Sweetness and Light

Just want to bring a smile to the reader's lips - and an occasional thought. Will try to stay away from controversial topics - rather create my own! And would definitely welcome comments. :-)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Farmer Suicides in Vidarbha

There is neither any sweetness in this post, nor any light. My manifesto does proclaim that I will try to stay away from controversial topics, and the reason I am posting this particular post is that the topic is not controversial enough - at least not in the mainstream media as I know (and avoid) it.

P. Sainath is a journalist I eminently respect. That, however, should not be a criterion for anyone reading him up. Check out the link below, and if you find it "interesting" - for lack of a better word, may be you will be sufficiently motivated to check for other articles by Sainath on the Hindu website. There are many on farmers' suicides, in A.P. and in Vidarbha, dating back from early 2000s.


Incidentally, I first noticed Sainath and his writings some time around 2001 when he shocked and moved me to tears of frustration by pointing out in one of his articles the reason behind increase in death of farmers in A.P. due to snake-bites, and how it was linked to the much hailed power reforms in the state. It seems the power to start the irrigation pump sets would be available only in the dark hours of the morning (say 2 a.m.), which meant the farmer would have to get up and go to his field to start the pump in that darkness. And that explains the snake bites.

This post is not a tirade against government policies or capitalism or reforms. I believe I am too ignorant to really talk about these. But may be we can pause for a while, just be aware of what we have, and be thankful about it. And if we can, may be do something?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Economics and Organ Transplant

May be this topic is closer to my heart than the general reader, but do check out the link below for a thought-provoking discussion on whether there should be "market" for organ transplants.


Animated Laughs

I watched Ice Age 2 yesterday. And thoroughly enjoyed it. Rolled in laughter, so to speak. Which might have disappointed my mother who could never fathom what I enjoyed in cartoons but always hoped I would grow out of them. Well, I have grown out of a lot of things - both vertically as well as horizontally - but not my love for animations. :)

The affair started with Mickey and Donald Show, 9 a.m. sunday morning on DD-I. Remember? That was a perfect way to start the sunday - get ready after bath and breakfast for 30 minutes of unadulterated fun, broken in between only by jingles like "Chalo chalein hum, le kar apni, Tobu cycle-ein....." It is still quite hummable, by the way! The show would start with a strip of Mickey, usually accompanied by Goofy, Minnie or Pluto, then there would be a strip of other characters like Chip 'n Dale, and then the grand finale of my favorite character, Donald Duck. After the show got over, there was always a feeling of emptiness, mixed with regret that the next sunday was, well, as far away as it could be. When Mickey and Donald was taken off the air (I still wonder why), I was heart-broken. Sundays lost their charm. Somehow I could never enjoy the replacements like He-Man - too predictable and hardly funny.

Then things got better once again with Jungle Book. Apart from giving a generation its anthem (Chaddi pahan ke phool khila hai - to be applied especially in hostels whenever a guy was caught in short shorts, or something even shorter), the brilliant animation accompanied by some very competent dubbing held me spellbound for weeks together. And this was when I was in 12th standard - not exactly a kid. But I still remember discussing the previous day's episode with friends at school on mondays, marveling over Sher Khan's wickedness (Nana Patekar's voice, by the way) and Baloo's goofiness. Normally dubbed versions have a horrible look and feel about them, but then, this had a touch of the sublime - from Gulzar himself. What else can you ask for?

At least till you get exposed to Tom and Jerry, that is! Can animation get better than this? Never mind, it's a rhetorical question. Whatever made me laugh in Mickey and Donald, was present here in extra helping. The colors were brighter, Tom dumber than Goofy and Jerry more wicked than Donald at his worst. I don't think I can really put it in words - those who have watched these cartoons will know. At time, my heart would really go out for Tom - no one deserves an adversary like Jerry.

Then there are these full length movies that take things to a different proportion altogether. I enjoyed movies like Lion King and Aladdin, but somehow the idea of going to a theatre and watching "cartoons" never seemed particularly appealing. That was till I saw "Finding Nemo". I first watched the movie on a flight back from London to Bombay, on a really small screen, but aided by a personal audio system that allowed me to listen to some side-splitting dialogues. I was completely fascinated by the dude turtles, student fishes who went to a different school on an Exchange program, sharks who were trying hard to turn vegetarians, the clownfish who couldn't tell a joke, and of course, the extremely helpful Dori with a rather volatile short term memory. I think at last count I have seen the movie five time - in screens of all sizes - and am still going strong. Finding Nemo is not just about funny characters or mind-blowing animation, it is also about life. Sample this dialogue between Marlon (Nemo's father) and Dori:

Marlon: I promised Nemo I will never let anything happen to him.
Dori: Well, thats a funny thing to promise!

