Saturday, June 20, 2009

In A Pig’s Eye!

A pig I am on nodding terms with stopped me in the field the other day waving last week’s column at me. “I have a bone to pick with you,” he said.
“Pigs can’t pick bones,” I said.
“Don’t try to talk semantics,” he said, “You have some nerve pointing fingers at Australians! What about the racism against us pigs?”
“You are not a race, you are a species,” I said.
“Again with the semantics,” he said. “We – and by we, I speak for all pigs – are sick, tired and fed up with this open discrimination against us by humans all over the world.”
“If you are sick and tired, you could be going in for Swine Flu,” I said, “so you better get lost.”
“This is the last straw! You talk so easily of Swine Flu – and by the way, we do not like being referred to as “swine” after it became a curse word. But you tell me, how many pigs do you know suffer from any kind of flu?”
“Well I don’t know many pigs,” I said.
“Precisely,” he said. “And yet you have the gall, the GALL I say, to lay a disease on us. If we had Swine Flu, would we not have given it to our owners? At this rate all pig farmers would be dead by now and all pigs too.”
“No, actually, it’s the rich and famous who are getting it and importing it into the country,” I said.
“So do they fool around with sick pigs in their penthouses and five-star hotels – and I am being heavily sarcastic here, mind you,” he sneered.
“Well a sick pig could have infected a farmer, whose son works in a five star hotel who may have sneezed near the victim who felt so ill that he decided to fly back home, infected everyone in the hotel lobby, the taxi driver, the plane when he returned home,” I said. “They call it Six Degrees of Separation.”
“Well we pigs are going to do something about this nonsense. From the beginning of Time mankind has been talking badly about us. In the Bible demons were exorcised from people and dispatched into pigs. All because they said we had cloven hooves. Let me tell you we have four toes. I shudder to think what those poor pigs with demons cast into them must have been going through,” he said.
“It may be just a myth,” I said. “The pigs I have seen are very happy peace-loving creatures.”
“Look at the phrases and idioms you people use,” he said. “Fat as a pig: Pigs are grotesquely fat only when their owners fatten them up deliberately for the market. Look at wild boars in the jungle – they are lean and mean. And what’s this nonsense of “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” That has to be the silliest thing I have ever heard. It’s really awful the things you people come up with – make a “pig of oneself”. Do we eat any differently from you? You make as much noise and you don’t have to manoeuvre with a snout. Then they talk of buying a “pig in a poke” which means getting cheated in a purchase. What does that have to do with a pig? And some are so wrong scientifically, “sweat like a pig”. We don’t sweat. We don’t possess sweat glands like you disgusting humans. Have you ever seen a sweating pig?”
“No, that I have not,” I said.
“Then why do you come out with such rabid racial slurs?” he asked.
“I guess we’re just mean and thoughtless,” I said.
“We were thinking of migrating to the Middle East en masse, but then we heard the Egyptian government had started destroyed all pigs in the country, and it might become a fashion in the Middle-East,” he said. “We would be safe in the Middle East because no one eats pork there and at least our lives would be spared.”
“Well no one is going to kill you here,” I said. “At least not because of Swine Flu. They also said it is no longer called Swine Flu, it is now known as the H1N1 virus.”
“That may be, but everyone still refers to it as Swine Flu,” he said.
“Well I heard it was a huge pharmaceutical scam to sell flu drugs, but if you take Tamiflu as a preventive, it won’t work if you actually get H1N1,” I said.
“So buying Tamiflu would be like buying a pig in a poke, eh?” he chuckled.
“I guess,” I said, “but see the silver lining. Many people have stopped eating pork and chances are you will live to a ripe old age.”
“People stop eating pork? Cocktail sausages? Choris? Bacon? Sorpotel? Fried pork ribs? In a pig’s eye, they’ll stop eating pork! My owner will be coming after me any day now. He has that measuring look in his eye,” he said.
“Easy to avoid it,” I said. “Just stop eating like a pig and start sneezing.”

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Fascism abhors a vacuum. When the Jews toughened up, and turned into fighting machines called Israelis, they left an empty space. The world has moved Indians into this space. When Indians travel abroad we are looked upon with suspicion, resentment or outright hatred. A friend who traveled abroad for the first time returned crestfallen over the lack of courtesy shown to Indians. If Shakespeare started his writing career today, he would have used the name Shyamsunder instead of Shylock.

The Indian-Jew parallels are eerily similar. Both races were immigrants to different parts of the world. They worked hard and not always honestly. They were ruthless in their business dealings and preserved their ethnicity zealously. They grew wealthy. Wealthier even than their hosts. In Nazi Germany, much before Adolf Hitler came on the scene, Jews were being attacked on the streets. Much like Indians in modern Melbourne.

The intensity of hatred for Indians is surprising, and we won’t go into the clich├ęs of “a few hoodlums are picking on Indians” and “all Australians are not like that”, It looks like the Taliban have a hotline to Australian hotheads and are giving them tutorials on how to terrorize soft targets.

