Friday, December 13, 2013

Bangalore Stories-2013

Bangalore Stories
I visited India recently and these are a few of the stories I heard from people I know and people I just met off the street.
Wishing to visit Fab India next to Seva Sadan in Koramangala, I hopped into an auto driven by an old Muslim gentleman. He said he did not know Seva Sadan but would take me to Koramangala and then he said instead of wasting our time, trying to find it, it would be best if we took another auto. We told him, not to worry and we would not mind searching for the address when we got there. We then told him, how much we appreciated his being upfront about not knowing the address and his asking us to take another auto. The conversation ball was set rolling by us and he then told us, how he had been duped by a young stranger (a Muslim) exactly a week ago; he gave 22 thousand rupees to this stranger who vanished with it!! He was visibly upset and told us that he did not drive the auto for three days as he was so ashamed of being duped, so angry, so depressed, so humiliated and that he did not give a police complaint as his wife told he would be the laughing stock of their friends and relatives if people knew he had been cheated. I felt deeply sad to hear his tale of woe and livid with the stranger who duped him. The young conman had apparently spoken to this old driver asking him about his family and our driver had told him about his children, their search for a job and also asked  if this  guy could help his sons get a government job. The conman then told the old man, that he could help him but he would need money and the old man’s photo and a copy of his driving licence, etc. Our driver said he felt mesmerized by this young man’s talk or that the young man had probably done some sort of magic on him, and that though he had never ever trusted a stranger, he did trust this guy and gave him his entire savings of 22k. The young man took the money and told the driver that he should get one more photo and that he would wait while he got one more photo. The old man gave the cash and went to fetch one more photo…when he returned the young conman was gone…so was our driver’s money!
I encouraged the old driver to report to the police and explain everything as the young man must be conning a lot more people in the same way. The old man, even had a couple of phone numbers the con-artist had given him (but no one’s picking the phone now). I gave him one thousand rupees, when I reached my destination, which the old driver initially refused, but I insisted. He then broke down crying. I told him, that he was depressed by his loss and that he may need three months to recover from the depression and that he will feel better in a while. I left him with tears in his eyes…and my heart burning with rage and sadness at his plight.



My friend works at an NGO. She has the good luck to work with a fantastic team of people…her colleagues are intelligent, dedicated, radical and passionate…..unlike most people, they are not working just to make money; they are the kind of people who care about society, the downtrodden, have adopted children, though they have their own, they are not running after wealth and other typical Indian middleclass mainstream ambitions…if you know what I mean.

My friend told me this tidbit about one of her colleagues which fascinated me…this colleague of hers, is a Hindu from a distant city, young, beautiful and with a post graduate degree. She has met and married a Muslim, who, like her, is different from the mainstream middleclass people one normally sees in Bangalore…he is a writer, into film making, has been working in the editorial section of magazines, and so on. The fascinating thing about their marriage is that she has kept her marriage a secret from her family for the last eight to nine years! The few people, who know about her marriage, have closely guarded her secret! If her brothers knew, she was married to a Muslim, they would definitely kill him and probably kill her too! I find this so sad and scary…she cannot have children, even if she wanted to….hiding something as big as a marriage for so long, from so many people is to be constantly on guard and constantly fear being found out.

This would make a good plot for a love story in a movie…but I cannot imagine living a life like this…for 8 years and forever!



Continuing on this topic of Hindu Muslim hatred, I discovered that I had been too optimistic and na├»ve, in believing that this hatred has reduced or disappeared in Bangalore. A driver whom I had hired was chatting with us and when we passed a certain Muslim dominant area, he commented how dangerous and untrustworthy the Muslims were in really colourful Kannada! An aged Brahmin priest who was with me commented in a neutral tone, that, after all was said and done, the Muslims were devoted to their religion and that, this it was admirable. Then the driver responded by saying that he was not saying that all Muslims were bad, that there were a few good Muslims too! I really appreciated this aged Brahmin priest’s admiration of Muslims! This Brahmin priest, is probably highly religious due to his priestly profession and he was probably disgruntled by the Hindus diminishing faith and interest in Hinduism… and he was appreciative of Muslims whom he perceived as highly religious(This priest is unlikely to have ever interacted with a single Muslim…all he knows about Muslims is hearsay)

I realized that this distrust of Muslims among the lower educated Hindus (this distrust of Muslims is possibly present in Hindus of all levels of economic strata, education, class, caste, whatever…and definitely much worse in smaller towns and villages) still persisted in 2013 and the passage of time has done little to reduce this blind hate.

Living as a Muslim in many parts of India must be really difficult for so many reasons…I don’t want to go into that now but I feel really sad and ashamed about it. If an Indian Muslim cannot feel welcome or feel  at home in India, if an Indian Muslim has to constantly be on guard, not knowing if his Hindu friends are really his friends or not….his life is not worth living!


The Brahmin priest in the above story had officiated the wedding of four siblings in one family over a range of 18 years. Due to his advanced years and frail health, he was  reluctant to officiate at the last wedding but agreed when the family insisted.  While interacting with the first of the brothers whose marriage he had conducted 18 years ago, he discovered that the guy was childless. Even though the guy insisted that he did not want to have children and that it was by choice that he was childless, the aged priest was  upset and wondered if he had done some mistake while performing the marriage rituals and if this was why the couple did not have any children! The childless guy laughed and told the priest not to worry but the priest, pulled this guy's wife forward and asked her if she had stomach pains! He even  asked the rest of the family to leave the room so that he could speak  to the childless wife in private!



I went on a bus trip to Hampe. It was a KSTDC sleeper bus and was surprisingly comfortable! (I found it comfortable….my standards are pretty low and I am easy to please!)

The bus started late and then stopped for people to pee and have coffee. I got off the bus and asked the conductor where the lady’s toilet was and he pointed in the direction behind the teashop. I went off in the dark behind the tea shop only to find myself in the open field, with men from the bus, walking from the other side of the tea shop into the fields to pee!

I was scared to sit down to pee for two reasons: a snake or a scorpion biting my bum when I sit to pee;2. The men who were peeing may be able to see my exposed butt(even though it was dark, I had this fear). I did not pee but walked back to the bus. I could not sleep the rest of the way as my mind busy thinking about peeing! After a few hours, the bus stopped and the driver announced that the road was going to become bumpy and he asked us to pee (He was afraid we would pee in our pants, when the bus hit the potholes on the road). I got down this time too as by now I really wanted to pee. But this time, there was only open space on both sides of the road…not even a tree behind which I could discreetly pee! I was furious and got in again without peeing. Bus drivers and conductors being men, have no regard about women travellers I think!

