Saturday, December 30, 2006

The year that was

A whole three hundred and sixty five days have almost gone by. There is just a few hours before we start another one. It at these moments, that people normally sit back and think of the many things that they have done and the many that havent. Better still, about things that they could have done better than how they did, or how they shouldnt have done something they did.

Why talk about people, when i can talk about me ? Lets start with resolutions, i have given up on new year resolutions, because, in my experience, these resolutions are meant to be broken. The sooner the better. Usually new year resolutions are taken by weak people, who have to wait for a specific day to start a good or perceived good activity, and i am not weak. For me, any day of the year is a good time to take a resolution. This allows me greater flexibility in breaking them, and not worrying about the time of the taking or breaking the resolution.

Clothes and shopping are another thing associated with ending of the year and beginning of the new one. In the west or christian families, it happens before the year is out, to coincide with their biggest festival of the year. Here in India, Jan 1st has been a day to shop and die. I too fell prey to this culture and greed, and did my shopping, albeit just once. I soon gave up, when i figured out, deals can be had through the year, and i am going to get ripped off anyway. So, why jostle with the crowd, chase the lone appliance on the counter, run after coupons and from store to store to be ripped off. Its worth relishing such a feeling at other times during the year too.

Years come and go, actually it is calendars that come and go. Old ones wear out and new ones will replace these. But in this age of electronic calendar, there is no replacement, it just rolls over. When i go into work this coming tuesday, i will have a fresh new calendar on my computer's organizer (outlook), without me having done anything. And then i start the work day, without any change of the week or year before. There is of course the painful part of writing the correct year on checks you write, if you write any these days.

I think every friday is a day of celebration, if you dont have to work that weekend. And every monday is the perpetual hang-over day, whether you drink or not. What New Year, lets live life a week at a time. It makes life even more exciting, 'cause a new one comes every 7 days.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My Ambition

Who ever said, you need an ambition ?
Well, my teacher did, in class 6. She wanted to know about it, then and there. During a mid-afternoon class period, which was supposed to be free. Free period is for playing book cricket, talking movies, tic-tac-toe, and anything else. Not for jogging your mind and wasting time writing literary articles.

But what should have been written in history books a few decades later, was put to way-side, because someone developed chicken feet. So read on and find out how history was not changed one day.

Ambition ? Not !!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

What's your footprint ?

The website has a cool calculator to determine what your footprint or consumption level is.

Here is my revised one. I did one earlier that resulted footprint calculation of 12+
FOOD 0.4



Whats your footprint ?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Islam and Peace - a discourse ?

Here are my thoughts on the day of Eid. My recent reading on the concept of Eid, and also the recent court battle in UK on wearing of the burkha, prompted me to write this blog.
Islam = Peace

Monday, October 23, 2006

Diwali - a retrospection

Diwali has had a different effect on me, over the past many years. Unlike many festivals, this one festival has brought out the most about of thought in its partaking. I have tried to throw out some reasons here. Or have i ?

Here is the post: Diwali - a retrospection

Blog spot

I hate to do this, i have to use the link. I was hoping to maintain and write a different blog here at blogspot.

But then the title is the same. It had to be, cause i had originally started writing here, but then quickly scooted to Yahoo, thanks to the better features offered there. But then it was easy to give up, because the yahoo 360 was under trial. It still is supposed to be under beta, but with over 300+ blogs of mine floating in cyberspace, i do hope they treat it with more caution.

So for the moment, instead of cut/paste the same blog here into blogspot, i figured i would link to 360. And then write something original here, whenever.
I mean, if ever.
Well, you know, what i mean.

hello is anyone there ? hello.
Hello !!!

damn, i chased the last one away.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cooking Chinese food

Go to fullsize image

Last couple of days, there has been an overload of chinese food. Its been a while actually that i had chinese food. And so when i got back late one night, and didnt feel like throwing the pre-cooked-packaged food into the microwave, i decided order delivery. After a few moments of indecisions between pizza and chinese, i decided on my favourite nearby chinese food restaurant.

Talking about indecisions, what is it about food and making decisions ? I could keep that up for about an hour, deciding between cuisines. I could spend quite a bit of time salivating about chinese, while i really feel like bread, or may be something deep fried. If i am able to quickly narrow down a cuisine, then it becomes an issue of what to order of the menu.

There is one good thing about chinese food, it can be dished out faster than you say kung pao chicken. The chinese invented the concept of fast food. It seems like a formula, all worked out, even down right to the number of peanuts in the kung pao.

But for me, things are not that simple. I rarely, order stuff from a menu, without adding or taking stuff out from the dish i ordered. Like ordering, kung pao without the celery, but add carrots and green pepers or onions or something. I even tried once to order kung pao, made with shredded chicken instead of diced chicken. After a few moments of confusion and bewilderment for the person taking the order, i had to say, 'you know what, i will have the curry chicken instead'. But for all this, all she did was add two strokes to the character she had already drawn on the order form.

This process actually creates a bigger spectacle at a Burger King or McDonalds. The person taking the order, usually a student at the local college, after listening to my 'chicken sandwich add tomatoes and onions', would confirm it back,
'so you dont want the mayo and the lettuce'
'no, i want the mayo and lettuce'
'how about the tomatoes and onions'
'yes that too'
now, the person is even more clueless, because they cant find all the buttons to press on the machine to punch in the order. But they know that i have to pay a price for this indiscretion.

'sir, that will cost you extra'
At this point it could get very confusing, because now the issue is how much to charge for this. And so i could be charged a meagre 25 cents, to upto a dollar for a slice of tomato and few strands of onions.

Well, back to the chinese, i dont want to digress and dilute their moment of glory. So i started the mid-week with Mongolian chicken (not on the menu) and Schezwan chicken from the delivery. Followed by Kung Pao on thursday afternoon, and spicy orange chicken for dinner the same night. Friday offered a break. Only to land up in another not-so-nearby chinese place tonight for a dose of curry chicken.

Why so much chicken? Well thats the only meat i eat in the US. I could easily give it up, but then i am not a great fan of veggies either, specially the chinese kind. For some reason, brocolli, snow peas, bamboo shoots, celery and water chestnuts are not my kind of food. But why the hell, so much of chinese. I have no answer, except that i was a guest sometimes and a host sometimes.

But, no complains, except that i wish i had my own chinese restaurant. I could then have kung pao chicken, made with sliced chicken (big flat pieces), with spicy kung pao sauce, peanuts with a choice of onions and green peppers, or spinach and carrots. If only i could teach the chinese to cook chinese food.

Friday, September 08, 2006

When the Levees Broke

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts
Happened to come across this when i was channel surfing this afternoon. As soon as i saw it, i was glued to it, and was recounting the days last year. NO,LA was special to me, having spend almost a year there in '92. And watching and enduring the images from Katrina last year as they were happening, was painful. This documentary, helped to relive some of those moments.

I used the words helped, because having been far away from NOLA, and except for a few reminders from PC and few news stories recently, i had managed to bury those images deep inside somewhere. This documentary, drew a tear or two, not because nothing has changed, but i couldnt simply fathom again, how a few blokes could allow this to happen at all.

Adding this ... i just managed to get this clip.. on the White House site. Nice place to keep it. Here is the now infamous quote "and, Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" by our president Mr. Bush.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Eating in America

Its all about the size. After a long time i am eating a burger. Once a regular part of my food group and diet, the burgers from the omnipresent McDs, BK and Wendys were all given up almost 2-3 years ago, in an effort to focus on more important things in life. And it hasnt been easy, but neither has it been impossible to live.

So, as i sat to eat my dinner tonite with family at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant, and after thanking all the gods for the food on my plate, i start devouring it. It was all gone in about less than 5, maybe 10 minutes flat. Mind you unlike the advertisements and pictures from the fast-food chains, the picture above does justice to what is actually served on your plate. Throw in a quick visit to the salad bar before the food came to the table. And in all for less than 15$ or so, i ate more food in that one meal than i ate that whole day. I cant completely blame that on my food provider. I have developed this bad habit of gorging one meal and starving during all others. Its not new, its been on for several years.

But as i was eating, i for a brief moment compared the portions on my plate, with what i would have gotten if i had ordered the same in India. Mind you, India is not far behind, and is fast catching up in providing choices to the consumer, actually providing more choices than are necessary. But then again the key difference was, the portion. This was a huge serving, and is normally the case in most american restaurants. It actually seems to be feature here in north-america, as opposed to eating in Europe (been to UK and Germany) or India.

