Friday, December 22, 2006

From Atlas Shrugged

Intelligence ?? It is such a rare, precarious spark that flashes for a moment somewhere among men, and vanishes. One cannot tell its nature, or its future....or its death...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Mini India...on a lighter vein

If you have a longing to go to India, but your job has been keeping you back. Don’t lose heart !! The Indian Government has not forgotten us. They put up consulates across the globe and sent cultural ambassadors to run the “Indian Show” there. The officials there may vary in shape and color, but unequivocally carry the quintessential “desi flavor”. And to complete the show, they certainly need Desi audience. And that’s where we come in.

Now, what got me on this plane of thought? I was told to get a document attested in front of an Indian consulate official here in US. I tried to ward off the trip by talking to them over phone and get things done by mail. But the damn voice-guided menu on the consulate helpline would dodge me for a while and finally say “for more information please visit our website at blah blah blah”. What the heck?!? Who should I tell that I got the helpline number from that website!*!!*!! And that put me on a small regaling trip to Indian Embassy in New York.

All the way to consulate, I kept savoring and admiring whatever NYC is famous for. The multi-hued, fast-paced life, dazzling hoardings of skinny models, high-end fashion stops, ornate churches amidst linear skyscrapers, cycle cabs, systematic way life & business is channelized, horse-drawn carriages, hawkers selling hot dogs & shish kebabs etc etc never cease to enthrall me. Anyways NYC needs a separate blog post. So without digressing, let me get back to what I started with.

I walk up to a building on the 5th avenue. You don’t need any landmark to identify the place. The noisy desi crowd that throngs the place is enough indicator. No!! They don’t have security screening before you enter the building. They trust on us not to carry inhibitions or semblances of civil behavior. There is a front desk, but there’s more crowd on the other side of the desk that you would invariably end up asking a visitor and end up getting a sneered at. Non-desi visitors get their first welcome-shock here. Because the token tab dispenser has never worked, there’s a guy hired to distribute them. The authentic Indian ambience inside seems to have been brought out in an effortless manner. After all what does take to keep a place unclean!! No Indian place can be complete without the master piece. Dirty-noisy-usha ceiling fans. For a moment I thought I was in the railway reservation counter of Kolkata.

Why talk of the place when its people who make the place. So I flushed the inanimate objects off my radar and loaded instead the population around. It indeed was mini India, with representation from all over the country. Of course the cacophony was the highlight as people were continuously jostling in the queue while they could have stood still till their turn at the counter. Typical scenes that you can witness anytime of any day here are something like Mr. Sivaramkrishnan Balasubramaniam explaining his eligibility based on clause no. of the US immigration act of the year 1992 to the poorly trained official at counter, or Mr. Adhbuth Pandey sparing no efforts and words while he jumps people in the queue to reach the counter faster. Amidst this Mr. Jalagalajalagala Srinivas has “loudly” conferenced 25 cousins and 50 friends, all from Godavari district, to finalize a strategy as to how to answer the questions at the counter. Incidentally, the names of all the 75 people he called were Srinivas !!! As the chaos continued, most people in the room seemed to have mysteriously got in their hands the visiting card of Mr. Akash Mehta, an exporter of dollor-perfumes from Surat, who incidentally was standing in one of the 7 queues in the hall. Only thing missing was samosa, peanut and tea vendors inside. Karunakara Kutty ! Are you listening ?
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