Around 6 in the morning, when I felt my bladder would burst, I went to the driver and asked him to stop as I wanted to pee. He asked me why I did not pee earlier and I asked him, how the hell I was expected to pee in front of men in the open space, with no privacy at all. He asked the conductor why the conductor had not told me about peeing at the first stop and the conductor told him that he had informed me (about the women’s pissing area behind the tea shop). I demanded that the driver stop the bus and let me out and also not to let any of the men to get down until I finished. He then pulled over and I got off the bus, crossed the road and walked into what might be a forest…there were trees, plants and grass growing wildly with rocks and stones lying around. No signs of  any people such as fields, huts or houses. I walked into this growth, until I felt I was hidden from the bus and with great pleasure and hurry, tore my pants down and squatted down for a loooong pee! When I was relieving myself of this gallon, I was lucky enough to see a fox walk just a few yards from where I seemed to look in my direction and then it vanished. I was so thrilled!  To see an animal in the wild in India is sort of rare and I had got to see this beautiful fox by sheer chance!


Current cost of a Middle-class Hindu wedding in Bangalore: I attended the wedding of a close relative in October 2013. Friends and relatives of mine were comparing the cost of recent weddings with this one. I was shocked to see how the prices were escalating year after year, while the income of many people remained stagnant.

This is the break up of the cost of the wedding I attended (October 2013). This is the wedding in a middleclass family, in Bangalore.

Cost of hiring the wedding hall: about one lakh rupees per day that is two lakhs for two days(it’s not two days actually but the second half of the first day and first half of the second day)

Cost of flower decorations for the hall: 80,000-00 ( I thought this was too much and not worth this money…but the family had to hire this guy for flower arrangements as the wedding hall owner allows only this guy to decorate the hall and not any other decorator…and the people hiring him are forced to pay what he asks(he shows photos of  a few decorations with varying costs and you choose what you want)

Food: four and quarter lakh rupees(a simple meal for a few(100-200 guests) and a grand dinner for reception(thousand guests) the first day and breakfast (for about 150 guests)and grand lunch(for 500-600 guests) after the wedding, on the second day). I think it was about 250-00 rupees per plate for the lunch and dinner

Use of gas, electricity, etc for cooking: about 40 thousand rupees (paid to the hall…not part of the rent)

Coconuts for tambula: about 15 thousand rupees

Wedding cards : each card cost about 40 rupees and about 500 cards i.e. 20,000 rupees plus cost of printing(I do not know how much the printing cost). Cheaper cards were available but the bride wanted cards which were grand-looking and of hand-made paper ( I understand that much more expensive cards than these, exist)

Cost of saris: The bride wore about eight or nine new saris over two days’ time, for various rituals ( Gourie pooja, sari when she entered the wedding hall, sari for the engagement, sari for reception, sari for the bangle-wearing ceremony; sari for the wedding; sari presented by in laws, sari to enter groom’s house) her saris must have cost anywhere between 75 thousand and a lakh. Apart from this, new saris and clothes to be worn for two days for her mother, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, parents, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law. And then, the gift of clothes to her closest relatives and to the groom and his family.

I was shocked to see the cost of getting a sari blouse stitched these days! I have not been in India for over four years and the inflation in India has simply zapped me! I feel out of breath when I hear some costs! Another major change I saw this time was that women, especially young ones, no longer wear simple blouses! The blouses have become terribly fancy and have embroidery and cost a fortune to stitch! I could not believe that one blouse with embroidery costs over two thousand rupees to stitch! My lovely silk wedding sari, over a decade ago, cost less than what it costs to stitch a blouse today! Factoring in the cost of stitching several blouses not only for the bride but for about 6 other women, makes the wedding budget bloat like anything.

The family also bought about a hundred and fifty blouse pieces to be given to guests. I do not know the cost of this, but will find out and add it here later. (each was a one meter of cotton  blouse material of good quality, bought wholesale, in Avenue road)

The bride’s family hired cars and drivers not only on the wedding day but also to distribute the wedding cards. It cost them about one thousand rupees per day, as far as I know and their wedding-related travel cost would have come to about 50 thousand rupees or slightly more.

They also had to spend on jewels such as the ring and a chain for the groom; the bride already had a pair of gold bangles, a chain and earrings at time of wedding and did not  buy jewels for herself for the wedding(the jewels she had is really minimum, when compared to what her cousins had when they got married).

The makeup lady cost about 50 thousand rupees for two days and I think this was way too much!

Expenses below ten thousand rupees each included the cost of (1)pooja items, (2)cost of hiring the priests, (3)cost of building and taking down the chapra in front of the house of the bride, (4)the cost of hiring the bangle-seller to come to the wedding hall to put bangles on the bride’s hands and other women,(5)musicians(Volga) during the wedding,(6) the taped music during the reception,(7)tips and gifts to servants in the family and the workers in the wedding hall,(8) accessories for the bride such as artificial jewels, slippers and purse for the wedding, artificial jewels, accessories for her female relatives, (9)things to take to the wedding hall for guests staying overnight at the hall itself(towels, soaps, toothpaste, locks and keys, etc)

Both families hired photographers and the bride’s photographer charged them about one lakh rupees (Don’t know, will find out and put the exact amount later) for photos of the two days (reception and wedding) and the Gauri pooja, which was done earlier at a different venue.

I am afraid to add up the cost as it seems such a lot to me…and friends assure me that this family has spent moderately and not lavishly!

I might have missed out some other expenses but this is all I can recall now. I am writing this for myself and also hope it is useful for anyone wondering how much a middle-class Hindu wedding in Bangalore costs 2013.


I dread to think how much more this wedding would have cost if the groom’s family had demanded dowry or demanded the bride’s father to “celebrate the wedding in a grand way”. Fortunately, this was not a typical arranged marriage…in this wedding the bride and groom had chosen each other and the typical drama which occurs in arranged marriages was pleasantly absent.


In the context of discussing wedding expenses, a friend of mine (he belongs to the business caste of Shettys) told me of a wedding he attended (Oct or Nov 2013) recently. I was shocked to hear of the expenses of that wedding. The flower decorations alone in this wedding cost 65 lakh rupees!! Apparently, the flowers were flown in from other countries and they were rare and expensive ones such as orchids. He also told me that as the decorating takes time, the wedding hall was hired for six days! That the road was blocked off for decorations. That the family also hired a ? Rolls Royce to roll the bridal couple in I think at the cost of about 50 thousand rupees per day! I was appalled…65 lakh for flower decorations and the flowers would be thrown out after the wedding! You are throwing out 65 lakh rupees…. I and a lots of Indians believe that most business class Indians do NOT PAY TAXES and they simply want to get rid of their money, in case the tax department raids them…they get rid of the money by spending lavishly…They would rather spend like this i.e. buying flowers worth 65 lakhs for a wedding , than give a raise in salary to their under-paid and over-worked employees; they would rather waste money like this than pay their taxes; they would rather waste money like this than donate to a hospital or pay for some poor student’s education….


