21 February, 2013

Pilot Rapper Rapped for Rapping ....

(Pic courtesy : manjul.com via Google)
Hmmm …. Came across this news article today about an Air India pilot who got into trouble for creating and singing a rap about the company.  Needless to say, he has been slapped with a gag order by Air India and his job now hangs in balance.  The senior officials are apparently going to look into this matter and then “decide his fate”.
Yes, he has indeed used a lot of expletives in his rap, he has some sexist remarks about the stewardesses who fly with Air India but most importantly, he has blamed the senior management for the poor state that the airline is in, today.  He has squarely pointed an accusatory finger at the Union for not taking up issues like salary not being paid on time and pilots being grounded for long periods of time etc.  Other than the sexist remarks where he calls the stewardesses “60 year olds and aunties”, the rest of the rap is a presentation of reality – the reality and the sorry state that “our national airline” is in today.   He’s portrayed Air India and its officials as the reality is.  And yes, reality is harsh. 
Air India rushed to issue a gag order on Capt.Anjum Chabra for having uploaded this rap song on YouTube.  Did they not do that to cover their own backsides ?  Surely they were not trying to protect Air India’s reputation – cos there isn’t  much left of that any more, to protect.  They issued a gag order on this First Officer because he dared to speak the truth.  Not just dared to speak the truth, he went public with it.  Akin to having the Air India officials (as also eventually some big shots in the government) being caught in the spotlight, in a very unsavoury manner.
I had raved and ranted about an Air India pilot delaying a flight (despite instructions from the company to fly directly to another destination) because she had wanted to pick up a bag of kachoris.  Air India officials, then too, had promised to “look into the matter and take appropriate action”.  No one heard anything about it after that.  Nothing in the newspapers, nothing in the news.  Even if one Googles for it, all that one gets is that one newsreport stating the flight was delayed because she opted to pick up her kachoris .  Looking at it from Air India’s senior officials point of view, this is not surprising, is it ?  Because it did not show them in bad light.  It did not show the management in bad light.  It did not show the pathetic aviation ministry in bad light.  In all probability, this simply got shoved under the carpet and highly possible she was let off with just a warning.  God help people whose lives were disrupted that day because of a bag of kachoris. 
In January 2013, some of Air India’s cabin crew got into a fight and fisticuffs at a hotel in Chicago.  Air India coolly underplayed  the story by saying it happened because the said crew in question were contractual hires.  Contractual hires or not, they represented Air India – India’s national airline.  That did not get the officials’ goat as much as this rap did.  Some articles say that this rap is extremely bad PR.  In Chicago, the crew had to be confined to their hotel quarters that night with policemen at the door - in Air India’s books, would that construe as good PR ?   
But this time around, everybody’s tail seems to be on fire.  Because this rap song by this youngster has quite literally ripped the fa├žade right off the faces of the senior officials in Air India. 
Yes, he could have avoided the sexist remarks where he calls stewardesses “60 year old aunties”.  That was uncalled for.  Yet again, how is it that people like Digvijay Singh (on Rakhi Sawant) and our President’s son (Abhijit Mukherjee on the dented and painted comment) get away with a mere apology and “I withdraw my statement”. 
 There are remarks about Air India officials being upset because of the use of so many expletives in the song.  My question here is – if he had sung a rap saying / conveying exactly the same thing but without the expletives, would he not have been rapped on the knuckles by Air India ?  I’m sure they would still have issued a gag order on him and would have gone after him for having shed some light into the murky, behind the scene workings of the company.
What remains to be seen is whether Air India takes this as a reminder of the desperate need to really gets its act together – right from the top to the bottom or whether Anjum Chabra ends up being victimised and persecuted for his version of a Right that is said to be basic and constitutional in a country that claims to be the largest democracy on earth today - “freedom of speech”. 

18 February, 2013

Letter Writing - An Extinct Art ?




