Saturday, March 21, 2009

Á Different Invite

Unlike most wedding cards we receive, this one was different. It included a book of poetry compiled by relatives of the bride. So, for the first time I actually read a wedding card. This duty is normally done by my wife who is promptly blamed for forgetting the wedding day or the venue. I could never forget those trivial but important dates now. I also could not forget Van Morrison’s song included in the invite. I was pleasantly reintroduced to Van Morrison through this device, and I reproduce the song below for your enjoyment.

Days like this

When its not always raining therell be days like this
When theres no one complaining therell be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me therell be days like this

When you dont need to worry therell be days like this
When no ones in a hurry therell be days like this
When you dont get betrayed by that old judas kiss
Oh my mama told me therell be days like this

When you dont need an answer therell be days like this
When you dont meet a chancer therell be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they f it
Then I must remember therell be days like this

When everyone is up front and theyre not playing tricks
When you dont have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When its nobodys business the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember therell be days like this

When no one steps on my dreams therell be days like this
When people understand what I mean therell be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me therell be days like this

Odds and Ends

Have you noticed the lack of any rancour and adrenalin pumping in-your-face aggression in the current India-New Zealand? I credit this to Daniel Vettori and his team mates, who have refused to be drawn in Aussie-like into alpha-male contests or as they justify- psychological warfare. I always thought Aussie on field behaviour was more to do with being bad losers, rather than any scientific approach to overawing competition. So, all credit to the black caps for keeping the contest clean, and to the men in blue for reciprocating. Let cricket win at the end of the day.

Delhi Chronicles

The spring is here, and so are exam times for the kids. The X and XII class kids are taking their exams, and everyone is freaked out. When the kid has an exam, the whole family accompanies the kid to the exam centre and wait for three hours outside, worrying and fretting. In fact when I refused to accompany my kid to the exam centre on grounds of “When I took the exams I went on a DTC bus, and my parents were barely aware of this momentous event in my life” , I was properly castigated for being a delinquent dad. Examples were thrown at me, on how so-and-so’s dad stood in the sun for the entire three hour duration of the exam. I ignored all such exhortations on the grounds sheer madness – there is no way standing in the sun will help your kid get more marks. Of course, when the results are in, everyone in the extended family and circle of friends want to know the marks, and the parents can be squirming if the results are not in the 90s.

The other effect we note is that the child is now hugely dependent on approval ratings of parents which may be based on system generated numbers. This dependency can, and does, become a handicap when the child has to take control of his destiny- choosing a career or life partner. A middle aged man living with his parents is quite common in India, which may have its positives as far as looking after the aged is concerned, but is it suffocating the man-child? I think we can do better if we let the child decide his future and stop worrying about the system-oriented marking scheme. Unless the child is passionate about the subject he picks up as a life long study, I doubt the child can sustain in his career.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Anger in Mumbai

This is dedicated to Sabina Saigal Sakia, who I knew briefly while in college, and have since followed her career with interest.

Anger in Mumbai
Once there was a girl who loved writing,
meeting people, talking
endlessely on things immaterial,
fascinating others around her.

She went to a party and
talked the editor into hiring her
for a job she always wanted,
to write about food and things on

So her books came out
year after year,
telling people where to eat
drink and make merry.

She went to party,
came back early to bed
to find death
instead of rest

He came uninvited
and violated the silence,
to shoot, kill mindlessly
in the name of god

And the old men watched
And prayed And talked
And condemned And promised

And did nothing.

Odds and Ends

I have been corresponding to people in some charming parts of the world like Siberia. It is quite a change from writing to people in US, Canada or India. While asking about the weather is polite noise in other parts of the world, in Siberia it is a big deal. I have been told that the temperature is -15 C… on a warm day. For a warm bloodied mammal like me, such lows are inconceivable. For instance I do know that good old steel is a material I can use down to -29C, which becomes useless material of construction in Siberia. I wonder what do they use for everyday living- Stainless Steel? Other innocuous topic of conversation like “ Would you like a drink?” is a meaningless question out there. If one does not have Vodka to serve up immediately, it is would considered quite an affront. Although the climate may not suit me, I wonder if they run tours up down to that part of the world? It would be nice to pay DJ my respects in person.

Delhi Chronicles

Modern Monuments

After the initial euphoria of the Delhi Metro and its promise to solve Delhi’s horrendous traffic jams is over, the truth is now coming home to roost. The Metro’s ubiquitous reach is after all, now, not so ubiquitous. The trains are well packed, now requiring Japanese style people minders to pack the travellers in. They promised to get rid of the cars and scooters packing the roads under them. Have they? Look for yourself. Now we have considerable part of Delhi’s humanity travelling thirty meters from the ground, while at the bottom an equal number of frustrated commuters struggle with their vehicles negotiating the traffic below. The pillars and the elevated structures made of concrete are now not looking like so good. In fact they are an eye sore. Miles of pillars looking like behemoths supporting the roads on which toy trains run look extremely ugly. The skyline, or whatever remains of it after the buildings obliterate swathes of the sky, is now uglier than ever. So while the progress in mass transport is commendable, all I have to say about the Metro is NMB- Not in my backyard.