Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Or maybe, just maybe, they read this blog and are trying to buy my silence!!!!
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Customer service is non-existent in India.
ICICI is, supposedly, India’s leading private bank. If ICICI is the best we have, then the banking industry in India is in deep shit. Not a trip goes by, when you don’t spend an hour there, waiting (no, standing) for your “token” to be called. Once called, you get a rude employee who is doing you a favour by getting your bank statement. There is no inclination to help. What I find most galling, is that 3 years ago at the same branch, the same person was falling all over me, when I went to open an NRI account. I can bet the resident accounts have more equity in them for ICICI than the NRIs in total. I would even wager that per capita they have more (I love to argue… remember?). But it’s the dollar that counts apparently. We have some servile attitude towards NRIs. (but that’s for another blog)
It could be that years of casteism, have us with a feeling of one being superior to another. People of a certain background, are not brought up helping other people. Helping others is almost a crime. The funny thing, now that I think about it, is that lower castes are most helpful when you need customer service. The cleaning lady here, does not work like she is doing you a favor, when in reality she is by cleaning up after you. It may be the years of brainwashing that some castes are better than others. But people who do your dirty work are smiling a lot more when they do it, compared to people in cell phone outlets or bank branches.
Another theory of mine, (who else) is that with the population being so huge in India, retailers don’t have to worry about losing customers. The next one is right around the corner. The theory of “an irate customer is a terrorist” is not applicable here. The problem is that even irate customers have no idea about what they can get. Starbucks sends its employees to “coffee school” to make sure that customers get worth more than what they have paid for. And here, Reliance employs people who probably have just got out of school.
If the ICICIs and Reliances don’t show the way, how do you expect the Jayshree Provision storewallas to do the same?
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
It's not so tough to write an email a day about the state of affairs in my life. Especially since it's pretty much different every day. I don't quite get much time to write an email during the work hours (I don't even get time to check GMail.. Can you believe it?) But I am going to try and write a little more probably before heading out for the day. I also get the question in my mind whether blogging from work is ethically valid. But I shall at least try.
News from here is that we are doing well in Pune. I don't know if I told any of you personally but we have bought a house and are now busy trying to get it furnished.. It is still some distance from being completely constructed, so we still have some time. The builder has said it will be mid-December that he will have it ready, but since this is India, we are going with the expectation of March-April. In short we still have some time. But a new house is a new house, so there's general excitement in our life.
Work is going well too.. Have got a visa now to come and go to the US for the next 10 years. There's a plan to come there in mid-January, but its not too definite. It could get quite possibly postponed to the end of May. As you can tell from my lack of blogging over the past 3 months, it is also quite hectic and takes a lot out of me.
Anyway, this sounds more like a letter than a blog, but a confession is the first step towards getting sober according to the AA. Hopefully I shall be a bit more prolific in writing.
Wish me luck.
Let's just say we've been awfully busy..
It'll not happen again.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
This is Ganpati time in Pune. There's a lot of fun and pomp in the air. Ganpati means a lot of tradition. Because of all the things you don't do, right on top is that you do not piss off the Elephant God. People shall follow the tradition to a T. So much that if there's so much as a missing lotus leaf, it's anathema. Kids are taught right from childhood the aartis and shlokas that go along with the festival. The discipline is such that if you offer someone prasad, the right hand automatically comes forward, because you do not (under any circumstances) take prasad with your left hand. Even Muslims who do not believe in idol worship know that you do not take prasad with your "southpaw".
If matters related to God can bring about such strict discipline in us desis, why is it so tough for them to wait the few extra seconds at a traffic light? Why does one need to pee on the road? Do we need a new God who can instill the fear (of God) in them to get some discipline in their public behavior? What happened to all those supposed godmen, swamis, imams, reverends and other men of God? Where are they when we need them? How can Fire be anti – Hindu but breaking traffic lights is not? Why do you need to enforce singing of Vande Mataram but have no qualms urinating on it? How is the length of Sania Mirza's skirt un-Islamic, but bombing your fellow people while they are at work not? People often told me when we were in the US, that I might get very disappointed with India.
India is fine. It's the Indians that are making a mess of it.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
10. Keep your back straight, knees bent, feet shoulder width apart.
9. Form a loose grip.
8. Keep your head down.
7. Avoid a quick backswing.
6. Stay out of the water.
5. Try not to hit anybody.
4. If you are taking too long, you should let others go ahead of you.
3. You shouldn't stand directly in front of others.
2. Be quiet while others are about to go.
1. Keep strokes to a minimum.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
The road condition will make sure all explosives will explode in transit, they will use the same amount of time (3.5 hrs before check in = driving time it took from home to Sahar yesterday) and save a whole bunch in security personnel salaries.
If any miscreant has even an iota of hesitation about his mission, he's bound to give up even before he reaches Vashi.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Now imagine, in such a sport, if someone is ranked 3rd in the world, how famous he would be? He should have cult status, with a bunch of groupies and a complete entourage. No need to carry identification to tournaments, no scheduling on side courts, no worrying about having to deal with ignorant people who have no clue who you are.
Not if the two guys ahead of you are Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
I feel like sitting in an air conditioned room and having ice cream right now !!
