Friday, 25 April 2008

IPL’s Bollywood Cricket

IPL’s Bollywood Cricket

by Remigius de Souza

CINEMA and TV among other options is a powerful media. Bollywood, here, in particular, is quite influential in the areas of personal attire – hairstyle, costumes and gestures – to house decoration by the masses. It has gone further to produce Bollywood politics, Bollywood planning, Bollywood architecture, Bollywood landscape design etc. at local, regional and national levels. No. we are not talking about the Bollywood stars – heroes and hoaxes – in the legislature.

IPL is a similar idea religiously copied in the sports i.e. cricket, from Bollywood extravaganza by the brilliant brains in Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Just as Bollywood does add foreign locations in their films, so does IPL adds foreign players and half-naked cheerleaders, to blow up surplus money BCCI has earned from cricket frenzy of desi fans (as they don’t know how to use it creatively) that goes into smoke: whosoever few are profited. This is a smoke screen to hide BCCI’s failure to bring quality to its cricket game. It reminds us the recent (2008) Bollywood Budget by P. Chidambaram, our Fin-Min of India.

Any number of movies such as Chak De India, Iqbal, and Lagan etc Bollywood may produce, it is not going to change and better the play-life of 200-300 million children in cities, towns and villages that they rightfully deserve.

The children (those not reached puberty), however, are not so much interested in watching cricket on TV screen as playing it themselves. They play cricket. They make a ball out of newspaper sheets, tie it up with a thread that comes from a grocery pack, and invent their own rules of the game. They play in the corridors in the building, gullies, by-lanes, and on holidays on the streets; they don’t have enough playgrounds in their neighbourhoods: that happens in Mumbai as well as elsewhere. The children anywhere in the world invent their own games, rather than look for external aids to keep themselves excited all the time. The children anywhere in the world invent their own games. They also love to sing, dance, paint and play and to tell stories: the adults don’t. Children are not interested in passive entertainment as the urbanite do.

I have failed to convince this one point even to one person. He was undergraduate student of architecture, and I was his dissertation/ thesis guide, while I was teaching architecture. His subject was stadiums – devoutly dedicated to cricket. I suggested working on smaller sports stadiums, which could facilitate several different games, sports and athletics besides cricket. His argument was (as if he was know-all): ‘nobody is interested in other games, because there is money in cricket.’

Remigius de Souza
© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Inflation? Take Ju-Jitsu Action

Inflation? Take Ju-Jitsu Action

On the heals of the Budget 2008 India comes inflation at 7.4%, highest in the last three years, as if an earthquake at 7.4 magnitude on Richter Scale. While one pinches a belly, the other sends physical tremors. But inflation is manmade unlike an earthquake which is natural. In both cases the people suffer.

Market now in modern times is omnipotent, omnipresent force in our lives. Inflation, recession, or even famines, are works of human hands: All works of human hands are perishable, but all human problems have answers. The damage caused to humans due to earthquakes is also a human problem, hence have answers.

I heard on a TV news channel, a Negro man (he must be a celebrity) was making a statement “INFLATION WILL AFFECT ECONOMY” (as if humans are nonentity). They, the concerned people, also add “IT WILL AFFECT THE GROWTH” (after exploiting all the resources of the Earth that belong to all the living beings on the earth). Whose growth anyway?

What could our government do? It will give some promises. It will play some jugglery with numbers to take care of production, trade, industry… blah – blah – blah. They will postpone the problem for some time, like those newly built flyovers in Delhi, Mumbai etc. to solve traffic congestion created by city planners, only to shift the traffic jam to the next point. But the problems created by buildings – civil works are going to stay until next earthquake.

We all know what Ju-Jitsu Action is. Yet we go over it briefly to give a boost to the idea. The Buddhist monks, in self defense, developed it to face the menace of thugs, dacoits, thieves thy met on the way to China some two thousand years ago. They used no weapons but only the force of the attackers to defeat them.

There is no need to mention who the enemy is and its cronies are (inside or outside).

What Ju-Jitsu Action possible in the present situation, without using any force, without spending any energy? Just in two words:


Boycott market, at all levels, just for ONE DAY – 24 HOURS all over India, or Bharat, or Hindustan – whatever you call her.

