Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Storms are coming [305/365]

In the movie 2012, planet Earth is being ravaged by natural disasters leading up to the end of the world as we know.
What's interesting is how everything happens almost simultaneously.

Now, personally I think 2012 is a wonderfully done movie and plays to the survivalist streak in each of us. It outdid 'The Day After Tomorrow' in almost every technical department and grossed a ton of money too. A bunch of looney toons endorsed it and we even have a city that put up a countdown timer so that its citizens can be constantly reminded of how long they have before they die!

But do I think the earth will end and we will all die on the 21st of Dec this year? I don't think so. If it were that simple, I'd say we wouldn't have so much sin and evil and everyone would have turned a believer. In the Bible, Christ was often asked about when He thought the Judgement day would happen.
He would answer, 'The day and time is not for you to know... and it will come upon you when you'd least expect it'. Fair enough, I say.

I don't want to live like I am going to die in 50 days, but live to make each day count. Many people who believe the world will end this year have cited increasing civilian unrest, geopolitical struggles, rising economic instability and increasing number of natural calamities as proof that we will all die this year end.

Recent human and nature conflicts have only fueled their theories.
So while the whole of the East Coast and much of South India has seen the fury of bad weather because of Sandy and Nilam, many got an impromptu weekend and caught up on some much needed shut-eye.

But in the meanwhile, I happened to talk to a certain person who firmly believes that the world will end this year. Right after he pointed out why this convincing theory is water-tight, I asked him what his new year plans were and he told me that he had already booked his tickets to party in Goa.
I rest my case.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rubbish! [304/365]

So what if we still don't have a comprehensive waste disposal system in place, we won't stop living it up. After a weekend of festivities our prudent authorities have confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza. Simply great!

I love chicken and although I eat it a lot less than what I used to until 2 years ago, I still think chicken is an integral part of an Indian's diet. Seeing how a pandemic like this struck at the pockets of the small poultry farmers and tourism in other Asian countries, you'd imagine India would have taken care to see it didn't occur here.

But then India has never had a comprehensive disaster recovery plan when it comes to natural or man-made disasters. We do have wonderful fiction on paper but when it comes to putting it out in action, we fail. So today Neetha declared that chicken is going to be off the menu for a while. Panic struck me. I had to educate her that there is no way that we could get it when we aren't exposed to infected poultry.

I can imagine how this is going to affect millions of people who depend on poultry in and around Bangalore. People are inadequately informed about the virus and since the government isn't doing enough to spread awareness, an outbreak like this leads to public hysteria.

It doesn't help that garbage is covering half of our streets. Years ago, Surat was in the spotlight for an outbreak of plague. While the city has managed to clean up since, you'd think our award-winning civic agency would've learned a lesson or two about public hygiene. It shouldn't really take an American newspaper to put a mirror for us to change.

I've said it before and I'll say it again- the blame lies on us.
Half of us elect people who won't disguise their greed and myopic public vision. The other half simply won't vote. The elected then rule with absolutely no fear of a recall and impose themselves on us. We complain. We threaten. And thanks to our electoral system, we loose our resolve to unseat the corrupt.
Repeat cycle.

If you haven't voted until now, I won't force you to change your habit.
But remember that by not voting for the right person/party, you loose the chance to change.
You become a mute spectator to mutiny that you could have prevented.
You put yourself at the mercy of scumbags that were voted by illiterate slum-dwellers whose only interest was in free packets of biriyani, booze and Rs 500. Or mixer grinder, fans, TVs and laptops if you are in TN.
But ofcourse, you won't need any of these since you are indignant and dont want to vote.
I won't force you to vote since you think you are not going to be affected regardless of who is in power.
But this I will tell you- By allowing one corrupt politician to be voted into power today, he/she is going to do everything in their power to remain there. They will loot as much as they can lay their eyes on. They will covet every rupee that you pay in taxes and you own. They will create laws that will affect you- the guy/gal who didn't vote for them. That's right, they wont discriminate. They will loot and swindle every anna paisa you have until you are dead. And then in five years, they will come back with packets of biriyani and empty balloons of promises and win their votes and you won't be able do squat about it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hog Wash [303/365]

Unless you've been buried 6ft under, you wouldn't have missed all the hype and hooplah about the Great Indian Shake. And no, I am not talking about Deepika's shake but about the much planned yet delayed rejig in the central government.

It was widely rumored that the most powerful Indian son, Rahul Gandhi would have a right of say in picking his playmates (seriously, no pun intended). Like a bad SRK movie, after months of frenzied hype the changes that happened on Sunday was an anti-climax. Everyone yawned.

So what did we really expect? We expected Rahul to move up and take charge of the old man's club so that we can see some eye candy in the near future. Besides, after what he had done for the boy scouts er... Youth Congress, the expectations were quite high.
What happened instead was a bunch of oldies where shifted like pawns in a bad game of chess. I never even realized we had such interesting portfolios in the government.

Which brings to me an interesting question- Why did some of the ministers quit?
The version we were told is that they wanted to make way for the younger brigade and work for the party. I don't know what they meant by young but I bet they would be beating themselves in private seeing how 'young' the new replacements are.
Thank God, we still don't have the life expectancy of the Japanese.

At first glance, this is surely as populist a move as there could be. Can bringing in ministers who have absolutely no idea really help our cause?

Maybe, there should be a way where we could select and recall our ministers in the future so that we don't leave it to people who are compelled to play casteist and regional politics.

In the mayhem that followed, it was announced that there would be more changes in the week ahead. It is rumored (again) that Rahul will be made General Secretary. And everyone's looking excited again. Yes, we are easy to please.

RG Jr does look adorable and he fumbles every bit like his dad. His famous mommy is firmly in control and the top seat is almost within his grasp.
So, maybe in the distant future when the water is calmer, Rahul will finally become the PM.
...and history will repeat itself.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Calling Quits [302/365]

So you've recovered sufficiently from your Friday hangover, and you have nothing to do since SMJ finished it's first season.
After a leisurely brunch and some more napping, you are now fully rested and that's when reality slaps you hard- your weekend has finally finished!

Its too late to do any of the things you wanted to do yesterday and too much of a nervous wreck to salvage whatever is remaining of today.
Research proves that people experience some form of manic depression on a regular basis every Sunday evening. Most people interviewed admitted they start getting depressed when the clock strikes 6:30pm on a Sunday and peaks as they get to office on Monday.
If this sounds familiar, take heart. You are one of the 80% of those who go through this cycle.

