Posts Tagged ‘silk list’

Hotel Karnataka: Kingsley Jegan Joseph

June 21, 2016

On a dark desi highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of parottas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, saw a lorry headlight
My eyes grew squinty and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway;
Wearing nariyal tel
And I was thinking to myself,
“I’d like Pav Bhaji or maybe some Bhel”
Then she brought me the menu, but current went away
There were voices from the bathroom door,
I thought I heard them say…

Welcome to the Hotel Karnataka
Oottaa aayithaa? (Oottaa aayithaa?)
Oottaa aayithaa?
Ready full-meals at the Hotel Karnataka
Any time of year (Any time of year)
You can find it here

They had tiffin and full-meals (no sharing with friends)
Akki Rotis and Neer Dosas, even – Gobi Manchurians
Maddur Vade and Mudde, Soooft Dosa Set,
Some meals to remember, sambar I’d like to forget!

So I called up the waiter,
“Swalpa neer kodappa”
He said, “We don’t have enough to give, if you’re from south of Cuddapah”
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say…

Welcome to the Hotel Karnataka
Oottaa aayithaa? (Oottaa aayithaa?)
Oottaa aayithaa
Order full-meals at the Hotel Karnataka
Unlimited rice (Unlimited rice)
PaLya on the side

She asked “What’re you eating?”
Said, “I love your thunder thighs”
She said, “Chaplili hoduthini naayi”, and rolled her big brown eyes
And on the hotel TV
Dr. Raj is tempting fate
It’s too early if you come today
But tomorrow? That’s too late!

Last thing I remember, I was
Running to the door
I had to Google Maps it back
To Marathalli by four
“Relax, ” said the watch man,
“This is Bangalore traffic, see?
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!”

Caring for children….

March 28, 2012

My friend, Saritha Rai, has started a new fortnightly column in the New York Times online-

click here to read her article on day care, and night care

I posted this on a mailing list to which I belong, and here are two responses:

(he doesn’t post on LJ)

For the heck of it I post a slightly edited version of something I said
elsewhere. The language was designed to trigger particular switches in the
target audience 😀

Children need mummies and daddies to grow up as healthy well adjusted
individuals. The institution of marriage evolved for just this purpose and it
was aided by joint families. The institution of marriage unfortunately
trampled on women’s freedom and rights.

The women’s rights movement and the desire to “set free” female sexuality from
the burden of childbirth led to the development of contraception and laws that
dissolved marriage more easily. That in turn led to societies in which
multiple sexual partners for male and female became easier as part of freedom.
Single mothers by choice also became more common without having to face
criticism from society for having a baby outside of marriage. But children are
themselves an economic burden and a restriction of freedom as is marriage. So
couples without marriage and without kids are the ultimate in financial and
physical happiness. This is the ultimate freedom. Marriage and children are
bonds that reduce physical, emotional and financial freedom. Freedom from these
bonds constitutes modernity.

Archaic and oudated societies such as Hindu society encourage freedom
restricting ideas like “Dharma”. Dharma demands the bondage of marriage and
children as a duty. Dharma restricts freedom and by insisting that couples
have children. This is a disaster for individual freedom and wealth.

I am sure the state can look after children as happens in advanced countries
and old people can go to old age homes courtesy the state. This gives people a
lot more freedom. Sexual freedom. Financial freedom. Freedom to travel. etc.
Every individual has to decide for himself what he wants. You could choose the
route of bondage and outdated laws and restriction of freedom. Or you could
choose a free society. The former conforms to dharma, the latter is adharma.

And from (he no longer posts in LJ, like so many others):

The many liberated Communist states have their favorite coping phrases
to describe their transition to a market economy and its effect on
society. When human and economic dreams soared and crashed
unpredictably, and when the emptiness of communism was replaced by the
emptiness of capitalism. When chaos prevailed.

India went through an even greater transition in the last 70 some
independent years, second only to the Chinese cultural revolution, and
yet it’s gone unnoticed. Like the silent killer of the night,
inconspicuous yet deadly.

