Friday, December 28, 2007

Greener pastures beckon?

Last couple of weeks have been a wonderful insight on how we as human beings always reach out to something not native to us.

I happened to be at a "annual ball" of one of the defence services recently and saw many ladies dressed in the "best of the west" attire and dancing away to the latest hip hop numbers. As always I came back amazed at the way our Indian women have adapted to the west.

Dramatically opposite has been the sight at the many music concerts happening at full glory at Chennai in December. Invariably there would be a bunch of non-Indians dressed in the "best of India" listening intently to the raaga alapana or clapping enthusiastically to a good Bharatnatyam piece.

The sight of Kalakshetra the college dedicated to fine arts was the icing on the cake though!
At a Bharatnatyam recital all the front rows were occupied by non-Indians who are either pursuing some form of Indian art or just plain admirers of it. It was heartening as well as a tad shameful to be seated next to a young lady from abroad who knew all the mudras of the dance being performed and also the meaning of the song.

Seeing all the non-Indian ladies dressed in the finest of salwar kameez or a saree along with jasmine flowers in the hair really set my heart aglow with the pride of being an Indian, but the memory of the Indian mom's letting their hair down at the ball quickly brought me back to reality!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The growing disparity

A recent article by Shashi Tharoor on the growing disparity in India has set me thinking on how we can bridge this gap. Mr. Tharoor talks of India being a land of paradoxes and there is a lot of truth in his observation.

When I look at new railway tracks of the MRT at Chennai, it feels good to see progress..at the same time when you look down from the train, it is so heartening to see swamps of water and hutments all around the dirty water. Ironical as it may seem, the growth of the overhead rail (for the people who can afford) is really at the cost of the people down below living in such conditions.

On the other hand, no matter how accommodating you appear to the people below the poverty line they mostly seem to get the better of you. I listen to my maid's many excuses for not coming to work on a regular basis only to see her happily taking advantage of the time off. Regular "extraas" like grains / clothes given out of compassion soon appear in the " should have" list and I wonder whether the other name for charity is compulsion these days! I left a cabbie with a trust that he would come home and hand over the change (almost Rs. 80) and it has been more than 2 months and I am still waiting :)

Another paradox is about our construction companies, we boast of "world class" construction. We also proudly say that we develop nations other than India. A close look at the construction of the MRT stations at Chennai is enough to shake all that you have heard / read. I shudder to think that it took close to 35 years if not more to build these stations! If this is the quality after all the years of work..I wonder how the Japanese built the worlds highest railway track and stations at freezing temperatures at Switzerland without the least trace of the effort. World class indeed!

All in all we seem to be in a real muddle of things right now and though we seem to be progressing to great heights..according to me the reverse is also true..we are exponentially progressing to scary depths of poverty too.