P.S. I know this is going to come to bite me in the ass. But, heck, I won't get a better chance.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Just a sample
You can't expect a baboon to learn to flip on command in one session, just as
you can't expect an American husband to begin regularly picking up his dirty
socks by praising him once for picking up a single sock. With the baboon you
first reward a hop, then a bigger hop, then an even bigger hop. With Scott the
husband, I began to praise every small act every time: if he drove just a mile
an hour slower, tossed one pair of shorts into the hamper, or was on time for
I have been noticing this article on the most emailed list of the New York Times for quite a while now. Decided to go read it during my break time. Couldn't help but smile at a lot of the observations.
Every time you kill some one, you are losing a shard of support for your cause. I do not want to paint an entire community for your deeds. It’s not fair that they suffer for your misdeeds. But tell me, aren’t you doing the same? If someone has harmed you specifically, shouldn’t you clear it up with him/her? Why do you have to harm people who have done nothing to you? Why blow up things that you have used millions of times yourself? Next time you want to catch a running train at Andheri, why would someone give you a hand, if you are going to cut it down? The next time, your pregnant wife is going for her check up, why should the old man give up his seat, if all you will do is to teach your child to hate the old man anyway?
My way of believing in God may differ from yours, but I do believe in God. Is that wrong? Am I evil, because my belief differs from yours? Is it your way or the highway?
Is this what your God has taught you?
P.S.: If you want to get in touch with me, please leave a comment. Please don’t blow up my bus!!!
Saturday, July 08, 2006
|Celebrating all that is mediocre and downright incompetent in this world. Have been wanting to post this one for a long long time. He is more famous than the eventual winner. Another victory for freedom of choice.|
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Friday, June 30, 2006
Also, there’s an essay competition going on about how Indians are not too comfortable with people unlike them and the ways to solve this problem. There’s a cool 50K for the first prize.
Somehow it all feels connected.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action--
Lord Father, strike Bharat without mercy,
so that it may awaken into such a heaven.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Since Sunday, I have been trying to write an essay for an Indian Express competition about why Indians are the way they are, when they have to deal with someone who is not like them. No matter how much I think about writing something, I am unable to do so.
Maybe it's writers block.
Maybe it's the part of my mind which calls it hypocritical, that I would write an essay berating someone else, when chances are I too have some of my own misconceptions about other people.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
This morning on the way to the bus stop, I looked two complete strangers in the eye. I smiled by reflex. 5 years in the US does that to you. They actually smiled back!!
And one of them was a traffic policeman!!!
Monday, June 26, 2006
June 30, 1986 – 2 am. (IST)
Argentina – West Germany
We sat up to watch the game. Two 7-year olds watching a game of football held halfway across the world between two teams that we couldn’t even spell. Players we didn’t quite know, and a game that we didn’t quite follow. I had school to go to in the morning. But I sat up till half time. Argentina 1-0. I couldn’t take it any longer. Had to sleep. After all, I was in the 3rd standard. A big boy. And big boys don’t miss school to watch football, do they? I heard all about it the next day (and ever since). Nikhil was on vacation. He didn’t have to worry about Ms. Braganza the next day. Argentina won 3-2. And we've been World Cup fans ever since. Played faux finals in the verandah. Made flags for competing teams. Sat up nights watching the best tournament in the world.
June 30, 2006 – 8 pm. (IST)
Argentina – Germany.
20 years later, life comes full circle. This time I won’t be sleeping. How I wish Niks can make it for this one!
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Average looking Maharashtrian actress. Limited acting skills (I may be accused of over-exaggeration actually). Gains notoriety for her (lack of) clothes. Defends her honour in front of the media for some insane incident that doesn’t even deserve an inch of media space. Rakhi Sawant or Mamta Kulkarni?
World Cup Football. England stutter through the first round. A major star breaks his leg (or metatarsal) few weeks before the finals. Comes back miraculously in time for the games. David Beckham or Wayne Rooney?
Talented music director has a few hit albums all with fast dhinchak beats, though his slower songs are way better. Suddenly discovers one hit song in his own voice. Irritating as it is, he falls in love with his own voice and promotes just the songs sung by him. Loves wearing weird headgear to avoid his bald spot. Himesh Reshammiya or Anu Malik?
There's a furore over reservations, the Indian cricket team cannot win abroad, Yashraj Films makes crappy movies
The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
It's been 3 days since we got back to Pune. Here's my quick thoughts on how it has gone so far:
- I know it's a cliché but everyone DOES have a cell phone. Everyone but me and my wife that is. Even my grandma has one, and she doesn’t move out of the house
- There's easy money everywhere. And businesses are enjoying. Went out for lunch with a friend today and we got hit by a bill for 215 bucks for daal makhani, jeera rice and 2 masala chhaas. House prices are quite ridiculous. And the folks here are slowly discovering the joys of refinancing.
- Traffic is not so bad when you travel in a company bus. In fact the rush hour traffic works to your advantage when you have to cross the width of the main road on foot. No one's moving and there's no zebra crossing, so you literally walk into the open spaces up front.
- Movie halls play the national anthem before each show
- People want to be cool at any cost. Case in point: At Inox, they play English songs during the breaks. That's fine, but if you play Shaggy, there's something you are definitely not cool!!
- Things are getting a lot more efficient than before. Not a single bag of ours arrived with us. We filed the missing luggage report and had a status on it within 12 hours. The guys at the airport were also quite courteous. The A/C still doesn't work there though.
- Work is fine. Surprisingly I have been busy right from the get go.
- I was surprised to find that I don't feel the need to read the Times of India (or any newspaper) for that matter
- I miss being able to check my email at any time when I am home. I think that's a good thing.
- I think I am going to join a gym. There's one right behind our place. I hope it's open early morning.
