December 30, 2005
My perception is shared by Ms K R Prathiba, a social activist, who lobbied Girish’s case for sponsorship at the Town Hall; took the boy and his father to the mayor on the very day she met Mr Kaushik. She was to set up a meeting for him with the DC the subsequent day. But then Mr Kaushik, presumably, found something else to do. He didn’t even bother to inform Prathiba, let alone thank her for the trouble she had taken.
Lack of such niceties apart, I found Mr Kaushik to be not very straight-forward in his talk. He told me that the recent New Delhi trip for the Asian chess championship ties had set him back by Rs.15,000 (of which Rs.7000 he claimed was entry fee). What Mr Kaushik neglected to mention was the Rs.50,000 cash award announced by the Central ministry for sports. The first we heard of it ( Prathiba and I ) was when the mayor quizzed Mr Kaushik, “Isn’t there a cash award that goes with the chess gold ?”
And then there is this aspect. In response to my network messages an e-pal put me wise on the danger in pushing child prodigies into public shows. This had happened again and again, he said, and added, “parents who want to exploit the rare talent of their kids are sometimes too greedy for fame and profit to think of giving the kids a chance to experience childhood”.
(See item: Girish brings chess gold to Mysore)
December 24, 2005
Problem is some of our self-styled caretakers of the interests of ‘informed’ and ‘concerned’ citizens do not seem to realize that they are not taken very seriously by an overwhelming majority of lesser residents. Maybe it’s our mindset. We tend to view with suspicion even the most civic-minded individuals who show up too often in newspaper photos and press statements.
I can see my friend Dr Shenoy taking me on. Do I suggest MGP stay silent when things go wrong? We have been through this, Dr Shenoy and I, in private conversations. His grouse is the good work MGP has done in exposing wrong-doings and the wrong-doers goes unappreciated. As for arm-chair critics, his prescription is, “why don’t they come forward, and take over?” A valid question, to which other arm-chair critics and bloggers might have a definitive answer.
It is not my case that MGP has no role to play. Nor would I say that those at its helms are less capable. In fact, they have expertise in varied fields. To my mind there appears to be an attitude problem – an attitude of confrontation towards MCC. Elsewhere in this site I have held forth on how MGP could do better.
As for arm-chair critics such as yours truly, there are many of us who are not cut out for a meaningful role in MGP. So of us are more inclined to do some public good in our own limited sphere. Individual efforts of a civic-minded few have made a big difference to life around them.
I read a web magazine piece about an NRI pair -”. Aravinda Pillalamarri and Ravi Kuchimanchi – who transplanted themselves from the US to Gujarat, to bring electricity to an Adivasi village . When the web editor Veena Rao asked what NRIs could do to help people back home, they suggested that urban educated individuals, especially NRIs, can help by taking a live interest in issues of public concern back home, and ‘write to our government officials and civic authorities, who tend to behave differently when they know they are being watched, especially by NRIs’. I see a message here for non-resident Mysoreans with a feel for Devaraja Market.
Incidentally, Aravinda and Ravi were the inspiration behind Ashutosh Gowariker’s “Swades”, a Shah Rukh Khan starrer..
December 17, 2005
The FIR (first information report) said the new arrival weighed 6 lb.13 oz., was 20 inches long, fair, with a headful of jet black hair. Time of birth: 7.03 a m (in San Francisco); 8.33 p m (IST).
I don’t know if other NRI parents ponder over this: Which time do we take into account to draw up the child’s horoscope? US, or the Mysore time? “Our time, of course, 7.03 a m,” said Meera, from her Oakland hospital bed. She made sense.
My thoughts, however, are philosophical, if utterly anachronistic. Astrology, presumably, predates America by thousands of years. Legend has it that someone in Ayodhya drew up Lord Rama’s horoscope, which was ages before they invented the concept of Time Zones. If there hasn’t been much change since, in the way we draw up horoscopes, wouldn’t ‘India time’ be more compatible than the relatively recent US Time Zone phenomenon? A swift Yahoo Search reveals that Time Zones were first instituted in US by railroads on Nov.18, 1883, though an amateur astronomer, William Lambert, had reportedly made a plea in 1809 to the Congress for establishment of time meridians.