Another person of the Shetty community told me how worried he was about his niece’s marriage. Apparently, the Shetty singles, going in for arranged marriage, were demanding incredibly huge amounts as dowry. The parents of these Shetty single males had strictly warned the marriage brokers to prevent the brides’ fathers or whoever was negotiating for the brides from even having a peek at their son’s horoscope, if they could not give the money or property expected. My Shetty friend told me that, now the dowry was in crores and not in lakhs, like before. He said that he was so glad that the relative whose marriage I attended had found her own partner and had not gone into arranged marriage…I was shocked to hear him say this as this is a guy who was once pretty conservative and had himself gone in for an arranged marriage! Now that his own niece is struggling to get married, he is favouring ‘love marriages’.

Talking of weddings, my cousins and I were discussing how weddings have changed over the decades and the changes are tremendous!  Let me tell about the weddings in rural areas about 50 years ago ( I was not born then but this is what I heard). The relatives who came stayed in the houses of thier relatives in the village where the wedding was held; these days, no weddings are ever held in the village! The villagers couduct thier weddings in nearby towns. Food was cooked by the women of the wedding party in huge containers on wood burning stoves, outside the house in those days. Now cooks are hired. Previously, the food was fairly simple except for a sweet dish or two. Now, even village weddings have a range of foods served during weddings. The 80 year old priest with whom I spent some time said, that people did not go and get a brand new cloth to hold as the screen between the bride and groom (part of the Gowda wedding ceremony) in those days. Instead, the person conducting the wedding would ask for a dhoti and one of the audience would take off his dhoti (and stand in his underwear, until his dhoti was no longer needed!) and hand it over to be used as the screen! I found this hilarious but the priest insisted that it was true. My grear-grandmother was married to a widower more than thrice her age, when she was just 10 years old. She was sent to her husband's house as soon as she attained puberty and bore 5 children (or more assuming some died in childhood). Now of course, there are no child marriages ( I hope!). In those days, farmers, did not want their daughter to marry into a family which stayed even a few miles away from their village but now, women are ready to marry and move even across continents, as distance is not a big problem now. (My grandmother told me how, in her childhhood,  they  travelled for months, to Tirupathi and back to her village in Tumkur   by bullock cart !) Thanks to prosperity or other reasons, now it is not just the bride or groom who buy new clothes for the wedding, but all family members. In those days, it was just the bride and the groom. My own wedding, 17 years ago, did not have much by way of  decorations. All we had was the traditional banana plants at the entrance of the wedding hall but now, city weddings, even middle class people's weddings, cost a fortune for flower decoration of the wedding venue.


Theft in houses by servants was a topic which seemed to dominate several conversations I had. I was so disturbed by this as I cannot tolerate having anyone inside my house, whom I cannot trust. I would rather have a dirty house or clean it myself than have servants whom I cannot trust. Theft is so much that one cannot leave a single item of even minimum value outside the house (and inside the compound) as someone was bound to flick it in no time. This particular house I visited depressed me no end….let me tell you why.

The kitchen knives and the scissors in this house were so bad, that though I offered to help in the chores by cutting vegetables, etc, I could not do it as the knife was so terrible. I then asked why the family did not use the good knives sent to them by their son from USA. I was told that all the good knives had got stolen by the hired help! I offered to buy them from India or Canada and they vehemently declined stating that it would be stolen in a week’s time or less! Every suggestion I made was turned down. They cannot manage without servants; they cannot find good servants who do not steal; they do not believe in finding servants from an agency; they cannot follow the servants when they work as the servants ask, “why are you following me? Do you think I will steal something?”; they cannot lock away everything, everytime;

I was so depressed and angry about this situation. When I grew up as a child in Bangalore, theft was not this high. We left things outside the house and things were never stolen. When I was a child, I only heard of clothes being stolen from the clothes line, where they were hung out to dry. Now even the ugliest things of the least value go missing..things such as dust rags, used brooms, broken vessels, brushes used to clean bathrooms. How miserable can the thief be, that he or she needs to steal these miserable things?


Monday, August 12, 2013

Books to read in August 2013

Rickshaw Boy by Lao She

The Taliban Cricket club by Timeri N Murari

The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling

Borrowed these from the Toronto Public Library i.e. The Lillian H Smith branch.
 Has anyone noticed that some branches of the TPL seem to have more interesting and a wider range of books than others? Books by authors from other exotic countries, books from countries from which books rarely come out of...The Lillian H Smith, The North York Centre's library and  The Reference library at Yonge and Bloor  are three such branches. If I had not actually visited this library and wandered around, I might not  have discovered these books  and not read them!
 Did the authorities deem these libraries worthy of carrying more interesting books  due to the people and type of organizations  near these locations??? Or the large size of these libraries permits a bigger &  better collection? I dont know. But I am grateful that I can walk from work to the Lillian Smith Library in minutes.

Why did I borrow Rickshaw Boy? Maybe because I loved The Good Earth by Pearl.S.Buck and hope this book will throw more light on China of those days...China as  seen through Chinese eyes

The Taliban Cricket Club---because of the name Murari which is so south Indian! and of course the incongruity of the book's name and  curiosity about this country, which has reached the bottom of the pit, thanks to various factors.

The Casual Vacancy...Curiosity again. I am wondering if J.KR can pull it off with an adult novel.

I will write more when I finish these books.
Once again, I kiss the earth of this beautiful country Canada in gratitude...if I had not come here I would not have had access to these books from all over the of read and enjoy!
 I am sure The Taliban Cricket Club is banned in Afganisthan and other such countries...people do not have freedom to read a book which is neither about sex or violence or religion or anything blasphemous or evil.
 In India, I may have the freedom to read but I cannot afford to buy and the public libraries do not have such books; In rural parts of India and half the world, there are neither books nor libraries nor even people with literacy...anyway in many parts of the world, people would rather have good food, drinking water and shelter than books such as these

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The new time-pass entertainment

I recently discovered a really good enjoyable television show called "The closer". The beauty of seeing an old show(not 'old-old' but all seasons have been aired and the show has been completed) is that I can see an episode daily until I have seen them all! And I am seeing it on the internet with no ads interrupting me!! And when I manage to wrestle the laptop from my husband for a long enough time, I even see two or three episodes at a stretch...And that, my friend is pure  bliss.

I love this show for so many reasons. It is humorous and it is a crime show ....humor and crime are both a must for me.
The main protoganist is a woman!! And how rare is that !
I love the acting of everyone and the writing is really really good. The plots are good, the crimes seem realistic and the dynamics between the people is interesting...I especially like the one between Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson and Detective Sgt. David Gabriel. Platonic relationships are rarely seen in the western tv shows and maybe that is one reason I liked this.

