Monday, January 30, 2012

Of Gods and Men...

As the older one wakes up, the younger one falls asleep...

And so passes yet another Sunday.. 

One where you spend the entire day running after chores, cleaning house, putting kids to bed, waking them up. If there were 30 hours to the day, you'd still be running on empty by 9.30 pm. 

One where "work-life balance" means going to office!!! 

Which makes me wonder, "How the hell did our parents manage all those years ago??"

There was no TV to distract the kids, there was no microwave to quickly heat the food, no washing machine to wash and "spin-dry" the clothes, and (hell) no Pizza delivery!!! To add to that, there were shortages of everything. Money, supplies, toys, you name it. New clothes were stitched 2 sizes larger by the neighborhood tailor because ready-mades were out of our budget, and "hand-me-downs" were probably all that we wore through the day. Eating out was, at best, once a month.

It was a time, when moms worked not for a career, but because without the second income, the family faced penury. I could bore you with details of my parents slogging their backsides off, just to get us everything we wanted, but I am sure you have more details of your own.

It always makes me wonder why folks list the Ambanis and the Tendulkars and the SRKs as their role models, when there are more inspiring (and relevant) idols in their own homes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Looking London, Talking Tokyo...

So by now we all know that Salman Rushdie will be addressing the Jaipur Lit Fest through a video uplink which will be thoroughly vetted by censors for inappropriate mentions of banned utterances. He was going to attend in person, but he now has some threat to his life, true or otherwise, and so our man is forced to present like he is giving a job interview in a neighborhood Reliance Web World.

Death of Free Speech, I hear you say?

Well, Free Speech was never alive in the first place, but anyway, that's not the point of this post.  

The organizers could very well have saved the entire embarrassment to everyone concerned, if only they had organized the festival after March 3, 2012.


Nothing to do with any astrological misalignment, of any kind.

You see, the entire brouhaha about Salman Rushdie, has nothing to do with him, his book, his speech, or anything like that, and has everything to do with the elections in our great state of Uttar Pradesh.

You do know that the Congress is in tough battle with the Samajwadi Party (at least in their minds) for the so-called "Muslim" vote there, don't you? Outlook tells me from a few weeks ago, that most of the population would vote for whomever the village imam sahib would tell them to vote for. The Muslim vote would define the power brokers in Uttar Pradesh, a crowning moment for Rahul Gandhi to gain ascendancy into an eventual prime ministerial berth.

Put it another way, not a single participant, author, reader, fan, organizer, journalist, or Reliance Web World operator is going to vote in Uttar Pradesh come February. Do you seriously believe that, with so much at stake, by inviting the one man in this world who is associated with blasphemy against the Prophet (PBUH), a Congress chief minister would risk giving the SP so much of an advantage?

So I ask you again,

Death of Free Speech??


A Vibrant Democracy??

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Eternal Sunshine of a Curious Mind..

I mean, do you really really care whether they figured out the Higgs Boson the other day?? Here's some research I would rather have someone do:


-          How many traffic accidents are caused by idiots on the road with earplugs in both ears blaring music?

-          How much water is used, when having a shower when compared with a bucket bath?

-          On the same lines, what are the efficiency losses of a shower versus a bucket bath,(temperature and volume)?

-          If my phone can have a radio, and the internet, why can't my car stereo, so that I can play live internet radio instead of Radio Mirchi and the like? With a 3G enabled SIM, that should be possible, yeah?

-          If mosquitoes breed in still water, then why don't we introduce genetically modified, sterilized mosquitoes in our taps?

-          Why is it that I am in the same trouble if I run over a sober pedestrian when I am drunk, and a drunk pedestrian when I am sober?

-          If Teflon is non-stick, then why don't they coat toilet bowls with some, instead of peddling Harpic?

-          Why is Christmas the same day of the year, but Easter date is floating? If they knew the day Jesus was born, couldn't they also record his passing?

-          If you can have battery operated inverters, why can't you have battery operated microwaves so that we can use them even when the power is out?

-          Who defines what constitutes the middle class? Surely, everyone I know CANNOT be the "middle class" that they say they are, can they?
-     If so, more to the point, where do I stand?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

No offence, but why you so angry???

