Friday, January 28, 2011

Gossip – Genesis, Growth & Propagations!

Guest Article by-S.N. Raj

Did you ask where “Gossip” got going?   Well, in the times when there were  no Face book, Twitter, SMS, mobile camera  etc for quicker sharing of ‘hot news’, where else could such happen  – if not at temples or at some-one’s wedding, or some-one’s funeral or during mutual visits to homes of relatives or when friends & foes  gather ? Now, don’t rush to put-down gossip as a base sport of olden times!   I am sure you and I also indulge in gossip of one kind or the other!  After all, the shapes, styles and forms of gossip have changed with time but the basic Kick, Fun, Pleasure etc. one gets out of gossips continues un-abated!

Being an Iyengar myself, let me tell you how gossips run its rounds in Iyengar families/homes – with a few examples. Ruchi & Suchi (names changed) home supplier of chilli powder in those days, I remember, they were very effective gossip mongers or originators because, they would be requisitioned by practically all the Iyengar homes in Bangalore !!   And so, they would freely ‘share’ whatever they saw or heard elsewhere and also freely ‘collected’ what was seen or heard in the homes that requisitioned them – so that they could ‘share’ it with other homes!  They knew of the wealth, health, internal problems, children, relatives, births, deaths, in house fights, menopauses of who and when and also of eligible bachelor boys, eligible girls - who had ‘come-of-age’ – for marriage alliances etc.   In fact, they would have made a good Marriage Bureau!

Then of course, the other sources of material for gossip was the jewel maker who came home to many Iyengar families and worked for days on stretch preparing ornaments.   He would talk of who-got-made-what, how-pure-or-impure-was-that etc. and needless to say he collected all the inside news from the home he worked at and freely share it elsewhere!  The jewel maker could understand Iyengar Tamil very well and had a ‘keen ear’ and ‘spoke-in-whispers’!A third source of gossip material was at the saree shop be it at Mahalakshmi Hall or at Iyengar’s or at Seethalakshmi hall in Chikpet of Bangalore.  The shop owners those days freely shared who took what and how many sarees on Approval Basis and returned some – soiled after using!!   

There is no ‘copy-right’ for the means/methods of gossip, be it sources/activation/propagation. It all depends on one’s skills & imagination!  All it needs is accepting the opposite of “See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil”. Having used the word ‘Gossip’, I was curious and I record below what I found: The first thing I did was to make GOOGLE give me search-results for the word gossip.  And what do I find?   Mind-boggling 107,000,000 results!  I didn’t bother to explore beyond the first one - which was from Wikipedia at:

I give only the brief ‘introductory ‘Para’ here: “GOSSIP is idle talk rumour , especially about the personal or private affairs of others. It forms one of the oldest and most common means of sharing (unproven) facts and views, but also has a reputation for the introduction of errors and other variations into the information transmitted. The term also carries implications that the news so transmitted (usually) has personal or trivial nature, as opposed to normal conversation. In the last decade, gossip has been researched in terms of its evolutionary psychology origins. This has found gossip is an important means by which people can monitor cooperative reputations and so maintain widespread indirect reciprocity. Indirect reciprocity is defined here as "I help you and somebody else helps me". Gossip has also been identified by Robin Dunbar an evolutionary biologist as aiding social bonding in large groups.The term is sometimes used to specifically refer to the spreading of dirt and misinformation, as (for example) through excited discussion of scandals. Some newspapers carry "gossip columns" which detail the social and personal lives of celebrities or of elite members of certain communities”.  
UN-QUOTE :  GOSSIP – once started - happily snow balled free & fast – to the delight of those with ‘ears-for-gossip’ (anyone & everyone did & do!) and cheek-muscles that needed exercise (as they ‘propagated-it’ further – with nor without additions or subtractions)!  