(Pic courtesy : boomer-livingplus.com via Google)
Even the most hardcore of computer geeks probably must pause every once in a while and wonder about the almost extinct art of letter writing.  That is not to say that people do not write letters to each other any more but rather to say that writing to each other has become / is becoming increasingly digitized.  We are indeed in a time and place in this world when things are getting increasingly mechanized and the digital era has virtually taken over every sphere of life. 
I was thinking about this the other day and did come to the conclusion that there is no competition to the innate satisfaction of actually putting pen to paper.  A pencil would do very well, too.  You get the drift, right ? 
I personally feel that there is more emotion involved in the process of actually writing something down on paper with a pen or a pencil.  A letter, a handwritten note, a handwritten birthday card – how many of us still do this these days ?  Not many, I’d think.  Take me, for example - I simply cannot remember when I last sent out a handwritten note or letter or even a birthday card.  Everything gets done on the internet.
The world that we live in has evolved so much that communicating around the world has become super quick.  It just takes a click of the mouse to send something across to someone halfway around the globe or better still to send something to a dozen people scattered in all corners of the globe.  Letters, in this case, would take much much longer and would essentially prove a lot more cumbersome.
Aside of the fact that letters are more personal and do carry a few degrees more of warmth than emails ever can, there is the distinctly added pleasure of feasting ones eyes on the writer’s handwriting.  It is a fascinating world, that one.  One that I am sorely tempted to delve into in much greater detail as in learning to analyse handwriting, perhaps but for the sheer lack of time.  Those twirls and curls and straight lines and the dashes and the dots – they drag you into a world of their own.  Often, when I come across something handwritten, I find myself being unwittingly dragged into a world where the alphabets and the symbols are free floating.  They are all around, they beckon, they greet, they tantalise you. 
For some people (like me :-() , writing and typing have become quite synonymous with each other.  Most of humanity has rather unconsciously (I guess) accepted electronic communication as the way to be.  Handwritten communication has quite become obsolete, not just old fashioned but cumbersome and too time consuming as well.  This is quite sad, given the fact that what we have lost out on or are losing out on is that charm and the warmth, the moods and the flavour that used to pepper handwritten notes and letters.  What the majority of humanity has opted for as more convenient instead, is a more bland, charmless, insipid, flavourless mode of electronic communication.
Writing, actually putting pen to paper and writing a letter or a note has a distinctly rustic charm about it that has begun to appeal to me.  This has been on my mind for a while now but the feeling is becoming stronger and stronger by the day.  The art of letter writing is something that will force us to slow down in this fast paced life that we lead nowadays.  As we slow down, we will take the time to appreciate the finer things around us. 
Also, there lies a sense of being wanted a feel of importance towards the person to whom the letter is addressed.  It gives the receiver of the letter a distinct feeling of importance, for he or she has been singled out momentarily to be at the receiving end of something as personal as a handwritten note or letter.  For those few minutes while we write to the person, we have, in effect, made that person and only that person, a priority in our lives. 
I just might decide to take up the old fashioned letter writing as a hobby, to begin with.  I feel this insane need to seek comfort in the rustling of sheets of paper, in the slight creak of the nib as the ink flows through and in the smoothness and sleekness of movement as the pen glides over paper or the slight scratching noise that a pencil generates as it weaves its magic on a hitherto blank sheet of paper. 
We have, I think, as a mass of humanity, sacrificed the love of communication to the need to communicate.  The younger generation now cannot even comprehend actually writing a letter.  So ingrained in habit is the email and the texting and the thousand and one other apps that letter writing has virtually been shown the grave, for all practical purposes.  The beauty and the art of letter writing has almost become extinct. 
Someone once said
What a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human handclasp.
I completely agree with Phyllis Theroux in saying “To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”

15 February, 2013

The Tambrahm Series (Part 2) - Nischayathaartham a.k.a Engagement Ceremony


(Pic courtesy : momentville.com via Google)

In continuum to my previous post on the JadaagamEduthachaa bit, we now proceed with much elan towards the main event  – a TamBrahm wedding.  It is a massive, large scale affair, not unlike the gargantuan sizes that invariably personify some of the TamBrahm Mamis and Mamas.  Well, not all of them are mammoth, to be fair but there are those that can just run over your senses pretty much like a steamroller runs over a freshly tarred road and yes, like a steamroller, these abundantly proportioned mamas and mamis do very much leave their impression on you – especially at TamBrahm weddings.

Now, the TamBrahms like verification – of any sort.  Even after the jadagam matching takes place (as mentioned in my earlier post), the mama mami community spread the word around the beehive that is the TamBrahm community (minus the honey making).  “Ramanodu jadagam Subramania Iyer odu pondatiodu mamiodu shaddaganodu athaiodu ponnukku chendirukkaam”  is how it would start and then it pretty much becomes like the game – Chinese whispers – that I play at school with the kids.  Meaning – it starts off as a sentence like above and by the time it reaches someone who actually knows the “ ponnu”  in question, the whole DNA structure would have been altered.  It is a wonder that no mix up has occurred yet among the TamBrahm weddings and no “pullai”  has been married to an alien from outer space.  Yes, the relationship structures are that complex.  Probably that’s why the little green people from other planets keep at a safe distance from us.