Women are to the Taliban what Indians are to the Aussies which is why I use the word ‘Talibanaussies’. The Taliban do not tolerate women being seen in public places. The Talibanaussies do not tolerate Indians being seen in public places. The Taliban use their rifles to beat the women and have killed couples they felt were not related to each other by blood or marriage. None dared protest. The Talibanaussies use screw drivers, cardboard cutters, fists and feet to make their point. None of the Australians present protested.

The Taliban will not tolerate women speaking in loud voices in public. The women are silenced with rifle-butt whippings, fists and kicks. None dare to protest. Talibanaussies cannot tolerate Indians speaking “Asian” among themselves. The Indians are silenced with physical attacks and abuse.

The Taliban chop off the fingertips of women who wear nail polish. The Talibanaussies stab Indians carrying cell phones and i-pods.

The Taliban will not allow women the right to education. They blow up schools and beat up schoolgirls. The Talibanaussies do not want Indians to have the right to education in Australia, even though they are paying through the nose for it.

The silence and fear of the rest of the Afghans and Pakistanis spur the Taliban on to greater shows of sadism. The excuses that the Australian police mouth, “Indian students should not speak loudly in their native language” and “Indian students are soft targets because they carry expensive gadgets”, spur the Talibanaussies to continue wreaking mayhem on those who cannot afford to fight back because their future is at stake.

The Taliban are a bunch of criminals. 22 percent of today’s white Australians are descendants of convicts who were banished from Britain to Australia for petty crimes.

There are 90,000 Indian students in Australia. Only 5,000 turned up for a peace rally. Indians have to unite to protect themselves or force the Australian authorities to return their fees and pay for their passage home. The Australian economy is already weak. If Indians boycott Australia, the Aussie economy will literally go down under.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Making builders and miners work for Goa

There’s something about flowing water that makes the thoughts move in an orderly manner. It worked with Archimedes who sprang out of his bathtub stark naked and ran around screaming “Eureka”, while his spectators just said “euuuu”. I had a eureka moment the other day watching the barges sail with their small hills of iron ore pressing them low in the gently flowing Mandovi. There was one practically every seven minutes. They came back empty and I thought what a waste of fuel. It is the same with the trucks that carry ore from the mines to the barges ¬– they go back empty. Waste of fuel again. Then came the e-moment.

With all this building activity all over the coastal areas and the abandoned mining pits in the hills why not use builders and miners to undo the damage they are causing. Set up designated collection points for building rubble, broken glass, and anything that will not pollute ground water. Load the material onto the barges. The barges take the rubble to the loading point where machinery to lift the material into empty trucks is installed. The trucks carry the rubble to an abandoned pit within the mining lease property and dump it in. The barges would use a little more fuel than they would while plying empty as would the trucks. The setting up of collection points and automatic loading machinery would be expensive. But considering the crores that went down the drain with the drama at Sosoddo where Hyquip was paid so much taxpayer’s money for doing nothing. I am embarrassed to even put the figure down in print. The expense can be equally shared by the builders, the miners and the taxpayer.

Research on the Internet showed that the United States of America had rejuvenated and planted trees over abandoned mines, by first laying down a floor of approximately 5 metres of concrete and then dumping mixed waste into the pit. They layered it with mining reject soil added more waste, then capped the top with 2-3 metres of soil and greened vast swathes of land destroyed by the open cast mines.

I called up Digambar Kamat who besides being the chief minister also holds the Mining & Industries portfolio and he listened to my spiel first in a why-do-I-get-the-mad-women-calling-me manner then began listening carefully. He said after a brief silence, “Well, it’s not a bad idea. I will talk to people about this.”

Full of self-righteousness I shared my idea with the Man of the House who snorted and said, “Don’t be stupid. Building rubble is best dumped at the side of highways, so that it can be used to broaden them instead of cutting down hills to get mud and rocks. And you can’t drop plastic and batteries down abandoned mines because they go down below sea-level and ground water over five times the area will be contaminated.” I told him that the Americans laid a 5-metre thick concrete floor on their abandoned mines and got another snort, “You think our educated illiterates will do that?” But it can be done, I said. Got a snort for that too. “There is that woman professor from Nagpur who coverts all types of plastic waste into fuel with zero emission and sells to Indian Oil Corporation,” he said. “If our people were serious about getting rid of plastic they would have approached her company long ago.”

The plastic into fuel professor was Alka Zadgaonkar of Nagpur. I spoke to her husband who said it was a zero emission process and yes the fuel was bought by IOC among others and that they had sold the patent to one Shah based in Mumbai. Why did they sell it? Because we are R&D people and not entrepreneurs. Did their process have Central Pollution Control Board certification? They had Maharastra Pollution Control Board certification.

The next person to talk to was Claude Alvares of Goa Foundation who has received bouquets and brickbats in his fight for saving Goa’s Environment. He said my idea of using the barges and trucks was a workable one, but expensive in the long run because the mining industrialists are not interested in spending money only in making it. Also they refuse to close the abandoned mines because now there is a market for third-grade ore and they can mine those pits again. They will not allow waste to be dumped into their pits. Unless the government comes in hard and heavy and enforces existing laws and that won’t happen because our ministers and MLAs are part of the mining lobby.

But will it work, I asked. It could, he said, but I doubt it will happen.