December 13, 2005
Had Madras been part of Karnataka we could have, simply, added a ‘u’ and called the place ‘Madrasu’. In its current Tamil ‘avatar’, Chennai has little in common with the good old Madras. I’m sure Mr URA had sound reasons – cultural and emotional – for coming up with an idea, so thought-provoking that it managed to move our government into action within days. Normally, any bright idea the government receives is put through the bureaucratic wringer, of a departmental committee, cabinet sub-committee, legislature debate, resolution and such rigmarole.
I, for one, find the name-change idea particularly appealing, as it plays on our innate instinct for keeping up with the Joneses. If TN and Kerala, not to mention W B and Maharashtra, have done it, why shouldn’t we?
But then in a democracy we have people who raise silly questions, such as, ‘what is the big deal?’. Bangalore, whichever way you pronounce it, would stay a city of IT-walahs, drought beer, bad roads, and traffic jam. What’s in a name? Bangalore, by any other name, would still have traffic jam.
We could say this about Mysore. When it becomes Mysooru, it won’t rhyme with eyesore.
Statistically, it’s a drop-in-the-bucket effort. But Chamundi home represents an endeavour that has inspired individuals. Paddy Navin, a theatre person in Britain, is one such individual, says a report in ‘Star of Mysore’. A visit to Mysore in 2002 and meeting with Sheila Irani proved an inspiration for Paddy to do her bit for the underprivileged in this part of the world. Back in London, Paddy organized a concert that raised funds enough to educate four children till the college level. Two of Paddy’s chosen children – Pushpa,10, and Esther, 8, are now studying at the Good Shepherd’s School, Masinagudi, near Mudumalai, TN. If only everyone in our own entertainment world – actors and producers – were to emulate Paddy’s example, it would be a turn-around in the lives of thousands of our underprivileged children.
December 6, 2005
MCC can't get it from ADB, straight away. I can see that our municipal commissioner can’t just fill in a loan form and get a DD for the loan amount directly from ADB or IBRD. It is understandable that those doing it for us are entitled to service charges. But what I didn’t know, (did you?) is that development loans help, mainly, ‘development’ of the intermediaries; and, what is worse, have the effect of pushing the end-user (of loan) into a debt-trap.
Going into the nitty-gritty of how the money was spent by our civic body, with what results, would open quite another can of worms.
Meanwhile, how do we get out of this loan mess? My guess is that our municipal corporation would go in for a steep hike in levy, in line with the time-honoured bureaucratic ploy – ‘When in debt, pass the buck’. The buck stops with the law-abiding tax-payers here.
This is where our public administration/finance whiz-kids ought to think of something out-of-the-box. If it were a private firm, ‘liquidation’ would be the word.
December 2, 2005
Evidently, the Munnabhai storyline has aspects that medical administrators wouldn’t find amusing. But then the movie wasn’t made for their amusement. This Bollywood masala mix obscures its message in clownplay. Our kind of films are not made with social change in mind. In fact, as actor-director Naseeruddin Shah put it at the Goa film festival, ‘I’d write it off (cinema) as a medium of social change’.
Mr Shah appears to have been proved wrong, for once. Iqbal, a film in which he plays a role, has indeed impacted the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) into making a radical addition to its school curriculum. NCERT, taking a cue from Nagesh Kukunoor-directed ‘Iqbal’, plans to teach sign language to std. III students in all NCERT-run schools in the country.
Iqbal is a deaf-mute boy who dreams of playing for India cricket team, as a pace bowler. He has the backing of Khadija, his ten-year-old sister. Kadija learns sign language to interact with Iqbal, and to interpret his hopes and aspirations to the world at large. Learning from Khadija’s example, NCERT has decided to include teaching sign language in its school curriculum. If normal children could learn to communicate with the hearing impaired, the needs of the disabled could be better understood, and the disabled could be fully integrated into the mainstream school environment.
Kamala Balachandran, in her Deccan Herald article, summed it up by saying the NCERT idea is simple, and yet so potent that it could revolutionize the way the next generation of children would look at a disabled person.
November 21, 2005
My friend and Bangalore-based Statesman correspondent Tyagraj Sharma would know what I am talking about. But the wall he has in mind nowadays is the one his college going daughter, Kavya Sharma, scales for sport. The 16-year-old has no use for hostel walls (Is she a hosteller, Tyagraj ?); she goes for the one that is 60-ft tall. Kavya is poised to tackle the wall in Hong Kong this December at the Asian Youth Sport Climbing championship.
