Friday, October 23, 2015

Impudence


Few characteristics that are bane and causes of annoyance are impudence, vainglory, disdain- disdain for others and refusal to respect systems- a fussy contrariness, besides some other one can think of. I mention these now because of a spectacle from the recent past. It was enactment of churlishness most annoying. Who says that pedigree, grooming education and public position would erase these egregious qualities? Or do they plague in the course of living? When Euripides said, “impudence is the worst of all human diseases”, he was simply stating a fact. Wasn’t he?

Frailty is not a quality that afflicts only women as the Bard would want us to believe. Men are not impervious or immune to infirmity. And when a woman with the qualities mentioned above also  possess the guile to enamour   and ensnare then frail men melt, faster than a block of ice on a summer afternoon; they forget their social status , professional positions and respect they enjoy , the responsibility  they have and the √©lan they must display in words and deeds. They simply become living examples of gauche.

And when you react from your position of responsibility against the boorishness of the woman, the frail little men who melt at her mere glance will fret fume and point back at their chest with their index finger and moan that you stabbed them there. For they allege that you hurt them, discredited them when you asked the intruder whom they let in illicitly that she must quit the place where she had no right to be. That is also when she would have realised that her beguiling charm and shenanigans interest only the impotent lot among men and entrap only such men.

Sounds abstract? Perhaps!  But putting it differently would mean telling bluntly.




Saturday, October 10, 2015

Wagha



What should I write? A few years back, blogging was a pastime and one blog every three days was the norm.  There was no dearth of topics and subjects to muse over and pen. Alas, over the past couple of years it has been a downhill journey for blogging. Bloggers who were regular on the blogs with their comments, both critical and endorsing have vanished from blogging.  There were some who took umbrage at one’s comment and posts; they were pathetic- they have vanished too into newer pastures. Perhaps they all were a source of encouragement to blog and their vanishing act has dent the enthusiasm to blog?

It is now vitiated days. One has to be watchful of what one speaks and writes; worse of what one speak out, think or even acknowledge with the “like” in facebook. If in the blogs it was stray idiots who refused to accept difference of opinion or a honest critique and took “holier than thou” airs, now it is the whole society in hordes and the government too who disapprove any disagreement with the established ways.
But has the society changed? I guess no. It has been so. Matters were subsumed. It is only that the catalyst agent came about and dusted up the dormant wiggles that now have grown into Frankenstein proportion.

Intolerance and prejudice have been about. Let me mention an incident which can be an anecdote too. Once a few us were having a good evening over spirits and this guy who was back from a journey was fuming over what he saw at the Wagha border during the ceremonial lowering of the flags and beating retreat. He expressed his distress and annoyance at the ‘vulgar ceremony’ as he put it- when border guards of India and Pakistan glare at each other and shake hands brusquely. He reminisced with great satisfaction a toddler sitting in the lap of her parent on the Pakistan side of the border smile and wave at him- a stark contrast to the ceremonial play of animosity by the guards. He wanted the ceremony to be shelved.  I couldn’t disagree with him about the frivolity of the enmity between the neighbours and the unwarranted ceremony that must be jettisoned. Another friend disagreed with him and laughed away the former’s opinion. He asked what was wrong in a dramatising  the ceremony for a bit of fun and all the onlookers do acknowledge the lighter side of the ceremony. The former was angered and took offence. He could not tolerate a dissonant opinion, a disagreement. He was a changed person then and had a ghostly expression which resembled the want to strangulate the fellow who disagreed with him. That was the last time we all sat together as this bloke’s cussedness keeps him away from people who he knows would question and disagree.

What reminds one more is not the well meaning position he took about the need to put a stop to the obscene ceremony, but the fellow’s intolerant and saturnine side that doesn’t allow him to accept disagreement. Unabashed intolerance! There are many of his kind. And it isn’t the fault of Narendra Modi that they are abound. But it is indeed Mr. Modi’s success that saw such dormant intolerance surface. All that he did was fan the ember. Water and fan seeds of intolerance with religion and jingoism then you get a Kafkaesque concoction.