Someone I know, and respect a lot, sent me this article 

I read this article, and also some of the others that have been forwarded to me from the same blog in the past. And the one recurring theme in these articles has been how the media are crooks. This is related to stuff I have been writing in the past, though with a slight difference. And I just wanted to make the situation and distinction clear.

Unfortunately, for modern India, it is the Congress that is the standard ruler. Like it or not, all political parties in modern India, are born out of an opposition to the Congress. The Jan Sangh, probably for some time defied that rule and went more on principle, but the BJP of today, is more an anti-Congress party rather than a pro-principle party. The principle that the Congress was built on - independence from the British - is so antiquated, that in a few years from now, the youngest freedom fighter for India's independence should logically be about 75 years old, and most likely has defected from the Congress already. None of the core values that any of the parties were set up for, in any case, has anything to do with the development of the country.

But they're still in power, and have been so for all except a few occasions. Let's face it, if the country really didn't want the Congress to rule, it had 15 chances in the Lok Sabha to ensure that. By my count, only on 5 occasions has it done so (Morarji '78, VP Singh '89, Deve Gowda/Gujral, Vajpayee '98, Vajpayee '99). A score of 10-5 is a score I would take that the country really likes the democratic monarchy concept. Even on the 5 times we kicked them out, 4 times out they got the largest vote percentage as a single party.

What does that tell someone?

In most of the cases, my challenge has been to sift through the media and identify articles without a hidden motive behind them. Yet, it's one thing to call media as "puppets in the hands of unseen masters", it's quite another to term them as crooks. That Rahul Gandhi is following a template set by his grandmother, (and subsequently followed by his father) is obvious. However, it's not worth getting so angry on Rahul Gandhi or even the media. They are doing what (in their opinion) is in their best interests. What hurts me more, is that the phoneyness in the entire exercise that seems so obvious to me, doesn't seem that obvious to others.

Which could also mean that it is my interpretation that is wrong. If I am the only one seeing this facade, then maybe it isn't a facade, and what Rahul Gandhi (and his caravan) are doing is really what people like. The king, the benevolent ruler, showers goodies on the "praja" and they are happy with their lives, and the king is free to do as he pleases..  He is the King, after all!!!

Maybe people do like this kind of mollycoddling, after all.. Could it be that people expect Government to be
like a benevolent king? Their mental image of the leader of a country, seems more like a "kind" ruler, rather than one of us. Stories of leadership told to us are Lord Rama, Vikramaditya, Shivaji, Tipu Sultan, Akbar etc. - all kings with no known oppostion, or even a known history of tolerating dissent (probably Akbar, but even then there is no history of anyone surviving a dissenting opinion with him). We don't have a history of the knowing the truth. What we have had, consistently through history has been a set of smoke and mirrors which we assume as "Rajdharma".. You look at Anna Hazare's movement for example, and all you will see are cases where the expectation from his group has been following this Rajdharma.. He has no qualms thrashing drunks, and forced sterilization if you have more than 2 kids, where the final word is that of a one man prosecutor, judge and jury.
On other fronts, I would be very interested to see how the "Maryada Purushottam" would have responded to breaking news that he sent his wife into exile.

Which begs the question, why is it that they do this? Are they evil people, who have pure evil on their minds?

Or could it be that they're doing this, for no other reason, than it is bloody effective..

Fool me once, shame on you..
Fool me twice, shame on me..

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The story thus far...

12,145 days into the journey, realization dawns that my only possible entry to Masterchef would be a glass of Bournvita for my daughter. And hence the need for some stock taking, divided into four major categories.

Things I should do, and could do, but don't
 - Invest my money (let alone wisely). I like it in my bank. Helps me stay honest.
 - Keep in touch more with people. I think I am better than many, but that's no consolation. The blame goes in equal parts to ego and laziness.
 - Learn how to cook for my kids and wife.The first statement pretty much sums up my culinary abilities. Part of it is because I need to...
 - Learn how to stay focused. Most of the time I have a plethora of thoughts running through my head. Very tough to think straight. Which is one of the reason, I have not been able to...
 - Write a book. I have a story, in my head. It's not in your hands yet, and the only one to blame is me.
 -  Listen to my wife a bit more. Especially when it comes to anything that can save me a few rupees (like haggling with fruit vendors). Even otherwise, I think I should listen to the wife a bit more. Make that quite a lot more.
 - Lose weight. Big Time.. Know pain, no gain!!!
 - Be a little bit more bothered about stuff. Patriotism, Cricket, Art, Movies, Politics, Corruption. I feel like Teflon at times. In some quarters, you would say, I need to show more "passion", but since I don't quite know what it means, I don't know how to show it more.

