Wednesday, December 3, 2008

'Enhanced' thinking...

But seriously awesome!

Some extremely weird narcotics are floating around in Pakistan. Researchers are trying hard to determine its origins and compositions, but agree that it is an extremely potent hallucinogen.

The research team got a ‘whiff’ of this after watching a telecast of News1 on TV1, a Paki news channel. Zaid Hamid, a security consultant and strategic defence analyst based in Pakistan appears to be the discoverer/inventor of this wonder.

I stumbled upon this dude while researching the Paki sentiment on the Mumbai attacks. I hit a goldmine! This guy can keep us entertained for ages… He has his own regular program called ‘Brass Tacks’ that discusses a wide array of issues ranging from “US Grand Strategic Objectives” to “Zionist War Against Islam” to “Pakistan Afghan Policy” to “Hindu Zionism” and “Economic Terrorism”… He is hailed as an authority on anything that rolls, sails, or flies!

Read this:
“Zaid Hamid is critical of the present government of Pakistan, declaring it as a 'CIA-sponsored' democracy. He disapproves the concept of democracy in all its totality and claims it as unIslamic. He does not support secular liberal western democracy, nor advocates fascists totalatarian secular dictatorships. His ideology of political power is based on the doctrine of Allama Iqbal, which supports the concept of spiritual democracy or benovelent dictatorship.” I mean, he's the man!

From whatever I’ve seen and heard of him, he does some serious $h!t. I mean, c’mon… this guy is suggesting things like India, alongwith Israel and US planned and executed the attacks in Mumbai. (I don’t know about US and Israel, but I know for sure that the average Indian politician can not be involved in such a scheme. He neither has the intellect nor the b@ll$. And only someone who is into some serious substance abuse can imagine the Indian political system ‘doing’ something!)

You should actually check out his views! The first time I heard it, I was enraged. But then I realized that this could be good entertainment. The guy is hilarious. I would not be surprised if I heard him say that BMC will stop digging forever. Yeah… It’s that unbelievable.

So, all you Hindus, Christians, Liberal Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Whites, African-(country here)s, Browns, Asians, Everyone actually, better watch out! The Zaidster is here and he is higher than ever. And unless you believe in 'benovelent dictatorship' and stuff like that, he's gonna getcha!

And thanks to Manoj, here are some more links:

Tell me what you think...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Not the same old story…

Updated at 14:41 on Friday, Nov 28, '08...

On Wednesday evening, Chandu calls me to check if I’m okay and says that there has been some firing and a couple of blasts. I thank him for his concern and go to bed with “Some more blasts in town honey… Check the alarm, need to leave for work a bit early tomorrow. G’night.”

But yesterday, I realized that India will never be the same. As we saw the new face of terror - highly trained young men, motivated to kill for a perverse cause, held Mumbai to ransom for more than 40 hours…

I visited for some fresh news and what greeted me was, “Every now and again a player appears on the scene who will change the way the game is played.” That was the banner for RBS, but was so apt for the current situation. Comparisons to 9/11 and other similar attacks, to me, are erroneous. These are not suicide bombers itching to meet their maker. These are motivated, trained, and skilled young men who are out to kill by picking out their targets. They endure for hours on end, killing in abandon while the world watches.

I am not too optimistic about the future and this is why:

No support from the political quarter other than the vultures circling for their free bytes. The only message for them was: See, I am concerned, I love my country, I pay homage to the martyrs. If left to me, I would have been drinking their blood by now. Vote for me.

The Government still does not send out a strong message to the perps... Other than the promise to make them “pay a heavy cost”. The standard statement issued be it a pick-pocket or a terrorist. And to add to it, this is what the world has to say!

The armed forces were, obviously, not given a free hand. 16 terrorists can not hold the might of India’s armed forces. Not when the whole of Pakistan couldn’t hold them back for a few days when we kicked their asses all the way to Lahore in ’65 and after surrendering with more than a 100,000 troops in ‘71! No Way!

The Pak government is clueless at best (and conniving at worst). Despite capture of the terrorists, who claimed to be from Hyderabad while speaking in Punjabi accented Urdu – a clear indication of their origins, they still need evidence. The ex-chief if ISI, in condemning the attack, said that it was foolish if the Pak machinery was involved.

Despite a successful ‘dry-run’ of the crisis management plan, the benefit wasn’t evident. I would leave the post-mortem to the ‘experts’ and just say that I feel the need for a better, actionable, crisis management infrastructure.

My fellow countrymen preferred to go and gawk at the spectacle, causing immense inconvenience to the armed forces, rather than go to hospitals and donate blood…

The international community is apathetic at its best. Despite hard evidence, the west is still reluctant to admit Pak involvement. Musharraff jerked them off for sometime claiming to be an ally and no one knows whom the aid money actually funded…

The event received free publicity and there are probably thousands of young men and boys huddled in caves somewhere in Pakistan, wetting themselves with excitement, wishing hard that it was them, fantasizing that the next one will have them… And training for similar operations.

Our guardians fell to bullets despite wearing bullet-proof vests. When will we ever stop buying sub-par gear for the people who are willing to lay their lives down for us?

Paranoia seizes the nation as rumors of fresh firing at various places in Mumbai start spread like wildfire. Somebody’s idea of a joke has gone terribly wrong!

However, despite all this, there is still hope:
Brave men like Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar and their men, who laid their lives down for you and me. As I write, NSG commandos, MarCos, RAF, and other armed services personnel are in a fight to the finish.

We have captured their mother ship, found their boats, and apprehended terrorists in this short span. A tribute to our forces.

Stories of people who’ve shown maturity in the situation, and expressed their gratitude for the people who rescued them, rather than blame the system.

Authorities admitting intelligence failure and promising corrective action. I hope they do something at-least now.

And not the least, in contrast to point 6 above: My countrymen who wave their hands while the cameras pan, shout ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ to cheer up the troops, hold a candle-light vigil for the martyrs, and such rather than be holed inside their homes.

No terrorist, no nation on earth can break the spirit of the people who live in this great country!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

TheWalker returns...

Fun Holidays...
Bigger workloads…
Moving households…

Just a few of the things that kept me away from my blog. Prats finally motivates me to write something, and I think what do I write about? So much has happened with and around me… Then I thought I’d do just that – write about what happened :)

Suckfest! Reliance metro starts digging up the road leading to work. Travel time shoots up three-fold! Then this week, BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) digs up some space that Reliance had left out. Why should just Reliance have all the fun?

Fantastic... Took a trip to Kerala. With both parents and in-laws, we expected counseling sessions. Well, things turned out pretty well and there are some nice pics to prove it! I’ve already uploaded a video of the famed snake-boat race that the missus shot.

Not bad… Took another trip to Calcutta. Missed Tuntun on this one, though.

Cool… Ron resigns to join me in Mumbai. A good drive from Hyderabad to Mumbai with Ron and Praveen Pandit. I drive all the way, they sleep some of the way. Reached Mumbai safely. Stay with Chandu and Ruby. The latest addition to the sweetest couples we know…

Relief! To get a society NOC in Mumbai is about as easy as Osama getting a H1 visa for US. Numerous visits to police stations, assorted government offices and finally we have a roof over our head. Chandu and Ruby are relieved!

Contemplative… Think of migrating to Somalia, become a pirate, rake in the moolah! Nobody seems to bother them. And I come to know today that the pirate ship they actually bombed turned out to be a deep sea trawler. That helps!

Good. My brother, Sanju, visits us in Mumbai. Diwali was fun. We find out the wrong way that a portion of ‘fruit cream’ at the Haji Ali juice center is for four! Never one to waste food, I polish off the leftovers. Ron doesn’t bother waking me up till the next evening.

Happy… At work, we start roll-out of the most kick-yo-butt program ever! Great client feedback, boss happy, me happy!

Worried. The great economic meltdown. Bankruptcies and bailouts… I wonder if they will bailout my band of pirates if the shipping companies stop plying the Somalian coast…

Angry. The Malegaon ‘Blast Probe’ (Isn’t that an oxymoron? Especially so if you think of probe as a noun) uncovers another far-right-fundamentalists. Don’t we have enough of that already? The future don’t look too good L

Change. Another seemingly impossible feat – Obama is the President elect for US! History in the making as a brotha’ is set to ‘change’ the United States of America.

Destressed! We take a trip to Kashid, a beautiful beach near Mumbai, for a weekend. We lost our way (despite a very confident ‘Follow Me’ from Ranjith) only to find a better route! Have fun with the guys, drink lots of beer, took in some sea, and were back at work.

Troubleshooting… Google talk is blocked by the new firewall at work. Plunges my workplace into productivity! Suddenly the only thing you can do is work… I am not affected (let’s just say that you need to keep your tech guys happy) but Anu is devastated. Sort out the issue for her while Prats rediscovers me and urges me to do something about Anu’s GTalk. We all miss Prats…

I hope to not put y’all through another of these litanies. So, I’ll try and blog regularly (or intermittently at worst). ‘RESTECP’ to all who’ve still found this page! Be good and be safe…

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Craze for the Race...

