Monday, April 20, 2015

Trash Can Philosphy....

I once heard someone call someone a Trash can.  Clearly, not Trash, but Trash Can.

And it really set me thinking.

Contents of a Trash Can, regardless of their origin, history, nature and value, are basically regarded as good-for-nothing or plain junk.

While being called "Trash",  may have something to do with the thrower's concept of dirt clashing with  the  throwee's concept of right, wrong, and debatable, and the thrower's concept of beauty, misguided sense of high standards,  inability to tolerate anything other than one's own opinion, and a very touchy Amygdala,  being called  a Trash Can is something else.

It says that one is then a fitting receptacle for  everything useless and bad.

It describes an ability  to mindlessly accept anything that is thrown at you. And a pathological  inability to refuse. It could be really good useful things.  But thrown at you as trash, they lose value.  A trash can's job is to be available, open, and accepting. Sometimes it overflows, and causes problems, and dogs, scavengers, and others are known sometimes solve this peril of plenty. Cows in particular are excellent trash researchers.

Across the century,  as potential and now confirmed Trash Cans, there has been  so much physical imbibing of trash by us.

Harmful chemicals used in ripening fruits, and making them look so called color perfect.  Which we so admire and eat, every season. Mindless marketing of leafy greens grown  in suspect soils by the railway track, and an avid buying of these by those who think this is cheap.

Cooking substances cleverly adulterated by unscrupulous traders/manufacturers, and blindly used by an entire generation smitten by and taken in by ads, as metanil yellow, iron filings, sawdust , papaya seeds etc get a new life in your trash can anatomy.

Carcinogenic chemicals in shampoos, fragrances, deos and creams,  which hide maliciously behind shining hair, bouncy silky hair, fairness creams , age controlling creams as they lather and dry, leaving all the bad stuff quietly behind.

Careless food labeling, unverified and unchecked , particularly where ready to eat fast food is concerned.  A flood of trans fats, MSG and sodium, that hides behind fancy pictures, misleading advertising.  Unscrupulous  bottling of vague water , fancy labels, and selling to those , away from metros, desperate in thirst.  

There is even more when  someone is labelled a  Trash Can.

Mental imbibing  . Of Trash.

Mostly Pressure Trash .

The ability to accept random nonsense as gospel truth under pressure, mostly family and society related.  A newly developed ability to close eyes and ears and mouth at important times, sometimes defying anatomy in the case of ears.

The ability to lose the use of logic, because you are seen to stand out in defiance.

The ability to accept wide ranging abuse, and and the capacity to hear about it being justified.

The tendency to listen to rumors and accept it as scientific fact.
The ability to  stand as an onlooker, under some one's pressured teaching, when something terrible is happening to someone around you.

The ability to be part of a gutless herd , because it is fashionable to make sexist jokes, insult , and use shocking swear words , and to hell with everything and everyone else.

The list of Mental Trash is endless. 

In a world where everyone wants quick results, status, and   an attainment of some kind of dubious standards defined by someone selling something, be it false dreams or something concrete,  it is so easy being a Trash Can.

Sometimes, the Body rebels, and  sometimes the Mind.   Of course this assumes that the Trash Can has a mind.

The body may sometimes be treated by the advances in science, at huge costs.  The mind, already in Trash Can mode, is willing to accept it all.

When it is a question of the mind, the treatment is often very specific, involves many others, support systems, and observers.  Sometimes medicines too.  And it is all about remembering that you are the Trash can and not the voluminous Trash itself. And that, as in a real world, the Trash Can is to be emptied .

This is the age of cell phones and Apps.  There is an App for everything.

I wonder if we as humans could download an App called "UnTrash"  and install it somewhere in our brains.

Any Trash detected approaching you, and the App  would ring alarm bells in your ears, and create an allergy on your skin.    Should be so useful, given that most folks today walk around with earphones in their ears.


Nothing will stop someone from calling someone else a Trash Can.   But then one can always be, an Intelligent Trash Can.

And you don't need to search or this Intelligent App on any Play Stores.

History says that the first Intelligent Trash Can happened way before Intel et al were born.

That was when we started the first compost pit.   



Friday, April 17, 2015

Memories, Melbourne and other Matters......

My mother grew up at a time, when computers were not only not there, they weren't even on any horizon that she could see.  While life went  on peacefully with traditional hardware making things in life relatively easy,  the software was mostly in the head.