- I really don't feel like I was in the US 5 days ago. Everything feels right in place.
- I think I should start a different blog on how India (or Pune at least) has changed since 2001
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Indian English is a unique language. There are some quirks in this language where the words are all English words, but the grammar and the context are so off base that most people outside of India attribute to incorrect knowledge of grammar. Case in point is the liberal use of the word "also" at the end of a sentence. "you can do ABC, and you can do XYZ also">. But if you speak an Indian language, the grammar makes perfect sense. "Aap ABC kar sakte ho aur XYZ bhi". In short it is a word - to - word translation of the Indian language that it is coming from. If ever I read some weird grammar in a sentence, I tend to translate it into an Indian language and try to see how it would sound. Most often it clears the doubt. Try it, it works.
But can someone please explain to me, what is the root for "What's your good name, sir?"
Monday, May 22, 2006
Saturday, May 20, 2006
2 comments by D, 1 by T1, 1 by me. I knew that going in. So I was intrigued by the identity of the 3 that were new. 3 anonymous guys saying what a great blog I have, and how it's much better than most of the rubbish around. Wowwwww... My days of literary obscurity are slowly ending I start thinking. Dedicated e-audience. Life cannot get better than that. When I go back to the main page, there's a couple of other blogs with comments that I had not seen. So I go back, and here's Mr. (/Ms)Anonymous again getting my ego back to planet earth. Same message. What's worse, is that there's a weblink there. So I click it. And it goes to http://4072.hidot.info or something like that. I go back to the GWB blog and click the link there. New URL, same type.
Blog spam (BLAM?? SPLOG??) is something new for me. I would have prevented anonymous comments, but I don't like the idea. It goes against the blogging spirit.
Some smart people there with better ideas who could help?
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I do what I get paid to do
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
It would really be something, if it turns out that this guy got caught on purpose. I don't know for sure, but it does sound suspicious that you drive at 162 mph (260 kmph) into a pole, break it into two, and all you come up with is a cut upper lip? I am willing to bet, he is in bigger trouble than the cops. Jail maybe the safest place he can be at right now. A cursory glance on Wikipedia also adds to the intrigue. [We bow to thee, O Great Wikipedia]
- How sad is it that this crash happened 7 days after I leave Los Angeles for good? Would have heard about this long ago.
- Can you imagine the rubbernecking that must have gone on for this accident?
- How ridiculous is it that the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority has an "anti-terrorism" unit?
- How ridiculous is it that the actual anti-terrorism offices of the United States let someone like this in?
Monday, May 15, 2006
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Sunday, May 07, 2006
But as you hear every third advertisement, politician, movie and TV show say, America is already the best country in the world. So, what exactly would be the crowning moment for American kid's dream job when the "best in the world" part is already taken care of?
Presenting the leader of the self-proclaimed free world.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Now does that have anything to do with the Chinese backdrop of the movie or that the Chinese have seen the pirated version already?
Monday, May 01, 2006
1. I think the Suns were robbed of Game 4. There's no way it was a jump ball at the end . Nash was fouled and it was about as obvious that he was being mauled.
2. The most boring series of the lot is the Clippers-Nuggets series. I tried to stay awake through the first half yesterday. Could not make it through the first quarter.
3. I don't know if anyone noticed Kobe Bryant's whisper in Smush Parker's ear after he brought them level at the end of regulation. But he clearly said "M^!F*&@er" to him. Not once but twice. And ABC showed it on reply twice. Is censorship only applicable if someone can hear it?
4. I hope the Kings at least make a fight of it. They were unlucky in Game 2 and lucky in Game 3. And they have Artest in foul trouble already for Game 4. Don't know why. At least get it to Game 6. Game 7 would be a bonus. Though I doubt the Kings stand a chance.
5. While on the Kings, I think Kevin Martin is having a series like Bibby had the year they reached the Western finals.
6. I thought the Miami-Chicago series would be the most boring. Shows how much I know. It looks to be the most exciting.
7. I always wanted to see an NBA game in person. Never managed to (primarily because I always was in Los Angeles. The Lakers were unaffordable, the Clippers were unwatchable). Now the only chances I will get will be in Detroit the week of the 15th.
8. I thought I saw a blurb which had something on TNT during the playoffs being sponsored by Google. I have never seen Google sponsor a TV event. Did I see something wrong?
9. I think I shall nominate Earl Boykins of the Nuggets as person of the year. He definitely is an inspiration that anything is possible. If you don't know what I mean and the Clips finish off the Nuggets tomorrow, go to Animal Planet and see any documentary which has a baby deer / gazelle fleeing a tiger. At 5'5" and 133 pounds that's what Boykins looks like!!
10. Both the Lakers and the Clippers are up 3-1. The winners of the two series meet in the next round. If they go ahead, there's gonna be 7 straight playoff games at Staples over the next few weeks. As if traffic in downtown LA wasn't bad enough.
And here's one final thought.
11. Much as open the Western Conference looks, the only exciting team is the Kings. And they don't look like they are going to beat the Spurs. SA/Dallas and Lakers/Clips is not very enticing. I prefer the Eastern games.
Anyway, that's about it.
