The serendipitous vade:
We’ve heard about the many inventions that have happened serendipitously. The stick-it pad of 3M, nylon and Teflon from Dupont and many more objects were not the ‘intended’ products of the lab experiments. Even the inventors of the mobile phone and internet had a very limited concept in mind and could not have foreseen the many possibilities and applications. Chance played a big role in these products becoming what they are.
I learnt today that the popular Maddur vade too came into being accidently. As the article in The Hindu explains: " The dish was born alongside the tracks in a moment of expediency. The story, apocryphal or not, is set sometime in the first half of the last century at the Maddur railway station. One of the “pakoda” (the exact nature of the fritter is debated) vendors on the platform leaves his frying too late one day, with the next train barely minutes away. In desperation, he hits upon an idea: rather than waste time attempting to roll the dough into balls, he flattens it between his palms, and then hurriedly fries the resulting patties. The preparation is immediately popular with curious passengers; so much that when the vendor returns the following day with the original stuff, they demand to be served the new vadé."
So, it was a case of pakoda-hurriedly-turned-into-vada. Nobody set out with the intention of designing a branded vade.
A point I disagree with in that article is where it mentions that the highway SH17 is responsible for the popularity of the vade, and the numerous roadside hawkers. In fact, the vade acquired its fame at the Maddur railway station. I remember driving down to Mysore in the ‘80s, and in one of the first stalls that came up on the highway ( about 2-3 km away from the railway station) the board still read, “The Maddur Railway Station Vade”. The railway station was part of the brand, along with the vade.
Ability to laugh at ourselves:
Vijay Nagaswami, a psychiatrist and a columnist in The Hindu, writes in a piece today that “The capacity to laugh at oneself, especially when a person pokes fun at you, signals that one is emotionally secure and comfortable in one’s skin.” Humour itself is designed to provoke. “All jokes, whether spoken, written or drawn, smutty or clean, earthy or ethereal, silly or clever, have three major elements: transgression of boundaries of social propriety, a high degree of exaggeration, and topicality. It is the individual’s tolerance of boundary transgressions and the motive of the jokester – pleasure or malice - that will determine whether the funny bone is tickled or the upper lip is curled.” But the problem is that “ we often take ourselves and our beliefs too seriously. As a result our boundaries are a little too tight and even the mildest of transgressions (which is an essential part of humour) is perceived as a violation”.
So, there is this constant clash between ‘freedom of expression’ which includes the right to joke and offend, and the sensitive person’s propensity to take offence citing ‘sentiments and beliefs’. And we keep switching roles. I may want to joke about a person’s ethnicity, but may take offence when someone stereotypes and ridicules my religion. Umbrage and outrage are out there in plenty.
The solution lies not in getting or forcing people to stop the jokes or the blasphemy. That can never work. People simply have to learn not to get offended. If one’s belief in an idea or one’s faith is strong enough, one should not feel insecure merely because someone else jokes about it.
The TV show that ensured re-election of a President.
Came across this story on how Boris Yeltsin had to use a TV show to ensure that his loyal base of city-dwelling voters would stay back in the city on ‘election day’ so as to be there to vote for him. The sunny weather would tempt them to leave for the country and Yeltsin hit upon this cunning idea to stop them from travelling. “ No show was more popular in Russia than the Brazilian morality soap Tropikanka, which regularly drew 25 million viewers to the state-owned network ORT. With the election looming, ORT made a surprise announcement: The show’s finale would air as a special triple episode on election day between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.”.
The scheme worked. “Because most villages/small towns didn’t have televisions, viewers stayed in the city, glued to their sets. When the episode ended, it was too late to trek out of town, but voters still had time to get to the polling station. Yeltsin’s soap opera strategy helped him prevail by more than 10 million votes.
I am sure that India has many stories to narrate on the many methods politicians have deployed to lure the voters to the polling booth, despite the looming presence of the officials of the Election Commission.We ought to chronicle them for posterity.