Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Course Correction Mid-Air

The blog on Customer Service, was precipitated by recent events while flying. Since i fly a lot, its not uncommon for me to encounter situations which are blog worthy. But this was really a first for me and most people i flew with that day.

After a last minute gate change, my United flight from IAD (Washington Dulles) to DTW (Detroit) took off with a minimal delay. The gate change and delay was treated as customary, and no one batted an eyelid as a result.
All settled in, this small Bombardier CRJ took off without any hitches and we were in the air shortly. We finished the initial ascent to a cruising altitude, and we were treated to the inflight service. The stewardess soon served us drinks, the only freebie provided on this flight.

We were interrupted shortly thereafter, by the crackling of the PA system, with an announcement from the pilot. He reported that he just received a message from the gate agent and that we were flying back to Washington Dulles. The reason being that this aircraft was required for a flight from IAD to Indianapolis later, and cannot handle late night flying. So going to Detroit and then flying back would cause problems. So we were going back to IAD, to switch aircraft and then fly back to Detroit.

Astounded. Shocked. Bewildered. Are there other words in the dictionary, that are more appropriate to describe this moment? We had finished almost 50% of our flight journey, to learn this!! We, passengers looked at each other aghast and shook heads. But, what can you do ? The stewardess, immediately turned clueless. Well there is no reason to blame them. 'Cause they too just learnt about it now. But, i was amazed at how easily they made us submit to this inconvenience - with a simple shrug of their shoulders. And like i wrote earlier, why would they take a share of the blame or apologize for the misfortune events that United created.

And so, we flew back, to the same gate where we started. Only to be shunted to a nearby gate, where there was an exact same CRJ waiting for us. Small mercies. I was mentally preparing myself for a long wait; for an alternate aircraft, crew change and all the related predicaments that were possible. We took off in about an hour, and soon were on the way to Detroit. But the nightmare of a possible u-turn midair still haunts me. I am not sure when i would get over that.

Redemption: United did send me a voucher for $250 as an apology for this fiasco. Thanks. Again small mercies, even tho' the delays cost me much more.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

AR Rahman - Jagao Mera Desh

ARR has done it again. His magic never ceases to run out. How do you make Rabindranath Tagore fashionable and appealing to today's youth? How do you mix rap in a patriotic song (something foreign in the India context, atleast till recently)?

Mixing lyrics and singing in different languages in the same song, is not entirely new, but is something ARR himself has employed many times in the past. And this one again shows how that can appeal to youth in India today.

Prasoon Joshi's lyrics, his translation of Tagore's song, beautifully complement the song. Or maybe it is the otherway around. The finish is particularly fabulous. 

This is one my favourite poems, "Heaven of Freedom". It was also one of the earliest or the first blog i wrote. Since i moved my blogs around a bit, i think i lost some of the dates. But i could be wrong too.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013


So apparently this not at all unusual. It has been going on for years. All big fellas' spied on the small.
The question is tho' with all this effort, time and money, has it yielded anything other than jealous boy/girl talk.

Friday, June 07, 2013

"The Murthys and the Maoists" - Harish Khare

In a land (atleast on TV 24x7 News and print media), where people are so used to venerating Narayana Murthy for his ideals and accomplishments, it is difficult to find a dissenting or better yet a sane voice. So it was refreshing to read this piece in The Hindu, recently.
Anything i add to this, will take away its color and disposition. It is best read without my commentary or anyone else's. Form your own. Think tho ' !

The Murthys and the Maoists
Harish Khare

Between the relentless demands of corporate leaders and the capacity of the underclass to match the state’s violence, India needs a vision for itself that is morally defensible

In the first week of 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh allowed himself to be persuaded to accept N.R. Narayana Murthy’s invitation to travel to Mumbai to preside over a function to give away the Infosys Social Science Prizes. The Prime Minister even agreed to attend a dinner that Mr. Murthy wanted to host in his honour after the function at the Taj Mahal Hotel. So far so good. A few days before the event, there was a massive behind-the-scenes dust up between the Prime Minister’s staff and Mr. Murthy. The rub was that Mr. Murthy thought that since he was paying for the dinner, he had a right to dictate not only the guest list but even the seating arrangement. However, there is something called protocol and the dignity of constitutional offices. If the Governor and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra were to be at the dinner, they had to necessarily be seated on either side of the Prime Minister, whereas the host thought he ought to be sitting next to Dr. Singh. Mr. Murthy, however, was not one to be so easily rebuffed. As soon as the first course was served, he sought to convert the evening into a grand intellectual conversation and proceeded to invite his son to open the bowling. And the young son wanted to know from the Prime Minister what the government proposed to do so that young men like him could come back to India.

All this is recalled because the young man is now back in India, as executive assistant to his father, who in turn has allowed himself to be persuaded to take charge of Infosys again. Nepotism, did you say? No; no sir. A private company is free to hire anyone. Fair enough, but not exactly.

