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
Image Image
Image Image
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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Over the seas

Am flying again. This time flying from Chennai to Washington DC. Like i had expressed a couple of times before, i really dont know if i am going to or coming back to DC. So, i will try to avoid the use of these specific terms. Am flying my now favourite airline, lufthansa. Favourite as in, dont have too much choice, pick the best of the available, and also because they are partners with United Airlines with their frequent flyer miles programme. I am having some major second thoughts about this whole frequent flyer thing. I am not sure, if it is a boon or it is just a way to hook you in, and then ensure that you will not leave irrespective of the level of service. Anyway i will leave that for another day.

One of the benefits of lufthansa, that i had been hearing for sometime, but havent had an oppurtunity to try is the internet access on the plane. Well, here i am using it to connect and blog this. Thats only 'cause i finished the statutory requirements of checking work related emails, responses, work assignments and quick follow-up using IM. So, while i wait for the internet time i bought to lapse, i am typing as fast as i can to ensure that i can get this in.

I dont abhor technology, but i do not completely like the way, it is overtaking my life and controlling me. But hey there are a few times, i would have died of boredom, if it werent for technology. This is one such moment. I could be watching the boring program telling me how to fill the I94 form and the customs form, before i land in the US, and then the lame movie that follows afterwards, but i chose to play and work with the internet access instead.

So, now i am able to find out that India were bowled out for 203 in the 1-day and then now, managed to win the match against England. One thing about our team, the men in blue or men with the blues, depending on the day and time, is that, they give value for money. They sure make each match interesting, and can turn an easy game against lame england or bangladesh into a nail-biting finish, or also wrap up a tough fight rather tamely, so that we wont have to wait out all the 50 overs to know our fate. I am sure all cricket fans from India have heard of the phrase, 'snatching defeat from the hands of victory'.

As i write this line, i am bang in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, 35000 feet high in the air, cruising over the clouds and the lower atmosphere. My internet pages, email and IM sessions are all working fine. There are two things at work today, that always manages to amaze me, no matter how many times i have seen it or even done it. One is the fact that massive thing, an Airbus A340 is flying up in the air, and the second is the internet, and how it works at such blazing speeds, not the MegaBits per second speed of data transfer, rather the fact that it works when this aircraft is moving at some 300-400 mph. Amazing.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Divorce, in your dreams !!

Now, this must be most bizzare thing. Its time, that some of the forward looking and educated muslims take staunch positions against such interference by the so called 'leaders'. The couple also have other options, and do not have to completely abide by these rulings. But when you are following a particular faith and custom, it is important that you also remain integral part of the same and allow yourself to be judged by insiders. It is easy for people from the outside to cast stones.

All said and done, i personally feel that there is a CLEAR THICK line that seperates me, my religion, from who ever is supposed to be the expert in my religion.

Uttering `talaq' in sleep lands couple in soup

Saturday, March 25, 2006

riding the elevator

Lift, elevator, call it by any name, is a weird place. We probably spend more time in one of these, now a days. Well, i use one every day at work, like million others in the world. And have used one since i was about 10 or so years old, but every time i get in one, i am quite anxious to get off. It no paranoia or anything, just a some uneasy feeling.

The elevator travel can be broken into two parts, the wait and the actual ride itself.

The Wait
The wait, well i think there is a reason, i used this term, because its just that, wait. It starts with pressing the elevator call button. Now there are two types of buttons. The ones that light up, indicating the request has been accepted, and the other kind that tests your faith in these buttons. Well to me, there are subtle differences, and doesnt count, cause, my brain tells me, if the elevator hasnt come to my floor, press the call button again. Sometimes, the anxiety level is so high that i have to lean on the button real hard, hoping that it helps elevator move faster than the usual crawl speed.
In the event there is more than one or there are multiple elevators in the building, the chances are technically better that you will catch an elevator coming your way. For me this, only increases the level of perspiration, given that you have to divide your attention to the multiple elevator doors available.
If there is company, it reduces the tension a lot, but that is only if you know the people waiting around. If you dont, you are forced to begin a conversation, called 'small talk', which goes nowhere, is not about anything in particular, and the no one actually cares about, and no one pays attention. This however is different from listening in on others conversation, which requires perfect eye-ear coordination. The eyes are focused on a distant nonexistent object, while the ears are perfectly tuned into the conversation and also has the uncanny ability to monitor tones as well. Well.... the elevator eventually does arrive.