Generous portions. They dont serve you pittance. They believe in filling your stomach to the fullest at each meal. No one goes hungry in America, atleast not the ones who can afford it. The good thing about the restaurant and people here in America is that left overs are not completely wasted. The restaurant is quick to ask ' Do you want it boxed?', and the patron is not shy about doing it either. This is in direct contrast to eating habits (again this is changing) in India, were left overs from the plates in the restaurant are most times destined to the trash. And that is a sad fact. Specially with the numbers on the wrong side bigger in India than in most other places in the world.

I am thankful, that i part of the crowd that can afford this largesse. I am also thankful to have lived in this country, which helped me quickly overcome any resistance to boxing food from the table. Now, if i could only consume a little less myself, i could do my part in helping this planet.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The 'relative time vector' theory

its official now. A full 2/3rd of the year 2006 has just been burnt
through and about 1/3 left to go. Times flies, heard that so many
times, and it doesnt make sense all the time. But if you pick a day,
any day, and reminisce for a moment, suddenly you wonder where all the
time went.

I have spent quite a few times, like most others too, usually waiting
for time to move. I mean literally, try to the move second needle from
one stop to the next. And looking away from the clock or watch doesnt
seem to help. Even if you look away for almost full two minutes, the
time has been only generous enough to accommodate  a full 5 second

If you think about it, you would realize that time does move at
different speeds at different times. wtf !! Well it does, and there is
even enough proof for all this. This is defined and explained by the
concept of the 'relative time vector'.

'The speed of time is based on the vector in which it is measured,
while relating to others', well that the best way to define it. But,
unlike the 'theory of relativity', defined by Einstein, it is tough to
explain this in simple terms. The key word here is the vector, which
implies that the measurement of time is completely isolated to it, but
does relate to others.

This is clearly observable in the event of your 'waiting' game.
Typically in these instances time moves at a much slower speed than it
would do normally. In some instances the motion of time could slow down
to near stop. But time never stops (It does though in about once every trillions and trillions of years).
Each of these slow motions of time when added up can cause significant
delays in the progress of life of the individual. This could be
referred to as the 'laggard' phase.

At the same time, even possibly the same instance, which is where the
relativity part comes in, someone else, a different vector could be
experiencing a completely different speed in movement of time. Usually
in most humans, this can be observed during a race, at work or on the
road. The time in these instances are running at much speeds than what
is considered normal. Since these are measurements or movements are
unique to each vector, it is tough to distinguish these measurements
from an external unit or a different vector. This phase is the 'rapid'

However, if this were to be true, then this could cause a lot of
confusion, because my watch wouldnt sync with yours. I am slow person
and you are go-getter, and the twain shall never meet. But in real life
these different points do meet and the time magically all falls
together into one set pace. There is a sense of balance in the world,
and time economics too.

Each slow motion or time spent in the 'laggard' phase is countered by
an exact equivalent of fast or 'rapid' time movement. Meaning if you
were to measure the amount of seconds it took while in the 'laggard'
phase they would equal the time spend in the 'rapid' phase. Since the
mechanics of time are very dynamic, it is impossible to define a period
when these will always stay equal. But it is this concept of
'equivalent-phase' that maintains the equilibrium  in time between the
different vectors.

There is more to this, but i have to run now....... but here are some reference materials.

Time moves at different speeds

Space time - General Relativity, Quantum Gravity and Existence of Time

Time is Relative

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Friday, August 25, 2006

Racial Profiling - a good thing !!

I just landed in the US. And the travel was no fun as usual. But that was expected. I had the oppurtunity of being frisked twice at the Frankfurt airport, thanks to a gate change. The blame is entirely mine, since i didnt bother to determine the correct gate on landing in Frankfurt, but simply assumed that the boarding pass had the right information. And Frankfurt is large and quite disorganized airport and so you have seperate sections in different terminals for flights leaving to the US. And the seperate sections are required because people going to the US require special screening and frisking.

That brings me to the topic in discussion. This morning driving into work, and listening to 'Democracy Now', i heard about the racial profiling techniques employed by DHS. After sometime, i felt this was a good thing. Of course for all the wrong reasons. It occurred to me that the US, the home to millions of people from around the world, who have come here looking for freedom, rights and democracy, now will suddenly feel how great life back home was. Funny !! I am not kidding here. Just think.

Apparently one of the questions the lady was asked was, "is Iraq better of now or under Saddam ?". Talk about trick questions. I think Clinton could have answered this clearly and nicely, starting with "it depends on what 'is' is".

The 'lady with the lamp' which has for more than a century symbolized America to the rest of the world, by attracting all and sundry from around the globe. The notion that US attracts people with 'open arms', is still true, but with a whole different meaning. Now people who are attracted here, have to open their arms wide, spread their legs too, while the metal detector slides over your body. If a full body massage was included, many people may not complain so much.

Then of course there is the DHS agent sitting in a special booth welcoming people who land here, with a tone meant to frighten you and make you feel very unwanted. This is not simply reserved for the first time visitors, but also for select frequent visitors, with the color of skin, country of origin, name etc, playing a big part. And then of course the most choicest welcoming committee, it appears is reserved for the citizens. Only their job again is to un-welcome you, into your own country.

This will stop. Eventually it has to. But it will be too late. The sad thing tho' it will continue in a different part of the world. In the next 20-30 years an officer in India or China will be screening all white people with special care and attention.

"I Was Made to Feel Like an Outsider in My Own Country" - Muslim-Americans Say Racial Profiling Led to Detention, Harassment at Airport

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Malayala Masam Chingam Onnu

Its the beginning of a new year as per the malayalam calendar. But yet it passed of quietly as just another day. This day is not celeberated as the new year itself. But the month of 'Chingam', which begins today does have one of the biggest festivals of the Malayalees, Onam.

We, that is Malayalees, celeberate Vishu as the as the begining of the new year, which coincides with the new year day for Tamils also. There must be some historical significance to this. And based on my research, i found that the Malayalam calendar as we use it today is of a recent introduction, and was established around the year 852. This forced a change in calendar in the region, causing the difference in birth of a new year and the celeberation for a new year.

Malayalam Calendar - Wikipedia

Love and Marriage - Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna

I think there have been quite a few blogs about this. And it is always on the top of everyone's mind. For a married person, it is about the decision made and for a person unmarried, it is the decision to marry.

For people from India, these choices are not so easy to make as they are for someone in the west or even from east. The society, the culture and more importantly several falsehoods effect the choice making ability of an individual here. Males generally have more options and are also easily forgiven. But that is not something unique to our society, it is a world reknown phenomenon. Freedom of choices as we see outside and inside societies is a matter of perception.

This movie is not the first to raise these questions or provide answers. But it is one of first that will probably been seen (now thats already a fact) by the largest audience ever. The movie, good or bad, or distasteful has had one of the largest box office openings ever. And you can credit that to the cursiosity factor, but  also because of the star cast. The director and producer only has the best in the film.


The movie now is a box office hit. And on its way to establish a few records, till the next one come along. I had the oppurtunity to see the movie this holiday weekend. With all the mad rush that was on and about to see the movie, i came back a lot disheartened.

I had a problem with the story telling, narration and also to some extent the theme itself. The theme of the movie was not to raise any questions, but simply to justify passion. Second the way story was being narrated, there was little room for passion itself, it simply became a matter of obession on the story teller's part. The characters would have loved to live a life together, but the story simply had to create diversion and exagerate problems. And then finally the most telling and slap in my face, was when the ex-husband and ex-wife get together to hook up their ex. !! wtf !!!

The question being asked is 'what happens if you meet your soulmate, after you are married ?' This can ring true in everybody's marriage. But who is a soulmate ? Should a person spend his lifetime searching for their soulmate, when they can have a decent life with the person right next to them. This soulmate thing is so overrated. And i somehow feel, there is no such person around. If you find one, please let me know. (And i will keep a record, and check back with you after a year, then after 2, then after 5, and then after 10. I am sure your story will change as time goes by).

The ex-wife in the movie tries to justify her action of hooking up her  ex-husband with his soulmate. She tells her, "i'm not going to let you off so easy, try living a life with him".  Now that is also probably the best gift you can give your ex. A good translation would have been, "go to hell, and all the best".

Life is about making choices. But that is quickly interpretted as meaning, we are expected to make a choice everytime. My answer is no. Sometimes not making a choice in itself is a choice. And manytimes, in life you are provided alternate routes (i view them as alternate), and all you really need to do, is continue on your set path.

