Sunday, October 09, 2016

Flaneuse-ing in London: Filter Coffee Column in Kindle

Read it on the Kindle website here or see below.


I met some friends of a friend the other day, by the river. It was not even a weekend, but then the sun was still out, and Londoners were all clamouring to catch the fading summer sun by the Southbank. They were out in shorts and short skirts, barely there camisoles and tank tops, face up to the sun and beer mugs in hand, unwilling to let go of the threadbare summer months just yet. There I was, fully clothed, with a jacket even, thus fully attesting to my status as the foreigner in a foreign land where their summer was more like winter back home. I am glad I am not staying the winter months.

These new found friends and I had a jolly good time over dinner. And then I had to cross the bridge, across the river to catch the tube home, I was told it was the easiest way to go back. I have fallen in love with the tube. But that is another story for another day. So I climbed the steps and got on to the bridge and walked along. Mid way through there was a busker singing and playing something – I cannot remember what now. I looked to my right and stopped dead on my tracks, leading to a man behind me nearing running into me. An involuntary ‘sorry’ slipped out my tongue. It is funny how these overly apologetic British customs one wears on, when one is so frequently encountered by these things. While in Rome…

And then I turned right and saw the river lit by thousands of lights. Blue and red and cream and bright white and pale yellow lights. Just behind me was the well-lit London Eye. Even in its after hours, it was too touristy for my taste, and I ignored it. The lights were more delightful. Falling from the tall spires and odd shaped modern architectural achievements that the city’s builders own responsibility for, the lights bled into the river, in straight lines that shook, in angry annoyance, at being disturbed by the stray breeze that half- heartedly blew now and then, too infrequent though to make a difference that still night.

It was at that precise exact moment that I realized I had fallen in love. It felt a bit like being on a page in a Mills and Boon novel, where in the middle tears or anger or in a moment of great discomfort the hero and the heroine realize that they love the other. Then they proceed to deny it, unwilling to admit defeat. And that is how I am feeling right now. I do not want to admit that I have fallen in love with this city, but I cannot be bothered to hide it either. I am not a city person, as a rule cities make me cranky and crowds plainly annoy me. Neither are tall glass buildings my thing, I’d prefer older structures with some soul in them, however damaged. Some would say I am just a good old anachronism. And I would, for most parts, agree.

But admit I must, to this love affair. It came to me, this realization, with drama – the lights and the night and the undecided breeze and a slight light headedness. It felt like it was staged almost, too much a cliché for me to take it seriously. It must be a crush I thought, one of those summer flings, and I could go back to my city and forget about that one summer when something happened.

But it is never easy to forget. It happened isn’t a balm soothing enough for the memory of forgetfulness. But then here I digress.

Also, this city won’t be easy to forget. I must have fallen in love with it very early on, but it was that view from the river that got me, you know? I am not one for love at first sight, not with humans at least. But with places, now that is different. I feel it in my bones, about a place. I either hate it or I love it. No in between. Everything need not always be grey. Sometimes it is simple, simple as black and white. Love Delhi. Hate Mumbai. Love London. Love Chennai. Don’t ask me why.

And now this has happened. This new object of love. I walk her roads in happy abandon, walking sometimes only to forget, to have no place to go, to just not go back. Till the feet are sore and can’t take a step more, till the muscles cry and I stop crying. Bones are getting old. Every ache hurts just a little more than they used to. What I find odd in the first few days is how quiet the streets are. That throws me off most times. Except that there is a construction site next door to where I am living and the Eastern European workers who work less and bask in the sun, smoking, more and the relentless drilling they do, that makes me feel at home. They yell and swear and sit on the steps to the house I live in, smoking endlessly and throwing the butts down the stairs, annoying the staff here. They are not likely to finish soon.

But then, after a few days acclimatizing to the silences and horn-free roads, I begin to hear the birds. Mostly the sea gulls. I will read later that there is technically nothing called seagull. There are only gulls, some of which live by the sea, some that live inland. They are increasing in population in the city because of the unbelievable amounts of food thrown away. They are hardy, and quick to adapt. They hunt pigeons too, apparently. And they snatch ice cream from the hands of little kids. That experience is as quintessential as the English sea, I hear. I like the sound of the seagulls. I will continue to call them that, better that they sound than being prosaically called gulls. They sound fierce, strong, independent and headstrong. Qualities one ideally wishes to continuously possess while fighting in this world. I listen to them these days when I walk, like looking for company where there is none.

