October 13, 2005

Fragrance of biryani

One more shortlisted essay in the recent Indian Express/Citizens for Peace contest on "A Secular Rethink". This one is by Paresh Kumar, who turned into a blogger (at, naturally, Pareshaan) after he wrote his essay.

Congratulations, Paresh! (For the essay, not for blogging). (Well, for blogging too).

14 comments:

Pareshaan said...

Wow,
that was prompt. Thank you so much...the fragrance of biryani..Ha ha haha. Indeed!

Ramesh said...

Lame and pathetic at best. Can't put this on in same league as the essay by Gawde from Pune.

Primary qualifications to win this essay competitions seems to be (a)knowing the judges and (b) bash hindus/hindutva.

Great going pareshaan, from such ignorance arise hubris.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Well, Ramesh, if that was the primary qualification to win, why didn't you win first prize?

Ramesh said...

Mr.D'Souza, you are assuming that I would participate in such a rigged contest.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Anonymous said...

Dilip was one of judges for this essay competition!!! It's like calling Osama Bin Laden to chair Human Rights commission! Yes, stranger things have happened - Dilip's chaired a debate on media being on the take for the right bidder! That's after Dilip and J B D'Souza contributed Rs 1 lakh each to Tehelka!

With respect to brahmins drooling over biryani, how about our local maulavi drooling over say the finest Goan pork susage sorpotel from the D'Souza household (not Dilip's house maybe, but my goan friend D'mellos cook the best sorpotel in the world)? Snow flake's chance in hell of that happening right? But sure as hell, our pesudo-secular crowd will find that comment "communal" right?

Neela said...

Dilip,

I have another take on this essay competition. This is not to denigrate the essays, which I think are fine pieces of writing and I am sure the authors have put a lot of thought into them. But I wonder if the 50,000 or whatever the prize is could have been better spent to further secularism, assuming that is the aim of this competition.

Perhaps the competition or prize could have been more innovative - like funding an idea that furthers secularism, rather than just award a cash prize for writing a good essay. Or maybe that is an idea for another time.

n!

Pareshaan said...

I am sorry to see that linking my essay to your blog, has caused you to receive more hate mail.
I am also at a loss to understand why none of these people cared to leave a response on my blog.
As far as the Biryani is concerned. I was born into a Brahmin family and love both Biryani and Sausages. I cannot see why all the fuss!

Anonymous said...

Pareeshan, Even I enjoy biryani, dhanshak and sorpotel but it dosen't mean in the definition of my secular shangrila every Tom Dinesh and Rahim has to eat it too. Heard one man's meat is other man's poison?

Neela:
>>But I wonder if the 50,000 or whatever the prize is could have been better spent to further secularism, assuming that is the aim of this competition


Excellent idea. Any specifics? Couple suggestions as starters (solely based on the a "pareshaan"'s IE/CFP Essay essay, more from Dilip's own writings to be provided i.e., if required)

#1: Say we could let Dilip keep the prize money if he promises to enroll his two kids in the nearest madarassa?

#2 throw a huge party for at Bandra reclamation and serve mutton biryani from Bandra's Lucky restaurant for all those brahmin attendees and Dilip brings pork vindaloo for maulavis who show up?

#Christians could offer navina outside Bandra's railway station masjid instead of Mt Marys every Wednesday and in turn we'll hold Friday namaz around Mt Marys. All Ganpati processions start at Mt Marys and go towards Bandra bay via a stop at masjid or vice versa.
The prize money could go towards the logistics involved in pulling this through.

Pareshaan said...

Dude,
anonymous dude that is. I never said that everybody should eat it. I said that it would be great if they could appreciate it.
To appreciate the fragrance of Biryani you don't have to eat it.
To appreciate the nuances of another community you don't have to convert. Its not that hard. You make it sound so revolutionary, so prepostorous.
Its about respect and an open mind. Giving important things a chance. That is necessary in a secular shangrila.
I am also of the opinion that India is pretty secular. What makes me squirm is the fact that lately a lot more people seem unhappy about it.
As far as Hindu bashing is concerned, it is not what I intend to do. Secularism is the collective responsibility of all Indians. Hindu bashing, Muslim Bashing, Christian bashing etc. is for insane people, or people incapable of coherent expression. Maybe because they are too angry to think, maybe because they are too scared.
Dilip, I am sorry to do all this on your comment space.

