Hand to mouth can be meaningful and fun
Last week media in India and the Philippines were falling over each
other to take credit for gifting the seven billionth baby to Mother
Earth. Major global media discussed the impact rapid growth of
population had on the earth, her nation economies and the future of
humankind. "The consolation is that, it is not only a mouth that is
added that needs feeding, but also a pair of hands and a brain that can
make a contribution to making the food", added an expert featured on a
talk show on the subject.
The same media station that discussed the population question and its
impact on the earth's scarce resource-base went on to present another
'lead' story on the success of the first ever 'Formula One' fast car
racing event held in India that week. Several business magnates and
Bolywood celebrities were seen and heard wowing that it was a great
victory for India to have held such an event. In Cannes in France,
global leaders were discussing the European financial woes, who must
bail out whom. The discussions featured the debts they had got into by
living beyond their means.
There were demonstrations in Greece and in Italy, against cuts in
welfare and the loss of jobs and opportunities for making a living. In
Oakland, California a man was killed hit by a smoke bomb canister shell
fired at the 99 percent protesters of 'Occupy Oakland'.
'Occupy Wall Street' is still on with protesters in many US cities
still holding on to their 'camp-out' stance weathering the initial
impact of the approaching winter season. In this midst another global
media network, purportedly belonging to the 1 percent, had re-launched
its campaign against 'global slavery'.
Many featured programmes on the use of child labour in manufacturing,
forced prostitution and of substandard working conditions were featured.
It was left for the 'Occupy' protesters to talk about social injustice
and inequalities of a 1 percent running the affairs of 99 percent of
humanity, on this planet.
While Iraq, Egypt, Libya and several other 'democratised' nations are
struggling to hold themselves together seeking new levels of
equilibrium, Syria is fighting its own battle to stay out of NATO's
trajectory of seeking another war zone in the mid-east.
The Forbes Magazine released its feature of the 70 most powerful
people in the world in a special edition. US President Obama was leading
the pack from the front. He bumped last year's most powerful person,
China's President Hu Jintao, to number three in a somewhat of a surprise
ranking order, considering the mounting debt burden US carries with
China. According to a website analysing the ranking, Facebook CEO Mark
Zuckerberg is the youngest individual on the list at number nine.
He jumped up 31 spots from number 40 in 2010, making him this year's
biggest gainer. Interestingly, two criminals made this year's list as
well; Joaquin Guzman Loera, the billionaire head of the Sinaloa drug
cartel in Mexico, came in at number 55; and Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, the
head of an organized crime syndicate in Mumbai and a suspected terrorist
supporter, was ranked number 57.
When we were young, we learnt that a 'hand to mouth existence' meant
that you were poor. It was to describe those who could not afford to buy
their food and meet their needs. The impression created was that it is
the result of a Karmic process and they had to be satisfied with what
little they had. Such subsistence existence was a sure qualification for
receiving welfare in the form of the 'dole' or 'Samurdhi' as we know it
Yet the signs held by 'Wall Street protesters' point us to a
different scenario. "Banks got bailed out - we got sold out", they say.
It certainly is not those who had a 'hand to mouth existence' that get
the dole or welfare perks today in the global financial and business
Lovely and fresh
A family of friends who visited my abode in Kiula in the Deep South
of Sri Lanka recently were treated to lunch. We in a lighter vein called
it a 'hand to mouth' meal. It consisted of vegetables picked fresh from
the garden. They were all organically grown. The nearby grasslands
adjoining the bird sanctuary provided pickings of cow-dung and
giliciriya leaves added the rest of the nutrients. The rains which came
down the week before after three months had added a refreshing freshness
and the green canopy had now become even greener. Kids in the party had
fun picking the wambotu, bandakka, malu-miris and the takkali for their
lunch. They even brought in rabu grown in pots, for the soil here does
not support its healthy growth on ground-beds.
The gotukola sambole was made with the kids making a game of counting
the leaves each of them picked. They wanted to see who picked the most
and a winner was declared. The fish was brought from the 'Madal' drawn
at the nearby Kalametiya beach, with the usual vendor on his bicycle
bringing it to the doorstep. Once again, there was excitement, for the
kids were busy identifying the different small fish in his basket. It
was education for them and a poison-free meal for all.
I am sure this is a scenario most of us Sri Lankans living in rural
areas experience. Many of the city folk I know are also beginning to
grow their own patches of organic greens at their homes and summation of
such can become a potent force and movement by itself, for we live in an
era when with mounting population 'food safety' defined as availability
with nutritional value is more than a fashionable statement. It is fast
becoming an integral part of 'our kit for future survival', apart from
any possibility for future 'growth'.
Here we do not need waste much time counting out 'food miles' or the
'carbon foot print' of what we consume. We do not need to seek
'bail-outs' or the 'dole'. It's a simple but meaningful hard work ethic
where 'share market' type fall-out gains do not matter at all. It's
indeed a 'hand to mouth existence' but one which brings out new values,
new meaning and most of all, it can be real fun and educational too.