Ready… Start!

Two words that will get your adrenalin rushing like nothing else!

But of-course, you have to see it to believe it. The Nehru Trophy Boat Race in Alleppy (or Aalappuzha) gives you an opportunity to understand that there are still sports other than Cricket that people still flock to. And love.

Ron had been to the NTBR 2008 and shot this video. And to think of it – she was just a few feet from the starting grid of the most famous boat race in the world.

I had been to an earlier edition and I know from personal experience that the atmosphere is electric! And the race you see on the video is THE snake boat race. The snake boats (called Chundan vallam in Malayalam) can seat more than 120 rowers, who row to the synchronization of the beats of the captain.

Next time you plan to go to Kerala, ask me about the Snake Boat Races.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Who’s having a blast?

The terrorists, for one, and we all know that. I was wondering who else was having a good time in the country… (For the uninitiated, I’m referring to this piece of news.)

The Excise officials?
I’ve done a lot of driving across state (and district) borders. The check-nakas or border check posts that dot the borders of states and are meant to curb transport of items for which the state has not collected tax. So, while driving out of Goa many a times, my car has been checked thoroughly for a bottle of Scotch that I could’ve hidden. But the search stops the moment you shell out some money. On an average, about 200 rupees per bottle… So, how much would the guy at the check-post have pocketed to pass these explosive-laden cars? Or did he already meet his 'target' for the day and decided not to check?

The TV News channels?
I was shocked at the number of advertisements cut-in during the reports of the blasts at Ahmedabad. The products were (probably strategically) selected to suit the target audience (Gujaratis) who were anxiously watching the program. How low will our media go? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we shall watch footages of the blast victims with a soundtrack of some b-grade movie song suggesting tragic loss! Sad? I’m not sure, but it sure as s#!t ain’t funny. But your media doesn’t give a damn! They’re already having a blast and laughing all the way to the bank.

The Intelligence community?
Well, they ‘were’ having a blast till the actual blasts took place. Now the poor guys are being blamed for whatever has happened. C’mon now! They were probably the ones who were actually gathering ‘intelligence’ about activities around them. Now does it really matter what those activities were? They can do just this much in their 10 to 5 jobs (leave home at 10, come back at 5). And the moment they are about to close-in on a lead, dang! It’s lunch-time. Or whenever they can get some verifiable intelligence, the media gets the leak and splash it on TV. Ejaz bhai will no doubt be thanking the media for helping him get away on time!

The police?
What they lack in ‘intelligence’, they make up with imagination. Like blaming Dr Talwar for his daughter’s death and creating a story around it. I really have a feeling that a section of our cops get together and smoke some 's#!t' whenever appraised of a ‘situation’. Arresting the culprit in Ahmedabad the day after the blast? Ingenious! But the unfortunate thing is that not even a jehadi is stupid enough to hang around the blast site and survey his handiwork. He’d rather be half-way across the world for all he cares.

The politicians?
Well, for sure! The NDA is cashing in on the blasts and trying to sweep the no-confidence debacle under the carpet. The Congress is frothing at the mouth swearing vengeance at the perpetrators of these ‘acts of senseless violence against innocent persons’. Other political parties have also rallied to ‘condemn’ the ‘unfortunate incidents’. It's business as usual, with the opposition too glad that something covered up the NC motion.

The blogosphere?
Oh yes! People like me who write and you who read. We’d like to know more. I was going through a similar write-up on one of my favorite blogs and I found this comment. Now the question is how many of us would’ve actually made that phone call? The more difficult question is, ‘How many of us would’ve confronted them?’ I know only a few who would, but the others would let it slide. And then discuss with shock and disgust about the state of affairs.

The corporates?
Sitting on ‘ergonomically engineered’ chairs in climate controlled offices looking at monitors with radiation protection, these guys (me included) cry hoarse at the UPA govt. revoking the POTA and other issues that are important. We cringe if the temperature in our work areas is a couple of degrees off and pat goes the call to the maintenance. Do we realize that we can demand the same level of service from the government? Like someone suggested, not pay taxes for the year if there’s been a blast in your state? Or not pay road tax if you find 10 pot-holes in your daily commute route? Guess not… Is it ‘cos you ‘re too effin lazy (like me) or because you don’t give a f$%k (like me again)?

So, it seems that all except the victims (and their kin) of the blast are actually having a blast. It’s sad, but true – We don’t give a rat’s ass for someone else’s problem. I hope I realize – and not too late – that one day it’s going to be MY problem. But till then, this cycle will continue and it will be another city, another set of innocent victims.

Say what? If you don’t leave a comment, I’ll get the message! Hehe

Disclaimer: This post was not written to hurt your sensitivities and I had no one particular in mind but myself.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The City of Joy…

(Exhibit 1)

(Exhibit 2)

Well, it finally happened. My trip to Kolkota finally materialized. Two and a half eventful days, and I’m a convert.

Thanks to the clock-work efficiency of the Tatas, I got picked up from the airport and dropped at a well-maintained guest house in Salt lake. Had maach-bhaat and bhindi bhaja for dinner, which the caretaker was only too happy to serve thank to my rusty Bengali. The next morning, the adventures started with a phone call from the Kolkata office. They gave me a mobile number and a name. The number, I withhold, the name was Tuntun.

The name didn’t surprise me much since I’d already read a Bengali A-Z of sorts that claimed “G is for Good name. Every Bengali Boy will have a good name like Debashish or Deboprotim and a pet name like Shontuda, Chonti, and Dinku. While every Bengali Girl will be Paromita or Protima as well as Shampa, Champa and Buri. Basically your nickname is there to kill your good name.”

Oh, coming back to Tuntun. Tuntun was my driver designate for the day. A deadly combination of Rajpal Yadav physique and Sunny Deol demeanor. A mean motha’ with a profound dislike of any form of life and an equally profound fetish for trashy music. I was driven to Park Street listening to the likes of Vishwaatma’s “Dil le gayi teri bindiya, yaad aa gaya mujhko India” which roughly translates into ‘Your bindi has taken my heart, I remember India’. Before I could recollect a more shallow poem, I was dropped at hotel Peerless Inn.

I meet Ayan (pronounced ‘awe’ – ‘yawn’ as explained by him) and Arya, my colleagues in Kolkata. By the time we were done with meeting our client, the whole of Esplanade area is swarming with (an estimated 200,000) Trinamool Congress party workers. Now TMC (as the party is called), is headed by this lady called Mamta Bannerjee. I have never seen a more disturbed-looking politician. Ever! The poor lady never seems to be happy. Her promotional snaps always show a woman in a fit of rage. Or pointing an admonishing finger. Or plain constipated!

Anyway, Ayan had the presence of mind to tell Tuntun to wait away from the madhouse and we begin to walk. The worst part was getting 10 meters from the gate of our clients’ office through a sea of humanity hired and transported from the fringes of Kolkata (even civilization) and fortified with country liquor. Then, an hour or so later, we make a pit-stop at Nizams. I eat a much-awaited double-egg-double-mutton roll and a mutton tikiya. Ayan and Arya ordered biriyaani, which I politely decline given my unshakeable support of Hyderabad (and it’s biriyaani). We then digest them with another half-hour walk and half-hour wait and we are finally at the Kolkata office around 5 PM. I meet with Saurav ‘the Rockstar’ Chatterjee, Monami, Ishika, Shibani, Manju and the others who’d come back from Mumbai. Meet a few more of the staff at Kolkata, finish some work and crash! And did those legs hurt …

The next day was pretty uneventful work-wise. We weren’t driven by Tuntun. However, I went to meet my wife’s Pishi (Aunt) and her family. My first-hand experience of Bengali hospitality in Kolkata, and I was floored. Both my wife and my father-in-law have exalted Pishi’s cooking and I found out why. Pishi disappeared for a couple of minutes and reappeared with some Mughlai Paratha, Chicken, and Aaloo bhaja. Then came Rosogolla and Sandesh (Bengali sweets). Finally Pishaji forced me (and I thank him for that!) to have some divine mishti-doi (Sweet Curd). And that, according to her, were starters! I would’ve made her proud were it about a year ago when I was known for my ‘legendary’ appetite. But things change over time and I regretted having lunch… Pishi wasn’t too happy to see a ‘Jomai’ without an appetite. I promise to not disappoint her the next time and reluctantly say my good-byes. Then as usual, to work and then crash!

