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Monsoon Musings

Patricia Pereira-Sethi

The incessant rain we have experienced this year entwined itself with a beastly virus to keep me confined to my residence for several weeks. It thrust me into a reflective mood, meditating on several issues. My brain exploded with myriad questions and I am certain that many readers have wondered and pondered about these matters as well.

Why does a hairstylist charge more for a haircut than what we pay for a visit to our physician? Is our crowning mop worth many more bucks than our physical well-being? Without the latter in tip-top shape, do our appendages really matter? Frankly, I prefer to sink my funds into an immaculate set of teeth because my smile is what most people respond to, not my coiffure. Which is why I am surprised when those elegantly dressed, superbly styled, glowingly made-up TV anchors open their mouths to pronounce, I encounter gaps or crooked, raptor-like incisors. And I am not just referring to our local journalists, but big names like the BBC’s hard-talking Stephen Sackur and the CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. A little cosmetic dentistry would do nicely for them!!

Why do labourers peg their charges to a residential address? Folk who live in Tonca pay far less for a service, even a product delivered, than those in Dona Paula. A friend of forty years, Bisleri chairman Ramesh Chauhan, once shared a secret with me. When people at socialite parties in New Delhi asked him where he lived, he always mentioned a middle-class section of the capital. Patel Nagar was his standard response. The hoi polloi quickly moved off, leaving him standing in his tracks, believing he was not worth wasting time with. He said he was delighted because he did not need such people as pals anyway. The next time should I tell anyone who questions me that I reside under the Zuari Bridge or at the corner of the Cortalim junction?

Why does the Indian system set into effect solid rules and regulations emanating from the high command, some even mandated by the Supreme Court, and then, when they are to be implemented by the states, they get side-stepped or even dismissed? Take the taxi issue or the new road fines to be slapped on offenders to protect their own lives and those of others. Everything gets watered down, diluted to the point where you wonder why did anyone even bother with the exercise in the first place. When our conscientious Chief Minister Pramod Sawant requested the public to refrain from setting off fire-crackers during the festival season, some still persisted in an offensive orgy of blasts and environmental destruction. Can we ever advance as a people in this manner?

The press here goes gung-ho, snarling, snapping and rearing over the most recent potboiler on the journalistic menu. In a matter of a day or two, everything passes into oblivion. So and so was discovered with a stash of illicit crores in his home… but then what happens? The story dives off the front burner. No one appears to know whether the guy was taken into custody, whether he was penalised, whether he wormed his way out of the scandal or marched away scot-free? A deafening silence prevails. The next moment he is swaggering down the sidewalk, smiling back at the world, a new persona. As if nothing had ever transpired. Incidentally, is there an explanation for the Antares fire? Was it an accident, was it arson? All we know via Australian chef Sarah Todd’s TV show is that she has opened a new restaurant in Mumbai and continues to echo her two favourite adjectives “Awesome” and “Amazing” even as she offers us glimpses of her sexy cleavage and long lithe limbs.

Why do people in cars honk constantly when we are surrounded by total gridlock? No one can move, and adding to the frenzy hardly helps. Blaring away is a childish reaction to a problem: throwing a tantrum merely reflects the emotional and mental capacity of the driver. The best thing to do is avoid certain sticky hot-spots at set periods in the day so we can circumvent such commonplace characters, obviously riven with road rage.

Why do some NRIs like to bully and badger us as if we are country bumpkins who know little or nothing? Grace and gentility works so much better when we can all collaborate. Could such imperious behaviour result from the anxiety brought on by the current economic and political uncertainty which marks our world today? Along with the tanking global currency rates? And why do the Northerners who run restaurants planted from Delhi onto the Baga strip, who dress in immaculate whites and indulge in air-kissing exchanges, treat the locals so bad? They shove us off into the dingiest corners of their restaurants, even if we have a prior reservation: the best sections are reserved for their Northern-belt pals, and the waiters treat us with the disdain that they believe all locals deserve. Feeding off our land, freshening themselves on our balmy beaches, polluting our air with thick fat cigars. We should avoid such joints completely.

Why do stores, restaurants, and salons insist on playing loud, ear-wrenching music? Enough to submerge all thought and word into a scramble of sound, making communication with a sales clerk, waiter or with each other virtually impossible. Are they subsidising the local ENT specialists, because consistent and pounding drumbeats above a certain decibel level will slowly and effectively destroy one’s hearing capacity? Are parents, who expose children and babies to such raucous events, unconcerned that the amplified pulsations will affect their young one’s physical safety? To borrow from President Trump’s Twitter feeds: Bad! Sad!

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