Tuesday, August 22, 2017

119. Grow More Good

Grow More Good
The engraving on the pulpit of the house had seemed to me a cemented error. How could the mason inscribe 'Grow More Good' on the wall when there were resounding cries for growing more food during the 70's? Heavens would have fallen on the beleaguered mason for this misadventure, I had thought! Instead, it showcased the house owner's sublime character and a lifelong quest for spreading goodness. Privy to that household during my school/college days, I carry vivid memories of the time spent with the house owner - the inimitable Sardar Sobha Singh - immortalized by his alluring portrait of Sohni-Mahiwal. 

Close to our family and a frequent visitor to our household, daarji's (as he was fondly called) greatness lay in his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful words, by which, he would abbreviate his artistic thoughts. A man of few words, he had once told me that politics is nothing but ‘poly-tricks’. For the world at large he was the greatest spiritual painter of all times, but for us and especially for my mother he was a saint incarnate in white robes, and a matching flowing beard. A celebrated artist of his stature often visited our middle-class household because, as he would tell us, 'you have a taste for books that not many have'! My interest in books has only grown ever since. I possess less of everything but books.  


Daarji - Sardar Sobha Singh 
Daar-ji once borrowed a book from us, and didn't visit us for several weeks thereafter. We were worried. Telephone was a rarity then, and the only option at hand was to visit him at Andretta, then a small village not far from Palampur in Himachal Pradesh. Though hard of hearing, daar-ji enjoyed the relentless chirping of birds in the big cage placed in the verandah. Paradoxically, a red cockerel ruling the courtyard was an added surprise. But for the artist in him, the cock-a-doodle-doo was a perfect wake-up call in the morning. 

Months later daar-ji visited us with a copy of the borrowed title, regretting the delay in replacing the book that someone had further borrowed from him, and had failed to return. Without sounding preachy, daar-ji reflected goodness through subtle deeds. His greatness lay in his simplicity.


Sohni-Mahiwal
Undoubtedly, daar-ji was a perfectionist who didn't miss out on life's finer details. Seeing quite a few unfinished portraits in his study, I could notice the power of his imagination in capturing many moods of Guru Nanak. How do you get ideas, I had asked him once! 'That is my inspiration', he had said pointing towards the majestic Shiwalik mountain range from the window in his study. Daar-ji believed in the power of place I'd imagine, and had therefore refused government's offer of relocating his studio to Chandigarh.

It has been three decades that the genius last drew on his canvas but his message ‘grow more good’ remains relevant now than ever before.

In a rare interview to All India Radio several years ago, the legendary actor Prithviraj Kapoor had himself mentioned that whenever free he preferred visiting his friend Sardar Sobha Singh in Andreta, Palampur. Without doubt, the place is still worth a visit.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

118. Back in the race

Beating each other in the slush race  
(Pic: Luke Metelerkamp)
It was a race of a lifetime I was witness to. It neither involved horses nor cars but a pair of buffaloes racing on a slushy track with a determined athlete in toe. Much like the sturdy pair of bovine, the six-pack athlete was no less determined to win the race either. With hundreds of villagers cheering the racing duo, it has been a long-held tradition of celebrating the man-animal co-existence for a bountiful harvest in coastal Karnataka. And, there were any number of teams from different coastal villages vying for the coveted title.        

I had my first brush with this cultural extravaganza, called Kambala, few years ago in village Venur in the coastal region of Mangalore. It was a pleasant wintry evening in January 2011, the well-lit arena was decked up in celebration with people in all hues thronging the racing track. What had begun as a thanksgiving event for protecting the cattle against diseases, the annual racing event has grown into a competitive sport that enthralls and entertains. The animal rights activists may continue to think otherwise!     

