destination india

Sunday, January 30, 2005

love in kolkata boi mela 2005

The weather played spoilsport in Kolkata Boi Mela 2005 on Friday and Saturday. The weekend, for which the Kolkattans were so eagerly waiting for, passed into oblivion without registering anything worthwhile, leaving book lovers disappointed, to say the least. They were denied their pounds of unlimited enjoyment. The sudden unseasonal showers caught the organizers unawares. In the midst of happiness suddenly there descended chaos, people ran for cover in the shelters of the temporary book stalls getting drenched to the skin. To add to the mayhem, the electric supply had to be disconnected because, the cables had been exposed due to the sudden and heavy torrential downpour.

But – the organizers maintained their cool.

A Seminar programmed to be held, in which leading littérateurs of Bengal and France were scheduled to speak, was held – albeit in candle light. Hand it to Kolkattans to never get unnerved.

The Seminar was held in the ‘Desh’ pavilion – ‘Desh’ and the woman’s wing of FICCI had arranged for the seminar. Speakers included Sunil Gangopadhaya, Dominic Fernandez, Joy Goswami, Daniel Pennac and Tilottama Majumdar among others. The subject was – ‘the changes in the concept of love and their reflections on literature’. There was constant interaction between the participants and the audience in which the translators played a vital role. The 76 year old French novelist Dominic Fernandez agreed that the meaning of ‘love’ has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. ‘Love’ today means not just a close bond between a man and a woman but also a bond between two persons of the same sex. Sunil Gangopadhaya commented that the meaning of ‘love’ is changing in India also but here there is still some conservativeness. Joy Goswami said that women today have become much bolder while penning down ‘love’ related poetry. Tilottama Majumdar, a representative of modern day writer said that in today’s world, ‘love’ does not necessarily mean two bodies coming together but something beyond that. Today, love is a bond of mutual trust, interdependence and a search for shelter. To the new generation, friendship has taken on a different meaning.

(to be continued….)

Friday, January 28, 2005

tits bits of boi mela 2005

As mentioned earlier, the inauguration was done by Daniel Pennac, the French writer in the presence of the Chief Minister Sri Buddhadev Bhattacharji and the French Ambassador Dominique Girard. The Ambassador said – ‘Dublin is the city of James Joyce, Paris is the city of Balzac and Kolkata is the city of Rabindra Nath and Satyajit Ray.’ The Chief Minister said that several French authors have been translated into Bengali. He was convinced that even in the age of internet, books have a special place in everybody’s lives. Daniel Pennac declared open the mela by sounding the gong and saying ‘let us celebrate the power of words.’

*************

Since this is the 50th year of Satyajit Ray’s film ‘Pather Panchali’ (‘song of the road’) a special pavilion has been created. It displays the model of a vintage railway engine and bogie of the 50s. The film, an adaptation of a novel of the same name written by Bibhuti Bhusan Bandopadhaya brought international recognition to Satyajit Ray in the Cannes Film Festival of 1956. The 115 minute film in black and white displays the best of film making and direction. Ray’s eyes for tiny details were an exceptional feature of the film. The scene in which the children Durga and Apu run to watch a train go by emitting smoke lingers on long after the film ends.

To rekindle old memories, Smt Uma Sengupta, who played the role of Durga in the film, was invited to the Fair. She faced the TV cameras and talked briefly about the film.

*************

As is known, this is probably the last year that the fair will be able to boast of such a large layout in terms of area. Owing to a recent directive of the Honorable Court, this and other fairs like this are to be relocated in other parts of the city to preserve the greenery of the Maidan and rid the open spaces of pollution. The noted writer Sunil Gangopadhaya, when asked by a lady journalist to comment on this, said – ‘we may have to consider going up – like the skyscraper’.

(to be continued……)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

news of interest regarding boi mela

Every year there is a theme and a celebrity is invited to inaugurate the Fair. I have been able to lay my hands on some of this information pertaining to the last seven years. If anyone can fill in the blanks, it will be worth preserving. I have searched the net but am unable to locate the missing information.