But today's post is not only about how we put ourselves through this trauma but how we wear ourselves out by striving to get rich.
So many of the people work more out of the desire to retire wealthy. 

Proverbs 23:4

Couple of months ago, I watched Jim Carrey's 'Yes Man'. Another inspirational movie and if you haven't, you must.
Can you challenge yourself to set a goal and achieve it? Do you know when to quit? Is enough really ever enough?
Not only is wisdom important in quitting, but so is self-discipline. Isn't it financially true, just as you are about to reach quitting time something shiny and new comes along and becomes more important.

Be wise to know when to quit as well.
Know when to quit. Finish it out and stay focused.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Revving up Our engines [301/365]

When I'd begun writing this post, the Indian Grand Prix was still a day away.
The world's most expensive wastefully extravagant sport was here at the world's most favorite 'third world country'.
Ironically, this is also the land where our stratospheric fuel prices unite more Indians atleast once every quarter than any other fight. We had our last 'United against Fuel-hike' protest just half a Kardhashian ago (1 Kardharshian = 72 days), so this event just made no sense to me.

Where were the protestors? Or did they assume that the cars would run on spit and pee?
Did you take a look at the OMG ticket prices?
So, I decided to do what 13,000 odd people didn't- Watch the race on the boob tube and saved myself a fraction of a Nira Radia (1 Nira Radia = Unimaginable wealth)

Like any other patriotic Indian, my eyes searched for our F1 team- Sahara Force Indian on the grid. Finishing at a respectable 8th, the team improved its FIA ranking and gathered 4 points.
But where the hell was our real desi driver? Narain Karthikeyan, aka The Fastest Indian, was near the tail-end of the race. Which means he hasn't got any points in the last two years he has been with HRT.
What plagues Indian drivers? While Mr Malya has brought us some reason to cheer with his F1 team, can it be an Indian team without an Indian driver? But I am sure I am digressing here.

Surely motorsports is the ultimate boy's toy and every metro-sexual man and his girl must root for his/her favorite team. But isn't that what horse races and the EPL is for? At about $7 million, the F1 car is surely the most expensive car you'll ever see. But this is not including the $ 20 mill it would cost to maintain a winning team. But there is some serious moolah coming in too. It is reported that RedBull pumped in $100 mill into its team in 2009. Add the 100's of millions that come in as sponsorships, advertisements and ticket sales, where the teams get a cut based on their position and you'll see why teams race for that podium finish.
What good will this do for us? At about $400 billion, this could be the most expensive 5 kms in India. Airtel paid about Rs 40 crores to sponsor for 5 years with the potential to earn about $180 million and create 10,000 people.
In a country of a billion where millions starve, how can an F1 race improve their lives?

With the Buddh International Circuit, we are one of those elite countries to have an award winning circuit, but in the end we will still be known as a country with potholed roads, impoverished kids, fat corrupt politicians, trash-filled and over-populated cities, kitschy Bollywood movies, over-rated cricketers and one puppet Prime Minster.

Friday, October 26, 2012

End of an Era [300/365]

This week has been a sad week for Bollywood movie buffs.
Earlier this week we lost Yash Chopra and then today- Jaspal Bhatti.

Chopra will be remembered by the romance in his movies and Jaspal by his social and political satire.
Death really does open the floodgates. We saw a barrage of celebrities and politicians paying their last respects to the two fallen heavyweights.

A few weeks ago, one of Malayalam's most respected character-actor Thilakan died. I mourned. He used to live close to a property we owned in Kerala. I've seen him a couple of times and had the privilege of talking to him during shows he did abroad. I was particularly fond of the way he brought characters to life.

When he was alive, he was a firebrand. He had his fans but he most certainly had his enemies too. Actors and movie directors banded against him while he fought back and won. But when he died, they all came, saw, paid their respects and depending on who you spoke to, sighed in relief or mourned in disbelief and agony.

But again, this post is not a obituary for the men who moved on.

Fellow actors and wannabes have their 15 minutes of fame. Politicians put in a few minutes too.
It doesn't matter if they plotted against you, fought proxy wars or otherwise made your life miserable, your death is the end of an era.
I wonder if they even realize the meaning of that phrase but it doesn't matter. This phrase makes a fitting eulogy. Appropriate and eloquent.  

So when Chopra and Jaspal died this week, we had to endure many many hours of the 'end of an era' quotes from grief-stricken actors, directors and politicians.

One question: Who must die for it to be the end of an era of corruption?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mini Me [299/365]

A year after its most iconic CEO passed away, Apple has set the cat among the pigeons again.
This time by releasing the iPad Mini.

While it will be still a few months before we get to see the gadget in stores across India, the launch has created enough buzz to have some imported through your desi connections. As a matter of convenience I've resisted the temptation to write on technology because I prefer to know how a gadget will benefit us holistically rather than being just a object of your pride. When it was first launched, the iPad was the butt of a million internet jokes. Why would a company choose to name one of their products that? But as the world stopped laughing, Steve danced all the way to the bank.

Cut to 2012, the iPad is singularly responsible for making tablets and touchscreen devices accessible and cheaper. In the uneasy world of technology, prices have always been the weapon of choice. Today, it is easy for a student to own a tablet with just his pocket money. As smartphones got smarter, the iPad shrunk. Reading the reviews online, I doubt how much of an impact the iPad Mini will make. Given its price, it is surely a premium product but one look under the hood will you that this is just a standard tablet and the $100 or more that you'll be paying is for the brand. But then this shouldn't be surprising since Apple has always priced its products much over what its competitors have charged. Clearly, Apple believes in feeding our frenzy for the niche brand.

While Apple readies to battle with the Google Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire and the Microsoft Surface, the winner isn't clear. The race to earn a share of the sales this Christmas season just got a little hotter. Each of the four technology giants have a unique USP about themselves. With seemingly limitless resources at their disposal, the only winner could be the Consumer.

Ironically, the iPad Mini debutes about a year after Steve famously told how selling a downsized version of the iPad will not make business-sense. I wonder if Hell has a Apple store for Steve too.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

All you need [298/365]

An interviewer recently asked me: 'What are your weaknesses?'
Career counselors will tell you that you need to answer this with tact. But how do you answer this in way that won't ding you but won't be a lie either. Besides, when you are trying to impress someone, the last thing they would need to know is about your weaknesses. I won't tell you what I told my interviewer but this question got me thinking.