References to others blogs are purely coincidental and similarities are simply fictional.

Cola wars

There has been a war waging on in India, for the last couple of weeks, which surprisingly finds both the big cola makers on the same side. They are fighting a small but persistent group, the CSE. The CSE released a new report, again after a gap of about 2-3 yrs, where they have highlighted the pesticide content in the cola drinks produced and distributed by these companies.

I think, the CSE, is doing a good job of expousing this and making it an issue that needs to be discussed. However, the cola majors are not taking it lying down either. While this fight is raging there is another battle or war that is using this to their advantage. This is the fight between david vs goliath, foriegn vs local, corporate vs farmer, private vs government etc., different shades based on locality, state or area in India.

I drink Pepsi, coke or what ever caramel coloured drink i can find. Not so often, but am not shy of it. I used to be an addict ones, gourging one with every meal, that was when i first came to the US. But soon re-discovered the taste of water. So, i too, had a personal agenda here, and so my views are slightly jaundiced.

Recently i have been reading a lot about the problem with advertising and the sales of these drinks. There is a connection. Obviously, it wouldnt be so popular, if they stopped advertising. Well, i am sure these drinks are not a bottle of posion, but nor are they filled with health nourishing nutrients. In today's world, i think they Govt must also look at this advertising to sales link, just as they look at the link between cancer and tobacco. I am pushing it too far, but my point is to stop things from getting out of control. But, who am i kidding ?

Just think, who is the biggest loser in all this ? we, the consumer. So, the best way, yet, is to simply stop buying.

Pesticides in Soft Drinks(Pepsico and Coca-Cola) In-Depth Section
CSE releases new study on pesticides in soft drinks
Kerala bans cola manufactore and sale

Friday, August 11, 2006

Lessons to learn !?

Why does this occur on and off ? Why do people take extreme steps of killing themselves, while they wreak havoc in other's lives ? Why always target America ?

It is fortunate to know that the many innocent lives have been saved. But what lessons do we learn from this ? What lessons do the government concerned teach or preach to its citizen ?

We now know, we cant carry any liquids in our hand baggage. Any liquids, even infant milk.

We have learnt nothing, or rather nothing that is of any value. The first time i personally experience frisking after 9/11, i felt weird. Later, i got to used to it, and figured no point in cribbing to the guy frisking me, he is just doing his job. Then another time, i saw a small child being frisked. Although i had heard about this in the news etc, seeing it, gave light to a completely different perspective.

People accept this. They believe it is part of the government plan to keep them safe. They are also told to believe that the government will not negotiate (unless somebody real high in the food chain is involved) with terrorists. People accept this too. We also believe that the government is too big for us to fight, and also not worth the fight. Meaning, no matter who we choose to work for us, they would do the same. And so we can accept stuff as they come.

I am sure, there are plenty of other questions that can be raised and answers sought that will help us and the world around. A lot of people are asking them too. I am happy to be part of a network of such friends. I wonder how to reach out to more people. I wonder how to influence more minds. I wonder if this small technical marvel can actually engineer a sea-change across the globe.

Instead of ranting on and on, i wish i had a few answers to offer.

U.S. flyers face more searches

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Important first step

I think this is an important first step. I hadnt been paying attention, specially since i'm not currently in the US. Catching up with news thats about all america is difficult.

I believe this is important because of the same reasons that Amy has published in her blog, 'a letter from Mike Moore'. After seeing how precious little the democrats have actually done to stop the war, i feel the difference of having them in the Congress and Senate, as against not having them is minimal.

I know, that a full blown republican victory will make them think they are god, and further their pillaging and plundering, but, then i also think something so drastic is required for people in the US to wake up and see what they are creating by their inactivity.

I am completely at peace having learnt that Lieberman has lost, i didnt think he was great VP candidate either. Infact, Mr. Gore also should take responsibility of allowing this man more audience than he really is entitled for. Anyway, the people of one state has spoken, lets see if this starts a ripple effect across the others.

Amy's Blog - A note to a traitor........

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

France vs Italy

Ok. I must admit, i am not seer. Betting on France was pure emotional. Nothing to do with their ability, their line-up or the way they played during the initial matches.

Platini and team in 1982 won me over. The semi-finals between Germany and France is to me the game of the century. France lost that game, but i became a big sucker for France.

So when this world cup began, i was hoping France will do better than what it had done after winning the cup in 1998. Until the game last quarter-final game when it beat Brazil, France was playing just an average game. Zidane worked the magic again today to beat Portugal. Portugal had been playing a very good game, but today they simply couldnt penetrate the French defense. Although France won only from a solitary goal, and that too because of a penalty, a win is a win.

Now they meet Italy. I am keeping fingers crossed, wearing the same sock & underwear, going to sit on the same end of the sofa.... Oh !! hope i am not forgetting something else.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

When is this going to end ?

Israel has gone on the offensive again. As always its response to provokation is brutual and extreme. And as always it will learn that a gain now, will not last in the long run. Its too bad, that each step taken by Israel is matched by Hamas and other Palestine fighters.

This could go on and on and on for another 50+ years, if one of them is not going to back down. And from what it appears both sides are unwilling to make that step. Although the rest of Palestine has taken a lot of action to get the peace process moving. The rise of Hamas as an elected authority changes the dynamic. What this means is that people in Palestine has been bearing the brunt of the many different measures adopted by Israel, and have finally seem to think that Hamas is the best answer to that. Again, it appears all the calculation done by Israel has gone all wrong. I am sure no one wants a team like Hamas running a Government. But if it is elected by the people, then that is the Govt you are going to get.

So deal with it and get serious about the negotiations. How many more lives need to be destroyed before lasting peace can be found ? And the people of the world need to realise that solving the Palestine problem will mean one less issue to worry about in the middle-east. Thanks to Bush and US in Iraq, there are other things to worry about now. But i think the Israel-Palestine conflict still needs to be priority one. - New round of Gaza airstrikes launched - Jul 2, 2006

Monday, June 19, 2006

This is not the first !!

This is not the first time, i have read or come across this view or opinion. Most people inside the US and outside the US, that i have spoken to, have a similar opinion. Most dont necessarily believe that US threatens world peace, but many surely believe that US should pay more attention to its internal affairs and stop meddling with affairs of the world.

I for one, particularly think that the US adopted this policy from its mother country, England. And did well to surpass the power of the Empire, where the 'sun doesnt set', and went about slowly but steadily taking over old assets of United Kingdom after the WWII. I am not attributing an sinister design, but i think the colonial and imperialist attitudes are far from gone.

From the very beginning all wars has been about trade and access to trade. If the British used Indian soldiers to fight its wars across the globe, the US simply converted locals to fight its war on its behalf. To a great extend, the spread of democracy across the globe, is more to do with the fall of the colonial powers after the WWII, than to do with any goodwill on the 'Allied Forces' to liberate these countries. Of course, the capitalist society and its proponents figured that it is easier to colonize a country or region, by controlling its resources or access to resources than actually controlling the society and its people. The latter brought with it a set of responsibilities that imposed burden on the powers that be.

It is interesting that the US has come a full circle from being viewed as liberators of Europe from the clutches of the 'communist power', and a proponent of democracy and freedom, is now viewed as a threat to the same. This perception across the globe is rather a new, and i think, Bush and his cronies have to take full credit for this.

It is also very surprising, when you look at this hawkish US policy and compare it with its people, who are no different from any other on this earth. Of the many different societies in the world, i am led to believe that the people in the US are the most mislead by their own Government. I think it is because in its interest to  fight for world peace  (read access to world trade/resources),  the US Govt has helped the people around the world, in accessing information, but has denied the same to its people.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | US seen as a bigger threat to peace than Iran, worldwide poll suggests

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

GM Foods

Even though i work in the field of technology, i am convinced that all of this thoroughly overrated. I have expressed my reservation before to the advent of technology, as it slowly intrudes on our everyday life.

Of course, to simply write it off, as bad, and to attempt to return to lifestyle without these is unthinkable today. I cant imagine life without a cell phone, a laptop, an internet connection and even a pda. Damn, i am sure there a bunch of us, who think that camera were invented to be fixed to a phone. But i am more of an 'acceptor' as opposed to an 'embracer' (if there are such words). I'm defnitely not one of the early adopters. Having said all this, there is a part of me that is very skeptical.

