Friday, August 31, 2012

Ghosts of rapes past [244/365]

Our founding fathers wanted India to be a secular republic that would love its minorities as much as it loves its Hindu majority. While no one will deny that the partition was a wrong start, the delicate truce between the Hindus and the Muslims have stood strong. Historically though, we haven't done too well on the communal harmony scale.

Two decades ago, Bombay witnessed communal carnage which should have never happened. We thought we learned our lessons. Ten years ago, Gujarat witnessed the century's worst community rioting.
Yesterday, many of the ghosts of that memory was laid to rest. With the Special court in Ahmedabad sentencing 32 of the accused, this could set an healthy precedent for future perpetrators.

While the guilty serve their massive sentences, I am alarmed at several things.
One- The extraordinary amount of time it took the Supreme Court to convict. Many of the accused were acquitted because of the really long time it took to investigate
Two- One of the main accused is a former minister and current legislative member of the ruling party in the state. The fact that she is the first woman to be convicted of a crime this heinous is terrible news.
Three- The chief minister of the state washing his hands off the carnage. He simply refuses to apologize.

While the nation watched much of the carnage live and in stereoscope, I wonder how Modi could absolve himself of the worst human rights violation in modern India.

Is anyone else worried that he could be our next Prime Minister?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Our trigger happy cousins [243/365]

Cultural references are funny and incredibly predictable.
Every time I speak to an American, one of the few things they confess is how much they loved 'Slumdog Millionaire'. They quickly followup with 'So is it like that in real-life too?'
But as cultural references go, the Americans are choc-o-bloc with some colorful past-times. If cross-continental car chases were in vogue, the past decade has been one of mass shootings. 
Igniting the debate on gun control was the midnight shooting of theater goers at the latest Batman sequel in July, the Gurudwara shooting earlier this month, the suited gunman who killed his former co-worker and now, the shoot-out at Texas A&M University.
Source: Gold is Money

Interestingly, gun control proponents like to point out that there is gun related violence even in states with tough gun control laws, I think the crisis is more endemic.
It could be a coincidence that there has been a spate of gun related massacres in the last couple of months and years, and the way I look at it, it is the result of a trigger-happy government that is unwilling to rein in their weapons manufacturers. The citizens of a nation emulate their leaders. When a country allows its guilty to amass obscene amounts of money and refuses to punish them when proved guilty, then the citizens of that nation will have no moral compulsions bribing and being bribed. When a country follows a global policy of bullying while selling arms and ammunition in the name of policing, then its citizens are brought to believe that guns are as American as apple pie.

In a twisted way, we are not very different from the Yankees. Both of our politicians are weak kneed and lily-livered puppets in the hands of powerful businesses and political handlers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hang that bastard [242/365]

Kasab got the noose. Finally!

After spending much of our tax payer Rupees, 53 crore to be exact, we can be proud that we are hanging our most favorite and only Pakistani scapegoat. While the world (read Pakistan) wont say we abused him while in custody, today's ruling looked like some of those promotions that happen in the corporate world. It was decided a long while ago.

Why we spent all those crores on him when we were going to hang him anyway is beyond me. Surely we wanted to prove that we are different from our trigger-happy cousins in the West, but there is some wisdom in their insanity too. Case in point, Saddam and Osama.
While Bush did the foolish thing of allowing Saddam to be tried, his death brought about unnecessary rumors. Lesson learned, Osama was tetra packed to the sea floor with no fuss or drama. See, India could've have done the same too, but our politicians are too vainglorious to miss on their one chance to strut.

So then, by parading Kasab like a prized Himalayan bear, we showed that we could set aside our urge to strangle him and give him a taste of our legendary Indian hospitality.
I would love to get inside the head of Kasab. I would love to know what he is thinking- of his motherland, who did wrote him off and of India, who fed him Biriyani and protected him round the clock.  Kasab, please don't mind the wild celebrations we had when we heard you are going to be hung.

Just one question, Kasab: Why didn't you walk into the Ecuadorian embassy? Blah!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Coalling it [241/365]

In the future, there wont be a single government deal that will be honest.
And the future is now.

Desensitized by the number of scams in the past five years, my head reels under the sheer amount of money that we have (lost). Whoever says India is poor must be flogged and sentenced to death for making unpatriotic statements.

While Coalgate is going to make much noise for the next couple of weeks or until the next big scam/scandal, I wonder how much we have learned from the mistakes our leaders have made until now.
A quick peek into our past- Nira Radia tapes, CWG Scam, housing loan scam, 2G spectrum scam, porngate, Barak missile scandal, Tatra truck scam, Ice-cream parlour scandal, Hawala scam, Kargil coffins scam, Adharsh Apartment scam, Toilet scam, Kinetic finance ltd scam, IGI airport scam, Granite scam, Land allotment scam, Bellary mining scam, BBMP scam, cash for votes scam and the list just goes on...
I will bet my last buck that not one of these will see justice. No, I'm not being cynical nor am I pessimistic. I am a realist.

As the ruling coalition and it's main opposition is locked in yet another battle, it is anybody's guess who will blink first. Eventually, it doesn't matter who sits on the moral high horse, because we are doomed.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Naked! [240/365]

Don't say you never saw this coming.
Prince Harry's naked butt.

That's right. Seeing how it has been a while since the Royal showed a bit of flesh in public, Prince Harry decided to break the 'dry spell' when pictures of him naked in a suite in Las Vegas surfaced on the internet.