And so it is that I walk. These days I am armed with the latest book I am reading, Lauren Elkin’s Flaneuse – Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London. It is delightful. Cultural and sociological history might just be my new thing. I have Rebecca Solnit on my list next, that cult writer on walking. It feels pretentious and predictable and inevitable and natural all at once, to be walking here in this city and loving it a little more every day.

And then just like that, there was a word for what I have been doing in other cities in other countries for years. Flaneuse.

350 Years of The Great Fire of London: A Walk Through London City, in BLink

Early September was when what is now known as The Great Fire of London started in the house of a baker on Pudding Lane in London. This year marked the 350 years of the fire that destroyed nearly four fifths of the old City of London. Today the area is the financial hub of the country. 

I have walked A LOT in London these past few months that I was there. (More on that later). I did a self guided walk that took me through the sites that were important as the fire spread and the City burned without mercy. I wrote about it for The Hindu Business Line's BLInk supplement here

Or see below.


A flâneuse in London on the eve of the deadly inferno’s 350th anniversary

Later, much later, when the fire had eaten its way through all but one-fifth of the medieval City of London (a neighbourhood), they would talk of signs and ill-omens, that it was the hand of god, that England had been called to account for its sins. They would say that it was divine retribution for the sin of gluttony that Londoners were guilty of. Much later, a wooden statue of a cherubic boy, painted gold, would be erected at Pie Corner, where the fire finally went out after five days and five nights. The statue would warn the coming generations of what could happen, they hoped.

Three hundred and fifty years, nearly to the day, I stand under this statue and look up at this little old boy looking out ahead, in the direction of Pudding Lane, where the Great Fire of London started one summer night in 1666. Although this perceived direction of his stare is only my best guess, I cannot tell my south from my east, my map-reading skills are non-existent, and getting lost is a recurring motif in this self-guided walk I am on. I take pictures and nod slightly at the couple of others with the walk pamphlet, avoiding a direct eye-to-eye, thus employing my newly acquired local custom of stiff manners and very reluctant sociability (while in Rome… and all that). But wait, we must begin at the beginning.

I have been in London for a couple of months now, and am nearing the end of my stay. Predictably, I have fallen in love with it. It is easy to forget that London has dressed up for summer, that this is only a disguise before the trademark greys sweep the skies. I have walked everywhere and spent much of the rest periods between walks reading about walking, or writing my own little bits about it. Predictably again, the likes of Virginia Woolf, Rebecca Solnit and, lately, Lauren Elkin — all flâneuses (a ‘female stroller’, ‘a person who saunters around observing society’) — have kept me company as I walked. As the date of September 2 drew closer, it began to appeal to the history nerd in me — a newfound interest I didn’t know I had gathered — to do the Great Fire of London walk, following what the map confidently said was ‘the trail of destruction left by the most famous fire in history’.

“Afterwards, Thomas Farriner was always quite clear about one thing. The events of that Saturday night were not his fault.” Thus begins historian Adrian Tinniswood’s essential guide to the Fire that I had picked up some days ago.

It was in the house of Farriner, a baker on Pudding Lane, that the fire started on the night of September 2, 1666.

Apart from a summary of the sequence of events from that fatal night and thereafter, the book includes extracts from the diaries of Samuel Pepys, a politician and a diarist, whose accounts of the fire were among the most accurate and meticulous of them all. These freshly-read facts in my head and a charted map in my hand, I start from the Tube station next to St Paul’s Cathedral.

The eveningers are murmuring that summer is over already; I notice the wind getting chillier when I begin to take these notes on a bench behind the cathedral.

A woman sitting on the next bench is talking furiously into her phone, in what I wildly guess to be Russian or an East European language. The day’s forecast is for rain in the afternoon, but the weather is more fickle than anything I could compare it with. Everyone talks of the weather all the time.

