Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Simple Pleasures

It is important in life to be able to appreciate the simple pleasures. After all, the big ones like winning the lottery (I keep wishing!) or getting married only happen rarely. But the simple pleasures are all around us, if we only pay attention and take things easy. One such simple pleasure in life for almost everybody (I have not seen an exception to this yet) is ice cream. And especially mango ice cream (ooh la la!). Sorry to disappoint anybody who was expecting something more profound (go have an ice cream and you will forget the disappointment).

A few weeks ago, I was at a restaurant where they had a buffet that included mango ice cream. I was sitting facing the buffet table (of course) and so soon after we sat down, I noticed that people kept crowding near the mango ice cream. I am trying not to eat much sweets and so I was hesitant to go near the ice cream, but tried a spoonful and realized why the ice cream was so popular.

I got ready to get my own share of the heavenly delight (the first spoon was just a taste) but unfortunately they were out of cups. And there was only one piece of it left (the ice cream was on a big baking tray). Here I am waiting anxiously for the cup (a cup, actually) but lo and behold, someone else comes with a cup (definitely seconds) and scoops off the ice cream. My heart sinks (just like there are a lot of small pleasures, there are a lot of small disappointments as well).

So now I wait patiently for the new tray and so do several others. Aah, here comes another tray fully laden with frozen ice cream. Someone else got to it before I did and so I was the second person to take a stab (literally, as it was quite frozen and hence hard) at it. I kept stabbing it till I got some and left wanting more but too lazy to stab any longer.

And then things got (more) interesting. Everybody who came to get ice cream seemed to have their own technique in getting the frozen delight off the tray into their cup. Some would try to dig it while others would try to stab from the sides. In the meantime, the scoop fell on the floor (due to the heavy hitting perhaps) and was not replaced promptly. During that time, it was saddening to see everybody's faces that came to get their share, only to find that they can't have something that is so close. The best part was when one guy tried to get this frozen mass by breaking it with a papad. It was hilarious to watch as the papad kept breaking and falling on the ice cream but he kept at it, till he realized that it is a lost cause and people might be looking. The scoop was replaced and the invasion of the ice cream snatchers started again.

During all this, I had finished off what was in my cup and was contemplating if I should go for it again. But feeling guilty enough for eating a lot at the buffet, I decided not to. I was also giving a running commentary of the gala show by the ice cream tray to the ones at my table who had their back to the buffet and they were roaring with laughter. So we decided to leave before getting kicked out.

Moral of the story is to get your ice cream first!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Cruelty in Sri Lanka

Last thursday, the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) brutally killed a family of 4 in the Sri Lankan town of Vankalai. The news item can be read in detail at TamilNet ( warning: there are some very graphic pictures from the massacre site here). Thanks to Selvaraj and Gilli for writing about this (both of them are Tamil blogs). There is no justification for this heinous act and this family could have done nothing to deserve this. This kind of incident makes me feel guilty for the innumerable pleasures and comforts I have in my life, but this is not about me.

There has been a struggle going on between Tamils and Sri Lankan government for a long time now. And there are the Tamil militants/terrorists/freedom fighters that are called LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). But now the SLA (which is part of the democratically elected Sri Lankan government) is on a rampage and killing innocent folks. For a native perspective on this, check this blog.

There are a lot of questions that come to mind about this.

1. What kind of democratic government would resort to such killings? Why haven't the citizens of Sri Lanka done something about this? I saw an excellent movie called Judgment at Nuremberg recently in which quite a few Germans claim ignorance at all the atrocities committed by the Nazis. This makes me wonder if it is like that. Finally, one guy has the nerve to tell all those Germans not to pretend that way. Powerful stuff.

2. Why isn't India doing something about it? After all, India is the closest country geographically to Sri Lanka and the people being killed are Tamils, who are originally from India. Is this the kind of protection the largest democratic country provides its natives? Makes me very proud to be an Indian! And then, where are the international human rights watchdogs?

3. Why is the media not covering this in more detail? The mainstream media in India is not even bothering with this, and I am not sure what they are afraid of. The Indian blog world (other than a few Tamil blogs) is not paying attention to this either as they are busy with Rakhi Sawant and Mika's party kissing (which is interesting, by the way). I have to admit that I came across this only because I am Tamil and visit some of these blogs but still this is much more than a regional issue.

The international media and agencies know how things can get worse when nothing is done about such violent acts, as we just witnessed it in Darfur in Sudan. These kind of abonimable acts need to be curtailed as early as possible as they have the tendency to take way too many innocent lives. And nobody has the right to take somebody else's life.

Other than write about it, I don't know what else to do. So now I go back to my comfortable world while innocent people like Mary Medaline, Moorthy Martin, Ann Nilxon and Ann Luxica die. But they will be in my thoughts for a while.