We all know what needs doing – clear feeder channels to help fresh water inflow; block inflow of sewage. We even got funds for doing it – ADB loan. Yet the morning walkers may well have to take out, before long, a mourning walk; and Kukkarahalli may well become Algaehalli. This, as my friend E R Ramachandran said (in ‘The Mysore Mail’) can happen only in Mysore.
November 14, 2005
Mysore municipal commissioner, Mr A B Ibrahim, hit the nail right on its head when he expressed doubts if such elitist gatherings would have a trickle-down effect on the mindset of the masses. He would rather have Id Milan organized at the grass-roots level, promoting a mingling among communities at the middle-class and poorer localities. Mr Ibrahim spoke of the need for wider circulation of Koran, translated in the language of the locals, among all communities. For Koran was a lot more than a religious work; it was a book on life and how best it is led. Islam was a far more enlightened faith than people gave credit for. Gender equality and women’s right to property was there in Islam centuries earlier than western civilizations thought of them. Islam is egalitarian; it stipulates that the faithful should spare two percent and a half of their income for the welfare of the poor. And it had all been worked out way back in the 5th century. Wasn’t this a magnificent religion, as G B Shaw put it? Mr Ibrahim’s lament is that Islam today is the most misunderstood religion, all over the world. Listening to him gave me a fresh perspective on our municipal commissioner, who, like his faith, has been much misunderstood by the caretakers of ‘concerned’ and ‘informed’ citizens.
His message was that sharing love and affection with others, in other communities, works wonders – ‘you should all try it sometime’. Speaking from experience, he was once caught up in an Id day traffic jam, while on his way to a conference on the JNU campus, New Delhi. The bus carrying him got stuck on road near an Idgah. Sensing the hopelessness of the situation the Sikh stepped down onto the street and hung around in front of Idgah, as the congregation streamed out after ID prayers. Finding a Sikh at the doorstep of Idgah a Muslim asked, ‘what brings you here, sardarji ?’
‘It is my thaavu’s Id’, said the Sikh, explaining to the Muslim stranger they were spiritual cousins. So pleased was this Muslim that he lifted the Sikh off his feet with ‘juppi’ (bear-hug of the passionate kind). He wouldn’t let him go without ‘kathirdari’ at his (Muslim) home. The host later sent his car to reach the Sikh to the JNU campus. On reaching the venue ‘I found the others traveling in my bus had not made it to the conference’.
Moral of the story: a ‘juppi’ with stranger can, sure, work magic.
November 4, 2005
The last I heard was that Mr Vattam is undergoing e-learning crash course from his school-going grandson. After a lesson on how to work the mouse, cursor and the keyboard all that it takes for one to blog is an alert mind, an engaging interest in the life around you, and Internet connectivity. So I thought, till I had these reactions:
- What’s the point in blogging? And who cares for what I have to say?
- Wouldn’t want to step on someone’s toes, by saying something that triggers controversy.
- I can’t think of an issue to write about
- Too many things on my plate to find time for blogging.
- No one comments on what is blogged (this, from a blogger)
- Came to Mysore, seeking a quiet life, with my books and music. Don’t ask me to blog.
November 1, 2005
October 30, 2005
October 27, 2005
After talking to him I tried recalling if I had, indeed, received mail by post in recent memory. I couldn’t. Do you remember the last time you got mail? I don’t mean the monthly credit-card statement or LIC premium notice. I mean the good old hand-written stuff from family or a friend.
Remember the Pankaj Udhas film number, ‘Chitti aye hai …chitti’. If they remake the film, ‘Naam, today, the song would have to say, ‘E-mail aye hai…e-mail’.
October 24, 2005
Far from speaking up for the Infosys founder, Mysore is mum. What I can hear is the ‘deafening silence’ on the part of our social activist groups, sangha, parishat, and association of citizens, both ‘informed’ and ‘concerned’. A statement of support or a solidarity resolution would have been a socially gracious gesture. Admittedly, Mr Narayana Murthy or Infosys does not need our flag-waving support. But we would have made him feel good by letting him know that we, in Mysore, are with him.
Meanwhile I find the ‘Touchstone’ column in ‘The New Indian Express’ has put Mr Murthy’s case in perspective.
“Whatever he has done for his company or the community had the hallmark of transparency. Yet a senior politician had the gumption to call him names and treat him as if he were a small-time builder and real estate agent”.
A notable aspect is that the columnist, T Bhanu, doesn’t name the politician even once. Which I think is smart. Why dignify unwarranted accusations by naming the accuser.
