Barking Up the Wrong Tree; Lables Lie by Sakshi SignUp
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A Bystander's Diary Share This Page
Barking Up the Wrong Tree; Lables Lie
by Sakshi Bookmark and Share
 

Barking Up the Wrong Tree
All in the Family
Labels Lie
Brain’s Cleaning System
Names of Cha
Will Drop in the Evening
Think it Through

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

As the duck takes to water, the Nehru-Gandhi family takes to shedding tears. We all know how Soniaji irresistibly shed tears during the Food Security Bill debate. How her dear husband cried when they killed his mother. And how Rahul Baba cries – not in public of course, where he has to keep brave, stoic face – at the very thought of the great sacrifices his family has made to uphold secularism which, it seems, the dyed-in-the-wool communalist BJP is out to destroy.

But is Rahul Baba achieving his purpose by repeatedly telling us of the family’s agony tales? Does he realize that his dear grandmother’s killing also witnessed the butchery of some 4000 innocent Sikh men, women and children for which crime not one single person has so far been punished. In fact some of them have been rewarded with the world’s best sinecure jobs going called Members of Indian Parliament.

I’m sure many a Congress stalwart must be among Rahul Baba’s advisors. Couldn’t one of them remind the young man that a high proportion of voters who will go to the polls next year, weren't born when Rajiv Gandhi was killed? Some of them might not have heard the name of Indira Gandhi. And those who know of her also are familiar with what is called the Emergency and the doings of her favorite son, Sanjay Gandhi.

At Doon School where all the Gandhi children had their education, Rahul Baba must have leant the English idiom barking at the wrong tree. It is believed that the origins of this phrase are rooted in hunting. Dogs are deployed in hunting because of their strong sense of smell, their ability to chase and track down other creatures. (You can well visualize the similarities between hunting and vote-gathering.)

There will be times during a hunt where the dog chases a fleeing animal up a tree, but because dogs are not good climbers, they remain on the ground and bark instead. The barking indicates to the hunter where the fleeing animal is possibly located. However, dogs occasionally make a mistake and choose the wrong tree. Perhaps the dog was unable to keep pace with the hunted animal during the chase, or maybe it got distracted along the way by something. Whatever the case, when the dog fails to pick the right tree, they are literally, ‘barking up the wrong tree.’

Talking of the killings of his ancestors, Prince Charming may be doing the same thing, namely, barking up at the wrong tree.

All in the Family

I was so glad to hear of Pranab Babu’s mature advice to his dear daughter to go the family way, namely, adopt the quick-rewarding profession of politics, which his far-sighted son, Abhijit (now MP from Jangipur seat which Pranab babu vacated) opted for by discarding the humdrum life in steel industry. I only wish I had some kind benefactor tendering me such sane advice when I was a young man struggling in industry. Today I would have been….

Where would have Kathak dancing taken Sharmishtha – that’s her name – to? After a few years when she loses the agility of her limbs – Bengalis lose it the moment they turn thirty-five – she would have been forced to call it a day. No such fear in her new profession in which its practitioners’ mature with years like good whisky.

Look at Pranab Babu himself. The only time he made a mistake – and paid an extremely heavy price for it – was when the news reached of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Rajiv Gandhi was then touring West Bengal with Pranab Babu and Ghani Khan Choudhury in tow. Within ten minutes I bumped into their jeep twice near Siliguri airport and wondered how ineffective were the security arrangements for the then Yuvraj. Next morning came the news of her guards mowing down Indira Gandhi.

Immediately the question was: who should be sworn in as Prime Minister? Most inadvertently, Pranab Babu mentioned that he was the senior-most minister in the Cabinet. Rajiv never forgave Pranab for the audacious suggestion. For full five years he had to shiver in political cold. So, two pieces of sane advice he has for his children: first, no profession like politics; second: think twice before making a suggestion. Fortified with these mature lessons, both sister and brother have a long way to go.

