Monthly Archives: January 2014

Stiglitz.

As in previous years, the fundamental problem haunting the global economy in 2013 remained a lack of global aggregate demand. This does not mean, of course, that there is an absence of real needs – for infrastructure, to take one example, or, more broadly, for retrofitting economies everywhere in response to the challenges of climate change. But the global private financial system seems incapable of recycling the world’s surpluses to meet these needs. And prevailing ideology prevents us from thinking about alternative arrangements.

 

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/joseph-e–stiglitz-predicts-continued-slow-growth-and-misguided-economic-policy-in-2014

 

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Life – uh, lessons ? -from a Random Walk

For the last two weeks, I’ve had a long, nagging list of random things to purchase without which settling down again is not an option. Not even for two months. (For some reason I can find all my utensils except spoons, which, as anyone who orders in regularly knows, are the only utensil worth having). I scheduled my little shopping expedition for today, and instead of taking the usual three-wheeler, I decided to save myself some money (and feel good about it) by walking all the way down to the nearest marketplace.

Now, if there’s any complaint that I had with Jouy-en-Josas, it is that we were so far away from civilization. You had to (I’m not exaggerating) trek down for a mile through a temperate forest in order to get anything more than the basic supermarket stuff. There was a *bus* which came at appointed times on Saturdays to take us to the nearest shopping mall which was located some 20 km away.

As it happens, now that I’m back, it appears that my complaint has reversed. The proverbial viridification of grass etc. has occurred and I caught myself thinking whether we are not *too* close to civilization. Once outside the gates of the college I passed a shanty town, a low-end but thriving market, a huge mall and a Hyatt hotel, all within 1.5 kms. Such is the glory that was is India.

The street also made me wonder if “walking” in a large city isn’t analogous to the lifestyle and societal pressures that you may expect to find there. When you walk, you are pressed between the big guys (the major traffic, which will run you down without a thought, given a chance) and the not so fortunate persons (who regard you, both literally and metaphorically, as though you’ve dropped from another planet, and why don’t you just get back where you belong ?). You have to be eternally aware lest you get run off the road by someone or the other with a tremendous vehicle or ego or both. It’s safest to simply follow the guy walking in front of you, instead of looking too much to the left or right or trying to carve your own path through this environment because OOOPS there is a Toyota driver yelling at me now,he just missed me by an inch. (Even though the path that that guy, and you, are following may be extremely narrow.)

As long as you can prevent the dirt and muck from actually *showing* up on your clothes you’re fine, no one asks you how your walk was because in India, we don’t walk to enjoy ourselves. Who does that ? We walk to get from place A to place B (place B usually being a mall; wherein, today, I succumbed to the “sales psychology” and became the unfortunate possessor of an extraordinarily ugly red sweater, but that is another story).

I’m not sure whether this analogy really works. Does it ?

PS: Also, get a car. So that you can be the one doing the scaring-other-people-out-of-their-lives thing.

PPS: I got the spoons. Still miss my hot plate, saucepan, and sundry other items though :/

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Could be a heraldic device

“I can think. I can wait. I can fast”

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Party Hound

One day, when I was 4 years old, my parents greeted me in the morning with a huge smile.

“It’s your birthday ! Happy Birthday!” they chorused. “And we have a special surprise for you ! We are having a birthday *party* for you in the evening !”

The huge grin that had been forming on my face froze. I swallowed. A tiny 4-year-old’s swallow.

All day at school, I was distracted. I ran my hands through my hair, unable to concentrate for long on my alphabets and my coloring, which was usually child’s play for a precocious kid like me. I stared out the window as though Poe’s raven were twittering upon the windowsill. Several times, the teacher asked me if anything was wrong, but I only nodded at her and smiled a sad and wise smile. What did she know, the poor inexperienced woman, of the dreadful screaming yelling thing that is a “party” ? I, who had been to three parties already by then – close friends’ birthdays – only I could comprehend the true horror of these forced social interactions.

Finally, the dreaded hour came. My mother had decked me up in a ghastly pink outfit in spite of my strong protests. Clearly she had no patience for my advanced feminist theory at that point in time and told me that I could take it or leave it. Faced with such non-cooperation I had no  option but to allow her to put the shimmering velvety thing on me. She further intimated me of her desire to see me wear a conical Party Hat, like all of the other good children would be wearing, but I absolutely put my small foot down on that one. No Party Hats. No way. I was set on that point with a firmness that would’ve done AAP proud.

And then I took a deep breath and stepped out into the drawing room, ready to meet my doom…

It was not exactly as horrible as I had expected. There was a real chocolate cake, which  occupied all of my attention almost immediately. (This was the early nineties, and even in Delhi, actual chocolate cake as opposed to that horrid pineapple thing was a Big Deal.) Sure, I didn’t know 75% of the kids present and most of the boys who were looking so Mr Goody-Two-Shoes under the watchful eyes of the elders right now were actually the horrible ones who had been pulling my hair at the playground two days back, but I paid them little attention. I would deal with them later. Once the formalities (read: cake-cutting, song-singing etc) were over, I proceeded to greedily and quite ungraciously eat as much of the cake as I wanted. Some small child who had come with its mother started crying (not, I hope, at my evident fondness for chocolate cake) and disturbed my calm for about three minutes. But soon the offender had been shushed by its parent and once everyone had settled down with their plastic plates I contentedly sat back and watched them all making sticky messes of the drawing room. This is how a party should be, everyone enjoying themselves in their own way.

There were also, apparently, presents. I don’t remember the details of what I got at my very first birthday party except for a very large and fluffy stuffed dog presented by some extremely distant relative. Dear people who say it’s the thought that counts: please let that thought be in the form of a large, extremely adorable stuffed dog, and it will count a bit more, is all I’m saying.

Image

It looked approximately like this, without that dashed great bow over its shoulders.

Clearly, such a materialistic view of human interactions was not sustainable. As I grew older, it became clear that people wanted something called “company” which I always had assumed earlier was what people’s parents worked for. But apparently that was also something that you attended parties in search of. Also, as we were about to exit school, there sprang up these strange entities called “conti” parties where, it was rumored, the more debauched of our school’s final year batch actually did things like <gulp> drink and all. So cool and all.

Unfortunately my (a) fear of “parties” and (b) deep mistrust of any “party” that lacked either chocolate cake or large stuffed dogs resolutely refused to go away. (It didn’t help that I had some auditory problems and the usual decibel level in what people my age are pleased to call parties till date makes me want to run away and check for aural bleeding)

And all this is of course a giant rant to explain why I’m trying to sneak out of a party zone right now, armed in my Cloak of Invisibility. Ahem. This blog will never cease to be “topical”, I guess.

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Rothinzil tried to read No Exit

and got bored half way and stopped.

 

Bah. What is happening to my once-proud reading skills ?

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