I am not much of a music person but this is one show where I really sat up and noticed the music. I loved the music in this show...not only at the end when the credits roll but all through the hour. For the first time ever, I checked out who the music composer  for a tv series was  and discovered that  it is James S Levine for 'The Closer'.
After watching The closer, I started paying attention to  the music of other shows. In comparision, to The Closer,  the music for' Law and Order, SVU' is not pleasant especially when they do that loud dramatic sound when they begin some scene...........but then, maybe, the music was meant to be  harsh ... to make the viewer experience discomfort instead of  pleasure, associating the unplesant harsh music with the heniousness of the crime.

I now recall that  I had loved the music at the beginning and end of  many Indian and western shows(but not really noticed the music during the show) ...I think I loved the music of Malgudi days, Mriganayani, Buniyaad and disliked the music of Ramayana and Mahabharatha. I liked the music of shows like the Practice, Boston Legal, Republic of Doyle.....
I have seen at least a 100 different shows  and I cannot remember these shows names now... let alone their I forgetting or the music of these shows  are forgettable???

I am in the middle of the third season of The closer  and I  have several days of bliss to look forward to!
It's summer now and so  there are no new shows on  tv to fill in my evening hours....  the  new shows are aired  in fall and winter. At least, no new shows on the 6 channels on my tv...I dont have cable and I get these these 6 channels through an antenna.

The Closer  (and a million other such shows) should be seen by people living in male-dominent societies. It may at least make the people view women differently.... than the usual way of perceiving  women as dependent on  and inferior to men. I am trying to imagine the effect of this television show  on men and women in countries like Saudi Arabia, Afganisthan, Pakistan....... even  India, Russia or Japan. Male Chavunism is so rife in these countries (and of course several other countries too,) that people.......especially  men simply cannot accept  even a fictional female leader in a fictional  television show ...let alone a real female leader in real life! I am picturing the men I know in India and their comments about The Closer....
Some men would say that Brenda(the female and lead role in The Closer) is an American and American women are better than Indian women; they would accept this lady but not accept that an Indian lady too could have the strengths of Brenda.
Many many many ordinary Indian men I know,  think like little they would be making fun of the weaknesses of Brenda such as her driving, her losing her way when she drives and so on. They would focus on these and lose sight of the bigger picture or her overall strengths.
Even attempts by girls and women to   achieve something or show ambition would be cut down by men(parents, brothers, friends, etc) who would comment by saying"Dont think you are a Brenda Lee Johnson".  How many times I have heard people putting down the attempts of people who try to achieve in India by making negative comments such as "Do you think you are Gandhi? Do you think you are Einstein?" and so on.

I recall the struggles of a female school principal in Hosur who could not get the men working under her to follow her command. They simply did not like taking orders from a woman and would do what was needed only when a male, much junior to her asked them to do their duties. In many Indian  offices, factories, even farms, it is difficult for the  female bosses or female  proprieters to get the men working under them to do their job with compliance.

I wonder when this gender inequality will change in India? What factors will propel this change ?  What factors will hasten the speed of change?
 Religion will definitly not only hinders. The !@#$%^  Manu smrithi quoted by Hindus and the rules of Islam are both anti women.
Politicians are useless in making these changes
The Indian movies and television shows which have such great influence on Indians are not using their full potential to change this attitude towards women. I have not seen Indian movies for the last several years and so I cannot comment.....but I do know that Indian movies/tv shows especially the Kannada mainstream ones still depict women as good if they 'obey' men in thier lives such as husbands and any female who is  assertive is 'bad' .....

Even if women in Karnataka have better education, access to employment, economic strength, greater say over their choices (career, marriage, child-bearing) than 30 years ago, the movies and tv shows continue to be  dated in their depiction of women. I know this because I was forced to see Kannada tv shows last year, when my relatives from India stayed with me!

I definitely do not want a Malashree-type doing Brenda Lee Johnson's role in a Kannada version of The Closer! That would be an over-the-top, parody, impossible to take seriously or believe.
 I strongly believe that if roles like Brenda's were depicted in Indian movies and tv shows, it would go a great way to change people's attitudes towards women.
The more I think about  Brenda's role in an  Indian  version of The Closer,  the more impossible it seems! Let me explain why.....
The ever-present,  subtle but distinct effects of  various hierarchies will change the dynamics between the different roles played in this show...caste hierarchy, economic hierarchy, superior-subordinate hierarchy, male-female hierarchy, old-young hierarchy, poorly dressed-well-dressed hierrarchy, in India will prevent a realistic version of Closer in India.

As Brenda is a female boss, the Indian guys playing her subordinates will have difficulty taking orders from her; if she was a lower-caste woman, giving orders to a chauvinistic Brahmin male subordinate....will he follow a single order from her....definitley not unless he is an exceptional guy!
If she were a lady from south, giving orders to guys from say Harayana or a police station in any state of India....

This is getting depressing...though I am not really a staunch feminist!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mulberry tree in Toronto & my village in India

Finding the mulberry tree in my backyard in Toronto was a plesant surprise. I cannot believe that a plant which was cultivated in my village by farmers for rearing silk worms, is growing without any care  from gardeners in Toronto!

Fields of mulberry plants were cultivated in my village and in the nearby villages(of Tumkur district) from nearly 30 years ago. The farmers, realizing that growing mulberry and rearing silk worms will bring in a lot more money than growing rice or ragi, stopped growing  rice and started mulberry. Of course, they did not do this all at once. They were cautious and each one started by growing half acre of mulberry, buying the eggs of the silk worm from the government agencies and carefully rearing the silkworms. Rearing silkworms is a delicate process and it had to be done in the rough and tumble world of the homes of poor farmers! If I remember right, many bought fans for the first time into their homes. They, the human beings had tolerated the heat & humidity and mosquitoes of their homes for centuries  but the silk worms were too delicate to withstand the heat and humidity of farmers homes!

I hope some sociologist has documented the changes in the fabric of rural society brought about by the rearing of silk worms in the towns & villages of Karnataka. Let me write what I recall and what I inferred here.

People who grew rice and ragi, started growing mulberry instead and so for the first time(I guess) started buying rice from government ration shops! This was something new in my village as most farmers ate what they grew.( I am not going to explain   'government ration shops'. please google it dear reader!) Food grains were coming to homes of farmers instead of the other way round!

The wealth increased and probably greed did too! Farmers could now buy gold jewels for their wives and daughters, more land, dig more wells, more quickly than before.

Silk rearing is a skill which many farmers lacked. So they hired skilled workers. If I remeber right, the workers did not accept pay but got a share of the profits.