“Narayana Murthy is a rich man by any yardstick…..he doesn’t have to buy government and agricultural land, convert it in the name of software development, and later on build flats and villas and realize the proceeds….
“…..And if the Karnataka government is not willing, there are other states ready to invite him with open arms”.
Related item: ‘Infosys, a land-grabber?’
October 23, 2005
Mr Bhagavan announced the NRIPA move in ‘Star of Mysore’ some three months ago. This was followed up with a website item, which evoked some encouraging response. Mr Bapu Satyanaryana, welcoming the move, shared his thoughts with us in a 11-point message e-mailed from Portland, Oregon (where he was then visiting his daughter’s family). A microbiology student at Eastern Kentucky University, Mr Ashwin Das, thought it was a wonderful idea, and informed his parents in Mysore about the NRIPA initiative.
Yet, when it came to filling in a prescribed form, in confirmation of their interest, Mr Bhagavan had heard from no more than seven NRI parents till last month, when he went abroad. – ‘I reckon it prudent not to proceed until my return to Mysore (in March next)’.
As the saying goes, man proposes, God disposes. When Bhagavan proposes, Mysoreans dispose it.
October 22, 2005
Mr Mookerji’s Atlanta-based son counts on his retired father to run his software shop in Mysore – ‘we started with a staff of three software engineers, in an office located at my home’. Former CFTRI director Dr.H A B Parpia, who, in his ‘second adulthood’ is involved in NGO work pertaining to teacher training. He is a leading figure in MGP.
Mr Srihari has recently returned from a 14-week ‘working holiday’ in the US, from where he sent regular dispatches to SOM. During the visit he had occasion to get in touch with Dr Rajagopal Rao, another former CFTRI director, vacationing in the US with his wife Dr Vijaya Rao, former director of the Defence Food Research Laboratory. In his last dispatch – 'Calling From Florida' – before returning home, to Mysore, Mr Srihari wrote about a visit to Maryland, and, what he termed, ‘a spin around’ Bethesda, the seat of the US National Institute of Health, which had funded many CFTRI research programmes in the 1960s. Speaking of the Mysore-based institute’s US connection our 70-year-young SOM correspondent recalled that Dr. B L Amia, a former CFTRI director, had worked for the World Bank in Washington DC in the 70s.
October 21, 2005
Mr Narayana Murthy appears no good in judging people, notably, politicians. He expected a measure of basic courtesy from Mr Deve Gowda; expected him to talk it out with him (Narayana Murthy), instead of rushing to the media to air his misgivings. The Infosys founder was wrong in expecting a coalition-dependent CM, Mr Dharam Singh, to speak up for BIAL chief and tell Mr Gowda what the score was.
Mr Narayana Murthy scarcely concealed his feeling of having been let down by the Dharam Singh government, which maintained stony silence in the face of uncharitable observations made by Mr Deve Gowda, against Mr Murthy as BIAL chairman. Politicians have a way with words. They are perfectly capable of passing off their prejudices as public perception; and fib, as facts. Our media can’t ignore politicians, and their ranting for propaganda mileage. What newspapers could, however, do is carry a message of caution, as it is done on a liquor bottle or a packet of cigarettes.
A newspaper item ought to carry a ‘reader advisory’, saying ‘this report, published in good faith, is a politician’s account that may not be substantiated by facts of the case, and its resemblance to reality, if any, is remote’
October 14, 2005
If the parade wasn’t much to write home about, the spectacle we presented elsewhere was pathetic. Take the helipad scene, telecast live on CM’s arrival in the city to flag off ‘Jamboo Savari’. Mr Dharam Singh was greeted by a group of women carrying plastic pots and squatting on tarmac. There were men angrily gesturing at the CM. He was in town to join the festivities and, and one would have thought, that as the chief guest Mr Dharam Singh deserved a cordial public welcome, cutting across party lines. Instead, we see TV footage of our first citizen, the city mayor, resorting to dharna, protesting the delay on the part of the government in the release of a Rs.50-lakh dasara grants.
Far from projecting the image of a ‘people’s dasara’, the TV footage substantiates the belief that it was a state-sponsored dasara, not our own. It turned out to be, not an occasion for all-round festivities, but an opportunity, for party political and group interests, to gain publicity mileage for furthering their own agenda.
