travel i.e from Bangalore to Kerala was undertaken in Indian. And the stark contrast in service between the two carriers gave A enough fodder for chit chat for the week she was here and visiting relations. My tart inquiry as to why she didn’t travel first class in Jet or Kingfisher was met with a smooth excuse. Her mom in law mumbled under her breath that A was trying to save money by traveling Indian.

After that it was pure hell. From complaints of lack of oxygen in the air in Bangalore to the crowds and inquiries if the stuff my mom cooked was organic and the content of fat...she had everyone on tenterhooks. My brother countered her questions tongue in cheek till a well placed kick under the table from mom ensured he kept quiet for the sake of family peace.

My mother, the gracious hostess she is, put up with A with the patience of an Indian Electorate waiting for good governance! While A sterilized the babies bottles and washed his plates in Kinley and ensured that the baby ate nothing but the pureed bottle food she had bought from the US, her mom in law ensured that the baby ate rice and fish curry when the parents were out visiting! By the time they left, the baby was refusing to eat the bland pureed food! A almost fainted when she came to know that the baby had eaten the unsterilised Indian food and crawled around the house in her absence! And guess what! The baby never fell sick or had any problems with that! Don't get me wrong. A is a really nice girl. But she seems to have trouble acknowledging the lifestyle she left not so long ago!

This is not the first time we are having visitors from the US with small babies. Most of them are fussy. But A took the cake. Nowadays during weddings and other get together, the joke is almost always on the NRI relations and how soon they forget the India they left not too long ago, like two months in some cases!!

I wonder if it is really that risky for an NRI to live in India after living in the US!

p.s Sorry for the delay in posts and replies to comments but if life were a Ferrari then Schumacher would be my driver. Right now trying to over ride the brakes! *sigh*

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Abortion! An issue that I want to take a strong stand on yet cannot! There are two schools of thought about the topic “in my head”.

1. You protect your life and your right to live with laws that punish people who take other people’s lives. Wouldn’t you like to afford the same right to a human fetus?

2. There are many girls who get pregnant unwillingly like rape victims. Don’t they have the right to set right what has been done wrong to their body via an abortion?

Both these arguments hold water. For the second group of people selective abortion can be advocated. BUT that would vitiate the principals of Thought No 1. That is the right to life. After all how many of us here had a choice to be born whether as a product of marriage or otherwise?

What do I think of abortion? I think it is abhorrent. It is like killing a child! It is murder! Because I think it is hypocritical to talk of human rights and political correctness and think naught of the unborn defenseless child!

On the other hand no one should take away the right of a woman who has been raped and unwilling to carry the product of that encounter as a constant reminder of her humiliation!

And in this debate we forget the tiny fetus that has absolutely no right or voice over its life! We were all tiny fetuses once upon a time! If we didn’t endure the pain of being chopped up or chemically killed it is because our parents or procreators chose not to.

Though I would not judge a woman who wants an abortion because she is pregnant after a rape, my heart will still cry for her unborn, condemned to dying because it was a fusion of lust and not love! Nature didn’t differentiate between the two when it created human procreation. Or we would all have been spared this discussion! What an interesting idea though! If a child were to be conceived only from two people who were in love, humans would have been extinct by now :p

In a country whose rivers are overflowing with female fetuses, posts like this are I guess laughably immature!

This post might seem confusing. It is…because I am confused about the topic!

Please note, this post does not have anything to do with my religious views or religious principles governing the matter.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Famine and Plenty II

How many of us here were told to eat up our food because “there are so many poor people who do not get food!” I guess all of us have grown up to that refrain! It was not just prudence but empathy for the poor and an effort to avoid wastage!

Mr Bush recently accused Indians and the Chinese of depleting world food reserves due to the increase in purchasing power of the average citizen of these countries. Indians were incensed at what they think is Bush trying to tell Indians to eat less so that the US can eat more. Without delving on the merits and demerits of his statement, I decided to take a critical look at something I had blogged about earlier too.