The silk worms were delicate and those who could afford or who had the sense, built huge rooms with good ventilation so the rooms could be cool.( By huge, I mean huge for a poor farmer's home in karnataka! The rooms may looks small to  people from other cultures or backgrounds). Most old village houses of Tumkur district have tiny windows and some rooms have no windows at all. The old houses not only housed people  but  cattle too and therefore there were these huge mosquitoes in the houses whose bites were extremely painful! Believe me, the mosquitoes in the village (called 'dhanada solle' and the translation is "cattle mosquito") were worse than the city mosquitoes! The silk worms would die if bitten by mosquitoes and so farmers who built these huge rooms, put mesh on the windows. That was another new thing in my village.

 The silk worms were put into large circular things woven out of bamboo wood  and these structures were  placed in such a way that ants could not get at the worms. If the worms were on a table, the four legs of the table were placed in saucers of water to prevent the ants from climbing on to the table! (The ants would not get into the water; the water in the saucers would dry up and had to be replaced by the women...god save them if they forgot!)I wish I had photoes to show. A single photo will be a good substitute for a thousand word explaination!

There was such a rapid increase in wealth by selling the silk cocoons that people   brought a lot more  land under silk cultivation which lead to a drastic reduction of rice and ragi cultivation.
 I had read somewhere that India is home to about 300 varieties of rice. I do know that the rice grown in my village was not available in the shops of Bangalore. Now, these varieties of rice are missing! I feel really bad about this. I suppose no one ever thought, this would happen one day.
 My family grew a type of rice which was red skinned and so sweet that you could eat it raw. Now, that variety has disappeared! We would infact get gunny bags filled with that rice, every year to Bangalore and live on it the entire year. It was torture for me to eat the rationshop rice when we ran out of the rice grown on our farm.... but now my family is forced to eat the rationshop  or shop bought rice.
The new generation i.e. the children in my family of today are not aware of the rice we were growing in our fields, the name of the rice variety we were growing, it's taste, it's looks. I feel such a deep sadness that so many varieties of rice, fruit, plants, insects, etc are disappearing in India, with the increasing population, unplanned farming, etc.

There was definitley jealousy between the farmers who were 'lucky' in the silk-rearing and those who were not! Some farmers's silk worms repeatedly failed to thrive or died at some stage. No one ever scientifically and systematically studied why some silk crops failed.The skilled workers were in such high demand that they were running from village to village, trying to earn more.

With prosperity, came additions to the house and the item which was the most interesting and most ruinious according to some was the television! Only one house had a television in the beginning and everyone in the village would come and sit on the floor and watch tv in that house. I have heard farmers complain that work was not done by thier workers and children as they wre sitting in front of the tv. Before tv came to every house, there was a phase when workers would work, only in houses which had tv! Farmers had to come and drag their workers away from the television set in another farmer's house! All work was done on the floor, in front of the television! Workers, would chop mulberry leaves, with their eyes glued to the  kannada songs from movies on the tv!

Selling the cocoons is another interesting phase. The rates of the silk worms cocoons would chage everyday and would vary from market to market. If I remember right, the Ramanagaram market near Mysore was supposed to offer the best rates and farmers would haul thier cocoons in buses to Ramanagaram. If the farmer felt that the rate being offered the day he reaches was not good, he would wait for a day(sleeping in the market by his cocoons bags!) but he would have to sell, whatever the rate next is not possible to keep the cocoons for long as they would start hatching. If the cocoon hatches, then, we cannot get an unbroken silk thread  and so the hatched cocoon had little value.

The guys who buy the cocoons, sell them to people who put the silk cocoons in boiling water and extract silk thread from it. As silk thread is obtained by boiling the poor worms alive inside their cocoons, followers of Jainism, do not wear silk clothes! I have not seen this process but I have accompanied my relative to the market to sell the cocoons.

Farmers returning from selling the silk cocoons(or rice or whatever) always carried the money in their drawers' pockets for safekeeping. Now men(in cities and maybe villages too) buy undergarments from shops. But in the 70s, men got their drawers stitched by a tailor and the drawers always had deep pockets in them. Villagers wore dhoties over the drawers and there was no way a pickpocket in the crowded buses could get his hands into one of these farmer's drawers! ( men of my fathers' generation got their drawers stitched;  their fathers i.e. my grandfathers generation, wore what is called a langoti i.e. a piece of cloth tied over the private parts.  Maybe my dad wore a langoti as a child and started stitching these 'knickers' or 'chaddis' in the typical striped cotton cloth(called "patta-patti") whenever they came into ?style.

I heard of reports of farmers returning from selling the silk cocoons getting robbed on the way. It made me so bitter to hear that. These men have slaved for 3-4 months and to be robbed of their money is so evil and unpardonable. Therefore, any robber caught is beaten up nearly to death. The sad truth is that even a person suspected of robbing can be beaten, without evidence. I sometimes wonder why Indians are so primitive and savage? Is it the poverty? Or lack of ethics>>>i.e. we only think of survival and nothing else?

These silk worms are so damn delicate that many times, many die and sometimes farmers lose the entire stock. This death can happen at any stage...if it happens at the end, it is , of course very very frustrating. The silk worm is so delicate that even chemical fertilizers are not used as the plant absorbs the chemicals and the worms which feed on the leaves die. The mulberry plant is fertilized only with cowdung and dead leaves.
 I have heard of one family savagely beaten by a farmer who suspected this family (the two families are old enemies) of spraying his mulberry crop with pesticide. His worms died eating the leaves and he somehow concluded that his mulberry plants had been sprayed and the toxic leaves had been fed to his worms.

In recent times, there has been a decline in rearing of silk worms in my village. I am not sure what are the reasons for the decline. Currenly, the monsoons have failed my village and surrounding villages. People are desperate and frustrated. Many have taken loans from the banks and dug borewells but not got water. Now they are even more frustrated with this damn bank loans added to their burden! I can go on about this but wil do it in another article.

When I think of the trail of silk, I realize that the one who makes the most money is the shop-keeper who does the least work and takes the least risks! It is such a shame!