1999 – Hon’bl’e Prime Minister of Bangladesh Shaikh Hasina
2000 – Latin America
2001 – Mr. Pere Vicens, President International Publishers Association, Geneva
2002 –Ms Rita Rehman, Minister and Deputy Head of Mission, Netherlands, located in New Delhi
2003 – Cuba – Louis Toledo Sande, Cuban national award winning writer
2004 – Chile
2005 – France – Daniel Pennac, writer.

***************

In 1983 there were 363 bookstalls. In 1995, this increased to 415 stalls and 125 umbrellas (to accommodate little magazines). In 2000, there were more than 700 publishers. Improvements are being continuously introduced to make it more attractive to the participants and visitors. In 1996, an air-conditioned hall was set up for conducting seminars, in 1998 a children’s pavilion was started and in 1999, an Indian pavilion named ‘ADDA’. Also, senior citizens are not required to pay any admission fees provided they carry with them proof of age.

***************

And to end today’s session, a small sample of what Bengalis feel they are good at. I am a bit old fashioned. To me poetry must have some sort of rhyme, that is what sets it apart from prose -

Kolkata means Kalighat, Kolkata means Boi Mela
Only city in the World where you aren’t ever akela
Lonesome you’ll never feel once you enter the ground
Kalidas, Tagore and Ray all wait with jackets bound
Admission is open to each and every booklover
That is the slogan – ‘love books or just move over’.
All types and sizes of books yell for attention
Books are the only subject deserving special mention
Old editions spruced up alongside new paperbacks
In between we have the counters for tea and snacks
Meeting place for new gen kids free from mundane tasks
Eyes roving here and there searching for fancy masks
License to touch, browse or buy and enjoy the fair
Again it will reappear only after another year.

(to be continued…)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

inside the fair grounds

(in continuation to Kolkata Book Fair posted on 24/1/2005)

The Kolkata Boi Mela, like any other fair, is a vast multitude of men, women and children and, of course, books of all shapes, sizes and weights, Yes, there are something called ‘mini books’ – the size of a couple inches by a couple of inches, I possess several samples! Side by side, there are the real heavy weights like the Ramayana, the Dictionaries, the Encyclopedias and the Rabindra rachanabali – collection of the complete works of the Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore in several volumes. Then there are the little magazines – fruits of hard work by dedicated Bengalis to whom poetry is second nature. Unfortunately, with so few magazines in the market and so many aspiring poets waiting to board the bandwagon, competition is intense. Only a selected few make it big, others take this annual event of Boi Mela to print their poems with borrowed finances and approach the visitors to buy them.

There are also artisans who come to the fair to sell their handicrafts – some even set up easels and paint your picture then and there. They have the abilities but lack opportunities.

Since the stalls are erected by the Publishers themselves, one can see variety everywhere. The entrance to the fair grounds this year is a replica of the Eiffel Tower. Some stalls are real big ones, some are decorated artistically, and some stalls have special sections for children. Practically everyone offers discounts because this annual event allows publishers and booksellers to clear their inventory of large outdated holdings.

The innumerable tea stalls, fast food joints and snacks counters lend an air of festivities all around. There are also stalls set up by the fisheries department of West Bengal offering various types of fish preparations apart from stalls displaying sweets from specific parts of Bengal. They are all there with their products – to rekindle old memories in the older generation and to let the younger ones saviour long forgotten tastes. This year, the Eastern Railways is setting up a stall where visitors can purchase tickets for returning to their local destinations instead of waiting in queue in the railway stations.

The fair doors are thrown open by 1.30 pm and continue to remain open till around nine. Since this is invariably held in January-February, there is always a chill in the air at pack up time. In the day one has to bear with the heat, dust and stuffy atmosphere. The authorities arrange for sprinkling water on the makeshift roads and passageways but, when so many people trample their way all over the fair grounds, organizers have to remain as mute spectators.

For the ten odd days of the fair (from the last Wednesday of January to the first week of February) all roads lead to only one destination – the Kolkata Boi Mela.

