Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bush to visit India




Bush arrives here in India on the 2nd of March. A lot of arrangements being done to receive him, both by the Govt with bouquets and the opposition with brickbats. True to democractic principles, a lot of protest and receptions are being organized by different stakeholders. A big ticket item, that the current GOI (Govt of India) is pushing, is the recognition of the nuclear status, and admission to the club of covert operators. India has been out of this club, and has done well in developing its own range of nuclear power and armaments. Now India wants in. Because the potential for the development and implementation of Nuclear power plants in India and around the globe (specially US) is huge. The US also wants India in, because they stand to gain from the immense technology that has been developed by India, specially since the nuclear power development has been dormant in the US for decades.

The question is, who is going to blink. In this field of geopolitics, there are no permanent villains and heros. There is only a state of relation, that keeps constantly changing to the tunes and needs of who is more powerful at that given time. So when you think of it, the empire where the 'sun never set', has now been reduced to a vassal state, jumping to the beck and call of the now powerful US of A. But then if you carefully observe the actions and reactions of the USA, you will notice that their are actually not in control of world events, they are also slave to situations in Iraq, Afghanisthan and Iran etc. Everytime they overstep their boundaries, other nations are slowly but steadily tightening the noose around the US.

This millennium is the era of the asians, the question is which one, India, China or someone else ? Or is this all again just a perception of a bloke sitting way close to the equator, dreaming about the end of the whiteman's supremacy over the planet...... only to be replaced by the tyranny of another.

Bush will come, go, and a few things may change because of that.


Tags: bush, india, visit, nuclear, agreement

Monday, February 27, 2006

Judicial worries



Two recent court verdicts in India, drag the judicial system to two opposite direction. The interesting thing is that both these cases have a common thread.One survived inspite of it and the other died in the court system because of it. I am referring to 'hostile' witness and witness recanting previous statements made in front of a judge, or claiming to have made them under coercion from the police etc. I always wondered, specially when Zahira kept going back and forth with her statements, why the perjury laws were not invoked. In the US, typically the witness will get a contempt order from the court almost immediately. Hmmm.... i take that back, it usually happens in the movies, i am not sure about real life scenarios. I used to watch the court tv (a dedicated TV channel for high profile court cases).

The court system in Mumbai, finally giving justice to those killed in the Best Bakery case in Gujarat riots. This inspite of Zahira. Finally some justice to the people who were killed. It also good to see that the judge in this case, has attempted to take the matter regarding hostile witness and perjury very seriously. Irrespective of the reason why Zahira recanted her statements, i would like the courts to persue this matter so that it will set a precedent to be followed in future cases.

Then there is the Jessica Lal murder, where the judge remained a passive observer and allowed eye witnesses to recant their story. Even the bloke Shyan Munshi, who apparently witnessed the murder, and filed the FIR had recanted his initial statement. Thanks to NDTV (news hounds sometimes do a good job), they got some sound-bites out of him. I think it only makes him look even more repulsive. But, before you pass judgement, you do need to be in his shoes to make the call.

The problem today is that witnesses do not have adequate protection available to them and are forced to recant their original statements. But they do that easily today, because they face no consequence of doing so. I think it is time, even to the detriment of some genuine cases, that tougher stances are taken by the judges involved to protect the outcome of a case. New laws may be needed, but i think if judges really do their part, they can stop this now.

9 get life term in Best Bakery case; perjury notice to Zahira - The Tribune - Feb 24 12:55 PM
Jessica Lal case: Judge faces music
Fight for justice: Jessica case gathers momentum

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Iqbal




source: india target

Watched this movie on DVD this friday night. Am not a great fan of Nagesh Kukunoor, but have watched most of his movies. But this movie was different from all his previous efforts. I think it was a wonderful play of events, though a little unrealistic, but then when did a movie have to be realistic. The screen play, the cast, and the performance by the key players, so underplayed and seemed very natural that it evoked the right emotion from the viewer. A lot of kudos to Shreyas Talpade, who plays the deaf and mute boy Iqbal, who dreams of being a cricketer, and his sister and biggest supporter played by Shweta Prasad.

I think it is worth watching, if you havent seen it before.

Oh ya, it also has my man Kapil Dev walking in, in the last moments of the movie. Nothing great shakes by him, but he plays himself, and i think just seeing him transports me to my days of watching cricket and fighting for him with all my friends, who were die hard Gavaskar fans. It was easier to argue, because i was arguing against Gavaskar and because i had picked Kapil as my hero. Well that was another era.