Since the TamBrahms like verification of all sorts, of any sort, all TamBrahm weddings have an “official” engagement ceremony, yet again, the day before the wedding.  What purpose it serves, other than another excuse for yet another “elai pottu sappadu”  is beyond me.  I mean, to re-engage a couple who have already been engaged, is, well, a bit extreme, don’t you think ? 

The engagements too have this wild assortment of youngsters and elders alike, all thrown in, forming this huge vat like structure of aviyal – meaning a mix of just about everything there is, to mix.  Mamis resplendent in their bright kanchivarams and their blinding blings as in Vaira Thodus and Vaira Mookutthis.  There are very few TamBrahm mamis who walk around showing their belly buttons.  Just doesn’t happen !!  If it did then the TamBrahm community would have had the highest number of belly button piercings – given our penchant for anything blingy and shiny and needless to say, anything blingy needs to be exhibited to the world.  TamBrahm mamis might even have the three diamond or seven diamond thingy on their navels, peeking and winking from the midst of the mighty folds.  Some sight, I tell you !!

The mamas walk around with their mundus either at full or at half mast, depending on the weather.  The vadhyar would be ready and waiting like a hawk, sensing the dakshinai within reach.  Tiffin would be on in full swing in the afternoon because we TamBrahms love food.  Nothing, I repeat, no function is complete without an elaborate array of food.  Banana leaves would be laid out – just a small piece of the banana leaf for the tiffin, not the whole leaf.  “ Dei Rajamani Kesari edu daa”  would be routinely heard and once the sweet is served on the leaf, the other tiffin dishes would start arriving, pretty much like a conveyor belt.  The tiffin would end with piping hot filter kaapi (what else ?).

The Pee Pee Dum Dum is another essential – don’t get any ideas – I’m talking of the Nadaswaram and the Thavil duet who are required in the hall for the Getti Melam at certain extremely important parts of the wedding ceremony.  To be honest though, the TamBrahm wedding orchestra of nadaswaram and thavil sound like the instruments are being put to their death rather than having music played.  The nadaswaram would screech like someone witnessing a murder while the thavil would be hit time and again like Sivamani on a high.  I’ve seen many a child absolutely startle and howl out of sheer fright as the nadaswaram and the thavil climb to the heights of a crescendo.  Such is the impact !

The engagement ceremony entails the grooms parents and the groom on one side while the brides parents and the bride sit on the other side.  The parents would once again exchange plates loaded with fruit and yellow coconuts, plates so heavy that it would take all the periappas and chitappas together to hold the plate without dropping it.  They would once again reiterate that their son will be married to so and so’s daughter at so and so time tomorrow.  Just in case anyone forgot or decides to change their mind, you know.

Then would arrive on the scene, the naathanaar(the bride’s sister in law).  Wonder who christened that term.  Naathanaar !!  Literally translated – natham means a bad smell and naararadhu means something is stinking.  Not a very complimentary address that – Naatha Naar – all of which means a stink.  Now it is every nathanaar’s honour to anoint the bride to be with sandal paste, kumkum and place a garland on the bride’s neck.  Wonder who thought of that one ?  The brides do not intend marrying the naathanaars, do they ?  The naathanaars also have to place this little kumkum tikka on either side of the bride’s cheeks – cheeks on her face – just in case anyone reading this has an imagination galloping like a horse.  If all naathanaars are like the one my best friend had, ahem .... a bit clumsy (I’m being very very generous here), then all that would happen in the process is that you would probably have one of your eyes poked, your head gear (the make up on the bride’s head - not the orthodontic kind of headgear) disturbed, a backhanded slap administered and some rather suspicious and soggy looking pieces of rock sugar and sticky raisins forced into your mouth. 

The bridegroom would be sitting on the opposite side, in deep contemplation, wondering, I guess as to how he got himself into this whole mess while unbeknownst to the world, the bride would be wondering how the hell she got herself into this situation.  They would be shocked out of their reverie as one of the mamas or the vadhyar (or a whole lot of elderly men) would look stern and yell “ getti melam”  with a finger (the pointer not the middle finger) wagging furiously, at the orchestra of nadaswaram and thavil.  That would be a sign for them to start torturing their respective musical instruments.