(to be continued…)

Monday, January 24, 2005

kolkata book fair

A Fair is a large gathering of people who come to patronize it since it is mainly a medium for relaxation – it gives an opportunity to them to mingle with newcomers on the scene, with old timers who are ever ready with their advice (it is one of the cheapest commodities in the market!), with hardcore business persons, with novices who are trying to get a toehold, with opportunists, with those who would be better off behind bars.

A Fair has also to have nooks and corners where patrons can satisfy their pangs of hunger – there have to be stalls for eateries, snacks. Some of them cater to the high flyers, some to the commoners.

A Fair must also provide chances to all and sundry to brush up on the latest, to pick up bits and pieces of information laced with juicy incidents which will, subsequently, spice up the tea parties or kitty parties or prove some points for discussion during the lunch breaks.

A Fair is like a large scale novel – there has to be a beginning that may be slow. As time progresses, situations keep on getting added and they all go to build up the climax to create a magnum opus. As the Fair draws to a close, all concerned sigh and close the book. A good read, some will say. Deserves to be criticized, others will say. And, debates will rage … in the Press, in the Electronic media. No one would want to be left out. After all they all had some contribution or the other.

The Kolkata Book Fair (also known as the Kolkata Boi Mela) is all that and much more. ‘Boi’ in Bengali means ‘book’ and ‘mela’ is ‘fair’.

Conceived by the Publishers and Booksellers Guild way back in 1975, it started off with only 14 members and organized the 1st ever fair in 1976. It was inaugurated by the then Governor of West Bengal Sri A. L. Dias.

The 30th Kolkata Book Fair will be held this year from 25th January to 6th February 2005. The theme is France. Jean Claude Carrier, the noted French cartoonist, novelist, actor, director and screen writer will deliver the Ashok Sarkar Memorial lecture on the 31st January. Gunter Grass will also grace the occasion – he is expected to arrive in the city on 24th January and will join in an adda (informal one-to-one discussion forum) on 28th January in the fair premises with fellow writers and critics.

This year, an innovative gift coupon scheme is proposed to be introduced. Visitors can purchase these coupons and gift them to near and dear ones, who can, in turn, exchange them for their favorite books. Also, e-books will be on display in the form of CDs. The fair last year had 2.2 million visitors and this figure will certainly go up. In the last 30 years, only once in 1997, there was the incident of fire in the fair which caused considerable damage. Hence, nowadays, insuring the books is mandatory. Restrictions have also been imposed on open furnaces in the fair premises.

(to be continued…)

the republic day

Treat not your today with scorn
Hope never dies, it’s only reborn.
Each good turn deserves another
Rouges, however, lurk in every corner.
Either you have it in you or you don’t
Perhaps some day someone’ll revolt.
Until then we remain silly puppets
Believing that all the heavy weights
Lobbying for berths in ministries
In Delhi will one day rewrite history.
Cheers will rent the air and we’ll all sing -
Doom’s day was the nearest thing:
Almost there, we were, but not quite -
Yesterday was wrong, tomorrow may be right.’

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

the show offs

They all need an occasion to show off. It is true for any person – from whichever strata of Society he or she may have come.

Remember the story of the woman who purchased a pair of gold bangles from her savings. But, no one even queried her on her new acquisition. All her neighbors and relatives pretended not to have seen them! Finally, in desperation, she set fire to her shanty and with arms raised started shouting for help – on the off chance that, at least now, people would see the flashing bangles and talk about them!!

Showing off is second nature to not only Man but any living being. The peacock is one of the best examples. The NATGEO showcases many many more.

Whenever any disaster or calamity strikes, this attitude surfaces in humans.

We are used to seeing leading personalities of every hue walking the roads to collect charities for distribution to the sufferers. Crowds would line the roads just to catch a glimpse of their favorite hero or heroine minus make-up! Charities in the form of cash and clothes, utensils and other necessities would follow. But, it would be wrong to infer that these are a result of sympathy for the sufferers. That is something which only the sufferer feels and a feeling that cannot be shared or conveyed through words or expressed through gestures.

The latest Tsunami disaster is an example still fresh in our minds.