Iqbal
Iqbal

Tags: iqbal, movie, nagesh+kukunoor, india, cricket, bollywood, kapil+dev

Friday, February 24, 2006

Its Friday !! - listen to this ... 'Welcome to India'



Ok... this has been out on the internet for sometime now. But i thought, i am sure there are still some people who may not have had a chance to listen to this before. So here are the lyrics to the song.
The songs itself is available here mp3-version

Welcome to India
by mC ViKrAm aNd LuDaKriShNa

Yaar, MC Vikram and Luda Krishna representing y'all
That's right ... increase the volume please ... thank you.

Welcome to India, mango juices and lassis, home of the crazy desis
and little kids that are milking the bessies
Toothbrush in my pocket, what is that?
We use our fingers here to keep our teeth so clear, who said that?

Luda Krishna here, Vikram pulling the Tata gears,
and I'm sitting in the Maruti Supreme,
with the cooling glass on, no one bothers me.
biggest star since the ever famous Mamooty.

Come with me to a place where we sip Frooties
and we eat the sweets, while monkeys roam the streets.
Old uncle sits - big bellies and very smelly (burp!)

Thank you Vikram, would you please pass the jelly,
I mean the pickle, hand it down this way.
Namaste, We greet the people as they enter the train
Sixty five people hanging out the door,
sweat coming out the pores
please don't raise your hand, you are not sure.

I walked into the local corner store,
bought myself a very nice looking carroms board.
My fingers get sore when I shoot and I score,
and the ladkis all scream coz they all want some more,
of the Luda Krishna and the Vikram MC,
Sweetest things to hit the States since Mango Chutney.
We keep the kundis shaking, you better trust me.
The name is Luda Krishna, but my friends call me thumbi, what!? (burp!)

Ohhh, Vikram, is that you my friend?!
That is me my friend!
Oh, please enter this rap game!
Ok man! C'mon ... tell me where you are going my friend.

Welcome to India where the cows eat hay,
and we drive auto-rickshaws everyday,
Goat-meat, yummy sweets while monkeys roaming,
The roosters don't crow till five in the morning! (2x)

Now the kundis don't jiggle till I am rapping,
So please don't pass the gas when you are laughing.

Up the music charts like mango trees I climb,
With a smooth voice like mine, is it a crime
Representing FOBINESS since 97?
Rap maharaja, I don't work at 7-Eleven.
Throw your hands in the air if you've got facial hair,
Not just for the guys, c'mon ladies be fair!

I'm the MFP, Most Fobiest Player,
Wearing hot lungis, do you think I really care?

Monday night - computer club,
Tuesday night - at Akbaar Grocery saying "Sweet thing, what is up?"
Wednesday - I'm out making Rupees
Thurday - On the lookout for Bharatnatyam queen
Friday - Everybody must know where I'm at,
coz I'm chilling on the field with my big cricket bat.
Saturday - my farts are breezy ... believe me,
so strong they will get you mad dizzy,
Sunday - Yaar, I cannot start weeping
because on Monday I will start the creeping .. Hallo!

Ohhhh ... I love that my friend!
Yaa dawg, that was funda-stic. Hey thank you, you're faobulous!
Oh, thank you my friend! Oh ...

Welcome to India where the cows eat hay,
and we drive auto-rickshaws everyday,
Goat-meat, yummy sweets while monkeys roaming,
The roosters don't crow till five in the morning! (2x)

Oh, oh, Go Luda, go Luda.
Ah, its my b'day!
That is your b'day man!
Yaaaaah. You go boy!
Oh oh oh ... it's great!
Ah, Indian Anthem my friend. Good night!
Alright, goodbye ... kiss my buttocks!!

Interview with MC Vikram (English)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Almost didnt make it !!



Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, we are just about to reach the cruising altitude here at 35000 feet. We had a slight delayed start from Frankfurt, because of one passenger, and had to pull the bags out at the last minute. But we should be able to make up any lost time, and reach Chennai as scheduled. ....

Well, i dont think many of you have had the privilege of being called out by the captain of the plane you are flying. I did. I was the passenger he was talking about. But what i was curious, now that i was sitting comfortably in 25C, was 'have they really pulled my bags out?'. If so, then that was going to be a nuisance after i land in Chennai.