We all know our strengths and can rattle off a dozen adjectives, but how many of us are willing to accept that we have our weaknesses too?
Fortunately, there is a 'power-up' available. In the Bible, Jesus shows us the way - Himself.
The weak on earth were His mascots. He said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me. That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships and persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Do you ever find you keep running into your failures or weaknesses?
It is human to be weak and frail. In time, you will notice your body and mind failing you.
But spiritually too, you will find yourself unable to keep up. Your family fails you, your spouse fails you, your job is not giving you what you really need and that is when you tell yourself 'Life sucks'.

Change your attitude towards your weaknesses and see it as an opportunity to look to God to meet the need.
Ask God to step in where you falter. 

He is all you need. Really.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Answer to my Prayer [297/365]

If you ask a believer, what is the most common statement he makes while he/she prays, chances are that it will be - 'Answer my prayer, O Lord'
We all implore God to answer our prayers. We beg/plead/threaten and nag our Lord to answer all our prayers. When we were small, to give us that toy; when we were growing up, to give us good marks; and when we were working, to give us a promotion and a good spouse/house/car.

Our wants and needs grew exponentially. We were always desperate when we asked and nagged our God, yet I bet none of us remember if He answered our prayers in a wonderful way. He would've surely given you something better than what we asked for in the long run but that's not something we keep tabs of.

Many years ago, when I was getting to that 'marriageable' age, I began to yearn for a companion. Sure, I had a job and was standing on my feet by then, but that was not enough. I wanted to marry. My parents weren't too keen on searching for a bride for logic that is best known to them. I was stubborn. How could I ever convince my parents that I had needs. As an Indian, you are taught to never talk about your physical and emotional needs when you grow up. It was around that time when I read about the 'virtuous wife'. So I began to pray for a virtuous wife. On my knees. As days became weeks and months, I began to doubt if my prayers were reaching Him. It was so easy to give up and that's what I did. I stopped praying on my knees.
Prayer became just another chore I'd do as I woke up. I wandered.

Years would pass before I saw how wonderful His ways were. I'd forgotten that I asked Him for a virtuous wife but He didn't.
His unfailing love is wonderful. His mercy- plentiful.

Psalm 69:16

I am going through a phase in my life which does not make sense to me. I am not sure how long it would take me to walk through this phase, yet I know that He is carrying me through. I have been praying and sometimes I get impatient and I want Him to do things instantaneously. Yet, I know that my time is not His time. Our plans are myopic and surely not like the plans that He has for us. Having been through worse times, we know that we will get through this and when we do, it will make us purer and stronger.

Does the Lord answer your prayers?
Yes, although it may not always be a 'Yes', the answer could be a 'No'. Or it could be a simple 'Not now'. When I asked Him for a wife, He didn't say 'No' to it, it only said 'Not Now'. The trouble is that we refuse to take a 'No' or a 'Not now' for an answer. So when that happens, we end up doing what we want anyway. The ever merciful Lord that He is, He tells us- 'Ok, go ahead and do it and when you're back, I'll be waiting for you'. And unfailingly, He will be waiting for us when we wander back.

As a parent, we'd like to think that we are a good judge for our children's needs. We know what is good for them and what is inappropriate for them. We even think we know when we must give. We plan for our children's education, marriage and even their life. Yet sometimes, we go wrong. But He can't. Be assured that He has a plan to meet your every need, from the moment you were conceived until the moment you see Him in Heaven.
Isn't it a wonderful thing to know a God who has a plan for every single person that ever was, has and will come to this planet?

Be encouraged to know God's love for you is so deep He will always be there to take care of you. If times get tough and too hard to bear, get down on your knees and share with Him. He will meet you there as you are.

If you are at a phase in your life, where you feel nothing is going right then turn back and He is waiting for you.
Think of a scenario where someone has failed you. Where someone told you something but ended up disappointing you. Now, remember all the wonderful ways He has answered each of your prayers in the past and you'll realize that He has never failed.

Behold, the unfailing Lord!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Overflowing.. [296/365]

Give and you will receive.

Luke 6:38

Your gift will return to you in full-pressed down, shaken together to make room, running over and poured into your lap. While some might argue that the amount you give will determine the amount you get back, I say, the attitude with which you give will determine how much you get back.

A decade ago, I met an incredibly resilient yet very poor lady. Shortly after she was born, she had juvenile diabetes and began to loose her vision. When she was 10 years old, a quack at a medical facility near her home botched up a surgery and he ended up snipping the nerves to her eyes. She has been blind ever since. Add to that, her family has tried exploiting her condition and when they had enough, they abandoned her. Now 67, she lived all these years on government welfare. When I met her, she had a PCO (Public Call Office aka Phone Booth) and that was sufficient for her hostel fees and food. A couple of years ago, she was allotted a land 19 kms outside Bangalore by the government and they told her to do the rest. It took her 6 years to build a house with one room, one toilet and one kitchen. They don't have running water but got electricity just a few months ago. Her benefactors have helped her in measures. Some by donating a couple of thousands and others by giving construction material.
In the past few months, her health has deteriorated to such a degree that she is unable to run the phone booth. Recently, she suffered a wound that became gangrenous. Unfortunately, the hospital that she visited wouldn't treat her for free. While there were hospitals that would treat her for free, she still needed money for a long-term medical care.
I had to help. We decided to raise Rs 15000/- (about $270). I put the cause forward to my tight-knit church prayer group and we decided to raise money through a fund-raiser.
After weeks of planning and campaigning, I had my first fund-raiser last week. We sold breakfast to hungry church-goers and we'd just made Rs 15000 !
I won't claim success or any form of victory but I can say this fund-raiser brought all of us together in a way that only goodness and kindness can. It was a huge testament to how caring people really are.

I learned a valuable lesson too. I have been ignoring my obligation to the lesser fortunate for way too long now. While we were earning 7 figure salaries, we thought less of giving and passing on His blessings and more on how we could increase our standard of living. We all do. We have been ignoring that silent voice asking for our help and this instance taught us the importance of giving. 

Often when we think of generosity we usually think of giving money. This isn't always the case, and we can be more generous with so much more. We can donate our possessions, time or relationships.

We often thought we would not be able to buy what we wanted if we gave away. We'd always procrastinate but it would never happen. Our wants and needs were endless. Try ignoring that feeling inside you that says you will lose too much when you give too much. It's incredible what comes back to you in return when you freely give.

Three weeks ago, when we wanted to raise Rs 15000, we thought it was a huge amount. But when people came together for the cause, God enabled us to raise that money. How many times have you thought you won't get anything in return? If you've thought that, take heart. You will - Pressed down, running over, shaken together and poured into your lap.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Home Truths [295/365]

The past couple of months have been a spiritual experience. I have faced some of my most fearsome demons and come out unscathed.
Through much I've relearned some worldly truths, which I'll try to list here:

Fact: You'll always have atleast one bully in your life. It could be in your high school or in your workplace.
Truth: Tyrants and bullies never got ahead in life. Ever.

