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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

"Enikku Vishakkunnu"

An unusual, not unbelievable mail from Cherian on Wolrd Hunger (Awareness) Day. A call to all of us who mistake their urge for a Starbucks coffee for thirst.

I remember seeing this movie (I hope I am getting the name of the movie right) long back, when I was in the middle school I guess. Nedumudi Venu gave a stunning performance where he was hungry all the time and kept on saying "Enikku Vishakkunnu". Well I do not recall much of the movie or exactly what Nedumudi's role was, except that he was playing the role of a person who in reality was a very caring, sincere person, but not liked by the society as such, always mocked at, considered unintelligent and at the receiving end.

Well his performance has been etched in my mind as one of the best ever movie performances. Well Nedumudi plays almost any role with ease and grace, I guess this role was a more touching one. Also this was in early days of his career and he must have had that hunger for success that made his role as a "hungry man" was stupendously done.

The understanding I got from the movie was that Nedumudi's unusual hunger- the fact that no matter how much he eats, he remains hungry- was some kind of a disorder- it may be logical to call it an eating disorder. If you ask Saira she will tell you that I have the same eating disorder too....the food that I eat seem to fall into a bottomless pit, no matter how much I eat I still want to eat more..or I am still hungry. Well at times I think whether I have a disorder similar to what Nedumudi portrays, in the movie or may these are symptoms of diabetes. Especially considering the fact that I am so easily irritable and angry especially when I am "hungry" makes me think whether it is diabetes.

Well you guys must be thinking, what has happened to Cherian? He used to be a healthy person, but my Poulose lodge friends will vouch that I had the same eating disorder back in
the early days of MACE.

Enough of self deprecating humour....when I feel hungry, I also think of the millions or billions of people who are hungry many times a day, 365 days an year. I just looked up a website, they say 800 million people go to bed hungry every day and 24000 of them die of hunger each
day. Check out http://www.solcomhouse.com/hunger.htm

When I think of such shocking statistics, I feel ashamed of myself to even feel hungry. My hunger is not real hunger...my hunger comes out of abundance...it happens because I don't get the exact choice I am looking for-because the banana I got from the American grocer is not
the regular one I get from the Mexican grocery store which tastes more like our "Njali-poovan pazham". Or the parotta in the freezer is not like the one I used to get in "Maz" in Kothamangalam (I hope I got the name of the restaurant correctly) where most of us from the Poulose lodge used to frequent for our dinners. By the way I have made some attempts to recreate the taste of the tomato fry they have in my lab (kitchen) when Saira was away...without satisfactory success. Well the taste of the beef at the kanji place where Riyaz used to go during his early years are also fresh in my mind.

Coming back to business...I feel guilty even feeling hungry, amidst the abundance of affordability that God has given me when it comes to my buying power as far as food is concerned. And the sad part is it is not a question of lack of food in the world. I remember having read in my school days that U.S. dumps tons of wheat in the ocean just because
no one is willing to pay for shipping it across the seas to more needy people. Those reports were probably true, because storing the grains will be an expensive proposal and so will shipping be and then there is the question of who will pay for it. And releasing that to the market will drive prices down, which is not in the best interests of the farming community and perhaps the wheat market as a whole. So much for free market economy.

Well, we Indians used to berate U.S. those days for their lack of generosity in not sharing their abundance in food for the benefit of the poorer countries such as ours. An year or two back I read that India had achieved self sufficiency in wheat production. I was proud to read that my country, which has millions of hungry people, have produced more wheat than what it needs. But unfortunately, we still have millions that go hungry. Well I am sure we had the same problems that U.S. have been facing for sometime, shipping costs or to use a more appropriate technical term, logistics or a better supply chain management system.

We all work in different industries and work hard to earn a pay check and contribute substantially to our companies and the industries we work in. But look back my friends, in the last 13 years of working how much did we contribute to the betterment of life on earth? Well
personally, I don't think I have made much of a difference. In the first six years on my IAF job, I may have indirectly contributed to the sense of security that Punjabis have, which may have a bearing on their willingness to invest in their fields to produce all the wheat that they do. So I may have contributed in a miniscule way to India achieving self sufficiency in wheat production. But my subconscious mind tells me that even if India withdraws all the forces from our borders, Pakistani army is not going to march into our country, they will only be adding to their problems by doing so and they may not have enough resources to drive such an invasion. So that leaves me with a confused feeling, that I can't count on even that contribution. Ever since leaving the IAF all I have done is to help make telecom more
affordable, first in India and then here in the U.S. Does it really matter at the end of the day?

What about all of us, the talent that we have in us, how I wish at least some of that could be used for betterment of life for the not so privileged? Half a billion dollars were spent on the rover that landed on Mars, cutting edge research was done, a landmark in space history
was made. In 1969 after scores of space missions, Man landed on moon, "a small step for man, but a giant leap for man kind" the astronaut said. But dear friends, I did see the small step he took from vintage video footage, which was like a child learning to walk, but I can't seem to see the leap for mankind. What did we achieve from man landing on the moon or the rover landing on mars? I would say sweet nothing.

Half a billion was spent on Mars project and Bush has announced plans to send a manned mission to Mars...can you imagine how this money could be well spend by feeding hungry people? What about doing some cutting edge research for better distribution and storage of food. I still feel that when it comes to the logistics of food distribution we are still like the astronaut on moon, sort of learning to walk.

I know what you guys are thinking, why don't this guy Cherian shut up and do something himself? I know guys, I feel I do not have any right to express these thoughts, unless I do something about it myself. But unfortunately I have this other syndrome too, "preach but not
practice". Well that is not a very positive note to end this with, but I could not let the "world hunger (awareness) day" pass by without at least writing about it.

Please share your thoughts on this, I know that tireless Riyaz will, but I would really like to hear from others as well.

- Cherian

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