Archive for the ‘Indian’ Category

Balzac Meets Naipaul in Nepal

October 23, 2014

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1074967638?book_show_action=false&page=1

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On in-laws

June 25, 2014

Tulsis were a hilarious lot as in-laws of Mr. Biswas. It looks as if his life was spent defying the domineering Tulsis. The family being almost Matriarchal, every son-in-law joined it, to render his services to further the name of Tulsis. Being a rebel, Mr. Biswas suffered Tulsis but walked out often, unlike other sons-in-law.
In ‘The mystique messieurs’, Pandit Ganesh nearly bargains every penny out of his would be father-in-law as dowry, and does not dedicate his only book to him, many years later. The book answers the Hindu religious questions in a matter of fact way, and helps in establishing Pandit Ganesh’s political career. But he was to migrate to London.
Naipaul does well to deal with the Hindu in-laws he knew. But he spared his own English or Pakistani ones.
The in-laws have made a fortune while escaping malaria or diarrhea. I mean the beginning was as humble for them. But the father-in-law dies in a car crash. It was a trendy Japanese SUV he was driving on the highway. Dilip says his father-in-law must have looked upon his death with satisfaction, from the heavens, for his humble beginning. The bonus was a few column centimeters of news in the national daily, his car accident also secured, with the brand of the car also mentioned.
In ‘The royal enigma’ it was a disappointment, that his father-in-law could not begin a political career, for Dilip, as he might have liked to die in a crash of a private jet….

Weight and cost

May 25, 2014

He was always without any weighing equipment like all of them. I needed to dispose the newspapers and old magazines I had collected over the past few weeks. It always amazed me that the scrupulousness with which I bought them and went through carefully them trying to find something engaging, seldom was fruitful. But I never gave up. Only over the years I needed a reducing amount of sample to dismiss a story as either phony or commercial. It saved time but drew upon my energy. Every browsing was intense, as so much had to be ruled out while worrying about the miss out of the thing I needed.
And the piling up heap begins to cause an anxiety. For you need a suitable scrap-dealer to deal with. Most of them purchased it by kilograms without having weighing equipment. I would say it is always a tough bargain. The shabby looking man with plastic sacks hanging on both the sides of his bicycle, salvaged from scrap, claimed to weigh things with his eyes only. Like someone nearer to truth, he claimed he never could be wrong. And you feel embarrassed to say that your scrap weighed a few kilograms more than he was saying.
Somehow you find an agreeable weight of your scrap with him. Then cost becomes an issue. He will claim that nowadays it is not much in demand. And you thought a sack full of newspapers and magazines is not worth the cost of even a few of them. The inflation is sharp on this stuff. Your best bet is to find a story worth remembering out of it. Or it is only a pain. It has any value for the scrap-dealer only, once you discard it.
But at times you may find a story around it.
The scrap-dealer I had chosen was an old man. He was more energetic than his younger competitors to appear in the street often. Shabby jacket over his dirty dhoti and the slippers clicking in his feet made him look ridiculous, under the all white hair. But he had a mischievous smile playing in his wrinkled face. It was a signal of hope. You cannot do without it. So you looked for him always, instead of the restless youngsters. Some of them thought they will get your scrap without paying anything.
The Old man returned after a few months this time in the street. I waited for him, while the heap grew bigger in my apartment. Add to it were the books and note-books my younger son disposed, after he entered the next class in his school.
He surprised me by offering double than the cost he was paying. I asked if the cost has gone up recently. He said yes with his mysterious smile. Also he weighed my goods with his eyes much higher than I had expected. It was another surprise. But it was long since I had stopped arguing with him over these matters. I thought his effort to make ends meet at his age was a courageous show. For a lot many give up by then. I discovered that even I was beginning to lose energy recently. Though, at times, he asserted that he weighs higher my scrap and pays me higher as well, than his other customers. I felt irritated on his assertion of this nature.
On occasions, frustrated as his attitude, I sold my scrap to other traders. But he kept on calling the street near me. And I returned to him always. On every such reconciliation of us he complained that my neighbors never sell him their scrap.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