Don’t travel by train, passenger bus, car, two wheelers, and/or planes.

Switch off radio sets, TV sets, telephones, mobile phones… Don't visit cinema houses, theatres, entertainment houses.

Don’t attend work – even the so-called essential services, schools – universities, examinations for a day.

Don’t buy newspapers.

Don’t go for any shopping, not even essential commodities, which are putting hardship due to inflation, even if it means to go hungry, fast.

One day’s fast is not going to kill us. There are 200-300 million persons below poverty line who are not sure of their tomorrow’s meal. There are millions among Hindus, Muslims, Jain, Christians who observe abstinence / fast for a period of time of year. There are tens of thousands of adivasis who for lack of food drink toddy to kill their hunger during lean period of summer.

There are 300 million mobile phones in operation in India. Imagine what effect it wrought on the market if they stop working for a day!

OBSERVE INDIA BANDH, as if it is a day of national mourning.

No agitations. No protest marches. No slogans. No placards.

Imagine who will yellow their pants (or sarees, or salvars, or whatever), not only in India but all over the world!

So much energy shall be saved!

TWENTY FOUR HOURS OF INDIA BANDH will break the backbone of the omnipotent, omnipresent MARKET and its great religion, the creed of Consumerism and its manipulators and their cronies.

We have heard of Gandhiji’s STATYGRAHA. I don’t know what truth is; but the truth will be out in just twenty four hours.

Ju-Jitsu Action works. (I have personally tested it on many occasions in my personal and public life, even though it may sound silly, impractical, even to some it may seem impossible, it works.) It is time tested weapon for those not in powers, for those who do not wield weapons. Even if they get to know such an idea is floated, they shall be shaken.

Remigius de Souza

© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

We must carry our own burden

We must carry our own burden

Remigius de Souza

My Grandma
The decade and half, when Mai, my grandma, was on her last lap, and I was in my early formative years, when we were in close contact, was the most benevolent period for me. 

Mai and her daughter (my mother) were my first teachers, my first school, and it was the first chapter of the countrywide open book that is India; they remain with me forever. It was teaching by example – learning by experience – on the real ground (not in virtual reality).

My Mother

Though Mai taught me Catholic Doctrine (in Konkani – our mother tongue) as per the convention, she never talked about God, Heaven and Hell. Only three or four times, in ten years or so, she said to me, ‘Jesus carried his burden of suffering; ours is nothing before his. We must carry our own burden.’ 

Those were the trying times for her (there is no need make the details public). I had also heard this expression from other women of her genre and generation in our community. The community, spread over fifty miles, even in those days, was cohesive, but had started withering.

As I reflect now, this expression doesn’t suggest Jesus suffered for their salvation of the mankind i.e. to convert everyone to Christianity, which has been a loud propaganda by Holy Catholic Church for two thousand years.
(However, I met at least one priest, in Gujarat, who preached Gospel to the lowly who accepted the Faith and practiced it, but he refused to Baptise them, even on their earnest request, and of course for the ire of his superiors.)

The expression is similar to the indigenous custom of reconciliation initiated by the tribal of Papua New Guinea that they practiced on Easter. It is also similar to the great reverence for Sita Mai – the daughter of the Earth (more than and above Rama; he is almost treated with contempt) – expressed by the peasant women in parts of Maharashtra.

These and there are many examples that show independent thinking of the so-called masses beyond the Authority. Perhaps these lowly anonymous people must have been one of the factors that caused the great civilizations and empires to vanish; but the people prevail.

Some time ago I wrote a comment (see: Land and Peasants in Development in India) on reading an essay by Amartya Sen on ‘rice’. How would Mai respond if she were told the contents of Amartya’s discourse on rice? In our typical local manner and dialect, Mai would have said, ‘It is half-cooked rice.’

It is half-cocked rice

Any peasant would say that, then and now. They have been managing farming for their life time from their childhood; they have been managing it for last ten thousand years. Even today they shall manage it well if the invisible tentacles don’t gag them.

It is only now in the modern times the professional economists and scientists invent theories and technologies to cause subordination of large majority of people, at the hands of the visible invisible power mongers and profiteers, garbed in sugar-coated words of salvation of the mankind.

