Sunday, June 22, 2008

The group ‘discourses’ on disposes (the satire attempt continues…)

Scene: Our “group” comprising the Scientist, the Politico, the Businessman, the Atheist, the Fatalist and the Goof are now comfortably settled down in the porch of the businessman’s palatial guesthouse where they are spending the weekend. The sea is in the background….a rather placid and calm sea. All are drinking tea accompanied by the assorted snacks one generally ingests along with tea.

“Mmmm” it was the politico. He was enjoying his biscuit dipped and drenched in tea. He had had it that way since his early days as a poor political worker when he was known to subsist on just a cup of “Nair” tea and 4 butter biscuits. The businessman flinched, not used to seeing that sort of “yucky thing” to put it in his words. The politico, paying no heed however, polishes off the remaining biscuits…totally unmindful of leaving some for the others. And as he was wont to do, carelessly throws off the plastic wrappers.

“It is because of people like you I must say, that we are living in a highly garbage filled place” began the scientist.

“True. Absolutely true” agreed the businessman. When it came to blaming someone, the businessman almost always agreed with the blamer. It was a trait the politico secretly admired.

“Now you aren’t much better either” said the scientist acidly turning to the businessman who now wore an expression which can be best explained as a mixture of irritation, puzzlement and guilt.

The fatalist, always a man for a discussion, as he calls an ugly, ill-tempered argument jutted in “Now, can you explain that? How do you say that our friend here is equally responsible for the garbage infestation of our place?” he said, pointing to the businessman who by now was having second thoughts about the merits of being a genial host.

“TEA PLEASE” yelled the politico suddenly. The atheist duly fulfilled the demand. His attention then turned to the argument at hand. “Every one of us here is responsible. The garbage we generate is now turning to be massive and quite unmanageable!!” he said.

“Blame it on modernity!!Bah!! The dark underbelly of modern life!! We are all doomed!!” The scientist said a bit vehemently. He then continued “It is all because of the plastics!!They are the bane!! Just where do we throw away that dirty trash called plastic?? It just does not disappear like paper or jute!! It stays implacable! And we add more day by day!! Where do they all GO?” he thundered. The politico just gaped at the scientist’s excited and quivering face blankly.

“Well, Now I see where he comes in” interjected the goof pointing to the businessman. “I was wondering how he could have helped litter the land him always being such a stickler for cleanliness. Now I see the connection” he said.

“What connection?” both the businessman and the fatalist simultaneously asked. The former asked it a bit agitated and the latter with a satisfied smile pleased mainly because that he was fuelling an argument. That he was doing it mainly against his hapless host was an extra bonus.

“Our friend here is a clean chap. He does his business well, Keeps his office premises clean, and makes his employees do the same too.” said the Goof.

The scientist interrupted rudely, eager to put in the point before the goof “But well, WHERE does he dump all the waste he generates?? He keeps his office clean!! Agreed! But after cleaning his office premises, does he care about WHERE the garbage is being sent to? Where it is being dumped? All his plastic wrappers which cover the stale processed food his employees so eagerly eat after a few minutes in the microwave thinking it is good food!! All the wasted food!! All the paper plates and soft drink cans!! Does he ever know what is happening to them??”

The goof, pretty upset that the scientist stole his point of view relapsed into a brooding silence. It wasn’t very often when he came up with something intellectual and to have the scientist steal it from him was all the more frustrating.

“Err…they are sent for recycling. I know they are…The contractor tells me that!!” said the businessman. His comportment however suggested that he had no idea and the fatalist, impeccably infallible in this sort of thing immediately caught his uncertainty.

“Now if the contractor just arranges for all that waste to be dumped into some huge marsh would you know?”

“That is not my responsibility is it? Why should I bother about that? I have outsourced the job of dumping the waste to the contractor and I pay him for it don’t I?” responded the businessman now edgily.

“You pay the contractor not for dumping the wastes but dumping the wastes RESPONSIBLY” yelled the Atheist. He had reached that excited state quite suddenly and all knew it was better not to oppose him when he was in that mood.

