Friday, December 16, 2005

Scary Santa

TOI report: Father Christmas may be perceived as a scary figure
It is a while ago now, when my daughter was 3 years old. She went to a small pre-nursery school---it was one room, to be exact. It was run by a lady who loves kids, and her own having grown up, found this an ideal way to spend her time.
For Christmas, she organized a treat for the toddlers in her care. She got sweets and small gifts for all the children. She made a small Nativity scene in a corner of the room. She told them the Christmas story. She told them they would all be getting Christmas presents. And then, as the grand finale, a door burst open and in rushed a portly figure in red, his face nearly hidden in a beard and whiskers of cotton wool.
“Ho, ho, ho,” he cried and swung a huge bag from his shoulder. For a moment there was stunned silence. Then it was shattered by a shriek, and my daughter went off into howls of terror. She managed to set off most of the class too. What nobody had budgeted for was the fact that most kids, at some time or the other in their young lives are threatened with a “Buddhha baba”, an old man who takes away disobedient children in a big bag. Parents use that vision to get kids to drink their milk, have their medicine, go to bed---whatever. And here was the menacing ‘baba’ in person!
I thought only non-Christian kids might get scared of Santa, but I saw an episode of Full House in which the twins Nicky and Alex are terrified too, because they are told, "He is watching you, he sees when you are good and when you are bad!"
Note: I don't think I ever raised the spectre of the buddhha baba, though I remember regularly enlisting the services of the colony watchman to get her to take her medicine! He would cajole her in the most avuncular fashion, whereas I wanted him to be a figure of awe!

Monday, December 12, 2005


Uh-oh. I made a small change in the look of the blog, and lost all my links. Oh, well, all that work to do again!

Saturday, December 10, 2005


I read a news item in The Times of India dated 21/11/2005*, describing how certain ‘hurtful’ words are going to be replaced by more sensitive ones.
Nobody is going to 'fail' any more—they’ll just have 'deferred success'. What is wrong with failure anyway? If one has been lazy, or not capable enough to succeed, then too bad. Try again. Work harder. Try another way. Take another road.
A terrorist will just be a misguided criminal (poor thing! ----what comes to mind is Captain Haddock’s ‘misguided missile’).What will happen when they decide that ‘criminal’ is hurtful too? However, if blunting the term takes away the power and the awe, fine.
A ‘brainstorm’ is going to be a ‘thought shower’. I thought it was a good thing—something like a sudden inspiration? I see from the Chambers dictionary that it also means sudden disturbance of the mind.
Long long ago a person whose behaviour or development did not conform to normal was called mad. Then it was retarded, and then mentally challenged. Are we treating these people any better?
And, and and…
‘Intrinsic aptitude’ is what will describe the reason why ‘women might be underrepresented in the fields of engineering and science.’ Why? First of all I have grave doubts about there being fewer women in Science---in my MSc Physics batch in I.I.T, we were 14 girls in a class of 20! And the topper was a girl too. Of course, this was an exception to the rule, but one can’t generalize. I have met men who have absolutely no head for science, I have met women—uneducated ones, who have the scientific temperament. I regularly back my car into trees and pillars trying to reverse parallel park, because my right brain is just not made for spatial ability, but then so do a couple of guys I know.
What are we trying to guard against? Whom are we trying to protect? Have we become so civilized that we can’t bear to even think of hurting another’s feelings? Have we? Have we really? Is calling ‘women’, ‘womyn’ going to make them safer from abuse? If so then what is wrong with the practice of opening doors for the fairer sex, rising when she enters the room, carrying her bags for her? Maybe that inculcates sensitivity too.
Is it not better to call a person blind and help him cross the street (if he wants, that is) rather than calling him visually challenged and not doing anything for him? Disabled. Differently abled. These are words, just words. Using milder words may hypnotise the user into behaving mildly too---which is debatable, anyway, but the recipient of these words may not benefit much.
Random Thought: Let all Delhi drivers take a course in the fabled Lucknowi “Pehle Aap(After you)”. Maybe incidents of road rage will come down then.

*I'm not yet into providing convenient links!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Cribfest and praises

Harry potter and the Goblet of Fire (In Hindi it is Aag ka pyaala, if you please!): It is dark, literally. The movie looked like the Lord of the Rings, or Batman and Robin---no sunlight.There is no brightness except in the ball scene. Parvati and Padma Patil’s dresses weren’t very pretty. But the awkwardness of the boys was very cute!
· They did away with Winky altogether! Also Ludo Bagman.
· And why was the maze task reduced to just the bushes closing in? What about the Sphinx and the skrewts and all the other dark obstacles?
· Why did they show Barty Crouch Junior with Voldemort in the first scene? Why did they show Barty after the Dark mark? We were not supposed to know it was he who shot out the dark mark!
· They even cut the Quidditch world cup match, Veela included…That was a great disappointment!
· They never even showed the dementors. Well, maybe they did not want to show them sucking the soul out of Barty Crouch Jr.(though they had no qualms in so doing in P of A)
· Nor did they show Harry giving Fred & George his Triwizard winnings for their joke shop, saying that the world needs more laughs than ever because Voldemort had returned.
· They showed Barty Crouch Sr. lying dead in the forest, whereas after his son (Barty Crouch Jr.) kills him, he is supposed to transfigure his father’s body into a bone and bury it in the forest.
· Neville gives the Gillyweed to Harry, whereas Dobby is the one who does so in the book. This is not a quibble, it is important because the false Moody thinks Neville will do it, but he doesn’t---so he has to take the Dobby route(by revealing the Gillyweed option to Mcgonagall in Dobby’s hearing.)
· I pictured Moody with a very craggy face, with more scars! And what price the sleek aluminum leg instead of the wooden one?

If I ever write a book, and if it ever gets made into a film, I’ll probably hound the filmmakers to death and not let them change anything! On second thoughts, the film maker has some creative licence too!
Talking of books, I just finished reading “One night @ the call center” by Chetan Bhagat. I liked it better than “Five point someone” in terms of humour and optimism. The passages with the boss were rich! Reminded me a bit about Dilbert. There is creative use of fonts, for which the author thanks Microsoft. MS also features on two levels in the story. All in all a good read. I will even go so far as to say that it is almost the book equivalent of Dil Chahta Hai.