Red-faced and visibly embarrassed, the future King and current Royal Airforce Apache pilot was 'letting off some steam' before he heads to Afghanistan. Gee, that explains it all.
See, it was only a little bit of innocent drinking, stripping and cupping, you know. Never mind that there was an unidentified lady too, but chances are she will be identified in the days to come and she will be offered millions of dollars to spill her two cents of juicy bits (no pun intended) of the crown jewels. Had this been in Mangalore, Harry and the lady would have been taught some lessons in modesty.

So what does this entail for the Prince?
While he is surely going to get a royal earful from the Queen and his father, I doubt if this will be the last time we see the pink bottoms. Harry is too wild to be tamed.
But then, knowing how allergic the Royals are about being caught naked, I think he will turn a corner here.
He might loose his job in the Airforce, but considering how Playboy and the Chippendale's are tripping over each-other to hire his pink tushie, I don't think he will have too much trouble earning.

God bless the internet.
And oh yes, the Queen too!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The city of a thousand stink [239/365]

Two decades ago, Bangalore was known as a city of Gardens and a Pensioner's Paradise.
Ten years ago, India's Silicon City.
Today, it earns a new sobriquet for itself- Stink City.

Even as the city reels with a water crisis, there are a lot of reasons why its citizens won't see the light of a solution for its garbage. Ruled by land-sharks and businessmen masquerading as politicians, the city has gone from being one city with broad lanes and a thousand lakes to that where pedestrians won't dare step out.

Landlocked with such culture, heritage, and blessed with weather that would make any visitor its fan, Bangalore is a fine example of how you can run a city into the drain.
We are plagued with power outages, inefficient administrators, potholed roads and crime anywhere you turn.

When you look for a home, you no longer ask if that area has steady running water and facilities, but you silently pray that it gets better and quieter. You no longer ask if there is a hospital or a school nearby but if the garbage will be collected and cleared on time.

Garbage segregation and trash collection in Bangalore is a myth. A couple of years ago, there used to a show on television called 'Faking it'. Today, as our politicians fake it and duel within themselves, the real issues are being white-washed over. Landfills are exhaustible and it does not take a genius to realize that. Segregation and recycling are not terms from sci-fi anymore. Dozens of countries and millions of households around the world are already doing their bit. While Indians have always been known to reuse and refuse, if our overflowing garbage bins and spots are any indication, I am beginning to think our garbage is the same as our corruption. There isn't a single person who can clear up the muck that we all contribute to. Our scavengers (holy cows included) are however having new items on their menu.

Bangalore- City of hundred dead lakes, thousand holy cows and a million tons of garbage.
Let's toast to that!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Man on the Moon [238/365]

'One small step for a man, One big leap for mankind'
Truly one of the most famous quote in history.

Neil Armstrong, first man on the Moon, died aged 83.
As a boy, reading about the Apollo 11 mission was my first tryst with adventure. Today, I relived those early years when I read about man's first voyage to the Moon.

Though I never idolized Neil, I know of plenty of friends who did and some who are scientists and astrophysicists today. Back in the 70's and early 80's, when the fight to explore space and beyond was still gaining punch, Neil was a reluctant hero and a true gentleman who held on to his values. I remember one particular news article which stated how he sued his long time barber, who sold his mane without his permission. The barber ultimately had to donate the proceeds of the sale to a charity of Neil's choice.

It is quite rare a person of Armstrong's fame try hard to stay in the shadows. Neil almost never signed an autograph after realizing that his 'fans' were selling them for huge profits.

While America has lost one of its finest astronauts, the world has lost a hero that has inspired millions.

RIP Niel Armstrong

Friday, August 24, 2012

The new face of plagiarism [237/365]

I can't decide if plagiarism is a good thing.
When it comes to the written word , lifting entire sentences off an authentic piece of literature is a bummer. I know tons of fellow writers whose work have been plagiarized. I also know of a few people who have shamelessly copied from good yet lesser known writers. While it takes a lot of creativity and talent to churn out a good article, it takes just good 'googling' skills to steal.

Today, US Federal courts found Samsung guilty of infringing on several of Apple's patents. Slapped with a $1billion fine, this could be a judgement that could set off some healthy precedents.
In an ideal world, creativity would flow. No one would need to copy ideas and we would have empty prisons. But in a less than flawed world, what Samsung did was sheer stupidity.
If blatantly copying the designs was not enough, it slapped a tit for tat lawsuit against Apple.
The courts ruled that Apple owes Samsung $0.

$1billion is a lot of money for ordinary folks like us. But for the Most Valued company, this is a merely a drop in the bucket. While Apple is no saint, it is no victim either. Over the past several years, it has tried throttling the competition (read Google and Microsoft) in as many ingenious ways as it could do. Its environmental and labor practices are corporate examples of capitalistic greed.

In a world where the lines between what is rightfully creative and deceptively stolen is often blurred, this judgement is a whiff of fresh air. In a day that looked like Apple couldn't go wrong, Samsung deserved to be punished.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Enough is Enough [236/365]

Lance Armstrong. A name that will symbolize perseverance and endurance.
Today, that name will also symbolize a rot in our governance- Of making an example.

After fighting a decade long dope claims, he finally threw in the towel.
Critics will say this is a sign of acceptance of guilt. Supporters will mourn how one of the finest cyclist became the victim of witch-hunt. What this surely does mean is that Lance will be stripped of all his titles and be handed a lifetime ban on competitive cycling.

I've never seen Lance in action but having being a part of the cycling community for over five years, I can say how he is to cycling what Maria Sharapova is to tennis. When I read the news, I can say I could understand the toll it took and the reason behind his decision. I uttered a prayer for him in my heart and lauded him for the courage he had in taking such a decision. I also laughed at how you can always be the victim of witch-hunt no matter how good you are, where-ever you are.

