Thursday, July 24, 2008

PETA (Please Eat The Activist)

(... and the edit function on this website. apologies for the formatting. just can't get it right!)

i thought that i did not need to say this after "Terrible Tuesday", but Indian politicians (and wannabes) are getting curiouser and curiouser... i hereby sincerely invoke divine protection for the causes they choose to espouse, after this little gem from today's oped page in the Pioneer (titled "Beat the urge for meat"), written by that environmental fundamentalist (read terrorist!) lady, the
other other Mrs. Gandhi...

when she wrote a passionate piece about the plight of the poor pigeons who were exploited during the shooting of the SRK starrer
Paheli, i finally realised that she needs help, a conclusion i am sure i share with others. for the undecided, i present to you her latest vituperation of meat eaters.... here are my favorite bits, which must be seen in light of the fact that i am a pious non-veggie: BRACE YOURSELVES! (Black's her; the red is moi, of course!)

here goes....

Everyone's life is strewn with incidents wherein they have a chance to become bigger than themselves (this point contradicts a later one linking meat eating to obesity), to be nobler and kinder and happier (by being veggie? are you kidding me??!!). Some people don't recognise these opportunities but they return again and again, so you still have time to open your eyes. However, some people go in the opposite direction-they take the chance that life gives them and they abuse it and strangle it till the little luck they have squeezes itself out the window and runs for its life. (don't miss the helpless li'l chicken-that-we-carnivores-have-been-terrorising-for-generations analogy!)

Take for example someone who has the good fortune to be born into a vegetarian family. (good fortune and vegetarianism? that's like saying you are fortunate to be born in Mugabe's Zimbabwe!) Why they would lapse into a carnivorous diet and pick up disease, obesity, bad odour, (eh?) and bad karma is beyond my understanding. But people do. Every now and then, I see people from proud (eh, again!) vegetarian families eating meat....... These are the reasons spouted by ex-vegetarians for breaking the faith:

"I belong to the privileged Brahmin class. I need to do something to show my solidarity with the downtrodden Dalits. So I consume meat." (Then why not live in the same place and manner the way they do?
(uh oh!!) Or even better, invite them to share your own privileges. ("...carefulllll!!) But that would be asking too much of our fashionable leftist.) (are we talking Guevara here? 'cos being a leftist in India went squarely outta fashion this week!!)
{Boy! someone is NEVAH getting a ticket from Maya Aunty!! }

"My college friends say I am a nuisance at picnics and that I shouldn't be such a fanatic." (So you should suffer cold ecoli-ridden chicken sandwiches just to go along with the gang. Giving up your beliefs to suit others' convenience is pathetic. If they don't value you, change your friends, not your food.) {and what about trading your yummy BigMacs to show solidarity with your fussy "i-eat-only-organic" vegan soy-sucking friends?? change 'em?? i say.... you're probably right!}

"Eating meat makes me seem more normal and fit." (The same argument is given by smokers and drinkers.)
(come now! leave that outta this. i feel attacked on all fronts! for the record, i am neither fit nor normal. not by a long shot.)

.......soyabean and dal are the highest sources of protein and all the world's biggest and most powerful animals like elephants, rhinos, giraffes, bulls and horses are vegetarians.
(.... ok, this is actually funny... can you imagine all thse big guys sitting down to an environmentally-friendly "save the world" seven-course meal of soyabean and dal??? the animal kingdom's answer to our pathetic G8!)

"Poor people grow goats and if we stop eating meat those poor will be deprived of their livelihood." (So you are actually eating meat as a social service? Give up your car and ride in a tanga to support the poor tangawallahs, and wear hand-spun material to support the poor weavers and eat in earthenware to support the poor potters.)
(grow goats???? really? whay have we not written about this unique mutation miracle? is the government secretly subsidising these poor people? its a giant genetic conspiracy! and is it not cruel to exploit the poor horse that drives the noble tanga?? is PETA listening? and what of the tired hands that spin and our mother earth that we will be exploiting?)

"My wife/husband eats meat and I cannot cook separately because it's too exhausting." (Why not just lump everything together - soup, main course, dessert because it's too exhausting to make them separately? And why not share clothes to reduce washing and ironing. Put the whole family in one room to reduce cleaning area. All the more reason to cook vegetarian because it's what both people can eat. Should your partner want meat, let him/her go hunt for it.)
(no comment. seriously. quite like the image of this neanderthalish kibbutz!)

