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Monday, November 10, 2008

Earning a livelihood

When I am puzzled I visit the Wise Old Man on the Hill. “It looks like we live in a very caring society,” I said to him.
“As usual you are right,” he said, “We all care very deeply. For ourselves.”
“I was very impressed with Babu Azgaonkar,” I said.
“Hmmm” he said.
“Yes him,” I said, “he is so passionately committed to allowing builders to earn their livelihood.”
“Even to the extent of demanding the passing of a Bill to ban anti-mega project agitations,” he said.
“Yes,” I said. “His level of commitment is high and it makes me feel ashamed.”
“That’s interesting,” he said, “Why would you feel ashamed?”
“Well I keep thinking builders do very well for themselves making huge profits and generally they come from poor backgrounds,” I said.
“Rags to riches,” he said.
“True, but I now think those are only a few,” I said. “They are the ones who keep buying longer and broader cars and building palaces for themselves and boxes for their clients.”
“True,” he said, “I know a builder who has a Mercedez Benz and a BMW and a whole lot of luxury cars.”
“I know many like that,” I said, “But Azgaonkar was so worried about those builders who he says will starve to death only because of selfish villagers who don’t want unplanned development in their village.”
“They won’t starve to death. They may have to sell their cars and palaces, and then they can grow crops on the land they have bought,” he said.
“Then there’s Anacleto Viegas who is worried about those who earn their livelihood through dhirio,” I said.
“Well of course,” he said, “There are those who wash the bulls, and feed the bulls, maybe take them for walks. There are the owners who pay huge amounts for the bulls.”
“Then there’s Subash Shirodkar who is worried about the dozens of young boys and girls losing their livelihood if off-shore casinos are sunk,” I said.
“Please use the correct term,” he said, “They cannot be called off-shore casinos. They are riverboat casinos.”
“The Cabinet and Chief Secretary and Subash Shirodkar refer to them as off-shore casinos and they cannot all be wrong,” I said.
“A shore refers to the sea,” he said, “Off-shore would naturally mean out in the sea. These five boats are in the river. One river.”
“Well these are modern times with modern words and modern meanings,” I said.
“You have riverbanks and you have sea shores. Don’t mix them up like a Class 7 failed student. If a boat is anchored in a river it is a riverboat.”
“Well they are all in the Mandovi river and everyone knows the Mandovi flows into the Arabian Sea so technically sea water is also touching the ships when the tide comes in. So if the ships are sitting in sea water they can be called off-shore,” I said.
“So if I collect sea water in a glass, sit in the Secretariat and throw a couple of dice into it, that would be off-shore gambling?” he asked.
“Well The Cabinet and Chief Secretary and Subash Shirodkar would all agree that throwing a pair of dice into a glass of sea water would be off-shore gambling,” I said.
“What has all this got to do with livelihood?” he asked.
“Well I was invited to join in a protest against the five floating casinos in the Mandovi, but I was told that dozens of young boys and girls would be deprived of their livelihood,” I said.
“You anti-casino protestors have it all wrong,” he said, “I have a simple solution. Just invite those Somalian pirates here and tell them to steal all five riverboats.”

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