Keeping pace with raging buffaloes on the slush track was indeed testing, as if bovines were running for their life. Racing at an incredible speed, it was a perfect test for human endurance against incredible bovine power. For the fear of running over, half a dozen villagers had to herd together to take control of the animals at the finish line. They would calm the animals by giving it a hug, make it eat and rest before the next race. Each of the racing pairs looked well groomed and healthy, as did the accompanying athletes.


At the finish line
(Pic: Luke Metelerkamp)
Were the animals tortured during training? Were these creatures intoxicated to run the way they did? The organizers had led me to the animal resting places to find for myself if that was the case. 'These are no ordinary cattle, they bring laurels to the village', quipped a team member. These are treated like sportsmen, nurtured and trained in the art of racing from early years. No wonder, there were no marks of external injury on any of the participating animals. So much is at stake that some owners train their buffaloes in separate swimming pool for getting them used to conditions before every race.  

That these are special animals, treated like children and selected for their sturdy features including disease resistance, make me think that this annual cultural event is more than just an occasion for fun and frolic. It promotes the process of natural selection in disguise. The best among buffaloes get selected, nurtured and tested. The animals people race are the animals that help breed the next generation of calves, sturdy to withstand adverse conditions. That such a valuable process is conducted by the communities at their own initiative, and for the benefit of the society at large surely calls for a celebration!        

With hardly anything worth celebrating in the countryside these days, the assent for re-conduct of Kambala by the first citizen of the country has given something for the last citizens to cheer about. Let the race begin again. 

Kambala was banned in 2014, but the outgoing President of India gave a parting gift to the people of Karnataka by granting assent for (re)conducting the sporting event on July 3, 2017.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

117. I think everyone should know it!

Don't get me wrong if I say that girls spend more time looking for a bridal lehenga, that they wear just once, than a groom whom they seek for life.

In my wildest of dreams I could not have imagined that a six-meter apparel, which came into existence eons ago in this part of the world, could spin a recession-proof billion dollar industry. From the ordinary to the special, or extra-special, it isn't the traditional outfit anymore that my grandmother and mother would wear before setting out in the public. Laced with exquisite embroidery and inexpensive pearls, this earliest stitched skirt has come of age on the global stage by winning accolades on red carpets across the world. And, it is not done yet. 


A raunchy lehenga dance from a Bollywood movie 
Secured at woman's waist but leaving the lower back and midriff bare may have set off its multiple cinematic renditions, from sublime to the raunchiest, but not without letting all-pervasive lehenga earn its meteoric rise as a secular apparel for festivals and weddings. So much so that its traditional variants - ghagra, chaniya, pavdai or lacha - have long faded into oblivion as an annual lehenga business in excess of US$10 billion leaps center-stage into the ever growing wedding industry. It will be sacrilege to imagine a bride without a lehenga!   

No surprise, it remains one of the most sought after apparel for any wedding. Don't get me wrong if I say that girls spend more time looking for a lehenga, that they wear just once, than a groom whom they seek for life. With as many as 10 million marriages in the making each year in India, the six-meter apparel could not have had a better prospect. Celebrity endorsements have set the market abuzz. As designer studios and neighborhood boutiques surface all over, the ubiquitous lehenga has revolutionized the marriage market like never before.


The two-minute lehenga 
Should one buy such an expensive apparel that is worn just once (as its assemblage weighs heavy) or would it make better sense to take it on hire instead? The sociology of lehenga, if there was one, could have offered some interesting insights. Suffice it to say that the lehenga reflects the social status of the bride's family. If that was not the case, most bride families would have conveniently taken a lehenga on hire for the ceremony. Rarely if ever they do so, knowing well that it is worth a single wear only a'la a two-minute lehenga

For the expanding middle class with a notion of false pride, the price of a lehenga isn't worth any serious attention. After all, marriage is once-in-a-lifetime event for which families like to splurge at least a fourth of their lifetime savings, such that the wedding remains talk of the town. Who would want the story of a hired lehenga doing the rounds instead! Little do they realize that for no good reasons the sociology of lehenga is fueling the economy of lehenga on a scale. I've been cautioned to refrain from raking up an issue lest I earn the ire of the lehenga industry.   