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Believing in something sounds good but doesn't feed the family or pay the rent.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Monday, April 24, 2006
Read this article in the NYT . A wonderful insight into how China works. (On a side note, also shows how little Americans understand about other cultures.) Initially I was very disappointed that the "do-no-evil" Googlers decided to give in to the Chinese censors. But from their perspective, they have a point when they say
Even if you were still too cautious to talk about politics, the mere idea that you could publicly state your opinion about anything — the weather, the local sports scene — felt like a bit of a revolution... Google could still improve Chinese citizens' ability to learn about AIDS, environmental problems, avian flu, world markets..... (Revenue) wasn't a big part of the equation... it would be years before Google would make much if any profit in China... (Going into China) wasn't as much a business decision as a decision about getting people information. And we decided in the end that we should make this compromise."
But behind all this there is a salient feature. And it is that in China, no political opinions are allowed. There is no dissent allowed. Something is brewing among the rural class, and if suppressed, it'll be years till we find out, even with the power of the internet. When I go back to the parties starting June, I know I can say that the Chinese system is better in public and not get solitary confinement in the Andamans. I know that I can look up the Google to find out what happened during the Emergency years. I can Wikipedia the Maoist folk songs of Bihar.
I'd rather be free than rich.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
- Rabindranath Tagore
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Saturday, April 22, 2006
5. More and more I find myself not being able to find connection to any cause. There is no passion for anything that is done for the greater common good. Anything from the government reservation thing, to the Aamir Khan Narmada controversy to the Indian cricket team, leaves me failing to understand what the hoopla is about. There's almost a sense that no matter what anyone does, he/she is totally helpless with the way things happen in the world. That's about it. It's bloody strange. I used to be so passionate about crap earlier. Is that called growing up?
4. Speaking of the Aamir Khan controversy. It's a completely media driven controversy. He is now an environmental activist for the Narmada Bachao Andolan, and he is being criticised for being a proponent of Coca Cola which is accused of toxic dumping somewhere in Rajasthan. Somewhere in Gujarat, there's talk of boycotting his future releases. With Narendra Modi around, there's also a possibility of him being a Khan coming up soon, trust me. There's a point to the criticism, but don't diss a guy for speaking his mind. It also brings out the problems in being a celebrity. Your life is so much in the open that you can get hit for doing something. It is creditable that Mr. Khan is speaking his mind (his barbs about the media misreporting on purpose, somehow never got the publicity it deserved. May have something to do with the fact that the media never publicised it. But read the interview on tehelka and it makes a lot of sense.) There's a reason Sachin Tendulkar keeps his mouth shut, but that's why I also criticise him. There was a time, when if he wanted, he could have brought down the Indian government. But he chose to be silent about the BCCI's way of running the game. If there's something wrong going on, and you have the power to make people listen to you, you should.
3. People have asked me very often in the last few months, what it is that I would miss in India from my stay in the US. I have thought about it long and hard. And here's what I have come up with. Comedy Central and Food Network. It all started with me trying to think what TV I would like to buy once we get back. Which brought me to the point of what it is that I would watch once we buy whatever TV we buy. Which led me to think what it is that I watch here. In short, I have come to the conclusion that I don't need a TV in India. If there's something in India that is underway to get these two things on the tube there, count me in for any help you need. That way, I can buy a TV.
2. I don't mean to say in any way that the Christian religion is the best in the world. But, would the Da Vinci Code have become a literary behemoth, published 40 million copies in 44 languages with a whole industry of debunking books, and a movie with Tom Hanks, had it been blasphemous to any other religion? Poor Salman Rushdie must be wondering if he should have named the dog Jesus instead.
1. I read Peter King's article that has inspired this series, and I find that he counts up (1 to 10) rather than down, which is what I do. I guess since he is in the business of selling his article, he needs to come up with the important points at the start itself. I need my "audience" to read till the bloody end!! I think to be a popular blogger you need to have radical views of some kind. As of typing this article, my blog had 497 visits to it. Most of them, I bet have been through me republishing the post after editing. (and I started my counter at 300!!)
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Two words bring out the terror time of Diwali 1989. During the furore against the Mandal Commission reservation clauses, Rajeev Goswami gained his 15 minutes of fame, giving the English language a new phrase: self-immolation. We also came to know that reservation doesn't apply only to movie and travel tickets. Wasn't the main cause, but the whole episode did play a part in V.P. Singh losing his premiership. The guys that led the outrage that led to V.P. Singh's resignation were the Congress. Now, the Indian government led by the same Congressmen has announced another round of reservations. There are some murmurs, some emails / blogs doing the rounds. Like all chain mails, I keep getting the emails every thid day. But there's a major difference.
There's no Rajeev Goswami this time around. The outrage is nowhere near the same. I bet kids don't even know who Rajeev Goswami is. I searched the internet, and there's no mention of what happened to RG after his immolation. I know he survived. I have a few words for those protesting.
Personally, I am against reservation of any sort. I was mighty pissed when I got into a slightly worse college, when someone with a lower percentage got through to COEP, all because he had a caste certificate. Had this been 1996, I would have been actively protesting this ruling. But, for some reason, I have no problems with this government decision. Purely selfish reasons, but it's true. For one, in the last 10 years, I have learnt a lot.
It hardly matters which school you attend. Your seats may be reserved, but you still have to clear the exams. No one gets a job opportunity for attending a college. You get it for the degree you get out of there. One that you have to spend night and day studying, becoming a nerd, losing out all social etiquette, getting a talking frog for a girlfriend (yeah, Meghna, it was a good one). Even if someone has a seat he/she has got through non-merit, they still have to study equally hard as the rest of us to clear. And if they DO clear, don't they deserve to be in the school? The rich kids do not need the opportunities as much as the middle class and the poor. If the reservation gets a few kids the chances that rich kids don't need anyway, what's wrong with it? Simply reservation doesn't guarantee success though. God (or Arjun Singh) may give you the opportunity. But it's your responsibility to make the most of it.
