20 January, 2010

Food for thought

A farmer is someone who 'grows food' - everyone knows that. Food is one of our basic needs- everyone knows that too. Farming is therefore, a profession on which the very survival of human beings depends on. Inspite of that, it isn't the chosen profession for the vast majority of us.....

All these thoughts came to me as I was reading http://www.civilsocietyonline.com/jan10/jan101.asp.

Adike Patrike (http://www.adikepatrike.com/) is a magazine in Kannada written by & of agriculturists for everyone. As a regular reader, I am often in awe of the agriculturists featured. These men and women defy all the common, negative perceptions of a farmer as illiterate/uneducated/ someone who is forced to take up the profession because he isn't fit for anything else. Thanks to the magazine, I know that a lot of people have come up with their own ideas to face hurdles like water shortage, labour shortage, lack of marketing support from the government, etc. What's more, they are tech-savvy enough to keep in touch with the global trends and share their experiences through blogs, web sites, and, of course, newsprint.

Ours is a country that considers agriculture as the back bone of our economy. As far as I know, no other profession enjoys as many tax benefits and loan incentives. Which brings me back to where I started - why, then, is farming considered inferior? Why isn't there any encouragement to take it up as a profession? While the lean times of the farmer are highlighted everywhere, why do we restrict the good times to agri- magazines only? Why don't our movies glorify the annadaata? After all, even Bill Gates has to eat to survive!

13 January, 2010

Letters

This morning, I had a surprise phone call- from my dad's sister. Yesterday, while spring-cleaning her attic, she came across a sackful of old letters written by her relatives and friends and like any other normal person, she took a break from cleaning and went through some of the letters. She came across a couple, written by me, dating back to 1976 (I must have been about 5)!!
She read out a few lines, and I can tell you, we were in splits :D
Before she hung up, she threatened to keep those letters - to be read out and laughed at when there is a family get-together. OK aunty, go ahead, I am sportive! Make sure your brother is around - I must have been guided by him!
That talk put me in nostalgic mode and, here, I must confess that I have my share of letters - collected through the ages. Going through them gives me lots of cheer, especially, when I'm feeling low. Curiously, my collection doesn't have a billet-doux. That is, because I haven't received one :( True! Nobody has ever written one to me. Well, letter writing is almost extinct and I guess, I will die without ever knowing what it is like to be naaraaz - prem patr padkar ;)

02 January, 2010

Not quite amusing

Barely a week after I wrote the previous post, a touring amusement fair decided to make a brief halt here! However, instead of the shopping types that I was hoping for, this one was of the fun and games types - hoop- la stalls, merry-go-rounds, etc. So, on Sunday evening, we went & found 75% of the town already there!! We are really short on entertainment here!
Kids between 2 & 5 made the most of the rubber slides and the merry-go-rounds with seats shaped like cars, boats, planes, etc. The bigger kids went in for the ubiquitous giant wheel and rides with names like 'Titanic' & 'Tora Tora' (For people like me, observing the flirtatious mood among the youth was added amusement!!). There was a freak show- advertised as Naagin- supposedly, a creature with a woman's face and a snake's body (A dwarf forced into a skirt made to look like a snake's body? - Probably). We decided to give it a miss.
And then, there was the dog show - managed by 3 dogs & 2 men. We decided to go in. The audience had to stand around a circular enclosure within which the dogs performed as instructed by the men. The 2 pomeranians performed the usual circus tricks - pushing a cylinder, jumping through hoops and walking on twos wearing necklace, sunglasses, purse & umbrella, while pretending to be 'Naguma' :)
It was the labrador's performance that was new to us- 'Sony' would walk along the enclosure and stand by the apt person when its master asked questions like 'Who's the oldest here?', 'Who's the youngest?', etc. After sometime, the man asked, 'Inme kaunsi maydam aalsi hai?' and to my utter horror and embarassment, it stood in front of me!! There were a few titters and my husband gave me a smile that meant 'You look it - even a dog can see that' (Hubby, you know that looks are deceptive, right? And, I'm sure one of the men was making a clucking noise when the dog neared the person the man thought answered the description - bad judge, I think :) )!
And so, the show continued for some more time, embarassing a few more people with answers to questions like 'Which boy here is a master at ogling?' and 'Which lady is forever quarrelsome?'. The show ended just when everyone was beginning to feel a little bored and we headed home.
Shows like this, involving animals, bring out such conflicting emotions. On the one hand, there are those two men, whose far away, probably large, families must be surviving because of the income generated by the animals. On the other hand, there are the animals, who, for no fault or choice of theirs, must be subjected to so much torture to learn and regularly perform unnatural tricks. It must be hard on the men too - away from their folk for long stretches, spending time in strange places, eating different types of food & unhygenic living conditions. Handling the animals during transit must be difficult too. Falling sick in stange places would be traumatic, both for the men & the animals. All in all, a very difficult equation to solve :(
 Maybe, one should takes these things at face value and not think too much about it - that's the only practical solution I can think of.

The Story of a Seed

It was a visiting Sunday - six years ago at the Poorna Prajna School, Sangameshwarpet. As usual, all the hostelers were waiting for their pa...