And then there is paranoia. Thats when i talk about GM foods.  That's GM as in Genetically Modified, as opposed to General Motors, that come to the mind of my American friends (and one desi friend, Vicks). But as is normal, thanks to all the education and fortitude developed over a period of time, i know that, it cannot be completely bad. But, yet, i am unable to completely accept this change to food structures, by the big farming conglomerates across the world. I understand it is possible to raise Pigs that can grow hearts, that be use for heart-replacement for humans, or potatoes without the strach and more protiens and other cancer killing drugs. But somehow, the whole concept of us humans, the most advanced 'living thing', being able to engineer food etc., is still unfathomable.

Ok, i must temper my ranting, 'cause i noticed that i have used a lot of big words in this blog. I must be really pissed. But then not pissed enough to buy 'organic' food from the grocery shelves, by paying twice as much for the same produce. So, who do ya blame ?

Greenpeace wants probe into cattle death

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Save the Planet

See i knew there was a reason, why i didnt like to wash my jeans every time i wear it. I am now, unashamed and open facedly admit that "i wash my jeans only when i grow tired of wearing it".

Ok, thats an exageration, but only by just a bit. I wish these people had conducted this study atleat 20-30 years back, it would have been good arguments to use at home, having to fight off mom, only to find out that she would wash my jeans without my knowledge.

I guess there is another side to this environmental debate. I am sure an unwashed pair of jeans can be cause its own version of an environmental disaster. So like everything in life there is a middle ground.

So then, what is the middle ground ? How many times can a pair of jeans be worn, before it must be washed ?

Why washing jeans can cost the earth

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The death of a Terrorist

The big news on TV, the last couple of days, other than the expected hype around the world cup, was the news about the death of Zarqawi. The big all-day-all-night news channels had a field day, showing all the sides of this important event.

And then, there was this news about the success of the US Govt policy on 'war on terror'. They always keep forgetting about the main man, "Sir" Osama Bin Laden. Well, rightfully so, because the administration here needs these small success to show people they are doing something good in Iraq.

I personally think, the killing was inevitable and neccessary. There is no reason to think different, given that Zarqawi, was a big proponent of terrorism in Iraq. But then there is another side to this terrorism devil. It is like a multi-headed monster, that simply keeps going on and on and on...

They only true way to fight this problem is to solve the root problem. This could start with the US withdrawal from Iraq, a bigger effort to find resolution in the Israel-Palestine conflict etc. But then the US is not quite considered in solving the problem, but just fighting it. The different kinds of 'wars' that the successive US Govts have been waging, requires a lot of funding and also supports a large number of corporates. And so it is not easy to quickly shut it down.

So for another a few days, till someother problem crops up, we will hear quite a bit of Zarqawi, the success/failure of the war. But no one seems to be quite bothered about Osama walking around free somewhere else. I am not quite saying that we or the world must go after him, but its kind of weird that the administration is strangely silent about this person now.

For now, Bush gets to strut about with a 'mission accomplished' attitude. Interestingly i just hear that there is a 'tropical depression one' brewing in the gulf. Mr. President, are you ready this time around ?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Go Fish

I have heard of this "cure" or "treatment", not exactly when, but ever since i was a kid.  My dad who used to visit Hyderabad often, brought us the stories about this 'fish medicine'. The 'fish medicine', is basically some mystery medicine, that is stuffed in a live fish, and the fish itself is now put into the mouth of the patient, to be swallowed whole.  This treatment is supposed to cure asthma. The treatment was supposedly given as a blessing to the family by a holy-man.

The medicine is made my a family, and is distributed free. So, therefore it is tough to directly attribute them as quacks. They attract huge crowds, but that doesnt necessarily mean, that everybody is convinced about this treatment. The doctors and rationalist have taken on this, raise issues relating to the process and treatment etc. There are legends that the medicine itself is some kind of steriod, which is what is used in asthma treatment all over the world.

Bathini Fish Story
Asthma patients make beeline for `prasadam'

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Football - World Cup 2006

Travelling this week, back to the US, the lay-over at Frankfurt was particularly exciting, thanks to all the fever sorrounding World Cup football or soccer starting in exactly 1 day. Initially i had thought of stopping in Frankfurt and spending a few days in Germany, before proceeding to the US. But work and other pressures do not allow this kind of indulgence.

Germany is excited, atleast all the men are. It is there chance to showcase one of the most watched sporting event. World Cup soccer rivals and betters the Olympics in terms of worldwide audience. I had seen so many pictures of the new stadium built in Munich, the 'Allianz Arena'.

The airport terminal had the usual world cup related paraphernalia, including a virtual goal post, where you could try your luck at scoring a goal.

My earliest memories of watching this live was, the 1982 cup in Spain. My favourite team then and now is France. I dont know why i picked France over the many other teams, but the semi-final match between Germany and France was the one that helped setup France as the team to root for... ever. I guess since Germany as always was expected to take the cup, i just had to support the underdog. France has never done better than their effort in 1982.

Well the world cup starts tomorrow and goes on for a month, i am hoping to have a ball of a time following the different teams as they go thru' the different group matches to see who will emerge in to the second round.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cheney on trial ?


As i was browsing today, i came across this news about Cheney to be called as witness for the 'Scooter' Libby trial. I havent been following the US news too much since i left there in April end. More importantly i had become fed up that there was action to be taken or done till the November election this year. Because inspite of so much goof-up and issues, you have a man continuing to run the country.

But i think this could be good development. Because if you remember clearly, Clinton was not 'impeached' for having sex (ya right!!), but for lying in front of a grand jury. So i am looking forward to this trial, to see what Mr. Cheney has to say. This could be a 'damned if you do, damned if dont' kind of a trial for Cheney.

Although, knowing that the other half of the congress and senate that can actually take some action is really not interested in this process, i am not sure if something will really get done. The democrats have lost their backbone. There is enough evidence today to kick up a havoc in the congress. But then they are set of polite people, who always take the higher road. Oh man, what a bunch of oafs !!

Like i said, i know the power of a vote. It is important that we use it accordingly. Looking forward to the november election.

Court filing: Cheney may be witness in Libby trial

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Computing for free ?

There is a big gap in the need for software to run and manage computer systems and the ability of the user to be able to afford it all. There was a time, when even the computer was unaffordable. But those days are long gone. Today the hardware is within the reach of vast majority of people. The software is not. Typically each piece of software you want to add to your computer comes in the range of $39.99 to $69.99. Rarely is it priced below or above this range. So if you need to add, about 5 to 10 pieces of work that you would like done using the computer you are looking at adding another 150-400$ to the investment.

There is a big space for free, shareware kind of software. I am big supporter of the shareware software. I have purchased about 4 softwares as shareware, which cost me about 10$ a piece, to add the toolset on my computer. Most other software i try to acquire are freeware or opensource. I would have loved to have been able to add to the collection of software in this space, but my brains are getting rusted each passing day.

I think there is a big market for 'Rent-a-software'. The kind i can use, on an as-needed basis. Of course, then again, the developers will quickly price it beyond the reach of many. Yahoo and Google can be serious players in this space, not to forget or ignore Microsoft.

Also then there is Sun Microsystems, who was trying another concept of server farms. Sun would build large sets of huge servers that can be rented by corporates for use during critical phases of their project. I am not sure where they are with this whole thing.

Taking this a step forward, what if the server farm is available for me to use. You know, like the good old days of Unix server, where we login and do our work and get out. I use my cheap and powerful laptop and connect to a big mother-of-all-server, to do my work. Wonder if someone is listening ?

BBC NEWS | Technology | India lays down 'open' challenge

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Heat wave... ?


People here are complaining of a heat wave in India. What heat wave ? What heat ? I dont find it hot. Its actually real cool. Man, if it got any cooler, i may need to wear sweaters.

I sometimes look outside the window, and see the freezing landscape. It actually seems bloody cold out there.

Think cool, Act cool, Behave cool... please bear with me here....maybe the sun will give up... soon

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Thinker vs Doer

The difference between a Thinker and a Doer is the action. And today i have the story of my good friend Supraja Dharini to share.

We studied together only for two years, in the 11th and 12th. And were literally sitting next to each other in the class. Although a new comer to our school, she quickly made friends, not all supportive, me included. I had my reservations. But for some reason, may be our desire to change things as they are, we became quite thick friends by the time school was over. And the friendship actually only became better while we were doing BCom in separate colleges in the city.

All along we exchanged quite a few ideas on how to change politics, help people, poor, rich, change society.... blah blah.... lot of talk. Some times for hours, sometimes a few minutes here and there.