The Ride
There are button inside the elevator too. And the utility of these buttons are no different from the ones referred to earlier, at least to me. There is however one favorite button, that indicates the floor where i would like to get off. But the usage of that particular button is done the same way as earlier. Once, initially to indicate the floor of my choice, and then once for each time the elevator stops till it reaches my destination.
The pressure and use of the buttons is indirectly proportional to the speed of the elevator. The slower the elevator, the number of attempts and pressure of each usage is more and higher, whereas if it were travelling fast... the opportunity to use it more often is curtailed by the speedy arrival at the destination. All this activity has no significance on the type of buttons as indicated earlier, that is, whether it is lit or not.
Sharing the elevators with strangers, will drastically reduce the usage of these buttons. But more times, it is because there is someone else that is more dexterous or annoying than you, in the elevator, who has taken control of these operations, and denying you the pleasure that is rightfully yours.
The rules of engaging in conversation are the same. However, all attempts to dissuade oneself from engage in small-talk, usually results in staring at the empty ceiling of the elevator. In a crowded elevator the ceiling provides the most consolation to individuals cramped together

Wierd things
Many times, i have found it difficult to stay quite while travelling in the elevator. And i have experimented with a number of things, and observed a lot of things. Since, i dont have any conclusive findings, i have resisted attempts to get these published in science and technical journals. But i think i can share a few of them here:
- attempts to do push-ups are not that effective, there is little gravity to work against.
- you can simulate zero-g, specially in ones that go up 20+ floors etc
- you can deflect your frustration, without hurting anyone, by pressing all the buttons inside the elevator, just before you get off.
- good place to improve your tap dance skills, even if dont have one, or havent danced before.
- dont look up through the fan in the cieling, small dust particles aim for your eyes like small missiles.

Although there are a few other experiments, i am not ready yet to talk about them today.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Recd this via SMS

image source: Internet
Every morning in Africa a deer wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest deer or it will starve to death.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

IRMA, Anand, Gujarat

Among the many options i considered for my post-B.Com. plans, was IRMA, the Institute of Rural Management Anand. Although i read about IRMA for the first time in an article, I dont recall, when the thought of joining IRMA came into my head. It must have been because of my attachment to the concept of social living and also because among the many different courses available and offered, i figured that this prepared an individual best to tackle problems of rural India. And being the 'aspiring poet', the 'want to be lover of the land i was born in' and the 'true to the salt, despremi', i found that this would be a good starting point.

The magazine, i think it was India Today, was actually doing an article on Verghese Kurien, also referred to as 'India's milkman' who helped setup the cooperative society that created the 'white revolution', and the Amul brand. Today i happen to blog about the same, because of news today about his resignation from the board at GCMMF. This one man, has created the single biggest milk and milk product based brand in India, even driving out multinationals, all while helping the real diary farmer reap the most benefits. When the framers of the constitution and initial planners of the economy evaluated different systems around the world to emulate, they chose to follow a middle path. Not the rigid rules of communist Russia or the freedom from all rules capitalist America. I know, trust me, because i studied quite a bit about the benefits and pitfalls of the 'mixed economy'. And somewhere lost in all the problems of the mixed economy, is the success of Amul and the work of Dr. Kurien.

IRMA too is one of the off shoots of the Amul magic and Dr. Kurien, set up at Anand, Gujarat, as part of an initiative by the National Diary Development Board, to train students to effectively manage problems that are peculiar to rural areas. I some much wanted to part of it. The article i read also highlighted the monetary benefits of passing out of IRMA, which was as good as passing out of IIM. But my focus was on things more romantic and egalitarian.

By the time B Com was over, my priorities changed. A Job, was an immediate priority. Any job. No there was no family pressure to find one, infact my parents wished otherwise. But pressures where from quarters outside. I had to prove that i could stand on my own two feet, and possibly also support one more person. With the intention to find a day job, i searched for an evening course, and joined a very mundane 'Post Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management and Industrial Relation'. Once committed to this process, i began my search for jobs, interviews etc. But, within one month of this action, my pressure went away, just as fast as it came. I still dont know the real reason. I tried to ask once. But gave up and moved on.

The unfortunate set of events lead me astray from my path towards IRMA. But i believe, everything that happens, happens for good.

