Boo boo in select company

Boo boo in select company
Something to say?

Sunday, 28 March 2021

The Jab War

 The Jab War

I have difficulty believing what I am hearing about the vaccine war between Europe and the UK. Is it a residual animosity from Brexit? I feel we, the rich nations, so to speak, are suffering from tunnel vision, in this case, turned inwards, so that we only see our needs.
A great part of the world has no chance of getting their people vaccinated any time soon. And, even if they get a supply from the WHO, will the vaccines reach the remote villages in Rwanda or Burkina Faso? I doubt even the remote villages in vaccine-rich India will get vaccinated, given how separated they are from the life of the country. I hope I am wrong.
I grew up in the war years --when Cholera, Bubonic plague and Small pox were endemic in Keralam. In front of my home was an abandoned, half- built house -- the owner was in Singapore and could not get back to India because of the war raging in Malaya. A family of beggars occupied the veranda. There was a pond in the compound providing them with water -- I learned my swimming in it, using dry coconuts as floats -- and they cooked on stones abandoned by the builders. Two years later an epidemic of plague killed most of them, until just two young men were left. The corpses were collected by the Municipal waste-van, and the men walked away.
Achamma, my paternal grandmother, filled coconut shells with cow-dung and lined the walkway to our house. She believed it kept the evil spirits and all infections at bay. The local Council sent the vaccinators around and they jabbed us with pen-like objects with a circular serrated edge. It was quite painful. Achamma had lost her eldest son to smallpox when he was twenty years old, and she was determined to protect us -- with cow-dung.
When Cholera happened, we started boiling our water from the well. In spite of all that, many in the poorer parts of the town still died. We held our breaths, said our prayers, and waited for the devastation to end.
Much as we do now? Except for the cow-dung. If there is a time to show solidarity, it is now. Yet, we squabble and threaten and make silly noises. Europe threatens us with a vaccine blockade. We forget that our world is now one -- we cannot really isolate ourselves very effectively.
I feel grace has absconded from our lives and a reminder is appropriate. If all of us start squabbling and grabbing, we are irredeemable. Our humanity is sacrificed to our selfishness. We need to regain our perspective of how minuscule we are in the larger picture.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Betrayal

Betrayal of our Constitution

Today, again, I see on Facebook the bile that is coming out against the Muslims in India as a matter of course. I feel like closing down my Facebook account - I don't want to see this daily nastiness. BJP and that awful Sangh have a great deal to answer for.

Now, I have to make it clear -- I am not a Muslim. Religion-wise I call myself a nothing person. I don't practise any. If religion helps others negotiate this,what can be sometimes, a confusing world, I am glad it is of use to them.

The Sangh is trying to bully a minority community, provoke it constantly so that they have a legitimate excuse for gratuitous violence. Please find something else useful to do, Sanghis. Leave the Muslims, the Christians and all such alone.

The confusing thing is, all these friends and family members that I know and care about, kind and considerate folk, like to have a go at the Muslims. These are mainly well-educated, well-read people. Have they no respect for our constitution that enshrines equality as a central principle? 

Equality for all had to be fought for -- don't throw it away. My father was an activist that helped the cause of temple entrance for all. He was the person who supported the first Muslim Municipal chairman in Thalassery.

My neighbours were the Mukkattil house, a Malabar Mapla family that remained great neighbours all my life. In any case, what have the Muslims done to these guys who spout hatred?

Is this a form of entertainment for the idle rich Hindu. I say, take a laxative. And when you sit in your sandalwood-and-jasmine scented puja room, remember that the Muslims are also an integral part of our India. Even your own huge pantheon of Hindu Gods will disapprove of your lack of compassion.


 

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Nostalgia

 Nostalgia

Anand Nair

 

Nostalgia: sounds like a medical term, like neuralgia. Makes me think about what the word actually means to me.

   So, I dug into my inglorious past, for places, people, events that I long to remember, to return to, albeit briefly, in my mind. Like all good Maths teachers, I started from the beginning, or as far into the beginning as my memory reached.

   Childhood? A time to forget quickly. 1942 and thereabouts -- war time in a household with two other children, one old aunt trying to make a tiny income stretch to the end of the month – and then she had to start all over again the next month. Rice, sugar and kerosene were rationed, the only wage-earner in the house, my father, was enjoying the hospitality of His Majesty, George the sixth, for daring to line up behind Gandhi, Nehru and the rest of the bevy of activists, who had the impertinence to believe that the British should get out, (Quit India was the slogan of the day) and India left to self-destruct, in whatever manner it wished.

   Forget that time quickly and move on. School and College were uneventful – a succession of books, notes and exams. I remember some excellent lecturers in Malayalam and English Literature, who managed to make me, for the rest of my life, totally dependent on words and books to inspire me. But, do I want to go back to that time? A resounding ‘NO.’ This was a time when others made decisions for me: what was respectable to wear, say…

   I got married, as all Indian girls were meant to do then, in 1957, to a man who was vetted and picked for me by my family. The poor man never realised what he was walking into. The less said about my married life, the better. Suffice it is to say that in the first ten years of my marriage I did not read a single book.

