Friday, February 19, 2010

Through Indian Eyes

Weather – The temperature in Colorado and Bangalore has been in the 30’s, but in Bangalore it is measured in Celsius. We had a high for the month today at 34.4° C (93° F). When I really feel the temperature these days is at breakfast. Over the last few weeks the low has increased from 11° C (52° F) to 20° C (68° F). We haven’t put on the AC yet, but the first thing I do when entering a room is turn on the ceiling fan.

Olympics – What Olympics? Cricket is the sport here. Cricket is not even an Olympic sport and certainly wouldn’t be a Winter Olympics sport. Today there were three pages of sports in the newspaper not counting a front page article about cricket. The Olympics got a total of 3 column-inches -- a brief story about an athlete who broke his tooth biting his medal. The Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi in 8 months are getting a lot more press than the Olympics, but nothing can compete with cricket. Cricket is always on TV, but I haven’t seen any Olympics on TV.

Elections – The greater Bangalore municipal elections were to be held on Sunday, February 21. After an appeal went all the way to the India Supreme Court, the election has been postponed so that the state can redo the reservation of wards (meaning district boundaries, I think). The state’s high court has ruled that the election must be held by March 30. The State Election Commission is in a funk saying that they would like to postpone the election for 6 months because school and college examinations are in March and April to be followed by a population census. (We will leave before the exams, but the net effect on our kids is that their teachers will be assigning less written homework in the coming weeks so that students have more time to study. In Eliza’s words: Ka-ching!)

Obama’s State of the Union Address – What do you remember about the SOTU address? Here in India, two parts got top billing. 1) “Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile…China… Germany… India is not waiting. These nations — they're not standing still. … They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure….” 2) “…to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America.” The Indians were proud of the former but a bit concerned about the latter given all the multinational corporations in India.

Terrorism – Yesterday I met a Spanish woman who had regularly frequented the Pune German bakery recently hit by the bomb blast. She left Pune just three days before the blast. Mumbai is talking about adding expensive extra safeguards to its future monorail because the line will venture near the prison housing the lone surviving terrorist of the 2008 Mumbai hotel blast. Every week I hear about shootouts with or incursions by terrorists in the state of Jammu and Kashmir near Pakistan. There has been violence over the Telangana statehood issue in nearby Andhra Pradesh. The states of West Bengal and Bihar are engaged in deadly fighting with the Maoist Naxal terrorists hiding in the forests and have vowed to eradicate them.

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