The stages according to me:
government (at least in those days) was growing silk worms which laid eggs. These eggs were sold to farmers at affordable rates.
Farmers bought these silk-worm eggs from the government; cultivated mulberry plants in thier fields...irrigating the plants, cutting the leaves, taking the leaves home and feeding the eggs once they hatch with finely minced leaves and then with less minced leaves, until the worms grew and build thier cocoons.
The cocoons were gathered in bags and sold at a market for silk-cocoons to ? middle-men
The middle-men sold them to people who then threw the cocoons into boiling water and extracted the treads. The threads were probably extracted by hired labour who are probably poorly paid.
The threads are sent to ?dyers in ? Tamil Nadu
The dyed threads are bought by weavers or middlemen who sell to weavers.
Weavers work in government factories or private factories or in their own homes
The thread is woven into cloth and sold to buyers, who sell it to shops to sell to buyers who will buy small lengths of it and give it to a tailor to stitch/ OR
The threads are hand-woved into saris or hand-woved into churidar or skirt  materials. This involved LOTS of work such as weaving gold threads in designs (these designs are drawn by craftsmen on graph papers and then the design is woven into the saris or cloths as borders or even in teh body of the cloth)

In the entire process, the maximum work is done by the weavers. but they live lives in such poverty, you cannot imagine! The maximum profit goes to the sellers of silk cloth and saris, either wholesale or retail.
I wish I had  information to put in here below... Information such as
(1)time taken by farmers and their expenses and profits, labour, time, etc
(2) profit per kg of silk cocoons made by the buyers
(3) time, type of labour, profits and losses, inputs of the cocoon-boiling stage
(4)Details of expenses and profits of the thread making and thread dyeing stage
(5)The labour involved in the sari making stage, inputs , time, profit
(6) how many silk worms go into making of one sari?


Thursday, June 20, 2013

ladybird publications illustrators I like

I'm a huge fan of the old Ladybird books. It's a bit of a shame that the recently published ones, don't quite live up to the quality of their predecessors. These pictures are from, 'Learning With Mother', illustrated by Harry Wingfield, 1970. Aren't they beautiful?

Below is, 'The Discontented Pony', illustrated by P.B. Hickling, published 1951. I've got quite a few unhappy pony stories from this time. It must have been a common problem! I hope these days ponies can find the help and support they need to lead happy, horsie lives!
and Eric Winters for books written by Vera southgate

Monday, June 3, 2013

comparing Toronto and Bangalore


TORONTO… I live here now
Why am I comparing Toronto and Bangalore?  Because  Bangalore  has all the resources to be as good as Toronto; the tragic reason why it is not like Toronto is the CORRUPT POLITICIANS and corrupt bureacrats in the government who want to loot Bangalore instead of improving the lives of the people in Bangalore
BANGALORE…I lived here for three decades, about a decade ago.
Flower plants all over the city in spring and summer, tended by the government
If there were flower plants on the streets of Bangalore, pedestrians would have plucked out the flowers and maybe even stolen the plants. Also where is the water to water these plants? They would have died in no time
Art work and murals on the walls of the buildings
If there was art work, it would be defaced in no time by people pasting photos of politicians on them. People would have spit the red  beetle juice on  the walls and destroyed the artwork.
Statues & art work made of glass, cement, metal all over downtown, in parks and several streets.
The glass statues would be destroyed during any riot or strike; the metal statues would be stolen for their metal during the nights by thieves.
No stray dogs and cats on the streets. There is enough food in the green areas of Toronto for the animals in the wild such as racoons, skunks, deer, squirrels, foxes, wild dogs, frogs, moles, gophers and  several species of birds to survive.