In the midst of all that finger wagging and screeching instruments, the priest would be screaming mantras, trying to top the din created by the Getti Melam.  This is the part I don’t get.  Why get the nadaswaram and thavil to screech and bang and then scream on top of that ?  While the bride and the groom look completely nonplussed, the nathanaar would be performing her nathanaarly duties and would be handing the bride a brand new sari with a couple of dolls and some other frill stuff on a plate large enough to hold enough food for about three families, at the same time.  Dolls !!!   The said dolls in question are not a pair of Barbie and Ken.  Far from it.  There have actually been times when I’ve mistaken the said “dolls” for voodoo dolls.  They are these weird looking things that look as if they’ve been made, as an afterthought, at plastic factories, with left over plastic. 

The best part of the thaambalam is that everything would be piled up on that plate pretty much like a lagori – just waiting for the ball to hit it – precariously perched, is the term.  The mother of the bride (the ball, in this case – though a better description would be a cannonball) would rush to help her daughter hold the plate, muttering “naan pidichikaren di kondhei”  and rather helpfully knock down a few things which would lead to two or three other kancheevaram clad mamis in the vicinity scrambling on all fours to collect the stuff that the bride’s mother had just knocked down.  Oh, the joys !! 

“Poi anchu minutella sari mathindu va kittaya” (change into your new saree in five minutes and bring thyself back here)  the priest would proclaim to the bride, who, in the meanwhile would have been enjoying the mad scramble taking place around the place.  The Naathanaaru would take the bride’s saree and blouse and herd the bride away, and alongwith about 25 other people, head towards a room to “help”  the bride change into her new saree.  Why half the world (or so it seems then) needs to go along with the bride is something that totally beats me.  The rooms have walls, they do not need human walls.  So then, what’s the point ?  The point here is that there is no point !!  To look for a point in some of the TamBrahm customs, is totally pointless.  You do get my point, don’t you ? 

The “anju minute” time having passed, the bride would be herded out once again and then there would be the getti melam once again as the brother in law to be goes around pottufying (also called dotting or putting the kumkum) on the groom’s forehead.  It has to be a big dot, big enough for the groom to look like “ groom dot com”.  The groom would be then sent off to change his clothes – all by himself – not with 25 pairs of eyes focused on him (like David Beckham in the latest H & M underwear ad). 

Once the bride and the groom change into their new outfits, the engagement ceremony would be deemed “wover”.  The groom and the bride would then walk around with the kinnam (bowl) of akshadhai (yellow rice grains) and do namaskaram after namaskaram until the world seems like a horizontal flat line and not the circle that the geographers have deemed it to be. 

On that note, please do join the kalyanam post coming up in the next edition.  Poittu Varen Kittela.  Pinne Paarkalam.  Nalaikku nearthe vandhudungo. 



06 February, 2013

The TamBrahm Series - Part 1 (Jaadagam Eduthachha ?)

(Pic courtesy : bikerdude via bengaloorubanter.blogspot.com via Google)