We are accustomed to disasters – they come and go in our lives. Earthquakes followed by floods and draughts are common events in our lives. Those employed are accustomed to donating a day’s salary for one calamity or the other practically every alternate month. Those ensconced in air conditioned rooms in the various Bhabans in New Delhi debate over five star lunches and dinners on how best to monitor such disasters, how to create a cell to help out the needy when they need help most etc. These are discussed and debated live on TV channels amidst jingles of washing powder, body lotions, biscuits, diamond jewellery and two wheelers and four wheelers – all the while, the sufferers cringe in make shift shelters surviving on tiny morsels of food waiting for the day to break. The females cringe and try to melt into the darkness whenever they hear footfalls – who knows who will vanish next! Yes – that is the fallout of such happenings. These are reported in the press but in very small letters, tucked away in an insignificant corner.
What gets prominence are the shows organized by groups whose heart bleeds for their less fortunate brethrens – jazzy shows and charity matches are the most popular. The show starts solemnly paying tribute to the victims who are immediately forgotten when the first item descends on the stage or the first run is scored or the first ball bowled.

We are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.

Monday, January 10, 2005

the final few mantras

I have written only a couple of lines on each proverb – but, children have to write essays on them. When they grow up, they have to carry these thoughts to their work places in whatever field they may finally land up in. These proverbs are bound to crop up in their speeches, in their interactions with subordinates, colleagues and even superiors. Therefore, with these last six samples, I would like to close this session of dissecting and analyzing our knowledge base –

Rolling stone gathers no moss – this was meant to convey the philosophy that one has to pursue something with dedication because continuity spells success. One should not keep jumping from one subject to another. The Jack of all trades ultimately becomes master of none.

The morning shows the day – yeah, tune in to the morning shows to know what pitfalls are in store for you, which roads will be closed for passing through of dignitaries, hence need to be avoided, which trains are running late, which flights have been diverted etc.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating – when you do something, it should serve some sort of purpose. He, who produces something that is not saleable, loses out on competition. His well wishers shy away from him. His patrons vanish. Obviously, he has to carry out preliminary surveys and study the market before launching his product.

United we stand, divided we fall – the gist of coalition Politics was thought of by our ancestors when the wise old man called his sons to his deathbed and explained this truth. This type of unity becomes stale once the novelty wears off, even in a family as recent incidents suggest. Problems with such forced unity are encountered when bargaining powers come into play. You cannot get something for nothing hence, always, equation are to be solved to everyone’s satisfaction. Then only can there be happiness all around.

Where there is a will, there is a way – all young girls dream of becoming a model for some product or another. The will is very much present – what is required are opportunities. Revealing a bit more than one usually does can impress makers of music videos (popularly known as remixes) and open up doors one felt would never open up.

When in Rome, do as Romans do – this is especially true in our food habits. When one ventures out of his mother’s apron strings, he is faced with a whole lot of problems, major one being related to his culinary habits. Wada-pau culture of Mumbai needs to be accepted by the Bengali from Kolkata as the Sardarji of Patiala needs to accept that idli-dosa as menu for breakfast is the norm in Bangalore. This is probably the reason why packaged and precooked food and associated masalas, marketed as Mothers’ recipes, have captured the imagination of our younger generation.

There are many more proverbs. I have selected only a few to highlight the fact that the proverbs that we, our fathers and our grandfathers grew up with have not lost their relevance. Otherwise they would not find mentions in the school curriculum of today.

other interesting links:
destination india
indian satire
sweets of india
festivals of india
wonder women of india

Friday, January 07, 2005

some more magical mantras

When I started this series of blogs, I was skeptical as to how bloggers would take them. My fears appear to have been baseless – these have attracted quite some attention. In a world overflowing with grief and sorrow, we need to search for some form of light – try to view Life in a lighter vein, from a different perspective. This is a tiny attempt in that direction.

Spare the rod and spoil the child – the days when children used to look up to elders as role models do not exist any more. Wielding ‘rods’ to make errant children fall in line is absolutely taboo since such cases are viewed very seriously by reps of Human Rights Commission. Result – you have to keep your fingers crossed, hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.