“AND, you should not make your employees keep the premises clean alone. You should encourage them to behave in a less ‘littering’ and ‘dumping’ fashion! You UNDERSTAND!!!” the atheist was in his peak now. Even the scientist dared not to cross him. Religious leaders had been known to wilt when he was like that.

“But well, is he supposed to run a business and ensure his employees are happy too or go about advicing them like a Pastor?” the fatalist now took up the businessman’s case. He just loved doing this – fuelling arguments from both sides and creating confusion all the while.

“His employees are educated anyway! So they should know better.” The goof blurted. And he settled back to drink his now cold tea.

“And YET” bawled the scientist, for he so wanted to be the guy who had the attention “those very ‘educated’ employees end up creating so much garbage!! That’s how it will be if each one thinks that just his extra plastic or paper cup won’t make a difference.”

The businessman breathed more easily now. For the blame was now drifting away from his direction to the general public and when that happened, the problem was never going to be solved. For he knew that no one, not even the pretty powerful politico could tell the public that they were wrong and ask them to correct themselves. The public simply ignored such statements and voted him out of power in the next elections if that happened. If the argument went this way, He‘d not be asked to bring about a change in his business policies. Not that he would listen anyway. But now at least he wasn’t being held responsible.

“Ah!! Plastics are a bane!! But how do we stop their use” asked the businessman in an attempt to divert the topic further. And he was good at it too.

“Use Paper!” said the fatalist in a matter-of-fact tone.

“The solution is not so easy!” said the scientist “If we were to stop using plastics, we may need to use lots and lots of paper. And what would that mean?”

“What?” the goof asked. This was now getting a bit too hazy for his limited mental abilities.

“OF COURSE!! It would mean we would denude our remaining paltry forests in triple quick time!!!” the atheist said not feebly.

“Recycle paper then!” put forth the businessman.

“We need to use lots of fuel and electricity to recycle paper you know that?” said the scientist in the tone he used when he was confident about the subject he was talking on.

“It looks like we are going down the drain anyway!! The price we need to pay for our modernity is now hitting us hard so late not very much unlike credit card debts!! There is no turning back eh?” the goof said quickly lest someone else stole his lines. He was happy that he said something intelligent finally.

All of them sat in a rather gloomy silence. The goof had spoken what looked like an uncomfortable truth. And nothing could seemingly be done about it too.

“He” said the scientist pointing to the politico “can be the only person who can save this situation.” The businessman mentally appreciated the ease with which he delegated responsibilities without shouldering them at all.

The politico nodded, eyes closing and opening. He was smiling at them all too. They all seemed to get a ray of hope from seeing him so optimistic.

“You seem to have thought of something?” asked the atheist eagerly. The others were eager too, for it was a very rare occurrence when a politico actually came up with an idea that solved a problem.

The politico nodded faster. And he was smiling wider too. His manner had acquired a new radiance. To the five, he seemed to become the great leader he claimed he was.

“WHAT IS YOUR IDEA? TELL US NOW!!” bellowed the fatalist getting up and moving towards the politico. He couldn’t take the suspense any longer. The businessman was secretly worried that the he might be asked to do something. All the others were waiting with bated breath too. (Each for his own reasons)

Wait a minute!!!” he politico said to the Fatalist rather a bit loudly.

Then he looked at the others and saw that they were all eagerly looking at him too.

He then methodically proceeded to remove the small black earphones from his ears, folded the wires and bared his palm to reveal the ipod the businessman had presented him and which he used to listen to music during the assembly proceedings. He had grown rather fond of it. He then placed them safely in his shirt pocket.

“You people were discussing something?”


Monday, May 12, 2008

The Group ‘warms up’ – My first attempt at satire

Characters: 1) The Scientist

2) The Fatalist

3) The Politico

4) The Businessman

5) The Atheist and

6) The Goof.

The characters all go by their pre-defined stereotypes and hence the exercise of describing each in detail has been avoided (Skillfully - presumes the author,

Lazily- Opines a friend.)

The six are friends who know each other by way of being members of the same club.