Ever attended a TamBrahm wedding ?  Well, if you haven’t, trust me when I say you have no idea what you’ve missed.  If you have, then let me just say, you know exactly what you’ve been through.  My sympathies.
A TamBrahm wedding starts well before the actual wedding itself.  Let’s start with the “jadagam eduthaachaa ?” bit. 
It is quite common to see mamas and mamis randomly asking what we would pretty much consider strangers this question.  “Ambi – onnodu pondatiodu akkavodu nathanaarodu kozhundanodu jaadagam eduthhacho da ?”  Don’t try and figure that one out if you treasure your sanity.  I didn’t.  Some long convoluted  DNA structure being recounted there.  Moot point – jadagam (horoscope) the starting point of a Tam Brahm wedding.  To cut a long story short, if you are a TamBrahm, in your twenties and unmarried, consider yourself doomed.  You should, somewhere along this point in time, start looking for a cave to hide yourself in because the said mamas and mamis are about to descend on you in hordes !! 
TamBrahms also have these little social gatherings where people exchange horoscopes.  I refer to them as jadagam parties minus the food and drink.  No bajji sojji.  Wonly jadagams.  Mamas and mamis would exchange jadagams and head for their astrologers to find a “suitable match” for their daughters or sons or nieces or nephews or whatever.  Unsuspecting young ones, suffice to say. 
Don’t quite know how it works nowadays, though.   Considering how enterprising they are, these mamis might have started carrying those ubiquitous steel tiffin carriers with any of these combos – idli/molagapodi – not chutney because it does not keep well, vadai sambar, puliyodharai, limbu chadam, chapathi thokku and of course, a big thermos flask of filter kaapi without sugar.  Sugar separately – little dabbas of sugar or Extra for the more discerning and “I’m trying to keep my flab from overflowing” kind of mamis.  The mamas, of course, would end up asking for snacks or drinks that are not available right then !
Once the astrologer declares (pretty much like President Obama declaring that change will happen) that two jadagams do match, the parents would be over the moon.  “enna jadagam chendirukku kittela” the mami would be found gushing like one of the fountain spouts in Italy or the Vatican.  The “enna” in question is a referral to her husband, not because his name is “enna” but because a TamBrahm woman of yore would not call her husband by his own name.  She’d probably call the neighbour mama’s name but not her own husband’s.  Yeah !  Go figure !! 
Now, these astrologers were a rather liberated lot.  Long before one even knew the meaning of the word “gay” our family astrologer had deemed to have matched two horoscopes, right down to the T.  “Uttamama Cherum” he proclaimed, rubbing his large, hairy belly (I presume. No I’ve not seen it !!)  letting fly little red spittles of the paan from his mouth.  The two jadagams in question happened to be both boys.  A gay marriage made in heaven, huh ??!! 
Once the “jaadagam” factor is taken care of, it is the turn of the girls’ parents to call the boys’ parents to “proceed” in the matter.  I’ve always wondered why.  I still wonder !  This is where one sees instances of growth hormones in their full glory.  Happened with my parents.  No No – they did not grow like Jack’s magic beanstalks overnight.  Some boy somewhere in Bombay, apparently did !  My parents  had apparently called up some boy’s parents and according to the horoscope, he was said to have been 5’5” in height.  But when my dad called up and spoke to his dad, his dad had a quiet word with his pondati (wife)  and voila !  His son had suddenly grown to 6’5” in height.  Wonder what they were feeding their son ? 
If all this falls into place, meaning the boys don’t undergo any growth spurts or suddenly lose all the hair on their bodies or start croaking like 12 year olds whose voice is just beginning to crack or turn into a toad or something like that, then the parents exchange photographs.  No, no – not the parents’ photographs.  Photos of the prospective bride and groom.  Now these photographs are special.  The size specifications that one has for modern day passport photos would absolutely pale in comparison.  The TamBrahm ponnu/pullai photos are a speciality.  They are never meant to speak the truth.  For one, the subject in question would be standing miles away.  One would get a good look at a whole panorama including cows and pigs sometimes but would need a magnifying glass to find the “subject”.  Else, it would be one of those totally doctored “studio” versions where a 4’11”, rather emaciated pullai (groom to be) looks like Superman incarnate.  Have to hand it to the photographers though.  If you have to make Bheemasena look like Shakuntala or vice versa, that’s some major perspective on angles and lighting and what have you.  Total genius, I say.  Or to put it in TamBrahm lingo – “ayyo adhu salid sooper”.
