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A Bystander's Diary Share This Page
No Simple Solution, Alas! Gaffes Galore
by Sakshi Bookmark and Share
 

No Simple Solution, Alas!
Gaffes Galore
Their Halloween & Ours
Tipsy Role Models
Damn the Torpedo, Full Speed Ahead
Think it Through

No Simple Solution, Alas!

After long persistent effort my wife succeeded in convincing me that my only daily exercise of bending the elbow to lift the glass of wine isn’t enough to burn my surplus daily intake of calorie. After a while I resolved to yoke myself to some of the household duties (like walking with the vacuum cleaner) as legitimate rigorous exercise. Then I – very unfortunately – ran into a study which says that those people who do the most housework were also the most overweight.

I hear one must walk 10,000 steps a day to keep physically fit and another few thousand to shed some of the accumulated fat on the body.

I’m sharing the bad news with you because there isn’t a smoother, simpler way to healthy living.

Gaffes Galore

Electioneering is the season of gaffes. That is one asset of 24X7 TV that it records them alive and cannot be explained away as a case of misreporting. And that’s precisely the fun of watching TV if you’ve time for this inanity.

Varisht (meaning senior) Congress leader – all leaders, I’m told are varisht even if they joined politics day before yesterday – Beni Prasad Verma tells us that “I am happy with this inflation”. Isn’t he right? After all when we can’t do a thing about it, we must learn to live happily with it. So don’t worry about rising prices. Just be happy.

Quoting wrong historical facts exposes the poor grasp our leaders have over our past. At the inauguration of the renovated Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Memorial Museum in Ahmedabad, Gujarat chief minister and prime ministerial BJP aspirant Narendra Modi reportedly said that Jawaharlal Nehru did not attend Patel’s funeral. This isn’t so. He did go, though most reluctantly, but did all he could to dissuade the then President Rajendra Prasad no to attend, which advice he very firmly turned down.

Modi made another gaffe or two in his well-attended Patna rally. Chandragupta Maurya didn’t belong to the Gupta dynasty nor is Takshila in Bihar. China spends a lot but not 20% of its GDP on education.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also got it wrong when he referred to the ‘large 70-foot ashes with dead bodies’ in Uttar Pradesh.

However, it is not just our netas who alone are prone to gaffes. Topping the global list is the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s remark that ‘You can see Russia from land here in Alaska’. Former US president George W Bush’s ‘Bushisms’ like “I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully” have found a lasting place in the history of gaffes.

Isn’t it an affront to the intelligence of our people that our leaders don’t bother to do their homework? They need to be careful about their words, and most certainly about their facts. Those who don’t know our past can hardly be trusted to chart out our future.

Perhaps, all parties need to conduct crash courses in historical information so that when our worthies get up and speak in public, they are on firm ground.

Their Halloween & Ours

Surprisingly, we haven’t yet declared a public holiday on October 31, in India. It was – you may sit down leisurely to recall – how on this day in 1517 Martin Luther wrote to Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, protesting against the sale of Papal indulgences. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” which came to be known as the 95 Theses. That’s not the only significance of the day.

Originally, the day marked the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture when people got ready to settle down for the long winter and its rigors. Today, in the West it is largely a festive day for children. Around sunset they venture out in cold in every area to go out in groups to collect from each house a quota of toffees and chocolates. I’ve no ideas how many days their sizeable stock of sweets lasts. Till Christmas, perhaps!

We have in our society a counterpart of Halloween called Lohri which supposedly, marks the winter solstice. (Scientifically, the shortest day of the year is around December 21–22 after which the days begin to get longer. Accordingly, winter solstice begins on December 21 or December 22 and Lohri ought to be celebrated on the day.) But the custom has it that it is celebrated on what’s called in Hindi calendar as Makar Sankranti.

Invariably, it is the coldest day of the winter season. As children we used to go out in the village in small groups to collect wood and dried cow-dung cakes for the bon-fire we would have in the village square on Lohri evening. Everyone gathered around to feed the rising flames with (of all the things) popcorn and gur.