Ten years ago when we attended weddings, the left over food was usually packed and taken home and distributed to relations and neighbors. Wastage was unheard of! Today if you were to visit a Kalyana Mantapa or Wedding Hall in Bangalore, the amount of food thrown in the dust bin will leave you sick in the stomach! Except for the lower middle classes no one thinks of taking leftovers home because it is passé besides leftovers are in such large quantities and also spoil easily! What is ironic is that at such functions people have to pay per plate consumed and then the leftover is thrown away!!

There is a Kalyana Mantapa near my home and I have seen the changes in food habits of people over the years by just observing its dustbin! Ten years ago the dustbins here were a repository of used banana leaves! Today those very same dustbins are overflowing with mounds of food and plastic ware and attract dozens of stray dogs and giant rats!

Go to any hotel kitchen and you will see the afternoon buffet spread in the dustbin by evening! Some years ago, buffets were confined to star hotels and smaller hotels and restaurants cooked against orders. The demand for faster service and increase in customer’s has made many hotels adopt wasteful tactics like pre cooked food which is thrown away if a particular dish is not ordered by customers! The high returns in the food business offsets wastages!

Smaller hotels attract customers during weekdays with Buffet spreads and these also lead to a lot of wastage as the number of customers is not predictable and subsequently the left over food has to be thrown away if the patronage was low! Indian cuisine, especially the type that is sold in hotels is resource intensive unlike Continental cuisine. This affects other commodities like Gas, Edible Oil and water and the vicious chain is complete.

There is an order of Nuns in Bangalore who collect left over food from Hotels and Wedding Halls and feed the poor. But what they collect is just a drop in the ocean of waste! It is humanly impossible to collect the entire amount of leftover food from eateries in a given day!

Whatever the US may do and no matter how much they waste food, we Indians should not use that to justify ourselves! We have a large section of the society that lives hand to mouth! While I am not advocating that we live frugal lives because of that, a little bit of thought to the poor like in “not wasting food because there are so many poor people who do not get food” would be immensely helpful!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Urban islands!

I saw Achchuvinte Amma the other day! A tolerable movie with gaping holes in the script. This is not a movie review. But something in the movie has been bothering me for some time.

There is flashback scene in the movie on Urvashi’s childhood when her caretaker, an old lady dies, leaving her at the mercy of her male employers, each one of whom tries to satiate their lust on her. The young girl escapes each time thanks to her street savvines and finally ends up in a weaving unit in Tamilnadu. At the unit she meets several girls like her or in similar circumstances. Soon the young Urvashi realizes that this was a kind of holding place for girls before they are shipped off to the Red Light area of Mumbai. The young Urvashi escapes, taking with her a two year old girl, also being held for trade at a later date.

I don’t know how many people dwelt on that scene or paused to think of the very powerful statement that the director unwittingly made with those scenes. I don’t think many! After all girls being bought and sold for flesh trade is stale news now. What doesn’t affect us doesn't bother us and we as a society do not believe in getting involved in anything other than our own family or professional affairs.

Instances of girls being sold in the flesh market are talked about in living rooms and around coffee tables. We cluck our tongues at the government’s inaction to curb the menace. Every thing and anything that ails the society is the government’s responsibility. No wonder governments themselves are under such strain in India!

With a population that does nothing or gives nothing back to the society (except taxes), but believes only in taking, no government will be able to cope up! We want our governments to function in splendid isolation so that we do not have to dirty our hands and expect wonders from this arrangement.

So what am I saying? That we leave our work and start doing social work. Yes! But you don’t need to leave your work for that. A little bit of involvement will do wonders to our country. Like in respecting public property as our own! And the right of our fellow citizens to all that we aspire for ourselves! The parasitic existence that we live now has to stop, if this country has to change what we want changed.

How do we go about that? I don’t know! But this giant populace has to get off their butts and start getting involved in matters other than their own!