“In a society where most houses were timber-framed, in an age when every home had several open fires and every chamber was lit by naked flame, house-fires were not unusual,” explains Tinniswood. Losses of hearth and possessions were common, casualties were surprisingly rare though. Among the elaborate, and largely effective, ways of fighting fire — ringing the church bells backwards, using buckets and waterwheels to pump water from the Thames and suchlike — was the pulling down of houses next to the site of fire to ensure it didn’t spread along the street was an oft-used measure. But on the night of the breakout on Pudding Lane, one crucial decision, or rather the absence of it, was to destroy 13,200 houses and 87 out of 109 churches, and leave 100,000 people homeless. It would take the next 50 years to rebuild the City again.

I walk along the Thames Path, busy that Saturday with large groups walking for charity. Across the river, the new building of Tate Modern has the words ‘Art Changes, We Change’. Appropriate, I think, seen through rear-view mirrors or as a way forward. Up the path along the Thames and under the London Bridge I go, the only bridge across the river until 1729. Crammed with houses during the time of the fire, it was too narrow to allow people to use it for escape. St Magnus the Martyr Church, the second to burn that night, houses a fragile wooden model of the bridge.

As I cross the churchyard, the bells begin to toll, theatrically.

Across the road is Monument, the 202-ft structure that commemorates the fire. Right across, exactly 202 feet away, is the site on Pudding Lane where Farriner’s shop and house above would have stood. A plaque identifies the place; someone has left a handful of sunflowers below it. “Pudding was a medieval word for entrails or bowels.” The filth of the hogs flowed down this way towards the river back then, giving it its name.

The drastic but commonly employed measure to pull down houses along the fire’s path needed the approval of Sir Thomas Bludworth, the chief magistrate of the city. But Bludworth is infamous, for having been a weak man without “…the leadership skills or the natural authority to take command of the situation”.

‘A woman could piss it out,’ he is reported to have said, and went home to bed. By the time the authorities decided to start pulling down houses, it was too late. Standing by the river in Southwark, on the other side, the well-to-do watched the city burn while “Samuel (Pepys) broke down and cried for his city”.

Tracing the route the fire took is a strange endeavour in 21st-century London. Nearly nothing of the Old City remains, except for parts of the Roman wall. The Old City is now the heart of the British banking and financial sectors.

The buildings are glass, very tall and bear down upon the walker. Eerie is the other word I think of. I reach Guildhall, home of the City of London Corporation, centre of the city government since the Middle Ages and the only secular stone building dating from before 1666.

A lazy drizzle has begun. The gallery within is showing Claes Jansz Visscher’s incredibly detailed 1616 engraving of the city, one of the few visual records of London before the fire, alongside Robin Reynolds’s drawing of the way it stands now, 400 years later.

The two churches I visit have weddings going on; I am not sure I can, or want to stay and gape like a tourist. Back at St Paul’s. It was thought of as a safe refuge, being built of stone, and was filled with rescued goods, including thousands of books.

But three days into the fire, the Cathedral burst into flames. When it was rebuilt in 1710 by Sir Christopher Wren, the lead architect, it turned into a symbol of hope and strength. And so it continues to stand, majestic. In the back lanes is the golden boy statue, where the fire finally stopped.

The walk has taken me four hours, against the two the map claimed. But it hadn’t accounted for my bad map-reading skills, or that I stop long and often to make detailed notes, fancying myself a chronicler of some sort. By the end, my feet are deliciously tired and I am just proud I haven’t used Google Maps despite many temptations.

“And then, somehow, by chance, I learned that all that walking around, feeling intensely, constantly moved to scribble what I saw and felt... all that I did instinctively, others had done to such an extent that there was a word for it. I was a flâneur.” — Lauren Elkin

It all began with the fire, thus — my flâneuse-ing and the modern age for the City of London.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 10, 2016)

