May 31, 2014

Telangana chakkilalu and Kakinada kajalu...


Telangana is born. History will record 2 June 2014 as Telangana Formation Day.

I am a half-Telangana by birth (father from Warangal, mother from Bangalore), and I should rejoice at the formation of India's 29th State. But, I have terribly mixed feelings about this. On the one hand I think of the hope I saw on the faces of a weaver from Warangal and a farmer from Bibinagar, both of whom told me they were sure their life would be better after the new state is formed. I am very happy for them.

On the other hand, there is great sadness inside me. I have led a fairly comfortable life as an urban professional without any interference from my Andhra brethren. So this division makes me feel as though a wall is being built in my home to make two portions from it, and I am being told it is a good thing.

I loved the largeness and the variety of landscape of my home state, from the sedimentary rocks of Kurnool to the green fields of Godavari, the massive granites of Hanamkonda to the golden beaches of Bhimli. I love Telangana chakkilalu as much as I do Kakinada kajalu. I love Pochampally weaves as much I love Uppada. I am married to a Hyderabadi whose ancestors are from Andhra. I can speak both Telangana and Andhra accents, and despite the several mock fights we have had about this issue, ours has been a happy marriage.

Much as I try to ignore this separation as a politically motivated division, it bothers me greatly. I am conscious of the injustice meted out to Telangana people over the last 50 years, and that it is a battle that deserved to be won. Yet I grieve inside.

It is a partition I am witnessing. And I can feel the birth pangs.

Hyderabad has been decorated with pink flags and huge pink balloons. Streets have been lit up with fairy lights. There will be fireworks on People's Plaza.

I will try to feel happy too...not for the politicians, but for that farmer I spoke to, and I will believe that he knows something I don't, and that what he knows turns out to be right.

I will also hope and pray for Telangana to be governed with care and efficiency by Chandrasekhar Rao's TRS, and for Andhra to develop and thrive under the Chief Ministership of Chandrababu Naidu's TDP.

But...next time someone asks me the judgemental question I was seldom asked before and am frequently being asked now, "Are you a Telangana or Andhra?", I will say, "I am a Telugu-speaking Indian".  

May 26, 2014

New government and new PM

After an exciting, no-holds barred 2014 election, Bharatiya Janata Party swept the polls to form a majority government.

 Our new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. 
He was sworn in today.


I liked this perspective on the election verdict:
http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Citycitybangbang/a-cultural-revenge/


And here's a message for him.

http://www.storypick.com/man-speaks-nation-1-2-billion-send-powerful-message-mr-narendra-modi/



May 18, 2014

Wanted: law against public urination


I was turning the corner in my lane recently when oncoming traffic was jammed up, and I found my path blocked by a man standing and peeing against the newly constructed wire fence to my left.The footpath had been cordoned off, so he could not go right up to the wall. This was no deterrent, so he stood on the road, shamelessly exposing himself to people around, and doing what he was privileged to do, as an Indian male.  

The corner of my lane has been a garbage and su-su point since years. Vijay and I used to walk back from the bus stand during our stint at ICRISAT and invariably find someone or the other peeing against our wall. Vijay used to stop to admonish the pee-er (!) while I walked on to our house in embarrassment.

We have had several ideas on how to stop this nuisance, from painting gods on our compound wall, to setting up a mock video camera, to throwing buckets of water from our balconies, to the more do-able having a watchman stand outside to check people. We also wondered if we could figure out a way to make the shock-giving contraption from 'Three idiots'. But the fact that the garbage point for our whole locality was outside our building re-directed our focus to fighting the garbage problem first, before we took on the su-su problem, because they were related.  

Why has there never been any movement against this nuisance? Shouldn't something be done about it? When fines can be imposed for wrong parking or for running a red light, surely a fine can be imposed for public urination?

'You stop, we stop'. I was overjoyed when I recently saw this video about an anonymous anti-public-urination group in Mumbai called "Clean Indian", who go around on a water tanker squirting water on men urinating in public. The video made me roll on the floor laughing, anguished as I had been with the nuisance for decades! Now, this is a great beginning towards a clean India, and this idea could be replicated elsewhere to bring about awareness and to bring the issue to the notice of authorities.  



Another idea that worked for a friend was to put up a board outside their compound wall "Mootrashala, kukkalaku matrame" "Urinal, only for dogs".  

This is not a battle of the sexes, and should not be interpreted as one. Public urination is unhealthy, demeaning, and shameful for our country, and SHOULD BE STOPPED. Why is it that only men cannot control their urge to urinate? What do women do? We wait till we get to a toilet...as simple as that. We train our children to relieve themselves every time they leave home, so that they don't need to use a toilet for some hours. How's that for a simple solution?  

An apology to Africans

We have had a professional connect with Africa for a long time. While at ICRISAT during the eighties, we met and were friends with sever...