I would not mind a ban on bovine slaughter and protection of milch beasts in the country as long as they can ensure that the meat is imported for those of us who love it and provided at the current price. Let them ban slaughter of milch animals or cows quoting their scriptures or the directive principles of the constitution. As much as they have the right to detest cow meat or bacon there are many who have the equal right to like them. I only ask my fundamental right be not violated- freedom to eat beef or food I relish. This right is non-negotiable, for what is one man’s food is another man’s poison. Intolerance cannot gain such proportion as to dictate to me what I must think, speak, eat and drink, when to have sex when to abstain; who to wed and who to live with; which God I must supplicate to, deny my right to be distanced from religion similar rubbish; read the book I love and critique, ignore the ones I dislike even if it is  the Vedas, Gita, Koran or the Bible and the persons too for what they stand for, draw the cartoon I like. As long as I do no crime, incite hatred or violence, thieve, rape or murder, defraud, my freedom to live and enjoy life in a way that I see and make my life worth living cannot be eroded by any government, or even God or men who sow divisiveness in the name of God and creed.

Indeed all of us do feel miserable when we face disagreements. But ignoring a person who disagrees with you, treating him as if he were plague and pariah is inherent weakness. It can be accentuated by indoctrination and also dishonesty in what one says and claim to be living for. It’s an offshoot of fear and lack of belief in oneself. If one disagrees why not accept a discussion and put across your reason for disagreement? Why not learn to live with disagreement? It is not possible to convince everybody of one’s ways and opinions. To think and say that I’m unquestionable, my belief is sacrosanct is like the proverbial adage-“after me deluge”. If I keep running from disagreements and differences of opinion then I may be literally running all my life towards Timbuktu or the edges of the world.
 It is the hallmark of the meek.



Saturday, September 19, 2015

Growing up with Chalk & Cheese


Not many would vouch that living about almost two decades with parents can be among the pleasurable experiences. If there happened to be monster breathing down your neck- an overbearing grandparent or a cantankerous, impertinent and bossy aunt or uncle well then it is a certain rendition that can unnerve you even in middle age.

Sometimes if one is fortunate the sternness of a parent may be lessened by the subtle empathy of the other. Absolute misery is it when parents in tandem are dictatorial. Then it is tyrannical! ”Les Mis√©rables”!

The more fortunate ones get to stay in college and school hostels, There getting around with the warden overburdened with a few scores of young fellows is easier than sneaking away on escapades from home. If you are not fortunate then the angst and alienation that shadow you during adolescence and teen are often unnoticed or ignored by parents. Just a few, I guess seem to be on the right side with luck, where parent or one of the parents is always around for comfort. Chalk and cheese they are more often!

An old friend narrated to me recently an interesting episode from her teens. By the way the parents of this person were perhaps ahead of their generation, especially her mother who was an exemplary, woman. Self-assured, confident of herself and her kids, warm and understanding about her children and their friends, articulate in what she expresses and unequivocally blinkered in outlook and judgement. Though, she in her own words told me that she had to pop a couple of valium pills when I told her that I was going to marry a catholic girl. But then that is a different story.

Coming back to the story I mentioned, this young girl was sent to Chennai to study for the Chartered Accountant examination. Those days, back in the early eighties, there were no mobile phones and the trunk or STD dialing boasted by the sole provider of telephone service - the Telegraph department was antediluvian in every respect. Which meant that to get an approval from home for something that you are not sure of will take about a week to be conveyed by post to you in Chennai from say Trivandrum. That required one to cross one’s fingers and do what first comes to the mind.

I guess I moved away from the subject yet again. This young friend was pretty weak in math and she would have ghoulish nightmares even a week before the math examination in school. Now, adding to her misery and utter consternation calculus and trigonometry besides statistics were subjects that she had to digest if she wanted to stand some little chance of qualifying in the Chartered Accountant examination. As luck would have it she was told by someone that there was a teacher who was very good at teaching math and he specialised coaching students planning to give the CA examination. However, the only clue to his whereabouts was that he lived somewhere near the police station in Vadaplaani, then a suburb of Chennai.

The young lady took off in the direction of Vadplani and after an arduous, futile hunt in the sweltering weather for the math teacher she walked into the police station. A lone teenage girl nonchalantly walking into the police station sent the constables scampering hither tither, and curious, some with their door handle whiskers and some with their ubiquitous potbellies preceding them.

Tamil policemen though no symbols of goodness have in them some cultural fallout that Tamilnad have, they sort of respect women unlike the Jat policeman in places like New Delhi.
“Enna amma, enavenam?” (Dear woman what do you want?) Asked one of the policemen. Another asked rather surprised by the cheekiness of the girl to walk in to the police station. “ enna amma unkku konjamkoode bhayam illaya , ondiya police stationulley nuzhayarathukku?” (Dear girl tell me are you not afraid to be here alone?).

She was rather perplexed by these candid queries. She said. “Why must I be frightened? I’m her to know if you gentlemen can direct me to the math master who takes classes for CA students. I’m told that he lives near this police station. By the way I understand that police station is meant to be place of assistance to people, so why must I be frightened of you guys?”  


