Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Random Musings for the new year

There never really exists a right way and a wrong way to do something, does it?? You are faced with a situation, you react. Or you don't..

But even not reacting is a reaction in itself.. It is a decision taken by you to react according to the situation based on the facts available. Only time will tell if the results would be favourable..

So, how can one say whether it is a right decision or a wrong one before make it??

And by the time you find out, regardless of the outcome, it is a moot point..

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sandgroper's Movie Minutes -- Ghajini..

Oh Aamir!!!!!
Looks like you saw the original "Memento", decided to copy it, and so tattooed it on your eight-pack abs, but forgot how the movie went.. And there was no polaroid to click scene by scene..

Friday, December 26, 2008

December 25.. Christmas day, Pune.. M.G. Road.. Roughly 7.30 pm

Mighty crowded even by M.G. Road standards.. No chance to cross the streets with traffic and with the impromptu walk plaza that occurs on holidays and weekends.. Hawkers everywhere, people everywhere..

As I approach the car, I see a bag lying unattended right behind my rear tyre.. I ask the nearest hawker who the owner is.. He shrugs and walks away..

I freeze..

A looong minute later, the true owner, another hawker, takes the bag.. But for that one minute, a whole range of emotions went through my mind...

Sad to say, but the terrorists are affecting our daily life!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Things I think I think - 2008 edition

2008 has been fun.. became a father for the first time.. Also, turned 30.. India's doing well in cricket, and the Indian economic story is not quite the Cinderella story that most people hoped for.. Elections are coming, and security is the new buzz word.. A black man stands to become the leader of the world, and China is now the best sporting nation in the world..

But I still think that I think ..

So here goes..

- If 26/11 (as they call it now) had happened 2 months later, the UPA would have lost the summer elections big time.. Not that they won't in this situation, but at least they have some chance of damage control right now.. The best thing going for them (in my opinion) is that the only candidate the opposition has is L.K. Advani who is 81, while they have Manmohan Singh who's 76, and therefore can go another 5 years to become 81.. Other than that, there's no real reason to vote for either of the two..

- Now if you vote for me in the next Lok Sabha election, that's another story...

- Is India in a better shape than the US, economically?? I really don't know, but it does appear so, doesn't it?? Tata Motors is not bankrupt, nor has HDFC gone bust .. Not yet at least.. The US still drives the world economy, but not sure if it's going to last.. Not to say that we're peaches.. Our trade deficit is high, and our balance of payments are still at a slight worrying factory.. But the fact is that we have had some experience of living life with austerity, which the US seems to have lost.. China is also doing good, but has now come perilously close to the danger level of overheating.. And the funny thing is that the world economy stands to lose more if China goes bust..

- Speaking of security measures, and having a police state and all that.. Someone threw his shoes at George W. .. And missed.. So he tried again.. and missed again.. And he called George W. a dog.. the worst insult to make, outside of calling someone a pig.. and then they put him in jail.. That's it.. No killing everyone from his tribe with Sarin gas, no neutering all the men on his side of the family, no gorging eyes out of the women of his clan.. Nothing.. Just jail.. All the things you do to free a country and this is what you get..

- But then, this also tells you that the best security in the world can only do so much.. If the shoes had had nails in them, or something funnier, it would not have been so funny.. Tells you that all the kings horses and all the kings men cannot stop a single nut job from doing what he feels is his duty..

- Anyway, now time to go to sleep.. Before we go, here's something for you for the holiday season.. Call it an election campaign video..

Have fun for the rest of 2008..

See you in 2009..

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Different Drums and Different Drummers

This last week, I was in training.. For the first time in my life, probably, I was in non-technical training. And, for the first time in my life, I was actually influenced by the training. It was the usual, managerial type training, "Influencing without Authority" or something like that. I went with a slightly cynical mind, so I don't quite remember the exact title. But I did come out of it, slightly converted. Some things in the session hit me real hard. This following passage was one of those things. So, in the spirit of what I learnt, and want to share, I am reproducing it in its entirety:

Different Drums and Different Drummers

If I do not want what you want, please try not to tell me that my want is wrong

Or, if I believe other than you, at least pause before you correct my view.

Or, if my emotion is less than yours, or more, given the same circumstances, try not to ask me to feel more strongly or more weakly

Or yet, if I act, or fail to act, in the manner of your design for action, let me be.

I do not, for the moment at least, ask you to understand me. That will come only when you are willing to give up changing me into a copy of you.

I may be your spouse, your parent, your offspring, your friend or your colleague. If you will allow me any of my own wants, or emotions, or belief, or actions, then you open yourself, so that some day these ways of mine might not seem so wrong, and might finally appear to you as right - for me. To put up with me, is the first step to understanding me. Not that you embrace my ways as right for you, but that you are no longer irritated or disappointed with me for my seeming waywardness. And in understanding me, you might come to prize my differences from you, and far from seeking to change me, preserve and even nurture those differences.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. But in ourselves..