And so here i am. No IRMA, no pressure, lot wiser and grown-up, and still going.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

International Earth Day

We have one earth.... but we have two days in a year, when people celeberate and call it 'International Earth Day'. Like most uninformed or rather misinformed sources, i knew about the earth day, but didnt know that there were two of them. What strikes me immediately is the absurdity of the whole thing. Its like celebrating mothers day, well it does help these days, because now there is a day, when everyone forces you to remember about your mother. And like we have the valentines day, which is good and useful during courtship, but the value of which seem to diminish soon after marriage, atleast for most husbands and men.

And so, thanks to the many years where we have abused the planet we live in, some noble souls create a day when we could remember about it and do something (atleast for that day) different. So then why two days ? One is March 20th and the other April 22nd !! Well, read the link provided and info on wikipedia for more information regarding these two days.

I am not sure which day is the true eath day, and the necessity for one. Because for me, it is important that we use each day to resolve to use even less resources from this precious planet, so that we may leave a legacy for our children. For me it starts with water, reducing consumption as best as possible, but enough to have a hygenic and safe life. The same goes for electricity, food and gas/petrol. To a large extent this behaviour of mine, comes from my upbringing, where everyday we had to grow up knowing that each of these resources were precious and cost money (sometimes lot of it), to be prudent and not waste. The water shortage in Chennai, Oil crisis of '74-75, and power cuts were all good lessons in my life and ones that thought me skills to be able to survive with less, than more. Irrespective of my efforts, i do know that my sheer existence is still a burden to the planet, and that these efforts have to multiply.

So, irrespective of which day you choose to celebrate as the Earth Day, try to do your bit to save the planet, not just on that day, but on everyday after that. Draw your line yourself, but do draw the line, of what you call is wastage and what constitutes living.

Earth Day - wikipedia

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hari Sadu

Dont know if this name strikes a bell ? Most people here in India, who have watched a few hours of primetime TV, cricket or some other major TV program would have heard about this stuck-up boss, and his assistant, who help him with a restaurant reservation by spelling his name as 'H for Hitler, A for arrogant, R for rascal and I for idiot'. Funny you would think. It wasnt hilarious, but it sure made you smile. Cheeky is the word i like to use.

Anyway, it appears someone didnt think it was too funny, and is now filing a law suit. Much as it may be justified, i think there is an element of stupidity here. The lawsuit probably helps the kid, who is supposed to be hurt, save face at school. But i think it is probably more oppurtunistic. If this chappy was hurt because of this one advertisement, I wonder what people named John should feel like !!

11-year-old boy sends legal notice to

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Jennifer Wilson - 59yrs, rich woman on her death bed !!

As i logged in early this morning, checking emails from work, and after responding to all the important ones, i checked my yahoo emails to find the email below. I am stumped for words, i have received a bunch of invites from Nigeria, Zimbabwe and South Africa. But this was completely different.

From: "Mrs. Jennifer Wilson" (
Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2006 14:20:43 +0000

Subject: Greetings From Mrs. Jennifer Wilson

My name is Mrs. Jennifer Wilson I am a 59 years old dying woman who have decided to donate what I have to you/church.I was diagnosed for cancer for about 2 years ago,immediately after the death of my husband, who has left me everything he worked for.I have been touched by God to donate from what I have inherited from my late husband to the you for the good work of God, rather than allow my relatives to use my husband hard earned funds ungodly. Please pray, that the good Lord forgive me my sins.I have asked God to forgive me and i believe he has because He is a merciful God. I will be going in for an operation in less than one hour. I decided to WILL/donate the sum of $1,500,000 (One million five hundred thousand dollars) to you for the good work of the lord, and also to help the motherless and less privilege and also for the assistance of the widows. At the moment I cannot take any telephone calls right now due to the fact that my relatives are around me and my health status.I have adjusted my WILL and my lawyer is aware I have changed my will. You and he will arrange the transfer of the funds from my account to you.I wish you all the best and may the good Lord bless you abundantly, and please use the funds well and always extend the good work to others. Contact my lawyer Barrister Tom Smith with this specified email- or and tell him that I have WILLED ($1,500,000.00) to you by quoting my personal reference number law/chamber/solicitors/je/ws/WILL/9834520012 and I have also notified him that I am WILLING that amount to you for a specific and good work.I know I dont know you but I have been directed to do this.Thanks and God bless.NB: I will appreciate your utmost confidentiality in this matter until the task is accomplished as I don\'t want anything that will Jeopardize my last wish. And Also I will be contacting with you by email as I don\'t want my relation or anybody to know because they are always around me.
Jennifer Wilson