If the photos pass their respective exams, comes the interesting bit.  The bajji sojji ponnu pakaradhu.  I remember mine.  There was this one instance where the whole family and extended family and their neighbours and the neighbours’ neighbours descended upon my parents’ house (or so it seemed because there  were so many people, it was a dazzling sight that literally made the earth spin in front of my eyes and caused stars to float above my head).  The only person who looked totally demure amongst all that din and ruckus was – well, you guessed it – the so called groom to be.  What ?  Did you think it was me ?  Demure and shy ?  You’ve gotta be kidding me !! 
 After much deliberations and consultations (good thing they did not deem it necessary to check with the astrologer or the gods even), the “elders” decided to let me and the demure groom to be “talk” to each other in the confines of another room.  With the door open, of course.  Ayyo – closed door aa ?  Ishwara Ishwara – konjum naanam, vekkam ellam venam (Ayyo – letting a girl and boy talk behind closed doors aa ?  No No.  One needs to have some element of shyness and shame).  Illaina engalodu manathhai kappal etthi vida pora.  (Age old saying which every mother repeats at every given chance.  It means something like “she’s going to send my honour sailing on a boat or some such).  Rather touching, that one – the amount of trust that is implied !!
Coming back to me and the demure groom – being sent to another room to talk - not as if that helped cos those mamis and mamas seemed to have loudspeakers built in to their throats and their magnificent vocal chords were vibrating to the maximum like singers at a Tyagaraja Aaradhanai festival.  It was a surreal experience, psychedelic and to some extent hallucinogenic even because my head was pounding vivid colors (read mainly red) and those exuberant voices from the living room did nothing to quell my mind-altered state. 
He said “hello”.  I was shocked and wondered if a mouse had sneaked in with us.  Turned out it was indeed him. He squeaked “hello” again, his voice pretty much sounding like a high pitched, tinny door hinge which had not been oiled in a decade.  He whined further “ I don’t want my wife to work.  I want her to stay home and take care of my mother”.  That was it !  End of story !  Needless to say, I spared him and more importantly myself of any further misery, without much ado.  
Those mamas and mamis and the squeaky groom are looking for the wrong thing, I realized, horror dawning and washing upon me in waves.  “He should have been looking for a nanny / nurse.  What was his entire clan doing in my parents’ house with the demure bridegroom squeaking like the high priest of some bygone era ?”
Thankfully, none of the other deafeningly loud mamas and mamis made the cardinal mistake of asking me to walk or sing or show them my teeth.  That would have been it !!  Large scale massacre !!  Fortunately (for them, that is) I did not have the opportunity of displaying my rather largely non-existent ninja talent.  Before condemning them to their fate, I would well have informed them that I was not one of those cows in the village auction.  Show me your teeth, indeed !! Well, to be fair, if I had to be a true Gandhian and believe in non violence and Ahimsa and all that, to annihilate or butcher them, cause a bloodbath, all I would have had to do was sing.  Yeah !  I was that good !!  The blood would have run in absolute rivers and they would have been gone before I hit the next octave !!
The moment we walked out of the room, having had a totally mind-altering, earth shattering, spiritual, otherworldly conversation inside, one of those mamas (don’t have a clue as to who he was) boomed like a cannonball shooting out of the cannon “enna pidichudha ?” (Well, liked ?).  Was he under the impression I was in there to buy a yard of cloth ?  I didn’t bother to reply and I don’t know what the Mickey Mouse did or said. 
I still remember one of my friends in college saying that someone had come to “see” her elder sister and the prospective mamiyaar (mother in law) asked the prospective daughter in law’s mother whether the prospective daughter in law could sing Carnatic classical music.  To which, my friends elder sister replied “Ponnukku paada theriyuma nu ketta andha mami odu pullaikku aada theriyuma nu kelu” (If she wants to know if I can sing, first ask her if her son knows how to dance !).  That really should have been something, I say. 
Anyways, moving on, if the bajji sojji ponnu pakaradhu is a “success” – meaning if they were indeed looking for a bride and not a nanny/nurse or many of the other weird connotations that people have in their minds, usually the whole thing culminates in marriage.  A Tam Brahm wedding, for those of you reading this, has enough drama and material for a whole book, not just a blog post.  So I shall defer that to a separate blog post in itself.
For now, as a die hard Tam Brahm would say “Poittu varen, enna.  Pinne parkalaam.  Kalyanathukku varanam kittela.” (I’ll take your leave for now, OK ?  We’ll meet again.  Do come over for the wedding, OK ?) .  Needless to say, that has to be said in a mighty, booming voice, loud enough to be heard all the way in the You Yes of Yay.