Mr. Murthy is not just a private businessman, minding his own business. He has often sought to inject himself into the public domain, telling a thing or two to the political class about how to behave. He has been serenaded as an “iconic” entrepreneur. During the heyday of civil society triumphalism two years ago, there was even a suggestion that Mr. Murthy be made President of India. That was the time when India’s corporate leaders thought they had the ethical credentials to write open letters to the Prime Minister and preach virtues of good governance.

Like other corporate leaders, the Murthys, father and son, represent an unrepentant ideological approach to the Indian state, its morals, manners and policies and purpose, but they are not the only ones to do so. The Maoists — who once again made their presence felt last month when they massacred the Congress top political leadership in Chhattisgarh — too have a list of ideological claims of their own on the Indian state. Both groups are relentless; both are unforgiving.

The May 25 attack was the boldest ideological challenge that the Maoists have posed to the country’s political leadership. Violence makes a demand on all stakeholders. It was no surprise, then, that as soon as news trickled in of the attack on the Congress convoy in Bastar, the party’s vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, should have taken off for Raipur. It was a commendable journey of political solidarity. It would be interesting to find out if the bloody massacre in Sukma has helped Mr. Gandhi re-set his ideological compass.

Let it be recalled that this is the same Mr. Gandhi who had allowed himself to be persuaded in August 2010 to travel to the Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa, where he told the adivasis that he was their “sipahi,” or soldier in Delhi. Only two days before that visit, the Central government had pointedly withdrawn environmental permission to the Vedanta Group to mine the area for bauxite. For good measure, the young Gandhi had proclaimed that development meant that “every voice, including that of the poor and adivasis, should be heard.” It would be nice to know if Mr. Gandhi has resolved his ideological equivocations in the aftermath of the Chhattisgarh violence.

For two decades the Indian political class has gone about believing that “development” and “growth” are innocuous and painless. The prevailing orthodoxy insists that the Indian state has one and only one business: to get out of the businessman’s way. There is an unwillingness to acknowledge the basic nature of power: irrespective of its political arrangement, every society plays host to a ceaseless struggle over who gains what at whose expense. Growth and development invariably produce dislocation and dispossession. Good politics in a democratic idiom can go a long way in ameliorating the alienation and anger.
Pro-poor initiatives

The UPA’s approach has been to let the corporate marauders run amok while salving its democratic conscience with a slew of pro-poor, aam aadmi-centric initiatives. In the process, for the past nine years, the country has periodically been treated to a mock controversy over whether Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council was usurping the government’s space and prerogatives, or, when this or that NAC member walks out in a huff, whether the government is not being sufficiently pro-poor. The UPA’s approach neither mollifies the corporate buccaneers nor satisfies the poor and the disadvantaged.

The corporates, however, have sized up the divided political leadership across the spectrum. They have finessed their tactics. If a government is slow to give them the policy breaks that they demand, the democratic space and its anarchic habits will be creatively used to unleash civil unrest on this or that pretext. There is always the age old anger against “corruption” to be tapped. And, as it were, one can always rely on an auditor or a judge to step in to divert attention away from corporate misdemeanours of the most serious kind.
Pincer movement

No wonder, then, that the Indian state is caught in a pincer movement. From one side, the ideologues and practitioners of “growth” are unrelenting in their insistence that the country’s natural resources and citizens’ savings be made available to them for exploitation; and, from the other direction, the state is confronted by a vast underclass that is unwilling to see any reason to sacrifice its land and forests so that some others can enjoy the benefit of “progress.” Just as the corporates have served sufficient notice that they have no qualms in taking the state on and causing misery to its political functionaries, the underclass, too, is willing to match the state’s capacity for violence, bullet for bullet.

Both the Murthys and the Maoists are forcing the Indian state to take a stand. For too long, the Indian political leadership has refused to confront the Grand Conundrum: for whom does the state exist, whom does the state seek to reward and whom does it strive to protect against whom. The UPA leadership has neither the appetite for a brutal repression of the angry tribal, nor is it likely to be able to lure the Naxalites into a democratic engagement without a demonstrable capacity to stand up to corporate greed. A kind of alternative arrangement is already on the drawing board: the Gujarat model of no dissent, no trade unions, no civil society, no Medha Patkar, no tribal resistance, no protests.

The great sociologist, Edward Shils, once observed that every society needs grandiose visions and austere standards; the political and intellectual leadership is obliged to prod society to its own historical ideals — “elements which must be recurrently realized without even being definitively realizable, once and for all.” Perhaps we should be thankful that both the Murthys and the Maoists are inviting us to find a vision for India that is morally defensible.

(Harish Khare is a senior journalist and a former media adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh)
Reproduced faithfully from The Hindu, Opinion pages, dated Jun 6th, 2013.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall....

To get the real answer to this question, all you have to do is watch TV in the wee hours of the morning or night.
And here is what i found.
I am the fairest of them all. See all the girls in my college are dying to tie a friendship band.

It wasnt all this good before. They wouldnt even look at me. And thats because.....

Ya! Thats me !! The same me. Except i am darker. Almost black. Like a different race.

I found the magic, in "FairLook". Its simply some liquid in bottle, that can be applied on my face.

