Monday, 23 January 2017

Do I, an animal lover, support Jallikattu?

                                            Do I, an animal lover, support Jallikattu?

                                                                                               Free digital photos.net

                                                              


                     If the animals are not harmed, why not?

               Jallikattu is a sport traditionally played by farmers of my land since 300 BC. Our traditional breed of cattle is bred for it. It was banned by Peta  on the basis of animal cruelty. But is it the real cause?
              True, being shy myself, and not blessed with sporting capacities I, even as a human being would tend to escape from any physical competition. Then what can I say of the bulls?

        The Sport
             Amidst all the noise and clatter, they'll have to run straight towards their owner's voice or towards the open area. A single bull is let at a time. If he manages to escape the grips of all the human contestants, he is declared the winner and becomes the hero of the village while his owner gets a prize.If he loses, he is comforted for the confusion he faced.If a man holds on to the bull's hump long enough till the victory line is reached {some 50 metres),or if the bull stops, he (the man) is declared a winner and awarded a prize. Some people add coins or flags to the bulls' horns and ask the contestants to try removing it while hanging on to the hump.(The hump is generally around 7” high) The contestants are disqualified if two or more people hang on to the bull at the same time. Neither should they pull the bull's tail.
   
       The Festival

               India was once an agricultural country and the farmer depended wholly on nature for the rains and on his bulls as his working partners. Come January and he would celebrate his harvest mainly of rice and sugarcane. The first day he would clean and white wash his house.

               The next morning he would bathe his bulls and cows, paint their horns, feed them sweet rice and then eat the sweet rice himself. This cooking is done outside the house where the rice is let to boil over the pot to represent overflowing of grains and prosperity. Hence the name 'Pongal',meaning boiling over. Songs, dance and decorations mark the day.
     
     The Competition

           The third day the whole village travels to a neighbouring village wherever such competitions are held. Nowadays just as our champions resort to doping in their zest to win, some villagers give their bulls alchohol so that they may be bolder. So vets are appointed to ensure fair play.Cameras can do the rest.
     
     The Problem Today

       Just as rules are enforced in human wrestling, let rules be followed here. In our history, we see/hear of humans facing injury and even death of humans but not of bulls. So Peta's ban doesn't make sense.

           As the farmers say, "we look after our 'children' with great care the whole year. Why can't we play with them once a year? How can a foreign group tell us what to do?"

       Does the importing of foreign cows have anything to do with it? The breed of bulls used in this sport is used to inseminate cows that produce only around 2 litres of milk a day. Yet the milk which contains a2 protein is cancer, diabetic and autism resistant.This breed is in danger of extinction if the sport is banned. This is the main reason we support this sport.

     The Situation Today

           This year at least a hundred farmers have died due to failed crops. Yet  the neighbouring  State ignored the Supreme Court's verdict of letting the river Cauvery's  water into Tamilnadu and nobody did anything about it.

            No wonder then that lakhs of youth strode out into the streets and asked for our rights. What is commendable is the total discipline exhibited by them strangers to one another yet united in their outlook- disregarding the pull of actors or politicians, concentrating only on their common goal.

            In fact it looks strange they had to be out in the street a whole week, day and night in the rain, sun and cold, fighting for our rights and still are, wondering why...

                             Are rules for man or is man for the rules?



Tuesday, 15 November 2016

A Rare and Encouraging Ma - in Law

"Lovely! and Cool!" Kalai exclaimed as she gulped the fresh juice of one tender coconut after another as a newly married bride. She had been in cold places through out her early days where coconut trees didn't grow, so this was a new delicacy to her. Seeing so many coconut trees in her new house thrilled her no end.

"What did you do with all the coconuts until I arrived, Athai? (m.i.l)" she asked curiously.
"We'd consume most of them and sell the rest," she said casually.
"Oh my, see how much I've wasted," Kalai said, her sense of thrift returning suddenly.
"You don't know how much I worried for my boy until you came. He was adamantly refusing to marry. Now that you arrived I am so relieved," she said, a serious look on her face. "So don't ever compare yourself with money."

The next month Kalai's m.i.l had to go out of station to attend a wedding. After she related all that happened there, Kalai related her experiences. "Guess what I did yesterday! I made the curry and avial (a mixture of many vegetables). I was so engrossed in trying to get it well that I nearly forgot to cook plain rice. Only while starting to set the table I realised that rice was missing!"
"These things happen till it becomes a regular routine. I'm sure the curry and avail turned out well!"
"Overlook the slips and mistakes and focus on better things, "she urged.

That was how Kalai got  started on her new journey. Things changed and they (the couple) shifted to a house on the next street. Kalai had applied for a competitive exam and was awaiting the result. She went to visit her ma-in -law and told her that she had done her exam quite well and was expecting to be selected. She was on her way to seeing the result. If it was positive she would come here and inform her. If, however by
                                                                                                                                                        free digital photos.net

 chance things turned out the other way, she would directly go home quietly and in that case she (the m.i.l) must not open that topic. Kalai would tell her on her own whenever she felt like it. She  (m.i.l) agreed.