In no time she was taken to the master’s house in a police vehicle and pleasantly seen off by the constables. Later when the matter was told to her parent’s two distinctly contrasting replies came across by post. The first was from her father. It read,” Dear girl, you did the right thing in going to the police station; when in doubt check with the authorities.” The message from her mother read, “My girl that was the most silliest of things one could do. Never, ever walk into a police station all alone.”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pretensions


Most of us will have had the misfortune to live disgusting moments watching folks flaunt their wealth- writing away cheques to the Church, other religious and charitable endowments. Their face mulched with haughtiness, moue and with glee. A certain satisfaction would writ in their face and comforts their mind coming to think that the apparent act of benevolence would cocoon them from nemesis. Further it is the adulation that comes when the act of munificence is publicised. Finally, the thought of the eulogies that would be incessantly read out in memorial services after they are gone! They will enjoy the vainglory even as they lay putrefacient in their graves! The philanthropists!
Philanthropy as practiced often shamelessly is as lascivious as philandering. I just cannot tell between the two, see any difference. Both are indulged in, one to satisfy the ego and the later gagging. And some folks do both.

However some are different and this guy is quite different. He cannot be called a philanthropist, because he doesn’t think that giving is the ultimate act of charity. In fact, he believes that the act of giving must make a substantial change in the life of the receiver. Failing which it is just an empty act like the ostensible statutory reservation that is provided to socially backward people in education and jobs in government.

Going back to his tale of riches from an ordinary middle class existence some twenty five odd years ago one feels envious and at the same time awe. He told me about the specter of future staring without bating its eyes. He was married and the young bride and he were travelling by train from Vizag to Kerala precariously perched on top of their steel trunks that held their belongings inside an overcrowded, smelly second class compartment. The future looked bleak. He was out of job and was not certain if he could collect the small capital that two of his friends suggested he bring so that they could begin a venture. The only source of income was the job his wife had as the teacher in a government owned Engineering college. It was then quite meager, but handy nevertheless and very vital.

From there, in a while life took a turn that he and his wife could not fathom. The business that he began with his partners flourished and exponentially too. Within a few years they spread overseas. A new life with remarkable shift, riches and money flowing in copiously and it continues. It is indeed different in a rich man’s world he would say later.It seemed almost like little Alice falling down the rabbit hole into a wonderland.

Now in the mid fifties he opined that matters like success and money are irrelevant to him. It has been so he says since long. He began practicing the art of giving after him, one day some fifteen years ago asked his wife if she really wanted to keep the job she had. Money was no more a necessity for her to be working. Children were growing and she could probably blend as a home maker. Besides inquisitive and intrusive opinions were passed in the family and among friends about her being employed and they alleged too greedy and self serving that she has little time to care for her family. She told him that she would like to keep the job, not for the money, but because of the passion she has for the profession- for teaching. Then, the very moment he suggested that she foregoes her monthly pay from the university and give it to students who are genuinely in need of financial support. Since that day, he said, it has been fifteen years and she would not touch a nickel from her pay cheque and personally ensured to credit the bank accounts of children who were finding it difficult to pay fees and other cost.

That was just one case of his voluntary promotion of human welfare. He dislikes limelight and as in his own words the left hand  shouldn't be told about what the right gives away.

There is something else besides money that can come to the aid of people. I saw used that well in him intervening as a good Samaritan and counselor when hard times and difficult issues almost plowed down the family of a good friend. Isn’t it so very true that the greatness of a man is not how much of wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and ability to affect those around him positively?


The wads of note one throws into the cash pots in places of worship, the large cheques signed off to prelates, the ostensible charity all which many do are seldom done out of love for the disadvantaged but as insurance against the malice and wretchedness that  in many cases are their associates and as a passport to a nonexistent paradise in the netherworld. But there are a few exceptions, I suppose.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Vain & Ostenatious



It sounds quite a right when we hear someone say, ‘It is my money, what I earned out of my labour and I‘d use it the way I want. No one can question my right to burn my wealth; I might give it away, might want to be voluptuary with it- live in a palace made of gold and eat off glittery gold plates’.
People who speak thus could be anybody who is seated on mountain of wealth- it could be the Kalayan Jewelers family hosting the Big B, Benny Hinn the evangelist healer (sic), the Ambanis or the most fraudulent of species- politicians in whose case the only knowhow to accumulate wealth is to steal, pilfer, rob the masses and purloin.