Neela said...

Anonymous,

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt (that those were serious suggestions):

1. Suggestion 1 is just bribing someone to be secular. Waste of money, because you are not going to change the attitude once you withdraw the incentive. And second, even more waste of money, because Dilip is already secular, so why pay (as they say in marketing jargon) an already converted customer?

2. Suggestion no 2 is interesting, but not practical in today's climate. Because, if people are not culturally attuned to foods, they may have an aversion for them and then your expensive Lucky Biryani and Pork Vindaloo would go to waste. I mean, if you have veggie guests, why would you buy free range chicken for them?

3. Suggestion no 3 is also interesting but its just going to hold up a lot of traffic, which, i fyou've seen the state of Bandra and Mahim roads would not endear you to anyone. A better idea would be to ban all processions and gatherings or else make the institution pay a hefty fee to cover logistics (just as any rock concert, fair would need to pay).

In conclusion, I still think we can think of innovative ways to use the 50k but I doubt if your suggestions would win any of the prizes.

Thanks

n!

Dilip D'Souza said...

Neela, you said: I wonder if the 50,000 or whatever the prize is could have been better spent to further secularism ... Perhaps the competition or prize could have been more innovative - like funding an idea that furthers secularism...

Good point. That's just the kind of suggestions the people who did this are looking for. I will pass it on, and please send any more specifics our way.

Neela said...

Dilip,

To clarify my earlier point. Perhaps, instead of an essay competition "Rethinking Secularism" it could be an submission on "an Idea to further secularism among citizens". The foundation could then, within limits, actually fund the idea as a prize.

Ideas could range from starting businesses in riot affected areas to collecting stories of different communities (food habits?) and publishing it in key local languages to interesting educational/multimedia material explaiing the concept of secularism - as you can tell, these ideas are pretty lame, but I am sure you'll get some really good ones, once you put it out there.

The advantages to this over a simple essay are:

1. The quality of the idea, rather than the eloquence of the writing would be primary as the prize would be awarded to the best idea, not necessarily the best writing. Am sure that content counted for a lot in judging these essays but this would be a more focussed competition.

2. It would force us as citizens to think of concrete ways to further an abstract idea.

n!

Anonymous said...

n!


>>Suggestion 1 is just bribing someone to be secular.
Not much different than giving 50k to winner of secular essay contest. Besides, incentives go a long way and there are countless such bribes being doled out daily - haj subsidy, tax holidays for big corporations, six eggs a day (or was it week) etc.


>>because Dilip is already secular,
I'm not sure if people come with a secular tatooed on their forehead and on couple mugshots I've see of Dilip didn't have it either.
The suggestion was just an exercise, he could send his kids to either convent or a madrassa or a vedashala. Knowing his opinion on hindu places of teaching, I guess madrassa was the next best choice.


>>Suggestion no 2 is interesting, but not practical in today's climate
Why not? Paressan's advocating Brahmin's start appreciating biryani fragrance. It's a logical first step no?

>>then your expensive Lucky Biryani and Pork Vindaloo would go to waste
You throw a party or host a big wedding in Mumbai, not a morsel of food goes waste. Trust me, there's enough poor, hungry around, they'll be more than happy to take the extra food of your hands

>>A better idea would be to ban all processions and gatherings
Now, is that practical. Name a nation where procession or gatherings are banned? Even NY or DC or SF have their share of traffic jams with Puerto Rican parade, Columbus day parade, etc. Even communists nation have their 'hail leader' parades too.

>>but I doubt if your suggestions would win any of the prizes.
Agree suggestion are lame, but they are based solely on pareshaan's essay.

In the next post you have pointed to the quality of ideas and not eloquence of writing being the criteria for evaluating such essays. Couldn't agree more with you.

Dilip D'Souza said...

PAreshaan, I have no objections to you using my comment space! Don't apologize.

Neela, the whole idea was to focus much more on what the essays said than the quality of the writing. But nevertheless, your points are well taken, and as I said I shall pass them on. Some of the kinds of things you suggest are what an organization like Ashoka look for. Projects like that would need more than a 50K prize, but of course that could be like seed money. Let's see how we can organize it.

Finally Neela, as for bribing me to be secular, my son is already attending the local Arya Samaj school, so I don't know how useful any bribe might be.