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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

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“Dude, is it Mullaperiyar or Mullaiperiyar?”
“I think it depends on whether you’re Mal or Tam.”
“But there must be like, some term they originally used, right, when they said Cawnpore and Cape Comorin and all of that?”
“Yeah, that was probably Mullypawry. There’s no ‘I’ in controversy.”
“I don’t get this whole thing. This dam could burst and kill people, and so they want to break it down and build a new dam?”
“That’s what Kerala says. But Tamil Nadu says it was built to last, and there are dams that are a couple of millennia old.”
“And they’ve done all these tests to prove nothing can happen?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“So what’s all this about 136 feet and 142 feet?”
“Well, apparently there was this earthquake sometime before we were born, and there were cracks in the dam, and the water level was sent six feet under, so they could repair it.”
“So the earthquake, like, affected the top six feet of the dam?”
“I don’t know, dude. And I don’t care, really. Everyone’s acting like it personally affects them. And everyone knows it’s a political tug-of-war that’s going to go on for the next few decades.”
“But why’s everyone going hyper right now?”
“Are you talking about the suicide bid? I think people feel their lives are worth something if they ‘sacrifice’ them for a cause. I think that’s like an ancient tradition or something.”
“Trust you to bring history, psychology and anthropology into the same sentence.”
“Well, technically those were two sentences. But those three branches of study could explain the politicisation of pretty much every issue in the country.”
“I think if I were to commit suicide, I’d do it for no cause at all, just to raise my middle finger to the idea of dying for a cause.”
“It could be argued that that’s a cause in itself. Anyway, your newspaper will carry an obit and badger the police for a thorough investigation, and then say the department sucks because it couldn’t establish cause. Are you suicidal, though?”
“Not at the moment, I don’t think. But if my pages get misaligned again, because people keep changing the spelling of the dam, I probably will take the drastic step.”
“So, some people don’t like dotting their ‘i’s, huh?”
“Dude, if we can’t settle on the spelling down here, I wonder how they’re doing with the pronunciation up north? I mean, those poor TV anchors, dude. They just got rid of ‘Kanimozhi’ and now we throw ‘Mullaperiyar’ or ‘Mullaiperiyar’ at them!”
“I think they’ve just started going with ‘the controversial dam’ these days, or ‘the dam on the Periyar River’.”
“Except they don’t say ‘Periyaar River’; they make it ‘Peri-urr River’.”
“That’s okay. We’ve never managed to say ‘Pratibha Patil’ right.”
“To be fair, she’s barely in the news, except when she forgets to salute flags.”
“By the way, you guys must be having several field days, huh, with all the dam puns?”
“Yeah, dammed headlines. No watershed on dam rowTN, Kerala talk to brick walls. Dam row hits a river block. Reports on sturdiness of dam leaked. Dam row seeps into media offices. Centre tries to patch up volatile dam row. Kerala points to holes in the expert reports. No shortage there.”
“There will be if the dam gets shifted. Hehehehe.”
“We’ll milk the shortage too. Sparks fly as Jaya complains of electricity shortage. History un-earthed. A relic dug up. Dry headlines greet dam decision.
“You know there’s not going to be any decision. Just a gargantuan waste of public money while they decide where to channel a gargantuan waste of public money – reports, a new dam, or both.”
“But I wish people would come up with more innovative forms of protest than self-immolation and burning down shops.”
“What would you have them do instead?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Something the snake charmer who released cobras in a government office!”
“So you want people to release poisonous snakes into the river?”
“They’ve probably got some there already, no?”
“Release them into your office?”
“Well, as long as they’ve been defanged, it would make for an exciting afternoon. And if they haven’t, well, we can forget about the dam issue for a day, huh?”
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll find a way to keep it in. Venomous protest against newspaper’s coverage of dam row.”


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