Time and tide wait for no man – the hypothetical Time Machine could take you back in time. We have had number Hollywood movies on the subject – from the Space age, you can be transported to the Stone Age at the flick of a switch. Looking at the deteriorating qualities of various Public services, we complain that they are taking us back in time. On the other hand, we shoot videos at will on camera enabled mobiles and transmit them all over the countryside just to prove that we are moving with the times. As to tides, if our efforts to interlink all the major rivers do succeed, we could consider controlling the tides also.

To err is human, to forgive divine – yes, true even today. We have seen second rung leaders shouting off their mouths in Public just to bolster their images and improve their TRPs. Subsequently, they start whimpering for forgiveness. The best part of such incidents is that they are forgiven – in the interests of the Party. In Politics, you can commit murder and get away with it

Take care of the pennies; pounds will take care of themselves – pennies today have been regaled to the level of ‘installments’. Whatever is on offer is yours if you agree to repay the installments. Your financial loss is the financier’s gain. He is investing his pounds; you take care of his pennies.

The pen is mightier than the sword – journalism is not what it should be. The media, in whatever form, is controlled by people who have different reasons for promoting certain individuals or conglomerates. All those who work with him have to toe the line that he draws up. Since you are pocketing his cheques on the first of every month, obviously you cannot revolt. Exceptions, as depicted on the screen, result in bloodshed and deaths. Your pen is in his control. The sword rules the day, the pen is just a showpiece.

There cannot be smoke without fire – science has given us the ability to generate smoke without fire. The ‘tear gas shells’ used by the Police to disperse crowds is an example. The ‘smoke screens’ regularly employed on the screens to camouflage film celebrities while they change dresses for the song and dance sequences is another example.

other interesting links:
destination india
indian satire
sweets of india
festivals of india

Thursday, January 06, 2005

more magical mantras

Dear visitors to the site – one more set of eight magical mantras for you to digest. It started with a set of nine. Next day there was the set of ten. Today, it is a set of eight. Hope you like them…..

He laughs best who laughs last – laughter is considered to be an expression of happiness. Situations where one can laugh his heart out are fast vanishing. Laughing clubs are coming up to remind us that laughter is the best medicine. Today, we have laughter forced upon us as comic interludes to break the monotony of song and dance sequences that transform our world into worlds of fantasy where everything fits into place in the last scene! How unreal!! Oh for the days of Laurel and Hardy, Mehmood and Kishore Kumar.

Look before you leap – especially in the night when walking down to your house from the bus stop or the market. All the roads, lanes and by lanes in any city resemble craters on the Moon. Potholes abound – mischievous ones suggest that these are intentional creations of nearby slum dwellers. To rid you of your belongings. If you miss your step, they will shift you to the hospital.

Make hay while the Sun shines – as someone mentioned, the Sun can be made to shine at our will. We have invented incubators – to control the production of poultry chickens. We also have scientific methods within our grasp of generating artificial ‘sunlight’ that can convert grass into hay. So hay need not wait for the Sun to shine.

Man proposes God disposes – you plan a journey and numerous hurdles appear. The train may be delayed indefinitely or be cancelled. The flight may not take off due to fog. If it does take off, it may not land at your destination – again due to bad weather. You feel these are what God had ordained. You are grossly mistaken. These are results of our ineptness.

Nothing succeeds like success – the path to success is lined with currency notes and favors. To get something, you have to part with something. These are today’s watch words. Hence, success has strings attached. Tiny, invisible strings to those not in the know.

People living in glass houses should not throw stones – unfortunately, those living in glass houses do not know that they are living in glass houses. We love to lay the blame at others’ feet. We do not realize that when we point a finger at somebody, the four remaining fingers point back at us.

Rome was not built in a day – this is common knowledge. But, when plans are drawn up for constructing a bridge or a flyover or a railway line or some such item, Politicians move in and decide when the project must be completed so that so-and-so dignitary can be invited to inaugurate it. So that the TV crews can zero in on the occasion to extend the necessary coverage which is so essential for the Politician’s survival.