Cut back to a few hours before this announcement.
After arriving in Frankfurt, i freshened up again at the lounge (thanks to all the frequent flying), and soon logged in, to the internet, to check my latest addiction, my blog, my virtual (do you guys really exist !!), and ofcourse other lame things like email from work, news, 2006 winter Olympics etc.

I had signed up for a 2hr internet session, which didn't seem to end. So out of the about 4 1/2 hrs i had to kill, i spend 3 hrs on the internet. Quite bit of the time was on work (after all, it pays the bills), then also managed to blog about this article about Amrit Singh, the daughter of Indian PM, and her efforts with ACLU.

Soon i realized that i have to go to my gate, B42, i noticed the local clock said 10:20am, and also the time on the flight list showed 10:40am for my flight. But for some reason, i was so sure that, that time was the boarding time, and so i had another 20+ minutes for the flight at 11am. So then i spent some time at the duty free shop, something i haven't done in ages. And this time, i even purchased some stuff and threw it into my carry-on bag. And then i walk to the gate, just about 100 meters away, and find it empty. If you have flown before, one thing you can forget is the crowd of 'desis' waiting to board the aircraft. And in the last 6-8 yrs, the crowd is mainly aged moms and dads travelling back and forth to look after the kids and help with delivery of their kids in the US. It appears that the human race, is the only one, where the young can never really fend for themselves.

So, smarting with my frequent flying experience and the seen it all attitude, i walk up to the gate attendant, and ask 'is there a gate change ?'
lufthansa agent: where are you flying ?
me: Chennai, and my boarding pass say B42
agent: are you mr. c k ?
i am impressed. infact, now my antenna goes up, and lot of sirens are ringing in my head. i am wondering what the !!!
agent: well, we were looking for you. you are the last one... run.. they are about to close the door

So thats the reference, my captain had to rub in. Of course, he was misinformed, i did make the flight, and they did-not pull my bags out. I got them safe and sound as always at 'the carousel' in Chennai.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Amrit Singh



If you havent seen or heard this name before, then you havent seen the video from SBS TV about the efforts of ACLU regarding the torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Well, so, i landed in Frankfurt and sitting in the lounge, drinking the free coffee (good) and eating some food (ok), and reading the newspapers available. And then as i was about to toss 'The Wall Street Journal', Europe edition, i noticed the last page, and the story read, 'Singh's daughter has no praise for Bush'. Hmmm.. i am thinking to myself, thats not a big thing, because apart from the Govt of India, and their recent sucking upto to everything American, and the businessmen in India, who love that the economy is doing so well, and would love to do more business with the US, the common man in India (atleast to the best of my knowledge) is still very suspicious of this new India-US bhai-bhai relationship.

Anyway, quick reading tells me about Amrit Singh the lawyer you see on the video, and she is the daughter of Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh. I am not sure, if the Indian press has caught on to this fact. But again, going by the 'free speech' standards, and the honeymoon india-us are enjoying right now, i can be certain that this story is going to be hidden away. I hope i am proven wrong. I have always felt that the Indian press has been more responsible than the ones in the US. It must be something to do with the british moorings. I am not sure if this article is news worthy, but it is significant for India, that an indian-born is pursuing something so important to the polity of the US.

Knowing the ACLU, assuming i understand the determination that Amrit Singh has for her to take up this job, i dont think her father or the Govt of India will be able to put pressure on her to quieten up during the visit of Bush. And know the gentleman that Manmohan is, i doubt if he is even going to try.

Kudos to her, hope she succeeds in her endeavor.


Tags: ACLU, US, India, Bush, Manmohan+Singh, Prime+Minister, press

Monday, February 20, 2006

Time Travel



Well, its been about a month now, and i have accomplished a bunch of stuff, i had planned when i arrived here in Fairfax VA. Now is back to travel again, and fly across the oceans, and fly forward in time ( i mean, by a couple of hours), as i return to Chennai. Life has been hectic the last year or two. I have this feeling of being a vagabond, neither here or there, not one place i can call my own.

After arriving here in the US in 1991, as one of the pioneers, leading the software programmers exodus to the US of A. At that time, we had defined our stay in the new land, not to exceed a year or two. Since this happend within 3 months of marriage, we looked at this trip as a fully paid extended honeymoon. At it was, we used every oppurtunity to travel and see the land. I am ashamed to say this, but i have been to more spots and places in this country, than i have been to in India. I have a secret ambition to set that right, and slowly making progress. Not to digress, but the short stay lasted over 9 full years, before my family moved to Chennai. And me, well, i continued to run my business out of the US, and travel back and forth, hoping one day, i will retire from this crap. I am still living that dream.

