Apr 30, 2012

April Ahoy! [120/365]

So here we are as another month comes to a glorious end.
And in the time-tested tradition of this blog, we review the vomit.

For India, April turned up the heat, and literally so.
Many parts of India have seen the mercury rising faster than it's inflation.
But we were in for a plenty of surprises too.

Dirty word of the month: Shock

Jennifer Love Hewitt, famous for her roles in 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' as the busty jumpy teenager, caused a controversy when pictures of her famous cleavage were digitally doctored to show a more 'respectably sized' mammaries. If you ask me, I'd say they knew our Censor Board well.

I slept through an earthquake I was supposed to feel. But much of India ran out of their homes, offices, bathrooms and boardrooms in panic. Rather fortunately, no casualties were reported and much of India resumed work after an unscheduled break.

Continuing our hate psychosis with the girl child, another well publicized girl baby was poisoned and killed in Bangalore. Thank God, I found a girl and married her. The time is not very far away when our grooms will not have any more brides to wed.

Agni 5. The Subcontinent's obsession with fire continues. And we still don't know which came first - the Chicken or the Egg. Unlike with dossiers, Pakistan responded positively with Shaheen.

And staying with Pakistan, a domestic airline crashed. One of those rare deaths not caused by it's local brand of terrorists. The time is nigh to curb accidents caused by sheer greed and negligence. Knowing how the company that owns the aircraft went about it's business, I am pretty sure all this will be hushed up very fast and the owner of the company will be basking in a non extradition country in a few months from now.

Apr 29, 2012

And the award for the Most Versatile Blogger goes to... [119/365]

I took to blogging as a way to release creative steam. And a lot of it.
Blogging allowed me to write in a way that defined the way I see things around me.
I am a hopeful romantic and an optimist.
People ask me why I blog when I don't earn anything out of it. A question I can't answer very easily. But someday, I'd like to earn a respectable living out of all that I write.
Am I addicted to blogging? I can't say that either.
But I am constantly thinking about what I'll blog for today. So that makes me a borderline maniac who is very critical and has an opinion about everything.

A day before the new year, a very good photographer friend of mine challenged me to a 365 Challenge to blog. Challenge accepted. So with the number posts and the topics I've been writing on, I have my fans and my haters.
But when one of my reader and a keen blogger herself, Ruchita Vakman  awarded me with the 'Most Versatile Blogger' award, it felt good! Really good. Thanks Ruchita!

There are some rules I need to follow though.
1. Create a new post. Check.
2. Thank the lovely person who nominated you for the award. Check.
3. Pass it on to your fellow bloggers.
This is not going to be easy.
Bloggers that I would like to recognize and in no particular order is,
Alka Narula. She is a wonderful poet and has a great eye for detail. I love the topics she writes on and she is also a guest blogger for my blog.
Saru Singhal. I find her poems really unique and expressive. You can almost have an image in your mind.
Nabanita Dhar. She writes on topics that you and I would've thought of at some point of your day. Besides, she is also one of the guest bloggers for my blog.
Joshi Daniel. For the wonderful pictures that he captures. Truly a thousand words.
Umashankar Pandey. Wonderful with words. Riveting.
Debajyoti Ghosh. Multi faceted. He has a unique way with satire.
Rohini Singh. Story teller and prolific writer. Must read the 'Incomplete Chapter'.
C Suresh. I love the humor and the wit in his posts.
Leopaw. He calls his posts 'Self Improvement'. I call it Satire, at it's best.
Ranjith. Funny. Wordsmith.
4. State 7 random facts about you.
Seven Random Facts?! Gee, isn't that really tough. Wait, I need to check my Wikipedia page. Oh yeah, I don't have a wiki page on myself yet. Okay, while I realize that this is going to come back to me and bite me in my derriere when I am famous, I'll still list them for your voyeuristic pleasure.
  1. -I love ink. Given a chance (and permission from gf) I would spend a significant part of my savings on tattoos. I've got three until now. Until I married, that is.
  2. -I am a recovering shopaholic. Once upon a time, far far ago, when I would shop until I drop.
  3. -I am freakishly freaky about cleanliness. I OCD with the broom.
  4. -I love collecting miniatures. Cars, aircrafts, ships.
  5. -I fantasize driving a big rig or flying an F22 Raptor. My favorite games are '18 wheels of steel' and 'F22-Raptor'
  6. -I love planning and giving surprises for my partner. Hate it if she finds out what I've been planning.
  7. -I crave for a vacation where I'll do nothing but read and write.
5. Claim and post the award pic. Check.
That's right. Take a good, long look at it. You are looking at the newest Most Versatile Blogger in this zipcode.

GuestSpeak: An Italian Job

‘Enrique Lexie’ is a name that we are very familiar with, the Italian oil tanker whose marines shot a couple of Indian fisherman. The fate of the marines who are currently in  prison in Kerala are not one that is to be worried about, they are being treated well by our ‘foreign’ obsessed police force and the judicial verdict taken care by our money driven advocates and prosecution.

The recent high court comment was worth notice; it opened its sentence with a precise remark. “Money made them forget everything” pointed out the court in the wake of dismissal of charges by the accuser after getting a very fat check. The high court is absolutely in the right in demanding a large sum from them for making a mockery of the Indian Judicial system and wasting its time. I would say it could have considered a few divorce petitions in this time and it could have been of a greater worth than this
pointless exercise.