Even if you spend few minutes reading all the text in the email, you will realise that this a pathetic attempt, and not as great as the Nigeria or other scams i have seen before. But somehow, a lady dying from cancer, sending her email from the death bed to me, was simply too bad to ignore. I have the mind to persue this and see how the scam develops. But my better sense prevails, and i am blogging this for posterity. God bless the soul of Mr. Wilson, who willed the 1.5 million $ to his wife. You know what, i wonder if he got all that money from that runaway prince from Africa, you used to email me about a year or two ago.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Happy Holi

Holi haiiiiiiiii

Wishing you all very happy holi.

Unfortunately, holi is still a very private affair here in Chennai. But we are getting on the bandwagon slowly but steadily. Infact, we used to celebrate it more frevour in school and college (for obvious reasons).

So, no pooja, no bhang (not that, i would know what to do with it anyway), and sadly no colors either.  Maybe some holi colors to be shared after coming home in the evening, to take the pressure of my neck, now thats something to look forward to.

Interestingly, holi is one festival where you go about shouting 'holi hai', meaning 'its holi'.

Holi - as described on Wikipedia

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bad Day

If you haven't read this already, this is interesting reading.
For all of you who occasionally have a really bad day, and you just need to take it out on someone, don't take it out on someone you know, take it out on someone you don't know.

I was sitting at my desk, when I remembered a phone call I had forgotten to make. I found the number, and dialed it. A man answered saying, "Hello?" I politely said, "This is Fred Hanifin, could I please speak with Robin Carter?" Suddenly, the phone was slammed down on me. I couldn't believe that anyone could be so rude.

I tracked down Robin's correct number, and called her. (I had transposed the last two digits of her phone number).

After hanging up with her, I decided to call the 'wrong' number again.

When the same guy answered the phone, I yelled, You're an asshole!" and hung up. I wrote his number down, with the word 'asshole' next to it, and put it in my desk drawer.

Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills or had a really bad day, I'd call him. He'd answer and I'd yell, "You're an asshole!" It always cheered me up. When Caller ID came to our area, I thought my therapeutic 'asshole' calling would have to stop.

So, I called his number and said, "Hi, this is John Smith from the Telephone Company. I'm just calling to see if you're familiar with the caller ID program?" He yelled, "NO!" and slammed the phone down. I quickly called him back and said, "That's because you're an asshole!"

One day I was at the store, getting ready to pull into a parking spot. Some boy in a black BMW cut me off, and pulled into the spot I had patiently waited for. I hit the horn and yelled that I had been waiting for the spot. The idiot ignored me. I noticed a "For Sale" sign in his car window, so I wrote down his number.

A couple of days later, right after calling the first asshole (I had his number on speed dial), I thought I had better call the BMW asshole, too. I dialed and someone said, "Hello?" I said, "Is this the man with the black BMW for sale?" Yes it is. "Can you tell me where I can see it?" "Yes, I live at 1802 West 34th Street. It's a yellow house and the car's parked right out front."

"What's your name?" I asked.
"My name is Don Hansen," he said.
"When's a good time to catch you, Don?"
"I'm homeevery evening after five."
"Listen, Don, can I tell you something?"
"Don, you're an asshole!"

Then I hung up, an added his number to my speed dial, too.

Now, when I had a problem, I had two assholes to call. But after several months of calling them, it wasn't as enjoyable as it used to be. So, I came up with an idea:

I called Asshole #1.
"You're an asshole!" (But I didn't hang up.)
"Are you still there?" he asked..
"Yeah," I said.
"Stop calling me," he screamed
"Make me," I said.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"My name is Don Hansen."
"Yeah? Where do you live?"
"Asshole, I live at 1802 West 34th Street, a yellow house with my black Beemer our front."

He said, "I'm coming over right now, Don. And you had better start saying your prayers."
I said, "Yeah, like I'm really scared, asshole."

Then I called asshole # 2:
"Hello?" he said.
"Hello Asshole," I said..
He yelled, "If I ever find out who you are..."
"You'll what?" I said.
"I'll kick your ass," he exclaimed.
I answered, "Well, asshole, here's your chance. I'm coming over right now."