My first social action, was also motivated by her. Her cousin or relative was getting married in a city marriage hall. The girl, her relative was a minor, about 16 or 17 at that time. Supraja, wouldnt listen to her parents to shut-up, but called me and we went to the Police Commissioner's office to lodge a complaint. Well, long story, short, nothing much happened. The girl was married off, quite early in the morning, and by the time we arrived with the cops to the marriage hall, no one was there.

Thinks began to change for me, soon after that, i started my classes in NIIT, at that time, the only computer training institute in Chennai. I got busier and busier, and soon found my answer and calling to earn and make a living.

Supraja, SD, as i used to call her in the school days, took a different direction. She moved out of the city, close to the beach, at that time considered quite away from the heart of the city. And she started getting involved in many different things. And like she says in her interview, she found her calling in 2001. And today about four or more fishing villages near her home, and probably thousands of turtles are the direct beneficiaries of her action.

I recently was involved in some work with her again, in 2005, when we went to help the villagers affected by the Tsunami. We visited the villages, which she was looking after, and was part of her TREE foundation.

When i read the article in The Hindu, and few weeks back in a local paper, i couldnt help travelling back in time a bit.... lot of talk, can never really match, one good deed.

The Hindu: Metro Plus Chennai: Of canvas and conservation

Monday, May 08, 2006

Trishoor Pooram

Yesterday, Sunday May 7th, was Trishoor Pooram. This may not quite english, but it is semantically correct. Trishoor or Trichur as it is used to be written in english, is the self titled cultural capital of Kerala. Pooram is a day in the malayalam calendar. But in the month of Medam, the pooram day is special for Trishoor. It is on this day, that it hosts one of the grandest spectacle on earth, the Trishoor Pooram festival.

I was born in Trishoor, bang in the middle of pooram time. And also spent most of my summer vacation growing up in Trishoor. The pooram festival started the Thiruvambady temple close to my house. As i grew up, and outgrew the awe of elephants, i was growing to get amazed by the logistics and management of the festival. The different facets, and 'ithigam' (the concept behind a ritual or practice), of the festival also started holding a special fascination for me.

All this till i was 17, and then i havent seen a festival till i was 26, but that was also for a brief 2hrs. I have been thirsting to return since then. I had the oppurtunity to visit Trishoor a couple of times recently and was so happy to show-off the town to my accompanying family (in-laws). The simplicity (which doesnt exist so much anymore) and the temples are the main attraction for me. The most magnificient being the main one, Vadakkunnathan, a temple of siva. Infact the name, Trishoor, is a shortened version of Thiru Siva Perooor (holy abode of Siva).


The pooram festival is a recent introduction to Trishoor, compared the temples themselves. The festival is only 200+ years old, and was started by Shaktan Thampuran, the king of Cochin. The festival is unique, in its access to the people, in line with the spirit in which the king created it. The temples from around Trishoor, were once denied access to another nearby festival, and this prompted the king to host this festival in Trishoor itself, to try and break the brahmin control of these festivals. He invited the temples in the neighbourhood to come and pay obeiance to Siva in the Vadakkunnathan temple. The entire temple was surrounded by a teak (thek), also called the thekkin-kadu-maidanam, which was cleared to create the city of Trishoor.

The main participants of the festival are the temples of Thiruvambady and Parammekavu located right in Trishoor. Apart from these, there are few other temples, who send their to Trishoor as part of the pooram festival. All of them, mostly Devi (goddess parvathi), come and pay respects to the lord at the Vadakkunnathan temple.

Even the temples of Thiruvambady and Parammekavu send their Devi to pay respects to the lord. And then compete to get his favour, by displaying their very best during the festival.

More info on the Thrisoor Pooram:
Trishoor Pooram at Wikipedia
Trishoor pooram
Trishoor Pooram

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Free.... free.... free

An amazing spectacle is being hosted here in TamilNadu. The elections, is what i am referring to. Most parties, specially the big two coalition that is fighting the election here, have offered, a bunch of freebies to the electorate.
The list is something like:
- free cycle
- rice at Rs. 2 per kg
- color tv (one party even promised a set top box, altho' only Chennai uses a set-top box)
- gold
- computers

There is more. The is list is like endless, with money to the poor, the old, the widow, the son, the daughter, the mother, the father, the elderly.... what the heck, some money for the neighbour too.

Few other parties have raised this is as an issue with the EC, asking them to ratify the poll promises and/or to hold the elected candidates responsible for the promises. Its still up in the air, as to, when this issue will be handled by the EC, or more importantly, if this is an issue that the EC will take up for clarification.

Today is the last day of the election campaign. On monday, early morning the polls begin. Lets see what the verdict of the people will be at the end of the 10-12 hr day.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Elections where ??

After arriving here in Chennai a week ago, i was pleasantly surprised, it was difficult to imagine that an election was in process. There were no graffiti, no posters, no huge cut-outs and no blaring loud speakers.
Of course, i had read about it in the news on the web, that the election commission is getting tough and has clamped down on all these 'nakras'. But i still figured that the political system will figure a way out. Fortunately the EC has prevailed. They have managed to tie down the political parties to the guidelines and figured a way to enforce it.

I have expressed my opinion about the EC. The Election Commission, to the best of my knowledge, has no comparable organization in any other democracy. Its birth and existence in India, is also a testimony of the corrupt political system we support. Slowly but steadily, starting if i am not mistaken, with T.N. Sheshan, they have asserted their presence, and with active support from the Supreme Court, have managed to curb the prowess of the political system. The system still has its ways, because EC only governs the process of election. But recently the suspension of few politicians who were tainted, the Jaya Bachan issue etc., are all indications that they are not going to stop with the electoral process, but with the governance of all elected officials.

Thanks to them, the city of Chennai is sporting a clean look. Albeit, the election and vote gathering process has lost a bit of sheen. But only slightly tho'. The candidates and political parties have managed to draw attention through ingenious ways and also are now forced more than ever before to walk the streets and attempt a door to door campaign. The people who will benefit from this process, are cadre based parties, like CPM, BJP, DMK etc., and will force others to strengthen their party structure, allowing more fresh blood to be infused into them.

And so.... i dream.....

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Reservations in School, Colleges and Jobs

The issue of reservation has come to the forefront again, with students (medicos) protesting in Delhi. It reminds me of the first Mandal Commission that was passed and implemented by VP Singh government. The students have a right to protest, because these actions reduce the total outlay of seats available to the 'forward communities' or open quota. But, they forget the principles behind which the reservation was first proposed. It is quite true, that the present Government or current lot of politicians do not care too much of the impact of such resolutions, but only look at it as a vote gathering machine.

I for one support the concept of reservation, in the education system, jobs and political representation. Yes the system is not perfect, and the way it is implemented also is fraught with loopholes. But, if you for one moment stop and think of the problems the caste based society has created and still perpetuates in India, you will do a second take on the concept of reservation.

My case is a good example of people who are in the society will survive inspite of reservations and quota systems. I am from the 'forward community', what ever that means. And so, i am not entitled to support or benefit of lower entry point into education systems. I, however, made it through the education system, inspite of scoring lesser than desired marks. If it werent for the reservation system i could easily have made it to the a good college in the city. But to help people who were left out, the colleges were running 'evening colleges', made more money, and were able to bend the rules of the 'reservation law'.

But. more importantly, i think, i stood to benefit from a changing times in India. Thanks in part to the Govt of times, lead by Rajiv Gandhi, to try and computerize the economy and system, i rode the computer wave to success. At no time, during this process, was i ever given the glimmer of hope that i will succeed or that things will work out. I had to fight the battle for access to college (although i would have settled for a postal degree) and also attended a lot of interviews for different job oppurtunities. At no time, inspite of the despair and limited oppurtunities, did i ever feel, that i was deprived of something because of the reservation system.

The current system of reservation shows no mercy to the poor, only to the ones from the backward communities. And, one critical aspect that the caste system imposes a barrier in the rural Indian setup, doesnt exist in the urban society. In India, i mean the big cities of India, the caste system seems non existent, however, the same is still prevalent in full force. Literacy rates, economical status and access to Government support does not provide enough impetus to break the system. Till India, can fully address the law and order problem, where common citizen, and i mean everyone, big, small, rich, poor and irrespective of which caste or tribe they belong to, can get full right and access to justice, system like reservation are the only way out.