"I eat meat when someone offers it to me. I don't want to impose my class/caste views on other people." (So then you would go anywhere you were taken, watch anything you were shown, read anything you were given. That's just what this world needs- mindless robots).
(either that or we choose to take your advice and choose NOT to read the baloney that you write and in return you stop imposing your views on us. howzzat for karmic balance eh?)

She ends by saying:

Do you recognise yourself?

i throw this back at you Ma'am.
do YOU?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just another day at the office...

O-H my G-A-W-D! i know that with the benefit of hindsight and armed with all the action replays of all that i missed LIVE! today, i will update this tomorrow, but for now..... what a day it has been my fellow country men (and women)!

somehow, in all the mayhem and shamefulness that Parliament had to offer today, i felt strangely one with my fellow Indians... we stood united while craning our necks and straining our ears to hear Laloo and Rahul baba speak, just as we were united in shaking our heads and smirking at the circus on television and the drama that unfolded throughout the day; i felt the nation gasp as one when the bundles of money came out (helpfully pointed out by a giant hand on one of the Hindi news channels!) and then i heard India scratch its giant head when the first results came in and we all wondered where the missing MPs went ?? now i am sure i am not alone in wondering where those bundles of money came from and where they might eventually land up!

and i felt terribly nostalgic too, constantly reminded as i was of the first grade, when the Speaker kept telling everyone to "keep quiet" and "please sit down", requesting them to " kindly return to their seats"...

but i have to admit that i have my favorite characters in this "Comedy of Horrors". the first, undoubtedly, was Somnath babu ... especially when, after he was asked by one speaker as to why he could not stop another from interrupting him, he replied. "what should i do? should i strangle him?" he cajoled, shouted, wrung his hands, helplessly dug his nose and tsk tsked his way into our great nation's doctored history books.. (update: and got expelled from his party for his efforts... what a shame!)

and then of course, there is my eternal fave: Manu Bhai. love him. he's chooooo chweeeeet. i agree with one of my senior colleagues that of all the PMs that this had to happen to, it happened to happen to him.... what was that sentence again? whatever, you get my drift. i could almost picture him, late at night, finally away from the spotlight and alone at home with his wife saying "hun bas. that's it for me, Gurshu, wake me up when this nigthmare's over, and we'll move to oxford". i like his new Guru Gobind Singh inspired avatar though. sad how it all came to pass but.... way to go, dude!!

so, in the end, i just decided to hum along with the HIndi channels... "Singh is King, Singh is King, Singh is King ..... " never mind the ring-a-ding-ding!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Staircase and the Sign

a friend of mine, who was working in Manhattan at the time, told me that she had to take up smoking, after living healthy enough to see the big three-oh! as a non-smoker, just to stay in the loop at work. be that as it may, i have to now endorse her view that yes, well, the smokin' staircase is where its at!

... to think that the nation's storytelling often has its origins in the whispering that goes on under the big "dhoomrapaan nishedh" sign... yes, this is where the hallways of power converge, guiding the mighty keyboards that bring you your daily news! "the sign" itself presents a fitting analogy for the goings-on in our political system. its status is somewhat akin to the Indian President, if you like - that quintessential figurehead of our wayward nation. so it is with "the sign", i'm afraid.

all sorts of measures are in place to make ours a healthy republic, but we carry on nevertheless and it is only in times of acute crisis that we reluctantly turn to that great emblem of authority: "the sign". like after the Great Fire, when the guardians of workplace clout invoked "the sign" to smoke us all out of the stairwell... you see, this place has a long history of revolutions and counter-revolutions to abolish/re-instate the right to abuse our lungs, ever since that last bastion of creative oomph: the vaunted first floor, fell to the bearers of "the sign"; but, mitigating circumstances apart, most experiments ended in abysmal failure.