If any animals are  causing a nuisance to any residents, there are professionals who will capture the animal without harming them and release them into the wild again.
Starving and thirsty stray animals, fighting for survival and becoming more vicious by the day.
Increase in stray dog attacks on children, babies and adults. Before, these stray dogs would get some food by householders but not now. There is no drinking water anywhere around for several square miles all over Bangalore for birds or animals.
Potable water available for people...24 hours a day. Unlimited quantity. At affordable rates.
People take water for granted in Toronto i.e. they do not think about it........let me explain.people think about water as much as they think about their breathing..i.e. hardly ever
Rich or poor, water is not available even for 2 hours a day for most people;
The cost of water is escalating though it is a basic necessity.
 Due to scarcity of water which is vital for all living beings, there is death of plants, trees, animals and birds. And what about the dying fish and water birds and water plants?
In Bangalore,  people especially women are preoccupied about water worries . At least 90% of the women spend at least 1 hour a day worrying about water's availability and sufficiency for the day...even middleclass, whitecollar job women. Imagine how much more time, the poorer women with even less access to water, worry about it! 
All civilizations started around rivers and lakes and civilizations died out when their water sources died. Bangalore will die without water.
There are 9 rivers flowing in Toronto. Years ago, Toronto almost lost them to pollution and industries but the government & the people had the sense to reclaim the rivers and save the rivers.
The river Vrishabhavathi in Basavanagudi is polluted and cannot be called a river at all!
If you ask a school kid, are there rivers in Bangalore, he or she will say no as they will not even be aware of a river in Bangalore as they have not see it. All they see is there huge sewers with black water flowing.
There are thousands of acres of wild green spaces for wild animals, birds and plants and water bodies in Toronto.
People are not allowed to cut trees in their own houses, without permission from the government.
A Britisher had called Bangalore,"Land of a 1000 lakes" in 1890. Today, almost all the lakes of Bangalore have been built over. Where is the rain water supposed to go?
How is the ground water supposed to be replenished if the entire land in Bangalore is built over? There are buildings, tarred roads, cemented pavements, residences with concrete on every inch of earth…how the hell is the rain water going to go into the earth’s surface to replenish the ground waters???
There is no ground water in Bangalore . Wells are drying up;
There is unlimited electricity and it’s for 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. For reasonable rates.
Frequent powercuts, more in summer but almost all the year round in some areas. What is the point in having all sorts of modern gadgets but no electricity to use them? Electric grinders, fridges, televisions, washing machines, computers, geysers, hair-dryers, vacume cleaners…but limited electricity.
As a woman, I feel safe to travel alone at all times of day or night in 99% of places in Toronto by walk, public transport or private transport.
Here people can dress how they like and no one will stare, pass lewd or rude comments, grope or attack them. You see young girls in skimpy clothes..they have the freedom to wear what they like ...which is the right of every single person, whatever their age or gender maybe. You see teenagers or old people dressed like punks or goths, or whatever. No one ever disrespects them for the way they dress.
As a woman, I never felt safe in several areas of Bangalore to travel alone, especially by walk. When I was young, I did not feel safe even in daylight due to the eve teasing, even in the midst of thousands of people on the roads.
Women are groped, however 'decently' they dress and men have the audacity to say that women who dress skimpily' are asking to be groped! In Bangalore if you dress a bit differently, say have a different hairstyle, people stare, pass comments, some even have the gall to come and touch you...or attack you. How come dressing how you like is "immoral" and  the conservative goons  think they have the right to physically attack women or people who dress how they like?
In Bangalore/India, victims are penalized! The criminals are not! A woman who is attacked is asked , "Why were you out of the house so  late at night; If you had been inside your home, you would not have been attacked. OR "If you had not worn such modern clothes, they would not have groped you" 
In Bangalore, even the people who are supposed to protect you such as the police cannot be trusted. 
The consequences for crime  in Bangalore is not enough to stop them from committing the crime again.
The corruption and crime  is so much these days that life for the ordinary citizen is a nightmare of worsening proportions.
There is a fantastic garbage collection and removal system..three bins, one to collect vegetable waste which will be used as fertilizers; one which collects what is recycled such as glass, metal, paper and  certain plastics . And one to collect what cannot be recycled such as thin plastics, etc. Places where we can deposit other wastes which are toxic such as batteries and cells, places to deposit used electronic wastes. Hardly any parts of Toronto have garbage strewn around.
People DO NOT leave their dog’s poop on the road when they walk their pet. People collect their pet's poop in a plastic bag and put it in the garbage bins meant for pet's poop which are in nearly all areas of Toronto and the dog owner walking his dog can put it in this bin and walk back home.
There are recycling depots where you can put big size things you want to discard such as fridge, ovens, stoves, etc. My office even has a space where you can put finished batteries and they dispose it. Batteries have toxic chemicals in them and should be discarded only in specific ways. 
The government has to come up with a system which effectively deals with the increasing amounts of waste produced by the increasing population of Bangalore. There is no system at all in Bangalore! The system is to collect all the garbage and dump it outside Bangalore! Is that a system? The garbage is flying around in the wind, causing health problems to people who are unlucky enough to live near these dumps!
People walk their dogs only to let it poop on the road! They leave the poop on the road and walk back home. That poop is (1)stamped on by other walkers if they are not alert(2) It enters the water system through rains and drains.(3) imagine, the germs in the water, drains, soil and air by ten thousand dog poops a day entering the system…(multiplied by 365 days, multiplied by 100 grams of poop per dog per day)
Nothing is being done about the used batteries and cells which are thrown out with other garbage but which leak toxic chemicals into the earth where they are thrown; nothing is being done about the various toxins being disposed off by the small and large industries in Bangalore through drains.
The public transport system is safe, and runs for almost 22 hours daily. It is a bit expensive but I am not complaining
The public transport is terrible. Rude bus conductors, rash drivers causing accidents; conductors who cheat the public and the government by taking money and not issue tickets or old tickets, buses which are late and overcrowded, women and girls not safe from men, even in crowded buses when people do not help a lady being bullied by men..they watch silently.
The roads, pavements, buses and trains are all handicap-friendly. A person in a wheel-chair can travel by bus as the buses and trains are designed such that a wheelchair bound person can independently and comfortably get on the bus, train or taxi within a minimum of time and effort. The wheelchair can transition easily from road to footpath on well-designed ramps and travel for miles and miles. A blind person hears the signals and knows when to cross the roads at traffic lights. The drivers are courteous and helpful to the handicapped persons and lower the step of the bus for the wheelchair to get on or off the bus.
The noise and air  pollution in Toronto is low and one can eat outside on the patios (set up on the pavements)in summer.
Even an able-bodied and nimble person will have to walk carefully on the streets of Bangalore today. I have had family and friends, falling and hurting themselves in Bangalore due to uneven footpaths and potholed roads.
Footpaths are taken over by vendors in some places.
Women have to watch out for chain snatchers. People have to cling to their cellphones and wallets which can be snatched any moment by bike-borne thieves or thieves on foot.
Women cannot step out alone due to eve-teasers.
Impatient bikers ride on the footpath, if they do not get road-space! One has to look down to avoid stamping on spit, dog-shit, other dirty things on the pavements.
The roads are so crowded in several areas, that people who would take a walk for health reasons, now stay indoors as it is healthier and safer indoors.
The noise by honking vehicles in unbearable in several parts of Bangalore. The smoke from vehicles makes stepping out a nightmare for people with respiratory problems.
Health is free. Even poor people have access to good quality health care.
The staff at the Bangalore government hospitals which are supposed to care for the poor demand bribes. 99% of them will not see a patient, unless bribed. What will the poor people do if they fall sick? They die.
The doctors being churned out of the several medical colleges are so poorly trained, their diagnosis and treatment is appalling. So even the middleclass and rich suffer, if they go to a poorly trained ‘donation” doctor.
There are food banks for the poor; salvation army and goodwill and other thrift stores for those who cannot afford to buy new things for daily use. These stores sell used things very  cheaply…clothes, vessels, books, games and electronics, furniture, almost everything on needs.
Life is hard and getting harder for the poor. When they have to struggle for BASICS such as water and toilets, imagine how difficult it is to get other things! Middleclass people, especially retired people with fixed income, which cannot cope with the inflation are frustrated by rise in cost of food. So imagine how the poor must be starving, in this "silicon valley" which is supposedly  having a booming economy now.
You will not get the smell of urine when you walk around in Toronto streets, parks or even in the wilderness.. There are clean toilets, which are free in places such as malls. Men have the decency to not piss in public places.
There is the smell of urine EVERYWHERE  such as Majestic, city market, avenue road,  under the metro rails, in Bangalore! In crowded areas, in residential areas, outside hospitals, theatres, shops…anywhere and everywhere!
And it is only the men who piss in public, not women who control themselves, either because they are more decent or it is unsafe for them to piss around in public. Why is the government not building enough free or affordable  toilets for the millions who walk on the streets of Bangalore?
Most people are courteous to strangers and friends alike. There is little if any discrimination based on race, colour, wealth or gender.
Due to intense competition for few resources and due to  several cultural factors, people face discrimination due to their caste, region from which they come, age, wealth or lack of wealth, etc. There is so much hostility displayed in so many places in Bangalore, that one has to become thickskinned and insensitive just to survive!
Let me explain the stresses:
When I woke in the morning, my first thought was"will we get water today? Should I fill all 10 buckets or will the water come tomorrow too?
My next thought was,"Will I get milk today or will it be sold out?( I had to get up early and run to the milk seller on feastival days as the milk woiuld get sold out quickly on those days as people bought more on a feastival day.
As I get ready to make breakfast, I would pray that the electricity will not be cut before I finish my grinding in the mixer.
Then I had to hope that the bus will not be so crowded; that it will NOT pass by my stop without stopping to pick me up.
I had to avoid guys in the bus who come right up to the front and grope women. Then I would become tense wondering if this bus has the asshole of a conductor who would take money and not give tickets or not return the change.
I had absolutely no time to think of anything besides "survival".  How the hell can a person in India who is stressed out in this way, for several hours daily, ever think of relaxation, hobbies, interests, philosophy, art or creative pursuits???
The only thoughts running through my brain when I had a free moment was :"Will they cut off the electricity today? What if the water does not come tomorrow? Will I have time to make dosas or will it have to be uppit again?
If this is my fate as a relatively better -off person from middle class, imagine the brutal lives of those millions who are poor?
In Toronto, I can in my leisure time sit quietly, think and do things like
 write a story,  or a skit or a poem
spend time on photography,
experiment new recipes,
 read books(great books, borrowed free of cost from the public library),
 do gardening,
 play with my pet,
browse on the internet, watch television, go for long walks and enjoy nature(trees, birds, animals in wooded areas)
discuss topics of interest with people and have some really fantastic discussions, learning and teaching a lot in the process.