Fact: You'll always have another chance at life.
Truth: You'll need lots of patience to get that chance.

Fact: You'll always be alone at some point in your day.
Truth: You'll need to have the grace to accept your frailties when you are all alone.

Fact: No matter what anyone else tells you, you will need to make some important mistakes in your life.
Truth: Experience is good learning from bad mistakes.

Fact: Bad people get all the good stuff
Truth: Only true on earth.

Fact: Your ex always seem to be having a wonderful life after you.
Truth: Only the foot knows where the shoe pinch

Fact: Don't judge a book by its covers.
Truth: Always True!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Better Evil [293/365]

On the other side of the planet, Obama is battling like a war-worn veteran against Mitt Romney. Sure, he came out of the first debate looking like a lame duck and many fondly remembered the most previous lame duck Prez that the US had. Going into the first of three debates, Romney had little to loose and much to gain. He was after all down in almost all the battleground States and trailing behind in the rest. O was perhaps being too complacent. He looked like a weary soldier who forgot his boot camp training.

O arrived with his wife and children in tow looked every bit suave as any other day. Its a pity they won't allow the family pooch too or it would have been a family circus. Four years and I am beginning to hate how American presidents like to parade their families. If we did that here, I am sure we'd have Ekta Kapoor choreographing.

Closer home, we have the BJP and Congress readying themselves for Battle Royale. They've got the money ready, now they'll need to start distributing much of that to bribe us and the league of incredible businessmen so that they can get to power and recover all that money back. Patriotism is still number 1 which is why BJP today said they will seal our borders if they are elected back to power. They also illustrated the colorful example of how Israel is able to protect themselves even when surrounded by enemies. And I thought WOW! Such rhethoric sure sells with hot-blooded unemployed youth who are made to believe illegal immigrants working in your city is the reason they are not getting jobs. I'd hate to burst the bubble, chaps. But the reason why you aren't getting a job is because:

  • You don't know how to attend an interview wearing proper formal attire. And no, Jeans and full sleaved shirt tucked in and sandals is NOT proper formal attire.
  • Your graduation/diploma is not your passport to success. Your communication and interpersonal skills are.
  • You don't know how to frame and speak a grammatically correct English sentence. 'As you know my name is ...' is not acceptable introductory statement when asked to describe yourself.
  • You do not realize that when coming for an interview, you need to shave and for women- remove unwanted hair on your body. I've seen far too many male candidates who come with a 3 day old beard and bleary eyes and women who come in frumpy clothes and dirty slippers.
  • Two words: Breath-mints. Please.
So now why would we want to close our borders? Isn't that like shutting yourselves within your homes just because there are a few stray dogs outside? Gosh! Our neighbors are mad at us because we are like the big brother who loves to visit their homes when it is dinner time, stay until dessert, listen to the juicy gossip and then leave abruptly when they needed our advice or help. We have had really embarrassing instances where we have not come to the aid of our neighbors when they were in crisis- like Srilanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. If Pakistan is nipping at our tails, it is only because we have cornered them. If China is uncomfortably close to our neighbors, it is only because we allowed them to. What we really need is not arms and a squadrons of armed forces and barbed wire on our borders, but bridges. We need to get our neighbors on our side and they are not too fussy too. We still have a chance of being what we are supposed to be. Imagine how powerful we could be if we had Pakistan, China, Srilanka, Nepal, Burma and Bangladesh on our side? Forget the G8, the G20 and the BRIC, together we could monopolize over 98% of every manufactured product, 70% of the world's outsourced jobs, over 70% of the world's English-speaking graduate and post-graduate workforce and be the world's biggest consumer and king. I may not have the statistics but I definitely think if our politicians knew how entrepreneurial Israelis are, they would realize that we don't deserve to even be in the same field as them. With absolutely no natural resource of their own but a large barren piece of land, they now grow everything and manufacture every necessity themselves. They have the most intelligent scientists and the most influential policy makers in the planet. The Superpowers know better than to antagonize the Jews and they have won every single war they've fought. Which is more than what we can claim.

Hundreds of years ago, the British ruled over us. And the simplest rule in their book was to keep us divided and poor. With the way they ruled, I think that rule worked quite brilliantly. As they left, they made sure they estranged our twin and cut off our thumbs so that we would never ever unite and grow together. Our politicians have done the rest. Today, we have sewer-scum like Thackeray and Didi who are both certified nut-jobs and the best part is they think they are being patriotic and right. Unfortunately they don't see how powerful they could get if our country united with our neighbors and how they could have a shot at global policy-making just the way the US Prez has.

Call me an evergreen optimist having a good day but I definitely think we could use some bonding because we have let the nasty after-stink of the British stay for too long and its time we cleaned up our act.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Good job, folks! [292/365]

Rapists have been really busy in the past week.
On the heels of news of an alleged gang-rape, comes another incident of a gang of men who barged into the house of women who worked as bar-girls in Bangalore. As if the piling mounts of garbage was not raising stink enough, we are now getting the monikor of the Rape capital of the South.

Now, normally I would be outraged that women are still getting raped but I reserve my comments here. I hate to be the party-popper but when I was dating, we never ever went anywhere I thought was remotely unsafe for my girlfriend.
The guy in this case had only met the girl a few weeks earlier and they were already going on 'jolly rides'? WOW!
And what were they doing in a deserted area that is a designated forest at that time of the night? Not picking daisies, I hope.
What kind of a boyfriend would leave his girl in the hands of their abductors alone?
The girl had barely any physical wound on her body. Remarkable because- the spot where she says she was raped had broken glass pieces and thorns strewn all over. No trace of semen or sexual injury on her privates. So either the girl had an incredible resilient body that was puncture/injury proof or she was raped while she was suspended in the air by bunch of men who wore condoms and 'did it' gently. Ripley's Believe it or Not!
The victim also reported that her attackers returned all the loot that her boyfriend handed over, helped her climb over a 7 ft wall, and also gave her some auto fare (Rs10?!) to reach her hostel.
I know what you're thinking. What kinda disrepute are they trying to bring to rapists? This is going to set an unhealthy precedent to rapists everywhere. 