Another movie that I love not only for the laughter it generates but the beauty of its sheer concept is Monsters, Inc. Top Scarer Sulley and his Scare Assistant Mike are adorable, as is the baby Boo, but the whole idea that there is more "power" (literally and figuratively) in making people laugh rather than scream is ageless, isn't it? Beautiful concept, beautifully executed, this is a heart-warming movie. My current count here is 3 and going strong again.

Anyway, a lot has changed in animations in my own living memory - from the sunday morning 9 a.m. shows to full length movies in theatres or CDs. My kid sister, who in her childhood was a model of Victorian primness and hence objected strongly to my laughing out loud at the antics of Donald, (imagine being scolded by a 6 year old sister for laughing at cartoons!) has since gotten some sense in her head and now laughs alongside with me on the rare occasions we watch Tom and Jerry together. And now I also have company in my seven year old nephew, Jerry (named thus by me since all I could think of when I first saw him at the hospital was a small mouse - Jerry), who rattles off the timings of all the cartoon shows on all the cartoon channels, and arranges his schedule accordingly.

It pleases my heart when I find more adults unaccompanied by kids than otherwise at movie halls for these movies - like it happened yesterday. As long as we have not lost the child inside us, I guess there is still hope for humanity - or at least, for laughing out loud! :-)

P.S. I finally managed, with a help of a less technologically challenged friend, to insert links to some other blogs that I like, and also to some websites that I frequent. Check them out at your leisure.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


I did it yesterday. Bunked office. Just like that. The decision was taken after realization dawned on me that you cannot add anything to, or subtract anything from, infinity, and expect a difference. So a day playing hookey would basically make no difference to the volume of work on my lap(top), but it has the potential to recharge me for the endless monday mornings lying in wait. Now it is saturday evening, and while I am not very sure whether I am recharged enough for monday or not, what the hell, I had fun yesterday. Watched a movie, reached TGIF well in time to legitimately claim the free drink at Happy Hours, and slept at 10 p.m. In this day and age, you can't really ask for more.

I think I will do this a little more often. May be once a month?


I first met him when his father, the iron-wallah in my block, sent him with me to collect clothes to be ironed on an urgent basis (with all my planning, it is always JIT for me, and the supplier relationship has evolved accordingly). He had large, bright eyes, and it seemed to me that a promising smile was being suppressed only because he wasn't sure about its audience. So I decided to put his fears to rest and asked his name. "Balaji," came the prompt reply. I asked him which class he studied in. "Seventh," he said, and then added as a proud afterthought, "pass." That in turn brought a smile to my lips.

Then I bumped into him again today, when returning from my evening walk. It had been a few days, and I have never been good at remembering names or faces, of the same person at any rate. So I almost did not notice the kid in the lift. But then it stuck me, and I hesitantly enquired, "Balaji?" He took his time and then said, "409B?" that being my flat number. I nodded in agreement and then followed a torrent of good-natured complaint about how he had been coming again and again to my flat to check if I was there so that he could return the ironed clothes, and take some more to be ironed. I apologised for not being at home and asked him to come right away, which he did.

I think Balaji and 409B will get along fine. The former warms the latter's heart. :)


Remember Nirmala? My earlier post "Inspiring"? I met her again today. She is walking much better now, and has started swimming. Physically she will probably never be the same again, even though she will be fitter than average by far. Mentally, I am sure she is much stronger than before. She commented today on sometimes feeling "not normal". I told her that she wasn't normal anyway - she was "super-normal". By her smile, I know she will remember it.

An Update on Paritran

Remember the party? The link in the title is an interview with the candidates from Paritran that contested the recently held assembly elections in Tamil Nadu. Underscoring the difference between reel and real life, they did not win any seats. But my friend, and amateur psephologist, Sameer Nair, tells me that the percentage of votes polled by them is not at all bad for a new party. It managed 5.4% of votes in Annanagar and 6.4% in Mylapore. Thanks, Sammy, and do add more analysis if you feel up to it.