Thursday, February 17, 2005

Random Observations

Nature versus Nurture

Pictured above, though barely visible, is a sandlot cricket game, the likes of which I dare say you will only find in India. Vijay had just taken me to see some new Hindu temples under construction, and the access road to the carved marble temple paralleled a shanty town. As we were leaving, I asked him to pull over so I could get a shot of the action. As we walked closer to get a shot, and were noticed by the players, they all quickly abandoned the game to crowd to the focal point of my aim with hands in the air. I took a picture and then asked them to assemble for an action shot, using my considerable abilities to mime a cricket player in action. This was not the only sandlot cricket game I witnessed, and indeed the prospects for a proper game of lawn cricket were dim, as most of Delhi is grass free.

Sport fans will of course try to attribute the superiority of the Indian cricket player to some genetic difference in Indians versus Anglos - an extra muscle in the leg, perhaps? But my eye-witness account of these young lads viewing a career as a professional cricket player as their only way out of the shanty suggests that their superiority stems from the cultural difference - the endless days of practice in the face of an otherwise too grim reality, with sport offering their one chance to dream beyond the sandlot. Maybe I should send this to Bob Costas and I can takeover Jimmy Roberts job for the 2008 Olympics telling scmaltzy stories that elevate sports to some grand spiritual quest, ignoring the steroid track marks on the arms of most of the athletes. Whaddya think?

Breaking Down the Caste System 1 Driver at a Time

What do you do when you have 8 hours between the end of your Friday meetings and the 1 am departure of your flight from Delhi to Paris? Why, you treat your driver to a meal the cost of which approximates his monthly salary, that's what. Vijay and I head for the Sola Toppe, a fancy restaraunt with an interior meant to mimic the colonial British life in India. The waitstaff in such places tends to be a tad more educated, fluent in English, and higher on the hierarchial ladder within the Indian caste system than your average driver. I gather this is the first time for Vijay dining in a restaraunt like this, which I am sure he deems a terrible waste of good rupees, especially given the inability to negotiate a better price. He comes across as being slightly uncomfortable with being waited upon, as if he doesn't feel he belongs here. But his feelings are irrelevant - the Hatcher is on a quest to break down the boundaries of a 5000 year old caste system before leaving town in a few hours, and frankly the feelings of those lowest in that caste system are the least relavent concern to my quest. If he was uncomfortable, it was due to the same false consciousness attributed by Marxists to the largely satisfied proletariat body in capitalist economies, who have to be convinced that revolution is more in their intrest than watching TV from their couch all day. It was up to the Hatcher to foment the liberalizing revolution in India. That's what we neo-conservatives are all about.

What is Howard Dean and the Staff of DNC Doing in India?

Imagine my surprise when I saw Howard Dean and his new DNC staff emerging from some of the government buildings in Delhi (see the picture below). I can only guess that they were here to see about outsourcing some of the lower level jobs of the party to some willing Indian firms to save on labor costs. Next election, expect that friendly call asking you to support the candidacy of HRC to come to you straight from New Delhi.


Blogger Alessandra said...

It's so nice to travel! have enjoyed your travel comments and great Indian adventures, but... man, do you ever need to get a decent digital camera! :-) India deserves better... and what about your blog readers? Just because some of us do not belong to the exclusive have-been-to-India Country Club, does it mean you have to treat us with these pics? That is downright hurtful...

Too bad it seems you are leaving, though, it was a fun read.

4:47 AM  

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