24 March 2007

A city in conversation

People in Kolkata are always talking to each other, even if they are perfect strangers. After I got into the auto, the autowallah waved at a Punjabi woman on the street, and then turned back to me and said, "She is a very good woman. She is much respected here." When I said, 'Huh,' he just continued, 'She is friends with everyone in the area. That is what matters - your behaviour with people. Poisha to sabhai kamachhe (roughly translated, it'd mean, 'No big deal about earning money, everyone does it.')' I couldn't figure out why he delivered this monologue, but then, smiled at him and nodded. By now I know. It is a city forever in conversation. We love to talk here.

I had wanted to post something a couple of days ago, but varied news about Nandigram has been pouring in, and has been quite depressing. I love Suman Kabir's daily talk show on current affairs on Tara Bangla. As a poet-singer, Suman is original, refreshing, and stays with you. But that's just part of the story. He's almost a cult figure here. He changed his name from Suman to Suman Kabir, so that he'd be neither Hindu nor Muslim. What I like about his show is his complete ease with the camera, perhaps because he's just being himself. His smiles are spontaneous. When something worries him, it shows. He's been doing a series of shows on Nandigram and related events. In one episode, a doctor, who went as part of a team to Nandigram, said there were about 400-500 people missing from the villages. He had many other gruesome things to tell. At the end of the show, Suman asked his viewers to not write to him, or to anyone in West Bengal, because it would be in vain.

13 March 2007

Singur update

A couple of days ago, Buddha Babu's government was forced to tell the High Court that of the 900 or so acres acquired, they had consent letters for only 300.

Also, today we come to know that TATA will pay back the Rs 150 crore, which the government spent on acquiring land in Singur, in 90 years. Neat.

Linc read these reports on the front pages of Bartaman, a leading Bangla daily. At home, we get two other newspapers: The Statesman and the Times of India. Though The Statesman carried today's bit, I think it missed the High Court story. TOI, of course, had no mention of either stories. And I assume the rest of the media, both Bangla and English, passed it over. I'd love to be corrected, though.

This is how the CPI-M has conducted business over the years. Remember, information is power?

06 March 2007

Not sun and sand, but land

For once, news about Goa is not feel-good. The current issue of Down to Earth focuses on the ongoing development (sic) tussle in Goa. I think the article is pay-walled, so cant link it here.

A Goan friend and I were once discussing this tendency of how certain kind of stories get billed as 'what people are interested in' and certain others are not. Like, for instance, most news from Goa that you have read would have something to do with tourism, film festival, etc. But what about the story that unfolds after the tourists have left? Goa has a huge waste disposal problem, thanks to all of us rushing there, and creating crap. But this is not a nice Goan story. So, let that be.

And I told my Goan friend how the most hard-hitting of Bengal's stories never get reported outside the state. It's an inverse logic here that news editors follow. Like, Singur, they said, was what happens in Bengal day in and day out. So, let's focus on emerging Bengal stories, eh? (The Telegraph, by the way, specialises in the emerging Bengal section.)

Plainly speaking

05 March 2007

Just not enough

How much of stretching can you do? A couple of my friends/colleagues recently became mothers. They used to work their asses off pre-motherhood. Now I wonder how they will be able to manage. And how I, too, will one day.

I have often thought about what this article says. At workplaces, mothers are often considered less productive. This asumption, Naomi Klein points out in her book No Logo, obviously ignores the fact that humans need a womb to spring from. Reproduction has more than a personal value. All these people slogging away in offices, hospitals, factories, etc., were born to mothers who took time off or simply thought of nothing else. Might sound like a lot of obvious things being stated here, but then nowadays, I think it's better that way.

Because, for instance, isnt it common sense that your hi-flyin life comes to nothing if you dont have simple things like water. The way builders are filling up lakebeds, doesnt seem like it's very obvious any more.