So while I was still pondering on the repercussion this incident could have on our society, I read another ghastly article in the news.
Mothers pushing their daughters to prostitution is not new. We've had such shining examples in this blog already, but this was positively ghastly.
I know parents who won't let their daughters step out after 6pm because they fear she won't be able to fend off rapes. But these daughters grow up to become mothers who won't know how to equip their children with the tools to defend themselves in an age when women are expected to be as progressive as men. The parents don't expect their sons to turn into sexual predators so it's okay to be out late night, party and have girl friends. 

While I won't call myself a women's rights activist, I find it amusing that men feel threatened by a confident woman. But weak women have made rapes a wonderful way to settle scores. In the NLSUI student's allegation of gang-rape, there is a strong possibility that the woman just wanted to get the men in trouble and not the other way round.
Pascal, our favorite Frenchman was let out on bail after his wife's change-a-day testimonies and inconclusive medical reports exohonarated him. But I recall how the media pounced on the news as soon as it broke out. The wife was portrayed as the model for all mothers everywhere. While we still don't know the truth of what really happened at the home that day, we do know that Pascal never raped the child. So then, who did it?

In India, you are held guilty the moment you are accused. We won't let the justice system work because we are the judge, the jury and the executioner.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Segregation. What Segregation? [291/365]

Lost in translation
Back when I was growing up, one of the most distinctive aspects of a residential area would be a grand mosque every 500 to 800 mtrs, immaculate streets which were swept atleast once a day, a cooperative (aka supermarket), plenty of tiny grocers and atleast one police outpost for managing the area. This was the blueprint and baring a few areas, you could bet your shorts that you'll find all these and more in each the dozen residential areas in the tiny oil-rich emirate.
Ofcourse, there would not be a single piece of garbage lying unattended and abandoned. None of the distinctive trash bins would overflow and littering did attract a huge fine. Even their huge fleet of trash compactors were clean and never had pieces of garbage sticking/hanging/flying out. Well, you could say that they had the luxury of millions of petrol-dinars.

Circa 2012: Every street corner, every vacant/semi-vacant plot, every disused footpath is stinking evidence of how our politicians hate us. Its not as if we have been producing more junk now, but its just living proof of how myopic our administrators are. Strangely, they appear to have excellent vision when it comes to securing their own families.
Landfills are not inexhaustible and even a 5th grader could tell you how long it would take a landfill with a limited capacity to fill up with the millions of tons garbage that is dumped everyday.
Ironically, we were called the garden city, silicon city and the city of a thousand lakes. A city where pensioners found their paradise on earth. I remember Bangalore as a city which was air-conditioned all the year round, with evening showers every day and wide tree-lined roads with very little pandemonium. Ofcourse, I could go on and on about how the past was wonderful.
When the local civic agencies announced the segregation with much fanfare, I was doubtful. None of the trash-collectors were aware or briefed on what they would need to do. A huge majority of the apartment complexes didn't have recycling units within their premises and no one knew how to segregate. Neetha and I educated our watchman on garbage segregation and even labeled the three bins so that residents would not mix the trash. A week later, even with a huge label, I saw an 'educated' lady from our apartment throw her sanitary pad in the bin marked 'Wet Waste'. What's the point?
I tried circulating an helpful note on segregation hoping that would clear the cobwebs of doubts from our hon'ble fellow residents. I am yet to see how that worked.
Today, as I went to work I saw the trash collectors wheel in their trash carts with 4 different bins and dump them all in one huge stinking pile. So much for segregation if the trash collectors themselves decide to mix it back. I wonder who's the wiser here.
As garbage begins to pile up, again, it is anyone's guess how this will end- In the grand time-tested way everything else works in Bangalore, this will also die a quick death with a politician who will arm-twist villagers to let all of us take a dump (pun intended) right at their doorstep. And soon, we will have another controversy to fawn over.

Recently we became the first city in India to have exclusive cycle lanes. Politicians and movie stars vied for a piece of the spotlight when it was officially inaugurated. Barely hours later, the euphoria died down and our motorists decided to park, drive and pretty much deny cyclists their lane. Big deal! Try denying right of way to a motorist in traffic and you'll live to see his fury. Today, the cycle lane is missing much of the paint, the signboards are drowned out by the 'No turn' boards and you'll cars, motorbikes and every other motorized vehicle known to man parked in these lanes.

Why is it so hard for us to adopt green living?
We hate recycling except if it is fancy polythene bags. We won't bother carrying our own shopping bags when shopping and we are reluctant to reduce the trash that we generate.
What's wrong with us, really?
We fling our garbage bags off our kitchen windows and balconies into the nearest vacant plot (aka landfill) and it is off our minds. This has to change.

Democratically, we are a very placid nation. And for this reason, the people in Kerala are a world apart because they won't hesitate to bring down their leaders (physically and otherwise) if they aren't happy with them. Which is one of the few reasons why the State has grown in leaps and bounds in the last two decades.

With dengue and related diseases on the raise, it appears that our holy cows are not the only creatures benefiting from this unexpected windfall.

I'm disheartened with the fact that we have a bunch of no-good geezers and intellectually-challenged goons leading us. This we gotta change.

Monday, October 15, 2012

All about Malala [290/365]

Last week, the EU got the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in stabilizing the world economy by bailing out the lazy south.
In the meanwhile, a young 14 year old girl in Swat, Pakistan got shot in the head and neck working for the cause of girl children in her country.
So what is wrong with this picture here?

While the Nobel Foundation have been in the spotlight in the past couple of years for their choices of awardees, their choice for the peace prize this year will definitely be the most controversial. Malala Yousafzai, a political activist and educational rights activist, had been writing a blog for BBC under a pseudonym. At a time when the Taliban imposed their radical version of conservative Islam and ordered that girls should not be educated, Malala's blogs were bone-chilling. They spoke of the first-hand terror and fear that women and young girls go through every moment.

Her activism is the stuff of Bollywood blockbusters and mythical warrior princesses. Inspite of open threats, Malala encouraged by her dad, Ziauddin Yousafzai, trudged on. She inspired hundreds of girls to fight for their right to education and eventually paid for it when Taliban gunmen shot her in her school bus. 

What followed was worldwide outrage, and surprisingly most of it from within Pakistan. While the government spoke in veiled tones, Muslim clerics and ordinary Pakistanis were outraged. The Taliban were mighty proud that they shot the young defenseless girl but with support and encouragement that this incident has caused, I doubt if they really achieved their goal. On the contrary, they may have alienated clerics who would have otherwise helped them turn Pakistan into the dark-ages.