And having lived in the US, i can testify, the same system exists there and is called the 'affirmative action', although on a very small scale because of the very same reasons - access to justice. It is a myth that everyone in the US have equal access to power. And that should give an indication to India, that irrespective of the progress in justice system and democratic power, inequalities will prevail.

I believe and support a good reservation system. It needs to be tweaked, and should be tailored to meet the specific needs of the community. It can be modified to provide full monetary and protection of the law to access education and jobs. But i can see no reason, today, to eliminate it. I have always stood this stance, with my family and friends who all, except for a select few, who oppose the system.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I am special !!


I finally got an invite to Yahoo Mail. I mean the new one. And it looks cool. I have been drooling over it, after reading reports, and yahoo support sites about this. Registered myself a couple of times at the beta site to get an invite for this. And i actually registered the first time, atleast a year ago !!

Man, there must be something special with this beta mail program. I wonder if it is going to crap out on me. Well, i dont think so. If past experience is an indicator, yahoo has always delivered. Since i first started using yahoo over 10 years ago, i have stuck with it. Yahoo wasnt the first online email that i had, it was netscape, but i soon got myself registered on yahoo, and there has been looking back. I tried the google thing, even the email thing, but i really found nothing great. The yahoo search experience to me, is so much better. I use google only if i am researching stuff, and i cant find it on yahoo, and invariably those times, i dont find anything relevant on google either.

So today is a special day to try out something new. Not sure of all the features. Need time to play around with it. But since 360 has taken control of my life, mail has really become an also-ran. Maybe its time i kicked it up a few notches.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

till travel do us part....

Here i am sitting in the airport lounge, yes, yet again, waiting for the boarding call of my flight to Frankfurt, and then enroute to India.

My job, requires me to travel between India (Chennai) and US (Washington DC). As the person in charge of the operations in India, i need to be here and thanks to the same responsibility, i need to be in DC at the home office too. This gives me the unique oppurtunity to have the best of both worlds. Eat authentic burgers (chicken though) at the different burger joints in the US, and garam masala dosa, chutney sambar, at Saravana Bhavan in Madras. Drive on the right and and left side of the road, Although this usually referred to as right and wrong side of the road by my good friends here in the US. I correct them, saying we in India, "drive on the correct side of the road".

Freezing winters and steamy summers have very little impact on me. Although personally i am little affected by the increased UV rays in the US. As a political beast, i also found that crooks roamed the halls of law-making, just as freely as they did in India, and i was quite comfortable poking fingers here as i used to do in India. I hate to generalize, and i found that people here and the people there, have the same problems and similar issues, however the cultures are different and therefore the basis of decision making is quite different.

Born in India, i spend more than half my lifetime growing up there, and then spend more than a third here in the US. Now i am quite at home here as well as in India. Well having a home in both countries, makes that more easier. I have made the integration of the two cultures a personal issue, i have two children, one an american (since he has born in the US) and the second an Indian, since she was born in India.
I do, however, have only one wife !!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tit for tat

Who ever said travel was boring ? Well, i think they must have not seen the finer parts of the travel. I have had a hectic 25-30 days here in the US and am about ready to head back to Chennai. But this time, i had the oppurtunity to travel, travel a lot. There were some bright moments during the course of the travel, the highlight being the trip to meet Vicks at Ann Arbor, and low parts being the 3am trips to the airport, which are more than an hour away, to make sure that i get to the flight on time.

Well before i start rambling about sweet nothings, i must narrate two funny things that happened during this frequent travel circus. The first incident was at Chicago, about a two weeks ago. I had just landed on my way from Grand Rapids, enroute to Washington DC. It was early morning, 6am or abouts. Thanks to the magic of timezone, i had boarded the flight at Grand Rapids, MI at about 6am, but arrived in Chicago O'Hare airport at 5:45am. So anyway, i make the routine trip to the restroom or bathroom. I do have to point out here, that we in America, call these restroom for a reason. Anyway not to talk about gory details, i was resting in the restroom, when a lady walks in to the restroom, and says 'excuse me', loudly enough to draw the attention of an otherwise empty restroom.
I hear her having the conversation with another Gentleman, and she explains that she has to use to restroom, because the women's area is closed, and how she will miss the flight and everything. Well, i guess the Gentleman gave her the permission, not that this lady was in any mood to listen otherwise. She had to go. So she quickly came and settled in the stall next to me. Now, i did find it weird for a moment, but then quickly dismissed it and we went our seperate ways.

Last week, i was returning from Detroit, this time, and flying into Washinton Dulles again. Since i had another early morning fight out of Detroit, i was dressed in a TShirt, but was wearing a decent set of trousers. The plan was to change in to formals in the airplane or soon after i land in DC. Since i was fast asleep in the plane, i missed to the oppurtunity to do the switch, and had to execute it in the airport restroom, so that i could drive straight to work. As soon as i got out of the plane, i located to the closed restroom, and walked in and closed the stall, stripped of my Tshirt, hung it on a hook, and then reached into my bag for my dress shirt. As i was doing this, someone else walked into the stall next to me, closed the door and sat down. As i bent down and picked up my dress shirt, i could the legs of the person sitting in the stall next to me. And i noticed a freaky thing, this guy, had nail-polished every single nail on his toes, and was wearing a funny slippers instead of shoes. I was think, 'what a wierdo', then i thought, oh man, dont tell me, is it the same lady from Chicago, oh man whats up with all the ladies these days ? Soon, i heard more noises, more ladies in the restroom, conversations between a mom and kid.
Oh my god !!
What the hell !! Did i just do that ? No it cant be.

I had managed to change into my shirt, tucked in and all ready to go. But how do i exit ?
So i just stood there, for sometime, for things to quite down.
I must have stood there for a lifetime, which lasted all about 2 minutes. And then opened the door, and walked straight out. As i did that i readied myself for the following:
- high shrieking sounds
- slippers and sandals thrown in my direction
- cops outside the door

What i encountered instead was a lady, directly in front of me, adjusting her sweater (nothing indecent), she didnt even look in my direction, even as i walked by her, apologizing. There was no one else, and the entire episode would have gone unnoticed, but for a grandma and her grandchild trying to make their way into the restroom, both of them did a doubletake to ensure that they were walking into the correct restroom.

As i walked out, i too confirmed the sign outside, which said 'women', but my legs were walking me, the fastest they had done in a while.

Well, all i have to say is, 'tit for tat'

Monday, April 17, 2006

Medha Patkar

During the initial stages of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, initiated almost exclusively by Medha Patkar, i doubted her sincerity in the matter, and thought she was another person into create problems for the government of the day and take the tribals and villagers to be displaced by the new Narmada dam, for a ride. Its been a long fight for her.

I dont completely agree with her. I believe that India still needs dams big and small to help with power generation and irrigation. The country even after all the advancements in nuclear science and space research, we are still very dependent on monsoon for agriculture. It all good and dandy to say that we are one of the fastest developing countries in the world, and another thing to last out a couple of years of bad monsoon. Agriculture development and production still plays a big role in the direction in which the country will progress, cause it still is about 40-50% of the GDP. It has come down from the time i used to study economics, when it was around 70%.

Medha Patkar has a point. Development cannot come at the cost of lives of people. People are not dying, because of this dam. But the dam is surely eliminating the way of life as they once lead. Again, its not like they are being reduced to a life of poverty, but they are being reduced to a life of dependency. At first they were depending on the land, but it was their own. Now they have lost their land have to depend on some other form of livelihood.

Finally the Supreme Court has spoken. It has granted the Prime Minister the power to negotiate. I hope that the PM is able to offer these people a good deal. And for the sake of all, i hope Medha Patkar gives up the effort after that.

Medha Patkar ends fast

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Unclear Iran

What is wrong with a democratically elected government doing what it deems fit for the benefit of its people ? Well i can think of several reason why not. The most important being that no country lives in isolation on this planet. So actions taken by it, will impact and affect others around.
And so, there are consequences of nuclear Iran in the middle-east and also in the bigger Asian region.

However, that said, the dictates of the Nuclear regiments are mandated and controlled by a handful of countries. And only two countries have successfully broken into this tight circle. One is Israel and the other is India. The possession of the technology to make the bomb, though exists with a few more countries, Pakistan being one of them. So now Iran must ask the question, why is it ok for these countries to have it and not me ?

Israel has had the bomb for the longest period of time. The possession of which has resulted in its more aggressive stance in the middle-east in terms of solving the crisis that has been bleeding this part of the world of about half a century now. It has also thwarted all attempts by its neighbours to attempt to master this technology. Although this is common knowledge, no one questions or raises their finger against this infraction. Why, because it has the solid backing of the USA.

