Saturday, September 3, 2011

Throwing Baby with the Bathwater

A year ago, when I was doing the book on Tiruvannamalai, I met weavers from Aarani, a place famous for silk. The chief weaver's wife proudly told us that her children were studying for engineering. Most of the next generation is now moving away from weaving. Who will carry the tradition forward, I asked. "Those who can't study, will," she said smiling.

I have heard of the Kanchipuram weavers struggling but never given it much thought.

In a recent interview with a leading textile shop owner, he mentioned a few things. The art of making Madurai sungudi is completely lost. "Earlier, women would do the tie and die during leisure time. But now, with TV taking up all that time, no one has the time to spend on this. Now what you find is only block prints."

He mentioned that the present day weavers could not produce very fine cotton weaves. Then he leaned forward and said confidentially, "Education for children is important. But in earlier days, the entire family would be involved in weaving. The children would learn from their fathers from a young age, helping them with small jobs then graduating to bigger ones. It was a way to build knowledge base and learn the nuances of the weaving skill. Today, that is getting lost."

It set me thinking. And then, another conversation with another weaver, and I am really wondering. This man has been weaving for the last 30 years. He says, "The government does not support weaving the way it does agriculture. As a result, we earn very less, and pay very high interest rates. We are unable to innovate or improve our equipment and techniques. People left this trade in the 90s and now don't want to come back because they earn better in the construction industries. Those who remained are those who know no other skills."

I remember another man I spoke to, who had pointed out that slums get created when local industries fail and people migrate to cities hoping to find livelihoods. Mr. Kughanathan of Geocare, who said this, has tried to identify local resources to provide alternative livelihoods in their own native villages.

My two bits on this. Basic education is important. But again, does one size fit all? Are all the engineers productively occupied today? Is it necessary to provide fodder to the engineering and professional colleges by making traditional industries look unattractive and old fashioned? If they are given access to the same facilities and standard of living, will they look out for other professions? Isn't dignity of labour to be valued? Isn't it important to make rural areas as attractive as the cities to live in?

Or, is it asking for too much? 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Anubavangal: சுயகவுரவம் - Self Respect

Anubavangal: சுயகவுரவம் - Self Respect: "என்னால் இன்னிக்கு ஒன்ன ஆபீஸ்ல விட முடியாது," ரவி சொன்னான். "ஏன்?" மாலதி கேட்டாள். "மீட்டிங் இருக்கிறது, நுங்கம்பாக்கத்தில்," என்றான். "ஒங...

A Humane Cop Tale

I have been off thrillers for a while. They are nearly as fantastic as fantasy tales. The "never-make-a-mistake-except-to-take-story-forward" strategy bores me to death. The gore can be a put off too.

I picked a book by Ian Rankin - The Complaints. This was my first book by the author and for some reason I missed the "Number One Bestseller" on top - a sure sign that it probably wasn't. Then the summary behind also didn't tune me in to the fact it was a cop story and so a series of lucky breaks that pass off for brilliance.

As I do with all books, I decided to give it a chance. And I was hooked. Mainly because, the cop is a human being - surprise, surprise! He has a family - a father and a sister, and he is not lucky with women - unlike our thriller heroes who only have to look and have women falling at their feet. There is a setting, the good and the bad and the shades of gray. The hero is caught on backfoot, and he fumbles through. Of course, lucky breaks are a must but he is almost always caught on the wrong.

The overall story is told very interestingly. Of course, for a second, I also mistook this to be the original for the Old Fox series, since the cop is called Fox. But that is a German series, apparently.

Overall, my thumbs up for this one. Maybe I will read another of his.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Anubavangal: Vaakjaalam - The Word Trap

Anubavangal: Vaakjaalam - The Word Trap: என் மகள் தமிழ் படித்து முடிப்பதற்குள் எனக்கே தமிழ் மறந்து போய் விடும் போல இருக்கிறது. எழுத்துக்கூட்டி படித்தாலும், அந்த வார்த்தைகளே என்ன என்...

Old and New Bonds

My belief is that after a particular age, as we become involved in our professional life, and establish a relationship with our spouse and his/her family, old relationships start taking a backseat. We seldom have the time, even if the inclination is there, to keep up with old bonds. We make acquaintances but rarely friends. In the initial honeymoon period of our marriage and ascending career, this is all that we can manage, and the rest of the world seems redundant.

But as time goes, the new spouse becomes the familiar other half, we are suddenly left with some vacuum within us. Professional growth may be smooth, or may not be. Personal life may have become routine stuff. We discover that however close, there are somethings that a spouse can understand only so much.

And then we feel the need for friends - to let our hair down, to put our feet up, to chill, to pour out, or listen to stories other than our own.

Social media is a blessing in helping reconnect. But even then, no one can take the place of the people we grew up with - be it siblings or friends, and hearing their voices or seeing their faces.

Today is neither Friendship Day, nor Brother/Sister/Mother/Father Day. But every day is all of that. In forming new bonds, don't let go of the old. It is a struggle, but at the end of it, when you can talk to one of these for 10 minutes without worrying about being judged, it is worth that struggle.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Anubavangal: Chakrvyooham - The Vicious Circle

Anubavangal: Chakrvyooham - The Vicious Circle: பெண் வேலை செய்ய வேண்டும் வேண்டாம், சட்டம் வைக்க நீ யார்? கேட்க துடிக்கும் நா திறமையை ஒளித்து வீட்டில் அடைத்து பூட்டி வைக்கவா பிறந்தாள் அவள...
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