Ironically, we have been really silent over this. I haven't seen any candle light vigils or solidarity marches for our stricken neighbor. But that could be because we have our hands full committing heinous crimes against our own women. Our men are one blowjob short of an orgasm and going by the rate that we have been raping our women, with female infanticide and mortality being what it is, with dowry deaths increasing and our strange penchant for the male child, I estimate that we will run out of fresh women to rape in about five - ten years. Rapists please note

Malala, I hear is slowly recovering but I wonder how this will change her life for ever. Will she be a vegetable for the rest of her life or will she have to live in fear until she dies? Whatever the outcome, I hope the fear that she has experienced, the forces that she fought and the pain that she will go through will open the eyes of ruthless tyrants everywhere. I hope the effort that she put finally bears fruit.

We're sorry we didn't think you deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Of rapes and candle-light vigils [287/365]

In a country where we don't like our women, it is strange that we love to rape them. 
It appears that we don't want them to live a dignified life but as mere instruments of our unbridled lust. We don't want them to work or earn the same jobs that we do, we hate their guts and love to 'share' news of how that girl in your office is sleeping around when she gets ahead in her career.
But the moment you get a lady under you (no pun intended) you begin to think of ways to exploit her trust in you. We want our women to be locked inside the four walls and balconies of our homes. We want them to cook, clean and care of us and our offspring. Oh yeah, we also want them to bear atleast 4 kids who must have your surname and her sweat and tears.

Our ministers are no better. While I won't blame the men since Indian politicians are all of the same sewer, one Haryana minister kicked up dust when she said "I have no hesitation to say that 90% of the girls go with consent. They find criminal-minded people later (who rape them). The girls don't realise that there are 5-10 boys (waiting for them),". Gee, so I guess this means she will be sending her consenting daughters to be raped too. 
This was in reaction to why Haryana has taken over the moniker of rape capital after having 19 reported rapes in 30 days and 8 in the last 4 days.

To be fair, I think the statistics would be barely a fraction of what is really happening. It could be just a case of more victims finding the courage to report than previously. Most states in the north have had the notorious reputation of men who rape and go scot-free. Many women that I've spoken to dread visiting States like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkatta while women who migrate from the north find the south too demure for their taste.

Unfortunately, crimes against women will forever be one of our enduring legacy unless we learn to treat every single woman as preciously as we ought to treat our mothers and sisters.

Candle-light vigils won't do anymore.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The proud Billion [286/365]

About 159 days after the world's largest Social networking website went public, we heard that FB hit a billion.
Well, Mr Zuckerberg, we hit that number a few years ago.

So what does this really mean for us? Does it really mean he has a billion people hooked onto FB?
Mark stayed clear of saying who and went FB hit the number perhaps because he knows it couldn't really be a billion yet. For those who read/watched his interview online, he came off as a person who rambled on.

That said, no one can deny how much FB is part of our society today. It feeds off our basic and primal need for intimacy and voyeurism. I know dozens of people who create fake accounts to stalk their ex'es. Having a facebook account is just as necessary as having an email address but when I read a recent newspaper article about how an increasing number of teens are becoming depressed just because their peers have more number of friends, or have more 'Likes' for the posts they put, I wondered aloud- How much is facebook doing to protect its younger members? An overwhelming majority say individuals under the age of 18 mustn't be allowed to use FB. But a look at the number of pre-teens and teens that are online and posting pictures and content will tell you another story.

But then FB may not have a billion yet, and this could be just a massive PR exercise. Let's face it, Mark is a ruthless businessman. For a company that likes to measure everything in billions, it sure has lost a lot of its sheen when its stock has lost over 40% since going public. The company is now facing angry stockholders and disappointed employees. He himself has lost billions and while the company tries to shift focus away from its failures, the real question will be- 

Can facebook really transform our lives beyond being just a distraction in our daily lives?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pocket Money [285/365]

So we all saw how a grandiose plan to bring an end to corruption in the time-honored tradition of non-violence and non-cooperation degraded to Team Anna breaking up. 

Kejriwal announced that he would launch his own party and released a teaser of his party's manifesto.
The politicians guffawed at how a simpleton like Kejriwal would take on the combined riches of the BJP and Congress. All hell broke loose when he starting spewing venom against the high and mighty. Caught first in the cross-hairs, was Robert Vadra; son-in-law of the (Sonia) Gandhi family and 'an ordinary businessman'.

The allegations were serious enough to cause concern. One of India's largest real-estate companies DLF had apparently given a massive sum as an 'unsecured loan' to Vadra, who in turn purchased properties that were undervalued at less than 10% of what they cost in the market.
50 crores is barely loose change and is a shamefully small amount when compared to the billions of rupees that the members of the UPA government have siphoned off.
Vadra, who enjoys VVIP treatment in Indian airports, was naturally indignant. He claimed innocence and transparency. Madam would've clucked her tongue and uttered an Italian curse and every single cabinet minister ran to his aid. The speed at which the government responded to allegations against one of its citizens was admirable.

Some questions here:
  • Why rush to defend a man who claims to be just another honest businessman?
  • Would audited books of accounts that are in public domain lie? 
  • How can DLF and Vadra explain why the loans were unsecured were given and why the properties were not accounted for in the books until 3 years later?
  • Is what DLF did an acceptable standard practice?
We may never know the bitter truth here either, but the reality is Kejriwal has set the cat amongst the pigeons. He has opened a can of worms and it sure isn't going to be smelling likes roses for a while.
That said, I doubt if Kejriwal can claim to be a saint himself. He has battled charges of misusing funds in the recent past but ofcourse being the media's darling, you'll not find any dirt on him even if you trawl google. But then we can overlook minor infractions like this and seeing how he has taken the political path to clean up a really messy situation I don't know if coming into the ring spitting and slinging mud was the best way forward. 

Ideally, the activist turned politician should have build a water tight no-nonsense manifesto before engaging in a sludge-match. He did have the aces but when you are taking on the most powerful son-in-law in the country, you are playing with nukes. Nonetheless, there could be a method to the madness, and the Haryanvi is surely playing to the youth who have begun to see him as a role model and a 'guy like us'.

In Round 1 of Mr manicured Armani tux vs rest of India, the mangoes and bananas got much unwanted attention.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

From Russia, with Love [284/365]

Overly-patriotic Indians and retired (and semi-retired) military men celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The rest of us were busy reading about how DLF gave some pocket money to Robert Vadra.


So while we were all busy seeing hastily put up montages of out-dated Sukhoi's and MIGs that haven't fallen off the sky yet, there was one tiny bit of news that went ignored- Russia pushed the delivery of the refitted Admiral Gorshkov aka INS Vikramaditya by another 11 months.
Reason: The 45,000 ton aircraft carrier failed its extensive sea-trails. The boilers in the refitted aircraft carrier failed and the vessel could not accelerate to its maximum speed. Gee!

