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A Bystander's Diary Share This Page
Facts and Figures; American Riutal
by Sakshi Bookmark and Share
 

Facts and Figures
Forgotten Password?
American Ritual
Mazaa Aa Gaya
Grammar of Anarchy
Birmingham Balti
Self-Test
Apt Definition

Facts and Figures

Robert Hardman is British to the backbone and a statistician of some standing. He has estimated – and don’t ask me how statisticians guestimate – that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – may God bless her – has met four million people during her long reign. That works out an average of 170 people per day. Isn’t it an achievement of some sort? However, there’re skeptics who ask how is that possible?

Well everything is possible in case of the Brits. Look at some statistics. Winston Churchill – remember that brandy-sipping, cigar-chewing diehard imperialist – is supposed to have smoked 250,000 Havana’s in his life time. And yet he didn’t die of lung cancer. It has also been estimated that George Bernard Shaw wrote 250,000 letters and William Wordsworth, the poet, tramped the same number of miles in the Lake District watching daffodils.

Forgotten Password?

Do you, like me, forget your password every now and then? How to avoid this recurrent embarrassment? A wise friend of mine suggested a grandmother solution: write down all your passwords and create an icon on your computer screen. Instead of labeling it ‘Lest I Should Forget’, which would obviously invite prying eyes, I’ve assigned it a dead and dreary name: qwerty.

I hear the tech giant Motorola is working on some rather unusual solutions better than mine like an electronic ‘tattoo’ that sticks to your skin and you can look at as your scratch your memory. Another experimental idea is a password pill you swallow that transmits a signal to devices outside the body. The pill doesn’t need batteries because it is powered by stomach acid.

Not before long you’ll have a choice between my gratuitous advice and a high-tech formula.

American Ritual

Were you shocked to hear the news that a gunman opened fire inside a classroom at Umpqua Community College killing several people and later was shot by police? Thirteen weapons were recovered, six at the school and seven at the home of the killer. By the way, all of them were bought absolutely legally. You can indeed buy a sten gun as easily as a hamburger. The killer had body armor too, three pistols and a rifle when he was shot and killed by police officers after a gun battle.

The shock-inducing attributes of a gory incidence like this wear off when it recurs with predictable frequency. Understandably, the ghastly massacre was followed by the flood of condolences which the New York Times has called the Political Ritual after each shooting case. Every political who’s who worth the name expressed profound shock and grief. Of course this will be followed by business as usual.

The truth is occasional gun carnage no longer shocks Americans. Succumbing to the gun industry and its vociferous lobbyists has become an accepted item of the American way of life like having a couple of Cokes at breakfast despite its well-known effects.

Both the political parties are accomplices, one a little more than the other. Of course the Republicans are redoubtable supporters of the gun lobby. If the Democrats are genuinely sincere they could indeed have passed a gun control law when they were in majority in both the houses of Congress for a couple of years during Obama’s first term. Perhaps the real rulers of the US are the vested interests represented by all-powerful lobbies, the foremost among them being the National Rifle Association.

Mazaa Aa Gaya

The goings of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) at Sriharikota do us proud. The flight of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) was its 30th consecutive successful mission. And with this launch the number of foreign or customer satellites launched by ISRO crossed half a century mark. 51, to be exact; a remarkable achievement indeed! And don’t forget the world scientific community scoffed at it when we started.

Present at this launch was Prof. Yashpal - the adorable grand old man of the Indian science and the guiding light of our space program. Witnessing the launch he blurted out that choice but untranslatable phrase that north Indians reserve for very, very special occasions that are at once fulfilling and exhilarating. And that’s mazaa aa gaya.”

Grammar of Anarchy

“If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgement we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.”

The above is what Dr. Ambedkar said in his last address in the Constituent Assembly. Did we pay need to it? Every day we do just the opposite of the wise doctor’s sane advice. And yet our democracy has survived. Isn’t it a tribute to our genius to eat the cake and have it too?

Birmingham Balti

The Birmingham Balti has been put forward for EU Protected Food Name status, three years after it started growing in popularity in British curry houses.

The Balti was developed by cooks from northern Pakistan when they came to Britain in the 1970s and 1980s. Altering ancestral recipes to incorporate British ingredients for the British palate, they came up with a dish cooked in a steel pan over a high flame.

Using meat cooked off the bone, the cooks started using vegetable oil instead of the desi ghee they had used back in Pakistan. They also used dried spices rather than fresh.

A true Birmingham Balti must be served in the same thin steel bowl it is cooked in over a hot flame, as it is this “Balti” bowl that gives the dish its name. The purpose of the Balti dish is to keep the curry hot after it has been cooked over a high heat.

If the EU grants the dish Protected Food Name status, it would mean anyone in the world cooking the distinctive curry must refer to it as the Birmingham Balti. So Birmingham Balti will soon join Champagne, Parma Ham, Stilton cheese, Cumberland sausages and the Cornish pasty in getting protected food name status from the European Union.

I plan visiting Birmingham to meet a dear doctor friend and taste the authentic Birmingham Balti and apply for a franchise to operate wherever there’s significant demand for good food.

Self-Test

Readers, said Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the English poet and critic, may be divided into four classes: First, Sponges, who absorb all that they read and return it in nearly the same state, only a little dirtied. Two, Sand-glasses, who retain nothing and are content to get through a book for the sake of getting through the time. Three, Strain-bags, who retain merely the dregs of what they read. And four, Mogul diamonds, equally rare and valuable, who profit by what they read, and enable others to profit by it also.

Find out, dear readers, for yourself which category do you fit in. I’m divided between the first and the second.

Apt Definition

Lately I ran into a picturesque definition of middle age. Do you think it is true? “Middle age is when your broad mind and narrow waist begin to change places.”

11-Oct-2015
More by :  Sakshi
 
Views: 439
Article Comment “Middle age is when your broad mind and narrow waist begin to change places.”
“mazaa aa gaya.”
drgopalsingh
10/13/2015
Article Comment @ Sakshi: "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – may God bless her – has met four million people during her long reign. That works out an average of 170 people per day." "However, there’re skeptics who ask how is that possible?" An armchair statistician myself, let me take a stab at how it is possible. I understand you meant 170 people in person, not in public meetings or some ceremonies. OK, here we go.

A delegation of 15 neighborhood women from a remote town in England or a 15 member parliamentary party from a commonwealth country like India ask and get an audience from the Queen in the Buckingham palace. Each such group is allotted a total of 15 minutes. The delegation is asked to stand in a row and usually not allowed to make eye contact or speak to her unless spoken to. She finishes shaking hands in less than 15 minutes and exchanges pleasantries and makes some small talk with the delegation during the remaining time and moves on to the next room for another waiting group. Everybody in the delegation thinks they spent 15 minutes with the Queen of England and probably is the highlight of their life next to their wedding day. You can figure that amounts to 4x15=60 members per one hour. In three hours time she meets with 180 persons, 10 extra than the daily quota of 170.
P. Rao
10/12/2015
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