So, cut back to the present, i am now in this job of setting up the offshore operations in Chennai, and require me to travel even more frequently. In the last 60 days, i have travelled the chennai-washington sector three times. At first it was fun, like a road warrior, i familiarized myself with the different aspects of frequent travel like, access to travel lounge, smooth talking your way to upgrades, the best seats, what to eat and what to avoid, which movie to watch and when to sleep. Soon, all this was old news. Been there, done that. What next ? Well, am looking for the next project on these trips.

I am happy, i going to be in Madras, how i hate the new name, but i too seemed to have started to use the new word. I hear things are heating up there, but after the recent bout with snow (which was ok), and the current week's artic like temperatures (shivering), i am going to enjoy the hot climes of madras, nalla madras.

Anyway, i will be blogging from madras, and hope to be in touch with the latest and current events happening in madras, India, and the US (thanks to the web). Too sad, i am arriving just after the cricket matches are done with.

Well, its time to move ahead in time, move the clock ahead by about 10 1/2 hrs. And all that for about another month, when i have to come back. Oh, another point to note, i am not sure, if i am coming or going. Sometimes, it is going home, coming home, returning home !!! oh whatever. :)



Sunday, February 19, 2006

Free speech - to the forefront again




Image Source: SBS TV


Thanks to ChomskyKnows, i got a chance to see the video that was aired on the Australian TV, regarding the pictures in possession of the US Army and Govt. ACLU has been trying to fight the Govt, to release the photos under the Freedom of Information act.

First, the video has some shocking images. The first set of images that you had seen when the Abu Ghraib torture story broke out, were a selected few, and if you found them outrageous, then you havent seen anything yet. What is amazing or shocking, and not completely unexpected from this Govt and the US army, is the argument in the case to stop the release of these photographs. The Govt lawyers argue that releasing the pictures "would stir up anti-american sentiment". But it is ok to indulge in these acts, these acts wouldnt ??

Today is sunday, and sunday is the spin time on TV, with the different news shows, where the left, right, repbulicans, democrats, the Govt, the congressman, the senators, the spin doctors etc, all come out of their sheels to put the out their theory of a story that creating news. And so the spin from the Michael Chertoff, about the UN report on Guantánamo Bay, was that, in the past prisoners released from Guantánamo, have gone back to fight against the US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq etc., and so the US is not going to shutdown the illegal camp. Well, how can you blame them ? If you torture them and dont give them a fair hearing, why wouldnt they want to retaliate ? Is the right to strike back, a god given right to the US alone ?

It is a sad commentary of this country and land. For years, the US has adopted a dual policy of democracy and capitalism, where profit and money always determined the direction of fight for freedom and democracy.

So, back to where i started....a few newspapers in the US considered re-publishing the recent controversial anti-muslim cartoons, and claimed that they were protecting the right to free speech. Yet.... yet, not one of these have gone about publishing these Abu Ghraib pictures, which if you watch the video was available long back with the press in the US. Like i said before, free speech is a right and duty, only when it is convinient.

What is even sadder, is that almost half of this country and the world, dont really care !!


Tags: iraq, abu+ghraib, guantanamo+bay, illegal, prison, torture, US, war, wmd, lies, free+speech




Saturday, February 18, 2006

Who's next ?



Tax dollars at work.... ?
For a government that wants to propogate and spread democracy around the world, why is the practice of it, so difficult to accept. And so, Chavez, a democractically elected leader, is an evil man.

US warns against Chavez 'danger'
Chavez vows to resist U.S.

Deer god, justice !!




This news just makes me sit up and say, 'justice'. Salman Khan for my friends outside India, is movie star, a very popular one. He has had his share of success, was an acceptable star to me, until recently with his run in with the law. I had been marking him since he was first caught as a result of this incident, many years back. Its not that, Salman Khan, was different from many poachers and people who kills protected species in India and elsewhere. But this case, was ideal to spread the consequences of doing so, and also to highlight the plight of these and other protected species.

I had my own suspicions regarding whether these cases will actually see light of day. But it did, and justice was served. I am sure he and his lawyer will appeal. And the higher court may reduce the sentence (of course there is no garuntee). But even this verdict according to me has done enough to damage his image, and enough to highlight the case and the incident to help address the problem.