Slow and steady wins the race – tortoises have learnt the tricks of the trade. They have mastered the art of taking life head on in the fast track. Today we do not use multiplication tables or slide rules – we punch out the answers in the calculators. We do not write letters – we send SMS. Remember the kid William (created by Richmal Crompton). He had his own typical methods of spelling – spell the word just as it is pronounced. We have come to that state. So, ‘love’ today is ‘luv’.

other interesting links:
destination india
indian satire
sweets of india
festivals of india

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

modern magical mantras

In continuation of yesterday’s blog (entitled ‘the basics remain’) where nine proverbs were highlighted, in today’s presentation, ten more are examined. We are trying to discover how relevant these age-old proverbs are today. So here goes …

Barking dogs seldom bite – we regularly witness any number of Politicians shouting off their mouths to impress those watching their shows. They know that they are putting on a show for the benefit of the show masters. We also know that it’s all a drama - they do not mean what they say. But, we grin and bear it: the show goes on.

Birds of a feather flock together – yes, initially they do – but only till such time that they find their firm footings. Then it all becomes a fight for the survival of the fittest with no holds barred. The cream of the youth flock to coaching classes with the objective of securing one of the first hundred slots. The annual JEEs for admission to prestigious Institutions are the best example.

Charity begins at home – first of all keep your wife happy, she has to cook your meals and keep your bed warm. Then keep your kids happy otherwise they will not allow you to enjoy your news spots. Then keep the bartan majnewalee happy otherwise she may suddenly vanish – leaving your wife mad as a hatter.

Cowards die many times before their death, the valiant dies only but once – life today is tough no doubt. Each one of us must have faced some situation or another when we have wished that we were safely ensconced somewhere in a place called heaven (or hell!) to observe how the world goes on less yourself! For someone of us, these happen several times over.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – follow this literally. If invited to a party, dispense with gifts. Give bouquets of flowers and Archie’s cards. Gifts have gone out of fashion because, usually, everyone gives the same or similar items – cheap products wrapped in attractive wrappings containing very little of use.

Do not count your chickens until they are hatched – especially true for those who love to purchase lottery tickets or participate in online lotteries that are reportedly doing roaring business. Do not start building castles in the air because they will most certainly crash all around you like a pack of cards. Becoming crorepatis is not a simple affair – it forced KBC out of business.

Every cloud has a silver lining – a stock phrase to soothe ruffled feathers. When faced with a problem that has no easy solution, it is customary to console the aggrieved by suggesting that he approach the actual Gods rather than the lesser Gods.

Exception proves the rule – some people thrive on exceptions. To them, any thing out of the ordinary is not bound by any rule. When you board a train, it is expected that you will reach your destination in one piece. If not on schedule then probably several hours later. But – when you arrive at your destination in several pieces packed in a crate – the authorities say ‘this should not have happened. This is an exception.’

Give him an inch and he will take a yard – we see this happening regularly. In a bus, when you see an elderly person standing and offer him a seat by squeezing yourself, he reciprocates by going off to sleep by putting his head on your shoulder. Similarly is the case in reserved compartments of long distance trains. You try to be nice to some short distance traveler and wish that you had not succumbed to the ‘feel good’ factor! Good feelings do not grow on trees.

Honesty is the best policy – therefore support only honest corruption. Do not be misled by so called well wishers who try to win your confidence by saying that ‘aap ka chinta hamare upar chhor dijiye, hum sab kuch dekh lenge!’ He is bound to ditch you.

other interesting links:
destination india
indian satire
sweets of india
festivals of india

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

the basics remain

We have been brought up on proverbs. Tiny bits of wisdom carried forward from time immemorial that one keeps adding to his super computer so that he can draw on them for inspiration when the time to do so comes. Many may think that proverbs are irrelevant today but, the basics remain. The interpretations may have changed ….

A stitch in time saves nine – take your pants to the neighborhood tailor to do minor repairs since having new ones is gradually going out of our reach. Or – go for Bermudas. They are quite fashionable. As a last resort, wrap a lungi around your waist when in the house. Keep the pants exclusively for the office use and for use on special occasions.

As you sow so you reap – you may not always get the desired benefit. The crops may wither due to delayed monsoons or may perish due to flash floods or may be burnt down by people who do not like your face cut or your hair style.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – players today are adopted from their cradle. They are supposed to play and do nothing else. None of them become dull. All play and no work makes them crorepatis ten times over.