On Brexit and Myths: Binkana Column in Kannada Prabha

Published in Kannada Prabha on August 28, 2016

ಇವತ್ತಿಗೆ ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ಎರಡು ತಿಂಗಳುಗಳಾದವು, ಈ ಲಂಡನ್ ಮಹಾನಗರಕ್ಕೆ ಬಂದು. ಅದೆಷ್ಟೋ ಹೊಸ ಜನರ ಪರಿಚಯ, ಹೊಸ ಸದ್ದು, ಹೊಸ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಕೋನ, ಹೊಸ ಸಂಪ್ರದಾಯಗಳು, ಎಲ್ಲವೂ ಹೊಸತೆಂದು ಅನಿಸುತ್ತ ಅನಿಸುತ್ತ, ಹೊಸತೆಲ್ಲ ಅಲ್ಪ ಮಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ಪರಿಚಿತ ಎನ್ನುವಷ್ಟಾಗಿದೆ. ವಿಷ್ಮಯ ನೋಟ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಮಾಸಿ, ಇದೀಗ ಹಲವು ಬಾರಿ ನಡೆದ ರಸ್ತೆಗಳು, ನೋಡಿಯೂ ನೋಡದಂತೆ ಅನಿಸುವ ಕಟ್ಟಡಗಳ ಸಂಖ್ಯೆ ಏರುತ್ತಲಿದೆ. ಟ್ಯೂಬ್ ಸ್ಟೇಷನ್ ಗಳನ್ನು ದಾಟುವಾಗ ಎಲ್ಲೆಂದರಲ್ಲಿ ಬರುವ ಟೂರಿಸ್ಟ್ ಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ಒಂದೊಂದು ಸಾರಿ ರೇಗುವಂತಾಗುತ್ತದೆ - ಅದೆಷ್ಟು ಬೇಗ ನಗರಗಳನ್ನು, ವಸ್ತುಗಳನ್ನು, ಜನರನ್ನು ನಮ್ಮದಾಗಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವ ಆತುರ ಎಂದೆನಿಸುತ್ತದೆ.

ಸಂಭಾಷಣೆ ಒಂದೆರಡು ನಿಮಿಷ ಕಳೆದು, ಎಲ್ಲಿಂದ, ಏನು ಕೆಲಸ, ಅವತ್ತಿನ ಹವಾಮಾನ (ಹವಾಮಾನದ ಚರ್ಚೆ ಇಂಗ್ಲೆಂಡ್ ನವರಿಗೆ ಮಾತನಾಡಿ ಮುಗಿಯದ ವಿಷಯ, ನಮ್ಮ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿನವರಿಗೆ ಆಟೋ ಡ್ರೈವರುಗಳ ಕಿರುಕುಳ, ಸಿಲ್ಕ್ ಬೋರ್ಡ್ ಜಂಕ್ಷನಿನ ಟ್ರಾಫಿಕ್ ವಿಷಯ ಇದ್ದಂತೆ) ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಮುಗಿದ ನಂತರ ಬ್ರೆಕ್ಸಿಟ್ ವಿಷಯಕ್ಕೆ ಬಂದೇಬಿಡುತ್ತದೆ. ಎರಡು ತಿಂಗಳುಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ ಬ್ರಿಟನ್ ಅವಿವೇಕ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ನಿರ್ಧಾರದಿಂದಾಗಿ ಯುರೋಪಿಯನ್ ಯೂನಿಯನ್ (ಈ.ಯು.) ನಿಂದ ಹೊರಬರಬೇಕೆಂಬ ಜನಾಭಿಪ್ರಾಯ ಹೊರಬಂದಿತ್ತು. ಈ ಜನಾಭಿಪ್ರಾಯ ನಿಜವಾಗಿಯೂ ಈ ರೀತಿ ತಿರುಗಬಹುದು ಎಂದು ಬೆಂಬಲಿಸಿದ ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿಗಳಾಗಲಿ, ಮತ ಚಲಾಯಿಸಿದ ಜನರಾಗಲಿ ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಿಸಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಆ ಒಂದು ತೀರ್ಪು ಸಿರಿಯಾ, ಇರಾಕ್ ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ದೇಶಗಳಿಂದ ವಲಸೆ ಬರುವವರ ವಿರುದ್ಧ, ಏರುತ್ತಿರುವ ಬೆಲೆ, ಕುಸಿಯುತ್ತಿರುವ ಕೆಲಸದ ಮಾರುಕಟ್ಟೆಯ ವಿರುದ್ಧ ಜನರ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯ, ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿಗಳ ವಿರುದ್ಧ ಪ್ರತಿಭಟನೆಯಾಗಿತ್ತು. ವರುಶಾನುಗಟ್ಟಲೆಯಿಂದ ಕೇಳದ ಕೂಗು ಈ ಒಂದು ನಿರ್ಧಾರದ ರೂಪದಲ್ಲಿ ಚೀರುವ ಸ್ವರದಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರತಿಧ್ವನಿಸಿತು. ಈ.ಯು. ವಿನ ಪರ ಆಗಲಿ, ವಿರುದ್ಧವಾಗಲಿ ಇದು ಇರಲಿಲ್ಲವಂತೆ. ಎಷ್ಟರ ಮಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ಇದು ಈ.ಯು.ವಿನ ವಿಷಯವೇ ಆಗಿರಲಿಲ್ಲವೆಂದರೆ ತೀರ್ಪು ಘೋಷಿಸಿದ ಮುಂದಿನ ದಿನ ಗೂಗಲ್ ನಲಿ ಅತಿ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಹುಡುಕಲಾದ ವಿಷಯ 'ಈ.ಯು. ಎಂದರೇನು?', 'ಈ.ಯು.ವಿನಿಂದ ಹೊರಗೆ ಹೋದರೆ ಅದರ ಪರಿಣಾಮವೇನು?' ಆಗಿತ್ತಂತೆ.