India, a recent pariah, now considered acceptable because of the economic powerhouse it is turning into, has possessed this technology since '74. India on the one hand pushes for global disarmament, but has also been equally adamant about its aquisition of the bomb. I, being an Indian, see perfect reasoning and rationale in this approach. However, the world around me is not seeing the same picture.

Back to Iran, my concerns are primarily, the reasons why they need the bomb now. The only reason they could possibly want it, would be to counter Israel. Because in the past, Israel has shown that it is willing to take the fight into other's territory. But they are not thinking straight, because this fight of Palestine is not going to go away, just because you strong arm and play bully. Israel is adamant and will not back down on its stance, and it has the unflinching support from the US.

I give up, this going in circles and circles and circles. The main thing, is i am not so unsure that Iran having the bomb is a bad thing. In all the time since the bomb was discovered, it has been used only twice in a theater of war, in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Since then the bomb has acted as a deterrent, right or wrong. However, i am torn at the idea of simply everybody and anybody possessing the bomb. But then again, the bomb itself has become old technology, we have better methods of terror and killing. On 9/11, we had a demo of how terror can be struck in the minds and hearts of people without a bomb.

And the most important question of all, should the US go to war, because of this ? Again, a unilateral step ?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Moirang - April 14 1944

I first heard of Moirang, in the quiz show, organized by Siddhartha Basu, long before we started getting these 100s of channels. The question he asked was 'Where did the soldiers of Indian National Army, first raise the Indian flag on the Indian soil?' The answer was 'Moriang Kangla', in the border state of Manipur, in the northeast India.

First, we had studied about World War I, II, French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the American war of independence, the India's satyagraha, the Dandi March, the 'Quit India' andolan, but the history of INA and Subhas Chandra Bose, was relegated to a small chapter here and there. Nothing about this heroic, even if misguided as some might claim, action was highlighted or talked about.

During WWII, Subhas, or Netaji, as he is commonly referred to, created the Indian National Army. He left India, to fight the British, by joining hands with the Japanese and Nazi Germany. The Indian National Army at that time, based in Singapore, marched through the Malaysia, and Burma, to fight with the British soldiers in India. This entire zone of battle was being managed by the British, since they were the pre-dominant colonial power in these parts during that time. I understand the many things that Hilter did, but he did do a good turn by waging war against Britain, because if it wasnt for that fact, the Empire, where 'the sun never sets' would have grown in power. And remember, friends who are quick to blame Hitler for the genocide in Europe. The so-called right thinking and democratic countries of that time, did not raise a finger to stop the atrocities. They began fighting only when the military expansion of Hitler began threatening their existence and span of control.

I didnt know that the INA had ever warred the British, and more still, had even set foot inside the Indian soil. The country has honored these soldiers, by retaining the name, and calling the present army, as INA, and crediting Netaji for founding it. He may have joined the wrong side on the war, but he was fighting for a right cause. A sad fact of the politics of that day, is that here was a situation, when Indian soldiers were fighting each other, one set doing their duty as soldiers of the Empire, and the other attempting to free their motherland from the clutches of the Empire.

But all said and done, i am not unhappy that we won our freedom through the route of satyagraha and the non-voilent route. This makes us special. But the country is fooling itself, if it thinks the contribution of people of Netaji, Bhagat Singh and others who fought the British through other means didnt not weaken the spirit of the Empire.

Moirang is special to me. I hope to visit this place one day.

A memorial for Netaji
State gifts INA museum to Netaji

Monday, April 10, 2006

Katie to bear Tom's child in silence

I came to read about this story, after focussing on the word silence. Of course i may not have paid as much attention if the story line read, 'Anamika to bear John's child in silence'. As i clicked the link to read the story, i was at first wanted to press the back button, the thoughts that were predominant were, what do i care ?

Anyway, just before i was about to read the story, i was saved by my favourite TV channel, CNN. Amongst all the important things in the world, they had found time to talk about Tom and Katie. Ok, so Tom is not an average male. In fact, to sidetrack a bit, have you noticed, he is aging now, but still manages to carry on that boyish. I am sure girls and women, will have a different opinion all together. Ah, i am just jealous. So CNN, throws the tag line, so that they can take a break for advertisement. And that helps me. I quickly open up my bloggar, to start my blog. I manage to find a picture of Tom, to even spruce up my writing.

The article and the CNN news piece do talk about the Scientology's concepts of silent child birth. Dont ask me how ? But then we are all so used to the hollywood depiction of child birth. The lady has to yell and scream, no other options are even remotely acceptable, and if ever showcased, then it is by some independent movie, and not available to the mainstream audience. In bollywood and its variants in the south, also dont have anything different to offer. I was in one child birth, and things were not so loud, fortunately or unfortunately, it started as natural, but quickly ended up on the surgeon's table. I did sit through that operation too, and allowed my to have a glimpse of the most beautiful thing in the world, a baby coming out of the womb. And it wasn't easy to for the surgeon to get to the womb, it took close quite a while, after the started the slicing of the skin and flesh, to get ready for the 'delivery'.

It appears finally after reading the whole story and listening to the story on CNN, it appears that lot of the words in the story's tag line are not true or not relevant.
Katie - not relevant, it could very well have been anyone else. Infact, the CNN piece only talked about others, because i guess Katie said 'No' when asked to come on the show
to bear - ok this is the only truth in the story, she is bearing a child
Tom's child - completely irrelevant, and no one other than Katie knows the real truth
in silence - well, here is the kicker, not true. Scientology talks about using 'wrong words', not about screaming.

I am victim and a perpetrator, i fell for it, because i was hooked by 'Tom' in the story. And although i feel that we should give them their space to do what they want and how they want, but i too couldn't completely shut them out.

Katie to bear Tom's child in silence

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Mac appeal

Finally, i think i hear my calling. Apple has a new utility that allows the installation of Win XP on a Mac machine. I have always wanted an Apple laptop since i saw it in a store for the first time, almost 3 years ago. Since then i have been seen more people buying the MacOS based machine over Win XP.

I had devoted a better part of my IT career disputing the claims of Windows operating system and its company's practices. But somehow i always had compromise and use a windows based laptop. Now there is no need to.

I am already drooling on the possiblities. My laptop is only about 2 yrs and 5 mths old. My last laptop i managed to hang-on to, for four years. But i am already grown tired of my Dell 8600. The only thing i wanted when i was shopping for a laptop was a 15" screen. I got a 15.4" screen, but lately i have felt i am carrying a suitcase, instead when i could carry a backpack.

Ok, i am off now.. got to finish up my research.

Apple moves to widen Mac appeal
MacBook Pro XP vs. the PC competition

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

35 hrs per week

How can you be productive if you only work 35 hrs per week ? How can you actually do any work if you work only about 7 hours a day ?

I came up with this number, which is the hours a week an average person works in France, Germany and some part of the EU. This is not a new phenomenon and was not introduced to spite the Americans, Asians and other harder working people of the world. The concept behind this work week is that people work to lead a better life. And so they also need time to spend with their family so that they can lead a better life.

I was born in India, grew up in India, and worked my first job in India. The life and work week before i started, was a regular 40+5 hours week, where the extra 5 hrs came from Saturday. But yet life was a lot sane and tame. When i started work in NIIT, 40hrs a week was the starting point, it then ranged between 60-90 hrs during a typical work week. Then again, when you actually analysed the time you spent doing real work, you quickly observe that over 30% of the time was wasted in non work related stuff. And when you took out all this wasted time and factor in all the rework you had to do, because you didn't do it right the first time, the good old 40 hr week would have easily achieved the same quality of output.

When i came to America, it appeared as if i bought this problem with me. It really had to do with the increasing role and profile of the Information and Technology departments within large companies. This was further exasperated by the evolution of internet in the late 90s and the fight to solve the Y2K problem. Suddenly it was fashionable to spend every waking and sleeping hour at work, under and over the desk and cube, slopping around in home clothes at work. All of these were strangely but intrinsically connected with my career and line of work. I am thankful, in some way, because my success in life came with this same technology revolution. A lot of good came out of this, but so did a lot of bad.