Things I do, that I (probably) shouldn't
- Secretly wish that the jerk who cut me off and is zipping through traffic on his bike like a slalom skier, falls off the bike. Same goes for the hypocrite who wears religious attire and runs his bike through a no-entry on M.G. Road, simply because there's no cop to catch him.
- Dig my nose. It's embarrassing, I know. But compared to some of the other addictions around, I say it's rather harmless.
- Think that most people are not out to screw me. Which is why I cannot fathom why my morning newspaper seems to go out of its way to suggest that people are out to screw me.
- Consider spelling mistakes a personal affront to a reader on part of the writer. Don't know why, but I do. Sue me!!!
- Feel jealous when someone does well. Sucks to be me at the time. But, I think it is for a reason.

Things I like to do, and could do 24/7, especially if given some encouragement
- Surf the internet. Not for Facebook or Twitter or anything like that. But mostly for interesting stuff happening all over the world, trying to increase my knowledge.
- Read. I read the old paper wrapping from the bhel puri parcel, if it is in a language I can read.
- Write this blog. If you want me to write 24/7, you guys need to follow this more frequently, and click like crazy on all the ads that you see on this blog. That way, Google pays me, and then I don't need to work for dinner.
- Watch people smile. It just gives me a kick.
- Have music playing in the background. Reminds me of my childhood, when the radio played during all waking hours.

Things I don't like to do, and wouldn't touch with a light pole if I had an option, but have to do. 
 - Fake enthusiasm. Biggest problem with me, I can only market stuff I am truly enthusiastic about.
 - Performance reviews. Most of you know why.
 - Have an opinion. I hate opinions, more than I hate faking enthusiasm..
 - Talk about myself, especially to impress other people.

I'm quite sure there's more stuff, but I'm starting to listen more to my wife, and therefore stopping all this non-sense, and doing something more worthwhile and putting the kids to sleep :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Que Sera Sera..

If I am playing the percentages, I think neither of my kids would be an engineer or a doctor. This is not a reflection on their aptitude in school. Just a reflection of the percentages.

Neither is in school right now, so all I have is statistics, and there are more people who are neither engineers nor doctors, than there are. So, probabilistically speaking, my kids would not be in these professions.

But there's a series of ads floating the rounds on TV these days that says that my kids could become peons (who save employees in office through timely use of the Heimlich maneuver) or master crooks (who can crack digital locks on those gigantic bank safes) who wanted to be (respectively) doctors or engineers but couldn't because their father didn't have the money to invest in their education fund (IDBI or something).

I wonder why they didn't pick lawyers, architects or chartered accountants. On watching this series, if a father feels guilty enough to invest in this fund, I can guarantee that this father is neither an engineer nor a doctor.

I can also guarantee that not a single soul involved with this ad series, has ever got an engineering or a medical degree.

But that's not the point of the rant here.

I would like to boldly predict on this post here that over the next few years, the engineering degree will be redundant.

Engineering knowledge is no longer centered in a school, college or university.

It is now out there. In real time with streaming live video. With the click of a button. Or a search engine.

If my daughter wants to be an engineer, she can just look it up on the internet, while Fourier turns in his grave.

The funny thing is, this democratization of engineering knowledge was made possible by engineers themselves.

As for medicine, it'll probably become more specialized so the probability of getting in, are even more remote. But the payoffs won't be as great.

Because there are options outside of medicine which can give you a comfortable living anyway.  Without the 24/7 on call lifestyle or the gory details.

In other words, keep your money somewhere other than this IDBI Future Save or whatever.

Your kids will thank you for it, when you buy their entire school class that ice cream sundae.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Maybe it's just me..


.. Corruption is not the biggest issue concerning India. We have been corrupt for years together. Kings and princes gave the country to the British, in order to retain their riches. Judas did it for 30 pieces of silver. Corruption has been going on for so friggin' long that we know how to deal with it. The numbers are higher today, because the payoffs are higher. The Bofors scam cost the government 160 crore extra, with 21 crore kickbacks. Bloody rounding error compared to the 2G scam.