I could go on and on but I am stopping here. I am writing this because, my friends keep asking me to come back to Bangalore and settle down as “Bangalore is the silicon valley with a booming economy”.


1)Most people i.e. 99.9 % have access to adequate drinking water, water for other needs.
2)24 hour electricity
3)phones, internet access which almost never breakdown.
4)free good quality education till grade 12
5)free daycare for children of parents who cannot afford
6)Orphan children are taken care of and no child labour
7)the government takes care of the poor, mentally ill, developmentally delayed(mentally retarded) and they are not a burden on the family or society.
8)SAFETY on the roads.
9)Lower crime rate than Bangalore.
10)clean breathable air compared to Bangalore. Millions of trees oxygenating the air
11) thousands of acres of green spaces for wild birds, animals, trees and plants and for people.
12, You can trust the police and judiciary and the government employees and government organizations. I bought my house without paying a single cent of bribe, without facing any delay.
13.Hundreds of parks and urban forests where people can at NO cost i.e. FREE, go for walks, jogs, cycling; for intellectual stimulation, there are wonderful public libraries with an amazing collection, there are subsidized educational and entertainment programs for economically marginalized people, people living with disabilities and senior citizens. People can swim, for free, in the lake Ontario.
 In Bangalore, even when I had free time, my mind was never free...If I try to sit and compose a story or sketch something, my mind would be distracted by....worries..which I have already mentioned above or distracted physically by:
  • Noises i.e. traffic noises  from the road or television and music from neighbours...The houses are now so close to each other and people cannot escape the sounds from their neighbours houses
  • Mosquitoes, if one is working in the evening or night
  • the electricity suddenly going off and hence the fans going of during the day or the lights going off during the nights.
  • the large number of mundane jobs to be done by women at home, which leave little time for anything else.
The increasing stresses of living in Bangalore can and is leading to a significant intellectual and moral and all sorts of decline of the people. I recall Maslow's hierarchy when I think of living in Bangalore. Living in Bangalore today  is like slipping from the top level towards the bottom on Maslow's hierearchy of needs. Let me give a simple example: Aesthetics is at a higher level in Maslow's hierarchy while  safety is  at lower level  in the hierarchy. In the past, the middleclass would consider aesthetics when they built houses. Now they consider safety and aesthetics has simply gone out of our repertoire; now you see houses surrounded by ugly iron bars so that thieves cannot get in. 
Another example is that, in the past we would focus on moral, spiritual and ethical issues. Now people are trying to simply survive and have neither the time nor the inclination to function at higher levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. How can a person even think of self-actualization when he is striving to just stay alive, feed and clothe himself and his family?

The quality of conversations in Bangalore when one interacted with either family members or others was also so mundane, thanks to the hassles of daily living: the topics invariably revolved around complaints about the  rising prices of food, about the servant not coming,(servant stealing or the servants stopping work in our house abruptly without informing;)increasing tempertures of bangalore, the difficulties of travelling in the terrible traffic, the horrible news in the newspapers, the soulless politicians, the lack of playgrounds for children to play which make them sit at home watching tv or playing on the computers endlessly, etc. Even if people started talking about  pleasant neutral and interesting topics, the conversations would inevitably drift   towards discussing the problems of daily living which seem to have no workable  solutions!
It has gotten so bad that, all that the people can talk about is practical or concrete day to day things.  Members of my family have lost the ability to chat for fun about random topics. All talk seems to be for a definite function. There seems to be no chatting, no talk unless it is to say"do this" or"do that".
The hassles of daily living in Bangalore has so worn out my family members brains, that they seem to be brain dead to some extent now. They are incapable of talking or thinking  beyond the things to be done. For example, I am sure my sister does not  simply 'chat' with her daughters. All of her  her communicaiton to her daughters is functional, such as "Did you do your homework?" "Sit and study". "Open the door" "Stop playing". 
I wonder if it is only my family where this brain-deadness is happening or if it is spreading all over Bangalore, rendering people incapable of having conversations which do not have practical goals.
 Lack of intellectual stimulation is another thing in Bangalore. The privilaged few who have stimulating interactions and access to talks, lectures, drama, theatre, etc are lucky. The vast majority are exposed to : Indian movies and Indian  tv shows made by mediocore people lacking in creativity or aesthetics. Those who have internet access can access to better quality information and entertainment from other countries but this is again hampered by slow downloading, frequent electricity cuts, programs  unavailable to Indian audience, etc. Bangalore may be the Silicon Valley, but one can easily become brain-dead in this city!
If you want good south Indian food, there are plenty of resturants. But if food is the only stimulation you have access to, how long before you become a foodie, who craves for food and nothing else? Shopping at malls and eating out seems to be the current time pass method for all middle-class people. There may be a few music events, theatre events, talks , lectures & discussions going on but as I said, the bother of travelling puts people off.
The teens and kids interested in sports find the few playgrounds crowded and have to fight for space. Many are forced to give up games and focus on studies by parents. A few thousand out of lakhs of children have access to some space, coaches and equipment for games. It is the right of every child to have access to space for games, not just  the privilaged few.
decreasing water day by day
power shutdowns often daily
phone ie. landline or internet not working at least once a month
government schools are not run as well as they should be
Less said about the abuse children face, the better. but still children in Bangalore are better off than the kids in some other places, where girl kids are even less safe, etc
Daily deaths on the roads and innumerable accidents leaving so many people damaged for life and a burden on their families.
absence of justice
rampant corruption
fear and respect for the corrupt people in power and absolute disrespect for the honest and humble people who do not have power.
Rampant casteism, regionism(example the attack on Tamilians in Karnataka now tha the Kaveri dispute is going on), gender discrimination, etc.
Relatively good quality school education is unaffordable to many and so those children are at a permanent disadvantage in their future life ...and they will get stuck in the cycle of poverty; the hundreds of engineering, dental and other colleges in Bangalore are of poor quality and Bangalore/India generates poor quality citizens with poor ability to their respective jobs well due to poor training...this keeps Indians producing poor quality work and keeps India poor.
Nepotism keeps good people from getting into what they deserve and only the people with influence get into jobs of their choice and they do poor quality work and the cycle of low quality perpetuates.
Unless the assholes in the government change or  by some miracle(miracles don't happen) they change, I dont see any hope for Bangalore for the next 50 years.

Last walk at Sunnybrook park by the stables

Last walk because I can't take the mosquitoes.  I found this tree unusual... I dont know what these red berries are but th...