Shanth’s Dairy

February 26, 2009

Recession and American Lifestyle

Filed under: Issues — Shanth @ 6:22 pm
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Last weekend I was out on a short drive to a near by grocery store. It was a pleasant southern winter day after a weeklong 30s. On my way to the store I drove past two Hummers. It was good to see that the Hummers found their way back on to the roads and I was actually glad that people could take out their Hummers for a drive on a nice day like that without having to worry about gas price, which was pretty reasonable at the moment. I saw another Hummer parked as entered the parking lot of the store. For moment I was like wow, good days are back here, until I saw this tiny little car parked right behind its shadow. I read about those European small cars and saw some pictures online, but this is the first time I ever saw one on the American Roads. For some reason that car did not fit into the picture. Not because it was bigger than what I would expect it to be, but it was rather too small. It was too small for the American road and small does not mean anything in America. America is all about big stuff: big SUVs, big malls and even big Macs. It made me think why would somebody want to break the great old American tradition buying something small like that? I guess I knew the answer. I felt like it got something to do with the gas prices or in a broader sense the economic recession that American and the entire world are passing through. But I bet neither of the owners of that tiny car or the Hummers are among the early victims of recession. But if the economy does not stop going down this spiral, we will probably end up seeing more changes in the American way of living.

Last year gas prices went up by more than a 100%. Now we all understand how a subtle uneasiness in the Middle East or a hurricane in Atlantic could make the gas prices go through the roof once again. So after all this atleast some Americans will go for smaller, fuel efficient cars. Even if President Obama’s $150billion alternative energy plan succeeds to bring about a change in the technology, the next generation of cars will considerably differ from their ancestors in their size. What else could change? Let’s take housing, the mother of all problems. A “Big” house with 5 bathrooms and 8 bed rooms is a dream of every American. Over the last 50 years an average American house grew 4 folds in footage. I think this recession will put breaks on this growth, as everybody will seriously analyze their available finances vs. the square footage of their dreams.  I read about many families whose lives turned upside down over night due to the impact of the economy. So I guess more individuals will probably work late into their 50s to make sure they saved enough for the rainy day, which brings about the another change in the American lifestyle, early retirement. Another social change that would occur is the racial mix of the nation. America is the “Nation of immigrants”, as JFK called her. But due to the state of economy the number of foreigners seeking to naturalize in United States will go down, as the nation curbs its borders and the land of opportunities runs short of jobs.

On a positive note, the real gift of American lifestyle is optimism and adaptability, as JFK once said “The American, by nature, is optimistic”. Perhaps adopting this new American lifestyle will just be a ‘Big’ piece of cake for the nation as bigger does not always mean the better.


February 23, 2009

The real slumdog millionaires

Filed under: Issues — Shanth @ 10:51 am
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My hearty congratulations to Rahman, Resul Pookutty and to the entire crew of slumdog millionaire. I am sure every Indian is proud of the success of the movie at Oscars. So am I, but we all knew what AR Rahman is worth even before he won the Oscars, do not we?. I bet he had won Oscars much before, if we were allowed to compete in the general music and song categories. I would like to thank Danny Boyle on this aspect for lifting Bollywood all the way up to the Kodak theater.  I hop this is just the beginning of the show as the Ambanis and UTV are already reaching out to Hollywood for financing movies with Dreamworks, Sony and Walt Disney (Link) and starting new ventures with famous directors like Spielberg.

But guess who are the real life slumdog millionaires?. Some of the child actors of the movie who won the rare opportunity to walk the Hollywood red carpet and witnessed the Oscars live in LA. They represent the glittering the reality of the movie (Link).

I really appreciated the movie passion that our VIPs displayed as they came out to praise the crew of the movie (Link). But my dear sirs and madams, with all due respect, please pay a little attention to the real life aspect of the movie and do something about those poor kids who have been long awaiting a change in their lives. If you can not spot those deprived children ask any forginer who saw the movie or who visited India. Now the whole world knows about it and I could not find a single Indian who disagress the connection of the movie with the reality. I am not sure what Danny Boyle wanted the world to make out of the movie, but we can not afford to slip it into our movie library without giving it a serious thought.

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