Under the literate tradition of Raja Ram Mohan Roy and later the Nehru
– Gandhi dynasty, a cultural and western educated elite operating
presumably centuries ahead in their thought than their obedient
compatriots, three hundred million people used to an alien hand on the
leash, allowed themselves to be led.

India leaped from a classical age of temples, society, rituals, castes
and traditions headlong into the bureaucratic equality and rationed
guarantees of socialism and then the shunned embraces of market
capitalism. For a vocal democracy capable of great bloodshed this was
a rather boring bureaucratic revolution.

With India’s historical disdain for the humanities, neither historian
nor sociologist was around to fully record or explain the scale of the
destruction. And thus, inside the heads of most upwardly mobile urban
Indians today there’s a very poorly formed sense of society and
family, and an even less formed sense of self. Since the revolution
was never announced other than as a fait accompli, most Indians never
fully grasped the enormity of the change, nor of the havoc it was
going to wreak on family, hearth and home.

One look at the classics will tell you that it was a sin against
tradition to cross the oceans, or travel other than when forced by
trade or religion. Thus as a classical society India has always been
ill prepared to deal with personal mobility. In the socialist years,
if you moved across the country it was usually for a government job,
and the State played parent and guardian to its favorite sons, if it
willed them back and forth across hill, valley and plain it also
offered useful excuses and lodgings that preserved morality. There was
a fatalistic appeal that this held to the Hindu traditions, if the
master willed, who was the servant to object after all.

Yet when the capitalist chapter began Indian society didn’t really
have any of the tools to deal with the consequent personal mobility,
not even the helpful fatalistic attitude. After all it is clear that
personal decisions are being made here.

The personal sphere that has remained silent for millennia in Indian
society, a slave to the family and society is now unlocked, and
instead of fighting the forces that caused it to be liberated – and of
what use would that be, the enemy is invisible and long gone – the
Indians fight each other. Father against son, family against freedoms,
ambition against tradition.

Dharma vs adharma is phrasing it unhelpfully. India needs to learn to
cope as a nation with this new balance of the personal, the familial
and the social. Sadly there isn’t any conscious public debate of any
significance, nor is it feasible any more to lead by the leash. So it
plays out in a billion internecine conflicts and clashes.

As the Americans say, it will get worse before it gets better.

My response to this:

Cheeni…that was so impressive. I had not thought of it as a cultural revolution, and that is, of course, what it has been.

But, Cheeni, you criticise Shiv for terming it “dharma vs adharma”….but when you call it a “silent killer of the night” (I remembered Bhopal when I read that)…you too, take a judgemental stance.

I cannot believe that the old system was always good; the concept of family before self, of duty before self, did, in my opinion, lead to a lot of bad practices, and deep unhappiness. This was especially so when a person did not believe implicitly in this concept.

For better or worse (obviously, you two feel it was for worse), the change has come to stay. We are now cocooned in individuality; but yet, I feel that we are quite connected to our families and to our friends.

The question of “who will care for the children” has always been a complex one, and continues to be so. I, for one, would rather have parents drop off their children at a night care, even if they are partying, than either drag them to unsuitable places, or stay at home with them and vent their frustration on them. I have seen this happen so often in the old family system. A constant refrain of “I gave up a, b, c, for you, be grateful to me” is like the Chinese water torture….a constant drip, drip, drip of mental tyranny.

What is old is familiar, but for that reason, it cannot be held to be universally good. We just have to accept that many parents today cannot quit their jobs and be with *their* parents; they have to lead a lifestyle different from their parents’ and they have to accept solutions about child care, that are different.

Hmm…I wish I was as articulate as Cheeni or Shiv is…I’m just trying to say, we have to accept the new realities and not hanker after the old, seeing them through the rose-tinted glasses of selective memory and hallowed traditions.

Society, and lifestyles, continue to evolve, and often at an accelerated pace….we are on a roller-coaster ride, and do not really know where we, and our children, are headed.