Then, I hung up, and immediately called the police saying that I lived at 1802 West 34th Street, and I was on my way over there to kill my gay lover. Then, I called Channel 13 news about the gang war going down on West 34th Street. I quickly got into my car and headed over to 34th St.

There, I saw two assholes beating the crap out of each other in front of 6 squad cars, a police helicopter, and news crew.

Now, I feel better.

source: www (this was sent by email, and i take no credit for such creativity)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Crying wolf

When the villagers saw no wolf they sternly said, "Save your frightened song for when there is really something wrong! Don't cry 'wolf' when there is NO wolf!"
But the boy just grinned and watched them go grumbling down the hill once more.
Later, he saw a REAL wolf prowling about his flock. Alarmed, he leaped to his feet and sang out as loudly as he could, "Wolf! Wolf!"

Bush and his cohorts must be feeling like this boy now. After whipping the nation and the world into a frenzy of fear, hatred and the need for war, he is now finding difficult to climb down the same mountain he made from a molehill.

This is typical of people who take advantage of the situation, by necessarily twisting facts. Sometimes, people even create the situation that warrants their desired action.

Here my rundown on events that lead to this..
In Nov 2000, Bush loses the election, but then uses his desperate buddies who sit in the Supreme Court to bail him out. What should have been a simple recount or even re-election in a state controlled by his brother Jeb Bush, turns out to be a major legal haggling between the highest court of the country and the highest court in Florida, both taking different views.
On Sept 11th, 2001, the bombings of WTC and Pentagon, events that allow Bush to rally the nation as one, unite them, and help them divert their hatred from him to Osama. Osama, by the way, was a creation of his father and Reagan. The fear reaches a cresendo with the creation of Dept of Homeland Security, color coded warnings and physco-analysis on TV, news and other media
War in Iraq and second bout of mis-information and the fear of the bomb, wmd and all kinds of super technology that Saddam possesses. If only Saddam really possessed such weapons, he may have won the first Gulf war.

Now the american people (most of them), the politicians (who only care about one thing at a time) and the media (anything thats juicy) are all caught up in this fear thing, that they see threats everywhere and in all forms. This whole issue is as important as anyother corporate take-over and merger etc., but the spin is different because the company is owned by UAE. Bush is finding it difficult to support his friends in the middle-east. His own party is defecting, not because they are opposed to the deal, but they dont want the democrats to win an advantage and use this as a talking point in the upcoming election in November.

Bush: I'm worried by message sent by failed port deal

Thursday, March 09, 2006

At what price, education ?

Oh, how cruel can we get?
March has just started, the exams have begun, and so has the rash of suicides in India. This is most the repulsive part of the education system, if you dont include the weight of the bags, that children carry to school everyday. It is a shame, i just read today that the campus interview in IIM-A has yielded the highest ever compensation package offered to a student there. It is rumoured to be 185,000 $$. Yes that is 185 thousand US dollars, equivalent to Rs. 81.4 Lakhs, or thereabouts. Is that a good price to pay for these dead children ?

The fever surrounding exams have been around, for what seems to be a century. I am exaggerating things here, but in this day and age, we dont need a decade to change things. I can remember the days, when i had to go through this torture. I was a mediocre student in school, atleast as far as my marks would tell. I simply didn't see the need to excel in the ability to vomit every bit of notes, my teacher managed to lecture to me. I am not for a moment saying, i didn't learn anything from my school. On the contrary, i did learn a lot, but that didn't mean, i did well in reproducing these lines in 2 hour session, on a different sized paper, in a more tensed environment.

No this is not about me. But to quickly complete what i was trying to say, i managed to live and also succeed inspite of pathetic, i repeat pathetic marks in both the CBSE board exams. After the Xth, i said to my dad, who was quite saddened by it, that i will not be taking up engineering. He quietly let me do what i want. I thank my parents today and everyday. Because, if he had created a tantrum, i could easily have chosen a more disastrous option. And then when i performed poorly in the XIIth, i was prepared for a life as a salesguy, but luck came in the form of NIIT and their computer courses.

