Monday, September 25, 2006


You don't need a Freud to interpret this dream - the message is clear I am a "chullu-bhar-paani-mein-doob-mar" (need to kill myself) variety nerd. I confess I dreamt that I was sitting in a cafe with A and was involved in a heated debate with a heavily diamond-jewelled marhwari looking woman on......."globalization".
Ok laugh.

Diamonded Marhu: I don't know why you academician type hate globalization so much. So what IS so disturbing about "inequality"?

Resident Nerd: Well, inequality is when someone like you can sit in Costa cafe (altho we were sitting in some really KMC type local canteen) with a huge diamond nose pin while soemwhere else a woman can't feed her starving child cos she doesn't have enough money (ta da.. some hindi movie sad tune should have been played here). That, according to me, IS VERY disturbing. Although it IS a matter of opinion." (pls note the last part sounded very good laden with sarcasm) Resounding applause?

The comfortingly real part of the dream was even here A, looking very scared and embarrassed, was trying to restrain me from slapping the woman and kept saying "T, yaha se chalte hai na" (let's just go from here!)

Well. I was quite proud of myself for being able to find such a great answer at the right time - I never do in real life.
And also Ma just pointed out that some Bongo pundit once told Madhusudan Datta (the "great" bong poet. Oh wait, all Bongs are great so the great is redundant! WINK WINK) that once you start dreaming in English, you can start writing in English.

Conclusion: I can start writing my dissertation now.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Sociology of Trash People

Inspired by my $5 rocking chair, I had promised a post on the sociology of trash while sitting in Boston, MA. Why Americans choose to throw out what they throw out. But somehow that seems misplaced now that I am back home. So here’s a modified version of that: this was almost as shocking to me as it is to you. Blame it on my naiveté.

In the India where some of my friends buy their Ralph Lauren lingerie for Rs 5000, and fasting housewives are taken by their MNC-husbands to 5 Star hotels for their Rs 1000 Navratra Thaali, there exist nearly 700,000 “manual scavengers” who get paid Rs 20 per month for manually lifting human excreta with their hands and carrying their load on their heads and shoulders. Many of these scavengers are women from the “dalit” (untouchable) class who earn their monthly earnings by cleaning “dry latrines”. (Note: In case you think Rs 20 = 50 cents a month is probably enough to feed a family in a developing country, like some globalization and sweat shop factory lovers, let me put it in perspective for you. 20 Rs is barely buys 2 loaves of breads, 1 kg of rice, or 2 bottles of coke - the coke bit just so that you ca REEALLY relate to it and don't forget we are talking anout Rs 20 PER MONTH)

I admit I am so not in touch with reality, sitting in my cushy grad student revolving chair, that I had to google what exactly people mean by "dry latrines". In India there are about 10,000,000 houses with dry latrines – where there is no facility for a flushed toilet. Traditional notions of impurity discourage people from having indoor toilets and lack of adequate water and facilities prevent many from getting toilets with water. What they have instead is a hole in the ground with a pot where the shit collects.. for days.. till the manual scavenger comes and carries it away in a basket on her (and sometimes his) head. Most of these scavengers work without proper equipment, without gloves, gumboots, not to speak of any safety equipment.

Ma was just saying that we, the middle class in a country like India, have got insensitive to a lot things. Either we live in convenient guilt-free ignorance (like me) or with blinders (like the rest of the junta here) who convince themselves that everyone is really rich just by counting heads at Barista…Eeps this was a depressing post for a Sunday morning

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The return of the maach

See See, I was successfully beejee for a whole month and didn't do time pass on this site. Aren't you proud of me, my loyal anon readers? So what did I accomplish, you ask, eh? I moved house once again, lifted 1000 pounds of used and free furniture (that should be a post by itself, the sociology of TRASH in the FIRST FIRST world), moped and growled over my first field work setback, read a zillion articles on nothingness and stragegised ways to sneak into the Harvard Library. Isn't that enough work??

Oh ya, was adequately gharelu ("good homely Indian girl" so what if not "fair slim and convent educated") and baked a cake, made gobi aaloo, and my latest an eggplant parmesan casserole. the apartment looks kinda nice, esp with my $5 classic rocking chair that rich lesbian aunties threw out at a tag sale. At the mo I am getting free wireless (ironically or what, it's called lala-lund), free cable and free sunshine in my room. All of which will disappear in a couple of weeks. Till then here is a pic - enjoy


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