If aliens were to observe India from space, what would they see? As dawn breaks over the country, massive hordes of people scurry out of their homes and stream into their workplaces. And as the evening falls, the hordes scurry back like mice to their holes. After which there is no movement visible outside the holes except perhaps for trips to the grocery store! We live in holes and do not get involved beyond our holes. It’s no wonder that people living out of the holes have a free run of the road! And we expect to outsource our social wellbeing to these people!!!

It is no wonder we are moving further and further away from each other!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Higher Education!

After writing this post and the creative suggestions that were made in the comment section...I was pleasantly unsurprised to see a commercial in Kairali TV for .....*hold your breath*......Institute of Heavy Machinery, Kollam!

Apparently the Institute teaches students to drive and operate vehicles like Earth Movers, Lifts, Tractors etc. How ingenious! And how predictable that a mallu is involved here!

The ad shows a fat, but apparently under-the-mistaken assumption-that-he-is-fit Principal of the Institute operating several run down PWD vehicles. He looks rather sincere though and jumps down from the vehicles without too much problems or losing focus of the camera.

You wanna make some easy money? Dare your friends to see the ad with a straight face....and collect the cash in Hydraulic Excavators...which btw is not part of the curriculum.

What next? Institute of Maidservant or an Institute of Ironing Clothes? I wouldn't be surprised if they are already existing! brr

I am off for a much needed vacation folks. The other blog will be updated as usual on Sunday. Catch up with you all later. Ciao!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Love or companionship?

AV and AM met a couple of years ago when both were working for a company making Laptops. She was in Sales. He was a techie. Both were from the same community and soon their friendship blosommed into romance. Soon AM got an admit into a B-School and left for his higher studies. They kept in touch in the intermission.

After graduation AM rejoined the company in a senior position and is now a busy manager! He is ambitious and works long hours. Soon their regular meetings fizzled out to occasional meetings for coffee and their social life came to a stop.

Sometime back, AV made the difficult decision to call off this relationship. AM is an extremely nice guy. I will vouch for that! At 26, he is a very mature person and the kind of guy you can rely on for anything. He is still the same...but busier.

AV's decision shocked all of us. We were aghast, because no girl in her right mind would leave a guy like AM!!!

But AV had a point. She didn't want to spend her life waiting for AM to come home and live a solitary life after marriage. Its bad enough that she hardly sees him these days! Then why should she take the inevitable into marriage!

AM understood her position, but he is helpless! He has his career path clearly charted for him. And that does not include a wife or free time for some time.

Though AM was extremely hurt, he bid goodbye to her and wished her luck!

AV got married six months ago and she is a happy girl. Watching her, one of my married female colleagues wondered if the new Indian woman, would ever be happy only with the title 'Mrs'. I think not! Just the 'Mrs' tag is no longer attractive even for me or my peers. I'd rather have a Mr with AV!

Love or companionship? Companionship definitely! What will we do with empty love!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Making news!

This year when the Hogenakal water dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka sprouted up, most of us of old Bangaloreans cringed at the thought of another round of protests and Tamil channels being blocked, Tamil movie posters being pulled own and other childish acts that vested interests seem to wait to rabble rouse!

However nothing of that sort happened! A pleasantly surprised populace watched as the Cable operators from both State resolved not to let their business be affected by politics and most political parties except the BJP decided to exercise restraint and let the law take its own course. This is unheard of in Bangalore and Karnataka! We are so used to violent protests at the very mention of the word “Neighbor”!

Most of us watched in disbelief as not a single incident of violence or protest was reported on TV except for some mature statements by people like S M Krishna! People seem to have changed overnight! It was evident that at last, people have realized that the bogey of outsiders threatening the culture and language of Karnataka was only doing harm than good to the State’s image specially since Karnataka generates most of its revenue from Bangalore! For people like me who have grown up here, it was a huge relief to see this change.