   The small beach near my home in the little town of Thalassery, on the south-western coast of India, was peaceful and let me think and grow. The many places I lived in after my marriage – Colombo, Jaffna, Ikot Ekpene in the Nigeria of the early sixties, the totally westernised Ndola of the late sixties in Kaunda’s Zambia, the small Kyambogo Hill on which the Teachers College perched, in Kampala…were interesting, different. Makeni in the north of Sierra Leone, hot, dusty, friendly, was home for six years, but it soon outgrew me. They were all way-stations and I was glad to move on.

   It is a little pitiable that I cannot remember anywhere, anything, or anybody, that makes me glow with nostalgia. Are there many others like me? Or is it that some essential empathy was always lacking in me?


Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Our Royals!!!

 Our Royals!!!

I am your original republican -- don't like the idea of monarchs anywhere. So, forgive me, if I take a clear look at our monarchy in the light of all the recent shenanigans. I blame our press -- when they are not actively covering up for the Tories' most recent blatant act of corruption or cronyism, they are promoting one or the other member of our royal family.

   Do I need to know the details of the births in the family, the illnesses, the clothes, the foreign trips? I think: go forth and do whatever you like and leave us alone.

   As with the Tories the Press seem to have an agenda handed out to them:The last few months were spent seeking cracks in the person of Meghan. Harry marrying a non-white, especially a non-white with opinions, for Heavens Sake!  Harry was my favourite of the Royal brats, but he was hounded out efficiently. 

   Not a great lot to choose from, them royals. I have a sneaking regard for the queen, her devotion to duty and her unflappable character when the whole royal edifice is crumbling around her. However, her determination to perpetuate royalty in this country is off-putting.

   I also feel a little sorry for her -- Can't she see what will be left when she goes? Charles? As they say in the U S A, God Bless England. I am satisfied he will support the green revolution and hopefully surrender his motor car (s) and go about in a carriage and foursome. But command respect from the average person in the U K after his watery opinions, his past amatory performances? Not a hope. 'One' might have to do a lot of mea culpa ing.

   Then there is William, who always reminds me of buttermilk -- diluted, not milk and not quite yoghurt. Nothing to it, it is probably harmless. And his entourage? The less said the better. The wife is almost pretty, the children are divine... 

   Andrew is something I am trying hard to forget. Let's not go there. Edward stays out of the limelight; so does Anne, more or less. Those two know how to survive without censure. I am on their side.

   Harry had spark, humour, a will to serve, and compassion, but he is now self-exiled, more or less. He got out just in time. I hope he knows how to keep out of sight of the rabid press. The Oprah interview was probably a bad decision.

Now, if David Lammy wanted to be King for a week or two, I wouldn't mind, so long as we voted him in. But any country that votes Boris in must get its head examined. It is along way to Lammy.

   How does one stop a monarchy going on for generations of stodge? Retire them with pensions like India did to its myriad rulers. Now, there's a thought. Then they could even stand for elections and get defeated.

   









Thursday, 25 February 2021

The Test Cricket Fiasco

 The Cricket Test Fiasco

I am British Indian. Yet, I would normally support India wherever they played Test cricket. Norman Tebbit was right -- my loyalties in this respect are very suspect. Most of the time it is O K; however when India plays England, we have a Lakshman Rekha down the middle of our sitting-room; my daughter strenuously and loudly supporting England and I equally stubbornly rooting for India.

However, today both of us had a sense of anti-climax, the test started with a whimper yesterday and ended today before the whimper could quite finish. India is celebrating victory, a victory, which seems to me, rather short of anything to celebrate. I feel sorry for the people of India who took five days' leave and paid a fortune by the standards of the country to watch the match.

Now, India takes its cricket seriously; the whole country holds its breath and grandmothers like me crawl out of our multiple blankets to watch the T V.

I went to a one-day, fifty over match once; this was the notorious one when match-fixing became a serious issue. Several famous Indian cricketers got banned after that. I bought myself a front-seat at the Kochi international stadium; international matches are hardly ever played in Kochi, so the occasion was unique. It was one thousand rupees a head, and I had to buy my companion's ticket too, because a thousand rupees was serious money in the India of 1998. 

At one point,India's captain Azharuddin was fielding right in front of me, a metre from the boundary line, and I felt I had got my money's worth. India made 300 runs in its innings, replying to South Africa's 300, and the match was declared a draw. The teams went inside and then --  filed out again! Apparently the last over should have had one more ball; India hit and ran blindly, and got one more run to win. Something askew, rotten in the state of Kochi, I remember thinking.