I think we all can agree to that.
Monday, April 17, 2006
The kids love being held. You leave them on their play mat, they'll keep playing. Till that is, they see someone standing. Once that happens, they will start bawling. That goes on till someone picks them up. They know that they have to be patient till someone gives in. In the mall, we saw that we were not the only ones suffering from this game of cat and mouse. All the adults gave in eventually. Somewhere down the line, as we grow up, we've lost our ability to keep calm when there's chaos all around.
7 month olds can teach us something.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
But when I spend a heck of a lot of my dad's hard earned money and go to Stanford, but this "so and so" makes the cover of Time for dropping out of high school, you know there's something wrong somewhere.
Monday, April 10, 2006
Sunday, April 09, 2006
To get an Iraqi perspective this article is a good one. Surprisingly not many of the responses take the Americans as liberators.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
9. The Indian cricket team is funny. The same team that cannot bat for a day on a fruitcake of a pitch shows enough life to win from non-sensical situations in one dayers. Is it confidence or just luck, I dunno. I remember in the days when we had the best batting line up in the world (Sachin, Ganguly, Dravid, Azhar, Jadeja) we couldn't chase to save our lives. Now we have a world record of 15 successful consecutive chases. Though, personally I think we should also give credit to the fielding / bowling sides. In 12 of the last 25 games, they have restricted the opposition to below 250 runs. A couple of occasions the have given between 250 and 260. In a world where a 400+ is not safe, getting team to score at 5 an over or thereabouts is amazing.
Could it also have to do something with the fact that we have not played the Aussies for a while? The ICC knockout tourney is Sept. is gonna be fun.
8. There's no good movie coming out right now. Hindi or English. Call it the lull before the storm. I am waiting for the Da Vinci Code eagerly. Was planning on watching it the day it came out, but I shall be flying back from Detroit that day. So may be the next day. If it is not banned in Bettendorf by then. I know almost certainly that it will be banned in India. So, Bettendorf, IA is my only hope. There's another movie I might be interested in. American Dreamz. The premise sounds interesting. More people voting for the American Idol than for the president. But I think it will be boring. So I am wondering if I should even watch it. Of course, there's Nachos Libre which will be out by the time I am in India, so I might forget. Jack Black, makers of Napoleon Dynamite, July 4th weekend - Should be a wonderful time. I really don't know much of the scene in the Hindi movie world. I hear there's an Aamir Khan movie coming out. Should be good, I guess. Though I am in a Dharam-Sankat. It's a Yash Chopra movie!!! I see all of Aamir's movies, but never watch a Yash Chopra movie, as long as I don't have a gun to my head and have to choose between swimming and watching the movie (I can't swim). So I might have to be creative about this.
7. Comedy Central is slowly changing into the conscience of America. There, I said it. Though I think personally they should separate from Viacom. That's only going to stifle their creativity. But in an age where public image is so important to some, they are going head on to point out the deficiencies in the system. The Daily Show, Colbert Report, Mind of Mencia and South Park. Watch them without fail. They seem to reflect modern day US more than the Today show or the evening News. Much as I hate to say it, I also enjoy the Food Network. Maybe I am getting domesticated!! These are the only two channels I watch without interruption. That and Scrubs on NBC. If you do nothing else, watch Scrubs.
6. I don't miss Los Angeles as much as I though I would. Life in Bettendorf now has a routine attached to it. I have family near by. We speak/chat with the friends in L.A. over IM/phone. That's no different from what it was in L.A. It's just the weekend meetings that are not done any more.
5. I prefer Firefox to IE. My wife prefers IE to Firefox. Is there a way to decide this? I don't know.
4. Isn't it strange that no religion says you should kill your fellow human beings, but all violence is in the name of God? Isn't it also strange that of all the religions in the world, the newest one was started in 622 A.D.? Shouldn't we let our faiths and beliefs adjust to the realities of life in the 21st century? Is it a reflection of our crazy times that most popular of the new religions we can come up with is Scientology? Can't we have a new religion where things are NOT taboo?
3. It takes a long time to come up with 10 things that are on my mind. Is it an indication that I am at peace and don't have too many things bugging me? Or is that I cannot sustain my thoughts long enough to write an article on it?
2. For all the hullaballoo over English taking over from vernacular languages in India, I think the quality of English is getting worse. Try reading the rediff chat boards if you don't know what I mean. This is one of my most pet peeves. There seems to be a universal acceptance of SMS / IM terminology in email. How tough is it to type "you"? Why does one have to write it as "u"? Are we so impersonal now that we can't give you the respect you deserve? When did "come" become "cum"?? Call me old fashioned but "whn cn i cum in ur hse" meant a totally different thing about 5 years ago. How tough is it type a few extra letters and speak whatever language you speak correctly? At least if English is to be our language of choice, let's at least make correct English our language.
1. It is humbling to think that I am a grown up. There are times when I would prefer remaining a kid, but the more I think of it, even 5 years ago, it was unthinkable that I would be paying bills, making plans to buy property of my own. Heck, even what I earn now was totally in the realms of dreamland. The more I think of it, I'd rather live life as a grown up. It has it's downsides, but the journey's been fun. The responsibilities are challenging, but I'd rather not have it any other way.