The third day, I am greeted again by Tuntun. This time, I ensure that both Ayan and Arya ‘face the music’ like I did the first day. We had a pretty long drive to Sonarpur and we were tripping on cult classics like Disco Dancer, Dance Dance, and other masterpieces of a ‘higher’ being called ‘Bappida’. On our way back, we had to ensure the doors were locked, coz we feared that Arya would jump out, but that didn’t happen and by the end of the trip, and we had another believer! I drop them at work, get driven to the airport (about 25 KM away) in 15 mins flat by Tuntun, and take the flight to Mumbai. I had a rather chatty co-passenger named Arnab (pronounced like doorknob, without the D) but his enthusiasm was no match for my sleepiness. Sorry Arnab.

Some things that this trip opened my eyes to:
There are always two sides to any Indian city. The clean side (Exhibit 1) and the other side.
Even Kolkata has bad English. (Exhibit 2)
Bengalis love to eat and to feed.
No one makes sweets like the Bengalis.
Being the jomai (son-in-law) is pretty cool!
Bengali women are pretty.
Malayalis are given ‘honorary’ Bengali status, especially the ones married to Bengalis :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rain, rain

Image courtesy BBC

The rains… they arrived about a month ago in Mumbai. A much needed respite from the heat… And in keeping with the times, there’s bundled offers too! Traffic congestion, the flu, pot-holes, the works!

However, one thing I’ve failed to understand is, when we all know that it IS going to rain around this time of the year, why doesn’t the Municipality? Why is the garbage cleaned (from the sewers onto the streets) just before the rains? Is this something they teach the BMC, NDMC, GHMC, and all the other MC (no pun intended) hopefuls?

If you ask them: What about the monsoon? How ready are we? You will most probably hear:
What about the monsoon? (Once you explain to them the concept of water precipitating from the skies, there’s a flicker and pat comes the response) Oh rain? Who can ever be ready for the rain? It is an act of nature. The Gods decide that and we are but mere pawns in His scheme. Did we predict the earthquakes? What about the Tsunami? The volcanic eruptions, suicide bombings, dumb TV anchors… these are natural calamities. And we should know better than to question His will. You people are hard to please!

And when asked how other countries are predicting and forecasting it, (The following is quoted from this interview and is NOT fictional)
One reason is their science and technology is better. Secondly, their weather pattern, their science of weather is different. Here up to 3 o' clock, there will be no cloud but at 4 you will get a cloud and by 5 it will rain. This won't happen in the US. If it's going to rain there at 4 pm, by morning there will be clouds. Even two days prior it will be known that clouds are coming. But not so in our country.
If the Americans are asked to issue a forecast for India, they will also do badly (laughs). That's what I feel because our weather pattern is difficult. When you assess a forecast skill, don't assess the (Indian Meteorological Department) IMD's skill with the skill of the USA. It is like comparing Tendulkar with a school cricket boy. It is meaningless.
You should compare the weather forecasting capability of India with any country in the tropics, that is a reasonable comparison. I am not saying the IMD is doing the best job, but it is uneasy for me to compare the IMD skill US or UK. You can compare India to Thailand or to some extent Korea, Singapore. Among the tropical countries, we are leaders, that's what I feel.

Now, I can sleep well, safe in the knowledge that the ‘Sachin Tendulkar’ of weather forecasting is watching out for us. And I’m done cribbing! We’re at-least better than Bangladesh! Or Vietnam, or Sudan, or Somalia in forecasting the weather.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rest In Peace, my MPX

Love me tender...

My beloved companion of three years, my Motorola MPX 220 Smartphone is fighting for its life. I made a tough decision to take it off life support today.

I knew she had to be mine the moment I saw her, a successful model in the US. A love story spanning continents. She was born in the USA, and me in Gods own country. She was sleek, sophisticated, and sensitive. I was (let’s leave that aside) and let's just say opposites attract.

The day she came to my life, she changed it. It was one of the first models to feature Windows Mobile™ 5.0. The activesync feature enabled it to sync with my PC and update all my appointments and contacts. Suddenly, I she was privy to every event in my life however minor (buy sugar) or major (anniversaries, birthdays)… She accompanied me on every trip and listened in to all my conversations.

Of course there were some (major) cultural differences. Like she couldn’t use the Indian electricity sockets, or the standard mini USB cables. But love transcends all boundaries. We decided we shall never part ways till… (sniff… sniff…)

I detected the early signs of illness when one day, out of the blue, she collapsed. I revived her (restarted) and this became an almost weekly chore to reboot (oops transfuse). Her condition only deteriorated from there on… She refused to communicate with anyone other than my virtual half (my office PC) and would not sync with any other. I accepted that as a part of her illness and moved on.

Then her condition took a turn for the worse… She refused to be charged by anything other than her data cable. Then she used to collapse unless on life support (charging) and her heart (battery) became feeble. But her brain (processor) was still sharp as ever. Never did I have to wait for her to tell me her secrets (data retrieval was lightning fast). I had to carry the cable wherever I was going and if I didn’t carry the notebook along, I had to plan my route to stop at places with PCs. And life went on…

Then one day I think she felt that she was becoming a burden on my mobility. With her hooked on, she almost became a desk phone. She decided to take her own life. She refused to charge using the data cable. I tried CPR (cold boot, hot boot, what not) and finally managed to twist her charger in a way that she could charge. But this morning she stopped responding to life support as well…

I shall be putting her to rest over the weekend and even though I may buy a new phone, I know it will never be as special as her. Adieu my love, we shall meet again in gadget heaven.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Crude and rude...

"Nobody fleecess you like the government, and you look to fleece the government like nobody else" - said a wise man (ahem) once.

As of today, an Indian in Mumbai pays about INR 55.88 per liter of petrol. The left parties, the only party that thinks in India, declared a bandh to protest this hike. How inventive! And why didn't anyone else think of that? Strike work and the prices come back to normal... simple, innit? But no, the big, bad government saw through their trick and refused to bring down the price. Why? This is what I'm trying to answer today.

Now, readers, please let me know if I'm going wrong. Chandu and I tried this once (incidentally when the crude price touched $100 a barrel) and were a bit embarrassed thinking we got it wrong...

For all calculations here, I am using market close data of June 6, 2008. That fateful day, the price of crude was $138.50 per barrel and the Dollar was trading for 42.89 Rupees.

On all days, 1 barrel = 31 gallons and 1 gallon = 3.7854118 liters. Therefore, 1 barrell = 117.347765 liters.

Now, on to the calculations:

1 barrel crude oil costs USD 138.50 or INR 5940.27 (138.50 * 42.89)

so, 1 liter crude oil costs INR 50.62 (5940.27 / 117.347765)

Depending on the purity of crude and the refining process used, you get anything ranging from 30% to 70%. (You get up to 70% if you use light crude and advanced catalytic or hydro or thermal cracking, alkylation, polymerization or what not.) So I'd be safe (and quick) to assume a yeild of about 50%. Which means if you buy 1 liter of crude, you get only 1/2 liter of petrol.

Thus, the 'cost' of 1 liter of pertol is INR 101.24

Now, add to this those delightful miscellanies that WE have to pay so happily each time we buy petrol (or anything for that matter) like VAT, custom for crude, custom for petrol, sales tax, octroi, education cess(!??!!) etc., and other stuff like dealer commission, transportation, and what do we have? The 'sell' price of around INR 150 per liter (this is being extremely optimistic and assuming only about a third of the duties and stuff..)

So, the government loses about INR 100 per liter of petrol sold at today's price! Well, let's put this into perspective. According to this study, in Delhi, with over 466 signalized intersections, 3,21,432 litres of Petrol is being burnt every day due to the idling of vehicles. So, the government spends INR 32 million (3.2 crore rupees) daily only on idling cars in Delhi. Another very optimistioc assumption I shall hazard here is that the whole nation consumes only 1000 times of the petrol that is 'idled' away in Delhi. That translates to a loss of about INR 32 billion (3,200 crore rupees) loss for the government in a day. And about INR 11,688 billion (11,68,800 crore rupees) a year! Whew...

Disturbing, isn't it? I sincerely hope I'm making some mistake in my calculations here... Someone please tell me I'm wrong...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Caste-ing (c)ouch!

The caste system that was prevalent in the Indian society granted different privileges to a person based oh their caste. This is similar to the path-breaking proposal earlier by your truly. So, it essentially meant that if you are a low caste, you can not drink from the same well, pray in the same temple, eat certain things, what not. So, one would naturally assume that being a low caste kinda sucked, right?

WRONG! Boys and Girls, Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the world of reservations! A new ideology where the ‘in’ thing is to be an outcast!

How? Very simple! If you belong to a particular category, you can get whatever job you want, go to whatever institution with a fraction of the effort! And yes, you can compete in the general category as well if you’re half as good. If you don’t get through, there’s the backdoor. This backdoor is called reservation.