India, as projected by the rulers, Authority, the experts etc. is not the whole truth (as much as any Indians who may believe that it is all glamorous life for the people in the West), not that everyone believes them. In their projections they fail to do the fieldwork, the field study, the ground work. In crisis they look for some white angles will come to their rescue.

The people, the so called masses, the second class citizens, despite receiving the occasionally distributed doles and charities, do not trust them. The open proof is the successive coalition governments in India. Any coalition government, anywhere, is only a caretaker government until the next election, or a coup.
Remigius de Souza
© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

I am the predator – I am the prey

I am the predator – I am the prey

Standing outside of these pages
I also watch myself who writes,
I am exposed, inside these pages.

Every statement in these pages
That I make mercilessly boomerangs
I am the predator – I am the prey
© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Friday, 4 April 2008

‘Hell-Heaven’ – Story by Zhumpa Lahiri

‘Hell-Heaven’ – Story by Zhumpa Lahiri
Review by Remigius de Souza

Aesthetics of hedonism

Zumpa Lahiri’s “Hell-Heaven”, a short story (from her collection ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ is being released in India by Random House on April 4, 2008) was circulated by Hindustan Times last Sunday to its readers.

The story is about Bhadralok – the Elite Bengali – Family migrated to America (in 1970s), and the cross currents and undercurrents between two cultures. The protagonist is Pranab Chakraborty, and the story is told by Usha – the daughter of the family – in first person.

I am not writing about the technique of or critic on the writing. The theme of the story, of course, is love, largely interpreted as ‘sex’ these days.

The story is an excellent documentary, which also includes how Usha grows in the cross cultural environment: First she has crushes, then dates, then she has love affairs that lead to sleeping with different (I suppose American) men, and finally a heartbreak, as the story of Pranab comes to an end. By this time Usha is reaching thirty – her middle age, and sooner may run into menopause; her mother reaches fifty.

By now the mother has accepted (or submitted) to the way of life Usha is going through, and consoles her daughter that she would find another love – as we say here in Hindi: “Tu Nahin, Aur Sahi; Aur Nahin Aur Sahi” (If you are not then another, if not then yet another…).

These are common experiences, now, everywhere, not only among the immigrants in foreign countries but even in India. The wealth, prosperity, the surplus… have their obvious fallout, even among the “have not” as well as the “haves”. Neither the affluent nor the orthodox societies have any answers. The elders have miserably failed them. Meanwhile the young have found their options/ alternatives irrespective of traditional values and /or religious commandments; violence in reality or in virtual reality is not ruled out.

At fifty Usha’s mother has not come off her age; she seems to be still an adolescent.

Reading "HELL-HEAVEN" by Zumpa Lahiri has been most stimulating for me.

© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

She Lived Her Living Doctrine

She Lived Her Living Doctrine
 Remigius de Souza

My Grandma

Mai, my grandma, was a peasant. She worked round the year like millions of peasant women across India. Round the 365 days a year her daily chores also involved writing on the earth – preparing for the monsoon, the season for paddy and vegetable farming that depended on rain. (Of course, Mai’s literacy and education has no official recognition in India of Democratic Socialism.)

And like all other peasant women, Mai would carry her daily household work, which extended beyond the family members. It involved keeping, rearing, caring a couple of cows, a dog, chickens, a cat, plants – coconut, mango, chikoo, jackfruit, banana… and the helpers, women and men, who worked on paddy farm during the season – all of them a vital part of the household, of economy; they were active participants in balancing the environment, ecology and energy (the much hyped terms today), thereby sustenance. Indeed a larger family. (That keeps with universal definition of Sant Jnaneshwar.)

Her family was better-off economically than most. However they had no servants. Helpers were called in during the monsoon, and for occasional errands. For example, the south wall of the house needed protection from rains, so also the eaves also were extended prior to monsoon. For this they used they used wooden bullies (in stock) and bamboo that grew in the compound hedge. For the cladding they used mats made from coconut leaves. Grandpa himself used to weave the half-coconut-leaf mats. I took opportunity to participate in many of the actions, whenever possible.