Scene: It’s a hot sultry afternoon – typical of a Chennai summer. The six are gathered at the scientist’s place of dwelling in the ‘hall’ – an Indian equivalent of the western drawing room and generally a place for general use in Indian households. Sweat is brimming from the eyebrows of the businessman – always used to air- conditioning.

“Switch on the AC, will you? I am almost taking a bath in my own sweat here old boy!” the Businessman said.

“I shall do so right away” the Goof got up and reached for the remote.

“NO” bellowed the scientist. “No one behaves unecologically in my place. I shall NOT allow such a thing. ”

The Politico, hand hitting the forehead, turned to the fatalist and whispered “See! I told you lets not meet up at any place other than our club. Now see this idiot behaving in this eccentric manner here. If it was the club, we could have ignored the chap and his ramblings. Now I can’t see what is in store for us in the next 2 hours”

The fatalist, always a man interested in what he calls a discussion but is in actuality an ugly argument addresses the Scientist “Hey, now why would turning on the AC be considered an unecological practice? Can you convince our little gathering on that one?” and the fatalist smiles. He thinks he has spoken very smartly here.

“Hey can you get us the can of juice please. It is in the refrigerator.” said the scientist to the Atheist who by now is on the point of dozing off.

The atheist sits up suddenly, broken from his comforting reverie and mumbles “with pleasure” before he turns to accomplish the mission he was entrusted with.

“The AC working contributes to heating up the environment. And being a responsible scientist, I shall not allow of that here.”

“But today’s AC’s are not bad for the ozone at all. Being a businessman in this line, I have checked out that for a fact.” The businessman continued. ”Those were the ACs of the last decade.”

“I am not talking about the ozone here. ACs generally contribute a lot to heating up the environment. As you all know, an AC cools a room. But where does it dispose of all the heat from the room? In the outer ENVIRONMENT” Blared the scientist dramatically. He was shaking uncontrollably with excitement.

“Man, should you have started this? Now he is losing it completely. Next he will blame me. You just see. He loves blaming everything on me” the politico continued whispering to the fatalist.

The fatalist, happy that he had started an argument where he could irritate his opponents with his views ignored the politico and continued “Can you elaborate your point of view. There may be something in it which I fail to see eye on eye.” He was pleased with himself for having excited the scientist to dangerous levels. The scientist’s beard was quavering.

“An AC cools a small volume but heats up a larger volume of outer air for the same. And the transfer of heat can never be 100% efficient. So it has to heat up a larger volume of outer air to cool the room. And where does all this heat go? It stays in the atmosphere. It can’t get to outer space. And to run the AC, we use electricity the generation of which needs heat and subsequently heats up the atmosphere. So, when more ACs function in the already hot summer, the air gets heated up more. Do you understand THAT” he was screaming now.

“Juice” bleated an inane voice. It was the atheist. He was back from his mission carrying a tray with six glasses and a can of apple juice.

The group drank juice in silence as each comprehended the weight of what the scientist had just said.

“I say” it was the Goof asking innocently “If you are so against the use of ACs, why do you have one fixed in each room of your house? I really can’t understand that”

“Ah! Point” the politico slapped his thigh and smiled just like he mostly did in the parliament. With the people in parliament these days, he either dozed off or listened to music in the house during session from his new I-pod the businessman had graciously gifted him (for just a signature in some request for permission he did not know of.)

He hated the sessions. No use for him.

The scientist was now getting angrier than ever. It was impossible to educate such callous fools as these five. “That is for the house. My wife and kids would not let me brood in peace if the house wasn’t air conditioned. I never wanted to do it. But the pressures of domestic life won. Anyway, I do not use it at all. It’s only my wife and kids. Now that they have gone to my native place for the summer, the ACs are never switched on.”

“Talk about having something and not using it. What a fool!” the Politico muttered under his breath.

This angered the scientist even more. “YOU!!” he thundered (spreading spit in the room and into the juice glasses) pointing to the poor politico.

“I knew it! If I stay quiet for like 5 minutes all these so called learned intellectuals pick on me” said the politico silently to the fatalist.

