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Friday, January 09, 2009

Godforsaken Country!



Wretched.
Pitiable.
Negligible.
Synonyms for "godforsaken".

The most literate people in the nation, with the least amount of common sense. That's what I have come to believe with my experience of working with them, especially now that I work in Kerala.

Its people leave to look for jobs and work their fingers to the bone elsewhere. The exodus continues, but the situation at home is getting worse, and the money that these "hardworkers" send back to their families doesn't seem to be promoting the best interests of the state at all. What a dilemma!

It loses its pristine beauty to those who strip it of its natural wealth to create so-called, modern marvels. All the "gulf money" that makes its way to Kerala is spent building obscene homes that use anything but local construction materials that prove to be environmentally unfriendly, and leave the owners wondering why they have to deal with problems that their forefathers never faced; overheating of the premises, lack of shade, lack of access to clean ground water, erosion...

Its habits and lifestyles closely mimic the latest trends to such an extent that the same sorts of diseases ail its inhabitants. All this in spite of a centuries-old legacy of ayurvedic know-how, one that's marketed to an international audience at any cost.

Its political "soap operas" continue to harangue the sensibilities of its people, but they are ready to die for the most unworthy political causes at the drop of a hat. New Year's day saw a family somewhere in Thalassery, grieving for its lost son. He was stabbed to death by members of an opposing political party. This is the second stabbing incident that I am personally aware of that has occurred less than a kilometer away from from where I live/work. In the last couple of months, no less! A common occurence? Too soon to make that kind of judgement. But, it looks like it doesn't need very long to get there at this rate.

Its public follows the 80-20 rule; most of the time is spent complaining about the work that is to be done, while as little time as possible is spent doing the work. Also, its workforce sports an interestingly haughty sense of workers' rights ensuring that payment is made regardless of how, or even if work is done at all. But, this is only true of the people who stay and work in Kerala. For some reason, people will throw the rule book at you when you ask them to work extra hours or to do something in the name of team spirit that will help out in general. But, ask them why they didn't do something, whether at all or the way you wanted them to, and you get a sheepish grin with a whole lot of "kindly adjust" dialogue. You know the kind; my mother was unwell, my wife lost an eye...

Things are so "red tape" motivated that there are unions and associations for everything, and federations of these unions and associations! Most of the residential areas in Trivandrum are organized into "Residents' Associations". Then, they have a "Federation of Residents' Associations Thiruvananthapuram" (FRAT) that is a higher level association of these associations. How's that for multiple layers of insulation so that work never gets done. The main road that leads to where I live at the moment needs immediate work. In fact, two politicians ply this route on a near daily basis. But, I can guarantee you that it will remain this way for the next nine months at least...

Where do we go from here?

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Having spent the last quarter working in the "heart of darkness" (Trivandrum), I feel myself having become this way; the killer combination of lazy and whiny. But, I am on the path to recovery because I was able to catch myself before the disease set in. Phew! ;)
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