Friday, March 12, 2010

Columns and Sikhs

I usually write a column a week. I treat it as work. A certain number of words have to be belted out and I usually rotate between four broad topics- Books, Films, Politics and what I like to loosely refer to as “General Stuff.” It’s another way of making the writing pay. For the materialistic approach I have towards writing columns, the response to my recent one on Sikhs has come as a pleasant surprise. The column was written for a Bangalore publication but appreciative feedback has flowed in from places as distant as North America and Europe.

It has taught me two things. Technology breaks all kinds of barriers including that of time and space. I decide on paying good money to watch a Hollywood film in a multiplex based on the review by Roger Ebert that appears in Chicago Sun Times. So why should it be surprising that Sikhs in other parts of the world have read what I have to say about them and commented.

The other thing I have learnt is I was right about the community. Sikhs are generous, spontaneous folks quick to forget unnecessary slights. One gentleman wrote he has forgiven all those who made fun of him in school after reading my column. That made my day.§id=36&contentid=2010031020100310193156415fd301a73

Monday, March 8, 2010

Evil Summer

I think of global warming only during this part of the year. Bangalore gets to be unbearably hot in these two or three months. It’s not the temperature. I am sure there are other cities in this country that beat us hands down but something about encountering the relentless sun in our otherwise pleasant city, day after day, is an unwelcome paradox to live with. Maybe it’s the low humidity but that’s like saying Chennai has pleasant weather because of the sweating that comes with the heat.

A couple of years ago I met these folks from Amritsar who were visiting Bangalore during March. I started complaining to them about the heat. They were quite offended. “Amritsar touches 47 degrees,” they complained in an injured voice. “Sure, Bangalore just feels like it’s touching 47 right now,” I said brightly. But they weren’t appeased and didn’t speak to me for the rest of the evening.

When I can’t bear the heat, I think of all the cold places I have been to. I was in Kent in February one year and the town had snowfall for the first time in ten years. I loved the snow. One evening I walked to the store to stock some food and on my way back slipped and fell on the snow that was turning into ice. It hurt a lot and for some time I couldn’t get up but the thought of dying in the cold was bearable.

Unlike the time I was in NID, Ahmedabad as part of their interview panel for the selection of students immediately after the Gujarat riots. I was told about all the folks who were burnt alive by other members in the panel. I couldn’t sleep for weeks after that visit. I would dream that a mob had set me on fire and wake up sweating. I just couldn’t figure out how anyone could commit such an act of bestiality on other human beings. Especially in a place like Ahmedabad that can be unbearably hot during summers.

Summer for me is a reminder of all things evil like riots and mobs turning into animals.