As Kalai stepped into the room the m.i.l burst out clapping and shouting with joy, "I knew my daughter -in- law would pass. I just knew it!" She drew her into her arms and was whirling her around when the husband arrived at the doorstep.





"How is it possible?" he asked, almost in unbelief. "So many others might have competed too!"
 "Are you sure there's no mistake?"



Monday, 1 August 2016

When I had a Treaty with a Snake

The same mesmerising combination : scarlet and green. The same shades, I got to see it at last after a long search of around 40 years.

It was in the beautiful surroundings of Assam. A land of rain and sun. Of good cheer and innocence
 (at least it was that then, 40 years ago). I spotted a scarlet flower in the garden at the front of our house.  This flower grew in plenty behind my house, I knew but when did it land here?

 I bent to pick it but something else moved beside it. A dark pepper with a tiny shutter opening and closing lightly like the wind. And then I understood.

                                                                                                                                                           free digital photos.net


 I was looking into the eye of a snake.!  But again something was different. I was too close to it to think of fear. Moreover it was a small creature like me and only wanted to
escape.  So I backed away slowly and gave it space.  It almost seemed to smile and nod too. As she moved and swayed her belly and hips I couldn't help admiring her grace and beauty - I, who generally find reptiles creepy (pardon me, reptile lovers).

The colour combination and design on her back were perfect.  I had not seen such a thing of beauty to match it until then -living or non living. I wondered why the textile industry had not thought up such a combination.

And I've wondered thus these forty years. Until yesterday. When after finishing my purchases  I entered a shop just out of curiosity and was shown a saree with just that combination. Scarlet and green with a touch of gold. Alas! my purse was empty.

 Though that shop was in another city and I have no chance of visiting it in the near future, a thing of beauty is a joy forever. That picture of beauty will remain in my mind for a long time                                                                                      to come.
   free digital photos.net

Saturday, 23 July 2016

A Rare and Encouraging Ma - in - Law

"Lovely! and Cool!" Kalai exclaimed as she gulped the fresh juice of one tender coconut after another as a newly married bride. She had been in cold places through out her early days where coconut trees didn't grow, so this was a new delicacy to her. Seeing so many coconut trees in her new house thrilled her no end.

"What did you do with all the coconuts until I arrived, Athai? (m.i.l)" she asked curiously.
"We'd consume most of them and sell the rest," she said casually.
"Oh my, see how much I've wasted," Kalai said, her sense of thrift returning suddenly.
"You don't know how much I worried for my boy until you came. He was adamantly refusing to marry. Now that you arrived I am so relieved," she said, a serious look on her face. "So don't ever compare yourself with money."

The next month Kalai's m.i.l had to go out of station to attend a wedding. After she related all that happened there, Kalai related her experiences. "Guess what I did yesterday! I made the curry and avial (a mixture of many vegetables). I was so engrossed in trying to get it well that I nearly forgot to cook plain rice. Only while starting to set the table I realised that rice was missing!"
"These things happen till it becomes a regular routine. I'm sure the curry and avail turned out well!"
"Overlook the slips and mistakes and focus on better things, "she urged.

That was how Kalai got  started on her new journey. Things changed and they (the couple) shifted to a house on the next street. Kalai had applied for a competitive exam and was awaiting the result. She went to visit her ma-in -law and told her that she had done her exam quite well and was expecting to be selected. She was on her way to seeing the result. If it was positive she would come here and inform her. If, however by
                                                                                                                                                        free digital photos.net

 chance things turned out the other way, she would directly go home quietly and in that case she (the m.i.l) must not open that topic. Kalai would tell her on her own whenever she felt like it. She  (m.i.l) agreed.

As Kalai stepped into the room the m.i.l burst out clapping and shouting with joy, "I knew my daughter -in- law would pass. I just knew it!" She drew her into her arms and was whirling her around when the husband arrived at the doorstep.





"How is it possible?" he asked, almost in unbelief. "So many others might have competed too!"
 "Are you sure there's no mistake?"




Saturday, 11 June 2016

A seat in the bus - signs of a heart here and there

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The bus to   Theni   entered the bus stand and turned round the crowded corner. Some people passed handkerchiefs or towels to the passengers inside to reserve the seats.
Radha spotted an empty seat, ran to it and sat down. Then she saw the water bottle at the corner of the seat.
“How dare you sit on the seat I booked!” A woman of about forty thundered.
               “There are two seats by my side.”    Radha moved her legs to provide the          woman a way.
               “An object on the seat means that three seats are booked.    Don’t you know     that?” she asked, a hand on her hip.
               “ I sat on a vacant seat and I entered the bus before you.    Your water bottle can only represent a single seat.”
              “Don’t talk too much. Just get up.”
               “No way. If you don’t sit here now I’ll ask someone else to sit here.”
                 The woman turned towards the aisle.
              “ Mother, come here and sit down quickly.   Nirmala, where are you? You ass.         Sit here now."
But Sharmila,” the mother protests. “You should sit down. I’ll stand. It’s hardly two weeks since your operation.”

Radha was confused. “What operation?” She asked the mother.
“Uterus removal” the mother confided.
“Then let the younger girl stand.” Radha suggested.
But the younger girl sat down, unmindful of anything else.
“We’ll see to it. You needn’t advice us.” Sharmila retorted rudely.
“I’m sorry. I don’t need this seat.” Radha got up and walked away. 