The FoU meet, and some negative thoughts about elitism, particularly English elitism

November 24, 2006

Have been travelling so much that I still haven’t got my house (literally) in order, or the pictures on to Flickr to post about the JLR Bird Survey or the wonderful trip to Dandeli…. but meanwhile, I attended the second Silk-List meeting yesterday. I met some very interesting people….and I always like meeting new people, and this time it was truly a pleasure to meet thaths, finally, after a long period of LJ contact.  And contrary to what themadman said,in our discussion about what “home” means (that kept straying to what “friends” mean) my experience of meeting people whom I have got to know over email, chat, or LJ is…that they are almost exactly what I expect.  Casey O’Donnell….it was a real pleasure getting to know you too!

I was, however, less than delighted with the venue, “Fireflies”,sorry, jace! The property is very beautiful and green, with birds like the rose-ringed parakeets, bee-eaters, barbets and kingfishers in evidence,  and the architect who designed the buildings has done a great job. It is, apparently, a secular ashram; but if they ARE renting it out to people, the standard of service and the food should have been vastly better than what it was. And it was NOT nice of the owners to  let loose–without warning– two very large and one smaller dog in the guest areas, which then stayed with us ALL the time,  without bothering to find out if the guests might be allergic to,  dislike, or fear dogs, all of which are common occurrences. (Luckily, all of us  who were there yesterday liked dogs.)

Then there was the local who came into the property shortly after our arrival, told udhay that he (Udhay) had run over his pigeon, and demanded Rs 2500 as compensation. Udhay’s fluent Kannada and his general stance of ” I will not take crapola from you” made sure that the guy went off quietly, but it was not good that the management at the resort allowed this guy to come in and make this scene. It seems to me as if this is a regular happening and perhaps more peaceable guests might be fleeced.

I must also mention that I lost two five-hundred rupee notes out of my handbag; on two occasions, the room in which we all had our stuff was unlocked, and when I saw my handbag had been shifted, I didn’t think anything of it until I opened it this morning to take some money out….I had taken the notes from the bank just before driving down, so there is no possibility of a mistake. That sets my opinion about Fireflies….a secular ashram where the inmates “revere the Earth as the first mother” (to quote their brochure) is not so hot in reality.

But then, the company was good (though I had to leave after the discussion on the topic of “Home” was done with), and it was nice to sit and engage in that most beloved of wild animals, the Great Himalayan Yak! We all yakked and it is so nice to listen to what others have to say, and air one’s own opinions too, and be listened to in turn!

I would be less than honest, however, if I did not confide that there was a sense of elitism that subtly pervaded the air….as I have said often, I am uncomfortable when anyone feels superior for any reason, be it intelligence, wealth, good looks, or social status–or knowledge of a language, which I refer to below. I think a superiority complex is an inferiority complex in disguise. But oh well, I don’t get bothered by this….I really enjoyed meeting people face-to-face, and I also think that probably the more intense discussions would have taken place after my departure.

Another strong impression I have had ( at several meetings, not just of Silk, but also, at, for example, Ranga Shankara, or Alliance, and so on ) was of the importance of  fluency in  English, knowing all the “buzz-phrases”….and making all the “with-it” hand-gestures that go with those expressions. I saw these being used all the time,  in the films made by two anthropologists that we watched, about the IT culture in India (well, it was about 3 companies in Bangalore), shot by two anthropologists, of which there are a fair number on the Silk list. I was wondering how people who do not have such a command over English manage…do they pick up all the jargon and the “cool” gestures as they go along? I feel that if one uses these, one can give the impression of erudition without necessarily having it….maybe I am being cynical, but certainly, a very intelligent  but not-knowing-English and less-than-highly-articulate person would have felt a little out of place at  a gathering like yesterday’s …and the loss would have been ours, because we would not have heard some insights that would have been no less interesting for being “not in English”.While I strongly support English as a great link language, I feel we are falling ever deeper into the trap of “English elitism”, with the assumption that the person who is fluent in English and articulate  is somehow superior to the one who isn’t.