ಬ್ರೆಕ್ಸಿಟ್ ನಿಂದ ಏನಾಗಬಹುದು ಎಂಬುದು ಇನ್ನು ಯಾರಿಗೂ ಗೊತ್ತಿಲ್ಲ. ನಾನು ಭೇಟಿ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನವರು ಈ ದುರ್ಘಟನೆ ನಡೆಯಲೇ ಇಲ್ಲವೆಂದು ನಟಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಅಥವಾ ಪೂರ್ತಿ ನಿರಾಕಾರ. ಎರಡು ತಿಂಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು ಇಂಚು ಸಹ ಮುಂದುವರಿಯದ್ದಿದಾಗ ಇನ್ನು ಮುಂದೆಯೂ ಏನೂ ಆಗದಿರಬಹುದು ಎಂಬ ನಂಬಿಕೆ. ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಬ್ರೆಕ್ಸಿಟ್, ಬ್ರಿಟನ್ ನ ರಾಜಕೀಯ, ಈ.ಯು. ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಭಾರತಕ್ಕೆ ಪರಿಣಾಮ ಬೀರಬೇಕಾದರೆ ನಾವೂ ಸಹ ಕಾದು ನೋಡಬೇಕಷ್ಟೆ. ಪೌಂಡಿನ ಬೆಲೆ ಅದಾಗಲೇ ಕುಸಿದಿದೆ, ಪ್ರವಾಸಿಗರಿಗೆ ಒಳ್ಳೆದಾದರೂ, ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲಸ ಮಾಡಿ ಭಾರತಕ್ಕೆ ಹಣ ಕಳಿಸುವ ಅದೆಷ್ಟೋ ಸಾವಿರ ಲಕ್ಷ ಭಾರತೀಯರಿಗೆ ಕೆಟ್ಟ ಸುದ್ಧಿಯಾಗಿ ಉಳಿದಿದೆ. ಬ್ರೆಕ್ಸಿಟ್ ನ ವಿಷಯ ಅದೆಷ್ಟೇ ಈ ದ್ವೀಪದ ಆಂತರಿಕ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ವಿಷಯವಾದರೂ ಭಾರತಕ್ಕೆ, ಉಳಿದ ದೇಶಗಳಿಗೆ ಪರಿಣಾಮ ಬೀರದೆ ಇರಲು ಅಸಾಧ್ಯ.

ಯಾವ ಮನುಷ್ಯನೂ ಒಬ್ಬ ದ್ವೀಪವಲ್ಲ/ ತನ್ನಲ್ಲೇ ಸಂಪೂರ್ಣ/ ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಬ್ಬ ಮನುಷ್ಯನೂ ಖಂಡದ ಒಂದು ಭಾಗ/ಇಡಿಯ ಒಂದು ಭಾಗ ಎಂದು ಆಂಗ್ಲ ಕವಿ ಜಾನ್ ಡೋನ್ ಹದಿನೇಳನೇ ಶತಮಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆದ್ದಿದ್ದ. ಒಂದು ದ್ವೀಪ ಬರಿಯ ಒಂದು ದ್ವೀಪವಲ್ಲ.