But a friend inspired me to bring the lehenga story up. If hiring a lehenga is against the prestige of the bride's family, he tells me,  then why should the family stop at just the lehenga? Will it not add to their pride if they were to buy the ghodi (mare), the band-baaza (musical band) and the rest of it? Well said, I think everyone should know it! 

Some readers have mentioned that 'false pride' extends beyond 'lehenga' into male wardrobe. None of the 'sherwanis' and 'glitzy suits' bought for the occasion (marriage) ever get worn thereafter. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

116. Reduced to numbers

....our inner wear has a number and so has our outer wear; neither is a shoe without a number nor is a sandal; phone without number doesn't ring and neither does a mobile; success counts on number as failure rues the lack of getting the desired number. 

Being a preferred client, I got a call from my bank's relationship manager about why I had not submitted my 12-digits Unique Identification Number to the Bank. 'Since getting such a number is not yet obligatory by law why should I reduce my identity into just a number', I had responded with a matter-of-fact clarity on the subject. I thought i was tacit in my response, notwithstanding a sigh of exasperation at the other end.     
       
From being a digit on the population register to a number on the electoral rolls, we have been reduced to a number on the cash book at the bank, on the directory of the mobile service provider, on the currency that is but largely plastic in nature and so on. One's birth is a number and so is one's departure; an inner wear has a number and so has an outer wear; neither is a shoe without a number nor is a sandal; phone without number doesn't ring and neither does a mobile; success counts on number as failure rues the lack of getting the desired number. 

With everything but a number, what is a big deal about a person being numbered. But for a crazy soul like me, no one seems to be complaining. What is in a name after all, most seem to be in agreement with Shakespeare. However, my parents don't see any sense in it having named me and my siblings in an elaborate social exercise. Assigning a name to a new born has cultural and spiritual ramifications, that they say can hardly be undone in a jiffy.

And, I don't buy the argument that a number can hide my 'caste', and can put to rest the prevailing social disparity around our cultural identity. Come to think of it, each identification number is only assigned after securing an in-depth social and economic profile of an individual. It could be anybody's guess how this number game might play up at the end, by those in power holding these numbers in big databases to their advantage. I shudder to think about the myriad possibilities.      

Born with the largest brain relative to body weight, nature has bestowed a unique position for humans among all other species. Our upright posture and the ability to walk on two legs have placed us on top of the ecological pyramid, making us the master of not only our own destiny but that of others too. But far from using the big brain to bridge the gap between the physical and the spiritual and beyond, it is pathetic that we have ended up being an exercise in sheer 'numbers'.

The more critical I think the more it surprises me that there is a indeed an unending fascination for numbers among everyone around me. The psychology of numbers has played so heavy on the democracy of numbers in an era dominated by the economics of numbers, that its cumulative impact has been felt by each one of us. No wonder, our house help is as enamored by it as my better half. The game of numbers has caught on with everybody.  
         
Irrespective of caste, class, creed, competence or credibility, the quest of each human of late has been to attain the first six digits. A six figure income is all that each one of us is craving for (as of today). Ironically, those who have already attained these 'six digits' are more unhappy than those who are striving to achieve it. Yet, the race to gain access to a higher digit is relentless. I wonder what worth is life that has been reduced to numbers! 

Monday, November 28, 2016

115. Awesome is what awesome is not

Some words make you sick, not because these are virus-infected but for their sheer overuse or misuse to the point of being irritating. 'Awesome' is one among them, having grown like a wild creeper in our lives. Dictionary may define it as something extraordinary or stunning, like an amazing waterfall or a beautiful sunset, but its usage extends to anything from a pair of shoes to a tasty lunch, and goes on endlessly. The irritating aspect is that 'awesome' is used to describe things that are, in fact, not awesome at all. 