Mai was no workaholic. During the afternoons, while others were taking siesta, Mai also had her break. She would squat on the cow dung washed mud floor in the shaded veranda facing the east. She would silently say her Rosary – all fifteen mysteries. Her rosary was made of blue glass beads for all the fifteen mysteries, homemade.

She had short prayers while getting up in the mornings and going to bed at nights, and angelus in the evening with the family. She would go only once in a year to the village chapel. That was on the feast day of the patron saint – St. Joseph. Others – the young and the old – would go to the chapel on Sundays to say Rosary in the community, and on Good Friday to join Way of the Cross.

A priest used to visit the village three or four times in a year. Meanwhile the faithful would conduct the rituals to Baptize the newborn or to burry the dead. During his visits the priest used to celebrate the Mass in Latin. Later Latin was replaced by Konkani, our mother tongue.

Mai occasionally used to smoke bidis taken from grandpa’s stock. Grandpa made his own bidis and would not buy from the market. Mai stitched he own long-sleeved blouses by hand. Only at latter age she got them made by a local tailor. Her bed was a homemade quilt from recycled sarees, spread over a bamboo mat, on the mud floor.

I never saw Mai wearing gold ornaments, except, perhaps, earrings, not that she had no gold. She used a couple of pairs of glass bangles, a traditional symbol of a married woman whose husband is living. Silver ornaments were meant for Catholic widows, who could afford.

Mai used to tell me true stories of real people and real places, not about kings-queens-princes-princesses-fairies, without malice and taboos; she did not subscribe to Victorian values like the elite. Her stories had been as real s her work…

WORK! Her work wan not an occupation or a profession that is marked by a bottom line. Whatever she did was her vocation – her living doctrine higher than one prescribed by Church. Her work had contemplative value, and never was mechanical. She must have surely enjoyed it: Work became Leisure, Education and Health simultaneously (hence no bottom-line). Her work had arrested entropy, simply put.

Mai, also, was never, never affected by boredom, the malady that so common among the so-called advanced-elite-urbanite – rich or poor – who look for excitement 27x7. I never heard any complain from her about whatever work she did. Each day, each action had been new, though seemingly same. Work and Reward were no different from each other. Means and goal were same – one was not separate or different from the other.

Work, now, is a much abused word, much abused action. As I type this, a word on a sheet or screen, I call it my work (duly attached with copyright, as if the whole world depends on my writing)! We tend to ignore that ‘word’ (spoken, written, or in print) and a ‘picture’ (drawn, painted, or moving) are ‘virtual reality’ that takes us away from reality, which depends on depth and breath of our perception. Does it nourish any one, even me, other than my inflated ego? It constantly dissipate enormous amount of energy.

I never saw her sick or lying down by illness or fatigue. She was small, thin, frail looking, with wrinkles and dark complexion. She seemed to have arisen from the earth. Mai was daughter of the soil like millions of them across India, and elsewhere too. Whenever I travelled the countryside, over decades, I witnessed her silent presence everywhere. She reminds me of Sita Mai of epic Ramayana, whom the peasant women revere and have composed many poems (in Marathi) in her honour.

The establishment – Agency – does not recognise their education, intelligence, wisdom, skills, labour…, not even their presence, except in electoral rolls. No economist, no statesman, no self-ordained leader – in social, political, religious or any other fields – would ever be able to comprehend the universal – primal phenomena of Mai.

They – egocentric hypocrites with their blinkered view of the world, in the frenzy of development and desire for coveted rewards – have failed to discover any political, economic, scientific, social formula (theory) to understand them, or to discover any tool (technology) to elevate them. Their creative potency has hit the lowest. In the development-mad world the drudgery of this universal – primal Mai has rocketed down to the bottom of the pit.

Ironically, the legend of Sita Mai is now taken over by Nano–Maruti (Maruti is one of the names of Hanuman in epic Ramayana. Tiger and Tiger-god of the tribal have vanished with the vanishing forests and now taken over by the modern legend of Jaguar-the-sick. Such is the economic (money) power of India. Of course, we don’t deny the social responsibility of the ruling minority that is the Fist World India and the Corporate: Neither the farm land nor the forest nor the tiger is society!

Now tiger only will be seen in memorials in the Natural History Museums and in the idols of Kali Mai!!
Remigius de Souza

© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.