ಆ ಗೂಗಲ್ ವಿಷಯ ಕೇಳಿದೊಡನೆ ನನಗೆ ಅಚ್ಚರಿ ಮೂಡಿಸಿದ್ದು ಒಂದೇ ಒಂದು ವಿಷಯ, ಜನರು ಈಗಿನ ಜಾಗತೀಕರಣ, ಬಂಡವಾಳಶಾಹಿ ಜಗತ್ತಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಅಷ್ಟು ಮೂರ್ಖರೇ ಎಂಬುದು. ಆದರೆ ಒಂದು ನಿಮಿಷ ನಿಂತು ಯೋಚಿಸಿದರೆ ಇದರಲ್ಲಿ ಅಷ್ಟು ಹುಬ್ಬೇರಿಸುವ ವಿಷಯ ಹೆಚ್ಛೇನಿಲ್ಲ. ಮಾಹಿತಿ ಎಂಬ ವಸ್ತು ಹಲವು ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾರಾಟವಾಗುವ ಈ ಜಗತ್ತಿನಲ್ಲಿ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಐಡಿಯಾಗಳು ಸಹ ಮಾರಾಟವಾಗುತ್ತವೆ, ಒಂದು ಮಿಥ್ ಅಥವಾ ಪುರಾಣದ ರೂಪದಲ್ಲಿ. ಬ್ರೆಕ್ಸಿಟ್ ಸಂಧರ್ಭದಲ್ಲಿ ಇದು ಬ್ರಿಟನ್ ಮತ್ತೆ 'ಗ್ರೇಟ್' ಆಗಬೇಕಾದರೆ ಈ.ಯು.ವಿನಿಂದ ಹೊರಬರಬೇಕು ಎಂಬ ಸಂದೇಶ ಹೊರಡಿಸಲಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಅಮೆರಿಕಾದ ಕಡೆ ಗಮನ ಹರಿಸಿದರೆ ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರಪತಿ ಆಗಿಯೇಬಿಡುವನೋ ಎಂಬಂತಿರುವ ಡೊನಾಲ್ಡ್ ಟ್ರಂಪ್ ಅಮೆರಿಕಾವನ್ನು 'ಗ್ರೇಟ್' ಮಾಡುತ್ತೇನೆ ಎಂಬ ಘೋಷಣೆಯನ್ನು ಮಾಡಿದ್ದಾನೆ. ಇಂತಹಾ ಪುರಾಣಗಳು ಜಾಹೀರಾತು ಮತ್ತು ಭಯಾನಕ ಪ್ರೊಪಗಾಂಡಾ ದ ಮಧ್ಯೆ ನಿಲ್ಲುತ್ತದೆ. ಅವೆರಡು ನೇರವಾಗಿ, ಖಡಕ್ ಆಗಿ ತಮ್ಮ ಸಂದೇಶವನ್ನು ಹೇಳುವುದಾದರೆ, ಇಂತಹಾ ಕಟ್ಟು ಕಥೆಗಳು, ಒಂದು ವಸ್ತು, ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ ಅಥವಾ ಐಡಿಯಾವನ್ನು ಮಾರಲು ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸುವ ಪುರಾಣಗಳು ಅತೀ ಸೂಕ್ಷ್ಮವಾಗಿ ಜನರ ತಲೆಯನ್ನು ಹೊಕ್ಕುತ್ತದೆ. ಅಲ್ಲೇ ಅಪಾಯ. ಆಯ್ಕೆಯ ಹಕ್ಕು ಇರುತ್ತದೆ ಎಂದು ಜನರನ್ನು ನಂಬಿಸಿದರೂ ಒಂದು ಹಂತದವರೆಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಆ ಆಯ್ಕೆಯನ್ನು ಮಾಡಬಹುದಷ್ಟೆ. ಅದೆಲ್ಲೋ ಒಂದು ವಷ್ಟುವನ್ನು ಕೊಂಡುಕೊಳ್ಳುವುದರ ಬದಲು ಅದರ ಹಿಂದೆ ಇರುವ (ಕಟ್ಟು) ಕಥೆಯನ್ನು ಕೊಂಡುಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಶುರುಮಾಡುತ್ತೇವೆ.

