Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Friends, I am utterly disappointed that the "La Tomatino" festival in Bangalore was cancelled.  Even though a lot of you people didn't quite wonder what FLAWSOPHY would think of the issue, I have resolved strongly to talk about it anyway -  unprovoked opinion over unnecessary issues is what I do best.  Firstly, there are two top reasons why I support the festival :

    1. It sounds like super fun
    2. See 1.

What pains me the most is that it's been cancelled for all the wrong reasons. All of you must have heard the classic bull-shit excuse:
"throwing for fun at each other, tomatoes grown through hard work by farmers reflects foreign culture. In the name of 'La Tomatina' festival, permission should not be granted to waste tomatoes".

In fact, I bet that a lot of you members of the  "Association for Secluded, Sweatpants-Wearing Internet People & Eco-Systems" (A.S.S-W.I.P.E.S) would have Facebook-ed and tweeted on similar lines:  "How can food be wasted when millions of people are hungry in the country?" AH-AA, that standard empathy argument.  Ok … my dear people, I ask this: Are you seriously thinking that these tomatoes will be otherwise used to feed the poor people? Are you so naïve to assume that somehow a few thousand people would not go hungry if these tomatoes are not bought by these "La Tomatino" festive seekers ?

Sorry to prick your simple-minded souls, but it turns out that the biggest problem for India's food problem is NOT the production quantities but rather the distribution - a debate none of us care to have anyway. Check out this article in "The Star" :

Why India can't feed her people
As much as 40 per cent of all the fruits, vegetables and food grains grown in India never make it to the market. The country wastes more grain each year than Australia produces, and more fruits and vegetables than the U.K. consumes.

The day one of those sensitive-hearted NGOs is going to ensure me that these tons of tomatoes that are going to be "wasted" will be efficiently transported for consumption, I am willing to lower my standards of fun involving any kind of tomatoes. Besides, the tomatoes  are already out in the stands lusciously  smiling at the customers waiting to be bought. If I recollect correctly, the rule was : "Participants shall bring their own tomatoes". So, that's money pumped right into the economy. How else can you convince an urban, college student to buy 80-100 tomatoes on a single day? To ask him to try out his Italian pen-friend's grandma's secret recipe for marinara sauce?  It's a welcome market segment and should be celebrated and encouraged by the tomato growers. It's capitalism 101 !!! And instead politicians are of the opinion that :

"62,000 kg of tomatoes getting wasted for the fun of the rich is not fair" (Source: NDTV)

"fun of the rich is not fair"?
Molly bejeesus Holy guacamole !!! Ever since the dawn of humanity, the only people who ever had fun were the rich and the powerful. So, for Godssakes, gimme a break, alright? How come when the same rich kid still going to the same college buys a new bike every year? Isn't that not a waste? No, that's economic growth and should be welcomed. When they change a new cell phone every six months, when they buy a 3rd holiday home, when they bunk college to go to the same movie 5th time, when they hit the shopping mall just because they are bored, and when they get drunk at weekend booze parties and run over a bunch of homeless people - in each case, they are all helping the economy . But, if we want to spend a couple of hundred bucks on tomatoes to help the ailing agricultural industry - suddenly, it's lame …  it's unfair and … it's a waste of farmer's hard-work.  The explanation is simple. When any kind of spending helps the super-rich industry friends of the political class like real estate, telecom, auto, alcohol or petroleum industry etc., it's wonderful for the economy. But, the one time it helps the farmers, everyone has moral issues regarding their bogus carbon foot-prints.  Today, petrol costs Rs.75 a liter ($5.88 a gallon compared to $3.60 in USA). We are being forced to pay European prices for petrol in a capitalistic setup with no socialized medicine or La Tomatino festivals. If this is not class warfare. What is? As long as the rich are wasting things, the more bio-degradable the better - that's my only rule.

Folks, these kids got the idea from a Bollywood movie where people have Hollywood issues. That's how "deep" they are. okay? These are the kind of people we need to target to buy stuff they don't need with the money they don't have. Unfortunately, these impulse buyers are our future in a capitalistic society. Trust me, the middle-class window-shopper strolling in a mall for the air-conditioning cannot help generate jobs. 
I say, every harvest season we should get these rich punks excited enough to buy a whole bunch of rotting agricultural produce - tomatoes, coconuts, pineapples, anything large enough to be held in hand and less tastier than a mango ... and let 'em hurl everything at one another in a wild fest of projectile motions. That is the only hope for our farmers.

As I mentioned, the festival is rejected for all the wrong reasons. The real reason should have been "Who'll clean up the mess?". Now, that's a reason I actually respect. Of course, no one cares about the part where the public property is going to smell like an old tomato soup bowl that's lying in the kitchen sink unwashed for 43 days.

Let's make the world a better place by supporting eachothers' ideas of harmless fun. Ciao.


Rahul Bhatia said...

A good read! I agree with most arguments in support of this festival except that why we need to ape the west when we have enough forms of revelry!

Rohan said...

You hav totally convinced me! I shall take up the charge to conduct one in my college!! Just to help the farmers and definitely not to see the girls getting dirty!! :-P

BK Chowla, said...

Perhaps, we should try and avoid such waste of food,if wa can.
Lets think of some better way of celebrating festivals.Lets be original.

Sash! said...

@ Rahul: We do have enough forms of revelry. But, I do not find it offending to embrace western elements. We import all their technology, after all ... Yoga is more popular per capita in USA than in India .. so ... cultural mixing is not necessarily a bad thing ...

@ Rohan : Thanks, man .. go ahead and use fresh tomatoes only.

@ BK Chowla: Sincere thanks for your comment. I completely agree with you on a level of deeper moral and philosophical stand-point, we shouldn't never waste food. We come from a tradition that celebrates and worships food (“annam na nindhyAth!”).

But, as you can see as a culture, we waste a lot of things and somehow excessive (& often superfluous) indulgence is what's been driving the economies today - on a realistic plane. I guess, there is that paradoxical, ridiculing tone in the article. 40% of all our produce is wasted for the lack of proper distribution networks a.k.a. "serious" reasons ... How come a handful of tomatoes being wasted for "fun" is being seen as a scornful moral transgression?

we waste a lot of fuel, a lot of cell phones, a lot of plastic bottles, a bunch of tomatoes is not so big a deal ... :)

Anonymous said...


Sash! said...

@anonymous: aha - I haven't thought about the HIM angle at all ... we should never let girls and guys EVER mix, in such a case :)

Purba said...

Lets throw some tomatoes at each other and make this world a better place :D

But seriously, do we really need a bunch of self righteous specimens to decide our rights and wrongs for us?

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