Organic farming… or farming on your organs
My dad tried very hard to develop my interest in newspapers. It wasn’t easy. I always liked to read, but that interest never graduated to the daily print. Politics confused me back when I didn’t understand it, disgusted me when I finally was able to figure it out, sports never held any interest, celebrity gossip felt unnecessary, and when you cut down all of these elements, newspapers were nothing more than coarse wrapping paper, except less reliable.
And when interest finally dawned, it was restricted to the comics section. For years, I’d marvel at Calvin, chuckle at Garfield, empathized with Dilbert, and maybe raise a puzzled eyebrow at Snoopy – I never did get that dog – and that would be my idea of keeping up with the news. Back then, the comics had it easy. It only had to compete with each other. But today, that’s not the case. They have to try REALLY hard to stay funnier than the other items in the news.
I understand that not every person finds the news as amusing as I do. Sometimes, it feels so surreal that I can’t actually see that the insensible actions and ridiculous dramas are actually happening in the real world. If you ignore the real world implications, maybe you’d also be amused at some of the world events – from the self appointed goon-for-hire getting political backing in the name of moral policing in Karnataka, companies rushing to premature bankruptcy over the already hyped up bat and ball game of cricket, the US getting edgy over the fact that developing countries are starting to pollute the environment around 5-10% of what they do, and the funniest of them all, religious fatwas that look like they’ve been dug up straight up from the 12th century. Ok, so it’s not ‘ha ha‘ funny, and I suppose it’s understandable that the humor is lost on a lot of people…
But every once in a while, there comes along one of those stories that give the comic strips a run for their money. One that caught my eye recently was one of the new advances in tackling the world hunger problem. The problem, if you may recall, has been a very serious and persistent one across the globe. Hundreds of thousands of organizations, societies and research facilities have dedicated decades in trying to solve world hunger. But the latest advance seems to have come from an unlikely source. I mean, I, for one, thought it was unlikely, and I certainly hope to God it seems unlikely to you too, cos if you look at the idea and go “Ah, now that’s been the logical solution all along. How come I didn’t think about it?“, then I’m gonna need therapy and strong liquor to get back into the living world…
From what I understand, a drowsy genius from women’s inner-wear company Triumph, after what must have been what I call oneheckuvaparty, decided that the problem with agriculture today is that it doesn’t give you the option of watching your land all the time… If you leave your rice crop unattended and go out partying in the corn field, by the time you get back, your crop is eaten up by locusts or driven over by corn-field party-goers who may have had a little too much to drink. The only practical solution, he felt, was to have a portable unit – a farm that you carry with you everywhere you go. I am, of course, speculating, but I like to think that this was more or less the genesis of the rice-bra…
Japanese fashion gets down to earth this season, with their all new rice-bra – specialty bras made of recyclable plastic, whose cups are filled with soil and rice seedlings… Portable agriculture units that the resourceful urban Japanese woman can wear in style.
Perhaps you’ve already heard of this. Maybe you saw this in the International section of your newspaper, re-read to make sure you read it right, laughed, and moved on to the comics section. Maybe you did that. But personally, I think this deserves a lot more thought. I think this is only the beginning… I presume they will soon make it in a variety of shades, designs and and crops.
And this is precisely the kind of cutting edge news item that makes me think too much too fast. The very first thing that popped into my head was the question of what they were planning to do for fertilizers? If it turns out that Japanese women are the kind who’s not reluctant in shoving fresh manure down their lingerie, the cultural divide is way more intense that I had ever imagined.
It also rouses fresh questions… How frequently would they have to water the plot? What about sunshine? Would the women have to keep aside a specific time-slot to go outside and bask in the sun? Would their companies give permission for these sun-basking breaks? Would they be able to remove the bras from time to time, or would they have to stick with the pair till the rice is grown and harvested?
Would the government be giving tax benefits to these urban mini-farmers? Would they be allowed membership in farming societies? Would they get land loans to buy these bras? Would lingerie shops need to have real estate licenses? Would the property be part of divorce settlements? Would we see lawyers of the future up in arms for a share of the left cup?
Would the soil be part of the deal or would the buyer have to get her own soil from third parties? Would there be a market for branded soil? Would mud be part of standard clothing accessory? Would the bra come with a set of instructions on how to till land? If the women get bored, could they hire out the farming labour to landless peasants? When would the peasants have access to the land?
And what about the weight of this thing… With the soil and seeds and water and other assorted stuff in there, how much is this going to weigh? Are women going to lug that weight around all day long? Would this count as exercise? Would this turn out to be a medically accepted weight reduction technique? Would these replace gyms and diets?
I know what you’re thinking – “Hey, Hammy, you’re REALLY over-thinking this thing. Give it a rest, will you?” Well, ok. So maybe some of the thoughts were a bit too stretched out. But even if we keep our thoughts to a minimum, there is a question that simply begs to be asked… What’s gonna happen when the rice grows? Have you ever seen a rice field? It’s not bonsai… It looks like this…
Even assuming a very modest crop, we’re talking about…
How long will women go around looking like this before one of them goes “Hey, waitaminute. I don’t even LIKE rice!!” And how long before an overzealous feminist starts thinking that maybe this is another new way for men to oppress women? And once that idea gets out there in the open, maybe a slick marketing executive can convince the Taliban to update the burqua…
And of course, like I said before, this is just the beginning. Once they get rice all sealed up, then maybe they’ll move on to more ambitious crop… Maybe they’ll start with rice wine… and move up to tobacco. Businesswomen would now have the edge over their male counterparts in smoke sessions. No running down to the vending machines; instead, they can look deep within themselves and roll out a fresh one. Imagine – you’re in the middle of a big presentation and your CEO runs out of tobacco for his $700 antique pipe, and while everyone else fumbles for a lame excuse why they didn’t think of bringing tobacco, you waft into the scene, dive in with a smile and produce the freshest tobacco in town. It’d leave quite a lasting impression. Of course, if the item malfunctions and instead of plucking out the leaves, you accidentally hit the latch and your bra dispenses with around twelve pounds of dirt and manure on your CEO’s lap. That is why you should avoid the cheap Chinese knockoffs.
And of course, why stop at tobacco? How much of a stretch would it be to actually grow the bigger stuff? Marijuana… Until, of course it is legalized, can we expect people smuggling in their weed via the twin express? Would customs official send off drug sniffing dogs on the leafy part of lady passengers? And once they actually legalize marijuana, can we expect the ‘pot grown in portable pots’ industry to boom?
And seriously… how long after that till men want in on some of the action? Their own portable farms… But maybe it’s already been proposed… I see no reason not to believe that a similar groundbreaking proposal must have been started for a range for men – rice-briefs and rice-boxers for the busy urban working professional who’d like to farm on the side.
But I suppose even Japan must have drawn the line on that one.