Saturday, August 25, 2007

If Only I could turn back time...

I saw her in the mall. And I knew instinctively it was her. She had changed tremendously from the last time I saw her. But she looked to be at peace. The years were showing. The old limp was still there. She passed by without recognising me, but I knew that I HAD to go and say hi. So, I went up to her and addressed her:

"Excuse me, Mrs. Chopra??"

She turned back, and looked at me. She instantly figured who I was - a student from the years gone by - but couldn't tell which one out of the hundreds that would have passed by her hands.

"I was your student - Chirag Panjikar"

"Oh yes, my... you've grown up.. You had a younger brother, right?? How's he doing?? And do you still live in Sangeeta Colony??"

We spoke briefly and bid goodbye, but that entire conversation left me with a mixed feeling. It is very gratifying to have your old teachers recognize you and your family in an instant even if they have not seen you for 15 years. But you do feel guilty, when you see a person being so genuinely nice to you, when all those years ago, all you did was hated her guts for giving you that one mark less.. You'd ridicule her nasal voice and her habit of saying "Am I right, boys??" after every new concept.. You'd make fun of her behind her back.. There are some teachers in school that you love, and some that you absolutely abhore.. In my school years, Mrs. Chopra would fall in the latter category.. If anything, if there's a reason I would attribute for my distaste for Biology, it's because she taught us Biology in class 8.. But I learnt something today..

Today I learnt that, regardless of what I thought of it at the time, it was never personal. Makes me pity that kid in the 8th standard all those years ago for being so juvenile..

It DOESN'T happen in India

I don't know how I land up reading the wierdest links. but this one is clearly one in the hall of fame..

To pique your interest, I shall quote the first line from the Article:

In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission.

I bet you are intrigued now to read on ...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Of all the things being read and said about India on the 60th Independence day today, here is the best line I have read thus far, and possibly is the most apt one:
If India didn't exist, no-one would have the imagination to invent it.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Strange but true

Today's Times of India has Dinesh Karthik on the front page, and Lalu Prasad Yadav on the sports page.

I am not kidding, go check.


A great set of articles, I understand it would be causing loads of controversy and only hope people take it in the right spirit. But it should be a great spring board for discussions and possible some brainstormed ideas.

Please read them in chronological order (one links to the other actually)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Animal Instincts a.k.a. The Battle at Kruger

I debated long and hard about whether I should embed this or link it. In the end, I decided to embed it, simply because YouTube had embedding possible. I figured that if YouTube allows it, I should be ok with legal hassles.

But it is quite simply a must watch. If you have not seen it before, I suggest you watch the video. If you have seen it before, I suggest you watch it again.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Holy Crap!!!

You don't want to be stealing necklaces in Calcutta. Much as I like bananas and chicken and rice (not necessarily in that order), I am not sure I would like to go through the torture of having to eat 50 bananas.

But the best part of the entire silly news article was this and I quote:

A sweeper was paid to retrieve the exhibit from the toilet. Mr Mohsin was asked to wash it.

Instead of reporting on Bihari labourers who magically speak "English with an American accent", the Hindi news channels should report such "crap".

Definitely a lot more entertainment and a sure shot crime-prevention tactic!!!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Things I think I think

-- I think now that we beat England (quite convincingly, that too) you really can't call Indians poor travellers. We have won more tests away that any other country not named Australia (including one in Australia, how many countries can say that???) in the last 5 years, and (I don't quite believe this) lesser test matches in India. Suddenly the talk of poor pitches in India is not heard any more. And to be honest, England got exactly what they deserved. A spanking on the backside. And no, there's no moral victory in sports, and you didn't deserve to win the first test. If you cannot bowl out the Indians in 95 overs on a fifth day pitch in your own home country, you do not deserve to win. You cannot bowl out Sreesanth in 5 overs (LBWs don't count, as they are totally subjective) you don't deserve to win. As for the mouthing and chattering, I really don't think we need to apologize for anything. We can safely say that we didn't start it. Some people drop jelly beans to distract opponents, some bowl head high beamers. KP got exactly what he deserved. Will remind him of what could happen on a cricket field the next time he is driving his Porsche Carrera. When Mark Prior says that 11 men are hunting together, what's wrong in being hunted by a head high beamer? There's an excellent article in the Times Online, (not apna raddi Times of India) by Simon Barnes.