For the uninitiated, the Soviet Union era Gorshkov which was formerly known as Baku was decommissioned eight years after it was commissioned in 1987. Strangely, the reason why it was decommissioned was because of an explosion in the boilers and it was considered too nonviable to recommission the massive carrier. Deja vu, anyone?! It was put up for sale in 1996. And eight years later, Russia managed to sell the Gorshkov to India. 

This would be the start of years of retrofitting and repairs as both India and Russia began to haggle over the price.
Finally, after years of negotiation, in 2004 it was decided that India would pay Russia $2.3 billion which was thrice the original price of $947 million.

...and What could be

Now, the funny part- India would get the ship free while paying for the $800 million for retrofitting and upgrading the ship and an additional billion for aircraft and weapon systems, like 12 single-seat Mikoyan MiG-29K 'Fulcrum-D' and 4 dual-seat MiG-29KUB aircraft (with an option for 14 more aircraft) at $1 billion, 6 Kamov Ka-31 "Helix" reconnaissance and anti-submarine helicopters, torpedo tubes, missile systems, and artillery units. Today as news of the delay came, it was rumored that Delhi will have to pay $4 billion for the second-hand aircraft carrier.

Now, call me a stingy Indian or a cynic, but if agreeing to pay 6 times the original price of a product isn't foolish enough, then irritating cost escalations because of delayed delivery is beyond the realm of common-sense. The simplest analogy I can think of is if you are agreeing to buying an apartment to be delivered at a mutually agreeable date and price, then any delay to deliver it on time can and should attract penalties or a revocation of the contract. While we may never know the real cost of the INS Vikramaditya, I doubt if we will need an aircraft carrier that costs as much as the Gorshkov has.

Back to present day, India's defense minister Mr AK Antony did some politi-speak. Ahead of high-level defense ministerial meetings, Delhi warned that it would penalize Moscow five percent of the contract value for any further delays. Yeah right!
I am pretty sure the Generals at Kremlin would be rolling on the floor laughing at how they have 'sold' the Gorshkov to the Indians.

Cliched as it sounds, for a country that lacks basic infrastructure, education and employment, will the INS Vikramaditya ever pay for itself?
For a hand-me-down, it sure is an expensive deal. But we are like that only. We like to brag at how we got a great deal even if we got a dud. 

And in the meanwhile, here's a message from Russia; To India. With Love

Monday, October 08, 2012

5 Star Mess [283/365]

Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as real strength.
— Ralph W. Sockman 

So the past year has been really bad for Mr Mallya.
India's flamboyant billionaire risks loosing his equally flamboyant airline after piling up billions of dollars in losses.
While his airline has been grounded for the past 10 days after a partial lockout, his woes have increased.
The DGCA has asked him why they should not cancel the airline's license after critical ground support staff have struck work after not been paid salaries for the past seven months.

Following resignations of several high profile employees in the upper management, on Friday one of the staffer's wife committed suicide after not being able to put up money for her son's studies abroad. WOW! Farmer suicides are passe. Who cares about them anyway? But when you are unable to send your child to study abroad, sure. That is a new low for our nation. Poonam Pandhey, take note.

If you ask me, I know Mallya is going to come out of this mess that he walked into.
The clues lie in the lessons he's learned. Inheriting his father's business at the tender age of 29, he has made Kingfisher what it is today. From spirits to real estate, Formula 1 to a T20 Cricket team, he has done it all. He has sprawling penthouses in all four continents and every motoring luxury known to mankind.
He will definitely need to pull a rabbit out of the hat to save his airline and keep his liquor business. With the airline loosing all of its value, its lenders can neither seize the leased aircrafts nor allow the airline to die. The fact that the government has allowed his airline to fly all these years speak of the incredible clout that Mallya yields in the upper echelons of Delhi.

While it looks apparent that Mallya is not going to save the airline from his pocket, the next couple of days will reveal if he is ready to loose his airline to keep his title of liquor baron intact. The lenders are thin on patience and the time is running out for Mallya to act.

Interestingly, for a company that is known for its calenders Kingfisher sure hasn't kept any of the dates it promised to pay salaries on.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Portmortem [279/365]

It is foretold in the future, all wars will be fought over water and food.
In the past week, Karnataka was ordered to share its water to its 'parched' neighbor. 'nuff said

Many years ago, when relatives used to visit us two topics that we always discussed about was Veerappan and Cauvery. Ofcourse, we all know how Veerappan was hunted so that is no longer as interesting a topic as it was. But we still discuss how Karnataka and Tamil Nadu  squabble about the Cauvery.

A couple of days ago, when the SC ordered the State to release water to its neighbor, I began thinking aloud.

After all these years, we are still dependent on Cauvery? Could the government not learn from similar judgements on sharing rivers?
A State that is known for its IT disaster recovery and backup systems still does not have desalination plants and airtight water conservation plans. Knowing how the demand would increase, I wonder why no one thought of an alternative. But yes, there was the Cauvery Report that did recommend alternative sources of drinking water for Karnataka that would reduce its dependence on Cauvery. But in the great tradition of how the politicians function that report was promptly trashed. Cauvery after all is a wonderful issue that the politicians could use at will to ruffle the people and they were not going to loose that leverage.

So do we really treasure a natural resource like the Cauvery if it is this important?
Apparently no, if you consider how we abuse water resources in and around major towns and cities. In Bangalore alone, we have a million bore-wells that have drained our groundwater table such that you won't find a drop of water even at 4000 ft. Overflowing overhead water tanks, faulty water pipes, leaky taps, water tankers that spill many liters of water en-route and homeowners who wash their vehicles using drinking water are a common sight. I find our protests against releasing water very hypocritical and a convenient excuse for our stupidity.

What better way to celebrate our stupidity than to declare an all out bandh across the State.
So, for the second time in three weeks, we have another reason to stay home and catch up on our sleep. So what if the bandh was declared on a Saturday? So what if this bandh meant lost productivity? So what if this bandh meant someone could not get to the hospital on time and died on the way? So what if this bandh meant someone on their way got stuck and missed out on an important opportunity or meeting? So what if there was no Cable TV the whole day?
These are not the things the politicians care about, you see. To them you and I are just pawns. We are dispensable. We are disposable. We are just the people. They are not worried if you will support them because they will buy your votes just in time for the elections anyway. And we will vote the same scumbags back to power. 