01 February, 2013

Rahul Gandhi - India's next PM !!!!! Really ???


(Pic courtesy : manjul.com via Google)
Something over the past few days has been reminding me of Rahul Gandhi (of all the people !).  No, it’s not what you’re thinking.  I’m no fan of the crown prince or whatever title that it is he is being anointed with at this moment.  Back to the question of what has been reminding me of Rahul Gandhi – it’s the promo that TVB Pearl has been broadcasting for the Oscars this year.  The lamest of promos I’ve come across – truth be told.  I prefer that ChlorPheniramine ad to this promo – irritating as this ad was, it was way better than this ridiculous promo.  You have Seth MacFarlane just standing there as though he expects the audience to read the thoughts in his mind.  Yeah, right !  Like that’s about to happen !!
Much the same with Mr.Gandhi, is it not ?  I had said in one of my earlier posts that our country has this tendency to look up in awe towards a family that has, in my mind, always considered our country their personal toy, their possession, their personal property.  We, as a people, have done nothing to prove otherwise either. 
Just this morning, I was reading up on Mr.Gandhi’s achievements (if one can call them that) in an effort to determine exactly why he has been upped to the post of Vice President of the Congress party.  I was trying to look for a reason (other than the fact that he is a Gandhi) which would, atleast in some way, justify the party leaders’ actions in having elevated him to the post of party VP.  I am still searching.
I came across this report in DNA India.  Out of 244 days in Parliament, it is said that Mr.Gandhi (who will henceforth be referred to as the Yuvraaj or Crown Prince) attended all of 99 days.  Wow !  Now that’s no mean feat.  I put the calculator function on my phone to good use and it says that works out to about 42 odd percent.  Now I’m thinking – imagine us, for instance.  What would a 42% attendance get us ?  I would, in all probability, (make that sure as hell) get thrown out of my job rather unceremoniously.  So would most of us, I imagine. Look at our Crown Prince – he gets a promotion.  Way to go !   But then again, to be fair, our country has never ever been our private little toy to play with, has it ? 
He is reported to have actually asked one whole question in 2012.  He actually spoke !!!  Yet again, I’m not saying that he has to be hollering his throat out, just for no reason.  Reasons to speak up for and on behalf of the good of the country are plenty.  Our country has plenty of issues that need to be addressed.  Has he ?   Getting him to say anything at all, even on issues that are raging through the country, has been like using a stick to prod and try awakening a bear that is in hibernation.  I’ve almost arrived at the conclusion that politicians in India have adopted a maunvrat policy.  Surely it is a page out of the Mizaru, Kikazaru, Iwazaru policy.  Only in this case it has been adapted to read I see evil, I hear evil but I refuse to speak or say anything at all.  Nice !!  I would not really have given a second thought to the Gandhis had it not been for the fact that the Crown Prince is being touted as the next Prime Ministerial candidate.
In a rather obtuse way, I guess he would be able to continue the tradition of the current PM’s office with great panache – given the fact that the PM’s office now believes in being as tight lipped as one can get – even in the light of controversies and burning issues in the country.  Go  Iwazaru !!!
In his speech to the AICC (his first one after having been elected Party VP), Mr.Gandhi had said In 1947 India was liberated not by arms but by unleashing the voice of our people. This was energy behind of freedom movement voices million and millions of our voices.” True, Mr.Gandhi.  Are voices in the country being unleashed now ?  Voices that truly speak about a cause, voices that demand change that is necessary in the country, a change for the better, are consistently, steadily, unswervingly and regularly being quelled. 
Police went after the protestors voicing their protests after the Delhi gang rape.  Police went after a couple of girls on Facebook for having had the courage to “voice” their opinions on Bal Thackeray.  Police went after a traffic warden in Bandra for having rightly told a politician’s son not to park his convoy of cars outside a school because he was blocking traffic.  These are but a few examples.  All of these people who “voiced” themselves, were taken to task.  Common Indians, Mr.Gandhi.  Aam Aadmi – as you would put it in one of your speeches.  What were they guilty of ?  They were guilty of trying to make their “voices” heard.  Actions do speak louder than words, Mr.Gandhi and that is the sad truth.  Sitting up on a podium, touted by the ever faithful of the Congress Party and saying “voices need to be heard” does not make things any better. 
Mr.Gandhi has also said Power is grossly centralized in our country, we only empower people at the top of a system.” Yes, indeed.  We, as a country, have always been considered the personal belongings of the Gandhi dynasty.  To this day, the rule applies, the family continues to hold the reins – either openly or as is happening now, covertly.  He could not have come closer to the truth there except for the fact that, as always, he was looking and projecting outwards.  Look inwards and tell us what you see, Mr.Gandhi.  That would be some fodder for thought.
I can just go on and on about Mr.Gandhi’s speech (which was quite apparently been written by someone else) but I don’t think I can really bother.  It is another one of those speeches that reeks of political propaganda and nothing more or nothing less.  I wonder, I do sincerely wonder if he even understands the true gravity of the situation.  To be born with a silver spoon in your mouth is something entirely different.  That, however, does not qualify him to run a nation.
