A Matter Of Perspective.


(Overheard at Cafe Coffee Day – PLEASE READ TILL THE END) Cafe Coffee Day is the Indian equivalent of Starbucks.


Boy : It is a failed state I tell you ! They just had an election but nothing will change – just wait and see they will not be able to pass any meaningful laws and bills to alleviate the suffering of it’s people . They will continue spending on arms and the Army despite being broke with a huge external debt !

Girl : Yes I agree

Boy : We have invited their leader once again but it will lead to nothing I tell you ! They will never change – they are the most selfish nation on earth – no wonder nobody likes them .

Girl : Hmm

Boy : The culture of violence continues every single day – shootings , bombings , kidnappings , killing of innocent people including women and children ; even teachers & school kids are not spared .

Girl : Yes terrible !

Boy : Not satisfied with that they regularly send their people to kill innocents in other countries also!

Girl : Yes , dreadful !

Boy : And they hob nob with China shamelessly !

Girl : Shocking !

Boy : The pity is they have such great culture , music , food , art , brains and natural resources – what a waste !

Girl : Tsk tsk !

Boy : Their human rights record is pathetic – they jail people without a trial in secret jails and torture them , discriminate against minority communities ( though the leader is also from a minority community ) , don’t pay women equal wages etc

Girl : Really ? I did not know that .

Boy : And the tragedy is that they do not protect their poor people from repeated natural calamities especially if it happens in the poorer belts .

Girl : So sad !

Boy : Yes it’ true . I wonder why anyone in their right minds would want to go there – it is a completely FAILED STATE !

Girl : I agree , Pakistan is a failed state !

Boy : Pakistan ? Who said anything about Pakistan ? I am talking about USA ! Didn’t you hear anything I have been saying ? I am not paying the bill for this coffee !

Thank you Fly-On-Cafe-Coffee-Day’s-Wall.

At a time when changes to the the immigration policy of the USA stand to affect or have an effect on Indian diaspora or wannabe emigres, this comes as a refreshing change.


This is a real photograph from circa 1948 of a Tamil Brahmin student studying at home. Tamil Brahmins are popularly called Tambrams.

tambram student

Though I belong to the Tambram community, I do not dress like that, nor did I ever study like that. But I am likely to be more of an exception. My cousins, one of who stayed with us to study for his Master’s Degree in English Literature, used to study intensely during all their free time and I have therefore first hand knowledge of this kind of work. In this particular photo, the man’s tuft is tied to a nail on the wall and will jerk him awake if he falls asleep while studying. The lamp on the table was a wick lamp using kerosene, a duplicate of which I distinctly remember being used in our village home. The broken chair, the ink well and pen sticking out of it, and the condition of the wall speaks volumes of the poverty under which these types studied. Their parents sacrificed a great deal to see their children be given the benefit of education.

And no, the tuft went out of style many decades ago and only the priests sport them now a days.

Education was a way out of rural lives and poverty and that particular generation was the one that gave birth to the first lot of emigrants to the USA and the UK. Those studious Tambrams who remained behind, secured employment in the then available public sector enterprises or the government and their children in turn were more or less bullied into studying to enter into the IITs and other premier educational institutions to secure not only their own futures but as a spin off effect as an insurance policy for the parents to retire in comfort.

The Brahmins were and still are subject to reverse discrimination and find it extremely difficult to secure admission into institutions of higher learning and have to perforce study to enter the Central Institutions were while quotas operate merit is far more important.

I salute those pioneers who studied like this and made it possible for the community to become quite prosperous despite being denied opportunities owing to the accident of their birth.