Monday, August 30, 2010

our chief minister

I think Shiela Dikshit  makes for great photo-ops. I love her tussar sarees in the cold season. I like the cottons she wears as well. I wish our president would discuss her wardrobe options with Shiela Dikshit and Sonia Gandhi. Sheila must make for a wonderful aunt. I am sure her near and dear ones are treated to orange lopchu tea with Monaco biscuits or crisp snacks and fresh cake when they visit, but  what i cannot understand about her is her public utterances.
When young Saumya Vishwanathan was killed while returning from work Sheila sounded like a distraught grandmother providing  interim domestic relief when she declared   that young women should not go out in the late hours. She could have scored some brownie points if she had said "young people" instead of women  and had drawn attention to damaged body clocks. At least she would have won the hearts and the loyalties of perennially  stressed parents.
Then she took on the entire populace living on either side of the BRTS or driving through it. Travelling on the  the bus lane ( in the centre of things) Aunt Dikshit declared that  no traffic problems were being created by the BRTS. The BRTS is without debate one of the most wretched changes that have been introduced on Delhi's roads. Having given official sanction to the mauling of the premier stretch of  Delhi's roads beyond recognition Aunt Dikshit turned her attention to the Common Wealth Games. She worked around the clock to effect clearances but ripped pavements and unfinished exteriors continue to plague our sight while all our service providers ranging from fruit seller to cobbler have been hustled off the roads.
Then after that intemperate brahmin cackled with malevolent glee over impending games disaster Dikshit took it upon herself to announce that anyone who was not for the games was not for the country. A slight  modification of the Delhi police ( with you, for you, always)statement, this, but look at the deluge that followed. Enormous siphoning and misappropriation of funds  were made public and this even made the  British queen  testy.Quickly forgetting  Britain's hoary colonial rapacity, or perhaps seeing this as a historic occasion  for redressal,  the Queen denounced  the 21st century attempts by her subjects  to shortchange the natives.
That imperial command prompted all our investigating journalists to go home to sleep off the attendant weariness. Meanwhile, the rains continued to descend on us. Little water in our taps, but unquantifiable, 24 hour supply of it  on all our roads. Driving below flyovers and underpasses, and on any road off the Ring Road equalled the experience of being in Venice on a Gondola. Except for the power that trips and is on the blink  and the freshly reincarnated mosquitoes ( bigger and more lethal). But Aunt Dikshit blunders on quixote-like and announces that there are no problems at New Delhi. She goes on to croon Meri Dilli Meri Shaan  and announces that we will have the best games ever. 
I think i have finally solved the mystery. Aunt Dikshit lives in a wonderful city where the girls being good  go to bed early, thereby bringing about a cessation in the crime graph. The civic amenities in this city are taken care of and every single inhabitant lives a happy life with abundant infrastructural  support. The countless parks and sports stadia are dotted by storehouses where helpful attendants hand out sports equipment to our gamine young and eminent sports persons coach all our young talent, while the joyous populace serenades its administrators with hosannas.  Shiela Dikshit cannot be the Chief Minister of New Delhi!

Ratna Raman

Saturday, August 28, 2010

visits from the magi

Rituparna, Aprameya and Anubhuti  come to see me. Like the Magi they arrive, bearing gifts to preside over a new confinement. There are long stemmed red zerberas reaching out to the sky, a gauzy gold and translucent bag filled with chocolates wrapped in pastel metallic foil and chocolate fudge icecream, a flavour wherein Mother Dairy surpasses  itself.  We move upstairs and settle down  and I catch up on  their lives. Graduates now, Aprameya and Ritu are moving into top-gear and are enrolled for a  Master's Programme  In English Literature at Delhi University, while Anubhuti is in her second year  of MA at Arts and Aesthetics at  JNU and has a musical timbre to her voice that definitely evokes associations with vintage Shubha Mudgal.  My life revolves around reading these days and so i tell them about my first blog, initiated by the event of getting my fingers in the way of the whirring mixer grinder.
 All of them exclaim then. They had thought that bandaged fingers were part of the treatment for carcinoma. When i tell them it is an independent injury i have contracted they are in a state of disbelief as they had not wanted to draw attention to my "unwellness." Anyway over ice cream and home crafted khakra and tea we quickly laugh and share a host of other details about academia.
 They leave shortly and it is time for me to meet  my surgical oncologist who has had a long day. He doesn't notice my solidly bandaged three fingers at all, till i draw his attention to it. He is immediately contrite and concerned. Probably the repeated barrage of gauze and surgical cellotape has  rendered him immune So while he is pronouncing the health or otherwise of my  fingers, i tell him about  my visitors of  the day. He is very amused  that such possibilities of non-knowing  exist and he laughs and says "literature walone ki kya baat hai' and suddenly the air is light again.
Driving back home i wonder at the innocence and joy de vivre of my students and their palpable concern for me and the practical efficiency with which Harit Chaturvedi  deals surgically with threats to bodily well being and this brings me back to my favourite rumination..,,when we distribute the spoils of education and give all the literature and the humanities to one section of students and all the physical and empirical sciences to another does this choice in effect  develop some aspects of personality and  push into cold storage other aspects?  Should we rethink the paucity of options we provide for our students at secondary schooling levels..?

Ratna Raman

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mean Kitchen Machine......

Was helping mom with a new garnish  that she wanted to add on to  chopped pumpkin. So mom took out my  small grinder and loaded it with  5o gms of coconut shreds,1 tablespoon raw rice, chopped green chillies and a teaspoon of mustard seeds. She used  a Sumeet mixer till it gave up the ghost  and had no idea how to use my Panasonic  super mixer grinder. This is a highly required gadget for the part time housewife and cook avatars that  women don everyday. So i placed my right hand on the lid after the mixerjar was locked in,and switched on the mains. The button at grind one was already depressed and i didn't see it. The machine whirred at full speed, the lid slid off and before i could use my left had to switch off the mains , my right hand slipped and three fingers were efficiently cut into  by the chopper. Reasonable blood loss, pain, shock, torniquet , medical attention and after i can now evaluate the damage to my fingers. The forefinger is badly off, some skin has been gouged out and the doctor attending on it recommended  stitches which i declined,  I didn't want to be sewn up just yet ., the other two fingers are badly cut but the gravity of  the injury reduces sequentially as i move from one digit to the other.
Now of course as i type this with six fingers i'm very curious to know..all these machines that we are so dependent on and buy at fairly upper end prices... how much user-safety  do they offer.?. I use this shallow dry grinder very often, and i always use it with one hand resting on the lid..  Now bruised I dont see why i should be shy of voicing apprehension about gadget safety. Especially since mine is the last of the prudent generations and we are raising generations of kitchen-gadget-challenged youngsters. This shallow grinder used for dry grinding and for chutneys is completely lethal, as  i have realized . In a deeper jar, should such a slippage happen, one's fingers would not be at risk, although i admit that i am deficient in the scientific certitude of what could happen if the lid flew off a deeper container. So how should i treat this  mid- morning mishap? As a freak accident, or should one begin to ask why we should stand beside our mini grinders holding on to lids, however feminine or graceful such a pose  may seem to the viewer.The further query i have is, have the producers of this machine taken this danger seriously? Or is this a third world situation, where human life is not at a premium and therefore, safety norms can be easily overriden, if not entirely ignored.
Is there any way of finding out if safety norms are adhered to? or if they even exist?