America has its head in the sand. The writers at the Family Guy insist they will show the prophet Mohammed in their cartoon. Cartman hates the Family Guy because it is not as funny. POTUS is incapable of saving the country from violence that will erupt next week.
That strange intro is for next week's episode of South Park. I was not a huge follower of the kids in South Park, but the Scientology issue got me interested, and have been following them for the last 3 weeks. They go after every thing sacred in the world, and that's great to see. Funny thing is before this prophet - cartoon controversy, South Park had already shown the Prophet a couple of years ago, and no one said anything. I would think Viacom - the company that owns Comedy Central - would be very hesitant to show something like this. The suits at Viacom should have known what they were dealing with here. But this also shows the genius of Matt & Trey.
What do I mean? What do they have to lose? South Park is watched by only a select few who are addicted to Comedy Central. Bringing curiosity to the show, will only bring more audience. People who get offended easily, will get offended anyway. They were burning American flags in the Arab world for "crimes" in Denmark. If no one cares about the episode and everything goes smooth, they have gone on record that the Family Guy is a crappy show! I can't help but marvel at the ability of the guys to kill so many birds with one stone. Family Guy, Arab intolerance, American indifference, free speech and the First Amendment.
Now the question is this:
WILL COMEDY CENTRAL PUSS OUT???
Friday, April 07, 2006
Funnily enough, it almost sounds like Mr. Iscariot speaking on Larry King Live. But, if you think of it, I would think that since Christianity is based on Christ's suffering on our behalf, Judas should have been revered. Had he not ditched the Son of God, I would have gone to a Marathi-medium school!!! Especially, since Jesus was into forgiving and all that, I'd think his followers should do the same with Judas.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Case in point. The Malaysian government . A couple of days ago, we had the case where the Maharashtra government has initiated a probe into the fallen halter-top of some fashion model on the ramp. Day in day out, you see some 3rd world country going ballistic about the corruption of their culture. We have seen the Valentine's Day bans in India (I didn't hear too much of noise this year. Wonder what happened? Did every one get scared). Personally I feel the hullaballoo on Feb 14th is over hyped, but heck, if someone wants to celebrate, what do I care?
Returns to the same point as always, are the leaders so insecure about their capability to lead that they need to scare the shit out of those that follow them?
Well, come to think of it, that's not just a third world domain!!!
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
We drove regardless. There was a heck of a lot of rain. But the tornadoes did not strike till we reached home safe. Was it foolish of us to risk it? Or was it the confidence in myself that I could safely wade through anything that Mother Nature would throw at me?
Did Sid have the same confidence the day he woke up for the last time?
Thursday, March 30, 2006
And then one day, he disappeared.
Since I was never a big follower, I assumed he retired like the Hulkster. Forgot about him totally. Till this article in the Sports Illustrated refreshed my mind. Sad story. Proof to the naysayers that the WWE is rigged. (Like there were any!!)I almost felt like telling the guy to do a Satyanarayan Pooja in his house. (Sit through the Mahakatha and you'll know what I am talking about)
Side Note: All those wrestlers from our time. It felt wierd to read their real names. Michael Shawn Hickenbottom. Imagine that!!!
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
On a side note, notice how India doesn't have any problems with democracy. In spite of what the educated elite say ('this country needs a dictatorship'), it's one of the few things run by the Central Government that seem to be working.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Sunday, March 26, 2006
The problem with oil is that we are all so dependent on in it. In time, we have become so addicted to it, the investment required to change to a system that does not run on oil is so massive, that no country in the world can afford it. It's probably cheaper to wage wars against countries to protect their oil interests than convert.
On a side note: Notice how there are people in this world, who think so much? I was browsing PINR.com , and found geo-politics to be very fascinating. I was amazed as to how, the tiniest of incidents can cause a butterfly effect. Isn't information liberating?
Having lived in California for 4 years, I know that it would be well nigh impossible for the state to function properly without these illegal immigrants. I haven't seen as many in Iowa / Illinois, but I hear from the locals here that it is soon rising. In short, illegal immigration is rising everywhere. Since it is illegal by definition, the authorities have to do something about it. But personally, I don't see this legislation being the solution.
For one, why wait for 5 years? Are they somehow legal for 4 years and 364 days, and turn illegal overnight? To me, this is an admission that the immigration will not stop, and so any illegal immigrant who works for dirt cheap can easily be replaced by another who will work for dirt cheap. Big Business (who needs the cheap labour) can therefore maintain their bottom line, the politician can get credit for doing something about the immigration issue , people who vote are happy that somebody did something and things will go on as usual. So basically, the problem will not be solved but will give the illusion of being so.
Truthiness at its legislative best.
While we are on this topic, can I suggest that the first puritans on the Mayflower also came to this country illegally? What about the first Italians or the Irish? I doubt they came here with due papers. What about the Chinese who created the various Chinatowns in the US? You think all those trafficked humans were all legal? Why pick on the poor Hispanics? Come to think of it, the only people who came here "legally" were the African-Americans. Slavery was legal then.
What I like about him the most though(almost jealous),is that his day job seems to be sit with a laptop and surf the internet. Wow!!!