Oh, by the way, looking around for the blackbuck image, i found this site, exotic hunting, and here is some info from the website, "Called Exotics because they are non-native to Texas, can be hunted year round and can be a good excuse to get some friends and or family together during the off season and go hunting."

And i also found this, Project Blackbuck too. So it evens out.


Salman Khan sentenced to one-year imprisonment
Bollywood star Salman Khan jailed for killing rare deer


Tags: india, salman+khan, deer, hunting, protected, species, prison, justice

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

2 sides 2 every story !!




web image: La Paloma


HER side of the Story:

He was in an odd mood Saturday night. I spent the afternoon shopping with the girls and I thought it might have been my fault because I was a bit later than I promised, but he didn't say anything much about it. We had planned to meet at the pub for a drink.

The conversation was very slow going so I thought we should go off somewhere more intimate so we could talk a bit more privately. We went to this restaurant and he was still acting a bit funny. I tried to cheer him up and started to wonder whether it was me or something else. I asked him, and he said no. But I wasn't really sure.

So anyway, in the car on the way back home, I said that I loved him deeply and he just put his arm around me. I didn't know what the hell that
meant because you know he didn't say it back or anything, this is really worrying me.

We finally got back home and I was wondering if he was going to leave me !!
So I tried to get him to talk but he just switched on the TV, and sat with a distant look in his eyes that seemed to say it's all over between us.

Reluctantly, I said I was going to go to bed. Then after about 10 minutes, he joined me. But, he still seemed really distracted, so afterwards
I just wanted to confront him but I just cried myself to sleep. I just don't know what to do anymore. I mean, I really think he's seeing someone else and that my life is a disaster.


His Side of the Story:
India lost to Pakistan !!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

UN inquiry into Guantánamo Bay



How long should people question about this and how loud should people yell ? So, now there is even an secret UN investigation. Of course no one is talking about it. And knowing the US love for the United Nations, this report will have an impact in the working of the government here.
Basically the government, aided many times by the Congress, and other times, in a true autocratic style, only befitting a monarchy, has been taking away rights and liberties of the citizens, and more importantly have placed no regard for US civil laws, international treaties, or plain humaniarian considerations. For all the talk of fighting a war to propogate democracy in the middle-east, the US govt has been watering down the democratic rights everywhere else.

Here is an extract, that highlights the attitude of the government officials here, complete disregard to the truth, and as if they exist in a whole different plane from the rest of us.
However, the report did not seem to carry weight in Washington. A White House spokesman said it was an al-Qaida tactic to complain of abuse, while the Pentagon does not comment on UN matters. But a Pentagon official yesterday insisted there had been no attempts to break a hunger strike with punitive measures. "All detainees at Guantánamo are being treated humanely and are being provided with excellent medical care," he said.

Well i am doing my bit, by airing and publicising the existence of this report, amongst many others. Hope all this does find fruition someday. An important decision point occurs this coming November, when a bunch of losers come up for re-election. Its time to show these people the door, both republicans and democrats. Throw them all out.


UN inquiry into conditions at Guantánamo Bay
Can a film right the wrongs committed in Guantánamo?

Tags: UN, Bush, Guantanamo+Bay, prisoners, human+rights, torture, USA

Monday, February 13, 2006

Snow !!! What snow ?



Oh well, we supposedly recieved one of the biggest dumping of snow. In some places it has created records. Living in the DC Metro, i was looking forward to this, because, we didnt have any major snowfall this winter. Few days after a heavy dumping (read more than 6 inches), could shutdown the city and sorrounding areas. The DC metro, is simply not equipped to handle such major snowfall. Actually, i should say, it can only handle one or two such snowfalls in a year, mainly because of budgets.