For a recap, this is the unfolding of the drama in a nutshell. On the 2nd of March, Italian Marines placed abroad the Italian oil tanker “Enrique Lexie” shot at an Indian fishing boat killing two of the fishermen hailing from Kerala in India. The state government of Kerala was swift, the made the ship anchor of coast and arrested the two Italian marines responsible. The incident attracted international fame or at-least the attention of Italy, Italy was quick in response sending in their Minister and ambassador to India to handle the situation. But till a week ago it looked as if the perpetrators of this horrible crime would get the rightful punishment and justice would be served to families of the deceased.

But things took a downward turn when the SAC of India came out with a statement that baffled everyone, He said that the ship was outside the Indian Jurisdiction and India had no right what so ever to try the ones who killed two Indians in cold blood. This reckless single statement literally nullified all progress the prosecution has made in the case that already by reached the Supreme Court. The case still persisted due to the will of some of the parties involved But Italy was smart enough. They offered the families an offer they could not refuse, a cheque of Rupees 1 crore each, something that could set them
for life and just as we know it they accepted. I don’t know whether I could blame them? Rupees 1 crore is a large sum especially for a fisherman and his family.

The Italians did a real good job. The fact remains that the Italian marines are going to walk away as free as they ever have been, but the question poses a greater question before us, Does as the rest of the world say both in private and public that, Does Indian’s really have a price tag?

Written for 'Hold the Thought, Get the Point' by our guest blogger Rupertt Wind.
Find more information about him at Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and Blogger

Recommended Read:
An earlier post on the Enrica Lexie

Apr 28, 2012

The house of god [118/365]

Sachin with the symbol of Congress.            source: cricbuzz
Hurray! 2012 is indeed proving to be a great year for Sachin.
He finally got his 100th 100 and everyone popped the bubbly. Even the Bangladeshi's.
Sachin famously slammed his critics who goaded him to retire. Retirement? What retirement?

The aging superstar signed on a few more endorsements that will pay for his great grand daughter's wedding.
Just when you thought you'd heard (and had) enough of him, bang! Today's newspaper tells me we'll have to hear more.
Congress has signed up er.. nominated him for Rajya Sabha. (Read the top news here).

For those who bunked their Civic Studies/Political Studies classes in school/college, Rajya Sabha (also abbreviated to RS) is the upper house of the Parliament and has a total of 250 members, of which 12 are chosen by the President of India for their exceptional track record in arts, literature, science, sports and social service.

Not known for his oratorical or rhetorical skills, Sachin as a RS member is one of those questions that make you moan in silent agony.
For a sportsperson who is on the road for over 200 days in a year, I wonder how Sachin is going to punch in his attendance.
With a tendency to pick up injuries as easily as Ted Bundy picked up prostitutes, how is he going to fight for the welfare of sports in this cricket crazy nation?
But this does look like a massive effort at buying a brand ambassador for a government that is falling apart at the seams.
Or is this a sign that he is finally thinking of retiring as a superstar cricketer to start as a celebrity politician?

Whatever it is, India now has a new temple for it's god.

GuestSpeak: What’s in a name?

source: world wide web
Have you ever wondered why in most of the applications you fill, you are never asked for your mother’s name? Or if you are asked it is always after that of your father’s? Has it ever occurred to you why is it that children all around the world use their father’s surname? Have you? Well if you have not then do give it a thought!

It’s a mother who carries a child within her for nine months before bringing him or her to this beautiful world of ours. She is the one who invests a lot throughout her life to give her baby a wonderful and happy existence. When I say this I do not in any way mean that a father’s role is not vital. What I feel is if bearing the father’s name and mentioning it in every application is warranted then why not state the mother’s name too. She has played a role which is if not more than atleast equal in importance to that of the father.

Shakespeare famously wrote ‘What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’. While that is true but you cannot deny that a person is always first introduced by his name to his friends and acquaintances. When we meet a person for the first time; we do not ask what his hobby is or where he lives first. We ask what his name is to start with. So yes ‘name’ is indeed very important. So if the parents have equal share in raising a child then the child’s identity should most definitely be associated to both too.

A woman when married is expected to change her surname to that of her husband’s. Eventually when the couple has children then it is the husband’s surname that is carried forward. This to me is unfair and definitely not to my liking. What I feel is that the children should carry the last names of both their parents or have no last name at all. And I feel it is justified as the role and significance of either parents can’t be ignored.

The rules or dogmas of the society where the identity of a person is very closely intertwined with the father were made centuries ago. The same tradition is being followed till date. But I think the time to shake things up a little is now.

I am not sure how many have heard of the Khasi’s of Meghalaya. They have a tradition of using the mother’s last name for the children. I for one think it is very progressive as atleast the woman who invests her whole life in nurturing her children gets some social recognition for being the mother.

They say a mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie, and if she can forgo all her desires or wishes at some point in time for us then I think it’s high time the society puts her at the same pedestal with the father and if that begins with the surname or a space in the application forms then so be it!
 
Written for 'Hold the Thought, Get the Point' by our guest blogger Nabanita Dhar.
Find out more information about Nabanita and her blogs here

Apr 27, 2012

The Great Exodus [117/365]

In Kerala, there are just two goals in life-
1) Go to the Gulf, try to make a ton of money (or not) come back to Kerala in about 5 years, build a huge house, and live off the land. Some enterprising 'Gulf returnees' might even start a business to compliment their former lifestyle in the Middle East.
2) A second and a newer goal which is in vogue with the younger generation would be to study until your masters and get a government job. Apply for a job overseas, take a long leave from your government job, work abroad for a few years while still on the government's payroll and then come back to apply for a voluntary retirement. 