Friday, March 24, 2006
Turned out that Gilroy was 60 miles away from Stanford. So it took us about an hour just to get there, but with Sid he always made it sound like it was just around the corner. He had this ability to get you to do things for him. He could charm you out of your lunch, if he wanted to. (trust me, to a graduate student, that is quite an achievement). He once went to India without his I-20 and got back without a problem. "You think I am a fool to come into the US, without an I-20? I just forgot to take it along". To cut a long story short, somehow the customs guy bought it. When he graduated, he went to India on a whim, and came back 2-3 months later. Minor problem, he did not have his OPT papers valid. So he could not enter the US legally. I don't know how he got in, but I know that he did. So I guess he charmed another customs official. He could get you to go grocery shopping at 2 in the morning (It helped that he had the only car in the group). He had us FOB's convinced that Jamba Juice was actually pronounced "Hamba Juice", 'coz it's Mexican, and that's how mexicans say, bugger!!!'
After he was done with his Masters, he moved back to India to help his family business. We hardly kept in touch, since we were both busy with our work. He attended my wedding ceremony and that was the last I saw him. Since he was from Chennai, I mailed him asking him if the tsunami caused any havoc. He wrote back he was fine, but a couple of his employees were killed. That was the last I heard from him. Turns out it was the last most of our friends heard from him. We spoke a lot about him, regaled ourselves with stories from our Stanford days and were often wondering how he was doing.
Turns out it will be the last we will ever hear from him.
Gaurav called last night. Sidhant Jhaver was in an accident last May and was killed. I have been in shock all day. I woke up this morning, thinking it was all a dream, and honestly I cannot believe it. I feel guilty. I feel guilty for all the happy occasions in my life since last year. I feel guilty for not being there. I feel guilty for not knowing for almost a year
I am sorry, Sid.
Nobody knows where you are, how near or how far.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Pile on many more layers and I'll be joining you there.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
And we'll bask in the shadow of yesterday's triumph,
sail on the steel breeze.
Come on you boy child, you winner and loser,
come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine
- Pink Floyd (Wish you were here - VI-IX)
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
A year later, the phone rang. "It really worked, Doc" the blonde called in to say "But there's a slight problem. I am a little lost, and I am 1500 kms from home!!!"
Why did I think of this crappy 7th std. joke? Well, read this.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The fact is that he is going through a bad patch in test cricket. The elbow injury was potentially career threatening and the theory is that he has not fully recovered. L'affaire Ganguly has shown that if he doesn't score heavily soon, he would be out of the Indian team soon. Which would be sad. I used to be a huuuuuggggggggggge fan of the man, so much so that I once told a friend that I was such a fan that if I had to choose between watching Tendulkar bat and attend my own wedding ceremony, I might prefer the cricket. I still think he has a lot to offer the Indian team especially in tests. So I would go for the following radical idea:
He should announce right here, right now that he will retire from one day internationals after the 2007 World Cup. That pretty much ensures that he will not be dropped from the ODI team at least till then, bad form or not. He has nothing to prove in ODIs and heck, the less he plays ODIs, the better he is for tests. It provides the Indian team a source of motivation. Heck, imagine what fun it would be India in the finals of the World Cup playing his favorite Aussies knowing fully well that this is his last game ever.
There's a few articles on the web, but this one probably puts the whole story in best perspective. Also puts my feelings in words. I was planning to write something on the same lines, but I got lazy and Mr. Shekhar kinda hit the nail anyway.
Hope the man comes out of this slump. I hear he is injured with a bum shoulder and will miss the ODIs against England. Somehow this test reminds me of the India-Pakistan test in Chennai (1999, was it?). 300 or thereabouts to get on the final day. An injured Tendulkar. An early wicket down.
How about one for the ages, Sach?
P.S. BTW, the friend that I said I would rather miss my wedding, ended up becoming my girlfriend. And, we ended up getting married on Boxing Day, India v. Australia. Luckily, I missed only one ball of the Man's innings.
SR Tendulkar c Gilchrist b Lee 0 (1st ball)
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Li Na Chi Man has come to this.. Sad.. Guess the multiplex craze has got another of its victims.
Even today my friends and I reminisce of our college days where we went for a movie every couple of days. It used to be one english movie every week (minimum). Pune in those days had only two cinema halls which showed English movies. Vijay (better known as Li Na Chi Man) would be one of them. I could literally give you a list of movies that I saw there. Lots of memories. My wife and I went there on our first date.
I guess the best time for Vijay was the 1997-98 time. And it has a lot to do with a certain Mr. James Cameron. As I mentioned, there were only two halls which showed English movies. And the other one (Alaka) had Titanic running for about a year. So the movie crazy Engineering students obviously stocked up on all the movies at Vijay. The Matrix, Toy Story, all the Brosnan Bond movies, L.A. Confidential, , a couple of Jean Claude Van Damme ones, I think about 4-5 Steven Seagal flicks. All ran to full houses. I don't remember which movie it was, but Vijay even had it's first House Full board. The board was garlanded and a ceremonial coconut was also broken. It was literally a gathering spot. You could meet old friends who had come with their friends circle. After the movie, all would head out for coffee / sugarcane juice (depending on the time of year) once you get out of the parking tangle. It's been 5 yrs since I have been to Vijay Talkies, and was shocked to see the picture in the Pune Times. From those heights, the glorious theater has fallen to these levels. Sad. Very Sad.
I think it is the duty of all engineers who graduated from Pune between 1996 and 2001 should go see Dhamaka Haseenon Ka, giving Limaye Natya Chitra Mandir a fitting send off into oblivion.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Native American family signs off a contract with a "white man" in good spirit. The white man goes off to mess with the Indian culture.
Chances are the white man will win in the legal battle.
What I found most hilarious was the 250,000 demanded for the emotional distress. If they win, it will be the most profitable haircut ever.