oh, they banned it. what followed was a sudden spike in loo breaks, working lunches, strolls to the parking lot and, of course, sheepish hanging around the stairwells and other suitably shady corners. for this is an incorrigible bunch, much like our parliamentarians who are, as we speak, making impassioned speeches on national TV, all the while wondering who it will be within the hallowed portals of the House who will stab them in the back... and for how much! you see, the system is flawed, its twisted and more crooked that Tinu Anand's teeth, but it works. not very well sometimes, but it chugs along, and there is only so much that a rubber stamp can do. so, it is with "the sign". the rule of thumb here is: Thou shalt decree and, sure as day follows night, it shalt be flouted.. again and again and again....

so there we all are, puffing away with impunity, and the republic's back in business... would i could say the same about the other Republic that's older than "the sign" and is still pointing in different directions but going nowhere... alas! we can only fight one injustice at a time my friend.... and its time to find out what's with the damn coffee machine :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cheeky chicanery, eh?

seems to me like we are loosing the Battle of the Front Page, even as i am told, by many a faithful reader, that we are winning the War of Readability (oh, but our page ROCKS!). every morning, on my way to the daily meeting, i hear the rustling in the conference-room, and have to try very hard to resist a peek inside to see the gladiatorial parade of the pages... our successive front pages, jostling for wall space with our nemesis', while the various lords do a SWOT analysis of the home team. but today, i'm sure, those voices must have been tempered with moments of confused silence and mild to vehement defense/denials, their eyes going back to the travesty that was Page One... in fact, for a moment i thought someone had ripped off a section of my copy's masthead... for the rest of the day, my eyes kept returning to the scene of the crime, tortured as i was by the near-headless monstrosity. enough, already. can't bear to talk about it anymore!

oh, we are also losing some of the other battles. like against inflation and rising costs.. today there was no air conditioning in office, ostensibly due to some maintenance work, but my conspiratorial mind seems to think there is some sneaky cost cutting going on here... the coffee machine at the entrance often has no mineral water dispenser. so we go to the one in the Hindi-heartland, which, for some reason, never has any cups. but by the time you go to the one near the entrance for a cup, those have miraculously disappeared too and so have the tea bags at another machine... and so on and on....

so, in the end, you land up either going without tea, or have to find a pretext of another meeting to get a more palatable version made by the office boy. ok, so that last part was a fib. i do only have one meeting to attend daily, but the ruse comes in handy to avoid pesky calls during office hours, avoided by murmuring importantly into your handset, suitably muffled as it is with your hand clapped over it.. yes, yes, i am a dedicated worker, and no the last time any of you called, i was really in an emergency meeting! you know nah baba: Leftie Inc, Softie Singh, etc etc have been running circles around Manu bhai and Sonya aunty after all.... its giving me dark circles for crissssssake!

but now i am getting ahead of myself. so, we have stolen one of our foreign editor's portable fan, who is enjoying better (physical, not security-wise) climate in Kabul, and stuck the offensive Page One into the grimy window to keep it open. oh, another fact that supports my cost cutting theory is that why would you do this on a saturday, albeit on a day there is, mercifully, a decent breeze blowing, and why would you 'slimily' place portable fans at strategic locations (lots of hyperactivity in one hour), if this was to be only a one-day-few-hours' job! why, tell nah, WHY? now, i'm getting pissed. its hot. and we have to watch how much paper we use in these inflationary times....damn, there goes our paper boat sailing competition in the loo and the air show in the sports section :( AND they only keep mirinda (and no fanta!) in the cafe. does it cool with less power, i wonder? oh wow, its 7 already!

cheerio! i'm off to drive off in the AC confines of my car... crap! how much did you say that barrel of oil was for?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

So, where have you been honey?

in the adventurous, rugged, often bleak, and sometimes treacherous landscape that modern marriage is, its hard to imagine anyone who has not had mutinous thoughts of shedding excess baggage and just taking off on an arduous journey of introspection, hoping that the battered half (my take on the Indian "better-half") will still be there to either pick up the pieces of an experiment gone horribly wrong, or share in the spoils of a successful odyssey of self-discovery.

sometimes when people set off on this path, they have no clue where they might land up. they can choose to moan the loss of the familiar and painstakingly re-build the imperfect, or they can embrace the unfamiliar and throw fate the gauntlet, and gear up to see what it throws back at them.

i believe those who cowardly choose the former shall perish, while the latter will eventually live on, stronger, to fight another day. Amen.