I am not being snooty but my concern must merit consideration. After all, how can a word mean both 'great' and 'terrible' at the same time? Youngsters may love it, as it eases them into striking multiple expressions with just one word. But the trouble is that I have friends of all ages who use it as regularly as youngsters half their age. Why should it appeal as much to the seniors? I would imagine that it's charm lies in its versatility, even if its use is half-ironic. That is awesome!

Already voted as one of the ten most overused words, 'awesome' has come under gaze of those who are aiming to push the word to its rightful slot in the spoken language. For last few years an anti-awesome move has been aiming to beseech people from employing its overuse, suggesting instead that we deserve something better. Easier said, having degraded 'awesome' as banal it will be quite a task to locate something that is truly, really, deeply awesome. Will someone be able to come up with the next 'awesome'?

It isn't if overuse makes some words and their meaning redundant, it denies us the chance to feel a wider range of emotions. The worst is that we have, by sheer oversight, etymologically demoted 'awesome' as a way of foreclosing conversation rather than having it. It's usage has been reduced to shut down any debate or discussion, as a definitive statement. Having wasted 'awesome' to describe a goddamn ebay discount, one would be bereft of appropriate word to describe, for instance, one's own wedding. Sadly, we have wasted the shit out of some words. 

By the way, that reminds me that my domestic help is upbeat these days about using 'shit' to express in equal measure her pleasure and displeasure over anything. Like awesome, the overuse of 'shit' means everything but the real stuff. With the stink having long escaped into the greenhouse, it makes her feel connected to the slang-generation. A coming of age feeling, perhaps! And, my hunch is that she is unlikely to give up on her new-found enlightenment anytime soon.

This reminds me of an incident about how overuse of words leads us to the point of losing all its meanings. Here it goes! Having been interrupted many times during a hearing by a judge, who kept saying 'shit' on each occasion, the lawyer could not hold himself back from saying: 'Nothing but 'shit' has passed from your lordship's mouth through the day.' You might wonder what may have happened thereafter. The court was adjourned! 

This jalebi was first published in Deccan Herald on Jan13, 2017. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

114. The unmaking of human emotions!

Festive season reminds me about the transformation the world of sharing seasons' greetings has gone through. From those days when as teenagers we were made to ferry plateful of sweets across neighboring households to later years when we often poured emotions in hand-drawn greeting cards, the subtlety of sharing emotions were to become outright blatant in the following years.Telephonic greetings and printed cards arrived much later, by which time greetings had started bearing a crass reflection of social and economic status. Emotions were tagged to a price, and the trend is in vogue till this day! 

In parallel, there is a new trend that has caught on. The present-day gadget-friendly generation has gone a step ahead, for them emotions are a product of digital technology. The manner in which they use bland text, passive status and predictive smiley makes one believe as if the youngsters, and even some of their senior followers, have run out of emotions. It seems conscious expression of thoughts have given space to copied text and downloaded visuals. Need it be said that the realm of digital communication has unleashed a world of electronic emotions around us. Digitized emotions have become virtual products for real consumption.    

I am as disturbed as novelist Ayn Rand would have been, who considered 'emotions as a product of man’s premises, held consciously or subconsciously, explicitly or implicitly'. Since lot goes into making of human emotions, I have difficulty with the digital emotions. Consequently, I try not to acknowledge text messages, bulk greetings and electronic cards. For me, the cut and paste emotions that are re-invented and re-send are worthy of quick deletion, as these are but a reflection of the general drift of our culture. I like conventions. I like personal touch to greeting family and friends. May be, digital greetings don't assure me of the attention that I think I deserve! 

But much to my discomfort, passive electronic emotions continue to fill-up the virtual space.    

As touch-screen technology moves center stage as a mode of communication, the business of saying things face-to-face is seemingly on its way out. Mediated by communication technologies, emotions too have become packaged products which can be clicked and picked online. As these are produced so are these consumed, a perfect reminder that we live in a 'read and delete' society. That electronic emotions lack the ability to communicate the essence of an emotional response isn't a majority concern, and yet it has the power of unstoppable proliferation. Pity that no one considers the value of the glorious personal greetings the sun showers on the mountains!      