There has been plenty of cultural references to how rosy a job and a life abroad is. Specially in the Middle East.
Among those who travel to find work in the Gulf, I find it humorous that men would marry and then live abroad separated from their wives for five to ten years before they return to India. It is painful even. Men who see their wives only every third year, and women who have to mother and nurture their children all by themselves. Much like a prison term interspersed with short periods of parole.

Infamously, Immigration agents sell the 'Gulf dream'. Ordinary Joes' and Jennys' earning in 7 figures, living in accommodation that is paid for, eating food that is subsidized, traveling in company transportation and getting to save and send all the rest back home to Kerala. This is a very enticing dream if it wasn't a nightmare.

Having born and brought up abroad, I've seen how millions of Indians live bordering the poverty line in tiny tin roofed, badly ventilated shanty homes outside all the glitz and glamor of the cities that they helped create.
Many Indians reach here after paying anywhere between Rs 1 and 2 lakhs (approx $3500) for a visa, only to end up doing menial jobs that they would normally never touch with a barge pole back home in Kerala.
Many of the immigrants have their travel documents seized by their 'sponsor' the day they land, end up as prisoners in an hostile country, unable to search for another job or return home.

Many are so badly treated by their 'masters' that it can be termed peacetime torture. Many of them suffer in silence while some fight back, in vain. Human rights activists are not a favorite class of people. Their human rights records are nothing to write home about.
A majority of them do get to return home. Their spirit and bodies broken. Yet, none of this really will deter the next wave of eager Gulf immigrants looking for that dinar - rupee conversion. Little they realize that what they actually earn puts them below the poverty line in their destination countries.
But then, how can you blame the 'candidate'?
Organized immigration syndicates are a powerful force to reckon with. In cahoots with the External Ministries and immigration officials, the rupee greases a lot of palms. 
The Arabs need cheap labor. One who can build modern cities of wonder and amazement while still making sure they won't have the power or clout to revolt or demand for better living conditions. It's a win-win situation.

While there are thousands of workers from the Subcontinent who are trapped in a vicious paradise that won't let them go, mainstream media and most Indians back home will never get to hear their cries for help.
Their fervent pleas are muffled by the rush of foreign exchange coming in. But on the rare occasion that one 'prisoner' is freed, I wonder how the situation of the 9999 immigrant workers who are still stuck, is going to change.

In a land where we fight a beleaguered country for justice, can we expect justice for all who need one too?

Apr 26, 2012

PG: Sex [116/365]

One of the most fascinating things about Indians is how we treat sex.
We know everyone's doing it. We invented the KamaSutra. Some more than the others. So every couple of months, our law-makers and it's guardians feel the need to revise rules on what is right and what is taboo.
A couple of years ago, the justice system rattled the hornet's nest when it declared 'live-in' relationships as legal.
Today, it achieved another landmark by declaring sex with a person under 18 as illegal. (Read the rousing news here)
But wasn't it illegal already? And if it wasn't, what took them so long?

There are two sides to this.
The proponents of this law, rightly, believes that a person under 18 does not fully understand the physical and emotional ramifications of intercourse.
And the opponents of this think they deserve to do whatever they want whenever they want to.

Now, let me think.
I support the theory that individuals below the age of 18 cannot make informed decisions that includes things like having wild sex. But then again, I know a lot of people who are 24 and still don't know how to rein in their hormones or make proper decisions. If this law is designed to protect children from being victimized at home or elsewhere, they surely have erred. In a land where adults who have victimized don't get justice, what hope can children have?
I also understand what the opponents of this law say, when they demand the right to do what their bodies are telling them to do. Stifling them leads to piles and constipation.
Surprisingly, all of the opponents are the 'victims' of this law - Students. One particular comment of a student who was asked why he thinks this law should be repealed was, 'We hit puberty at 13. What are we supposed to do for 5 years?!' My answer - 'Study, Einstein'.
source: abovetopsecret.com

While I still know of a lot of women and men who are virgins right into their late 20's, I also know of a lot of school going children who are desperate to loose their virginity. But there is something so disturbing when children demand to have sex even before they can vote. Not that the elections are something to look forward to, but aren't children supposed to be studying and excelling in their academics/sports or something? Yes, I'm really old fashioned. 

But what is the role of the Supreme Court of the country when it sits a bench to decide on legislature like this?
It appears that we never seem to learn from experience. Prohibiting something can only make it more rampant. Underage sex becomes the forbidden fruit.

Fed on a rich diet of sexual innuendos and movies, our children are dying to just do it.
Setting an age is counter productive. Shouldn't we actually be educating our children to make informed decisions? Setting an age of consent is never going to work. 

Conditioning them to think on their feet rather than their genitals will.

GuestSpeak: Do you speak English?