Lance spoke of the trauma and the pain that his family and relatives had to go through because of the allegations. I can understand that.
He spoke of how the allegations were affecting his work amongst cancer patients and survivors. I can understand that too.

While his critics will now have say 'See, I told you so' at the way Lance gave up, I think this will be the first time he will truly sigh in relief.

So, does it matter whether he doped? Does it change the fact that he has and continue to inspire millions of cyclists and cancer survivors the world over? Does it in any way malign the incredible work his Foundation has done among cancer victims? Does it matter that he will be banned from cycling? I don't think so.

Playing the devil's advocate, even if we are to assume that the USADA was right and Lance did all the heinous things that they claim, prosecuting him will not deter future cheats. Or does it?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The roads we take [235/365]

As we fight for promotions, live for our children and spouses, do you pause to live a moment for yourself? Its easy to forget our Creator and His purpose for us in this world.
In today's post, I introduce the five roads in the Bible.

Damascus road- Road to salvation. ACTS 9: 1-9

I was born a christian. Loved sunday school since that meant play-time. Went through church as a ritual and did everything that a Christian would do. I was a completely superficial Christian and I never even realized that, until 3 years ago. What followed was a baptism by fire. I had my damascus road experience when I realised that you can sing all the right hymns, read all the wonderful scriptures and do all the right rituals but unless you let Christ take over, you aint got nothing.

Jericho road- Road of compassion. LUKE 10: 30- 37

If you're reading this, then the chances are you are one among the 40% who are fortunate.
You have the education, the money and the resources to make a difference in the life of another person. The challenge is our perception. We think we cannot make much of a difference. The fact is we don't have to change the world. Just one person.

Calvary road- Road to sacrifice. JOHN 19: 17

We all make enormous sacrifices in our lives. A single mother who raises her kids while her husband toils in a foreign land makes an enormous sacrifice. The spouse who sacrifices his/her time so that he/she can spend more time with their spouses. As children we learn to make sacrifices. As adults, we forget it.
I've realized how fulfilling it is when I sacrifice some 'me' time or when I decide to switch off the tv so that I can spend some time with my partner. I won't lie. Sometimes, it seems unreasonable, but when I think about the great time we have together, talking and sharing ideas and views, it is worth the sacrifice.

The Emmaus- Road to fellowship. LUKE 24: 13- 31

There is some truth in 'birds of a feather, flock together'.
Though I am not cut out for socializing, I discovered that I do enjoy fellowship with people of the same emotional and spiritual wavelengths. Almost all of my closest friends are
wonderfully spiritual people. Meeting and bonding with people who will challenge and stimulate your soul is important.

Road to Heaven- Road to holiness. ISAIAH 35: 8-10

And finally, you have the potholed and narrow road to holiness. Your final destination.
I know far too many people (moi included) who think they will have the time to seek mercy and ask for forgiveness before they die. The mistake we all make is that we assume we can do as we please until we get to our death-bed. The reality is that only the really lucky ones will get to a death-bed. The rest of us will either die en-route.

Question for you:
If you were to die tonight, are you sure you will be in Heaven?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Creative Visualization: Sexta parte [234/365]

After a lengthy hiatus, I return to pass judgement on some of the advertisements on TV.

With the Oly just behind us, one advt that I simply loved for its 'heart' value was the P&G advert 'To their moms, they'll always be Kids'. With a brilliant background score and the sheer emotions it wells up inside of you this ad is at the top of my list this post. What an incredible way to portray an irrefutable truth!

Citi on its bicentennial year released an advt that was both rousing and endearing. Some really neat montages, a good tune, great narration and the advt makes you want to rush to open a new account at the nearest Citibank atm.

But off all the ads, the latest Nokia advt for its colorful accessories take the cake. Nicely trimmed with an original composition, it was compelling and fun at the same time. At the end of the ad, I wanted to rush to buy one of the Bluetooth thingies for my android.

And when we talk about endearing, the Dairy Milk advts are cute and very personal. You may not get the storylines the first time, but you'll surely get it the next time you watch. Its just a chocolate bar but the thought that goes behind each of the advt makes you attach a special recall feeling the next time you see one at your friendly neighborhood grocer/pharmacy.

The Vodafone delights advts are really thoughtful. I especially loved the one where the sweet ol' man make a aircraft out of scrap for his young friend for his birthday. While most networks do send a card to their subscribers on their birthdays, Vodafone probably is the only one that goes the extra mile and toots its horn.

While there has been a lot of thought and creativity going into ads, a few of them made me cringe. The latest advt promoting how you need to build a new house around your precious
Kohler bath fittings is disgusting. I can almost guess the creator of this advt watched Mr&Mrs
Smith the night before he created this disaster. There are so many things disturbing about this advt that I won't even torture myself penning it down.

With the sheer number of Bollywood actors doing advts now, I fear the time is not too far away when advertisers and ad-film makers won't have any true blue models to choose from.
I would also like to pay tribute to some ads that read my mind and disappeared- Most SRK and Ash ads (not that anyone's complaining), ad of a certain jewelry brand and Idea 3G (they could've capitalized on the Great Indian Outage).

All said, our fetish with fair skin flourishes. Thank you, Piggy chops.

Until next time, its adieus

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: Jism 2 [233/365]

The life of man upon earth is warfare.
Job 7:1

As a movie, Jism 2 starts off with a lot of promise- of raw unbridled sex and now, its time for the cliche- Promise made to be broken.

