Tuesday, February 27, 2007

India Shining?

I was going to write a long post about my five weeks in India, specifically Pune. However when I sat down to write, an incident came to mind. And it is something that I still see as clearly as a picture because I remember missing my camera at that moment.
I was heading home along one of Pune’s main roads. I noticed this man standing by the roadside next to his gleaming new car. He was animatedly chatting away on a flashy cell-phone and at the same time emptying his bladder on the wall bordering the road. At that moment I felt that there couldn’t have been a more apt depiction of ‘modern’ India. We have moved towards the future and incorporated a lot of good, as well as bad ‘western’ influences into our daily lives. However there are some things about our ‘rustic’ past that we refuse to let go of. We just want it all, the convenience of the future while we stick to the idiosyncrasies of the past.
Just like a Bollywood flick released a while ago put it, "Ek per past mein… ek per future mein… isiliye to present pe muth rahe hain!" (One foot in the past… the other in the future… that’s why we are peeing on our present!)… Touche!

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Caution: Contents...

CAUTION: The contents of this post may cause irreparable damage if read while sitting on the computer monitor and trying to smash ones face into it.
No! I have not lost it; Yet! The other day I happened to grab my morning container (paper cup with lid and a sleeve) of coffee. And suddenly happened to notice this warning ‘Caution: The beverage you are about to enjoy may be extremely hot’. And not just on one, but on 3 different locations! Now if I were to buy a cup of coffee on a freezing morning, I would be quite offended if it was anything but hot. And since they have totally different containers for hot and cold beverages, what’s the point? Is it that the average American citizen is afflicted with sudden attacks of amnesia when he forgets what he bought about a minute ago? Or are they so dumb that they need to be reminded that hot coffee is, well hot! Its almost like writing ‘Caution: Contents may catch fire if rubbed against side of box’ on a matchbox! Wait a minute, have they done it already? Maybe they will now!
And it’s not just coffee. Every product one buys seems to have scores of warnings attached, often in places where one would never look (I’m assuming one does not usually scrutinize ones coffee cup before drinking it). My university ID card came with warnings to not use it as a screwdriver (okay…maybe) and not bite it! (Huh??) Bite??!!! I know we often live hand to mouth but we have never reached that stage of desperation. I hope no one else has either! And I hear that they now have kettles with the warning
‘Do not pour contents on self’
I wonder how they come up with these warnings. Maybe they hand over the new product to a bunch of toddlers all aged less than 3 and watch them use it. Based on their actions, they write warnings against each of them. A three-year-old might bite into a Graduate Student ID card. But then I doubt putting in the warning in writing would deter him/her from doing it again.
I have a hunch that the reason for this may be the equally ridiculous lawsuits that prevail in the US of A. But that is the topic of another post.
P.S. Read another one yesterday. Contact lenses with the warning to not put them in ones mouth!!!… I rest my case.