"Hey you need to improve your English"
I overheard an English speaking lad who sat right behind me, at the airport with his friend. “but you understood what I said, isn’t that more important? In any case English is not our language so I don't care about the accent" said she and burst out into giggles. I turned around to look at the girl; she must have been in mid thirties, beautiful looking girl who appeared to be a small town girl from north India. The young guy looked at her with disapproving eyes. I could make out he was  not too pleased with her reply but had no answer either and in my opinion she was absolutely right in what she had just said.
source: the internet

Often I come across people who either try to correct someone or look down upon someone who neither can’t speak English nor has an accent to spoken English. It’s surprising to see people address someone uneducated if he or she does not know English. In recent past we have seen the names of few states having been changed back to their original names and also witnessed enough bloodshed in the name of religion, there are people who are not willing to accept Hindi as their mother tongue but we do stand united on English. And that can happen only in our so called Incredible India. Surprisingly after years of freedom from foreign rule we still have not been able to come out of it actually made their stay linger on in our minds. There are several other countries that became colonies of imperial rule but India is one country that seems to have adapted to a foreign culture so well that it seems to have forgotten its own culture, values and life style .Adapting to good things about others is understandable but adaptability to a language to an extent that one feels superior to the other if one has a command over foreign language is quite surprising at least I am not able to understand.

My question to those who think knowledge of English language makes them a superior species, like American Hollywood Nigerians can have a Nollywood and India can have a Bollywood similarly if a British can have a Brit accent, so can an American an American accent why can’t an Indian have an Indian accent. Why do Indians have to be perfect in a foreign language? There are rare opportunities when one may have noticed some one laugh at the other or treat the other person as uneducated who does not have a good command over spoken Hindi for that matter any regional language. Nor have I come across a person say "I am uneducated as I don't know Hindi” but one often gets to hear "Saab padha likha nahin hoon is liye English nahin aati". I think it’s high time we Indians came out of the shadow of the British raj and feel proud as being Hindustanis.

This post is written for 'Hold the Thought, Get the Point' by Alka Narula.

You can catch some more of Alka's posts at her blogs here and here.

Apr 25, 2012

Freeze! [115/365]

source: The Telegraph
It's just April and we've got a full deck of exciting things happening.
While it appears like we'll have a full show at the Olympics which is just 100 days away, we are already having a race of another kind happening. An Arms race.

So, India decided to go ahead with a missile that can reach any part of China.
China, being the cry baby it is, first declares the missile is nothing compared to the ones it has but later declares the missile could actually go further than it was announced.
Predictably Pakistan, not used to being ignored by both India and China, has test fired it's own 'India missile', a modified version of the Shaheen. (Read the explosive news here)

If the threat of a nuclear war was not frightening, this would have been the stuff of standup comedians.
Pakistan was the target of our fear and hate psychosis until a few years ago. And then we tested our nukes, intimidating our western neighbor. All we wanted, was to scare the Pakis just enough to keep them on the edge but not push them over that they attack us. But they did and when the world reacted in aghast against Pakistan, we achieved our first moral victory. Our victory at the battlefield mattered less. Gradually, we lost our interest in Pakistan and trained our bofors at another troublesome neighbor - China.
For many years, and since the latest Indo Sino war, China has been restructuring itself. She has been quietly yet consistently growing. Organically and otherwise. Into an economy that the world cannot live without. Today, over 80% of everything manufactured or processed is Made In China. They build 15 fully equipped cities in a year while we struggle with a over-bridge for 10. I know I sound cynic but the proof is in the pudding.
Our government fumbles with every single infrastructure project and corruption is so deep rooted that it's slowly desensitized us.

So if you can't reach them, scare them.
Enter Agni 5. (Read my earlier post commemorating death)

But here's what I'm thinking.
Why do we need to annihilate a country that we can stand to gain a lot, if only we are friendly.
We needed 5 versions of a missile before we could build one that could reach all of China?! What did the first four versions reach? Srilanka? Andamans?

If you ask me, I think the Pakis had the missile a long while now. It's just taken them some time to translate the Chinese manuals.
Why Pakistan still finds India a threat is something I find disconcerting. With all the thaw that has been happening between the nations, a missile test like this puts a freeze on our bonhomie. Maybe we could test our 'Pakistan missile' again. Just to remind them that we already have a missile that can reach any spot in Pakistan.

What are we trying to achieve with all these missiles?
Intimidation is one of them.
While both the countries have showed how they can push each other's buttons really well, I think it's time we stop all this posturing.
Deep down, we desire to live together.
When we are the same culturally, geographically and ethnically, why can't we learn to live together as well?
We may not be able to beat China alone, but together we can achieve a super- economy that is unbeatable.

Perhaps our political fathers have been frightened at the prospect of having us work in harmony. Maybe they just want to keep our twin away.
And a missile is a wonderful way to do that.

Apr 24, 2012

My GuestPost: Black or White [114/365]

My guest post for Alka was based upon a recent news article that heralded a fairness cream that can whiten a woman's vagina. Hell ya!

Find the original post written for Alka Narula's blog 'Random' here

Apr 23, 2012

Review: The Dirty Picture [113/365]

Marilyn Monroe once famously said: “Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents.” 

source: wallpapers99.com
Vijayalakshmi, simply known as Silk, was South India's answer to Marilyn Monroe.

I remember how movies that had Silk would be houseful in many towns and cities in Kerala. A phenomenon unlike anything they had in Indian cinema, many of her movies in Malayalam achieved cult status and were almost mainstream.
An incredibly talented actress who could not escape being typecast, Silk fell into the trap of a cruel industry that spares none. Her rise to fame was as meteoric as her decline to doom. 18 years after she first shimmied and seduced her way into the hearts of millions, she was found dead in her apartment in the southern Indian city of Chennai (formerly Madras).

