An Emotional Hook

I definitely agree with Sarita Sarvate’s views on NBC’s lack of coverage on the 2012 London Olympics (India Currents, September 2012, Last Word by Sarita Sarvate—NBC, Shut the **** Up). However, I do not agree with her claim that NBC puts the Women’s Beach Volleyball team on only to “titillate the male viewers.” I believe that many people, like me, watched those games to witness the amazing victory of the 3-time winners Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor. This was a huge acheivement for both these players and the United States, and it simply cannot be demoted to a game with “no emotional hook.”

Shri Kalaichelvan, Diamond Bar, CA

An Awkward Portrait

I refer to Suchi Sargam’s interview with Boman Irani (India Currents, September 2012, The Leading Funny Man). The movie Shirin Farhad ki Toh Nikal Padi is a low budget, light comedy shot entirely in the Parsi areas of Mumbai. The cast is composed mainly of Parsi actors and rests on the premise of portraying the eccentricities of the Parsi community. Other than for a few scenes, one in particular, involving Boman Irani and women’s lingerie and the other where an old Parsi gentleman is unable to fart, there is little to amuse the audience. As the movie has little Hindi and more English and Parsi, I doubt it will be a box office hit in India except in Mumbai. What a waste, despite excellent acting by Boman Irani and other actors.

Des Khurana, Anaheim, CA

Where Have All the Indian Dreamers Gone?

Interesting and eye catching article title on India’s performance at this year’s London Olympics, by Rajesh Oza (India Currents, September 2012, A Long Way Up Mount Olympus).

While I wholeheartedly applaud the achievements of the Indian medalists, I could not help but feel that Oza’s analysis skirted around the key issue; that Indians continue steadfastly to emphasize the “A” in Academics rather than Athletics. That might be understandable given the cut-throat state of academic competition in India, where anything above 98% is only considered a semi-success. But it’s also noticeable in Indian social circles here in the United States; at parties, functions, gatherings and the like, where the conversation invariably turns to salaries, house prices, interest rates, H1-B conversion rates, school district GPA averages, and a dozen other “predictable” metrics. Of course these are important metrics as we chase our own “American dream.” But there is more to the “dream” than just practical monetary success. A big part of dreaming is breaking away from expected and anticipated norms in life. It’s the stuff that our kids think about in secret.

Indian kids are certainly not dissimilar to their Western counterparts; at a young age they all aspire to become train drivers, cricketers, Bollywood actors, and rockstars. But somewhere down the line they’re pulled into line by parents who have been fed on a diet that considers a Bachelors degree in the Arts a waste of time, let alone the pursuit of a sport that the child shows early interest and promise in. Sporting activities are generally sprinkled like conciliatory salt between an extra-curricular agenda of math, reading and science (the Kumon way).

To become a professional, or Olympic, athlete requires as much dedication and sacrifice as the pursuit of a career in medicine, finance, technology or law. But above all it requires, and demands, that parents allow their kids to pursue their “true” dreams; rather than the blind adherence to stereotypical expectations.

Think! How many Indian parents may have scoffed at the notion of their child pursuing a career as a tennis player? How many first generation Indian parents have actually appreciated the sheer delight and self-satisfaction of Michael Phelps, and other gold, silver or bronze medalists, on the podium in London? I, for one, would be equally, if not more, proud of my daughter’s achievement if she were to stand on the podium in Rio in 2016 as compared to standing on stage with the graduating class at Stanford.

Until we Indian parents change our ingrained mentality, and let our kids pursue, their true dreams—in academics and athletics—the best that we, as a nation of 1.3 billion souls, should expect to achieve at any Olympic games is two silvers and two bronzes.

Madan Sheina, Dublin, CA

Punditry Re-defined

At least, the priests that the author, Kalpana Mohan, alludes to (India Currents, September 2012, Mind it, Pundit) are not sexually repressed beings who have a record of molesting children and adults alike. Let us remember that Hindu priests have families to support at today’s cost of living. Also, in government owned temples in India, the priests salary is very low. The money that is put into the hundi in government temples go to the government. It means that the hundi is yet another public kitty for politicians to loot from instead of using it for temple maintenance, priests salary, etc. The author may perhaps do research on this before writing such a scathing generalization. The trickle down benefit of having such political worthies entrusted with the task of looking after public interests is people in all walks of life including the priestly class start thinking how to make some more money on the side. If Pundits are bandits than what do you call the people who are involved in scams (Coalgate, 2G, Thorium stealing, 2010 Commonwealth Games) through which India’s national wealth has been looted to support the extremely lavish lifestyle of some Indian politicians not to mention the money ferreted away to Swiss banks?

Sumitra, online

We must infact marvel at the ingenuity of today’s pundits who have learnt to skillfully dovetail spiritualism with materialism in a practical albeit hypocritical way. After all punditry is a profession like any other. Commercially practised, it is no different from any other profession or business. You will find all the same characteristics in every business or profession. The pundits survive because they too have a large number of customers and the demand is only growing. In Chennai, I know of several people who have quit well paying jobs to start their own punditry practice, which gives them freedom and control over their lives with plenty of compensation and no retirement. Punditry has infact attained the status of Doctors and Consultants in terms of the respect their service attracts, with an ever increasing number of religious-ignoramuses in the society. Most commercial transactions, at least in India, are grey areas and are shrouded in hypocrisy. It would not be wrong to say that the pundits will also come within the income-tax radar if they begin to zip around in expensive cars.

Ranga, online

Done with War

In response to the editorial by Jaya Padmanabhan, (India Currents, September 2012, The Hero in Us), I am not against having guns or rifles, but these weapons are used by soldiers for purposes of war, which I hope that the United States is really done with by 2014—done with fighting wars all over the world.

Linda Lou Kestin, CA