Can the world afford a free China right now?
Personally, I believe in the freedom of the individual and so a society where the citizens are not allowed even basic freedoms is something I cannot tolerate at all. But we must keep one thing in mind. The world functions as it does right now, because China is ruled with an iron fist. Chinese "reforms" may not help the Chinese people, but John Smith from Louisville, KY can buy a house with a 1-acre backyard on a 0% down loan, thanks to the Chinese investment of American government bonds. China now is home to a huge chunk of American manufacturing, a lot more than India does. China runs the American (and therefore by default the world economy) and does one really want to disturb that?
Not just that, answer me this: When did the last free elections take place in China? Never, if you ask me. If the Communists fall, there will be a huge problem, simply because there is no non-communist who is ready to take the reins of government. As India has shown, it takes time for the people to learn to govern themselves. Nehru was a great leader, but I doubt you can call him a great administrator. It has taken India 50+ yrs to get to where it is, and I bet it's not even 50% there. The pan-Asian countries (Japan, Korea) may be rich, but I doubt you can call them free in the democratic sense. The Japanese are still ruled by the royals, while the Korean boom was brought upon by military rule. Since the Communists in China suppress any threats to their administration, when they DO eventually fall, there will be no one to take control of the government. The first few democratically elected governments will be making humungously populist moves to pacify their voter base, the multi nationals will be threatened, and the world economy will be watching from the edge of a precipice.
You think the US with a 3 trillion dollar debt can afford that? So much for supporting the rise of freedom all over world.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Oppana is a popular form of social entertainment among the Muslim community of Kerala, south India, prevalent all over, especially in the northern districts of Kannur, Calicut and Malappuram.Turns out, these are wedding rituals among the Muslims of Kerala. These are not performance dances, but more like the sangeet that the Punjus (and crores of other Indians thanks to Bollywood) have around their weddings. The resident Mallu even clarifies that the song Kehna hi Kya from the movie Bombay was a Oppana / Mappila song.
Oppana is generally presented by females, numbering about fifteen including musicians, on a wedding day. The bride dressed in all finery, covered with gold ornaments is the chief spectator who sits on a peetam, around which the singing and dancing take place. While they sing, they clap their hands rhythmically and move around the bride using simple steps. Two or three girls begin the songs and the rest join in chorus.
Sometime Oppana is also presented by males to entertain the bridegroom. It usually takes place just before the bridegroom leaves for the bride's residence where the Nikah (marriage) takes place or at the time he enters the Maniyara.
Harmonium, Tabla, Ganjira and Elathaalam are the musical instruments employed for this performance. Only the Mappilapaattu will be sung on the occasion.
The word Oppana may have been derived from an Arabic form Afna. There are two types of Oppana, one is Oppana chayal another is Oppana murukkam. When Oppana chayal is performed, they do not clap their hands. If it begins with Chayal it would also end with Chayal only.
Mappila Paattukal or Mappila Songs are folklore Muslim devotional songs in the Malayalam language. These are sung by Muslims (Mappilas) of Malabar.
The first Gramaphone record in Malayalam Language was a Mappila song. In 1925, Gul Mohammed, father of celebrity artist KG Sathar recorded his voice in Gramaphone. Even though millions of Mappila songs were released thereafter on records, only few of them are considered as authentic Mappila Songs.
Mappila songs are composed in colloquial Malayalam and are sung in a distinctive tune. They are composed in a mixture of Malayalam and Arabic and have a special charm of their own. They deal with diverse themes such as religion, love, satire, heroism, etc.
Either ways, T1's comment on the IQ (Islam Quotient - my phrase, not his, sorry if I offend any one) of the parish committee is very true. It is important at such times, that people use their common sense, and not their interpretation of what is or isn't sin.
Must have been a heck of a game. I followed it as much as I could on Cricinfo at the end stages. Even on text commentary it was exciting. The Proteas are considered as one of the biggest chokers in international cricket. Their inability to win big games is well known. I bet the dressing room during the break must have been shell shocked. They had led the hated Aussies 2-0 this time last week, and here they were facing a target unheard of before to avoid losing their home series at their bastion.
On a side note, it wouldn't have been rated the best game ever, had the S. Africans lost by a run. But, this one did beat the previous best / most exciting one dayer ever (1999 World Cup Semi Final, also between the same two teams). Makes me think that had it been the Africans in the final of the 2003 Cup, they would have made it a better game chasing 360 against the Aussies.
Also, they scored 872 runs in a day. That's stupendous. Beyond belief. To put it into perspective, there's a test match going on in Auckland between the West Indians and the Kiwis. 4 days gone, they have scored 1046 runs. The game at Mohali has scored 750 runs in a rain shortened match. They have scored more than most test matches score in 3 days. 15 on 10 for the effort that both teams put into the game. It got me thinking. I remember a time, when 250 in a one dayer was a safe score. 6 an over was considered unattainable. Teams would score 300 batting first and then coast since there was no way, the chasing team would get there. Now, who can say that 500 in a one dayer is not possible? It would take an immense effort, but they said the same about 400, and here two teams scored it in the matter of a few hours. I guess the battle of a team 400 against an individual 200 has been settled.
I could go on and on about this. It was even more fun following this game, since India was not involved in this, and I could follow it without any partisanship. I cheered for SA, but I would have cheered for the Aussies, had it been the opposite case. I think a few years from now, a few thousand Afrikaners will proudly tell their grandkids "I was there".