Tamil Nadu is not a saint either. They have played their water-cards well. Be it the Mullaperiyar Dam or this, they have stoked violence at will. For two states that are neither landlocked nor parched fighting over a river is silly.

Tomorrow as the bandh begins, our politicians will play their cards well. This bandh will see every political party and every nincompoop politician worth his khadhi and safari suit supporting it. Why won't they? This issue is a wonderful tool. One that will distract the people from the real issues- like garbage segregation and recycling, or even the political paralysis in the State. This issue will blind the people long enough for the politicians to regroup and strategise on policy blunders they have committed. This issue will put the people in a Catch-22 situation. You either support it and get the benefits or protest against the way our politicians are playing us and forever be condemned as unpatriotic and burned alive.

All eyes will be on tomorrow.
And in the meanwhile, I hear the BJP is planning a nation-wide bandh next Friday. Yay!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Arise, Arise! Your time has come [278/365]

Arise,shine,for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 
-Isaiah 60 : 1

The light here refers to God himself when He comes on us. Daniel, Hezikiel and Saul were all sinners. But when they encountered God their lips were purged with fire and they refused to speak evil once again.
So very often we speak ill of people. But when God enters your life,your thoughts will be controlled. Your lips will act like a dam whose gates are closed for the evil things that you may want to say about others in general. In short, you will weigh your words when you have to speak.

When God shines His Light on you, you will no longer speak ordinary things. But you will prophesy.

The pastor also gave another instance of Satan and his followers. One night he dreamt of Satan with a big sword trying to cut off people's heads. This pastor also was in the long queue and very very worried. He saw that Satan was mercilessly chopping off heads and this pastor wanted to escape. But there was no escape. When his chance came to behead him, Satan only smiled and said...Babai (friend) you will live.
So why did he address him as Babai...because he considered him as his friend. If you are his friend then you will live to do his things.

Now what exactly is the Light that we see in Isaiah 60:1...
1)  The Light that will bring us out of darkness. Darkness here refers to the ignorance people have in themselves. And also sin. At times good people are ignorant of so many things. They do lack the intelligence to distinguish right from wrong. In other words, the Light will help you in make the right decision making. Your conscience will be your guide. Your material benefits won't matter anymore, but the Word of God would.

2) Arise:  People have to wake up from their ignorance ...
Shine: When you Arise, the Glory of God (Mahima) which is the Light will Shine on you.

The pastor gave another instance in the second episode.
When it is Sunday do not wish to be disturbed. You have slogged for 6 days and you think ..yes,this is my day of rest.
NO! Fathers and mothers speak loudly to your children..Arise and Shine. Today is the day that belongs to the Lord. 

3) When the Light which is the Word of God shines on you..4 things take place.
a)  You gain Wisdom. ( Wisdom to do the right things and differentiate right from the wrong)
b) Way....God will direct your paths. (Through a conscience)

c)  Direction ( Yes /Wrong)
d) Heaven ( Which will ultimately lead you to it)....Where God and you will live for eternity.

Now when you have all heard this sermon. How well have you received it ? Your heart is compared to the land that the seed has fallen in.
Is it 30 % fertile, 60 % fertile or 100 % fertile?

Some people listen and allow the Word to fall in them..They speak in tongues...they are super excited but for a short time.
Another 60 % of fertility...maybe for a longer time..If they listen to the Word on Sunday,they would probably follow it until Thursday.

If it is winter people tend to become lazy. Why Arise and Shine ? I may as well get some sleep ..If it is raining....I may as well work in a store for some extra money. I will be paid 2 times or 3 times on a Sunday.

If you cannot sit for an hour on Sundays in Church because you get bored, what makes you think it will be interesting with the God of all eternity spending time for ever and ever ?
But if you obey the word of God, the Light will shine on you. When the Light shines on you, you will be a beacon unto others because you saw that Light first. And it was you who responded to the Light first. 

Excerpts from Rev Rangaraju's sermon on TV. 
This post has been made possible only because of the transcription of a dear friend-in-Christ and church member, Mrs Anu Sampath.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The greener grass [277/365]

If there is one thing in common that we share with our western neighbor, it is our love for beautiful women.
Many years ago, they asked for Madhuri Dixit in exchange for J&K. We said 'No Way, Jose'.
Then we asked for Dawood Ibrahim. 'Take a hike' we were told.
The score was tied.
And then few months ago, we let them have Sania and they let us have Veena Malik. The Paki's thought they struck gold. Or bronze. We made them believe that we were loosing our national asset (no pun intended). But the joke was on them. Sania has actually never won any tournaments worth mentioning on her own, so we didn't really mind the barter.
By the time they realised they had a lemon in their hands, it was too late. Veena had already flashed her cleavage and won legions of Indian male fans. Sania flashed some of her thunder thighs in consolation. Goods once sold cannot be exchanged.  

Ha Ha!

Politically however, the game was tilted in their favor.
We have our uncouth Mamata Di and size 22 Amma and they had the luscious Hina Rabanni. Damn

We drooled uncontrollably every time Hina clicked her Jimmy Choos or adjusted her Gucci clutch during her maiden Indian visit.
She ramp-walked her way into our hearts and open arms. Suddenly many Indians regretted not having closer ties with Pakistan. We all swooned in unison.
A successful businesswoman, economist and capable diplomat Hina makes being a foreign minister look effortless and stylish. Secretly we all wished if we could swap our Mayawati and Didi for a Hina. We were in love.

So when rumors of Hina in love with Benazir's son broke out, Indian men everywhere gasped. We lapped up stories of her romance with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The cards and the secret meetings were stuff of Bollywood movies. She was the most (and probably the only) beautiful Pakistani politician and he was the handsome prince. She was both rich and successful and he the sole heir of Benazir's unaccounted loot. They plan to retire from politics and settle down in Switzerland, which would make sense since it would be closer to the banks where her late mother-in-law stashed her billions. I think that is a pretty sound plan for the future.

Her current husband is still in denial. As a matter of fact, someone should tell him that this is a process.
Her future father-in-law is furious. No surprise there!

So does this mean we will probably never get to see our beautiful Hina again? Actually, no. Seeing how wonderfully talented European paparazzo are in taking photographs of nude celebs, we should be seeing a lot more of Hina and in about 15 years, she will be back in Pakistan fighting elections. 

The moral of the story: There will be everlasting peace in the subcontinent if all Pakistani politicians would be women as hot as Hina and Veena.
In the meanwhile, we hear more Pakistanis are buying OralB toothbrushes now.

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