A burnt child dreads the fire – he learns how to tame fires quite early in life, so fire does not hold surprises for him. In some parts of our country, they grow up with firearms and bombs. Firecracker manufacturers find their profit lines soaring when they entice child labor into their webs.

An apple a day keeps the Doctor away – yes, this can certainly happen but, if all of us started following this practice, the medical profession would go on the blink. Also, the apples of Kashmir cannot be preserved for months on end unlike apples of Australia. So monopolizing apples may prove harmful or our local markets.

A friend in need is a friend indeed – the days of real friends a-la Dosti and Sholay style are still very much there if Bollywood is to be believed. All our heroes and heroines sacrifice their loves at the drop of a hat. Opportunities of sad songs interspersed with show-it-all types of songs in flashback. Our men have all the answers.

All that glitters is not gold – the metal that glitters today is actually platinum. Gold seems to have lost much of its shine and charms – that is probably one of the reasons why ads for biscuits tempt you today with offers of winning gold coins.

A bird in hand is worth two in the bush – for some professions job opportunities are there for their asking. Yes – the software experts. Theirs is a high profile and one of the best paying professions. Job jumping is but second nature to them. They always have more than one bird in hand and are able to keep their employers on tenterhooks.

Better late than never – considering the break down of the transportation systems in cities, it is a wonder that employees are able, at all, to report for duties. Late coming has become the rule rather than the exception. If it is not the bus then it is the late running of local trains or the traffic jams or the sudden passing through of some political dignitary.

These are just a few proverbs that come to mind. There are many more that are equally valid even today as they were in the days of our earlier generations. Some of these transcend the barriers of language and equivalents are popular in regional languages. I plan to continue this series for some time.

other interesting links:
destination india
indian satire
sweets of india
festivals of india

Saturday, January 01, 2005

spreading happiness

It was a pleasant surprise to hear a screen personality explaining how he plans to extend assistance to the tsunami victims of the Andamans. His ideas are impressive – whether he is able to carry them out remains to be seen.

He is clear in his mind about what is needed – he sums it all up succinctly. Food, clothing and medicines are a must. Especially for the women and young girls – as one victim said on one of the TV channels – ‘girls need more clothes, for obvious reasons.’

Our Good Samaritan explains the basic needs - prefab houses, water purification plants, portable communication equipment, and electricity generators. He knows that collecting funds to purchase these items and shift them to the site will be time consuming. Therefore, he plans to approach the manufacturers and distributors directly and tie up with them for a comprehensive system by which these can actually move to their destinations.

Whenever disaster strikes, it leaves one and all dumbfounded.

We have seen it happen from time immemorial. We blame every one and every thing. We form help groups, we mobilize public support, and we go from door to door collecting old clothes, blankets and whatever people may like to offer to their needy and less fortunate counterparts. Relief material is shown piling up waiting for transport to move them to the affected areas. But – does it finally reach where it is required? We are familiar with the workings of various departments, we know to what length red tapes can extend to tie into knots the best of intentions. We have witnessed similar scenes over and over again – during summer, we are shown parched wells and dry river beds, we are shown long queues of women waiting their turn to fill up their buckets from the mobile water tankers; during monsoons, the scenes shift to floods – to cattle being washed away, to helpless people clinging to branches of trees, to the minister surveying the damages from his helicopter, to men, women and children running to grab the food packets being air dropped. The mockery goes on unabated – we have become accustomed to ignore all such activities where self advertisement plays a predominant role.
A good husband spreads happiness by helping out in the kitchen by shelling the peas or by skinning the garlic. Sometimes he may even try his hand at peeling onions. A good mother spreads happiness by assisting her children in their studies, by remembering her in-laws on special occasions. We now have a screen personality who is also trying to spread happiness in his own special way. My best wishes to him and all those like him who do not wait for things to happen but make them happen.

Advertisers have mastered the art of selling dreams – why do they not try to extend their sphere of influence by telling us how to spread happiness?

other interesting links:
destination india
indian satire
sweets of india
festivals of india
wonder women of india