More musings

(More from Facebook – am archiving my posts)

A guest at our farm

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I must have been of my daughter’s age when I last saw a chamaeleon. Now we spotted it along with her at our farm, allowing her amazement and ardour to seep into us. The lovely chamaeleon obliged by posing for my wife’s camera for over an hour in different positions and shades. (And yes, we do have an hour, and more, to spare for a chamaeleon or a Coppersmith barbet or a touch-me-not.)

Of all animals, possibly more than even the ape, its movements seem to resemble humans the most…especially its cautious outstretched limb to catch the next branch or twig. I was somehow reminded of Smeogol.

The slightly bulging eyes that rotate back and forth, independent of each other, was another sight to cherish. Precious.

We could sense that it was moving strategically, and waiting to catch one of the bees that were buzzing around, but we didn’t have as much patience to stay back and watch the catch.

As our friend Suresh observed, its camouflage is perfect. Even while we were looking at it, if we took off our eyes for a moment and tried to spot it again, it was quite a task. I wonder when we will meet it again.

 


Mornings at the village

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Contrary to the seeming tone of some of my posts, I have strenuously refrained from entertaining too many romantic notions about an idyllic Indian village. Whatever little might have seeped through to my heart, get sucked out every day, at dawn. Starting from 3am and with periodic snoozes, the natural alarms of the village – the domestic fowls, go off, as one should expect. Okay, good, waking up early gives me time to do some reading, writing or weeding – I cheer myself up. My Thirukkural translation has really picked up steam.Then, at 5 am, three different loud speakers commence their loudcasts. “Welcome to the new age village”. Our village speakers are secular. One is from the mosque, and goes silent first. Another plays myriad Mariamman and Murugan songs from Tamil movies. And the third, the loudest, hails how Ayyappan turns stones and thorns into a mattress for the feet. If I still happen to be in bed, the thorns prick my sluggishness. And up I rise.

By 6.30 or 7, the speakers are muted, and one starts hearing the chirping of birds, hosted by the tamarind tree nearby. The crow sits on our compound and caws for the leftover dinner. The egrets start their flight to the rivers and canals. The sunbirds come for the flowers of the drumstick tree behind the house. Even the little sparrows are back, apparently after a few years, ‘defying the doomsayers who assailed everything from pesticides to telecom towers for their disappearance’, as one villager put it.


Cows

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Robots that have feelings, or even life, should not be in the realm of science fiction anymore. We already have such robots. We even worship them. They are called cows. Cow, the mother. Cow, the Goddess. And we like our Goddess Mothers to be virgins.

These calf-reproducing goddess-robots lead a life of forced eternal celibacy and milk-production. Why mate, when injections are cheaper, and perceived to be safer?

So what happened to the males, the city mind asks.

When we talk of cows and beef, are bulls included? Already, we heard it from many a horse’s mouth that exported beef is nothing but buffalo meat. (No, there is no holiness-protection for black buffalos.)

When a bull is born, what is the farmer supposed to do with it? He doesn’t use it to plough anymore. Even the urban folks can understand that the bull can’t be milked, yet. The farmer doesn’t have a need for the cart any longer. With rampant abuse of chemical fertilizers, even bull shit has been banished to the urban lingo. Jallikattu, the courts have concluded, violates the rights of the bull.

Can we make an exception for bull calficide?

The cow’s economy is dead. Long live the cows.

OMG! This is too complex. Let us go and lynch the next beef-eater.


 

I was guiding a girl, from the village, in her final year BE, in her preparations for her campus interviews. [So, having shunned the corporate life, you may ask, why am I doing it? The girl’s family just sold off their land to us, to help her, and her younger brother, finish college. Her job is their big hope. Helping her get one will assuage my guilt feelings. You get the picture?]

She was a district rank holder in her SSLC. She had done all her schooling in Tamil medium. Overcoming the hassle of English at college, she has a GPA around 9.

I could see that the harder I tried, the more I was shattering her confidence (and my wife concurs). For a smart girl like her, the distance between ‘is’ and ‘was’ seemed insurmountable, especially on the eve of the visit of Infosys, her best bet to break through. She said she could crack all the puzzles in the Shakuntala books but had trouble with the verbal questions, which could be the major chunk of the written test. To compose her thoughts in an alien language, her eyes kept wandering up. I told her to keep looking straight, and keep smiling. She somehow managed to command her eyes to obey but couldn’t forge a plastic smile at the monster before her. Luckily there was the little trickle on the river nearby, giving her comfort, and a setting sun, a dog and goats around us. If she manages past the verbal sea, a cramped room awaits her. With another monster. But not a mock one.

All the best, young lady. You’ll do well.

(P.S.: She is now working at Infosys.)

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