For a movie that was touted to be an erotic thriller that truly reflects the times, the movie has only one USP- Sunny Leone.
While the movie starts with a pretense of a gripping story, that charade is as quickly abandoned as Sunny does her clothes.
The dialogues are painful. Acting ridiculous.
While nobody is going to debate how stunningly beautiful Sunny is, all she really does is breathe heavy and arch her back. For a real life porn star who is good at her trade, the utter lack of expressions on her face is disappointing.

One of the flaws in a movie like this is when the makers want to prove a point.
The Bhatts proclaimed how this will be the most erotic thrillers India has ever seen and it is quite apparent that they wanted to prove that point. Within seconds of the movie starting, we see Sunny riding Dumbo. The scene is terrible and could have been a lot better had the makers truly exploited the talents of its star. But alas, I doubt if any modern man will have his spirits lifted by the way the movie begins.

The characters in this movie are very tame. I would have loved to see darker villains.
It is obvious that the Bhatts did a lot of traveling. Not that anyone's complaining since the locales are stunning.
The costumes that the lead lady wears is worth a mention. It appears like Pooja Bhatt shopped almost entirely at a lingerie store to clothe Sunny.
The first installment of Jism worked purely because the chemistry that the lead couple shared in real life percolated through the movie. The only thing that worked this time was the fact that the movie's star real life profession. If the movie made any money at all, it is purely because people wanted to see how much of the actor they would be allowed to see without the guilt of been caught watching porn. I doubt if anyone will want to watch it a second time.

Note to the makers: Umm... nevermind.
Note to Sunny: Get into an acting academy. Pronto!
Its a cleavage-fest. Unimpressed. I know I was yawning exactly 1 minute 15 seconds into the movie.
Would I recommend this movie? If you are into hardcore porn, this movie is demure. If you are into softcore porn, this movie is demure. There is simply no semblance of a plot by the time the movie reaches half time. Watch this only if you want to see an incredibly beautiful lady in nothing but corsets for three hours without having to duck into the theatre.

Ah! finally I am done. Things that I do to myself so that I can review and warn nubile minds.

My Rating: 5.0 (Barely made it too)

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

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Letters from the other side [232/365]

The past couple of weeks have been the hardest on Indian minorities.
First the carnage in Assam and now the North eastern community in Karnataka.

My previous post on what I thought about this carnage got me a lot of responses via email. Most of them were angry at what was happening, but nearly all of them agreed that this was possible only because we are a society that is too weak to punish.

Today, as our newspapers declared how the hateful messages and videos originated at Pakistan. I thought 'How convenient!'
Why should we believe the politicians when they say the material is from Pakistan?
Could it not have originated from any of our other neighbor(s)?

Politicians, on either side, have always prodded us to fight each-other. Like a bloodied pair of fighting cocks, we have always been told to fight each-other to death.

I would like the government to release irrefutable proof that the material originated in Pakistan. And then I would like our country to demand our neighbor to extradite them or else. But knowing how our netas are a bunch of lily-levered oldies, I doubt if the perpetrators will feel the Indian noose.
On the other hand, let's assume that the material didn't originate from Pakistan. Where else could it come from? Assuming how China has been fighting for our land and knowing how good they are with copying stuff, I wouldn't be surprised if they had a role in this.

But then, it would not have been extraterrestrial at all. We have enough scumbags available locally with know-how to copy and morph a bunch of videos.
Blaming the Pakistanis has become far too easy now.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A man with a plan [231/365]

Source: The Guardian
Truth: Nobody likes the truth.

We have hung, strung and exterminated every whistle-blower in history in our own inimitable way. The Powerful in a powerful way and the not the powerful, well, in a not so powerful way.

Case in point: Wiki-leaks owner and whistle-blower Julian Assange.
Hacker-Activist, all was fine until November 2010, when Wiki-leaks began to well, leak top secret American diplomatic cables. All hell broke loose.

In the months that followed, thousands of pages of confidential data was released to the public in an objective to reveal the truth and encourage open governance. Julian paid a heavy price for releasing the truth. His website was denied funding and support by major American and European corporations. However, this also triggered an outpouring of support from across the world.
Allegations of rape and sexual assault followed and Britain was in a hurry to extradite Assange to Sweden while the US contemplated on the many ways it can lay it's hands on him.

As a man whose time was running out, Ecuador today granted political asylum to Assange.
Holed up at the Ecuador consulate for over two months, he now faces another dilemma. While he cannot be busted while he is still within the consulate, he can be arrested the moment he steps out of the doors. Technically, he is under house arrest, but knowing how wonderfully resourceful he has been, I am sure he will pull a trick.

So what keeps the CIA or the notoriously successful Mossad from finishing Assange off? As simple as it sounds, killing him will mean the beginning of the end. Believed to have a 'dead-man's switch', killing Assange will mean the world will see all of the millions of top-secret diplomatic and financial documents in an instant.
Keep him alive and they will live another day.

Is anybody else surprised how countries that promise freedom of speech are the first to stifle?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Brotha' from da same motha' [230/365]

Taliban terrorists stormed a Pakistani airbase that houses nukes and fighter planes. Great! Just what we need. 
Nearly every country in the world today thinks Pakistanis and Indians are a difficult bunch to handle. While our western neighbor battles the Taliban, we have our own brand of home grown terrorists and corrupt politicians to worry about.

We really are a bunch of funny people.
Living abroad, I've had many Pakistani friends. Most of them were like Gujarati Muslims-  very social, friendly and great hosts. I remember this particular friend of mine who lived in a moderately large villa with his large extended family. They made the most incredible food.