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Steaming Hot - Most Indian Moms Experience

                                                              Free digital photos.com
           Most moms of India might have experienced the hurry-burry of trying to get their child to eat something before they leave for School/College. Or at least of getting them carry their tiffin boxes with them.
             If we are even one minute late the child tends to run out with a ‘I’m late. I can’t wait’ attitude and we see moms running behind them with a “here, at least drink this milk”, glass in hand.
             I remember my own mom slipping a box of hot chappaties down a small gap in our fence in the Nilgiris. It was a hill station and I had to walk around our fence to reach a lower road to go to school.
             But perhaps my own crazy action a few days ago will stay in our minds a little longer. My College going daughter had come home for a few days after a gap of two and a half months. Now that got me mad with excitement and I hardly knew what I was doing.
             Cooking her special dishes, seeing if the clothes I bought her fitted her well (and whether she liked them enough to agree using them), listening to her College stories without commenting unless she asked for it, taking her to church on Sunday, taking her shopping locally, to friends’ houses, functions, etc.; guiding her, watching her practice for a play, giving ideas at the appropriate time…
              Suddenly it was almost time for her to leave and I remembered that I had sugar, butter and eggs –just right for a cake for her. Not advisable for us at our age and she would miss the fun of enjoying a home baked cake.

              Her dad was out of station and I had to leave her at the Railway junction on my own. With around an hour left for us to start, I just couldn’t bear the thought of her leaving without the cake. So I swung into action. Within 45 minutes the cake gave out its characteristic smell and I hurried to open it without even first testing to see if it was cooked. It wasn’t. Immediately I closed it and switched it on again. Time wasted.

              I served her dosais and her favourite egg curry. With the remaining ten minutes, even if I scraped the sides to get the cake out, it would be steaming hot. And would turn to crumbs easily.

                 The auto sounded at our doorstep. So we locked the house and hurried. While my daughter went to the waiting train, I went to buy my platform ticket. I saw her peep out from her seat but spotted a cement table-top like structure, perhaps built to hold a tank or water cooler or something but seemed specially convenient for me. So out of the bag came my baking vessel, cake and all with another container for it, knife and a small box to house her piece of cake.
               The cake was cut and a sizable piece transferred to her small tuck box (with a small opening to let the moisture out).
                 And I ultimately had time to chat with my daughter casually as the engine shunted and went to join the front side of the train.

P.S – The cake turned out more delicious than any I have baked so far.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Expectations


                                                                free digital photos.net.com 
She briefly took the phone wire from her mouth and greeted the receptionist. Then fixed it back again and continued speaking into it.
“Come on, Shyam, Do you expect me to believe such nonsense?”
She pulled out a chair from an unoccupied table and sat down. She was slim and tall, around 5’8”. Her bright red lips matched her red and black tops.
Even Salman who was threatening the waiter with a
 ‘if you had just told me I would have showed the lot of you to make an omelette the right way,’  turned around to see what others were looking at.
And naturally the waiter had to see why Salman had stopped so suddenly.
A small white rabbit peeped out of her right pocket. The girl stroked its head and throat gently and then thrust it inside, all the while continuing on the phone.
“Okay, Shyam, it may be an ordinary matter for you. But it doesn’t suit me one bit, understand?
“What?  
“YES, I agree that I’m traditional in my values, very traditional. In fact I’m surprised you didn’t notice it till now. So let me get it clear once and for all. Its goodbye forever and I don’t want to hear your voice or see your face anymore, got it?”
She pulled the earphones off and buried her face in her hands. The whole place was silent as if to share her loss. “A glass of apple juice first please,” she said to the waiting waiter, uncovering her face briefly.

“You serve this dish to that lady there,” Salman continued in a whisper “and see what happens. Your chef will be fired in ten minutes.”
“Excuse me, Sir, but that lady was so pleased with yesterday’s pudding  that she gave me a 500 rupee note tip.”
“Nonsense! You think I’ll believe that?” Salman said, thumping the table so forcefully that the young girl sitting at the opposite table let out an involuntary cry.
Her big eyes were fixed on the door. She huddled herself like a mouse on hearing a cat’s approaching meows.
“Relax, Rita, they’re not going to search for you here now,” the elderly lady by her side said. “My brother has cleverly diverted them to the north. In fifteen minutes we’ll be travelling south. You must spend the night at Ravi’s house. In the morning he’ll take you to the registrar’s office. Shankar will be waiting there. Just sign the register, pose for a photo and you’ll come out as a married woman, understand? Now show me how you’ll hold Shankar’s arm tomorrow: Ah! That blush will do. Now finish your coffee and let’s go.”
But Rita kept staring at another couple who were happily sharing a drink using two straws. Their eyes were half closed, half admiring as they looked up from their drink to smile at each other now and then.
 Shankar and she never enjoyed such a peaceful moment together. Would things suddenly change after tomorrow?

She stretched out her hands to hold the table but her head was spinning rapidly and she found herself moving closer to the floor…
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