Money quote:
The England cricket team are suffering from confusion. The players believe to a man that behaving like an arsehole makes you a better cricketer. The fact is that it doesn’t. It only makes you an arsehole.

Australia is not the best in the world because they talk a lot. They are the best because they score more runs and get more wickets than the opposition. The Aussies never distract, they play fair and are absolute gentlemen when it comes to the game. They would never need jelly beans to win.

-- BTW, Murugesh, you do get maids in the US. But it's ironic. Maids in the US tend to have a better life than the people who employ them. A lot of them are there illegally, don't have to pay taxes, can get by without speaking a lot of English, and tend to drive better cars than their employers (this is absolutely true for some of our friends in the US). I guess it has something to do with the fact that there are not enough maids in the US, so there is a skill scarcity. The fact that Anarkali gets only 1500 rupees per month (5 houses, 300 per) must have something to do with there being so many, that if she was to ask for 350, there would be someone who would do it for 300, and Anarkali would get 0 instead of 1500.

-- I am now coaching our young nephew Siddhant the intricacies of Maths (Algebra and Geometry). I open his Algebra text book and all I see are words. Why would Algebra books have any prose in it? More importantly, why would anyone want to learn Algebra if all they get is literature? There's not enough sums, not enough Maths in Maths books.

-- A few weeks ago, I had posted a blog as to how I would start a political party funded by the stock market. Now here's this website, Intrade, which is into prediction markets and where people play with real money and buy "stocks" in different prediction markets (Hillary nominations, Musharraf departing), and have shown startlingly correct results. It's enough to say that we would be able to predict election results with much better results than exit polls if people have their money on the line. The promise of a prediction market is simple and profound: if you ask a lot of people a question about politics or sports or Hollywood movies, and those people are motivated to answer it correctly, their collective judgment turns out to be fairly accurate. (Similar philosophy to why the KBC Audience gets the correct answer more often than not, their motivation being to do good to the contestant).

-- Work is hectic, life is fun. How about you guys?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Catch-22 Economics

Murugesh writes in:

What do we do to change the scenario. BTW, in US,is it possible to get a maid servant.

Can you find out a solution to start for such issues. (I mean to bridge the both sides of India). you can blog on that. try to search for really practical solution.

I wish I knew the solution boss. We have an eminent economist for a PM, and even he is struggling.

Rich and poor are bound to happen in a classical capitalist system. For sure, there will be people who make more money than others, but the classical capitalist system provides avenues for the poor to make money. Getting them to depend on dole from the rich really does not help them. Because, the rich give when it is possible for them to give. Since it's not always possible to do so, one day this charity would stop and then the problem would persist. Instead if they are given a chance to work, to be employed then at least they have some skill to trade in exchange for money, thereby getting them to a milestone on this journey. Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime. (I think it's a Chinese proverb). And one thing is for sure, it might be a "low-fashioned" skill, and it might be illegal, but Anarkali is providing a skill to society, for which she is compensated. Through the years, she probably will see that her skill is not worth the same compensation as someone her age who went to school. Hopefully that would make her force her kids go to school even when the money is not there.

I would love to say that the population is also to blame, (Again, Anarkali's family has 7 children, i.e. more than the total number of first cousins that I have), but her parents have no incentive to have a small family. I can bet, not all their siblings survived childhood, and I would like to say its a fair assumption that not all of Anarkali's siblings have survived. When there is no guarantee that all their children will survive, there is no incentive to a small family. We have to improve the quality of public health care for the poorest of poor and much as I would like to try, I am not an expert. (On this subject, do check out Abhinand's blog and his work.) In the end it all boils down to treating every one the same, regardless of economic standard. If there are equal opportunities for every one, things will start to improve.

Most of the barriers though are in the minds of people. Human beings, being the only species with the ability to think (or so they think), are prone to pre-judging people they do not know. It's easier for them to attach a label (of economic bearing, religion, sexual preference, whatever) to a new person as an excuse to not associate with them, as against getting to know them, learning about how they live, their lifestyle. By attaching a label (or an adjective) they are blocking their minds from improving the status quo. Only those with a genuine incentive would do that, and there is no incentive provided by society since society is composed of the same pre-judging people who have no incentive to do so.

And no matter how hard I try, I cannot change the way people think. That can only come with time.