Now that the concept is clear, I’d like to introduce you to a disturbing trend. Despite a ceiling of 50% (WTF??!!) on reservation, a state like Tamilnadu has 69% reservation. Another interesting fact is that 87% of the state’s population qualifies for it! That means that 7 out of every 10 buses that ply in Tamilnadu are driven by someone who didn’t ‘quite’ know how to drive! Scary? You bet it is!

Unfortunately, the sad part is that 13% of the population has to work twice or thrice as hard to get into the same college or job. But who cares? Even an illiterate can do the math – 87 votes is more than 13.

Seats are reserved for Schedules Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Castes (based chiefly on caste at birth) in varying ratio by the central government and state government. This caste is decided based on birth, and can never be changed. While a person can change his religion, and his economic status can fluctuate, the caste is permanent. In central government funded higher education institutions, 22.5% of available seats are reserved for Scheduled Caste (Dalit) and Scheduled Tribe (Adivasi) students (15% for SCs, 7.5% for STs). This reservation percentage has been raised to 49.5%, by including an additional 27% reservation for OBCs. In AIIMS 14% of seats are reserved for SCs, 8% for STs. In addition, SC/ST students with only 50% scores are eligible. This ratio is followed even in Parliament and all elections where few constituencies are earmarked for those from certain communities. For example, In Andhra Pradesh, 25% of educational institutes and government jobs for BCs, 15% for SCs, 6% for STs and 4% for Muslims. (That's 50%!)

And something very interesting is happening in Rajasthan as you read this: the Gujjar community wants to avail reservations and are fighting (and violently at that) to be called Scheduled Castes! To put that in perspective that we can identify, it’s like Amitabh Bachhan wanting to be a porn star so that his son can get a government job! Yes. It is that ridiculous!

Is there a way out? IMHO, the only way out is education. The whole “I will not send my son to school, but I want him to be a CEO” shit won’t fly… What we need is a paradigm shift. Reservation is just an excuse for being mediocre. According to the Sachar Commission, the Indian Muslim is not being provided the right education. And according to a related report, the Indian Christian has the highest literacy and the lowest employment rate. I agree with the BJP when they say that the reports have been manipulated for electoral reasons.

So, where will this end? I think the constitution should declare that all Indians are Scheduled Castes. And remove religion from the equation.

If you are still wondering why we can not co-exist peacefully, it’s because we have been divided by OUR constitution and played on this ever since by OUR leaders!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Read No Evil...

Caution: Longish, severely MCPish and anti-Feminazzi post

Do we really (like really, really) need Taslima back?

Taslima Nasreen, described as “a physician, a writer, a radical feminist, human rights activist and a secular humanist” by her official website, is craving to come back to Calcutta. The literary circles and activist groups are crying hoarse about her plight. Why? For those new to the newest poster-child for freedom of speech, here’s why…

Excerpts from Wikipedia: (What would we ever be without Wikipedia…)

Taslima Nasreen is a Bengali Bangladeshi ex-physician turned feminist author who describes herself as a secular humanist. From a modest literary profile in the late 1980s, she achieved a meteoric rise to global fame by the end of the twentieth century, for her severe criticism of Islam and of religion in general.”

Autobiographical books of Taslima raised controversy not only because of her criticisms of Islam but also for narratives involving the private lives of people. Taslima candidly described her sexual relationship with a number of named persons. She also touched upon her relationship with her four Bangladeshi husbands. Published in 2003, Ka, her third autobiographical book, was the first to raise such issues.”

Ka, published in Bangladesh, is a self-censored version of Dwikhonditp published in India. Dwikhonditp is said to contain critical comments on the Prophet Muhammad (according to Islamic Sharia law, criticism of Muhammad is haraam and punishable by execution, provided Sharia law is in force). The latter was also banned in India by the Calcutta High Court in the state of West Bengal on 18 November, 2004.”

Now we know why she is in exile for the last 14 years. The poor lady can not enter her own country; leave alone any country with a semblance of religion… She was unceremoniously evicted from Calcutta after fierce protests. Before that, she was assaulted during a book release in Hyderabad. She was then taken to Delhi and kept in “safe custody” fearing attempts on her life. (BTW, there is a prize on her head… In March 2007, the "All India Ittehad Millat Council" of Bareilly U.P offered 500,000 rupees for her beheading.)

All this just for being promiscuous? Or for publishing those escapades? Or, is it just because she is a raving anti-Islamist? Maybe because she criticized The Prophet? What if she wanted more money? Vanity? Fame? Attention?

We shall never know. But what we do know is that she is ‘longing’ to return to Kolkata and is wondering why the government won’t let her. She innocently asks, “Kolkata is where I had set up my home. Can't I be allowed by the West Bengal government to return to my city?” I’ll hazard a guess – The Government and the people of West Bengal don’t F#@%ing want her back. And what makes her think that India will extend her Visa? Or will we see another “Ka” about her attempts to get her Visa extended? Hmmm… Her popularity abroad is also quite evident – “In 2005, her attempt to read an anti-war poem entitled "America" to a large Bengali crowd attending the North American Bengali Conference at Madison Square Garden resulted in her being booed off the stage

What would you do if you were in her place? How will you fight this cruel, cruel world? If you ask me, I would shut the f@#k up! I never, ever kiss and tell all. I would pray to Allah to forgive my sins and publicly apologize for my indiscretions with the pen (and whatever).

Because, my dear lady, we Indians are forgiving. But we are also sensitive people who fear God. You may have had experiences that were unfortunate. But don’t blame them on The Prophet, or The Paramatma, or The Heavenly Father. Because in India, we live by a simple code: Love your Country, honor your Gods, and respect your elders. Honestly, we don’t really care whether you believe in the same God, but we will kick your @$$ back to Bangladesh if you disrespect ours. And going by the love your people have for you, you really don’t want to go back there!

1) This is one post I sincerely pray my wife doesn’t read. She’s a bit left of center I’m more center of right…
2) I know you may say that I’m still being ‘analy Catholic’ (a good friend once remarked so on another issue) and a bigot… Maybe I am :(
3) Freedom of speech and slander are two entirely different things. If you call your dog my name, what stops me from naming a bitch after your mother and leave her out with street dogs and writing about it huh? I’m sorry, that’s not freedom of speech! [I am using this as an example and I do not intend to infringe on that copyright]
4) If you’ve read so far, thanks. Dude, you really have nothing better to do? *LOL*

Friday, May 16, 2008

The IPL saga...

Down and out? Faaar from it!

Well, if you’ve written off the Deccan Chargers, think again? Does your team really have a confirmed berth in the Semis? Think again! We shall decide who will get to the semis. So, you want your team through? Don’t piss the Chargers off!

They say that the most dangerous man is the one who has nothing to lose. So watch out for the Deccan Chargers. In a few days, we shall be at the bottom of the points table. In true corporate style, Dr Mallaya is flogging the dead horse to get up and win. And he has managed it with some of his companies. Even in Sports, the Force India team is performing much better than what was expected. I am positive that they will land among the points this season.

Now back to IPL. I’ve heard some rumors about these matches being fixed. Pratibha sent me this link that strengthens this theory. After all, why would SRK spend money to distribute 20,000 KKR style helmets in Mumbai for the final? Prats also believes that the final will be between KKR and Mumbai Indians. Food for thought, huh?

The exit of the Australian stars, the return of Tendulkar and Shoaib, Shoaib taking 4 wickets in his maiden match, all this sounds kinda scripted to me. This, in addition to the highly unprobable event of Gilly, Afridi, Gibbs, Rohit Sharma, Styris, Venu all not performing in the same match. And also the fact that Asif sits out when he’s not bowling!

Before you rubbish my claims, compare the script elements to any Ekta Kapoor type soaps:
Family drama (Brother Vs Brother): David Vs Mike Hussey, Irfan Vs Yousuf Pathan
The patriarch: SRK/Mallaya/Ambani
The matriarch: Preity Zinta
Sex: The Cheerleaders (not in my opinion, though)
Sissy boys: The cheerboys… (yuck)
The taunts and stare downs: Sledging and more…
Return from dead: Shoaib, Tendulkar
The Slap!: Bhajji and Sree Santh
Tears: Sree Santh

I can keep going on…

Being a Deccan Chargers fan, I will try my best to fuel the rumor. I would also go on to suggest that the Jaipur blasts were planned and executed by IPL so that team Jaipur can exit without match-fixing allegations. If the intelligence wings of our law enforcement need any indication of the next blast, they need to think of a successful team without a tycoon or star backing…

Enough said for today.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Deccan Chargers Wallpapers

I still keep asking myself, "How on Earth could this get so wrong?". What we have here is a team that has:

Two of the top three run getters (Sharma 296 and Gilly 308)
The batsman with the maximum sixes (Gilly 16)
Two out of five top individual scores (Symonds 117 and Gilly 109)
The highest partnership (Gily & VVS 155 not out)
and the no. two wicket taker (RP Singh 12)

And DC would have been scraping the bedrock if it wasn't for Royal Challengers' old age institution. But you know what? I still am a fan.