To the many friends in India, who havent seen the effects of snow, one nice way to describe the snow and its effects 'good from far, far from good'. The first time, i saw snow, was in Racine, Wisconsin. Oh it was so beautiful. White carpet all over, everything covered in white. The night is so much brighter, because of all this snow reflecting light all around, you can actuall see a yellowish orange glow all around, thanks the many halogen powered street light.
But then that is on the first day.You need to be out, in the snow, within 0-4hrs after the snowfall, trying to enjoy what you can of this white mass, which sometimes is as fine as talcum power, or can be as heavy and wattery like a wet bath towel. Soon the snow-ploughs will be out, running around everywhere, trying to push, shove, heap the snow somewhere. Depending on the amount of snowfall, a decent size parking lot could have enough snow to make a small mountain. And this mountain could last atleast 2-3 weeks if not more, depending on the temperature afterwards. And thats when it get ugly. This white mass, slowly starts melting, and leaving behind just the dirt, mud and trash. And as this snow melts, it also creates a pool of water, that never goes away till the middle of spring or something like that. Its like the creator or science, have it whichever way you like, wants us to realise that everything has two sides, a good and bad. This beauty of nature, can be a mess to be dealt with, and also create a mess of its own later.

But what is fun and also quite dangerous is, driving. Oh man, i have had two close calls in my life, driving in these snowy and icy conditions. Once, i was attempting to stop my car at a stop light (red signal), when i started skidding, on a thin sheet of ice of the road. The car came to a halt eventually, bang in the middle of the intersection. So, here i was, sitting in the car, with the red traffic light on, bang in the middle of the road. Well, it didnt last very long, just as it came to halt, i realized that my tires were now back in control, and since there was absolutely no traffic, i was safe. I proceeded to drive thru the light. I am sure, any cop nearby may have excused my transgression here.

But snow is fun, and nowhere have i seen it made to look more beautiful and funny, as in the cartoon strips of Calvin and Hobbes. Some how when i think of snowman, making snow balls, and playing in the snow, i have this devilish images of Calvin. I have had my share of fun in the snow, and alway look forward to snow, like a school boy looks forward the holiday because of the snow. But then come the next morning, i realize that now, i have to dig my car out of the heap of snow !!!

To end this story, we got the snow late on saturday, and it was over by sunday noon. And then come monday, life is back to normal again. And so, instead sitting at home, drinking and eating something hot, and watching TV, i am sitting here in the office, waiting for the bell to ring, so i can go home.


Tags: snow, weather, white, storm, winter

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dick Cheney - shot a man !!



Ok.. that was a rather alarming way to draw attention. As of now the story is not that alarming. He apparently shot a fellow hunter, accidentaly. The man is injured, but is not serious.

Well, now is there more to this story ? :) (kidding, I am just trying to be a mischief maker.)

Cheney accidentally shoots fellow hunter

Tags: dick+cheney, USA, vice+president, hunting, shooting, NRA

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Jo desh ke kaam na aaye woh bekaar jawani hai



"They who come of no use to the country are a waste of youth", as translated by Sudhish Kamath in The Hindu


It appears, that RDB is creating some kind of cult following. I only hope that it is not all media hype. And more importantly, the youth who are lining up to the movies, do take this as serious and not treat as another movie cult thing to be forgotten soon afterwards.

I sometimes brood, thinking why i chose the path i chose, and didnt take a more difficult path to change things. But i think all of us play a part, all of it may not be the most exotic part. A country does not need all its youth to take up arms to protect its borders, it does need a few to hold the screwdriver to fix the machinery that is used to protect the borders.

Rang de Basanti stirs IITians

Tags: movie, youth, rang+de+basanti, india, iit, ARR

Thursday, February 09, 2006

“Breaking the Law”




Take a look at this ad from MoveOr.org
And here is the detailed factual support, again thanks to the moveon.org

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Free speech - crossing the line ?




I like the approach the Danish newspaper is taking. Free speech is an important right. But, i am not a Dane, i dont live in Denmark, and so i dont know all the qualities of this newspaper.
- Are they really advocating free speech ?
- Or are they simply taking this approach so that they can show they are not partial to hurting the feelings of one religious sect ?
- Do they expouse such feelings when they report about big corporations in Denmark ?
I wonder !!!

Back to the issue about the cartoons. I think they clearly crossed the line. Anyone, not just muslims in the world, will be offended by it. But, I dont believe in pillaging and rioting as a result of it either. Having said, how do you show your anger ? How do you react, when someone shows complete disrespect to what you believe. I recently posted this as a joke, but now there is a whole new meaning to it, "Which is worse: ignorance or apathy? "



Danish paper pursues Holocaust cartoons

Tags: islam, religious+belief, offensive, denmark, disrespect, controversy, riot

Monday, February 06, 2006

Robert Frost - Stopping by woods on a snowy evening



I had read the post by Priya last week, and this poem did strike me. Although i was lost in the flow of comments about her post. I went down my memory lane, back to school, and the dreaded study of poems and poets. What could be more scary to a school boy, his english teacher wanting to know why the poet wrote the lines he/she did, or the poet who for no better reason to than to create class and homework, goes crazy in the head and pens lines, that he/she has no clue about.

