May 28, 2008

.. it's all just a little bit of history repeating

Moving to Bangalore taught me all about petrol bunks, rickshaw drivers' attitudes and lumpen elements.

Trips to Pune in the summer were refreshers on alphonsos.

And now here I am in London, graciously accepting people's apologies when I bump into them with pointy suitcases, and learning to cunningly put into my sentences words like posh, lush, whinge, toff, luvvies, yobs, WAGs and chavs.

(Anyone who wants to get an insight into the English weather-alcohol-sense of humour-class obsession should read an anthropologist's view. )

But despite the newness of my surroundings, things do seem to have turned a full circle. A delicious, sweet, soft, sugar-sprinkled circle. With a hint of nutmeg.

Did I, or did I not start this very blob with a post on pedhas being near, yet so far? And three years later, here I am in South-east London, while Chitale's finest are in an unopened box, cooling their heels in a house in South-west London. A careful courier courteously carried them on Corean Air (bear with me). Now all that is required is planning the drop at a dead letter box. Synchronize your watches, and remember Moscow rules!

May 20, 2008

'Tis the season to be snaily..

..fa la la..

It's true. May 24th is National Escargot day!

Put on your game face, waddle to the nearest French restaurant, and order Beurre d'escargot, along with a glass of house white.

Divine tasting though it is, I suspect that even my shoe (the tight one that bullies my bunions) slathered in copious amounts of garlic butter would taste as good.

If this post makes me sound annoyingly Frenchified, please to remember that I have in the past suggested a desi leech-ghee stir fry.

And if you are angry about this post, and (though reading this online) are a technophobe, do write to me via snail mail.

May 13, 2008

Universal franchise

For those of you following UK politics, you'll know that Gordon Brown's Labour Government is in trouble. The Tories won the London mayoral election, and Labour lost a number of council elections, its worst performance in 40 years.

What does this have to do with you and me?

I voted, innit! I was a part of it all!

As a citizen of the Commonwealth, I was on the voters list. I'm not an Brit citizen. I'm not even a permanent resident. I'm just a dolphin gambolling about the cold English waters. But there I was, with an election card and a burning desire to vote.

On election day, I waddled over to my polling station- a primary school. Amidst the surreal post-modern art of 3-year olds on display, sat two young women with the electoral roll. Trembling with excitement (not), I mumbled my address. My name was duly found, crossed off the list and I was handed three ballot papers and sent to a corner to exercise my franchise. Having listened to the radio, my Mayoral choice was easy peasy, and I boldly marked my first and second preferences. But what to do about the council elections? I almost voted for the party with the most interesting symbol, until I realised that I had no idea what they believed in, and could possibly be the party that wanted to stop the influx of us brownies.

Brownie- what a nice way to refer to South Asians. We're brown, sweet and irresistible. Also we're chewy, sometimes nutty and can be hard to swallow.

Finally, I voted for the party that (I think) shares my idealogical preferences.
The ballot sheets were slipped into a ballot box- i.e. a cardboard box with a slit. No Electronic Voting Machine! Even more disappointingly, no indelible ink marks were made on my forefinger and I regretfully left the station. Outside, an apple-cheeked old lady wearing party colours and knitting in the sunshine checked me off a list.

Ruminating on the walk home, here are my questions-
1 How do they prevent fraud? All you need to do is quote an address. No finger mark (Look, with a spot I damn him) to prevent proxy voting. The answer- yes, fraud does occur.
2 Is it fun without Clinton v. Obama style tense debates, ballot box stuffing, jab tak rahega samose main aloo etc? No, but heads aren't broken, and large sums aren't wasted which is a good thing.
3 What makes some countries give voting rights to temporary residents? And others rescind them from convicted criminals?
4 Democracy, in its Greek cradle was direct. Is there any point to the representational exercise at all, with its manifestos only for elections and influence from lobbying groups?

Such seditious thoughts in one so (relatively) young..

May 08, 2008

Ayubowan to Sri Lanka?

Ayubowan: Sri Lankan greeting
Serendipity: the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, while looking for something else entirely
Serendip: the old Persian name for Sri Lanka

For more, go read the travel page of the Economic Times Epaper, Delhi edition on Thursday April 8th. It has all the pictures and everything.

Who knows what else you'll stumble upon?