But when??

Thank God for Gilly!

Sixes galore with both bat and ball!

Too silent, too long :(

Somebody say the magic words and release them from the spell!

All images owned by IPL and Deccan Chargers (

Friday, May 9, 2008

Feeling Artsy?

Image 1

Image 2

When does something cross the line from artsy to obscene? Why is a nude painting artistic, whereas half-clad cheerleading is obscene? I am referring to this article where Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul noted that the complainants, “seem to be of the type who wouldn't go to any art gallery or have any interest in contemporary art because if they did, they would know that there are many artists who embrace nudity as part of their contemporary art."

About this time last year, we had a scandal involving Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty. The court in Rajasthan ordered the arrest of the duo under IPC Section 294 (committing obscene act in a public place). What really happened was that Gere kissed Shetty on her cheeks. Thrice! The whole nation went up in arms against the incident. Recently, we had the cheerleader issue in the IPL. In both the above cases, the people in question had more than enough clothing to cover ‘objectionable’ areas.

Not so in MF Hussain’s case. He painted Hindu deities and Mother India in the nude. The kind of action that could get you fatwa’d. How different is he from the Dutch artist who cartooned The Prophet? At-least the cartoonist had sense to clothe and add a turban to the cartoon in question.

Oh I get it. The cartoonist hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims. Whereas, according to the ruling yesterday, MF was just being a ‘contemporary’ artist. I stand corrected. Depicting Goddesses in the nude is freedom of expression… How dumb of me!

Coming back to the Judge’s comment, I still have not understood ‘contemporary’ art. I hate modern art. I think inkblots have more character than most of the obscenely expensive stuff that looks worse than the paintings of a kindergarten kid high on LSD, let lose with a paintbrush. I fail to see art in them, and I have tried hard. Look at these few exhibits…
Exhibit 1
Exhibit 2
Exhibit 3
Exhibit 4

Hell! I can do better than that!

And just in case you were wondering, the first image is ‘Fishbowl’ by a kindergarten kid and the second by Picasso called ‘Still Life’. To me the fishbowl looks more artsy than the still life. But, then again, that’s me.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Is it too late?

I had once mentioned in a column, “Nothing rattles the Americans more than pictures of naked, starving brown kids”.

This has long been an ace up the pseudo-Christian groups’ sleeve to raise money – An emotionally charged evangelist inviting the wrath of God on the sinners, interspersed with pictures of brown children. Out come the wallets and greenbacks of which the children in question don’t see a cent.

Considering the present circumstances, “Nothing rattles the Americans more than pictures of well-clothed, well-fed brown kids”.

This image is now being blamed for the food crisis in the west. If George Bush and Condoleezza Rice are to be believed, the current global food crisis is because of the changing eating habits of the Indian middle-class (and the Chinese, to an extent). And to mess it all up, there is currently a hold on food grain export from India. So, what now that food is becoming as important a commodity in the global markets as petrol? Will we see a food-fight? (No pun intended)

But one man saw it all coming. And in his humble way, he tried to make a difference (from as far as I have experienced) for about two decades. He shares his first name with that of the current US President. He is the one man I love most in the world. He’s my dad.

I haven’t written about dad in this column primarily because I can’t do him justice. Daddy is from a middle-class family that came up from modest beginnings. I have had the privilege of close interaction with him and his siblings who worked hard, dispensed their duties, and brought up their children with good morals. All they ever wanted were educated children who did their duty. Their duties to their family, society, country, and the world.

But another important life lesson that he wished that I learn was about living within their means. To save for the rainy day and to invest the extra rupee. He would’ve been a hit in politics, but he is too honest for that. He could’ve been a writer, but he was too straight-forward for his times. He could have been a lot of things, but instead, he chose to be the world’s best dad.

The earliest warning that I could recollect was his diktat that we should serve ourselves only portions that we could finish. Kochu, my younger sis, learnt this the hard way… I still remember the look on her face when he had insisted that she finish the cauliflower dish that was on her plate. Now that I try and recollect his expression, I think he wanted to say, “If you don’t finish whatever’s on your plate, you’re wasting food. Then one day, 'Someone' will fall short of food and they’ll bomb you!”.

Only if his advice was heard by all. Live within your means. As a race, we haven’t saved anything for a rainy day, invested enough for renewable sources of energy. Instead, we chose to contest elections and write to criticize.

But then, not every country can make a Dad like mine!

And one thing’s for sure – If we don’t start looking like people in the picture, we need to be scared. Very scared. I suggest it’s time we started to save a meal each day so that the ‘mighty’ don’t feel threatened enough to use their twitchy bomb-fingers on us.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Farewell JS...

(This image is courtesy Viva books)

Jyotirmoy Sanyal, or JS or ‘Chicha’ as we fondly used to call him, is no more. He died after a heart attack on April 13, 2008.

I met JS while I was the training head (customer contact) for a major Indian bank. We wanted our customer service representatives to write better. Clear English India, was then a fledgling institution and we had our doubts. All those doubts cleared away during our first interaction.

I have never seen so much passion in a 20-year old. The enthusiasm he has is very contagious and in five minutes flat, I was a convert. Me and another colleague pleaded, persuaded, and premeditated the top management for a training program by JS and Ajoy. We were allowed two programs, one each in Mumbai and Hyderabad.

I usually used to spend at-least 2-3 weeks going through the program details, interviewing the facilitator at days on length before launching a new program. With JS, the next time we met was for the session in Mumbai. Over the next two days, JS changed the way we looked at writing English. The program, according to every one participant, was the best they attended. But some of them couldn’t handle JS’ firebrand enthusiasm and temper. Ajoy would step in from time-to-time but he was also not spared. A few women were offended by his language, some offended by his ‘non-veg’ jokes, but most wanted JS to come back at-least once a year. That was typical JS. You can not be a fence-sitter when it comes to your views on JS. You can either love him or hate him. I adored him.

The next program in Hyderabad was a tremendous success. He became (of-course behind his back) our ‘chicha’ – a term of endearment used for an uncle. I still remember Vidya, Abhishek, Avinash, and a few more trailing him every minute he was on premises. And for these kids with zeal, you could see the love in his eyes. His advice: ‘Write as you would speak’ still rings in my ears. And each time I sit down to write anything more than one sentence, I ask myself if JS would’ve approved.

(Unfortunately some complaints from the session in Mumbai did not go well with the senior management and the program could not take off.)

That evening, we went for a drink and my wife came along. It felt almost like family! We chatted up till late at night, and on a wide range of subjects from English to Dog-food! That was the last time I saw JS.

We were in touch regularly till about a year ago. Then the frequency of our e-mails to each other dropped to about once or twice a month. And then this morning, Ajoy’s mail with the sad news.

I write today in gratitude to JS for enriching our lives in such a short acquaintance. I can not begin to imagine his daughter’s grief. The only other time I saw the glint in his eyes was when he was talking about her. The void left by him will be huge. I pray for his family.

I also grieve for his colleagues. Especially Ajoy, to whom he was a friend, philosopher, and guide. Some others who will miss him dearly will be Janet, Abhishek, Vidya, Deepali, Joyita, Avinash, Sirisha and a whole group of us to whom he was our ‘Chicha’. Also my wife, who in the course of one evening became a huge fan.

For all those who knew him, whether they loved him or otherwise, his demise is a huge loss. Because whenever we write, we secretly ask ourselves if JS would’ve liked what we wrote. I’m asking this to myself as I write this post. Pardon me this time, JS. I can’t seem to write with a heavy heart.

Update: I chanced upon Reshma Sanyal’s (JS’ daughter) blog and a few goodbyes.
Reshma Sanyal
An angry young man called Jyoti

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Cheering goes on....

I happened to chat with Pratibha on the Cheerleader issue. Prats is herself a great writer. Read her blog here.

Unlike me, she's a woman and she's Marathi. But like me, she's a true blue Hyderabadi.

I decided to post this interview 'uncut and uncensored' to bring out the Hyderabad chemistry in two friends who could easily be mistaken for siblings (apart from looks that is...)