A recent visit to a street in Putlisadak left me sad. I went there after many years to see how things were. I expected to meet a few people I knew and talk about the old days when I too lived in that street. But as soon I entered the narrow street, I was shocked to find that there was nothing left I had a memory of. The buildings that I was thinking of were gone. It was a horror waiting for me to discover. The faces I hoped to see were not there.
Everything had become so different and new. This kind of newness had always pushed me inside further. I craved for stability in life, but there has always been a surprise to come to terms with. It has been so outside as well as within. So much so, it begins to feel like a continuous agitation. Coiling inwards could be the only response one can think of, instead of becoming a part of a change that replaces people and homes for the reason that the price of real estate property only increases.
One of the recourses is to see the places and people who have withstood the time. But they are few and mostly away from you, where the worth of human relations and emotions is as important as the price of other matters. So finding some kind of stability is what heart looks for. Caring a little if you are actually gaining or losing in other terms like money.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Curiously, I asked his age this time.

‘It is now sixty-four,’ he said, smiling as ever. He was much older to me. I felt a little more curious for his smile even at his age.

‘You have returned after a few months this time,’ I asked, unable to stop myself. Asking such questions invited him to assert if I was only profiting out of the business. So I was anxious as well. I wanted to be near him for his stability and yet far: for I had a business too, to do with him.

‘I had gone for pilgrimage this time,’ he said with a broadening smile. And he was almost laughing soon. ‘Badrinath and Rhishikesh, I had seen them both, by the grace of god.’

‘Oh, you are a lucky man.’ I had to say. I marveled at his piety. He lived a very hard life undaunted and was true to his faith. He was almost untouched by any grief or loss. Or he had overcome these feelings. He never betrayed if he had a qualm.

‘But I could not go to Keadrnath, as it was higher in the hills and I was short of time and money,’ he further said. It was not only to look polite. He genuinely thought so, I guessed.

“That is fine. You should talk about what you have done. Why the regret for what you could not do?’ I asked. We had agreed on the price and weight of the scrap and he was briskly putting them in his sack. he stopped his hands.

‘What to do, life is like that. I have fulfilled the dream of my lifetime by going on this pilgrimage. It happened suddenly, when on reaching my village I discovered that many people from there were going. I too joined them. I thought it was a lifetime’s opportunity. I have no wife, as she died a long time ago. I worked to grow up my two grandsons and two granddaughters. I have to collect the dowry for my granddaughters. In India, in our caste, marrying them without a dowry is impossible. You still do not have this ugly system here in Nepal. But I am afraid it will come here too. I need one lack rupee for each of them. It could be more for a better groom, who is in some formal job,’ he said.

‘But you have two grandsons too. They will certainly bring a dowry from their marriages. So you will not be at a loss’ I tried to assert.

‘Yes that is true,’ He smiled. ‘My son too comes to this street. He too is a scrap-dealer like me. But since his family is at home he is often away. So I work hard. I will be not going home throughout the summer, which is very hot in our place. It takes a full day by bus to reach there and costs a lot too,’ he said.

‘You are paying me much higher than earlier. I think it was six rupee a kilo then now you say it is ten,’ I checked.

‘Yes. The rate of scrap has increased a little. Also, having visited the holy places like Badrinath and Rhishikesh, I cannot short change my customers now,’ He added.

I had nothing to say.

The royal enigma

May 8, 2014

Dilip wants to release his sex video, before he releases his first book. This is how it will work for writers too, he thinks. Nawin scoffs at his idea of writing and finds his fondness for the stuffed animal bodies in a library in Kathmandu repulsive. Both are aging without having made any mark on the literary world. The world is in a literal flux, with terrorist attacks and attacks on terrorist targets dominating headlines every day. In The Royal Enigma, Krishna Bhatt tries to take a note of it all. He looks baffled at times, clearly overwhelmed by the enormity of world and people around. At times he is successful in telling a story sensitively. Like that of an old woman, alone taking care of her middle aged, mentally invalid son. It all makes an engaging story, however.