Her legacy still lives on in the hearts and memories of the millions of South Indians, she continues to be a legend that defies logic. She exuded unbridled sex and inhibited seduction. So when the current queen of melodrama decides to make money out of it, that's something that every South Indian would want to watch.

Ekta Kapoor, whose earlier credits include Ragini MMS is known across India for her sitcoms that revived a flagging TV industry. And if you've seen Ragini MMS, you almost know what you can expect.
Vidya Balan, an incredibly talented actress, would at first sight been the wrong person to cast. But again, looking at her eclectic repertoire of movies, is perhaps one of the only two or three versatile actors in a male dominated movie industry.
The rest of the cast is inconsequential. The Dirty Picture is one of those female oriented movies where male roles are unsubstantial.

I got to watch the movie over the past weekend. Not on TV, thanks to the wonderful way the Indian censor board works, but on DVD.
As the movie starts, you see how Reshma (Vidya B) runs away from her home to Madras, in search of fame and fortune. Something that millions in India can relate to. The first thing you notice is perhaps also its most redeeming essence - Vidya Balan's extremely gutsy portrayal of a lady who knows what her strengths are and can exploit them. You see how determined yet strong willed she is as she refuses to give up on her dream to be a movie star. A determination that defies gravity and orbits the young and unabashed dancer to a super-stardom that begins to disorient her. We begin to witness the downward spiral of a helpless star who got stuck.
In an autobiographical movie like this, you won't have to guess how the movie ends.

While The Dirty Picture is not as steamy as Ekta would have you believe, you won't be disappointed either. The guy who owns the DVD library I rented this movie from was embarrassed and blushing when he handed me the DVD.
Vidya Balan delivers a performance that is exquisite, measured and very different from any of her previous movies.
Very into the character, yet without any of the sleaze that would make us cringe.

Would I recommend you watch The Dirty Picture?
Yes, I would.
One, for the performance of it's star- Vidya Balan as Reshma (Silk)
Two, for the reminder that behind all the glitz and glam is a person which unbridled passion and sometimes, doom
Three, for a rare glimpse into how Silk carved an industry all by herself, and the people who fed off her.

My Rating: 8

What does the ratings mean?
0-4  : Not worth your presence in the same zip code as the TV/Theater.
5-7  : Err... the movie is pretty, but it's definitely missing something. A storyline, that is.
8-10: 'Drop-the-dishes, stop-the-sex, jaw-dropping, that-is-incredible' 2 hours of movie experience

Apr 22, 2012

One day for Earth [112/365]

Greenpeace Cycle rally, Bangalore
Two years ago, when I wrote about the World Earth day, that was because of a popular campaign to switch off all lights for 60 minutes.
Good intentioned supporters of the campaign believed this would be the way to go and hoped this would lead to better awareness of the movement and would encourage citizens across the world to use their resources wisely.

2012: Nothing has improved.
The earth is in the plonk middle of what can be termed a definitive climate shift. Earthquakes and natural calamities are getting ever more devastating and millions around the world are suffering its after-effects.

What's strange is how reluctant we still are.
I've seen how sea levels have increased across the coasts in India.
Bangalore, down south, used to be known as a 'pensioner's paradise' and a 'city of gardens' for it's incredible weather and green cover. But over the past decade and a half, I've seen how the climate has changed. Summers are harsher and longer. Winters are bitter and short. The monsoons have been erratic (if any) and getting more unpredictable. And the story is pretty much the same in any part of this country.
The reason: Successive governments with vested interests and headed by individuals with absolutely no intelligence or inspiration and suspect motives. Politicians who started out honest but were anything but. And people who voted them to power and kept them there.

But it doesn't necessarily have to be only politicians, but common people too.
Case in point: Our apartment block has been facing severe water shortage, much like any other part of this city.
So much so that we had to buy two water tankers every day for the past two months.
This inspite of the fact that half the block is empty since their occupants are vacationing. So, what you have here a disproportionate usage. Breaking down this phenomena further, out of the six apartments that do have people staying (incl mine), three have 15 people each and the three remaining have only 2 people each. Given that we still do not have individual meters to calculate water usage, we are all paying the same amount for the water that has been used. Which means, the apartment that has 15 people will pay the same as the apartment that has only two. Get the drift?
Now, the plot thickens. We were astounded at how six apartments could still consume 3000 ltrs of water in a day, even when 14 apartments are empty. We decided to check for any leaking pipes. And we found the cause of all that consumption. One vacationer left his bathroom taps running. We had to summon a locksmith to gain access to his house and close the taps. His nonchalant and unapologetic response was "I'll pay for the water".
Well, thanks Einstein.

Eventually, its not about the money. But of the sheer amount of water that was wasted. Over 2000 ltrs of water a day for the past 20 days that he's been on vacation. 
Many of us are culpable to gross negligence too.
Many apartment owners in my apartment block own more than one vehicle. And some of them insist that they bathe their vehicles with atleast four buckets of water. Per vehicle. Every day.
This is the usage that we can see. I can't say they would be more discrete with using something as scarce as water for their other domestic chores. We theorize that since we are paying for the water, we have the right to use it as much as we want to. We also theorize that we can't make a change just by ourselves. We all forget the power of one.