Back in the subcontinent, there is some kind of a hostility that creeps inside you against your neighbor. I don't think it is the people who are bad in either of our countries. I believe most of the hatred and enmity that surrounds us just because of some really effective political propaganda. Which is the only way I can explain how we get along like a house on fire when we are outside the subcontinent.

Growing up, I had a lot of sibling rivalry with my sister. I hated her with all my life. The rivalry reached such proportions that nearly everyone in our families knew our conflicts. But as I reached adulthood, I passed the phase where I couldn't stand my sister and I began to yearn for her. I'd realized how much I really missed my sister and of all the years I wasted fighting.
We bonded again.
It is unfortunate how much we are loosing out on each others love just because we refuse to talk to each other. It is unfortunate how we are letting our enemies bleed us just because we refuse to work with each other. If only we could set aside our differences, we would be a formidable force that can help each other. After all, we do have the same problems, the same language and  the same strengths. We are truly twins from the same mother.

For decades, we sat on our moral high horse shaking our heads with disgust at how Pakistan is ruled by terrorists and looted by tyrants. Surprise, Surprise! We are not any better off, actually.

The sooner we get back with each other, the better for us.
66 years is just too long to nurse a grudge. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Three steps back [229/365]

Today's post is about two women.

The first victim, a 26 year old mother on her way back home was kidnapped in plain sight of a thousand people, bundled into a minivan, blindfolded and gang-raped for several hours until she was 'dumped' at the spot where she was kidnapped. This glorious incident happened in Didi's Kolkata.
The second is that of a 28 year old researcher who was found unconscious in the bed of a male colleague. Although the finger of suspicion points towards the male colleague, the victim refuses to be examined for proof of sexual assault. This happened at IIT Mumbai.

Both are victims of a crime so repulsive that we choose not to do anything about it.
I'm sure we all hate hearing about women getting raped. But we are simply too weak-kneed to do anything about it. Instead of ensuring we punish the guilty as swiftly as possible, the apex court of the country banned all vehicles from using sun-film on their windows. The court's contention was that there were too many women being raped within cars that had their windows darkened by sun-film. Big effing deal. Going by how women are still getting raped, I don't think sun-film was to blame. The bastards now are doing it within the comfort of their bedrooms. Whats next? The Supreme Court will tell us that we are not supposed to have curtains in our bedrooms?

In the event when the rape is obvious, the stigma that follows is humungous. You are seen as a facilitator of another man's lust and never a victim of a crime. You dressed provocatively and spoke loosely. He was simply following all the 'cues' that you were throwing out to him. You are the dispensable part of our lives. We need you to give birth to our sons. That's all.

In a couple of decades and when it is too late, we will realize that, perhaps, we should have protected you better. Respected you a little more and provided for you a little more.

Suggested Reading:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Great Ch*nky Exodus [228/365]

Today is the Indian Independence day. 66 years ago, we convinced the British to leave us. What's remarkable is that we never threw them out, they left because they simply could not divide our unity and single-minded determination to be one nation. 
Albeit the partition, this was Gandhi's finest moment.

He fought against division based on race, caste, creed and color. And he won our battle only because we had enough of the crap and wanted freedom too.
Today, Gandhi must be turning in his grave. The south Indian State of Karnataka is seeing an exodus of people fleeing a city they've come to accept as their own.
After weeks of unconfirmed reports of harassment and veiled threats against them, nearly two million of the population from the north-east are fleeing. Trains and flights are packed as they are in a hurry to get out.

Clearly this is a rumor. And whoever is behind this is probably chuckling away even as we speak. But this is one joke that's gone so bad, it's not funny anymore. I can imagine the fear they must be going through. All this even as the State and the Central government stands helpless. I hear Manmohan and chief ministers' from the NE have speed dialed our chief. And I hope we get to the bottom of this and fast. We would all like to see the sick bastard who gave birth to this rumor publicly hung.

I am a Keralite. And a proud one too. I know a lot of Keralites who won't take a threat like this against us lying down the way the folks from the NE have taken. You threaten us to get out and we'll down shutters of every eatery and supermarket so fast your head will spin.
The chinks are easy targets. Dispensable. They are the sore thumb that stand out. In my previous post about the beautiful people from the NE, I mentioned how wonderfully nice they are. They might have a fantastic sense of clothing but are incredibly docile once outside their hometowns. What they need is not a legislation to punish the use of the word 'chinky' but equal opportunities and the freedom to be themselves and feel good in their skin. Of all the minorities in the melting pot called India, the folks from the NE are the most nicest.

But this is precisely what is wrong with our society as well. I hear our cops have promised to increase patrol in areas inhabited with the chinks. I also hear that all the outbound trains are being given adequate protection until the Karnataka border.
But why do I feel this is barely enough? Why are our minorities and women not protected always? After the infamous 'home-stay' raid in southern city of Mangalore, civil unrest in Assam, molestation in Guwahati and rapes everywhere else, India is beginning to look like a country that is taking three steps behind for every step forward.

When we harp about how Indians are discriminated abroad, we have such shining examples of racism in India. 
On India's 66th Independence day, isn't India for every Indian?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monkey See, Monkey Do [227/365]

Originality be damned. It pays to copy.
Anna tried to copy Gandhi. Baba tried to copy Anna. 
Gandhi - 1. Others - 0
Sherlyn copied Poonam. Poonam tried to copy Larissa Riquelme
Larissa - 1. Others - 0

A year ago, hairy baba molly cuddled with  Anna as he whipped up the crowds into a frenzy and decided to fast as well. Well, good for him. Looking at how well versed he is with yoga, a few days without food shouldn't really be a big deal. The gamble paid off. Anna and the Baba virtually brought the government to its knees. Cut to 2012, I bet neither of them saw how their fortunes could turn.