Few symptoms of this work and life stye:
- your current best friends are people who meet at work everyday
- movies and outings are spent with co-workers and family
- eat junk food (food served by the company)
- no time to exercise, because you need to be at work
- the sun is down and out, and its really dark, when you reach home.
- all work is due COB today.
- there are no non-critical tasks

I can go on. But, I do make a lot of money. I do have a lot of fun. I love what i do at work. And, I do have a lot of friends. But i do also realize and see the pressure this building on me and my family. I only hope that i will find time eventually when i can sit back and relax for all the hard work accumulated all these years.

Till then, three cheers to the French and German worker. Hope they are able to spread their success to the rest of the world.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Inside Man


Its been a while, since i have gone out to the movies here in the US. There are very few that come out from the big production houses that interest me, and then there is the issue of time. Well anyway, found some time this week, watched Inside Man, a decision i wont regret.

Directed by Spike Lee
That alone would have been good enough to go watch a movie. Ever since i saw his presentation of Malcom X, i have tried to my best to catch his movies on video or cable. Although not too lucky at it, i havent been disappointed by him yet. I read in the local paper 'City Paper', that he wasnt the director original slated to do this movie. So what would Spike do to a movie, which is about a bank robbery.

Starring: Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, Christopher Plumer.
Denzel alone is enough again, to drag you into the movie hall. Throw Jodie Foster in, that would have been a killer. Clive Owen, is the british actor, who has been doing some interesting stuff recently. I didnt need too much more to go out and watch the movie. When you walk out of the movie, it is not these individiuals as actors or their performances that will strike you.

What strikes you first is, Chaiya Chaiya. Yes the song by AR Rehman for the movie, 'Dil Se'. After all the trailers are over, and most of the popcorn is over, in this case it was cheese dripping over hot fries. Well the movie was timed perfectly after my 3 mile run, and all this was indulgence anyway. As the wise say, 'when you indulge, set no limits'.

Back to Inside Man, the movie starts to the strains of Chaiya Chaiya, the titles are presented, with the song running in the background. Now that must be a Spike Lee stamp. But why, i dont know. Its not a bit of the song, its the full version, of the song, and it is repeated again, at the end. But, that doesnt set the tone for the movie at all.

Plot: Bank heist
The plot, awesome, the rendering, superbly done. I am a sucker for a well planned heist or robbery. This plot leaves you with few question, that need answer. Towards the end, i was like, please show me more, dont leave things out, so that i have to use my imagination.

Nice movie. I would recommend it. Some small, things stick out. Some parts of the script, the dialouges, which obviously have a Spike Lee stamp on it. Here is one sample:
The NYPD detective assigned to investigate, is talking to a Bank Clerk, held hostage for a couple of hours and then released. The bank clerk, is a Sikh, who comes out all covered in overhauls, and when the NYPD squad pull his mask off, they shout, 'oh shit, an Arab', and pull of his turban.
The bank clerk, is now pissed. He wants his tuban back, he explains animatedly how his turban is part of his religion and he needs it to cover his head, goes on to shout about how he is always called an arab, and about the 'random selection' everytime he boards a flight.
Denzel, the detective, says 'you can still get a cab'
The bank clerk, says 'yes that is one of the perks'

Now, that is not subtle. That is commentary, direct, straight and simple about the happenings in the society here. The neat thing is that, Spike has a lot of opportunities for such commentary and uses it effectively, without hampering the story telling. I guess he chose to play this out in the streets of Manhattan for a reason.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Time to change

Oh its that time of the year, when time has to change. The first Sunday in April has arrived and we have to about adjusting clocks, watches, the VCR, the microwave, and many other places where time is displayed. It has gotten to such a frenzy that a few good minutes of the already shortened Sunday morning is spent running about changing clocks. But the good thing is that, in what would be an unique exercise, what time takes away, it gives back. In October, Sunday has an extra hour, because of the reversal of this process.

If you are wondering, what i am talking about, this is the time when, the US and i think Canada too, change to Day light Saving mode. The concept is pretty confusing at best, to understand. The summer in the northern hemisphere creates longer days, and sometimes never ending days. At the height of summer, the sun doesn't set until 9pm or so. And that is partially because of the Daylight Saving Time. The effect is supposed to allow the country save millions of dollars, because of the cost of electricity saved in lighting up streets and buildings etc. Of course the real impact is that, no one saves anything really, the longer day simply increase the opportunity to be up and about and spent more money on something else.

Although this time change, passes of without major incidents, there have been an ocassion or two, when i have missed this process and found out much later. In April, the mix up has cost you an hour or you have arrived late, and in October, the same mix up, may come as pleasant surprise. The confusion and bewilderment is higher amongst people from outside the US, specially the places where there is no concept of daylight time change.

An interesting conversation to be shared, before i end this. My friend was talking to his uncle, who was stationed in Saudi Arabia, and before he finished the conversation, he alerted his uncle about the time change, so that there is no confusion when the speak next week.
my friend: we will be changing the time next week
uncle: what do you mean, you will be changing the time ?
friend: well the time will be changed by an hour on sunday
uncle (still confused): why are you changing the time ?
friend: the entire country, all of the US will be changing the time
This is was about the time of the first gulf war, 1991, so people were just about getting used to some arbitary and unilatteral decisions by the US. This friend's uncle also assumed this was one such decision.
uncle: how can the US decide to change the time ? How can they do something with out talking to other countries ?

Tags: usa, daylight, time+change, timezone, daylight+saving, EST, EDT

Friday, March 31, 2006

March 31st

Suspect everything, believe nothing. :)

A little digression....
In the hey days of Seinfield, there was an episode, which started with at the end of the story and played back, scene by scene, event by event backwards. It was like time travel, back to a minute ago, an hour ago, a day ago, a week ago etc. So you ended at the beginning of the story. It was confusing, pretty mind-boggling, but you had to constantly keep thinking and associating why something happened (that to funny stuff). And then it got funnier when you found out why. I am not a die hard fan of Seinfield, but this was a nice episode, like many others.

But the crazy thing was, for a few days after that, every movie, or story i saw, i was thinking backwards. Even if the story was proceeding in the right direction of time, i would be trying to crack at some non-existent undercurrent or unhidden truth. It was a weird mind game. Eventually it waned, like many things in life, with time.

Back to where i started...
Today is that day of the year, when you need to prepare your mind for all the pranks and foolish stuff people are going to pull around you. You could be at the receiving end of a joke from me, your mom, your brother or sister, better yet from your significant other, and from the not so significant others who have bigger impact in your life, your banker, your local TV channel, the New York Times etc. Anybody, everybody and somebody is going to show you, tell you, give you, take from you, or talk about something, that doesnt exist or is not true.

So, when you go to sleep today, toughen your mind. Look for the inner self belief to come to your support, tomorrow. Dont ever believe anything. Suspect everything. Because its not true. Trust me. You will thank me later.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

lord of rings

Saw this on the CNN website. I havent seen a solar eclipse in the longest time. The last i remember seeing is way back in the early 80s. It was a partial eclipse. Infact i cant remember seeing a total eclipse ever. I believe a couple of them have happened over India. I have seen a few lunar eclipses tho', but even these are such rare occurances, atleast when you think back and try to remember all the ones you have heard about or seen.

I was first introduced to the lunar eclipse, called 'chandra grahanam' in sanskrit and many indian languages, by my parents and grand mother, through the story of how the celestial snake was hungry and tried to swallow the moon. Infact, we had a specific set of ritual to follow during an eclipse. No food or water was allowed to be consumed during the eclipse. We had to bathe after the eclipse to cleanse ourselves of all the poison in the air. Initially as kids, we were told that the poison is because of the snake, as we grew up, the explanation changed to a more rational reasoning. All light was blocked out from earth during a lunar eclipse, and the effect of solar light to cleanse the air is completely blocked out, and so the atmosphere was filled with germs that would have been killed by light from the sun. Food was freshly prepared after the eclipse was over. I am not sure if this how other cultures around the world and other communities in India observed this event.

The solar eclipse has always had ominous conotations associated to it. Although i havent specifically heard any bad ominous predictions associated with it. The reference to solar eclipse is plenty though in the hindu scriptures and mythology. My most favourite is the occurance of it duing the 'war of mahabaratha'. Mythology though depicts it as a maya rendered by Krishna, to help Arjuna keep his vow.

What i like about the solaris eclipse, is the ring, the ring of fire, the perfect circle of light, and a diamond that many a time appear on this gold ring. I collected some pictures from the web.
Image Image
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source: www

I still wish that one day, i will be able to see this spectacle with my own eyes. And may be i will be able to capture it using my own film and camera.