People proclaim 'We can't save the earth'. Not possible.
I can save the earth. I don't have to be a rebel but an example.
The earth is the only place we will get our water and every other resource that we use. And abuse.

Until we get to point in our daily lives when we are able to recycle every single resource, use it wisely. Not because you are paying for it, but because you have just taken off that much off the planet.
The need is now. Earth can't wait for our consensus. I need to act. You too.

GuestSpeak: The French way forward

The elections are all set to culminate in France and all minds are wondering who would come to rile the nation ones ruled by the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte. The superficial ends there, but subtle realities present itself in the minds of its citizens with shocking bareness. The country is not in its best times, may not be its worst of times, with no Hitler to run over them and no external threads from its old enemy and new friend Britain, it’s not their worst times they have more serious problems troubling them unlike having a child at the throne this time its way more serious.

The French economy has not done much progress in the last decade; instead it was decadence that one would see in the socio-economic climate of the nation, its apathetic growth rate, the absence of virtually any trade, a utter lack of competition in the world export market, the swindling public deficits. The New France is much more inward looking, much more concerned with its own problems than its former time and rightfully so.  The nation who politics was once influenced by the factors outside its borders, like the al Qaeda, the Iraq and so can no longer afford to be ignorant of the burning in its own stomach. The New France is a narcissist. 

This electoral campaign has been wildly influenced by ideas relating to and limited to ‘French’ only, in fact a populist candidate has promised its youth all the wonderful things under the sun, if it opts to quit the euro zone, drive away its foreigners and do away with the Wall Street. This is a dramatic reversal from what the French elections were fought on the previous years and it’s very worrying.

The contending parties are as always The Conservatives and the Socialists, and the result of this election with hang in a delicate balance and far beyond the realm of predictability will have far reaching repercussions both inside and outside the nation of France or even Europe. The French is us unpredictable as it can get, after all, all of them have a spirit of revolution in their blood and it has to come out some time or the other.  It may be the same as in 1981 when France rejected the paths set by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan only to return to it in two years’ time. With this time be any different, only time will tell.

Written for 'Hold the Thought, Get the Point' by our guest blogger Rupertt Wind.
Find more information about him at Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and Blogger

Apr 21, 2012

Stooping to conquer [111/365]

Power is addictive.
You could be the statutory head of a country or a prayer group.

As an active member of a Church that I go to, I signed up to be a member of the House Fellowship Group.
The group didn't have a head, and since I had considerable experience coordinating and leading large groups of people, I volunteered to be a Convener. Bang!
The outgoing convener didn't take this too lightly. Out came the claws. Writing an elaborate email he cited breach of protocol and procedure.
Erring on the side of caution, we apologized. Several times. Profusely.
He wouldn't back down. He demanded the proper procedure and protocol be followed and reiterated that he would not want to walk away because he 'didn't want to create a bad precedence'.
When I reminded him that this really wasn't a contest or an election and that he was free to continue to be a Convener, he promptly retaliated with unhelpful reminders that this all about propriety and how he 'didn't want to cling on to power or money'. I know what you're thinking. Yes. Well, some people are just incorrigible.
His wife took up the cudgels to defend the honor of her beleaguered Husband.
While such infighting is a sign of a rot that is deeper, all this just for the post of a Prayer Group Convener. Really?!

Power, at any level, is exhilarating. The competitiveness can get very addictive. I've led large groups of people on corporate projects and thoroughly enjoyed being responsible and in charge.
I've enjoyed delegating tasks and overseeing people and making sure that everyone had a task they loved and worked as a team.

But how would you define an awesome leader?
Someone who can work under pressure, delegate tasks, foresee eventualities, be able to accept and deliver constructive feedback, nurture talent and achieve objectives. All while having fun. Someone who makes his/her job look really easy.
I've come to understand that people enjoy being in a team when they are all equal partners and responsible for the outcome.

Leadership matters, even when the position does not. 
But the money and fame is real, bubba.

Apr 20, 2012

Quirks of the day [110/365]

Headlining in the papers today;
And a day later, we are still basking under the glory of Agni 5. No shit.
South Korea tests missiles. In your face, Kim Jr
Mumbai gets its arteries back in action. (Interesting post!)
The Right to Education (RTE) becomes the best news that came out of India in a while.
Gansta chick Simran Sood (pictured) is convicted for her involvement in the murder of a upcoming Bollywood director. Atta girl.
The CBI continues it's raids on officials involved in the Tatra kickback. Sigh!
The cops have no clue who killed young Bangalorean, Monika Srivastava. Deja vu.
Datsun set to enter the Indian car market. Yay!
Across the Atlantic, the big O and Romney are set to give us a recap of 09.
Norwegian nutjob, Breivik testifies that he wanted to behead the exPM.
Chinese sportsmen/women stop eating meat, fearing they will accidentally ingest banned substances. Gee, that gives more meaning to the term 'Chinese food'.
IPL. 'nuff said.
The world prepares to race in restless Bahrain.  
Peace out!


Apr 19, 2012

Playing with Fire [109/365]

Mera Bharat Mahaan.