But there were a share of poems that i remember from school, and the only one i still remember word for word, line for line is the poem by Robert Frost, 'Stopping by woods on a snowy evening'. Even before studying the poem in school, i had read somewhere that Nehru had adopted the lines 'but i have promises to keep, and miles to go before i sleep', from this poem. Of course my english teacher, i think Ms. Nirmala Raja (god bless her soul), made quite an effort to rub that in as well. So that was the hook, but the lines were so simple, it was like a story, and the sinker was the choice of words he used to end each line. What a beauty. I did a search on the web, and discovered a few interpretations of the meaning of the poem. Why do people murder it so ? This is not a bible, gita or quran for us to translate and search for hidden meanings. Its a poem for gods sake. Just enjoy it.


Stopping by woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods an frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


I may have forgotten this poem after school, but for the movie 'Telephone', where Charles Bronson, is chasing a vagabond KGB agent, who uses the code 'miles to go before i sleep' to trigger human bombs. Wow, some radical brain was behind that movie.
Thanks again, Priya, for kindling this journey in time. And for those who dont quite get the beauty of the lines etc, drop a comment. But till then, 'miles to before i sleep, miles to go before i sleep'.


Tags: Robert+Frost, poem, snowy+evening, miles+to+go

NFL, Super Bowl and then some....



Yesterday was Super Bowl sunday. For the uninitiated billions, like me included, this was the day when majority of Americans, celebrate their annual 'glued to the TV' day. This majority has been shrinking over the many years that i have been here in the US. But it is still a big set of people who watch a game, that i am yet to get a full hang off.

Well, my travel back from Chicago had some exciting delays, as we switched gates at the terminal a couple of times, to accommodate icing and the subsequent de-icing of aircrafts. So arriving in the wee hours of Sunday, i got up late, and had to show up at work. You know who the hell said 'all this technology is making life easier' (Ok !, i know we had this discussion once before !!) So anyway, i show up at work, to discuss the possibility of taking up new work, converting a legacy mainframe system to something modern. After all these many years, building "modern technology" systems, i have a new found respect for COBOL and Mainframes. So after work, reached back to my lonely apartment, just in time for the 6pm kick-off.

Oh yes, i turned on the TV, but i wasn't watching the Super Bowl, i spent the next hour or so, watching some cool stuff on IFC (Independent Film Channel). Thanks to my cable company, i am thankful for this and the Sundance channel to catch some alternative movies.

I understand the Pittsburgh Steelers won. Good for them. All my friends here in the US, are ardent observers and fans of this and other games. But i have been finding it tough to catch on to this and other games here, thanks to the frequent and convinient time-outs. If it werent for that, i may have taken a liking to the game. Basketball has been easier to accept. Thanks in part to Micheal Jordan. And now that he doesnt play, i havent gotten around to watching that game either. Some how, cricket, field hockey and the real football (soccer) are games of another league.

Too bad, i am like that stubborn bit of potato (as in mashed potatoes) that refuses to get lost in the 'melting pot'.

Tags: usa, super+bowl, NFL, football, america, TV, sports

Friday, February 03, 2006

There's a virus in the air



Well that was the biggest news of the day, yesterday. Like always, the TV, news media, didnt have anything else to talk about yesterday. The added attraction was that the some versions of the virus was called 'KamaSutra', which meant you can legally talk about sex and related stuff, without invoking the sanctions of the FCC in the US. In India, we have our own version of FCC, which is basically the smallest political party looking for the next break, and an issue to fight with.

Anyway, i too fell prey to this. But it was for a good cause, i didnt want my machine to be chewed to bits. And lo and behold, i notice that the symantec NAV program expired on Feb 1st 2006. Wow, what a coincidence. I was in no real danger, because i had the NAV file dated 2/1/2006, and usually symantec updates their NAV files only once a week (atleast for the version i bought). But panic struck, and i installed the company provided Panda AV program (a Spanish Company). Why would you call your AV program Panda ? I wonder if Panda, means something in spanish.