However, I feel the statement and thought that it is my money and my right to indulge with it is flawed and obnoxious. How can we say that gilded and opulent living, a life style that is utterly, utterly epicurean and extravagant is morally agreeable? Just because it is one’s own money, one’s own (call it) hard earned wealth- a product of sweat and toil or because it is one’s heirloom one has the inviolable and unquestionable right to be voluptuous with it?

Indeed wealth or the money wealth generates can be used to buy, possess and experience pleasures of the mind, body and most of all gratify vanity. The last mentioned- vanity, is indeed what drives people to indulge, to swank, to swagger. But can one claim that as absolute right?
Now, we need to think about the resources that went into the generation of the wealth that we decide to use to satiate our greed and vanity. Are they exclusively – morally and ethically ours for a price? Do we possess the right to hoard and squander resources that are scarce because one may be sitting on wealth as rich as that in Fort Knox? Can we trivialise the labour of many by placing a price? Can we ear mark the produce of labour and resources that are natural and products that are made, to which there are a million others who have the right to, but not the means.

I had a very animated and hot discussion with a young woman on the topic. It pertained to the picture and the news report of the Kalyan Jewelry family hosting Amitabh Bachan. The dinner was served in dishes plated with gold and resembled the sumptuous feasts that we have seen in Hollywood flicks that tells about medieval period intrigues. I expressed that it was vulgar display of vanity and wealth. My young companion vehemently disagreed and she said, it cannot be bad because what one does with one’s money is one’s prerogative. If I disliked opulence and did not wish to be ostentatious so be it and that I have no right to criticise the other and call it vulgar or vain.

We moved on arguing our sides. The question of opulent weddings came up; the obscene concrete home of the Ambani’s – “The Antilla” overlooking the slums of Mumbai came up; the ecclesiastical vulgar pomp of the evangelist Benny Hinn and the Vatican  was thrown across by me as some examples of what should not be the life’s statement. However we just could not agree, but she stressed that she may not display such ostentation but at the same time she could see nothing wrong if someone who is rich indulged.

The vulgarity of ostentation was something which she could not understand and disapprove. Perhaps it takes quite a bit of life to reverse her understanding and honestly feel different to people who are arrogant in their use of wealth.



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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Piss Boys



“Hour of the Second Defecation” (disconcertingly an hour earlier than usual for his evening …abulations). Dharmapuri is a country where even every last of the President’s excrement is venerated (they take their shit seriously in Dharmapuri….) and each bowel movement examined by the press (“’Magnificent, said one; ’great stability,” said a second) - - - suggesting that this has become a land of mindless, groveling courtiers, oblivious to reality. (O.V.Vijayan in “Saga of Dharmapuri”).

Yes, this is the land of groveling courtiers dressed in khaki and olive green overalls and of piss boys in uniform, holding piss buckets for ministers donning cotton spun white wears known by the desi name ‘khadhi’;  cowering, hovering with piss pots minding the piss buckets for the Lordships to pee, because no one can tell when their bladders get filled with the pale yellow urine, distilled in their kidneys served with the exotic food and spirits that they devour with tax payers money; when it will be time to jet it out- the stinking excretion of a depraved species. When the Lordships pass by and even if you happened to be pissing you got to hold back your piss as a gesture of veneration & respect and salute them, the Lordships. For only the Lordships can piss when they want and where they want.

It is in such a society that Rishi Raj Singh the policeman dared to mind his business seated firmly in his chair and ignored the arrival of the tutorial school teacher turned home minister and wealthy politician who walked by, escorted by police officers virtually massaging him from toe to groin. Outrage and incense were the reaction from the political class who were used to police officers squirm and tremble in their presence, bending backward and forward, sideways and levitate too at their beckoning and often wetting their underpants in abject fear and debased.

Rishi Raj Singh the above board police officer from Rajasthan went by the protocol book which dictates that a guest need not stand up to salute an elected representative and sat firmly in the chair as the State Home minister later stepped in on the scene escorted by a retinue of supplicating imbeciles clad in khaki; holding piss buckets. This was branded as disrespect towards an elected representative and abominable arrogance of a police officer who will keep his job only at the will and pleasure of the elected representatives. The State was offended said some as it was an affront to the State & its 70 million Mallus and not just to the Home minister.

Rishi Raj Singh stuck to what was laid down in the protocol book. But in a country where politicians and elected assholes take it upon themselves as the birth right to defecate and demand that bureaucrats scoop their pooh it was seen as an offence second to caricaturing the prophet of Islam. It was only a few months ago a young Administrative officer was pulled up for donning sunglasses while shaking hands with the prime minister.