India is a land of public contrasts and private quirks.
We are not the most literate but have the most active media in the world.
Over 50% of our population live in villages and a similar ratio in poverty, yet our cities are bursting at the seams.
Our govt silos are overflowing with food grains, yet millions will go to bed hungry tonight. And every night.
We have one of the best interstate highways, yet nearly all our cities have roads that are miserable to drive on.
Mumbai has Asia's largest slum, and the world's most expensive home.
We have antiquated fleets Sukhoi and Mirages that fall from the sky even without a bullet fired, yet we have a million dollar Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.
Our Army chief tells us that we are sitting ducks, yet we are on the largest spending spree in the planet.

Agni 5, our latest boy's toy. 
While I agree we need to have a reliable defense shield, I wonder if the millions of people earning less than Rs 32 a day will agree to their cash strapped government building a missile that will cost a couple of billion a pop.
But what I can't understand is where are all the lovers of humanity? All those people who carped and complained about how obscene Antilia is in the midst of Daravi.
I remember how we smirked and whispered a conspiracy of hatred about the ludicrous display of wealth when the F1 track was built.

But, don't get me wrong, I have the most respect towards our soldiers who fight against all odds. Even the ones we stack against them.
I salute the brave hearts who patrol inhospitable places like Saichen and Kargil round the clock. We owe you a lifetime of gratitude.


But is having a missile really going to cure our insecurity? I don't think so.
Besides igniting an arms race in an already fragile world that is armed to the teeth, a missile with a fiery name is not going to do squat for our economy.
If our government really wants to make our borders secure, they need to start equipping our ground forces and air combat units with better weapons. With the kind of antiquated guns and sub-par equipment they currently fight with, it is a miracle we have not been invaded yet.

In a nation that is fighting Maoists and Naxals from within, does it really make sense when we spend billions on arms trying to defend itself from external threats?
If you ask me, what we need is not another missile to target China, but one that will target every corrupt politician in our country.

Quick question, Mr Politician, who is funding all this?

Apr 18, 2012

My GuestPost: My Name is not Khan

Alka Narula, in her own words is a self made entepreneur and Interior Designer from the magical land of Jammu. But what she does not mention is that she is a prolific poet and blogger too.
Being a former poet myself, I appreciate poets who take the time to translate their thoughts in rhyme. Writing poems can be nerve wracking! .

Anyways, having invited Alka to write a weekly post on my blog, I thought it was only fair that I write for her blog too.
So here you go:
Find the original post written for Alka Narula's blog 'Random' here

Review: A good Kahaani [108/365]

source: bollywoodhungama
One of the better thriller movies to come out of Bollywood, Kahaani is a wonderful movie.
I managed to watch the movie with my girlfriend over the past weekend and I was very impressed with the pace and the storyline.

The story revolves around the efforts of a pregnant wife searching for her husband who has been missing for several weeks in the north eastern Indian city of Kolkata.

Vidya Balan is at her creative best here with her outbursts of emotion while still looking chic.
Parambrata Chatterjee, as the smart, young police inspector portrays the essence of a city that is warm and eager to help with ease.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui, revels as the steely intelligence officer.  Saswata Chatterjee, plays Bob the cold blooded assassin with no heart with panache.


Considering a good amount of CGI has been used, the intro could have been spookier, but nonetheless it sets the tone for the movie. Nice touch.

The movie succeeds in capturing the essence of the city while still not appearing like a documentary on Kolkata. The warmth of the people through the movie is touching and realistic. The emotions well expressed.
Bob is definitely one of the stars of this movie

The movie manages to keep you intrigued with many different subplots woven together in a gripping story. Kahaani is a welcome relief for those fed up of the mundane.
I could see shades of Resident Evil, Swordfish and Salt in this movie though it could be purely because I've seen and loved those movies before Kahaani. Overall, the movie stands out with some amazing acting. The cinematography could have been polished a little more but nonetheless, this movie is definitely a wonderful example of what Bollywood is capable of.

Would I recommend this movie?
Definitely yes. And I'd also recommend that you watch this movie atleast twice. The first time for the intrigue and the second time to let the characters sink in.
Kahaani definitely has all the ingredients to be a cult in the league of Salt.

My Rating: 8

What does the ratings mean?
0-4  : Not worth your presence in the same zip code as the TV/Theatre.
5-7  : Err... the movie is pretty, but it's definitely missing something. A storyline, that is.
8-10: 'Drop-the-dishes, stop-the-sex, jaw-dropping, that-is-incredible' 2 hours of movie experience

Apr 17, 2012

Creative Visualization: Cuarta parte [107/365]

Commercials are no longer what they were supposed to be.
Today's commercials can no longer convince its audience to buy shit. Commercials today have a lot of graphics and less of the soul. Commercials today are very cartoony and thread the fine line of fiction and plain deception.
Case in point the new Colgate Total toothpaste ad. What scan really shows germs and plague on a screen like that? Maybe you can sell that to a layperson, but coming from a family of dentists, I can say the ad is absurd at best and deceptive at worst.

Today's brands need a celebrity and well, considering our obsession with Bollywood and Cricket, becoming an actor or a cricketer means you get to endorse a brand for a couple of millions too.
In today's post, I present some of my favorite and sometimes absurd but most unique commercials on television.

