Thursday, April 20, 2006

Two causes for Optimism

Two things I read in yesterday’s papers made me feel quite optimistic, generally. One was on the personal front, the other on the public. What made me personally happy was a photo of Laura Bush in Japan, in the middle of a Japanese tea party. I have always felt intrigued about this custom and at the same time a bit disappointed because it involves being togged up in a kimono and squatting on the floor, and I can’t picture myself doing either. But Laura Bush was wearing an off white three piece suit and was sitting at a table with her mother next to her. She was pouring tea into a cup watched by a smiling, bowing Geisha girl. (Do they call them just Geisha’s or “Geisha Girls”? At least sometimes I like to sound politically correct). Laura’s mother was also smiling affably in the photo.

So first of all I thought, the Japanese tea party is now within my reach as well. If Laura Bush can drink Japanese tea in her off white suit, I can pour out the tea and drink it wearing my blue jeans. I can even take my mother along to Japan and she can wear her blue jeans or a pair of bright blue peddle pushers, which she is rather attached to and which she wears every second day when she goes for a walk. We can both sit and pour out tea in a genteel fashion with some nice looking Geishas smiling over us and I can at last satisfy my desire to participate in this age old meditative ceremony. Then I will get back to my group in Bombay and introduce them to the tea drinking ritual, though most of them will probably only want to drink chai, which might not be all that meditative as far as drinks go.

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The second piece of news which made me happy and has more consequence for society is the fact that 74 per cent of the readers in DNA’s poll on the Narmada dam, said they support the NBA (the anti dam group) and are against the monstrous dam being constructed on the Narmada river. This comes as a real surprise just when one thought nobody cared.

Not that anything is likely to come out of anybody’s feelings, because the government is going ahead with plans to raise the height of the construction and thousands of tribal people living on the banks of the river will be done out of their homes. Now, following Medha Patkar’s twenty day fast the government says they will at least help to resettle them in an alternate place (the last time they made an effort, the affected villagers were all hustled off to a vast tract of barren land where nothing could grow).


The bad news is that the government is just not able to see the fact, that the vast expense, the destruction of tribal land and harassment of thousands of villagers is to provide only a few select areas with electricity – with no regard for the consequences of the environmental damage that most huge dams cause. But at least people are waking up, they are demonstrating their concern for the displaced, they are showing that they do have a sense of what is right and wrong. And that feels good.

Group wesbite: www.basicindia.net

3 comments:

Stardust1954 said...

If Laura Bush can drink Japanese tea in her off white suit, I can pour out the tea and drink it wearing my blue jeans. I can even take my mother along to Japan and she can wear her blue jeans or a pair of bright blue peddle pushers

This also made me smile when I read your post.

I feel for those people who will have to be relocated because of the dam. My father's boyhood town in North Carolina is underwater now because of a dam that was constructed. He often wonders if any of the homes of friends and relatives still eerily exist beneath the water. It's sad.

umarang said...

Yes it is truly sad, the way people opt for so-called progress at any cost. In India, more than 50,000 tribals were displaced when work started on the dam, a few years back. Meanwhile the government absolved itself saying they had been re-located. But when activists checked out the land they had been given, they found it was useless, barren land incapable of growing anything and of sustaining the people on it. This is all in the name of progress.

Stardust1954 said...

Sounds like what happened to all of the Native American tribes here in the USA. Their reservations are barren and useless. I have been on the Blackfoot, Apache, Pima, Sioux and Cherokee reservations and they all look pretty much the same...much poverty, usless, dry lands. It's amazing that these people retain such a sense of humor about life with all they have had to endure.