Therefore I was really shocked and taken back to see a program aired on prime time by CNN IBN about Bangalore and Karnataka. The program has been clearly put together by someone sitting in Delhi or Mumbai unaware of the changes in Karnataka, deciding to cash in on what he/she thought were burning issues!! The entire program is made up of old issues dredged up from news archives, garnished with commentaries and interviews with old hawks and trouble makers and can be positively harmful if such people realize their power in giving fodder to news hungry channels like CNN IBN!

It is true that every Kannadiga loves Kannada and wants Kannada to be preserved! But instead of talking to doyens of Kannada literature, the program interviews people who made it to the news till some time back by blackening English sign boards, demanding 85% reservation for Kannadiags in IT and BT companies and throwing stones at movie theaters showing Tamil films!!!

There is absolutely no effort or pretense in this program to catch the pulse of the people or report facts! If CNN IBN had made the effort, they would have found out that the situation is changing in Karnataka! Linguistic chauvinism is on the wane and people are realizing that there are better and mature means to solving disputes with neighbors than resorting to Xenophobia and violence!

However no such effort has been made by CNN IBN in the making of this program and the show talks about how the people of Karnataka want to assert their Kannada identity over Bangalore and their discontent with the modernization ( read pubs) of Bangalore!

After watching this program, I was reminded of the movie ( I forget the name) about a News Channel tycoon who decides to ‘make news’ so that his channel will be the first to report it! That movie was a pot shot at the CNN! How ironic that CNN’s Indian arm, the CNN IBN is actually doing that? Who could have predicted that?

I guess for lazy channels like CNN IBN, News Archives is "the" hot and happening place for “making news”! So what next? A program on the Khalistan movement? Or the Tamil separatist movement? How many dying embers will they rake up to a fire in their quest for viewer ship? I dread to think of the topic of their next Prime Time program!

For a population that labors from 9 to 6, news channels are the only window to the outside world! And news channels like CNN IBN realize this very well! And in their quest to fill in air time, they will not hesitate to stoop to any levels to "make news" !

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Its all in the family!

There is this old uncle of mine, lets call him John. Now John is among my favorite Uncles. Recently my mother revealed that years ago, Uncle John had taken a portion of her family property through doctored documents. He was exposed and the property returned back to my mother’s family many years ago. But all these years when we visited him and his family I never had an inkling of what had transpired between him and my mother’s family.

When my Dad came to know that my mother had told me this family secret he was annoyed. He felt that I would not respect this gentleman like I did before and he felt that "children" should be kept out of family politics. My mom, who usually backs down when it comes to my Dad’s policies like this, held her ground this time and argued that it was time that I knew the truth. She felt that I would still treat him the same as I was capable of independent judgment now!

I was shocked to hear about this facet of my Uncle! And unknowingly my mom opened a can of worms and soon a lot of family secrets came tumbling out of the closet of secrecy! My head started spinning as I heard the tales about people I love and their part in the small intrigues that most families harbor.

Though the family secrets shocked me, what really amazed me was the family’s attitude to erring members!! No matter how big or small the crime, it was forgotten after resolving it, with no trace of bitterness or revisits! I realized that no matter how horrendous the crime, a family member had to be forgiven and accepted back into the family fold. Of course one has to be cautious with the knowledge that one has about people in the family and their weaknesses, but one has to forgive too because there is no other way out here for errant members except complete ostracism from the family!

For the first time in my life I felt in awe of my extended family and their willingness to turn a kind eye to the mistakes of the weak among them and keep the family bond strong despite so many unsavory aspects amidst its members. What I took for granted i.e the extended family, was a result of a lot of hard work, a lot of giving and taking and forgiving! And I am glad that these people worked at it than taking the easy way out, i.e breaking off relations and depriving us i.e the youngest in the family the privilege of knowing and growing up amidst this huge sea of very nice but very human people.

I would like to believe that this revelation was my mom’s way of telling me that I am grown up now. However the look she gave me when I told her that I wanted to drive to Goa alone with a few friends, would have melted a bar of cast iron! *sigh*