Deepika's Nescafe 'Shake' ad is so over the top.
Many men will love the way her curves have been accentuated, but I'm thinking: 'Is this how she serves Nescafe at her home?'. Is this an ad that respectable middle class parents can watch with their teenaged children in the same room?
My Rating: 5


And here's another of her ads for Neutrogena. With the number of formerly dusky ladies that endorse fairness creams today, it looks like after a thousand years being dusky and beautiful, we are finally beginning to hate our skin.
My Rating: 5


And while we are still talking about our obsession with the fair skin, here's one of Sonam's earliest ads for Loreal.
My Rating: 5


I simply loved the charm and beauty she exuded in this ad. Which is more than what I can say for one of her latest Loreal ads.
My Rating: 3


Sonam looks completely different and I can't decide if the transformation is a sign of how her movies are going to be. She looks positively vamp-like. I almost feel sorry for her.

While Sonam looks like she's sold her soul to a Shampoo, her colleague from B-Town Anushka Sharma has been making some waves of her own. Of the couple of ads that she is in, my favorite is the Canon ad.
My Rating:7


While this was cute and funny, I find most car and bike ads beyond ridicule. Zooming through streets with no potholes, no traffic (or traffic that is disciplined) and no freely roaming cows. Blah! Who are they kidding?
But the latest ad for the Hyundai i20 is a bunch of baloney. A copter comes swoops the car like it was a twig and drops it in a beach. WTF? Right, does that mean all our airlines will finally go out of business now?
My Rating: 4


And while we are talking about airlines, one of the most profound and tasteful ads on TV will be the one by Emirates.
If you don't understand what it means the first time, don't fret. I didn't either and most people won't. But watch it a couple of times and you'll love the way every person in the ad connects seamlessly. In a way that advertises the beautiful and diverse places the airline flies to, to the many people and experiences you have, the ad is absolutely well done.
My Rating:8


So until next month, Adious!

Recommended Read:
Creative Visualization: Part 1


What the hell do the Ratings mean:
0-4  : Not worth your presence in the same zip code as the TV
5-6  : Err... the advt is pretty, but I hate the concept/product
7-10: 'Drop-the-dishes, stop-the-sex, jaw-dropping, that-is-incredible' 15 seconds of TV

Apr 16, 2012

Mamata, stop reading! [106/365]

source: cartoonexhibition.blogspot.com
Mamata has always been a massive pain in the ass.
Actually she is a human equivalent of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

She kicked the Tatas and the Commies out of the eastern Indian state of West Bengal.
The nation rejoiced and mourned, depending on who you asked.

Under her rule, and in the last couple of weeks, the slide downwards has been quicker and more pronounced.
The farmers and the intellectuals, her constituents and the only reason why she came to power after decades of uninterrupted commie rule, have suddenly started having that bad after-taste. Did we make a mistake?

Ruling from the State she shot down plans made by the Centre and got her way every time.
She started on a path of riding the state of all her predecessor's footprint.
And her plans have ranged from the bizarre to the truly 'out of her mind'.
Coloring the state and the capital city of Kolkata blue and changing the name of the state from West Bengal to 'Paschimbanga' clearly shows how the lady is out of touch with reality.

While much of her antics didn't really create a furor with the intelligentsia some of her recent diktats, like the instruction to state run libraries to stop subscribing to certain newspapers not loyal to her party (read 'her'), jailing people who forward cartoons that lampoon her, and now barring her party workers from marrying anyone from the commies, are really making them squeamish. What is she thinking?

Mamata. Why don't you focus all your spinster energy into getting progress, industries and hope back into a state that has been battered for decades and while you are at it, you must really do something about that massive human trafficking that goes on under your nose.

While I can understand why politicians would want to sanitize their territory, what I can barely believe is how the voters react to this. Some do it to prove a point, some to undo 'grave injustice' and others to just divert public attention from a more obvious rot within the system.
But all Mamata is really doing now is giving the opposition ammunition to fire back.

Apr 15, 2012

The lesser known Heroes [105/365]

source: Bangalore Mirror
While humanity will continue to debate if size does matter, I've always believed that disability doesn't matter.
I've been fortunate to interact and work with several people who were physically or mentally challenged. Besides the fact that we tend to forget how we take a lot of things for granted, physically challenged individuals are exceptionally abled.

They may not have the same faculties that we have, but they do have the same aspirations as we do. And most times, their challenges and the lessons that life in a cruel world has taught them, they are stronger willed than most able-bodied people I know. Perhaps we write them off too soon. Perhaps we kiddie spoon them too often.
While serving with NGOs like Freedom Foundation and Spastics Society, I've realized that we need to treat them with dignity and respect. They really don't need a freebie. They won't ask you for a concession or a quota.

When I see people with a disability begging on the streets and at traffic stops, it baffles me. I wonder why we allow them to live the easy life. With the kind of potential that a differently abled individual could bring to our world, I wonder why we would encourage any disabled individual to beg ever.

Case in point, 23 year old visually challenged student Poonam Vaidya. Reading her story in 'The Sunday Read' within The Bangalore Mirror gave me a tinkling feeling. I felt good reading it. (Read the inspiring story here)
One of the best lines, and one that I've always believed in, is when she says - '...A disability is only a disability if you think it disables you. A disability only prevents you from doing something in the way other people do it. It doesn't disable you, at least that's what I think.'
Living as a visually challenged person can be cruel in a world of colors. But Poonam set her goals, knew her limitations, explored her possibilities, stretched her abilities, and conquered her summit.
It is people like this that proves that there is hope in this world.

A big standing ovation to the lesser known heroes of this world: Bravo, Poonam!

Recommended Read:
Poonam's blog
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