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........