Despite my personal disliking for digitized emotions, I am still convinced that it has given a convenient vent to positive emotions for a large majority who may not be able to afford the economics of sharing greetings (printed cards, expensive gifts etc) the traditional way. Consequently, sharing of feelings through a variety of 'emoticons' have worked ever since digital form of emotions were uploaded on the Internet on Sept 19, 1982. Since then, human emotions have got a non-human face to them. These environment-friendly emoticons have been downloaded and shared several billion times. Not sure if these make the recipients happy, though. Isn't expressing emotions through written words getting obsolete?

But what worries me is the accumulation of 'negative emotions' in the process, because humans are a mix of both positive and negative emotions. While 'positive emotions' exit through the electronic route, 'negative emotions' fail to escape human psyche. No wonder, pent-up emotions and hidden aggression increasingly confront us as a society. Be it unprovoked violence in social life or increasing incidences of road rage, the 'negative emotions' are finding a variety of violent escape routes. This is a subject that has yet to be researched to any appreciable degree, though we do read about the flip side of our over-dependence on the digital technologies. The trouble is that unlike electronic emoticons these (negative emotions) cannot be easily deleted from our lives! 

This piece was first published in Deccan Herald on Nov 26, 2016

Friday, October 7, 2016

113. You do yours, and mine too!

Times may have changed but not for today's parents whose collective frustration spills out in the open when it comes to discussing their offspring. Unceremonious adages like 'highly irresponsible', 'grossly careless', 'poorly empathetic' and 'increasingly narcissistic' are pressed into service to reflect their unending ire. 

Age has forced me to switch sides now, but it wasn't too long when I was one among many of my generation who had braved parental verbal tirade. My mother would often compare me with my father for being 'half as diligent in discharging my duties towards the household'. Like all parents, she was repetitive enough to trigger my immune response.      

Neither was the problem diagnosed then nor is it being analysed now. Across the world, I have learnt, a generation is growing up expecting more from their parents. A narcissistic generation afflicted by the 'selfie epidemic' is growing in numbers. Need it be said that the otherness of others has become mostly irrelevant to this generation.            

If you ask me, we are the problem we are trying to solve. Haven't many of us been hollering our children not to forget things they must carry before leaving home? Aren't most of us doing the household work ourselves because getting kids to do the same will suck more energy out of us? If that be so, then blame it on our style of parenting.   

We have allowed children’s sense of entitlement to be inflated alongside decline in their responsibilities towards the household. Gone are the days when children were perceived as a generation which was raised to gain practical tips for survival from their parents, and to lend supportive financial hand for the household to thrive. 

In present times we want our child to be child  - to play, to laugh, to have fun, and to enjoy the carefree state for as long as s/he can. Perceived as an emotional asset whose primary purpose is being loved, most parents today want their kids to spend time on things that can bring them success. Rarely it is realized that the pursuit of success comes at a price.    

It is our attitude plus the change in living conditions that has prompted children to be what they are today. Why should children spend hours doing chores when the technology - mixers, microwave ovens, washing machines, handsets - has improved living conditions in favor of individual emancipation around the house? You do yours and mine too, they seem to be saying as technology has eased the task of doing work!

I would be surprised if there are parents not wanting their children to be tech savvy, and not ape modernity to stay in the race for endless material acquisitions. Comes packaged with it are the terms and conditions that discourage children to do household chores. Knowing it well, as many as 30% of American parents no longer ask their children to do household chores.