Labels Lie

Do you know when it comes to herbal products; you might not always be getting what you’re paying for. The Canadian press reports, on a University of Guelph study, that in many cases the labels on herbal supplements in no way reflected what was in the bottle.

A team of researchers performed investigations on 44 products. Some contained “fillers” such as wheat or rice that weren’t listed on the label; others were contaminated with plant species capable of causing toxic or allergic reactions; and some contained no trace at all of the substance they were supposed to contain.

The same unfortunately is true – in fact, far more acutely – of political labels. Haven’t we for instance, been repeatedly short-changed every time we bought – rather voted – for the label of socialist pattern of society – the label that was registered by the Congress Party in Avadi?

The other misleading label on wide display these days is secularism. I’m making a survey to determine its contents – real and advertised. Wait for my findings. Meanwhile, don’t forget the wise old Latin warning: Caveat emptor, “Let the buyer beware”.

If you’re cheated once or twice in what you buy, it might be called your carelessness, If you’re duped repeatedly – as we have been for good sixty-five years – it shows how downright stupid we actually are.

Did the Bard know it?

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Brain’s Cleaning System

If you’re feeling foggy – I’m sure on some days you do, – go straight to bed. Even alone! NBC News recaps a study from the University of Rochester that suggests a good night’s rest can leave you feeling sharp, courtesy of a newly discovered system that scrubs away neural waste while you’re sleeping. “We have a cleaning system – that we didn’t know of before – that almost stops when we are awake and starts when we sleep,” said the chief researcher heading the study.

“It’s almost like opening and closing a faucet – it’s that dramatic.” The brain’s glymphatic system pumps cerebral spinal fluid through space around brain cells and flushes waste into the circulatory system, where it eventually makes its way to the liver.

So, two pieces of advice: First, go to sleep as soon as you feel dull. And secondly, don’t overwork your liver in the evenings. It has more to do than just burning alcohol.

Names of Cha

Like any good, rejuvenating sun-downer, tea too has several names. In fact, many too many.

Camellia Sinensis - the plant whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce tea – yields numerous varieties. The most common is Black Tea, made from fermented leaves.

In India the three most common teas are Assam tea, Darjeeling tea and Nilgiri tea and fifty blends thereof. Now they have brands like masala tea and badam tea made from semi-fermented leaves.

Have you tried white tea? It is a product of the early buds of tea plants. It’s the rarest and most expensive of the regular teas. As a result of the short oxidation, white tea contains the most health benefits of any tea.

Then there’re Flavored Teas, the most famous of which is Earl Grey Tea, named after its inventor, Charles Earl Grey. The flavoring of Earl Grey Tea comes from the Bergamot plant, which is a citrus grown plant in the Mediterranean.

Then there’s the famous English Breakfast tea and its rival Irish Breakfast tea.

And about herbal teas some other day. Let me assure my readers I’m not an adviser to Tea Board. I’m a plain, simple tea lover.

Will Drop in the Evening

At the graduate school I opted for a course in Japanese history. Our teacher was on secondment from Tokyo Imperial University. On the eve of his departure we arranged a farewell for him. One of us ventured to ask: “Enoki-san – that was his name – what is your most significant impression of India as you leave the country after three years?” As a good polite Japanese he gave the question some serious thought before venturing his reply. I was sure he would say: the priceless legacy of India’s spiritual values.

I was, therefore shocked, when he replied: “Everyone in India I see wears a wrist watch.” So, what about it, I thought. Prof Enoki added after a pause: “But I find no one is punctual.” Probably he was referring to all of us, his students, who attended his seminars.

Why are we Indians notoriously unpunctual? What does time mean to us: a ceaseless continuum or a structured arrangement? Give it a thought. I’ll return to it next time

Think it Through

A secret may be sometimes best kept by keeping the secret of its being a secret, said Sir Henry Taylor, the nineteenth century British dramatist.

Do try to sell this gem to your best lady friend. If you succeed you’ve achieved something.

27-Oct-2013
More by :  Sakshi
 
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