Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Park that thought

I don’t know about you, but the other day as I heard about the government’s plans to provide health and education for all in the not-too-far future, it occurred to me that there’s a basic right that’s been ignored by everyone for far too long. It’s in order to address this issue and ensure that India takes its place among the leading nations of the world that I write this.

It’s parking. That’s what should be on the agenda. Parking for all. Think about the number of working hours it would save, consider by what percent fuel costs would shrink, examine the number of employees it would free up if drivers were let go of. All because of parking space.

Then, we’d have something to really boast about at the United Nations. “You have 4% unemployment and a 98% literacy rate? Pooh. We have a parking rate of 99%”. One can only imagine the blushes and lowered eyelids that would greet that statement.

So, fellow-citizens, let’s clear the roads, let’s plan new ones, let’s investigate underground facilities, let’s construct soaring garages. Let’s be proud to get behind the wheels of our cars and build a new, resilient nation.

After that, we can look into health and education.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Low interest levels

I don't know about you, but this economic slowdown affecting the world and India (three cheers for globalisation!) means that interest rates will have to be cut for the time being. My own interest rates, that is.

My fellow countrymen, you know that these are unstable times, and after deep and careful consideration, I've found that there's no other way out. I'm going to have to take much less interest in all the little things that a consumer society charms its citizens with.

Movies, for instance. Never happier than when curled up with a pack of popcorn in the neighbourhood multiplex, I now find that ticket prices (not to mention the ruinous food costs) means that I'll have to take much less interest in the latest releases. Sorry, Bond.

Take restaurants. I'm going to have to cut my interest in them, too. No more nibbling at what passes for Italian delicacies; no more sampling the fruit of California's vineyards; no more crossing the waiter's palm with silver after a hearty repast. This is this is the time to sample all the good things I've heard about Jumbo brand vada-pavs.

Lower interest levels are going to impact my visits to bookstores as well, what with the rupee falling and prices rising. Those sterling promoters of literature who lurk at traffic signals to sell mangy paperbacks are instead going to win my custom. (How much for The Secret, buddy?)

It's hard, but I will pull through. My apologies to the purveyors of the entertainments above, but you'll just have to wait till the economy recovers for my interest rates to rise again.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Under the moon

I don't know about you, but India's so-far successful moon mission fills me with a sense of pride and accomplishment. I had plenty of time to reflect on this the other day, because I was at Mumbai airport with an hour or two to spare as my flight to New Delhi was unaccountably delayed.

We've shown the world that we're no laggards when it comes to science, haven't we? This and other thoughts were going through my mind, as the wheezing public address system informed me that the flight would take another half an hour to take off due to "technical reasons".

As the air-conditioning at the airport was below par, I took to walking around the terminal in the hope of finding a cooler spot, and this exercise made me think even more highly of our scientists. I was about to start a discussion on this very topic with an airport attendant, but before I could open my mouth, he said that there was no point complaining as the airport was in the middle of renovation, and moreover if I wanted to use the loo I'd have to walk two flights down as the one on this floor was shut.

Marvelling at our ingenuity and drive, I managed to find a place to sit. The day is not far, after all, that we put a man on the moon ourselves. After brooding for a while upon the unique destiny of the privileged individual who would be chosen to do the honours, I hit upon the name of the person most appropriate, and I will be forwarding his name to the authorities as soon as I can board my flight.

However, gentle reader, as I'm too kind-hearted to leave you in suspense much longer, I can vouchsafe his name to you. Why, none other that that illustrious young son of the soil, Raj Thackeray. Send him to the moon, fellow countrymen, and remember, Raj, there's no need to hurry back.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Save the world. Read less.

I don't know about you, but it occurred to me this morning that if even Thomas Friedman is urging us to adopt environmental issues, it's time to take action.

And so, taking the bit between my teeth, I've decided to do my bit for a greener planet. I'm going to stop reading.

No, not books. It's magazines I'm talking about. Have you picked up any of the Indian newsweeklies lately? Each one is swathed in enough plastic to make a raincoat for a well-built child.

And what's inside these plastic sheets? Well, the latest issue of the magazine, of course, but also various other glossy supplements that contain many ads and, if you examine them closely, also some articles.

Having spent all of last night going through one such stack, I realised that my life wouldn't be diminished one whit if I remained ignorant of diamond-encrusted cellphones, rare caviar, yacht parties and tony sushi bars.

So there it is. I'm going to use less plastic by cancelling my subscription. If your grandchildren wake up years later to a green planet, they have me to thank.