Pratibha: Kab lere interview?
Me: Abhich?
Pratibha: Chalo… Chicha… Ishtart
Me: Sure: Do you think that there should be a ban on cheerleaders?
Pratibha: :
Pratibha: Deccan Chargers ke t-shirt ka kya hua?
Me: Kochhana answer kartey?
Pratibha: Karte bhai… pehle mere answer karte?
Me: Baingan mei mil gaya.... 1 mahina lagta kathey 'official merchandise' ku
Pratibha: Maaki… Kaun leta tab
Me: Mai next week jaarooo, kuchh settinga kartooo
Pratibha: Dekh muft main mila to leke aa :P chal pooch
Me: On record now....
Pratibha: Ok
Me: Do you think that there should be a ban on cheerleaders?
Pratibha: Ye chindi questions nakko… kuch aur hai to poocho nahi to Khuda haafiz
Me: Yeh padho ji…
Pratibha: Phir time piliss… Padhna padta nai
Me: Padhke bolo mereku
(long gap)
Pratibha: Please shoot. I will love this
Me: For the third time... Do you think that there should be a ban on cheerleaders?
Pratibha: No. Never. Nahi. Kabhi nahi.
Me: Could you explain your vehement stand?
Pratibha: 1. They are better than the Dhakkan, errrr I mean Deccan Chargers. At least they stay on the field the entire time. Actually this is a boring interview… Can you ask me other questions?
You've interview’d Anu and Sujata already :(
Me: ahem... I hope you realize that this interview is about the cheerleading issue and its effect on Indian men...
Pratibha: What do I care what effect it has on men! You think if you ban cheerleaders, men still won't get their share of eye candy?
Nahi to kal ko bolte porn sites bhi Indian girls ka ich dekhna… And khaas kar ke mumbai main only the unemplyed bar girls will have their own porn site!
Me: hmmm... Interesting perspective.
In your opinion, is there a path the Govt should tread to diffuse this aituation?
Pratibha: I would certainly not want to see lavani being performed at the stadium when a boundary or a six is hit.
Better still bharatnatyam for Chennai Kings , Robindra Shongeet for the Kinight Riders and so on. Full on Indian Feeling !
The Govt is actually bored of having nothing to do now… And there is no situation… Give it two days, you will also see these ministers sitting in the stands, watching the cheerleaders more than the matches
IMHO, I think the ministers are pissed off because the Mumbai Indians have not won a match as yet
Next question please
Me: Talking about the Mumbai Indians not having won yet, what is your opinion about Deccan Chargers?
Pratibha: For my opinion, please visit the LiveJournal entry
Me: Dum nakko karo ji.. ek 'Gist' de do please. Izzat ka sawaal hai.
Pratibha: :P
Dhakkan errr I mean Deccan Chargers need to drop Laxman out of the team if they want to win. Just being from Hyderabad does not qualify one to captain the team.
And the team has just disappointed a Hyderabadi (read me).. To be the only one supporting the team in midst of the Marathi manoos is a task
I gave them 3 chances
I might just have to shift the loyalty to Rajasthan Royals if this continues
But on second thoughts, I won't. Once a Hyderabadi, always a Hyderabadi.
Me: Respect!
Pratibha: Next kochhun poochte, ki khatam ho gaya?
Me: Hai ji...
Pratibha: Poocho phir chichi… Ramzan ka wait karre?
Me: So, what do you suggest as a strategy that DC needs to adopt to win the remaining 11 (or at-least 1) matches? This is other than throwing VVSL out...
(another pause)

Pratibha: Bowl first? Then they will know how many runs they need to make. It might just work…
This is well dependant on whether they win or lose the toss.
Hmmm in that case, I think Laxman anna should be out
Me: Okay... final question: How many matches, in your opinion will DC win? (11 left)
Pratibha: I'll be glad if they win one at least!
And to think I was sure that they would be one of the semi-finalists!
Pratibha: that was the sarcastic me, but being a true blue Hyderabadi, there is a tiny hope that they will win all the 11 and go to the semi-finals!
Me: Respect! I knew you would say that! People would call US hopeless romantics, but well... Hyderabad is Hyderabad!
Thanks for your time. I appreciate it.
Pratibha: Welcome.

In case you are unable to understand some of the slang, we could answer it for you in the comments section :)

In Good Cheer...

Cartoon by Ayan

I was depressed this morning, but thank God I stay in India… You can never be short on amusement. I am referring to this article about the ongoing controversy regarding cheerleaders in the IPL.

Like always, I had my own opinions. Then I thought, why not include you – My readers. And It was not difficult as there are just a few of you. I tried using G-Talk for the interview. The first guest was, but of-course, Anupama Datye – the worldly wise, with an opinion on just about nothing and everything.

TheWalker: Good Afternoon Mrs Datye, and welcome to the first interview of “Keep Walking”. It is indeed a great pleasure to have you as the first guest to…
Anupama Datye: Get on with it!
Me: err.. My bad. Do you think that there should be a ban on cheerleaders? (I am not asking if cheerleading is necessary.)
Anu: These matches are just for entertainment, no one is losing in the bargain. They add glamour to the game, so let them be.
Me: Don't you feel that this shows women in poor light and "increases voyeuristic tendencies in men" as claimed by some of our politicians?
Anu: Men will be men! They could get turned on by women in bhurkha… Other politicians don't seem to have any problems... only these guys sitting Mumbai, I think they have nothing better to do in life. They will be the 1st to ogle :(
The sena is making news for all the wrong reasons.
Me: But in your opinion, do you think it is 'perverted'?
Anu: Perverted is when a man lecherously looks at women twice his age or half his age that is bad
Me: Does that mean that you will not stop your 4-year old from watching the matches?
Anu: Rubbish! What does he understand? I don’t think that there is anything scandalous happening here. And btw cheerleading is a tradition - every girl worth her penny will want to be a cheerleader (watch "bring it on")
Me: Any parting thoughts? (I better end this fast... unless I want her to come over and smack me on the head)
Anu: I don't think cheerleading that is the problem it is the mental attitude of no good politicians that needs to be changed. They cover up things like that models (Jessica Lall) murder because their sons do it (probably because they were themselves deprived by their perverted parents) and likes of Shivani Bhatnager suffers a horrible death
Me: Thanks for being a part of this interview. I appreciate your time.
Anu: LOL

Well, folks, that was Anu. The next interview was with Sujata Chakraborty, my first cube-mate at workplace. Su’s a great writer herself and she calls a spade a spade. This was going to be interesting.

TheWalker: I was about to ping you
Sujata: Tell… wassup?
Me: I need your interview for my next post on "Cheerleaders"
Sujata: ?
Me: For my blog re
Sujata: Oh ok… ask and I’ll tell
Me: Do you think that there should be a ban on cheerleaders?
Sujata: Of course not. no bans. Cheerleaders are fun. But they should be local.
Like, in Bombay matches, they should be Marathi Manoos.
In Cal, they shouold be the bong beauties
In Kerala, the Mallu babes
In Delhi, the Punjabi kudis should take over
Me: But don't you think that it will 'do harm to the morality of the already deprived Indian men and cause irrepairable damage to our society' as our politicians claim?
Sujata: The answer to you question is in it. The 'already deprived' and 'irreparable' cannot be redeemed methinks. So, let's all enjoy. And u never know. It might actually be some balm for those souls. IMHO, most of the crime in India is caused by repressed libido and unsatisfied sexual appetites. ;)
Me: Hmm... Have you read the news in Mumbai Mirror (April 25, '08) about the man who tried to commit suicide because it was the 'wrong time' for his wife on his 'suhaag-raat'? How much longer do you think before the politicians blame that he could take it no more because of the IPL Cheerleaders?
Sujata: Oh I didn't read that. But that's hilarious! Mumbai mirror rocks.
Read this:
Me: Yeah. That piece of news in the Mirror was hilarious... written in all seriousness by the usual horde of Pulitzer prize-winning Mumbai Mirror journos...
Sujata: I generally like Mumbai mirror. Keeps the crap out and does a good job of covering the city. Very tabloid.
Me: okay back to the topic on hand... Do you foresee a solution to all this?
Sujata: I don’t see it as a problem. What’s porn in England is art in France.

That summed up Su’s opinion. Crisp and to the point as always.

What will follow in the next few posts will be your opinions. I have a few lined up:
Ayan Chakraborty – My favorite cartoonist
Pratibha Pal – My friend in grief when it comes to Hyderabad and Deccan Chargers
Jayeeta Das – Legally speaking

I would love to have some of my favorite bloggers and writers to find some time for me. Like Sue of the sushi bar, Morpheus of Morpheus’ dreams, Ajeeth - My only fan, Chandu – writer of the blog I can’t access… Hyacie, Shantanu… now, that’s a list

This exercise seems to be working. I don’t need Valium anymore. But I do need a job :)

Hyderabad Blues…

Deccan Chargers have disappointed again… They threw away another match in the last over. Now, they are at the bottom of the table after losing all their three matches…

I must admit here that I am not much of a cricket fan. I still feel that it’s a pseudo team game that relies on weird rules and only individual merit. That that’s another debate I would like to avoid, especially today. I think I’m getting into depression!

I have always been a huge fan of Hyderabad. The people there are warm, friendly and welcoming. They are a bit too relaxed, but that I can bear with. I met my wife there; we got married there, and now even buying a home there. I have never felt so much at home in any other part of the country or the world. So, even though I belong from Kerala, studied in Ooty (TN), worked in Delhi and Mumbai, married to a Bengali, I am a Deccan Chargers fan.