Did/ does gossip give hurt or happiness? Ask yourself. If undecided, give-it-a-try by being the gossiped or the gossiper! Gossip has defined person/topic/time/consequences! It is formless and yet may get responses/reactions. Dear readers, brush-up your gossip skills. Let me warn you though – Gossip if indulged-in while sitting in comfort and ‘packing-your-stomach’ with fatty eatables, you know the ‘result’! Go ahead and gossip to your heart’s content but make sure you also have a good stock of occasions, happenings, anecdotes etc. to share with others  and roll on the floor laughing so that any ‘bulges’ you’ve acquired while gossiping gets ‘rolled-out’ !!

(The author is Septuagenarian - Foot loose in memory sphere– living at Margao in Goa)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Banking that I don’t know

Thanks to liquidity crunch, Banks are vying with each other to attract more short term deposit from public by offering higher interest. Like any senior citizen and shrewd investor, I am no different and was in search for a bank offering good but safe return. Let me share some ‘sweet & sour’ experiences during this search.

The other day I walked in to a nearby branch of a bank to collect fixed deposit opening form which is facing the axe of merging with State Bank of India in near future. As the sole employee at the counter was busy and surrounded by many customers, I made my way towards the accountant/officer with the hope of a service with a smile. She was tensed up and upon my asking her the FD form made her more uncomfortable. She looked around for sub staff but no one was around. She asked me to wait and again started looking around. Instead of going herself to fetch the application form, reluctantly she drew the drawer, took out a pink colored form and handed it over to me. On going through the contents, it looked like a pay in slip for depositing cash or cheque (Challan No. 1024 to be precise). I asked her if this was a FD opening form. Without looking at, she confirmed that, it was the application form.

Not satisfied, I took the form to the Manager but he turned out to be the Chief Manager. He too confirmed it to be so. When I pointed out to him that there are no columns to furnish my address, mode of operation, photo, PAN card details and similar numerous information, he simply asked me to furnish on a plain paper if I so desired! Overwhelmed and clean bowled by this knowledge, I thought it better to walk out rather than walk in.

Moved to another bank branch for Industrial sector, not a Nationalized bank but owned by Government of India offering a very attractive and highest returns amongst all other banks. While collecting the FD application form from “May I help you counter”, I doubly ensured from the helping hand that they shall remit the interest to my a/c maintained with some other bank. Next day when I went to submit my duly filled up form, the person at the help counter had changed and informed me that my request for transfer of interest to other bank can not be carried out! The matter again went up to the Manager who suggested me to open a SB a/c with them as interest can not be remitted as per my wish. In short, at the end of my persuasion, they relented to send the interest cheque to my residence.

But this was not the end to my ordeal. On perusal of my application, they found that I had not signed the nomination form. I told them that it is a joint account with the option of ‘payable to either or survivor’ and it is advisable but not mandatory to sign nomination form if the applicant so desires. But nothing doing, I had to relent and sign NIL nomination at the end.

As a banker, one has to take decisions in the interest of the Bank and to be successful in the field risks have to be taken. As is said ‘Boss is the king’, the new gen bankers are no less fussy over trivial matters when it comes to knowledge of systems, procedures and above all common sense.

{Please vote for blogjunta contest if you like this blog of mine by clicking appropriately on the right side column, Thanks

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The ‘Power’ Game

Every one is aware that ‘Power corrupts all’ but now we have also come to know that ‘Discretionary power’ makes the person more powerful. Discretionary power to allot prime land, government bungalows at prime location, allotment of petrol pumps and the list goes on like a never ending ‘Akshaya Patra’. A chief Minister having discretionary power can grab land and allot them to his kith &  kin at throw away price and no amount of hue and cry can challenge his authority. Their prerogative becomes their pride and prejudice for not so lucky one.

I fail to understand why opposition parties make such a noise, disrupting legislative assembly or the parliament. After all they too get chance to come to the power to make good the loss. Who else does not (mis)use his or her discretionary authority? Government officials and police personals use government vehicles for going to market, cinema or dropping their children to school, Theatre owners use their discretionary power to issue complimentary passes,  School/College authorities keep some seats vacant for hefty donors, journalist keep writing about somebody they want to promote hence why blame the politician alone.
The power of Tamil Nadu chief Minister/s is different from other states. Here who so ever is in power, the ministers and public alike, likes to treat them as powerful God having huge discretionary power and they like to fall on their feet again and again wherever they go. It reminds me of Emergency period of India when ministers were asked to bend, they started crawling!