Mr.Gandhi talked about bringing about sweeping changes in the country. He is reported to have said that “we have to re-look things in the system and transform them completely”.  Sounds good, in theory.  Maybe now would be a good time to start explaining exactly how he proposes going about doing that, given the fact that our country is absolutely festering and rotting because of the corruption that has become a given in the political system today.  Something as rampant as corruption – yes the government needs to do something but is Mr.Gandhi not aware that there are innumerable skeletons in the Congress’ closets in this regard ?  Way too many.  How about starting with the Lokpal Bill ?  I wouldn’t be surprised if someone is needed to explain what this bill is, to the Crown Prince.
Mr.Gandhi had said that Indians now are demanding that they have more of a say in government, in politics and in the administration.  He further went on to say that things can’t be decided by a handful of people behind closed doors.  Is that not what is happening in the country as we speak ?  For that matter, those closed doors that he was talking about have extended way beyond the Prime Minister’s Office.  As regards the President’s Office, I, for one, had stopped considering it as a place of power the day Pratibha Patil was elected President.  Her election as the President of the country spoke volumes like nothing else had or will.  I guess Mrs. Sonia Gandhi should be able to better explain that point on power being restricted to a handful behind closed doors.  She is an authority on the subject.
He is also reported to have said that the Congress must battle to overcome discrimination against minorities, against women and the like.  Sure enough, we have seen a lot of action from Mrs. Gandhi and the Crown Prince himself in this regard too.  Shedding copious tears is not deemed as action.  Their reluctant statements speak , they speaks volumes.  Exactly how does the Crown Prince propose going about battling discrimination against women, for instance ?  Start with the Khap Panchayats, maybe.  Those have always been a thorn against the side of progress, especially with regard to women’s rights and they’ve specialised in rules that discriminate against women.  Would the Crown Prince have the guts (I have a better word to put in use here but choose not to) to try and trim the Khap Panchayats’ wings, for a start ? 
What the country seeks today is not hollow speeches.  We’ve had plenty of those.  Bags of hot air that just dissipate upon people taking office.  What the country is clamouring for is change in terms of visible action, in terms of palpable, tangible deeds, not inaction.  There is no real point in standing on a podium and trying to milk support through emotional statements like “I was sad the day my Grandma was shot” or some such.  Yes, I do believe it when he says he was sad.  He had the right to be.  But the country does not need to hear that now.  There are much bigger issues at stake.  Milking support on the basis of emotional statements has always been a strongpoint in our politicians.  Shed a few tears too along the way and there – your job’s done.  In that respect, he definitely is heading in the right direction. 
I’ve written earlier about a lack of accountability in the country.  The question now is whether Mr.Gandhi really really wants to and is game about actually doing something to improve our country ?  If so,  he would realise (if he has not already) that he will need to start cleaning up the closets at home first.  There are way too many skeletons there – probably more than enough to even keep seasoned politicians in check.  Will he have it in him ?  As far as my gut feeling and my opinion on this issue goes, I will let Iwazaru speak for me, in this instance.
The question on many lips now is the same – if not Rahul Gandhi, then who ?  This is another basic problem being faced not just by India but by many other countries in the world.  Hongkong too is facing pretty much the same issue right now.  The lack of a credible opposition party that can, just on the basis of its strengths in terms of logic, good sense and an healthy attitude towards the development and the general good of the country and its people, keep the “in power” party from straying off the path.  Path being working towards the development and working for the good of the people in the country.  In most places, if one looks at the opposition parties, they seem to have a misplaced sense of duty.  Most opposition parties seem to be under the impression that the only thing they are duty bound to do as the opposition is to make noise, shout and trash every single proposal that the “in power” government comes up with.  That’s not it, is it ?  But then, just about everywhere one sees, this is exactly what’s happening.  What this leads to is a lack of choice for the people, when it comes to electing their representative to head the nation. 
What has Rahul Gandhi done for India, so far ?  That answer is a given.  I read in an article a few days back that his main qualification is the fact that he is one of the most eligible bachelors in the country today.  Are we, as a people, just looking for someone cute, chubby and doe eyed ?  To lead the country ?  Really !!!??? Surely one is not screening for a baby milk formula ad.  This is the PM’s office in question.  What the country needs in the PM’s seat now is someone with substance, someone with integrity, not someone sitting there on the basis of dynasty.  If Mr. Gandhi is the VP of the Congress Party today, it is not on the basis of his achievements.  It is just dynasty through and through.  Oh and while on the talk of dynasty, throw in a silver ladle as well.  As a possible future PM, he’s kind of outgrown the proverbial silver spoon !!!