ಸಾವಯವ ತರಕಾರಿ ದೇಹಕ್ಕೆ ಒಳ್ಳೇದು, ನಿಜ. ಆದರೆ ಅದೇ ಸಾವಯವ ತರಕಾರಿ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಮೂಲೆಯಿಂದ ಬಂದಿದ್ದರೆ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಸೇರಿರುವ ಕಾರ್ಬನ್ ಫುಟ್ ಪ್ರಿಂಟ್ ಅಥವಾ ಅಲ್ಲಿಂದ ಇಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ತರಲು ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸಿದ ಶಕ್ತಿ ಭೂಮಿಗೆ ಭಾರವನ್ನು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ಆಗ ನಾವು ಕೊಂಡುಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿರುವುದು ಒಳ್ಳೇದೇ ಅಥವಾ...? ನವಉದಾರವಾದ ಆರ್ಥಿಕ ನೀತಿ ಇಪ್ಪತೈದು ವರ್ಷಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ ಭಾರತದಲ್ಲಿ ಪರಿಚಯಿಸಿದಾಗ ಅದೊಂದು ಯುಟೋಪಿಯ, ಒಂದು ಸ್ವರ್ಗವನ್ನು ಕಲ್ಪಿಸುತ್ತದೆ ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಿ ಮಾರಲಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಇದೀಗ ಜಗತ್ತಿನೆಲ್ಲೆಡೆ ಈ ಉದಾರವಾದ ನೀತಿ ಎಲ್ಲದಕ್ಕೂ ಉತ್ತರವಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ಆರ್ಥಿಕ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಜ್ಯ್ನಾರು ಒಪ್ಪಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ.

ಹೊಳೆಯುವುದೆಲ್ಲಾ ಚಿನ್ನವಲ್ಲ. ಕೇಳಿದ್ದೆಲ್ಲ ಸತ್ಯವಲ್ಲ. ಪುರಾಣಗಳಂತೂ ಒಳ್ಳೆ ಅಜ್ಜಿ ಹೇಳುವ ಕಥೆಗಳಾಗಿ ಒಳ್ಳೇದೇ ಹೊರತು ಕಡು ಸತ್ಯವಲ್ಲ. 'ವಿಥ್ ಎ ಪಿಂಚ್ ಆಫ್ ಸಾಲ್ಟ್' ಎಂಬ ಗಾದೆಯಂತೆ ಈಗಿನ ರಾಜನೀತಿಯನ್ನು ಒಂದು ಚಿಟಿಕೆ ಉಪ್ಪಿನ ಜೊತೆ ತಿನ್ನಬೇಕು - ಇದ್ದದನ್ನು ಇದ್ದಹಾಗೆ ನಂಬದೆ. ಇಂತಹಾ ಪುರಾಣಗಳು ಎಲ್ಲೆಂದೆರಲ್ಲಿ ಇರುವಾಗ, ಸತ್ಯ-ಸುಳ್ಳು, ಅರೆ ಸತ್ಯ - ಅರೆ ಸುಳ್ಳುಗಳ ಮಧ್ಯೆ ಇರುವ ಗೆರೆಗಳು ಮಾಸಿ ಒಂದಾಗುತ್ತಿರುವಾಗ ಪರಿಹಾರವೇನು ಎಂಬುದು ನಾನರಿಯೆ. ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗಳು ಒಂದಾದ ಮೇಲೆ ಒಂದು ಮೂಡುತ್ತವೆ. ಬಿಡುವಂತಿಲ್ಲ, ಪರಿಣಾಮದಿಂದ ರಕ್ಷಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವಂತಿಲ್ಲ. ಯಾರೊಬ್ಬನೂ ಒಂದು ದ್ವೀಪವಲ್ಲ.