In several posts last year, I wrote about how Anna could fail in his fight unless they stayed focused on their goals. As Anna tapped out of a fight that started with earnestness, Baba tagged himself him. He made a lot of noise. When none of it really got him any of the attention he hoped he would get, he excused himself a'la Anna.
I'm surprised how the media and millions of his supporters believe he has made any change.

In the meanwhile, neither he nor Anna ever got the government to implement any sweeping changes that could have stemmed the rot. Instead what they have done is to force the corrupt to adopt a better strategy against future revolutions.

While I wont suspect Anna's intent, I believe future defenders of our freedom could take lessons out of misses that he and his team made. He believed that by copying Gandhi's method of non-violence, he could be the savior that modern India needed. And I won't blame him for being ambitious. His strategy did work initially.

Ambition can be a tricky thing.
Take for instance, Sherlyn Chopra.
Seeing how none of her body parts were making the news for a while, Sherlyn did what Poonam would do- get naked and tweet.
This time, however, Sherlyn managed a coup d'├ętat by posing nude for Playboy. Hefner, the luckiest horny man in the world, was happy. While the world will get to see all of Ms Chopra this November, if any of his former playmates are to be believed, Hefner will have surely made paisa vasool of the whole 'opportunity'.

But then, posing in Playboy is no mean feat. PETA darling and global swimsuit sweetheart Pamela Anderson did it. And so did Marlyn Monroe and a bunch of other beauty queens. Playboy is a must for any teenager with raging hormones and any man with supercharged sex drive. For the bodies models it is a wonderful once in a lifetime platform. If she hasn't already got one, she'll surely get a Bollywood movie, couple of sex tapes and a few reality shows post this spread. But I won't hold my breath hoping to see Sherlyn metamorphose into a star of any substance in this lifetime.

Imitation could very well be the sincerest form of flattery.

Monday, August 13, 2012

At it. Again. [226/365]

Didi is at it again. 
Just what the hell have I gotten myself into?
This time she's put a farmer behind bars in a non-bailable offense punishable by death.
The crime: He questioned her rule.

There must be something about the way most bengalis take criticism. Now, I know I can come under considerable heat for making this statement, but it's as true as any other stereotypes that we have in India. I've worked with Bengalis who simply cannot tolerate people who question them.

Taking a cue from Dictatorship for dummies v1.0, Didi is staggering from one Greek disaster to another. While she is a fiery poll winner, her tenure at the helm of affairs at the North eastern state is revealing the chinks in her leadership style. It's a tragedy that a state as vibrant and rich as Bengal is being ruled by an autocrat like Didi.
Unfortunately, the stink simply refuses to die down. I have a lingering feeling that she will rule (read RUN) the state into the drains faster than you can say 'ouch'.

Thank goodness I am not in Calcutta or any Godforsaken part of West Bengal or I would have been sentenced to death for this post.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rio! [225/365]

As the quadrennial sporting extravaganza wraps up today, India is patting herself on her back.
She got 6 medals (none of them gold, mind you) from 83 'world-class' athletes.

Time for some stock-taking.
The great States of America stood first with whooping 104 medals. 46 of them gold.
Our northern neighbor stood second with a distant 88 medals. 38 of them gold.
And the hosts stood third with a 65 medals.
This is where the plot thickens.
If you're looking for India in the tally, you'll need to take a deep dive into the medal abyss. On the upside, we proudly stand at the top of the list of countries that have not won a gold. The downside- We are 55th of 79 countries who won any medals at all.

Goldman Sachs predicted India would win 5 medals. Nice guess.
If any consolation, we won more medals than countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Egypt and Finland. Lest you boast, we won less than countries like Uganda, Algeria, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia and Jamiaca. It is not the per-capita income or the size of our population that gave the geniuses at Goldman Sachs the hint, but the fact that we as a society have no sports in our genes at all. Chess and Snooker, maybe.

Children are seldom encouraged to pick and excel at a sport of their choice. It's the parent's choice or the highway.
Schools and colleges rarely spot and breed athletic talent.
A voluptuous B grade tennis star gets more spotlight than an athlete who actually performs consistently at the top.
And once an athlete wins at international sporting events, they are poached with promises of money and mid-ranking government jobs. That's the final nail on their coffins. This is what our society aims to achieve. A cushy government job. Secured retirement benefits and fame that will spill over to a few generations.

Money is flushed into athletes who are well established instead of nurturing talent at the grassroots. The Abhinav Bindras and Leander Paes of our country don't need millions of rupees for training and equipment. The Irfan Kolothum Thodis of our country does. The national cricket team does not need billions of dollars in endorsements and training, our Hockey team does.

What this Games achieved was monumental.
We could pretend to believe that we deserved more than we won, but the truth is we surprised ourselves.
If we won, it is not because of the millions of tax payer rupees that the government squandered on choosing, training and feasting our athletes over the past year. But because how some of our top athletes were groomed by corporate trust funds that demanded results.
The fact that we won any medals is proof that we can achieve sporting excellence just as easily as we achieve academic excellence if we put our mind to it.

Rio 2016, here we come.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Old and Dying [224/365]

Myth: In your sunset years, you will die peacefully in your sleep.
Myth busted: Only if you are lucky.

In the latest of a series of gruesome homicides that will shock seniors, a senior couple who had no children was murdered in one of the more upscale residential part of Bangalore.

What went wrong?

As Indians, we are very cautious. It is something that we are taught from the moment we start framing our first sentences.
We are told not to trust strangers. We are taught to choose a degree that will give us and our future family security and comfort.
We then marry so that we are safe and taken care of when we grow old together.
We are taught to look for and live in a safe locality.We dodge the many bullets of a competitive society and if we are lucky, we get old and stay healthy.
And if you are really lucky, then you'll when your time is up.