Even before the team was announced, I knew that I will always support Hyderabad. And when the team was announced, I was elated! The charging bull, the understated uniforms... Then I looked up the stars of the squad and knew that we had a winner. C’mon, look at the line-up:
Adam Gilchrist – IMHO, the best cricketer in the world,
Shahid Afridi – A top class hitter,
Andrew Symonds – Aggression personified,
Herschelle Gibbs – Reinvented top order batting for South Africa,
Chaminda Vaas – No body invokes more fear in batsmen,
Scott Styris – THE pinch-hitter,
R P Singh – A hugely talented bowler,
VVS Laxman – well…

So, I expected nothing less than dominance from this team. And, I reluctantly became a cricket fan (much to my horror – my dad could disown me if he ever found out!).

As I was chatting with a couple of friends downstairs, I just realized that I could turn suicidal if Hyderabad ever has a Soccer or F1 team… That seems a very distant possibility. For now, I think my longevity is safe. For now, I could use some Valium.

Whatever said, one thing is for sure – Even if they lose all their matches, I’ll be a Deccan Chargers fan. Forever!

All links and images courtesy the official Deccan Chargers site.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The newest circus...

I love to be entertained. To be honest, I have a morbid craving for amusement… Every morning I wake up, I thank God I am born in India. I would have been bored out of my wits in any other country…

The Hogenakkal project – an innocent proposal to provide drinking water to two districts in Tamilnadu using Tamilnadu’s share of the Cauvery water. A agreement between the two states in 1998 had ensured that neither of them will object to any project that the other does with its share of water from Cauvery. So, the TN Chief Minister lays the foundation stone for the project in February ’08. Everything’s well? Far from it.

Why? The reason for this is evident – elections in Karnataka are fast approaching. And what better election propaganda than some good old regionalism? And nothing excites us more than someone singing a parochial song. Who cares about eliminating poverty? Nobody gives a rat’s ass about corruption. Only sissies talk about good things. We want divides! Indians are quick to polarize, so one issue and you can win an election. This is the only tried and tested election tune. So much for the background…

The media, quick to act in such situations, has blown it into an epidemic that promises them TRPs. The Tamil film fraternity organizes a day-long hunger strike. It is attended by Rajnikant, Kamal Hassan, Sharat Kumar, Vijaykant, Madhaven, Ajith, and many such big names. The K’taka cine stars also staged a similar protest in Bangalore, but nobody remembers who came…

Rajnikanth, Asia’s second highest paid star, criticized the instigators for making such a big hue and cry over this issue. He warned that the people will not keep quiet. The Kannadiga brigade was quick to ask for an apology. For what? Even they don’t know! But you can gauge the general state of mind from the comments section of Rediff. Scholars, philosophers, thinkers, all putting in their two bits. Do spend a minute or two extra to admire the erudite nature of the comments and the wonderful prose…

Though the Devaki given birth to Lord Krishna he was fully owned to Yasodha, as same case Rajnikanth thougth he was was born in Karnataka he raised his in Tamil Nadu”

“it is u kannadigas who r the arrogant lot. Refusing to cooperate with u r fellow indians and having a dispute with all u rneighbours. In the north u have stolen belgaum from maharashtra, u dont allow krishna water into andhra, In south u r fighting with kerala for kasargod,usurped coorg which is not urs at all, now u want h ognekal.”

“We dont need ur explainations poge is tulu word which is also karnataka language and this has been copied to tamil so taminadu is ours....get lost with ur logic”

Disclaimer: I have not altered even a character in the above excerpts. All rights belong to Rediff.

(The beauty of these comments are that they hide more than they reveal, like in thr first comment, "raising his in Tamilnadu" I need to know now... Raising his WHAT??!! Tell me please...)

The part two of this circus started in Mumbai with a newspaper taking pot-shots at Amitabh Bachchan for not being like Rajnikanth! But I’ll leave that issue for some other time. Currently, I am enjoying the South Indian angle and am addicted to the comments on Rediff.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tibet? You bet!

Cartoon by Ayan Chakraborty (You'll find his link on the right)

The solidarity for Tibet – the ‘in’ thing this summer. Everyone is crying hoarse at the plight of the ‘poor Tibetans’. And what are they doing? Stopping the Olympic torch! As if putting out the Olympic flame will magically restore Tibet as a free region…

Do not for a moment think that I am siding with China on the Tibet issue. Far from it… And I am not even a CPI activist, who are quick to switch their loyalties from India to China as we have seen in the past. I don’t blame them… after all; they need to justify the funding they receive.

I am puzzled at Indians jumping into this juggernaut. Don’t we have enough issues at home to handle? Let me give you some:
- The plight of ‘North’ Indians in Maharashtra.
- The Hogenakkal issue.
- Staying the death sentence of the ’93 blasts accused.
- Sanjay Leela Bhansali making a new movie.

And what’s this talk about boycotting the Olympics? Our boycotting the Olympics would make a difference other than to the occupancy at the Olympic village. We send about twice (nearly thrice) the number of officials compared to athletes. A better plan would be to force China into bankruptcy by winning all the Gold, Silver , and Bronze in the nation. Evan that seems far-fetched looking at past performances… In 2004, we were 65th among 74 countries that finally got medals. The only time you get to hear about countries like Belarus and Lithuania are when they are placed above (much above) India in the medals tally. And those calling for a boycott sound as if the Chinese are sweating bullets over the prospect of India pulling out.

You need to clean your house before telling your neighbor to be tidy. So, for now, the Tibetans have my empathy and a silent prayer. I do empathize with Tibetans. It is wrong for a country to displace ethnic groups and undermine their rights. But isn’t that the same with Kashmiri Pundits? And how many of our ‘celebrities’ endorse the Kashmiris and their plight?

“Kashmir? Its so passe’ dahlin… Tibet is hot this summer!”

But for me, until the Kashmiris are given justice and an Indian has equal rights all over India, the Tibet issue will not give me sleepless nights.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Masti ki paathsaala…

I used to think that kids these days aren’t having as much fun as we did… We had more space, ‘real’ playgrounds, friends, trees and stuff. I used to think that we are witnessing a new generation of kids whose hands need to be held at every step, who require guidance at every stage, who are on cellular leashes.

I used to think that the dictum of ‘Mata, Pita, Guru, Daivam’ [which, in Sanskrit is the hierarchy of divinity (meaning Mother, Father, Teacher, God)] still holds true.

I used to think wrong! Go through the links below and tell me what YOU think…

Hilarious one here
L for lawyer!
Art for beginners
Eddie Griffin’s thoughts

And till I read Eddie Griffin’s blog, I’d never of concepts like Dropout Prevention sessions, ODD (Oppositional Disruptive Disorder) and stuff like that!

Can you tell me where we’re headed?

*Picture courtesy*

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The search continues…

I started writing this as a reply to Sue’s comment to allow Female Gods in ‘our’ outfit. Got too long and I thought I might as well post it. Let me start by setting the context right here…

The search for a new, parochial, God-figure started in response to violence in many parts of the country against people from ‘other’ regions. These people who want total rights over ‘their’ land come from a certain school of political thought – I, Me, and Myself. So, please keep that in mind.

I’ve been consulting for some time now, and the one thing that I’ve learnt is that unless your solution, product, or service meets the end user requirements, it is a disaster. However, the end user doesn’t have control over what is bought. A salesman sells a product to the CXOs, CFOs, COOs of the world, who in all probability do not use the solution in the first place. That puts your brand image at stake, because the users start complaining after a while… Therefore a good solution, in addition to making ‘business sense’ to the top bosses (read massaging their ego), should also be appealing to the masses. That is consulting!

I shall examine the situation for you. This, of-course, should have been a PowerPoint presentation, but no one’s interested in seeing them (what’s new?). So I give you the gist of it here.

Vision (Propaganda)
Revenues (Party Collections)
Investor Relations (Vote Bank)
Shareholder Value (Advantages for the rank and file)
Market Share (Actual number of seats)

End User
Ease (Will I ‘have’ to work?)
Appeal (How will I be identified as a part of this outfit?)
Productivity gain (How many people out of 10 will (or can be forced to) contribute?)
Earnings (And how much can I siphon off?)
Growth (How fast can I move to the next level? Is there another ‘group’ we can target?)

An altruistic solution WILL NOT help. No one’s buying that and we’re not here for charity. A leftist approach too, is out of the question. The top bosses do not (secretly) endorse the concept of equality. We are, therefore left with a concept of a right-winged outfit that deludes you into believing that it is participative. The righter, the better.