At some point, calculators happened, and the initial reaction was that they threatened the "learn your tables" philosophy.  The progression, if one can call it that was interesting.  My parents and their contemporaries knew tables, of 1/4, 1/2,  3/4 , 3/2 , and one could sense immediate applications of the same when one accompanied folks to the mandai or vegetable market. The vendors probably knew the tables too, and a decent truthful calculation by the vendor often earned respect from the purchasing parent.   As children we learned tables of all integers till 30, and had to recite them daily before dinner.  Somehow, we escaped fractions.

It was not just the mathematics.  There was a method to remembering things.  You associated events with people. You associated, relatives with people. You associated professions with people. And if you discovered any cross linkages, you remembered those too,  creating more and more links and indexes as life went on.  All sitting nicely in your  brain.

As an adult, it was fairly common for me to meet at my home  in Mumbai,  someone from , say Pune,  and sense that maybe I knew them. A quick call to my mother, and a summary later, she would rattle off how the person was linked to some one's someone, who was connected to me in a  roundabout way.   In the Maharashtrian way of defining relatives, aunts/uncles/nephews/nieces  are never defined in general, but have specific names based on how they originated, which side of the family, and how close (once removed, twice removed etc). It was amazing that my mother's generation had this inborn constantly updated mental software, that allowed them to link people, and more important, store and retrieve this information at random and at will.

And so, when my mother identified someone  as someone's brother-in-law's maternal aunt's  cousin's daughter ,  a light was supposed to go off in my head.   And all this time it was totally clear as crystal to my mother, how we knew the person, as I tried to follow half way there, and gave up.  

One of the reasons they were able to do this, is because they continuously used their brains, and kept the algorithm alive.  "Use it or Lose it" was not an old saying, but was really meant for us.

Some of it rubbed off on me . For other times, there is always Facebook.

A few days ago, I got a message from someone in Melbourne. It was someone (SG) who often commented on some food poetry  I wrote on a friend's  recipe posts.  I didn't know the lady, but had, as they say, seen her around on Facebook.

Turns out, that her uncle (twice removed, ie not a direct relation, but through  her mother's aunt) was  on her FB friends list, and she found me on that uncle's friends list. ( It happens that I am related to him by marriage).  She ecstatically messaged me defining the complete people link in detail, and giving some of her own family history, and the place where she spent her childhood years.

Turns out that , my in-laws spent their early married years, with their young children, in the same city , same area, and when I messaged her back with this information, she was probably thrilled to bits.  She told me , that she had actually spent her childhood knowing my in laws, knew the entire family complete with their childhood pet names, and often stayed over at their place as a child.

This lady is older than me, (I am 65), and if you actually analyze all the linkages of the people that link me to her, I end up being an aunt of hers.....

As if this was not enough, the next evening, I got another message from someone else (SC) in Melbourne, mentioning my mother by name , and asking if I was her daughter. Enthused, we spoke on the phone, and it turns out that she knew my mother very well about 35 years ago, and then lost touch after going to Australia.  This lady too , is 71, and says she remembers meeting me at my parents place in Mumbai.

Then again, in a manner which would have had my mother nodding in approval, the talk got around to some relatives on my fathers side that she was connected to by her marriage, . Five minutes later, it turned out that she even knew the person i worked for before I retired, and was his first landlady in his early marriage years.

Just when I was taking a deep breath, she tells me that that she and the previously mentioned SG (also now in Melbourne),  both have great grandmothers who were sisters. And somewhere in between she lets me know that I sound just like my mother when I speak ......

In a way, all this gladdens the heart.  People look out for folks and initiate friendships, value old links, and respect genealogies.  It isn't all about  being on Facebook and "liking".  It isn't  about beeps and notifications reminding you about events like birthdays, family group messages and stuff.  It isn't about operating systems outside your brain reminding you about who is who, and offering you a template about what's a good thing to say to them.

I have nothing against computers, cell phones and their capabilities.  I have everything against lazy brains that leave everything to these contraptions, and blindly ape murdered English language syntax,  and substitute  screen games for human conversation.

Having heard about fancy chess folks  who play against computers, it  boggles the mind to think, that perhaps, my  mother , had she been alive today , could have played a game against a computer, trying to find the connection between me and the above two ladies. 

Possibly , the machine would have gone into an infinite loop trying to figure out who was  who, amidst all the agitated relational databases and indices .

She would have won, hands down.

Mind you, hands down, but not idle hands. She would have been busy making something for her grand kids, while explaining the linkup to me.....

Just  remembering her today.  Her birthday . She would have been 98......



