Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The men who stare at goats

What gets your goat?

In my case, it's many things but goats. I keep reading about goats, specially when I read stories to my daughter before bedtime or otherwise. There is the Billy Goat Gruff story. There are goats in Heidi's story (I once borrowed the Heidi DVD from the library but had to return it--now my daughter cries for it whenever she remembers it).

When I was a kid in school, I had read a story: Abbu Khan Ki Bakri (Abu Khan's Goat). And there was another famous story of Lali, the goat that goes missing one day.

Even these days, I think and read about goats. There is a goat in one of my short stories, The Rats (you can read it here). And I recently spotted a goat in a story, Saleema, in Daniyal Mueenuddin's brilliant collection of short stories, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders. In that story, the goat is just a part of the backdrop, like a piece of furniture in the mise en scene. In a completely bare single room belonging to Saleema's mother, is a goat, tied to a stake, nibbling at a handful of grass.

Now, I hear about this George Clooney movie, The men who stare at goats, with a strange plotline, involving the US armed forces and techniques of psychic killing (by staring at a goat, a man can kill the poor creature). You can see it in the trailer itself:

But perhaps, Clooney & co. don't know that there is one more type of people who stare at goats: the microfinance people in Bangladesh, inspired by the Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. In the global financial crisis that has engulfed the world, these people (of Grameen Bank, Bangladesh) who are betting on herds of goats (and staring at them, to speak figuratively, for good returns) are seeing almost 100% returns. So, staring at goats does have its profit. Here is the story: It's better to give out 'loans for goats'.

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