Now that we have identified the target audiences, we need to offer a solution. So, put on your thinking caps and give me options. If you think they are a bit long, e-mail them to me. I’ll compile them for another post and shall acknowledge your contribution. Who knows? You may even qualify for the top job if you can spew enough venom! And I am open to Gods, Goddesses and beyond.

And remember – Right is right.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Looking for a new God…

Activists in some parts of the country are on the lookout for new Gods that have origins in their region. Our constitution gives us the right to freedom of religion, and the freedom to choose our own Gods to worship. So, why worship a God who is proven to be a ‘North Indian’? Lord Krishna is from Mathura (UP), Lord Rama is from Ayodhya (again UP)… When will the ‘Bhaiyyas’ stop trying to impose their culture on us? When they migrate to other states, why don’t they worship err… Lord… err… umm… See that's the problem (whatever it is).

Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesh, and Goddess Parvati are from Mount Kailash (China)… Oh! These Chinese I tell you… Always looking for ways to belittle India.

Jesus Christ is from Israel! Prophet Mohammed is from the UAE, Lord Buddha is from Nepal. So whom do 'we' turn to? Who will fight for 'our' region?

What we need is local culture to flourish and triumph. And for that we need local Gods. Gods like… ahem… well, we’ll figure that out later. After we figure out what our culture stands for. In the meantime, let’s start beating up all priests and devotees who throng to the temples of these ‘outsider’ Gods and send them back to where 'they' came from.

We shall then focus our efforts to seek a new God who is universal in appeal, but local in origin. A God that epitomizes ‘our’ culture. Using whose name we will create a new order. An order that demands that you can live here only if your ancestors had settled here (1000? Oops… 500? Umm… 100? Well…) X years ago. We shall communicate the value of X at a later date.

In the meantime, if you have suggestions for Gods that belong to ‘Our’ community, please send them across to me. Here’s a list of criteria that should match:
Should be male (that’s our culture)
Should be married (A cool God ought to have a consort...)
Should have delusions of adequacy (I am the best and stuff...)
Should have a plan for a ‘New World Order’ ('Our' world order)
Should be willing to wear a robe (A definite must!)
Should be willing to talk on length about nothing at all (about anything)
Should be able to create controversies (Publicity is important too)
Should have long, luxuriant hair (Image, people... Image)

Wait a sec! That’s got me all over it! Well, except for the last bit, but I can wear a wig or do something about it! So, what say folks? Shri Walkeshwar (for Maharashtra), Sriniwalker (for Andhra), Walkeran (for Kerala)… I’m ready, check me out! Meanwhile, you keep beating up outsiders…

P.S: Please forgive me for the quality of the image... But that's how I look :) And I didn't have time (or the know-how) to use anything other than 'Paint' :(

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Of friends and good times…

Last evening was probably the best I’ve ever had in Mumbai. Even counting the Iron Maiden show! It was a time for friends and family – the good, fun variety.

I met Jibu ‘Dicky’ Jose after a good four years. Jibu and I studied from 1st to 5th together and then we met again in college. We were roommates for a good while and used to stay with Vipin in one room. Ajeet and Chandu were good neighbors. But Jibu, somehow was very special. I have this dastardly habit of getting a bit emotional when I’m wasted, and Jibu used to be the one who had mostly borne the brunt of it.

(And Jibu again because I’m pretty fond of his family too. His Mom is an absolute sweetheart and more importantly, an awesome cook. I used to be a bit scared of his Dad, but That was a long time ago. Jitu Bhaiyya, his eldest brother is like a friend to most of our batch mates. He is now blessed with a beautiful daughter – Jamie, who turned 5 yesterday and a naughty son – Joel. Jinu, the elder one, used to study in the same town as we did. Jinu was a bit more formal, so not many stories floated around about him.)

So last evening, in addition to Jibu, his beautiful wife Minal, Jitu, Bhaabi, and the kids, there was Jibu’s cousin Shiny with her family. The only other time I’d met Shiny and her sister Sheeba was 10 years ago! But we greeted each other like long-lost siblings :) (And what memory, especially Sheeba for recognizing my voice!). We were later joined by Minal’s family. So, that’s how it began – as a small family get-together. I met Shiny’s dashing husband for the first time too, and we hit it off quite well… We went on till late in the night, trading stories about school, college, and the good ol’ times in general. And before we knew it we had to wind up :( Jibu breathed a sigh of relief that he was spared the usual sentimental outbursts.

I don’t know why, but I feel really nice today. Like the way I feel after meeting my sisters… I guess that’s what friends really are – an extension of your family. And I am lucky to be treated by their families as their own too. I feel great! And I feel blessed.

So, this is a thanksgiving note to God for my friends (Too many here to name) and their Moms. Jibu’s Mom, Ajeet’s Mom, Bindu’s Mom, Rohit’s Mom – are my favorites. And the joy of seeing your former roomies and homies happily married to great people is unbeatable. Probably it’s His way of telling me that He still cares for the people that matter to me and me…

Say what?

P.S.: The pic here is about a year old. I’ll ask Jibu to send me a new one…

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It’s back!

Another year has passed. With loads of excitement in store… People are already preparing for the big day and I can sense it all around me. The news about the unique way in which we celebrate this great day has reached the world. I’m saddened that tourists are not making a beeline to India to watch us celebrate!

Scouting for spots where couples tryst has already started. Stores selling related merchandise have been identified. Banners, effigies, stones, rotten tomatoes, mulatto cocktails, swords, and other miscellanies have been stocked.

Yes… Valentines day is just around the corner!

Unlike the rest of the world, we celebrate the V-day with V for venom. As an Indian, I vehemently oppose the concept of Valentines Day. It is against our culture. It corrupts our new generation. And I am not alone. With me are myriad political parties, student unions, and social activism groups. Our cadres have infiltrated into the varied strata of society and are sniffing out events, parties, activities that the supporters of this satanic feast are organizing.

I say it is a conspiracy of the imperialists to corrupt our culture. We have never heard of people falling in love. Never has it happened in our great nation. The Taj Mahal – a man’s greatest erection for a woman – is only an exception to this. And what is all this hype about buying diamonds, chocolates and cards? Have you ever heard of any Indian in our glorious past dothis?

You may ask why I am so bitter. The answer is – I will be away from the one I love this V-day. And with me are people who have failed in love, who never have (the courage to) express their love, senior citizens who are envious that this never happened in their age and time. If We can't enjoy this day, why should we let anyone else? And we are joined by self-righteous propagators of the ‘Indian Culture’ who have to do this just to get elected and people who abhor spending money on their loved ones.

So I ask you – Have you ever failed in love? Do women avoid you like the plague? Do you secretly envy couples that fall in love? Do you think it is against your religion (or your interpretation of it)? If yes, come join me in this fight to save our culture (that’s the in-thing and that's what we'll call it). We shall pelt stones and tomatoes at shops, scare away couples, and burn effigies (of whom? The media shall decide that). But caution – Let’s stay away from the bigger organizations like star hotels, TV channels, etc. ‘cos they have security and may retaliate. Let’s just stick to the defenseless people, as they are the ones who need to be taught our culture.
I am including links to present and past activities of our clans that have recieved acclaim from the media.
So, what say? Meet at 4 PM tomorrow outside 'Archies Gallery' with our stockpiles? We should be joined by bored MNS and BSP activists whose leaders have been arrested too! Political mileage for this noble cause? Wow! Nothing like it :)

P.S.: Pic courtesy Times of India

Added on Feb 18, 2008:

Oops! I did go to Hyderabad to be with my Valentine afterall... So, please dismiss this post as a load of bullcrap!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My India, my media…

I suffer from a rare disorder… A need for constant amusement! And nothing satiates this more than our mainstream media.

At a time when UP and Bhiari bhaiyyas were being beaten up in Mumbai, I surfed some news channels to see what was up and well, there was an unexpected breaking news! Sanjay Dutt was spotted in Goa with Maanyata. Hmmm… (Change channels) “Kareena Kapoor was seen sporting a new ring” Well… (Change Channels) “Govinda unapologetic about his slapping incident” I had it! What is with our media? And their fixation with Bollywood?

But the one that takes the cake is: “Amitabh Bachan ko thand lagi” meaning, “Amitabh Bachan felt cold”!

(Someone at work clicked this pic and thanks to Ayan for sending it to me. BTW, Ayan is a gifted cartoonist himself.)

Is it a lack of stories or are Indians only bothered about the stars and starlets of Bollywood? What about the people? What about issues that need public opinion and support?

I would like our channels to cover this story (or something like it) for once.
But I doubt that it will serve the purpose of amusement that discerning connoisseurs (like me) would appreciate.

However, I will not be surprised if this one gets covered. (I loved this one too by the way... Especially the defense that "All the time I worked for the airline, my moustache attracted many adoring eyes inside the plane and on the ground." Way to go buddy!

P.S.: If you own the copyright to the pic, please let me know so that I can acknowledge you.