Today, however, both India and England could not manage the bowling. The totals were laughable. My daughter and I wonder what the Narendra Modi Ahmedabad pitch was like. It destroyed the game of cricket.

What we watched today was not cricket -- It was an impostor. False, off-putting and disgraceful. England need shed no tears for losing it. 

Sunday, 14 February 2021

The tRump20 virus

The tRump virus20

Once you let this virus in, it is very hard to get rid of. There are no vaccinations yet for this horror. And it spreads among the illiterate, dumb and pig-headed so fast that it can destroy a whole country in months. Especially if you throw in a few cowardly, self-seeking, arse-licking senators for embellishment.

   I am desperately sad for the people of America, particularly my clever, funny, friendly, kind-hearted, friends. Everyone knew that the Senate would acquit Rump. Right-wing representatives have no interest in country or justice -- all they care about is themselves, their pockets, their connections that help sustain their pockets, and as a last resort, their Party. There are moments I doubt even that.

   Mitch McConnel is unbelievable. He can argue two extreme, opposite ends of an argument for years, without any sense of irony. After all he has been doing this for ever. He is quite shameless. I sometimes think he was the real Potus while Rump was twittering away.

   The question now is, what next? How does the country contain the virus? Impeachment over, and Rump has bounced back with his methane-powered emanations from his nether end. The guys who stormed the seat of power on the 6th of January have no individual thinking to do. That kind of crowd just wait to do whatever unholy destruction they are told to do next. They move like senseless Hippos on weed. And Rump provides the weed. 

   And then I keep coming back to the 74 (?) millions who voted Rump in, four years ago. To make America Great Again by erasing law and order and all semblance of good governance, and also by discarding the diplomacy that sustained foreign relations for decades. We British have a similar jackass too; we voted him into power with a huge majority. He is also trying to rewrite the law. In passing he has engineered us out of Europe. As disasters go, that too is irreversible

   The problem is that leaders like Rump and Johnson don't care for any person or country -- they have only themselves in mind. They are sociopaths and are dangerous.

    `

Thursday, 11 February 2021

I'm Going on a --

 Summer Holiday

All this talk about summer holiday -- the journalists are nagging away for it, the businesses are demanding it, and I wonder, can the British people be that foolish?? Forget the virus doing its evil dance all over the world and fly happily into its net?

   Growing up in India as I did, the idea of a holiday was not even a remote dream in my Keralam days. When anyone got leave from work they got on a train and went to their parental homes. Indeed, if we travelled anywhere, it was to visit family or friends. It was only when I came to live in England that I realized that going on holiday was an annual ritual here, which most families -- if they could afford it -- looked forward to. There was a whole corporate sector devoted to it, families saved up for it through the year. And, when they came back from these annual pilgrimages, they came with snapshots, tan and enough table-talk for a whole year.

   I couldn't see the point of going away to live for a week or two in a hotel room or a 'home-stay.' To go a long way, to sleep in an unfamiliar bed, in a strange town, spend a great deal of money in the process, and then return home with, if you are lucky, a tan (for me, the joke of the year, probably, as I am not white) to show for it, which may last a month at most. It took me a while to realize that this is a carefully cultivated 'legend' as Hariri calls it in his 'Sapiens,' where he lists quite a few of these legends -- Gods, religions, banks... some like banks quite useful. This holiday legend benefits airlines, hotels, B and Bs, and restaurants. I can understand, to a degree, why people wish to run away from a British winter, but why go anywhere when the gardens are ablaze with colour, the sun is shining and one can pack away the winter regalia of caps, coats and cardigans. 

   I went on holiday twice in my life with my daughter and granddaughter. The little one was full of exciting stories about all the wondrous places her friends had been to over summer. Some even ended up in Kerala, where I started from! So we rented a holiday flat in Salubrenia, in Spain, for a week. I think I spent most of it on the little balcony of the flat. I read, which I could have done at home, I cooked in the little kitchenette, which I could do much better at home. Told myself I was unadventurous and boring.

   We repeated that in Ilfracombe in Devon another time. Again, lovely place, but I preferred home. I counted the days, slept badly and thought, 'never again.' In my working days I had to travel to, and live in, many interesting countries. I consoled myself that I was just fed up of travelling again, can't be my lack of initiative.

   I am really respectful of the pandemic out there. I don't want anyone to travel anywhere until it is safe to do so. And we must close our borders tight so that the invisible monsters cannot sneak in in their various mutations.When the business sector and the Press and T V do their committed daily clamour to remove all restrictions on travel, I hope that Johnson and Hancock will continue to resist the noise and do the one thing that they have got nearly right in the course of the pandemic, while the vaccinations cover the entire population of the U K. I wish they'd close down our borders properly. Maybe they are waiting out that repeated three-week lag they allow for the virus to get ahead of us.

   One year without a holiday will not kill us, but this year, a holiday just might.