Of Cabbages and Kings

July 31, 2008

While we are on the subject of waiters…

Filed under: Random musing — Tags: , , , — Chinmayi @ 8:26 pm

Have you ever met people who will cheerfully spend thousands on a meal and then leave a few coins behind for the waiter? If you live in India, I am confident that you know what I am talking about.

Eating (and often even wasting) prawns or chocolate cake that you don’t want is acceptable in my country but tipping is considered shockingly extravagant. Often, while dining with people who believe that tipping amounts to throwing money around, my friend and I have had to scramble through our bags and sneak some money in so that the tip is half decent.

The other practice widely prevalent here is be-rude-to-your-waiter. There are people who will assume a peremptory tone while placing an order. They will whine at regular intervals that the food is taking too long and they will complain loudly about the food once it arrives.

I once knew somebody once who liked to entertain his guests by embarassing his waiter – he would ask the waiter utterly silly questions in his most patronising voice and enjoy it tremendously as the poor chap squirmed in his uniform resisting the urge to empty a bowl of spagetti over his interrogator and tried to answer the silly questions in the most dignified maner possible under the circumstances. The jerk I knew was convinced that he was making friends and that the waiter and the others at the table found him extremely funny. Needless to say everybody thought he was a jerk.

Little annoys me more than rude and patronising behaviour where waiters are concerned. And so I was delighted upon reading this. The entire blog is treat, but news that poetic justice has been delivered is particularly satisfying.

Snatching tips from Waiters

Filed under: Across the Universe, Random musing — Tags: , , — Chinmayi @ 7:38 pm

This is for those who are fans of Hard Rock Cafe. BBC reports that Hard Rock Cafe (London) tends to pay its waiters less than minimum wages, and uses tips to meet the minimum wage requirement. If this is so, it means that everyone who laid down a little extra for the nice smiling service actually ended up contributing to the money that the employer (Hard Rock) should have coughed up under law. I know that I’m going be very reluctant to step into Hard Rock Cafe after hearing about this.

July 29, 2008

Jurisdiction that covers the Gods and the Animals

Filed under: Across the Universe, Law — Tags: , , — Chinmayi @ 8:12 pm

It is a pity that nobody has written a cheeky guide to the Indian Judiciary. Given that the building and breaking of bridges by the Gods is a question of fact dscussed in the Supreme Court of India, and that a dog has been ordered to appear before a magistrate, I think a cheeky guide is more than due.

July 26, 2008

Can Somnath Chatterjee continue to be a member of parliament?

Filed under: Law, Made up theories — Tags: , , — Chinmayi @ 6:15 pm

Today, I had tea with two old friends and an old acquaintance. “I hear he can be Speaker, said the acquaintance (somebody I was briefly a little besotted with when I was a girl), but can he continue to be a member of parliament?”.

I am ashamed to say that I had not read the tenth schedule of the Constitution at the time and so had no clue at all.
Read it and you will see that Somnath Chatterjee neither joined another party nor voted contrary its instructions. So he can’t be be disqualified under the tenth schedule.

He can be removed as speaker only in accordance with the following:

94. Vacation and resignation of, and removal from, the offices of Speaker and Deputy Speaker.— A member holding office as Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of the People—

(a) shall vacate his office if he ceases to be a member of the House of the People;

(b) may at any time, by writing under his hand addressed, if such member is the Speaker, to the Deputy Speaker, and if such member is the Deputy Speaker, to the Speaker, resign his office; and

(c) may be removed from his office by a resolution of the House of the People passed by a majority of all the then members of the House:

Provided that no resolution for the purpose of clause (c) shall be moved unless at least fourteen days’ notice has been given of the intention to move the resolution:

Provided further that, whenever the House of the People is dissolved, the Speaker shall not vacate his office until immediately before the first meeting of the House of the People after the dissolution

July 25, 2008

Manqoba

Filed under: Music — Tags: , , , — Chinmayi @ 8:11 pm

A beautiful song. I heard it two days back while watching Goodbye Bafana.

July 22, 2008

Speaker Mahoday, there are wads of cash on my table

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — Chinmayi @ 8:03 pm

Our country had a no-confidence vote today. Doubtless everybody know by now that the government won so the question of who will win is no longer interesting. For those who watched the circus on television (I exaggerate the entertainment-potential of a circus by comparing it to the indefatigable members of the Lok Sabha), a detailed description of the proceedings will pale in comparison to all the shouting, fist shaking and protest marches (yes, by members and inside the parliament house and during the debate) so I will not bore you.

Today however, the members outdid themselves. Three of them waved wads of cash in the house and proudly announced that they had been bribed. Since it remains unclear whether they were actually bribed or whether it is merely an allegation, there is no point in wondering about the fallout of the bribery. But I did wonder how they managed to smuggle all that cash into parliament. And also whether we are so far gone that three members of parliament are able to gleefully announce during a session of the Lok Sabha, on national television that they accepted bribes. And self-righteously denounce another party for giving them the bribe that they accepted.

UPDATE:

The debate records are here. Unfortunately, the formidable control+f does not work on the page and you will need to scroll and read to find the portions you are interested in. The bribery bit comes towards the end. Sadly, most of the juicy parts have been struck from the record and are not reflected in the official transcript.

July 19, 2008

Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Chinmayi @ 9:20 pm

Did you ever wonder? With all his talk of murdering wives, I am sure you did.

An interesting article.

July 15, 2008

Moments

Filed under: Personal, Random musing — Chinmayi @ 8:00 pm

can be beautiful. Not just time spent were stretched on an old wooden floor before a hypnotic blazing fire wineglasses in hand. Even time spent cutting raw mangoes by candlelight during a powercut and swapping stories. Reading newspapers in the coffee shop. Listening to a wonderful children’s song for the first time and loving it together for the first time.

July 14, 2008

Us and Them

Filed under: Across the Universe, society — Tags: , — Chinmayi @ 8:06 pm

Found an audio clip through Kafila – some reporter working on a story on a domestic dispute involving a lesbian couple decides that he needs some lesbian or the other to comment. The lady under question (Sonia Gulati) very gracefully points out that just as one would not consider any old heterosexual an authority on all heterosexual domestic disputes, one cannot set any lesbian up as an authority in such a situation.

Do listen to the interview. Hats of to Sonia Gulati.

E.B. White and Stuart Little

Filed under: books, Fiction, Personal, Random musing — Tags: , , — Chinmayi @ 7:29 pm

The New Yorker carries the charming story of E.B. White’s debut children’s book, Stuart Little. It provides some insight on the wheels-within-wheels that can obstruct the success of a book, especially when the author dares to be different.

I did not discover E.B White till college. A girl cheated of her childhood grown into an adult with all the energy, fascinating questions, obtuseness and self-absorption of a child read Charlotte’s Web to me. She lost the book two years later, well after she had lost me as a friend. Another year later, I saw an identical copy on a Daryaganj footpath. I had no wish to renew the friendship, but something in me always wanted to indulge the lost little girl that was too unhappy to ever really grow up. I spent considerable time thinking of an appropriate note – one that offered her the book with all my love and best wishes but (without actually saying so) witheld the once abused friendship. I think I succeeded. She smiled that whole week but she remains very hostile towards me until we graduated and after.

E.B. White wrote books that made children smile – the little ones and the ones that grew up. That is quite a legacy. And look at the odds it fought to break through to the world.

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