If you think that only we are blessed with this discretionary power, then think hard again. Do not be surprised if I tell you that even our Gods have different level of powers. There is a ‘Visa Balaji’ temple in Hyderabad where if you go and pray the lord, getting visa becomes very easy surpassing all the hassles of going to consulates! There is no dearth of Balaji temples in our country but this one has special discretionary power to grant Visa. I heard that similarly a ‘Hanuman Temple’ exists some where in Northern India specializing in Visa.

There are some powerful Devi temples where a childless woman can get conceived after prayers there or a powerful ‘Shani’ Temple like the one at Thirunallar near Pondicherry to ward off all your problems. Not all Devi or Shani temple Gods have this charismatic discretionary power bestowed upon them. Who has not heard of ‘Siddhi Vinayaka temple’ of Mumbai which is patronized by our Bollywood fraternity for its super power which the next door/ street Vinayaka temple has not got. People throng the Tirupathi Balji temple with their long list of demands and wishes in lieu of all their ill gotten wealth in return, but the Balaji temple next to my house does not attract the same crowd.

In short, it’s all in the game-The Power game. More the power, more the powerful one is, be it a politician or the God.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Vyangyam-The Satire

You must have observed a change in template and title of my blog. Now a word “Vyangyam’ has been suffixed. This first post in 2011 is dedicated to “Vyangyam”, a quarterly little magazine (Laghu Patrika) in Hindi fully devoted to Satire writing and edited by me along with two other like minded writer friends Ramesh Sharma ‘Nishikar’ and Mahesh Shukla from Jabalpur.

‘Vyangya’ in Hindi means Satire, a word very close to my heart as I have been writing satires right from my college days first in Hindi and later in English. Often readers mistake satire to humor but we as a satirist draw a line between the two. While humour is purely for laugh and entertainment, satire is serious thought process with a touch of humour which makes the reader aware of the anomalies in the society in and around, socially & politically.

Going back in time during 70s & 80s, satires were published as filler or under humor section of any Hindi magazine without any regularity. There was not a single full fledged satire magazine in Hindi except ‘Rang chakallas’ from Bombay edited by Mr. Chetan but that too was a mix of humour and satire. Madhya Pradesh was a home for top satirists of those days namely Sri Hari Shankar Parsai and Jabalpur and Sri Sharad Joshi in Bhopal. They were the pillars and inspiration to numerous young writers like me and others.

We three friends decided to fill the gap and idea to start a magazine on satire was born. All the three of us were in clerical grade that time and with no financial backing and any experience in canvassing or marketing decided to go ahead with our plan because of our strong urge and passion. That was the time our country was undergoing a dark period of history called ‘Emergency’ in 1976. There was total censorship on media; right to express was oppressed, opposition leaders were either in jail or underground and those in power were crawling. Satire and humour was first casualty in emergency.  Satirical and humorous English Magazine like ‘Shankar’s Weekly’ was forced to close down because it refused to kneel down. Under the clouds of emergency, our magazine was conceived and we brought out the first issue in January 1977 with 500 copies of the magazine called “Vyangyam” costing Rs.2/-.

During its entire period of publication, we three friends were the editors, proof readers, layout designers, office boy, Chai wallah, dispatchers and hawkers, all in one! During 77-78, eight issues of the quarterly magazine were regularly published. The magazine received full support from all the famous and not so famous writers by way of free contribution of articles but in absence of sustained financial support from any quarter, the magazine started sign of fatigue and illness by the time we published its 10th issue. Despite its low cost, the magazine unfortunately could not pick up sales or subscription. To mobilize funds we also published two books and a novel but in vain and soon we were forced to discontinue the magazine in 1979.”Vyangyam” could not be revived again. The closure of the magazine also showed us our many friend writers and well-wishers in their true colors, who drifted away quietly.

Back to 2011, after 31 years I am rededicating this blog of mine to ‘Vyangyam’ by suffixing it to my blog title. Let the flag and the flame of spirit fly high.