The social whirl

So I’m feeling lazy, and there’s a hint of rain in the air, and the smell of brownies baking (not the hash kind, the walnut kind, sorry) and three editors whose screams can be heard faintly on the breeze as dem deadlines just sort of slide by–what’s not to like about the day?

Feeling sociable, in the virtual sense, so decided to check out the neighbourhood.

Dilip D’Souza revisits scenes from the tsunami:
“I’m drawn back to this spot, behind Pandala Salai in Nagore, like a moth to a flame. The remarkable photographer Joel Sternfeld once did an entire book of photographs of scenes of great disaster; and it’s on this trip back here that I begin to understand why. I know this is the spot where that poor woman was buried, back in December. I remember the scene in deep-etched detail, down to the man who ran up and used his cellphone to take a photograph of the body and his friends crowded around to see it, as if it wasn’t enough to see the body itself in tragic flesh.”

The Griffin’s post on Being Really Poor has been doing the rounds:
“BoingBoing quotes [via Making Light] John Scalzi’s Being Poor. And for the first time, I find myself genuinely upset with how little people in the USA know about how the rest of the world lives. Fercrying out loud, that piece is about luxury that some people in this part of the world can never aspire to.
Here, with no apologies to Mr Scalzi, is my version.”

The Duck spits on spats:
“I wish I were an intellectual giant. The great thing about being an intellectual giant is that you can say silly things and people will take you seriously. So whether its Salman Rushdie blowtorching all Indian writers who don’t write in English, or VS Naipaul killing the Novel, intellectual giants draw splutters of outrage and passionate rebuttals instead of the quiet shudders and sympathetic glances they sometimes richly deserve.”

Jabberwock celebrated his first birthday with a string of good posts:
“One of the things Sudeep and I discussed was that there’s so much talk of chronicling the “real India” – whatever that grossly overused term means – in current literature that a lot of other things get undermined: the experiences, for instance, of a whole urban generation that grew up in boarding schools in the 1970s and who are as much a part of modern India as anyone else.”

Uma blogs about adult literacy…via rangolis:
“There are eight women in the learning centre, which is called the kalika kendra. These are women who are holding a piece of chalk or a pencil in their hands for the first time in their lives. First, they learn pre-literacy activities. Holding the stub of chalk, pressing it just so to the slate, making the first mark, scratch, line, curve, now curvy lines, wavy lines. Uncertainly, tentatively, delightedly, their hands move across the slate, pause, move again, then they laugh like excited children, they move the chalk again, they run it over and over the slate. It’s fun even to watch. It’s play….
…Months later, the class is celebrating. Outside Lata’s one-room house, where the women have met every evening for so many months, on the dry powdery soil smoothened down with sprinkled water, they had first thought of organising a rangoli contest.
“But then we decided to make one large rangoli together,” they tell me, talking in an excited chorus. Rangolis: their intricate, gaily coloured patterns made on the ground outside the threshold of the house with rice flour. Complicated and beautiful patterns that welcome us into the house. And after all, these women’s hands have always been sure and confident when they make their rangolis: there is no uncertainty there, nothing tentative. And so, now, here is this huge and festive rangoli: a map of India, copied painstakingly from Lata’s geography textbook: an India that is roughly diamond-shaped, outlined in white, the oceans around the peninsula, now the state of Karnataka, now their jille within the state, now their taluk inside the district, now their hobli, now their panchayat, and now, magically, a little tamarind seed to show their village.”

Amit Varma contemplates his–nope, make that The State’s–kidneys:
“From this interesting story, I find out something that rather startles me: we do not own our kidneys, the state does.”

Chandrahas goes from darkness into deeper darkness:
“All of last week I sat inside my room working, and the sun rose and set without my knowing very much about what was going on in the world outside; by the time I finished work it would be dark, and when I did leave home I went most days to a place where bright light never penetrates: the cinema.”

Sonia Faleiro posts her Tehelka story on Bombay’s migrants:
“City tabloids occasionally publish photographs of a furtive Nigerian looking suitably dodgy. The words ‘fraudster’ or ‘drug peddler’ accompany the picture. Unfortunately, as most Indians won’t actually come into contact with a Nigerian themselves, the media is free to reinforce stereotypes and encourage fear mongering of immigrant communities in India. And it’s not just the Nigerians. The Nepalis will rob you in your sleep, Russians sell their bodies and Bangladeshis are slum dwellers. Immigrant communities have always been open to unashamed pigeonholing and haranguing from the media, the state and its citizens. The majority of migrants leave their countries in search of better economic opportunities or freedom from persecution. But how are they integrating into Indian society?”

Absolute Lee does what it takes to be a Resident of the UAE:
“One of the pre-requisites for acquiring a Resident visa is the medical test. I was dropped off at the clinic nearest to our office, by the affable driver who told me, “First x-ray, then blood, then finish.”
Simple enough, I thought. I headed to the X-ray section and was handed an innocuous looking form at the Reception. My eyes flew open. I blinked a few times and shook my head just in case I had misread the questions.

Q2: I am not pregnant because:

a) I am single or widowed
b) I am on contraceptives
c) I am staying away from my husband
d) Others (specify) “

There’s heaps more, but India Uncut’s hosting a blog mela soon, so I’ll leave the hard work to them.

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