There are options far greater than what i had growing up. If it werent for computers and information technology opening up jobs in India, things would have been different. But now, a job is not a matter at all. I am, making things look easy. But people do seem, to manage to    get a job. The question is what next, where do i specialize, where do i grow, how do i grow, what etc., after a job has been acquired. Given this fact, the pressure on the Xth and XIIth exams is simply ridiculous. Why just these two, any exams for that matter ?

There is a part of me that says, 'there must be something right with our education system', because we seem to be going places in the world. But i think all that has more to do with circumstances, than just the benefits of education system and exams.

If you know a student taking these exams, please spend sometime, trying to ease the pressure. Explain to them the different options available in the world and India today. Help them see, the bigger picture, and also why this exam is an important step, but not necessarily the be-all end-all step of their life.

The Hindu - Class XII girl commits suicide
Times of India - Another exam suicide. It's time to help

Tags: india, exam, fever, suicide

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Zahira to go to jail

A little unfortunate, but a required turn of events in India today. Zahira Sheikh is a victim of a heinous crime, she is one of the witness, called to testify in the Best Bakery case, of Gujarat. She originally testified to in the courts in Gujarat, but then later changed her testimony, after the case was transferred to Mumbai. Ironically she could have expected more protection and less problems, since the case was outside the jurisdiction of Gujarat. But what caused her to change her mind, and also accuse the people who were helping her, we may not know. But then that is what she did.

In a move that can set a precedent of sorts in India, this has been deemed as contempt of court. This is a ruling by the highest court in India and it means that it is now a case law and similar cases of false testimony, hostile witnesses, perjury will have to be dealt with the same or similar amount of punishment. And the judge in the case can set aside these testimony and proceed with the adjudication of the matter at hand.

But the issue is not that simple. The court system may have taken a step forward in the prosecution of witnesses who are not fulfilling their obligations. How about protection of witnesses ? That is still done today, by the police, and that is where the problem lies. The police has clearly not fulfilled their role in maintaining law and order. Very clearly, there needs to be centralized witness protection force, that probably works with CBI or something like that. It is important because, witness tampering is rampant in India, and we need some kind of prevention program. There will always be exceptions and cases when even the best witness protection process does, but something that does even half a decent job will be a good start.

This case creates a lot of pressure on the witness to ensure that they stick to their guns. Which means, the reluctance to stand up and testify will be very high. But the fact is that hostile or not, willing or not, a person can be called to testify in court, and must speak the truth. This is a start, but there needs to be lot of immediate follow-up.

Zahira Sheikh sentenced to prison

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Abortion - a woman's right

Tomorrow is supposed to be woman's day. Didnt know there was such a day !!

I have been off, for a few days. Busy. One needs to do work, i guess, atleast once in a while.

Came across this article on CNN, and had me thinking for a while, why this person would sign such a law, unless he plans to take on the US legal system that allows abortion. I always had a problem with the fact, that the christian right seems to have a lot of problem with the right to abortion, but has no problem in death sentences.
Well i have no problem with death sentences (except when it is used as it is, in Texas), and also no problem with abortion. I simply think the whole abortion is such a private issue. The women have to deal with a lot of emotions before they choose to go thru' with this decision. I dont think any person, would go through this process, for reason of pleasure. And so to make an issue of this, only adds more pressure on the already tender state of mind.

So now, the Governor of South Dakota, signs this ban into law, sot that he can provoke a constitutional challenge to the Roe vs Wade Supreme court ruling. Well, i think it is a good decision, lets bring this out into the open. Let the Supreme Court come out and reaffirm the ruling or overrule it. This issue has been festering in the US for such a long time. Lets fight this issue again.

People are so naive to think, that this is a choice exercised by us. So, if this is a choice, and the almighty god has no role in this decision making, then i guess he has none, when we pro-create either. And then why should the rule be different for other life making or taking decisions. Why is it OK, for us to use life-extending devices to keep someone alive, even when the God may have willed that the person be dead long back. And who the #@%& are they to talk on behalf of god ?

South Dakota bans most abortions

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Restroom Conversation

I was barely sitting down when I heard a voice from the other stall saying:
"Hi, how are you?"

I'm not the type to start a conversation in the men's restrooms at a rest stop but, I don't know what got
into me, so I answered, somewhat embarrassedly:
"Doin Just Fine!"

And the other guy says: "So what are you up too?"
What kind of question is that? At that point, I'm thinking this is too bizarre so I say:
"Uhhh I'm like you, just traveling east!"