“YOU are the main reason for this disarray. You must educate people on global warming. You must tell the rich to stop using Powerful ACs that heat up the place. What will the poor man on the street do? He cannot afford an AC as such and he now has to live in even more heat the rich generate so that they can stay cool!! Do YOU (spit shower again) UNDERSTAND THAT!! And now we burn up fuel which sends in CO2, and generates heat…we are in effect heating up the entire atmosphere so that one day we will be unable to live in it any longer. All this global warming is due to the games the arrogant rich play. Them, their ACs, their cars, their generators…everything heats up the environment. And YOU must stop it!! ” The scientist’s voice was the only thing the group felt of now.

“Aw!! My wife and kids don’t listen to me much like yours, and you expect the people to listen to me? The people always want more of all good and less punishment for all their bad deeds. The balance is so skewed against us politicos that we get blamed for everything. What about the businessman here? Is he not responsible for this too?” retorted the Politico (one appreciates how easily he turned attention away from himself)

The businessman quipped quickly (and wittily he thought, but only the goof laughed and all knew that the goof’s idea of comedy was swatting a mosquito and missing it) “Look, my aim is to do business. I bring money in. why should I bother about anything else as long as I do my task? Do I become responsible for doing my task or not doing it?”

The fatalist jutted in “whatever sins we do, we will repent for it sooner or later. We do not care about leaving a better world for our children but do we realize that we ourselves might be reborn into the mess we created? What shall happen then? If we are born poor then and today’s poor guy is born rich then, do we have a choice?”

The atheist had quietly gulped down two glasses of juice (flavoured with the scientist’s spit droplets) and got up saying “excuse me; I need to go to the bathroom.” No one noticed his presence anyway.

The politico was stunned at the Fatalist’s turnaround. He hadn’t seen anything like it in his entire political career (there wasn’t much of it, but that’s another story).

“The bottomline is” continued the scientist “that today, it is hotter in this place because the heat is something we ourselves have gifted ourselves. Is it not ironical that we need more powerful ACs today because we used ACs before this?”

The question was too much of an intellectual one for all of them. Even the scientist was gaping wondering how he had come up with a question worded so intelligently.

The politico wondered “So what can we do? Tell everyone to stop using ACs? They d pelt us with stones you know”

The Businessman, ever ready to make a suggestion responded “We need to educate people on global warming. We can begin by asking them to use electricity sparingly, not use their vehicles with minimal capacity if they can avoid it and such small things.”

“For once, that was a good suggestion from you. And unselfish too.” The scientist grinned.

The atheist was back.

“Pray,” said the Goof “What took you so long? And I noticed that you took an age to get the juice as well.”

“I decided that you were having the most boring conversation and decided to switch on the AC in his dining room and relax there for sometime. As for the juice, well when I opened the fridge, it was refreshing. So I spent some time sitting near the open fridge cooling off” the atheist said nonchalantly.

The scientist was cross. He was also out of energy after his tirade and said nothing. He had had no juice. (When he was busy lecturing, his was the atheist’s second glass).

“All right! Lets meet at the club tomorrow then. We need to be moving” said the businessman.

The goof was the last to leave. “See you tomorrow. Thanks for the wonderful afternoon” he said to the scientist. (he wasn’t lying. He spent the afternoon wondering whether the scientist was mad, where the atheist was, why the juice had a slightly acrid smell to it and many such stuff. So it was a ‘wonder’ful afternoon for him as well)

He proceeded towards the doorway.

“I say” said the scientist in a subdued voice “just switch on the AC will you. Its been a very hot day.”

“With pleasure”



1) This is an attempt at satire. I do not know how it has turned out. Readers who feel the post is too preachy, boring, crap..etc.. may freely say so in the comments section. Also, do drop in a few words if you felt otherwise too ;-)

2) All the views expressed here are a result of self’s imagination and some (read most) may also be proved wrong. If that’s the case, please mention it in the comments section. I would like to correct myself.

3) If this goes down well, this ‘Group’ may appear in future posts when the author feels an itch to write a so-called ‘socially relevant’ post.

Cheerio J