Somethings amiss here. Their time was not up. 
A society that valued it's seniors in a city that was once known as the 'pensioner's paradise' is now sending shivers down our collective consciousness. Some say this is a copycat murder trying to imitate a recent movie while some are saying this was a murder for gain. Others might say these are the signs of a growing metro.

Whatever the reasoning, homicides this gruesome cannot be good for any of us.

Friday, August 10, 2012

66 and Groaning [223/365]

I love birthdays!
Ofcourse, it is said that as you get older, you will begin to love it less.

With a week left for the big day, I doubt if India or her fathers are looking ahead to the future. Eliminating poverty is still number one on all our politicians manifesto, last on their wish lists. Women and minorities are the new untouchables, and insurgency and civil unrest is at an all time rise.

But there are so much to cheer too. Indians are highly visible in almost every stream of natural and pure science. We are incredible hardy and persistent, almost like a drug resistant virus. And inspite of decades of corruption and incompetent leaders, we are still a force to reckon with. Surely, our priorities are misplaced and we need the occasional whip to behave.
At 66, we are still experiencing growing pains of puberty. We cannot decide if we must please the citizens or the polity. But we stoop to sycophancy with the ease of a trained monkey. Our bureaucracy has slowed down to such an extent that it cannot move without the essential grease of bribes and kickbacks.
Infrastructure, a nation's lifeblood, is in perennial ruin. There are no kucha or pucca roads anymore, but tolled and toll-free roads. Corruption is no longer just an essay you'd imagine and write in your 10th grade exams. Poverty is not something you can miss anymore.

Many years back, I wrote a competitive essay on what it would take to tackle corruption. A few days ago, I wrote on how endemic corruption has become in India.
Like any parasitic virus, corruption has weakened our defenses. We can no longer judge fairly, rule justly or act morally.

With a week to go, this is a pretty bad prognosis. Had this been a human, her children would have left her to rot in a government mental asylum.
Happy Birthday, India!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Stop kissing the medal! [222/365]

So India bettered its past records at the Oly and got herself 4 medals.
And this is no mean achievement, I say.

While the Games are still on, nearly all of our 'largest Indian contingent ever' has returned. The shopping bags have been unpacked and the souvenirs distributed, it's time for our Olympians to take a well deserved break. Some more than the others.

I can't help notice how we still don't have world class track and field athletes, martial artists, gymnasts or swimmers. And its not like we have gold medalists in every other sport. Its just a bronze for crying out loud. Now, don't get me wrong. I agree that we did our 'level best' but that level apparently isn't enough. How can a tennis pair who won a grand slam not even qualify for the semi-finals?

I am no armchair activist or a couch potato and I fully comprehend the determination and effort that goes into training for an event like the Olympics. What I lament about is how our brightest medal hopefuls failed miserably. I wonder what Lee and Hesh have to say about the miserable defeat they were served. Sania is a choke artist. She's never performed in a singles in memory. The only matches she ever came close to winning was in mixed doubles. Strange!
Our hockey team suffered their worst defeat in their games history. And to think that we won the gold in consecutive Games until a few years ago. It looks like the team has long lost its mojo.

But in all fairness, some of our underdogs performed and how! The most inspirational were Saina and Mary Kom. What we lack in numbers, we certainly make up in spirit. 
Its also good to know that we are winning medals for our mothers and our fathers who 'brought us upto this level'. When did we stop 'playing for the honor of the country'?
Its also good that our bronze and silver medalists are getting a welcome fit for a Roman warrior. They deserved it. 
Its also good that our politicians are going to trip over each other declaring 9 digit rewards and insanely large tracts of prime land for free. This will be the start of yet another race, from pillar to post, to get these rewards. 
Its good that our sports minister has promised senior level job posts for each of our medalists. Finally, they will be underpaid government servants who must accept bribes and other 'favors'.

Alright, now can you please stop kissing the medals?

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Definitely Abled! [221/365]

Pardon me for the poor picture quality.
The past weekend I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful gentleman at a blogger meet.
He introduced himself to the group of 150 fellow bloggers as Raghava, blogger and social evangelist and entrepreneur. With a smile that could put anyone at ease.

When I introduced myself to him, he had that ready smile again. Naturally, I asked him what he blogged on and if was a photo-blog perhaps because virtually everyone at the meet was a photoblogger!. Pat came the answer 'Oh no. I am blind'.
Now, I really can't put in words what I felt at that moment. Awkward.

Later, during a short tea break I wanted to know his story. He seemed so normal. He didn't wear dark glasses, nor had the cane with him at that moment.
He was cheerful and didn't rant about how disabled-unfriendly the world is.
Raghava would later explain to me how he began loosing his vision about a year ago, almost in a matter of factly way.  He was curious to know if there was anyone else who were in the same situation as he is and I told him about Poonam Vaidya and the little that I knew of how she coped with a life with dimming lights. The news of someone else who shared the same condition cheered Raghava. I promised to try and connect Raghava with Poonam.

As I left the meeting, I was reminded how small the world is, how fleeting life is and how we take almost everything for granted.
Raghava is steadily loosing his vision. From a perfect vision, he now sees everything in a blur and I can feel how depressing this can be. I can barely tolerate driving without my prescription glasses. In about a year from now, he could be completely blind. That is a frightening prospect. Raghava is no superman. He isn't a dark knight. He isn't immune to the crushing realization that the lights will be turned off soon.

