November 21, 2005

Scaling walls for sport

When someone mentions scaling walls, many of us tend to think of our college days. A wall is something to be jumped over when you reach the hostel after hours. Some walls come with a convenient hole our thoughtful predecessors on the campus had left behind. It was one such hole in the compound wall of Kirorimal College (Delhi University) that served as a short-cut to the Kamla Nagar coffee-house, frequented by those of us in neighbouring colleges – Ramjas, DSE or the Hindu.
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.

Kukkarahalli mo(u)rning walkers

The walkway is okay. It is the lake that lets out a stench that makes morning walkers reach for their hanky to stick it on the nose. The sewage inflow and the spread of algae are the result of our inaction. The Mysore University that has jurisdiction for the lake’s upkeep pleads helplessness. The municipal corporation hasn’t been proactive in clearing encroachments on Dewan Poornaiah canal. The walkers, residents living close to the lake and other stake holders have petitioned, protested and called for greater accountability on the part of everyone other than their own.
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

A glitzy ‘Id’meet

An Id Milan, lined up by Anjuman-e-Hadeeqatul Adab at Le Olive Garden, Sunday, was a glitzy affair. Scented ladies, suited gents, local admn. top brass, academics, and other high-end professionals comprised the guests list at a meeting marked by laudatory speeches and sumptuous buffet. If the idea was promotion of harmony among the ‘Hindu, Muslim Sikh, Isai’ elite, the organizers were, perhaps, preaching to the choir.
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.

A Sikh at his ‘taavu’s Id milan’

Dr Javeed Nayeem, master of ceremonies at Id Milan, invited from the audience a representative of Mysore’s community of the Sikhs (13 families) to address the gathering. An elderly Sikh who took the floor held the audience attention with his earthy talk and anecdotal message of harmony. He thanked organizers for so honouring him on the occasion of, what he called, ‘my thaavu’s Id’. Thaavu is one’s father’s elder brother – ‘Gurudev is our (Sikhs) father; and the Prophet is our thaavu’.
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

Blah…to Mysore Blog

In an effort to evolve a Mysore-centric blog group that could synergies with I called/e-mailed friends and contacts. The response was enthusiastic from a few, notably journalist Mr Krishna Vattam, who said he could think of five or six pieces right away for posting. The snag, however, was his utter computer ignorance. But then he is willing to learn. Till which time, his blog pieces are held on hold in his head.
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

‘Star’-less Diwali

I can pick holes in its coverage, content, and copy-editing, but I can’t easily do without a daily dose of ‘Star of Mysore’. Aren’t we accustomed to Mysore water, however ‘contaminated’ as MGP claims ? SOM is a daily after-siesta ‘fix’ to which I have become a slave. When she found me pacing about our place like ‘kuttipotta poonai’ (Tamil expression for a form of irksome behavior), for some 20 minutes soon after my nap this afternoon, my wife put it down to ‘smids’ - Star of Mysore immune deficiency syndrome. The paper wasn’t delivered today. It is closed tomorrow as well, for Diwali.