So much for our side of the story. Have you ever tried asking the young generation about their side of the story? I have heard many say that they were labelled 'little emperors' and 'little princesses' on their birthdays by their parents. And they are behaving like what they were labelled as. Where do you see emperors and princesses do household chores, they ask!! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

112. Use the abuse, if you may!

Whatever be the reason for Philippine President Duterte to use angry expletives in addressing the US President Obama recently, one thing is clear that 'abuse' is trans-national and could be used as a potent weapon at any level. Without getting into the details of it, every human carries this innate skill to use the abuse on cognitive demand.      

Unlike any other human expression, echo of a verbal abuse lingers longer than the resonance of few good words. It hurts longer than any physical injury, piercing through the calm confines of one's inner self days on end. The trouble is that unless it is rebuffed there and then, its tone and tenor disturbingly persists. Since it cuts across all cultures and each social strata, it is surely an evolutionary trait that we have no option but to live with. For me, each abusive dual that I witness offers fresh insights on the subject. And there is no end to it in our daily lives, be it in our offices or on the street.  

One such one-sided abusive session that I have been witness to is worth mentioning here. For the slightest of the design error, the editor would walk straight to the concerned and hurl choicest of abuses before resigning to his chamber to pen editorial for the next edition of the newspaper. Neither would bad blood spill on the floor nor would it brood insurgency in the office, the high voltage session would end soon with everyone resuming their respective duties. Rarely if ever this not-so-frequent event would get discussed during coffee breaks. It was indeed a ritual that must have carried therapeutic value for the 'abuser' and as much unpleasant respite for the 'victim'. 

Unless it spills over to being physical, I consider verbal abuse to be an ingenious human trait. Since both sides are often abusive at the same time, each serve receives a equally smart volley from the other end. If nothing, it helps soothe nerves and calm tempers. The best part is that it gives one the liberty to be the 'abuser' and the 'victim' under a given situation. Vexed by circumstances beyond our control, toss few abuses into the air and feel the difference. As verbal tirade dissipates destructive energy, the mind, body and soul return to a much-desired equilibrium. No wonder, in many cultures for the fun of it grandparents offer tutorials to kids on being abusive!

General consensus is that abuses are learnt outside of the home: from the neighbors, in the classrooms, on the streets, and now from country-heads. Rarely ever have restrictions been posed on being abusive, till it takes a violent turn. Though rarely acknowledged by law, verbal abuse remains an unwritten human right. Anyone who hasn't exercised this right is unlikely to be normal, so I would think. Not without reason do husband and wife abuse each other, to be close and cozy again. It isn't as much a psychological issue as it has been made out to be! Try asking Newton and he would say 'it conforms to my third law' - 'to every action there is equal but opposite reaction'. 

At the end of it, verbal abuse could be as much a vice as a virtue. Subject to how it gets used - though rarely people exercise control when they are embroiled in it - it could easily be tried as a tool to control acrimony between people. I often wonder if anyone would consider creating 'abuse clubs' in line with the 'laughter clubs' that we have. This is a therapy whose potential has yet to be fully exploited. I wonder what might have been the outcome had Bush and Saddam engaged in a verbal dual? Could war not have been avoided? May be!

Peace is a possible dividend that verbal abuse has on offer. Any takers!  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

111. A spouse for all seasons

Aaron exchanging ring with the smart phone
Let me be honest that I was not ready to encounter upfront what I had only read and heard in the recent past. A light tremor shook me when Peter introduced me to Paul, his 'husband', and he (Paul) had reciprocated with a smile. My conservative upbringing was in for a rude shock. exposed to the grey shade of human relationship beyond the conventional black and white. Many of you will mock at me for my naivety, knowing well that like many, I am witness-to and participant-in several transforming realities the world is tossing up every so often. 

Legal sanctions notwithstanding, same gender co-habitation is for real now. Proclaiming same gender partner as 'husband' or 'wife' in public is a brave new expression, heralding a new era in human relationships. If marriages are indeed made in heaven, as they say, then same gender marriages may also have a divine sanction! My bewilderment was no more than a fleeting emotion because the gays were cool about it! Two husbands under one roof without a wife or two wives under one roof without a husband. Bravo!  