Well, i am inoculated, and certified as clean. But it took me most of the afternoon yesterday to install, setup, configure and be happy with the working of the program. If i were an average user, i would have installed it, and gone on with my life. Oh no...i am a software professional, i know a thing or two about software, microsoft and install programs. And i cant just let the software do what it wants. I got to know the itsy bitsy details. And so sat up with my computer and screwed up a good evening.


Tags: virus, symantec, panda, desktop, windows, pain



Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Indian Embassy visit




I had to visit the Indian embassy today, here in Washington DC. The Embassy here is on the embassy row on Massachusetts Ave, where there are a long line of embassies. Each in an impressive looking, but old building, with no parking at all. The Indian Embassy is one of the few that has parking, albeit not for visitors. But typical of oppurtunist everywhere, the visitors use all available spots for parking. By the way, Washington DC, is a very sad capital for a country like the US. Roads, parking, the city itself is left to rot, while the congress and the senate debate about everything else. Its a peculiar state of affairs, Washington DC is not a state, and the people who live in DC, pay taxes but do not have representation in the congress or senate.

Anyway, so i go in and take my number and wait. The officer (lady) at the counter had just finished calling out number 6 (my number is 22), and this guy comes up to the counter. Since he is standing not more than 2-3 feet from where i sit, i can hear the conversation clearly. Also because they have to talk thru' a glass window, people generally shout, even tho' it is not required. So this guy, Ram (for want of a name), wants to renew his passport. The website has a clear list of documents you need to bring when you come for such service. It usually is done the same day, or you may get it the next day.

Here is a snippet of their conversation, from where things get interesting:
lady: i need copies of your address proof
Ram: what can i give ? I have a driver's license
lady: yes, that is fine
Ram: he extends the drivers license
lady: i need a photocopy, to be filed with the application
Ram: where do i go for a photocopy (he is frustrated now !! )
lady: well, we dont have a photocopier here, but you can step outside and come back with all the paper work.
Ram: where can i go ? (his tone clearly angry)
Ram: hmph

I was thinking as this was going on. What would Ram have done, if he was standing in front of a window in the US Consulate. Or anywhere else ? Would he have used the same agressive tone, or expressed his frustration so ? Why is that we expect the people at the Indian Consulate to be extra nice, and allow us to take all the liberties. There were people in the hall, without copies of originals, without appliciation forms (acceptable situation), without photos (luckily there is photo machine, but then they want the change to feed this machine), come with checks/credit cards (when the website clearly says no personal checks or credit cards - some people were surprised that there was no ATM machine inside the consulate). I remember waiting for visa the UK Consulate in Chennai, to transit thru' London, a couple of years back, when an officer(british lady) was shouting at an old lady and husband, for standing up, out of turn. "Sit down, i said SIT DOWN", that too, in a huge open hall !! I guess we need to be treated the same here, then we may behave.

Also, there is the demand for service, 'I need the visa today'. There was this lady who showed up at the counter, with a passport that expired in 2001. She applied for another one, but lost that. She now needs a passport to travel in the next 3 weeks (ok atleast there is time). She wanted the passport like now !! Hello !!! What were doing all this while ? God know what visa status she is on ? I am assuming GC, thats why she was casual about her lost Indian passport. Apparently she knew about her lost passport in 2001 itself, but sat on her application till date, because she didnt need to go to India. Wah Wah, kya bath hai ?

I have visited this consulate many times, since i first moved to the area in 1994. I have never had one occassion, where i was treated shabbily, ignored, or arrogantly. The people provided me professional service, and infact, quite a few times, also held a smile for more than a second, to make the service even more personal. No i am not related, i am not a dimplomat, i am just a nobody like the millions out there. I have tried calling the phone system, and not gotten much info, a couple of times. But otherwise, i must say, i have never had a reason to complain. In fact, the officer, has always promised me, my wife or for my kid, same day service, when she has refused this for other people (basically for people with foriegn passports, i came to know later, that they need extra time to process those).

Just so you know. Ram came back, in about 10-15 minutes. So it didnt take him too long to find a place to make copies. And he went right up to the window, didnt have to take a new number (which is almost the case in most places), and she said his passport will be ready that evening. He couldnt come the same evening, so he will pick it up on Friday. So no, grudges held against him either. They see these kind of people day in and day out.

Like all servicemen and women, they do a thankless job. No one is happy or thankful when they do it right. But boy are people wild and mad, if these people ever screw-up.

Tags: india, embassy, staff, courtsey, indians