.. Forget policy paralysis, forget election fervor, forget democracy or the lack of it.. The biggest issue concerning India today, is the inability of people (myself included) to think for themselves. Outsourcing of responsibility has reached such levels that even responsibility of thought has been outsourced to news channels.. Time has always been 24 hours in a day. Ever since the Big Bang exploded. Don't tell me you don't have time to think.

.. Speaking of democracy, and how everyone keeps harping about why we're no longer a democracy because we are not free to write anything on Facebook. Well, young man, we never were a democracy in the first place. I don't like Sibal telling me what to post, just as much as I don't like Advani telling me to have beef without cow slaughter. But hey, republican democracy is a collective agreement that we will follow the rules we set for ourselves, which by the way includes holding elections for our representatives. Democracy is not equal to freedom to do anything you wish. That, by my memory, is anarchy. I don't like anarchy. You are free to like it if you wish. Just don't do it here.

.. Which is also why, much as I hate Rahul Gandhi getting prime position to take this country to its doom just because his mom was lucky enough to wait at his dad's table in University, it really doesn't do me any good by ranting at him (Rahul, not Rajiv, who is dead, bless his soul). If we were a true democracy, let alone Rahul Gandhi, but his dad, uncle, aunt, and grandmother would never have come to prominence. But they did. Just as Uddhav Thakeray, Ajit Pawar, Supriya Sule, Chandra Babu Naidu, the entire Scindia parivar, M.K. Stalin, heck, even Jayalalitha did. Some have some merit, some don't, but they did come to prominence because their relatives. And it's not that they wanted to be in that prominence. We've never really moved on from monarchial patronage. If you keep the King happy, you can do whatever you want. So, if the King dies, it makes sense to have someone from his family take his place, so that you can continue your shenanigans. If you get someone new in his place, he will find out your deeds. In return the King has to ensure that his subjects are happy, and leading a prosperous life. Patronage flows at the lowest common denominator. Mahadev Babar's son is going to be the next candidate from Kondhwa PMC ward. I know that, not for any other reason, but that he has a son. Three of them. His seat is vacant, so he's going to get one for his son. If he dies (God forbid, he's a good person), his son will contest the MLA elections. Simple as that. So that's what we are. A democratic monarchy.

.. But why freak out at politicians alone? We have a Jackky Bhagnani and a Hrithik Roshan. Take out Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar, and every single Bollywood hero that I know of, is there because of his contacts. We have Arjun Tendulkar getting a chance to bowl to Rohit Sharma in the nets. Parents name their kids Mukesh, for Ambani and not the singer, simply because Dhirubhai was a visionary.. It happens, it happens every where.. Live with it.

..  And I hope he never gets his 100th 100. I don't give a damn. What I DO give a damn about, is that we keep losing Test matches. AND FOR GOD'S SAKES, STOP CALLING HIM GOD!!!! You're pretty much associating Sachin with someone who will send you to eternal Hell, because you didn't do as He told you.. God subjects his subjects to tough love like malnutrition and female infanticide. Coming back to SRT, 99 centuries has a good enough ring to it and a conversation piece for a lifetime. If he gets to 100, all we'll say is he was a great player. But we do that already..

.. I don't give a shit when Saif marries Kareena. All I curious about, is if she takes up the "Khan" surname, and whether she converts to Islam. Truly, it's none of my business, but the highest paid Hindu actress in a Hindu majority country converting to Islam for love of someone 15 years her senior, would be a big story, no? Would do wonders for communal harmony. Especially if she takes to the hijaab and wears those fashionable plastic red and white bangles inside. One thing I know for sure, she would have some hot shot designer design her veils..

.. Speaking of which, given the age gap, and the fact that he's a Nawab, would Kareena be a trophy wife??

.. I wonder why we don't make more out of the Bollywood personal lives. I mean, 4 top actors (Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir (twice), Saif (one and a half) and Hrithik Roshan) have married outside their religion. Which is good. It's funny how we enjoy their lives vicariously, having them as role models for what they do on a cinema screen, and not follow their real life good deeds. I also don't understand why these people don't come out in public and say that to them, all this doesn't matter.

.. We're so reluctant to speak about the things that actually bite us in the bum. We keep clinging on to our world view, with no thoughts for how things keep changing.. We're nothing that we say we are, we're everything we say we're not..

That's not just India, everyone..

There, I said it.

Happy New Year, everyone