Saturday, April 04, 2015

#Mychoice Festival

Deepika Padukone's  #mychoice  #Empowerment Video, made by Homi Adajania went viral over the Net. Very slickly made, geared to a certain audience, it evoked tons of reactions, and everyone and their uncle are now making videos .

What is not known is that this has inspired so many others , to whom #Empowerment  is something someone spells wrong, instead of saying "I am powered" .

Never mind. What is important is the POWER and the #mychoice video

Balu Rasad Zadav,  well known exponent of the saying "when you empower a politician you empower generations to come", has just made one.  Set in a field, green after unseasonal rains, interspersed with cows from his shed , he sits on a charpoy, bare chested in the sun, chewing away many things. " Its #mychoice, whether I head the state, or a family member does. Its also #mychoice to decide where to apply the word "Communal forces". So what if I cannot spell empowerment.  . (Turns around and spits, as a sidey dives with a spitoon singing Gimme Red ).  "The Railways have never been the same since I left. Harvard students  never came after I left. So finally, i had to send my 40 year old married daughter to a Harvard Conference. You must have seen her photos at a lectern speaking at the Student Conference.  Backdrop Dekho ji.  These Harvardwallahs are so communal, they said they did not invite her. Why ? Because she is 40 ?  (Chews some more, moves it all into the left cheek. Chews some more. Decides to spit, then changes his mind.) .Arre Bhai, in Delhi, 40 and 50 is the new 25. Powerful children of  powerful parents are permanently qualified . Age is just a mind set (Chews angrily, and spits to the right, misses the spittoon.  The flunky standing at second slip, moves into first. That's empowerment...      

Then there is Pinjrada Wall,  who has inadvertently appeared in so many videos, that he decided to finally make an official #mychoice video.  Naturally, set in the capital, amidst Lutyens architecture, he is seen driving up, sorry, being driven up, in a box type car, his face wrapped in a muffler.  "Its #mychoice what headgear to wear,  and yes, the Gandhi topi certainly keeps the muffler in place along with my red tooth contraption" .  He runs up the entrance steps of what could be his office, followed by a bunch of fellows in topis but without mufflers.  They are received with flowers, and once in the office, he beams as he sits on the chief's chair. Removes his topi, places it in front of him, smiles at the others seated opposite him, and starts plotting for a meeting. A knock on the office door, and he says "Kam in e..."  causing whoever was outside to freeze.   It's the cops with a police dog, come to sniff bugs in his office. The dog keeps pulling away from the door, refusing to go in. Pinjrada Wall is heard shouting    "Kam in e..."  louder, and the police dog drags his minder away from it all.  He probably knows, that the next word to be heard from the sanctum in "Kutte" , and he doesn't want to be part of any #mychoice videos.  On his way, the minder respectfully nods at Admiral Lakshman Das, Unshant Vibhushan, and  Yogasan Ladav, all walking away .

And how can you forget Mantri Tu-asa-kar,  minder of that wonderful small place on apna west coast,  who has been so stung, by so many folks in various levels of exposure , lying unchecked on the golden hot sands. He has been left with no alternative to make his own #mychoice  video, exhorting folks via a loudspeaker, as he rides in a jeep on the sand, telling them to cover themselves. " Who will marry you if you turn dark ?  It is a question of your future. Please getup, cover yourself; go have something cool in the cafe ; 20% off  to those who mention my name ".  After several rounds dodging brave ladies in sarees doing parasailing on the beach, and flying above him, he returns back to his office. The film shows him being saluted by his staff and escorted to his office, through a crowd on nurses gathered silently outside.  "Ab kya hua !  Kai zhala! "  he exclaims as he sinks into his deep chair with a towel on the backrest.  He receives a delegation , as his AC is put on its highest setting. Shuts his eyes, leans forward, and  tells them,  "All this sitting in the sun, will make you black, and ruin your marital prospects , so first thing is go home, apply besan haldi, wash your faces and come back again tomorrow ....  My government is committed to being Fair and Lovely ...."  


It really is not possible to review videos made by so many worthies.  Then someone had an idea of a shortcut method, that of editing videos of legislatures where the members tended to have free for all fights , threw hardware around and ran to the well to do a chorus in front of the speaker.

It's OK. Not everyone can be Deepika.

Not everyone can wear fashionable clothes, brilliant smiles,  proudly display artistically  radially flying hair (which actually reminds me of an Amul ad), and display what filmy types describe as a "come hither"  look.

All the better, for it allows the public to tell these guys, to simply "go thither"  and stay there.