If family means putting arms around each other, then that is what they are doing. If family means caring for each other, then that is what has brought them together. What goes behind closed doors is none of anybody's business. Chill! The world has lived through polygamy and polyandry for long, it is time to give new meaning to monogamy now. Though I doubt if there is anything new about it. Our ancient monuments stand testimony to such relationships, stone carvings on derelict structures depict that such relationships were in vogue then.  


Stone or plastic, these couples give two hoot to what the carvings are all about and what the clerics or the biologists might be thinking. They hold no obligations towards either! Darwin may have started rolling over in his coffin, however, the fittest have sought their own ways to devolve. Nurturing new-found relationship, they have left the task of procreation to the test tubes and the surrogate mothers. Why should all eggs be put in the same basket, they question? As science takes charge of procreation, relationships are beginning to go beyond the obvious. Same gender relationship is just the beginning!  


When Aaron Chervenak, a native of Los Angles, married his smartphone recently, he went beyond gender stereotypes in tying knot with a machine instead. The priest in the Little Vegas Chapel in Nevada proclaimed them 'husband and cellphone'. It is not startling, as one-third of Americans say they would rather give up sex than lose their cell phones. As people touch their smart phone more often than they touch their spouse, a new relationship is indeed evolving in every living room. 


If you have touched your cellphone few times while reading this, you know what I am driving at!


This post was first published in Deccan Herald on Aug 13, 2016

Thursday, December 31, 2015

110. The little different nose, anyone!

Weird but stylish!
Mark my words, uncanny hair growth in one of the most undesired of places on our body is likely to script a new style statement. No freak idea this, those who may have plucked these protein filaments into extinction will have to pay through their nose to get them back. Get ready to pay the hair surgeon to work overtime to stuff your nostrils. And before you even begin to smell the hairy reality, design studios would have sprung all across to shape this luxuriant growth onto your facial contours. 

If you thought you could do without long nose hair, it is better you get back on your senses because the notion of hairless nostrils is passé. Stuffed nostrils will fetch a premium at the marriage market. A sweet
Wow! Double Moustache
something with a stylish braid dropping from top of the upper lips will hog limelight in most social gatherings. Bridal make-up will look different, and fashion catwalks will feature a hitherto unknown component. Who better than Yunus Parvez (Bade Babu of 'Gol-Maal') to judge such contests! 


If you haven't sensed it as yet, let it be known that the density of hair in your nostrils will henceforth determine your survival amidst city's polluted air. The more dirty air you breathe, the more nose hair you need. Weird though it may seem, the length of nasal hair will help visualize air quality index in your city. It is not entirely out of sync with our polluting lifestyles, the super-long disgusting nose hairs will be the new indicator of each person's air pollution exposure. 


As cities choke in air pollution, growing nose hair will become inevitable. After all, more nose hair will give individuals a three times less likely chance of developing asthma, and the hairy nose metric will demonstrate just how vital hirsute nostrils must be to deal with a dirty air epidemic. Weird though it may sound, nose hair will surely make the difference between life and death in Asian cities where more than 800,000 deaths are caused by polluted air each year. 

Yunus Pervaz: Harvesting protein filaments
In launching its 'Hairy Nose Campaign' a few years ago, Clean Air Asia had backed it up with 'style your nose hair' statement to match the emissions level in the city. It is akin to wearing masks or buy air filters, though pretty cheap in comparison. At the end of the day, all that matters is how indeed we adapt to increasing particulate matter in the air around us. Like 'grow more food' in the past, 'Grow more nose hair' will become the new slogan for human survival. 

Whether or not the odd-even vehicle rationing works to check air pollution on city roads, the odd idea of growing-nose-hair will pave new way of checking this emerging health threat. It may not exactly make up the stuff of Friday Fun, but imagining long nose hair will trim air pollution in the cities.  

This piece has appeared in Deccan Herald on March 4, 2016