Mandela and Mugabe

April 29, 2014

Mugabe was opposite of Mandela. Mandela allowed the colonials to control the wealth and resources of the country, while the natives had their freedom. Also he made some humiliating compromises in TRC, which allowed the most heinous crimes of the apartheid regime go unacknowledged. For it he won the Nobel and other accolades. Mugabe did the opposite. He snatched the wealth and resources from the colonials and distributed them among natives. Recently, it became public that he gets only four thousand dollars a month as salary and has no account in a Swiss bank. He rightly said that he deserves the Nobel prize. The academic world can not ignore Mugabe for long. The way he survived the protracted economic sanctions will be a subject of research. Also, many former colonies should take a leaf out of his book. To learn how to become truly independent. Any University worth its name must hurry to honour him.

The post colonial history of Zimbabwe is unlike any other country. This unique experiment of doing away with colonial institutions and replacing them with indigenous should be studies closely. For it the Zimbabwean should be proud of their country and its leader. Having a dispassionate debate about this nation is almost impossible as the economic sanctions making life of the country arduous. Mugabe survived all it. So he is no common leader. As I said, in the times ahead it will become more obvious.

An IMF man

April 6, 2014

Of all the people, a former IMF official is now the governor of Reserve Bank of India. It sounds very intriguing that English media is trying to build an image for him. Kejariwal will find a lot of things to clean, if he gets into power.

Arvind Kejariwal and Indian general elections

April 1, 2014

Arvind Kejariwal represented a change in Indian politics. He has shown the courage to join it unlike his mentor Anna Hajare. Hajare has the probity of a saint around him, which can be only compared to that of Gandhi. But he has shown no inclination to join active politics and is happy to remain an activist. Also, he has not fully accepted Arvind as his protegee.
A problem with former bureaucrats is that they turn to populism in no time. Kejariwal too offered to reduce the cost of power to half, once he became the chief minister of Delhi. (An office he could not retain for long, for the political imperative of a country like India stretched him too thin.) Power is chronically deficient in India. So it leaves a gap in his understanding of Indian politics and it needs. Because he can not outdo the existing politicians in the competition of looking more populist.
Elections are due in India soon. After nearly seventy years of democracy, it has roughly seven hundred million people living below poverty line, though it’s media prefers to talk about the seventy billionaires it also has. Nearly two trillion dollars have escaped from India to safer heavens in EU nations or the USA, while the media here talked about the benefits of a free economy and reforms, during the last twenty five years. Had there been policies to prevent that, the picture of Indian economy has not looked so poor. So the list of policy failures, deliberate or otherwise, could be very long.
But this can not go on like it for long. Politicians like Kejariwal inspire hope among the people tired of endless unfolding of corruption scandals, irrespective of the party in power at the center. India matters to the world for its economic potential and its survival so far as a democracy, in spite of a stunning diversity. Rightfully, it is getting the due attention in recent days. The outcome of its elections are of seminal importance to the world powers, engaged in an ugly confrontation in Ukraine now.
May be, if Indian people vote him into political significance that may prove lasting, in the next general elections, Arvind kejariwal has a potential to create change in a society which so badly needs it. It is asking too much from a single person but often a single person makes all the difference in India. Young and charming, and untainted so far, Arvind has a lot to learn and nothing to lose.
Had he not been there, the Indian elections might have looked routine this time as well.

A fantastic novel that will keep the reader glued to the pages

March 21, 2014

http://www.amazon.com/review/R3DU7D33R0HCRT/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B005Q8QCTY&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=133140011&store=digital-text

Press freedom

March 13, 2014

India is a little ahead of China in Press freedom. But BBC is a sold out thing.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2014/11/ws-indiapressforsale.html

Rich, poor and democracy

March 8, 2014

There are 700m poor for 70 Indian billionaires. So much for democracy and welfare economics of Amartya.