At this point I am just trying to get out as fast as I can when I hear another question.
"Can I come over to your place after while?"

Ok, this question is just wacky but i figured I could just be polite and end the conversation. I tell him,
"Well, I have company over so today is a bad day for me!"

Then I hear the guy say nervously...
"LISTEN!!! I'll have to call you back,there's an idiot in the other stall who keeps answering all my questions, bye!"

PS: This joke came off the internet, and so i take no credit for it. QED, the 'I' in this joke is not me !!!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Life, and then death

When i used to read more often, i managed to finish a few pages of 'The Discovery of India' by Jawaharlal Nehru (I still have the book, and must finish it one day). He had written many section and pages of the book while in prison during the fight of independence from the British, and one of the statements struck me was 'Death is the birth right' (i may be paraphrasing). This statement remained imprinted in my mind.

Although not a fanatic, my theological mind, and hindu upbringing, also gave me an opportunity to read, understand and deliberate on some verses from the Bhagavad Gita. And among many that are outstanding, and some that are volume unto itself, one that best conveyed the meaning of death was "nainam chindanti sastrani nainam dahati pa-vakah na chainam kledayantyapo na shosa yatimarutah". It means, the soul cannot be cut to pieces by a weapon or asthra, nor can it be burnt by fire, it cannot be touched or cleansed by water, and the wind cannot dry it either. Powerful. The moment you realise full meaning of this statement, the pain, the sorrow, the belonging, the attachment, the ache in the heart just doesn't matter that much.

But then if i did fully realise that, and lived up to expectation of the person who spoke these words, how different would i be from him. And so as a mere mortal, i can only seek some solace from these words, and attempt to look at life tomorrow, as i shed a tear every now and then, with that ache in the heart, of person i knew, who left their mark in this world.

Today, i lost an aunt. Well, the aunt should be read from an Indian context, my dad's second cousin's wife. But someone who i knew through my childhood here in madras. It was not that she had played a role in my life, that created this feeling in me. But more because of the role she played in her life. She lost her husband, who died on his way back from Sabarimala after his annual pilgrimage trip, and was left to fend for herself, her three children, a mountain of debt, and house unfinished and still not fully their own. Today she is survived by her three children, all married, quite settled and with kids of their own, the home fully paid for. Her path to this day, was not easy, was paved with jealous and sometimes unhelpful relatives. But she didnt give up, she remained resolute and made something of her life. No i am not elevating her to a hero or something, but i think she did something incredible. I am happy because, my parents played a big role in standing by her side.

But then we parted ways, and life as usual caught up with us, and each had to do different things. But two days back, my mom called indicating 'raji-aunty' is sick and the doctors have given up hope. She wanted to go see her. I had promised to go with her on Friday afternoon. But, then she did visit her, with my sister on thursday itself. And they indicated that she was doing better than expected, but still serious state. I mentally made a note to make it a point to go see her today (saturday). Early this morning, at 6am, my mother phone rang, and i somehow knew what the message was. She died early this morning. And now, she is referred to as a 'body'.

Its a deal !!

But what is 'it' ?
The details of 'it' are still emerging, but, for all my ranting and cursing the GOI, it appears as of now, that the agreement between India and US on nuclear energy and weapons seems equitable. To me, this is a big deal, because, this marks the road forward for the country and also allows some kind of recognition amongst the 'haves' in the nuclear club.

India has fought the system for such a long time, as underdogs and expousing our claim to fame and right to have it. We devoted years of R&D, using various means to acquire the technical knowhow, designing, developing from scratch and even using the 'Word' given power of copy/paste. And now a semblance of acceptance is being granted. Should we go ahead and grab it ? Or stay put, and continue to fight the battle and the climb uphill for full recognition and rights associated with it.

There are also other political undercurrents in play with this deal. Bush is pushing this deal so much, because his neo-con friends probably have advised him that, in the long run India is ok but China is not. Bush as i know him of him in the US, is not a man who can be trusted with anything, not necessarily due to a fault of his, but more because of his callous attitude and a passion for ignorance. His friends, however, come with a lot of ideas and power making skills, altho' not sure which power they are finally supporting or making.

Knowing the last few facts, is important to understand my sense of skepticism with this arrangement. I have to place some trust in the government on this, and therein lies another problem.