Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Guess! The Flower? and India Visit - A Synopsis
Got back on what was recorded as the hottest day of the year around here. Did not feel that way though. Jetlag not too bad, unusual wakeup hours (made me get a headstart on house cleanup), homesickness are all there. See you all soon with a step by step of a popular Indian sweet.
In the meantime guess what the flower above is? It feels like velvet to the touch and is right there on my dad's balcony.
India Visit - A Synopsis
Though we visit India pretty much every year there is not one time that we are not amazed at the changes that are happening there. There has been been tremendous progress inspite of the politicians and bureaucrats. All this with just a fraction of funds that eventually reach the people. Just for a second imagine if half of the funds reach the people the progress that can be made. Most advanced countries would be on their knees begging.
I spent the bulk of my time in TamilNadu which is considered one of the better run states in India. I shudder to think of Bihar for instance. Politicians just seem to be getting more corrupt and dynastic politics worse and flourishing. Rahul Gandhi's lunch at Andhra Bhavan in the Parliament is considered front page news! TamilNadu is treated as personal property by the family that runs the state. With the northern part of the state bequeathed to one son, south to another son, daughter a plumb appointment and not to forget the numerous relatives who are thriving. The clincher was his announcement while dedicating his house to charity that besides his home and a few acres of ancestral land he had not accumulated wealth during his tenure in power! Everybody knows that is a white lie and take it in stride and considered business as usual. A rough statistic, 28 lakhs crores(I have never used lakhs crores together like that before) of rupees in the Swiss banks mostly black money and it is anybody's guess to whom the bulk of the money belongs.
Traffic is a nightmare. It takes forever to get from one place to another. Every place is crowded. All these combine to reduce the quality of life but it also reflects economic progress doesn't? The glittering shops have more stuff than ever available to be purchased by the masses. The department stores (a la Walmart or Target) is filled to the brim with cheap Chinese goods. Shopping has lost its charm to an extent just like here in the US. Too many choices and not much quality. The stores that are old fashioned and charming are the ones that sell kitchen utensils. Even these stores are not immune to Chinese goods. I buy a slotted spoon and carry it all the way here to find it is a Chinese product that I could have easily bought here.
Economic prosperity brings with it dangers whose effects are not easy to reverse. The alarming rate at which farm land is being converted to plots and sold is scary. The lack of water, repeated failure of monsoons makes it harder and harder to make a living out of farming. The high price of pulses and news that food shortage in the near future is directly tied to these decisions. But who is raising the alarm? The few who do are drowned out by business interests whose profits are to a large extent tied to the natural resources and people they exploit. The case of one of the feuding Ambani brothers is taken up in Parliament by a prominent politician. A personal wealth quarrel becomes a topic of discussion in the Parliament!
Cell phones are ubiquitous. Everybody texts but for a SMS challenged me the learning had to be quick. A friend asks me text her my phone numbers and I ask her if it is OK to email! The tailor asks me text her the order number and I cop out and explain to her that I am not familiar with it. My mom's ancient cell phone made texting a tad bit harder but I was determined to get the hang of it and I finally did and felt proud. The number of junk texts that land in your cell phone Inbox is enormous but incoming text and phone calls are free. Thank God for small mercies right?
Getting admission in schools - let us not even go there. Some things never change.
"The soul of India is in its villages" Mahatma Gandhi's views on villages is true even more so today. It is easy to get broadband connection with just a phone call but the pace of life and traditions has remained the same as it had many many years ago. The one and only life I truly miss besides family.