It is a sad reminder of the pathetic abyss of our times that Rishi Raj Sigh was moved out from the position of transport commissioner and recently as the chief vigilance officer of the state Electricity board because he was booking powerful weasels who had defaulted payment to the board and were also stealing power from transmission lines. Earlier, as the transport commissioner when he insisted that passengers travelling by car must wear seat belts, the minister in charge was annoyed and chose to reverse a sane order.

Leaving aside the book rules and niceties of protocol I wonder if any self respecting person will want to salute this awful species we call politicians. The very sight of these scoundrels walking by would make one writhe in disgust and utter helplessness. Recently in the USA, President Obama was chastised for not saluting the Marine who was in attention by the Air force 1, helicopter that was to fly the president out. That sounded wise and just- the president or the elected representative saluting the Marine. After all it is the soldier and the police who are at the receiving end of fire and not these parasites that are often well cocooned inside state mansions and steel armoured bullet proof motor cars. They always maintain a human shield.

It also is laid down that traffic should be stopped only when the president, prime minister and visiting foreign dignitaries travel by road. Which means that no one should hold back pedestrian and vehicle movement to make way for other persons and that certainly include state chief ministers, central ministers and even governors?

It is time that well meaning denizens reacted in face of the arrogant ways of this abhorrent lot. But, then is it not true that we get to be ruled by men we deserve and in democracy aren’t we electing our representatives who in body, mind and deed are us- our reflection, our shadow? Why then wail?







Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Greek Tragedy



The last few weeks, in the Western print and visual media we have seen a feast of commentaries on the Greek tragedy. The Indian press, baring a few of substance and the visual news media were totally oblivious to the tumult in Greece. As usual they had ample matters to feed upon that were of local flavour. There was also a fair bit of postings and comments on the social media too on Greek bankruptcy.

In the end though I had devoured most of the lead articles and the incisive reporting of the BBC, I simply cannot help not wondering about the Greek economic mess as simple issue of a recalcitrant borrower who displays arrogance and  a fair bit of credit immorality. The leftists, people like Noam Chomsky and the capitalist baiters will disagree and say that it is grossly offensive to brand the Greek attitude as  dishonourable unwillingness to repay debts. Astonishingly, I have not seen an article from the quintessential Arundhati Roy who would generally have reveled in an opportunity to blast Western economic policies directed at developing economies.

One need not have to be an Adam Smith or a Keynesian disciple to discern the Greek mess and it should not take a great deal of acumen to see that whosoever lives beyond their means- be it an individual or a country as a whole, capitalists, communist or socialists you will soon reach a cul de sac and have your back against the granite wall; lenders will snarl and all hell will break loose. Further lending will generally be ruled out in case of individuals whilst corporates and governments will have to sing the tough tunes lenders dictate. It is simple reasoning here that nobody wills, to throw good money after bad money unless strict assurance is available. Then, why are the cries of betrayal and cries of capitalist conspiracy? Did we hear a murmur of disapproval when the lenders were letting credit lines open to Greece and the ECB was generous?

This reminds me of the Indian situation which is akin to the EU. Many states have run up dangerous levels of overdrafts with the Central government and in a way is forcing printing of money .Monetary policies like that the ECB prescribed for its members including Greece was negated by the latter’s  fiscal application. Going slow, weak and timid on tax collection is all the more dangerous for a State for instance like Kerala that has no industrial output to bring in revenue.  In the case of Greece, one could watch on television that citizens were aware of the hole their country had got into and the austerity & belt tightening they will have to grin and bear. Back here we simply are oblivious to economics and are gaga when corrupt, dishonest and inefficient governments in States keep providing doles and freebies. Every meal that is free will have to fetch resources from elsewhere to make it stay free!

At the end of the acrimony with Greece will there be an honest and dispassionate appraisal of what went wrong for the Greeks to be indebted by over more than 350 billion Euro? Indeed the multi- billion dollar Athen Olympics was a luxury that wrought deep holes in Greek pockets. Like the Roman denizens twenty one days of round the clock circus briefly cast away reality. But that was just one of the many leaks and extravaganzas for which Greeks may have used borrowed money.

I was reminded of this necessary inquisition by a real time story of how a galloping business entity that nose-dived? Fortunately for the promoters the Banks intervened favourably and offered a life line of credit restructuring. Meaning to include the precise antidote ECB might prescribe for the Greeks – strict austerity and deferred interest and debt repayment.But here again neither the Banks nor the promoters seemed to investigate how the mess came about? The safeguard against the repetition of history is to find the culprit within if not show him the door.
There is indeed a simple quotidian moral in this Greek tragedy.