This year Google has updated its homepage with its Halloween special doodle. The Halloween doodle features an aged witch going through a huge manuscript that includes information related to witchcraft. If you clicked on the play button of the doodle, the witch started with her practice and gave you a unique opportunity to participate with her in the proceedings. With a spooky sound in the background to add to the effect, I persuaded the witch to perform her witchcraft several times, but couldn’t myself master it.

Tipsy Role Models

All of us relish the exercise of sharing the wisdom garnered over time with our children indirectly giving them lessons in what is right and what is wrong in life. One lesson I learnt rather late in life is that children don’t necessarily follow what their parents tell them but they almost unfailingly do what they see their parents do.

Let me give you an example from the British society that’s facing in a big way the problem of drunkenness. The Independent reports a recent survey indicating that nearly half of British children aged 10 to 15 group polled by Drinkaware revealed that they had seen their parents drunk.

What do you expect children of impressionable group to do in life when they see their conscious and unconscious role models drunk every now and then? Shall we make effort to reform the older generation or spend time and effort in educating the younger generation in virtues of abstention?

Damn the Torpedo, Full Speed Ahead

There were, once upon a time, no cell phones. I don’t know how we survived? But we did indeed. Didn’t we? And I’m not talking of early twentieth century.

I don’t recall running into this modern pestilence called mobile telephony when the twenty-first century began running its course. But soon thereafter was an avalanche of cellular phones. The result was that every butcher, baker and candle-stick maker was carrying a cell phone in one hand all the time.

Everyone got busy talking to each other. What was the subject of conversation was utterly immaterial. It was talk just for sake of talking and do that while sitting, standing or walking. Haven’t you seen people riding bicycles on Indian roads with cell phone glued to their ear with one hand busy holding the instrument.

There was still some concern to begin with and expressed now and then what possibly could be the effect of this growing exposure to electro-magnetic fields. The blaze of publicity mounted by the multinationals operating in the field ensured that everyone forgot all about the health issue.

We’re living, today, in an age of Nomophobia – a new term coined of late, which means the fear of losing contact with your cell phone.

And today is the era of smart phones. You get an Email which says ‘sent from my BalckBerry’ Poor me without a cell phone envy how while driving my car I could send a message back home that I’m stuck in a jam that may last till at least a couple of hours.

I’ve lived through a time when health hazards from smoking became a matter of public concern and the tobacco lobby could no longer keep the issue buried in the blizzard of publicity. But the damage had been done. And many like me have been the victims. When shall we wake up to the possible danger we are inviting by turning a blind eye thanks to the promotional drive of MNC’s to convert the whole world to smart phone users?

And when the first cell phones arrived there was a heated discussion in informed circles the world over whether it’s really safe to expose human heads to electro-magnetic waves. There were heated debates among neurologists and brain specialists. WHO was expected to go into the problem in depth and arrive at some conclusion? Today we seem to be following the great Irish Admiral who said: Damn the torpedo, full speed ahead.

Think it Through

H. L. Mencken, the famous American essayist and satirist known as the “Sage of Baltimore” once said: “A celebrity is one who is known to many persons he is glad he doesn’t know.”

Can I say that a leader is one who’s known to hundreds of thousands whom he not only just doesn’t know but forgets all about after he has been elected to office by them.
  

4-Nov-2013
More by :  Sakshi
 
Views: 556
Article Comment Sir, I have watched Modi's speech in Patna where he told that "when taking about education during ancient India, Takshashila and Nalanda comes to our mind".

No where he told that Takshashila was in Bihar. When the give speech in any state and if he mentions any place in the speech, it doesn't mean that that place should belong to that state.

Naren
11/07/2013
Article Comment Witchcraft??? All that the Google witch did was turn three pages of the book. I saw nothing fancier than that and was expecting much more. What a silly treat!
Daniel Rey M.
11/05/2013
 
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