Imagine this for a second..

You go out with your family for a quiet dinner.. It's your parents anniversary.. So you, your brother, your parents and your significant other go out to this nice, quiet restaurant.. It's slightly pricey, but days like this don't come often, do they? As you go enter the restaurant, you have to first pass through a metal detector. Then they put make you take your belt out and your shoes out and your jacket out, and put that through an X-Ray machine.. Once that happens, a policeman makes you stand with your hands and feet wide apart, and touches every part on your body to make sure there's nothing suspicious..They also say that in spite of the air conditioning, they'd rather keep your jacket with them for security reasons..

Oh and by the way, enjoy your meal..

I know I am going to get killed for this.. But I really do think that for once the politicians are not to blame for the Mumbai horror..

Terrorism happens.. The state can do something, when the opponent is another state.. When a single person / group decides to do something, the state is completely powerless... There's no way Shivraj Patil would know if I Google how a bomb can be made, make it at home and blow up my building..

The easiest option is to blame the system.. People are confused, they know something bad has happened, and they know someone is to blame.. It couldn't possibly be the cricket team, and it couldn't possibly be Bollywood, so it must be the next obsession.. The politicians.. They are not here to defend themselves.. They are weasels anyway .. They cheat, they lie, they do everything for their own "faayda".. They don't know how to control the security, when they take up all the Z-class and Y-class, and ABC-class security.. Why did the cops have to battle with lathis against grenades.. Why did they not have the commandos come in earlier?? Why don't they give the police more power??

Why?? Why?? Why??

The easiest option is to go to a police state.. Most people want that today, it's the need of the hour, they say.. But would you like Shivraj Patil (or PC. right now) to know the websites you go to?? As kids, you hated your parents snooping on you, and now want the world to know?? You might think today the need of the hour requires the system to know every single individual thing about you, but you really don't .. You're just following what the easiest option is.. The problem with the police state, is that there is no end to it.. The danger never really goes away.. Not now, not ever.. Deaths reduce, but the hordes who might die, would die anyway.. 15 might die instead of 100.. But tell that to the families of the 15.. And you have 15 more people who become terrorists themselves..

No... I am not the peace loving idealist.. But hear me out..

What you need to be is be prepared.. You can never prevent a terrorist attack.. Especially if you are not liked around your neighbours.. For all the terror of the Osama clan, the most terror that the US has been under was under the days of Unabomber.. You never knew when he would strike, and you never knew who he was.. But you need to be prepared for a strike.. You need to show the terrorists, that hit me with your best shot, and I can still prevent any deaths.. The Japanese have not sought to use technology to prevent earthquakes.. They just built paper houses.. Israel does not do much to prevent terrorism in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.. It simply makes military training mandatory.. You have to show the terrorists, that even their best shot is going to be nothing more than a simple mosquito bite..

I bet 20% of the deceased could have been saved with some common sense.. We never have placed the importance on emergency response.. All the pictures that you see where the folks (good samaritans, them) are carrying the injured holding all their limbs.. Carrying them like in the old days when the kings would go on Shikar and get the "kill" of the day.. For all the talk about the politicians not doing their job, consider this..

Not one of the hotels had an updated layout.. Not one of the security folks set off the alarm for people to leave the building.. If I know right, the terrorists went from the bottom up, taking the stairs.. You're telling me that they were quicker to get to the sixth floor (of the Taj, no less) than it was for people on the sixth floor to come down via the emergency exits??

Did any of the loud crappy TV news channels, say anything about the lack of basic first aid knowledge?? For all the noise about bureaucratic hassles, and how politicians are sucking the life-blood away from us, how many people know the first thing about first aid?? CPR lessons bring the giggles out.. Even basic bandages and slings cannot be made properly.. I know, I am trained in Emergency Response, and I am bad.. How many died of loss of blood and trauma against actual wounds?? How many died of carbon monoxide posioning due to fire?? How many of those who died knew that the simplest thing to do in a fire is to wet a cloth and hold it against the nose?? How come in a hotel which is primarily a hangout of non-Indians, and most of the rooms are occupied by non-Indians, the people who died were Indians?? And this, when the terrorists were looking for British and American passport holders??

And while I am on this topic, here's something to think about..

India lost 3% of its GDP in 2005 due to road accidents... 94,985 people died in 2005 in road accidents in India.. In 2006, more than 100,000 were killed.. And I bet the number has gone up in the last two years.. For all the Kashmirs and Godhras, Bodolands and SIMI activitists, I bet we have not lost so many in terror attacks.. Thus well mannered, patriotic Indians have killed more of their countrymen than nefarious, brain washed Pakistani terrorist jehadis.. But it never hit the news channels.. it never hits the papers.. it doesn't figure anywhere on the top of the list of election promises..

If the terrorist lies in us, tell me, what could poor Shivraj Patil have done???