He however does have a lot of fight left in him. We spoke about his interests in social entrepreneurship and the projects he works on. I've seen far too many able-bodied people sulking, bullying their way to the top. When Raghava described himself as 'definitely abled' I was impressed.

Here's wishing his tribe increases!
Good Luck, Raghava.

Other heroes I've chronicled:

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Game Over [220/365]

Not your typical terrorist..
A deranged ex-armyman shoots and kills 20 in a Gurudwara in Wisconsin, USA.

Wade Michael Page was killed in a shootout that killed innocent people as well as a responding police officer. Wade is fondly described as a 'soft nice person' by his mom. His girlfriend could be arrested on felony charges. In the latest of a series of hate crimes this one has shocked the deeply religious Sikh community who are described as a 'peace loving community'

But why did this happen? What did it achieve?
Are we inadvertently breeding remorseless killers?

Home to about 7 lakh Sikhs, the US needs to do more to reassure this and other minority communities of their safety. While it's easy to point out this is yet another reason why the US needs stricter gun control, I think the nation needs to learn to practice what it preaches too. For a nation that sells missiles and weapons to the rest of the world, this could be an unwelcome after-affect. While I'd still advocate tougher laws governing gun ownership, I don't think everyone who carries a gun is going to shoot people.

One Sikh gentleman said: “Nobody's angry here. We're just confused. Was this a random act? Was this directed at us because of the way we look?”
I find this statement disturbing. Ofcourse, it is right to be angry here. There is no reason to be confused. And no, this was not a random act nor was it because of the way they look.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Badminton Racket [219/365]

Days after my prediction about Lee, Hesh and Sania came true, Saina has given us a cause to cheer.

After winning the bronze in a match that was well fought, Saina truly is the embodiment of a new era in Indian sports. She may not have the curves of a Sania but today's match proved that she is truly a world class athlete. But again, she is not a one match wonder and has struggled through the ranks in full public view.

Winning this medal wouldn't have come as a surprise to her, but knowing the kind of sportsperson she is, I am quite sure she would have liked the gold much better. The diminutive shuttler is of a new breed of sportspeople who have their head firmly on their shoulders.

Seven days into the Games, we stand 45th in the medal tally with 3 medals. Considering how we got only one medal and none until a few games ago, this is incredible improvement. Lest we rest, and the law of averages continue to work in our favor, we could try and send a larger contingent the next time.

And talking about contingents, China had her badminton players being disqualified before of irrefutable evidence of foul play and 'playing against the Olympic spirit'.

Let's drink to that!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Shooting for glory [218/365]

Source: Getty Images
It looks like shooting could be in our blood after all. Ever since Abhinav captured India's imagination with an Olympic gold, we have been getting better at shooting.

Yesterday, we got our second Oly medal- a silver in the 25 mtr rapid fire pistol event when serving army man Subedar Vijay Kumar Sharma of the 16th Dogra Regiment in a 40 shot finished just 4 points behind Cuba.
Calm, composed and with none the fist bumping and celebration that our other athletes are known for, he like his medal colleagues worked his way up the ranks.

I've said it before and I'll say it again- Sports reveals character. And its about time we had more world-class athletes.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Hungry [217/365]

Anna Hazare. About a year ago, the name struck fear in the hearts of politicians across India.
Millions of people were awestruck at how a short pudgy man in a gandhi topi could almost singlehandedly re-ignite the fire of patriotism in their hearts.

A quick reality check today reveals that most of the charisma that he had has started to wane off. Much to the delight of our politicians.
Today as Anna fasts, I can imagine his thoughts-
Where did I go wrong? When did I loose the plot? Why am I failing?

Corruption is an exceptional problem and hence requires an exceptional solution. Anna has had his wins against corruption but he missed his window of opportunity to implement his theory. His approach was flawed.
Pressure tactics seldom works. While he succeeded in pinning the government into submission, internal bickering stopped him from taking the countdown. He simply didn't anticipate the forces that ripped apart his movement from within.

So does he still have a chance against corruption?
I think he does. But by calling all politicians corrupt, he has effectively alienated anyone who could have helped his cause. Team Anna must realign to their goals they set for themselves last year - an India without corruption.

What will it take for us to uproot corruption?
Lots of determination and consistency. Team Anna must campaign and work towards removing the incentive for corruption. Millions of civil servants go for many months without pay or benefits while ministers lavish themselves with perks, bonuses  and travel. How can a government official resist the bribe?

The task is uphill and the goals are there for all to see. How long we take to get there is what matters.

Counter views

Friday, August 03, 2012

Get Lost Mallika! [216/365]

Source: Maxim India
Mallika Sherawat: Hollywood wannabe.

She's acted in a dozen Bollywood movies in roles that don't give you much to write home about. She is one of the many Indian actresses who are 'trying' to crossover to Hollywood. Well good luck with that, Ms Sherawat.

There is something about the lady that is raw sewage-like. Not known for her discretion, she rattled most readers when she proclaimed how Mumbai is so unhygienic (sic). A statement like that coming from a woman who came to the city looking for a break in Bollywood makes you want to puke.

But I'm not surprised. We see a lot of Indians who go abroad to work/study suddenly turn squeamish about India. Granted our nation can never become a 'Singapore', but bad mouthing your country is such a rookie mistake.

During a recent movie promotion, she could barely restrain herself from gloating about her LA lifestyle. Ask her about any substantial Hollywood projects she might be working on, and she might just shut up. But then with all the parties that she is going to, it could get difficult to work in a movie.

I don't think she realizes this but she is simply the most high profile Indian sl*t in Hollywood. Nothing more, nothing less.

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