It is not my case that the pot-carrying women and the mayor did not have legitimate, and pressing grievances. My point is that the agitators could have been discerning enough in their choice of venue to ventilate their grievances. They could have taken up their issues with CM at the circuit house or wherever he was staying. Incidentally, delay in the release of dasara grants until after the event illustrates the state of utter non-governance, of the government of the day.
See item - ‘Showcasing Mysore’ - on ‘Issues & Ideas’ web page.
October 12, 2005
A couple of days after my return to Mysore I heard from his uncle T V Raghottam Rao that Anil had made it here, after all, in time for ‘Jumbo Savari’. Well, then, as they say, where there is a will, (and an available air ticket) there is a way. I would like to have his take on Mysore Dasara, as Anil sees it after a gap of a decade.
October 7, 2005
Hawaii is a case in point, they say. There are no snakes indigenous to the island, but South American boas and Burmese pythons are reported to have been spotted in Hawaii. Presumably, alien reptiles found their way to Hawaii as ’small snakes’ in the baggage of people who also brought their own whiskey, just as Fields had prescribed.
October 6, 2005
Both his son and daughter are in the US. And Raju, after retirement, has been spending much of his time with them. “They want us, me and my wife, to move in here’, he says, adding that he is awaiting his green-card. As he says, there is nothing to holding him in Mumbai, where he spent his entire working life; and there is no one to go to, in Nanjangud, where he was born and brought up.
Raju, who has come a long way from a humble start in life at Nanjangud, switched himself into a flash-back mode he heard that my wife and I would be back in Mysore in a few days. Probably, he felt envious of us. For Mysore had meant ‘a lot of good time’ for Raju in his adolescence.
Mysore was where he used to go, for a film show, to watch a football game - “we biked there, double riding, from Nanjangud”. Two was company. Besides, the two of them, probably, split the bike hire charge (a rupee for 24 hrs.). Evening movie at Lakshmi Theatre cost eight annas a ticket. Raju and his friend bicycled back to Nanjangud after the show that ended well past midnight. That meant pedaling nearly 50 km, up and down, for an evening out in Mysore. Raju could have it all for a couple of rupees, or less, in the fifties.
October 4, 2005
During my current US trip we took a drive to Sunnyvale the other evening for an eat-out at Saravanaa Bhavan. It was a good 40-minute, on the freeway, at 60 mph, from my place, San Ramon. We had to wait for over 30 minutes for a table for four. A ‘dosa’ and ‘vada’ each, some sweet and two-by-three coffee (ordered two glasses to be shared among three) set us back by $50 plus. Which goes to show the lengths to which NRIs go for ‘desi’ food.
I don’t know about the way to his heart, but the way to an NRI’s wallet is through his stomach. They may be dime a dozen in Mysore, but cooks who can turn out a tasty meal are hard to come by in the ‘land of opportunities’. An enterprising ‘mami’ can find self-employment, if she has a way with the dishes. She can build up a client base of 10 or 15 working NRI couples.
The hired cook takes over the kitchen of each client for an evening every week, to cook food needed by the NRI couple for the entire week. The ‘mami’s’ sambar, palia and vattha kozhambu can be held in deep freeze. Cooking for other people’s deep-freeze can be developed as cottage industry.
October 3, 2005
It has taken some time in coming. If it is of interest to anyone, other than my wife and our close friends, my son Ravi conceived of this myMysore ‘avatar’, around the time his wife Meera became pregnant. It is their first child. Ravi has since delivered; Meera is still expecting. Our grandson is due this December. They found out it would be a boy through ultra-sound test. In the country where they live, unlike in India, sex determination through ultra-sound is legit. It is the done thing, if only because enables the couple to agonize over a name, for weeks before baby’s arrival. The latest I hear is that three names have been short-listed. But unsolicited nominations from relatives and well-wishers are still coming.
Ravi’s dotcom ‘baby’ comes with a pre-set name – myMysore. In its new ‘avatar’, the website is simpler, slimmer and, I hope, more user-friendly. Besides, there is an add-on feature for the benefit of Mysoreans with flair for blogging.
Why do people blog? A website on Lahore – lists 15 bloggers-in-residence. Their reasons for blogging include:
- I blog because I love Lahore (a Karachite studying in Lahore)
- Wish to share my interests, which include chilling with friends, TV, browsing etc.
- I blog because I am very, very bored
- Because I hold conflicting opinions in my head, and agree with both
- I love words, my food, and kite-flying on the Mall Roadn I can’t get enough of the city I love