After few days. Just few days. Well i know people have different perceptions of 'few'. But trust me this is few. My face turns white in these few days. However my hands, particularly fingers take a little longer.

See! Now i am all white, a whole different race. My fingers have also turned white. It required a towel.

Well. Some few patches will remain. Just wipe harder with a towel. It will go away.

India is probably the largest market to products that promise a miracle, like this one. Turn a person with a black complexion to white. Micheal Jackson wasted those millions of dollars, injecting poison and other crap to pale out his skin. Poor fellow, may his soul rest in peace now. But products like FairLook are boon from the heavens, it would solved the whole problem of apartheid in South Africa and addressed racism issues in US easily.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Karnataka State Elections May 2013

Whew!! Now that the elections are over, we can rest in peace. We (the voters) have done our duty. Over 70% came out to cast their votes. Like we do regularly we have shown that we still believe in an outdated system, and repeatedly cast our ballot in the name of hope.

Devil and the Deep Sea
Our choices are limited. The one that served its tenure is usually a devil, and the incoming regime, is as unfathomable as the deep sea. We only seem clear that we want someone out of the system, and unsure who we want in.
I guess, given the options we have in front of us, we really dont have the luxury of choice. Not completely true, given that the ballot paper is usually long in every single constituency. Inspite of all this we still end up choosing the same options, we have tried and tired off from before.
Middle Finger. No just Almost !
Hiding it, wanted this badly !
We need to break out from this mold. The answer to this question is on everyone's mind. Many of us educated who are still willing to brave the election day, and cast our vote, do so, only to keep our conscious clean.
So many action forums, fasts, morcha, candle lighting sessions, and capturing the mind of the TV goers, but unable to convert these into a winning combination. And people like us are unwilling to take the risk and waste our votes. And each vote, we try to save, we end up offering to the devil or leap into the deep sea.

Looking forward to the elections in Delhi and the showing of Aam Aadmi Party. Wishing them luck, but more importantly wishing me and wishing us luck.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

iZed Security for Mukesh Bhai

Abh kya hai ! After all, democracy mane, "for the people, off the people, by the people". All this if for us only, the Aam Aadmi, or is now popularly known "Mango People".
Interestingly quite a bit of media (specially business publications, here's one) see this as nothing but normal. Just, when the Supreme Court is going to pull the laal-bathi (red light) from a bunch of unwanted cars, now we will have a bunch of Kaala Billis (Black Cats) running around town. What a colourful world we live in?

Source: Manjultoons
Aam Aadmi, will remain an Aam Aadmi, as long he or she thinks that way. Wake up people, tell your government, you are not a mango.

Aside: By the way, will this create a new Top 100 list !! The Top 100 wanted on the Indian Mujahideen hit list.

Non Standard Disclaimer: Everything stated here is a verbatim transcription of what was provided to me by SHIV. I do not claim credit or responsibility. Shiv is a friend i have known for long, and almost always has an opinion on anything and everything. Sorry Mukesh Bhai, if you feel dinged, please dont take it out on me. Please take it out on Shiv.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Search, at what cost

I am recent convert to google search. Its probably only less than six (6) months, since i made google my default search engine. Till then, it was Yahoo. Ok, so i am kind of a retard when it comes to internet and social networking. Anyway, this is less about me, and more about me in the context of the internet.

For quite sometime now, i have been wondering about all the data accumulation that happens to help power the internet search. Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Baidu (to name only a few) all accumulate the same set of data from the internet, and are crawling on each other to ensure that search is fast and accurate.

At what cost tho' ?
Well, at the cost of another search, actually many searches later, i found this.

'Carbon cost' of Google revealed

Google signs inside Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, US, file pic from October 2008
The research found a google search produced 7g of carbon dioxide
Two search requests on the internet website Google produce "as much carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle", according to a Harvard University academic.
US physicist Alex Wissner-Gross claims that a typical Google search on a desktop computer produces about 7g CO2.
However, these figures were disputed by Google, who say a typical search produced only 0.2g of carbon dioxide.
A recent study by American research firm Gartner suggested that IT now causes two percent of global emissions.
Dr Wissner-Gross's study claims that two Google searches on a desktop computer produces 14g of CO2, which is the roughly the equivalent of boiling an electric kettle.
Carbon emissions
The Harvard academic argues that these carbon emissions stem from the electricity used by the computer terminal and by the power consumed by the large data centres operated by Google around the world.
If you want to supply really great and fast result, then that's going to take extra energy
Dr Alex Wissner-Gross
Although the American search engine is renowned for returning fast results, Dr Wissner-Gross says it can only do so because it uses several data banks at the same time.
Speaking to the BBC, he said a combination of clients, networks, servers and people's home computers all added up to a lot of energy usage.
"Google isn't any worse than any other data centre operator. If you want to supply really great and fast result, then that's going to take extra energy to do so," he said.
Dr Wissner-Gross said he was working on a website called which helps companies identify "energy inefficient" aspects of their websites.
In a statement on its official blog, Google said that Dr Wissner-Gross' figures were "many times too high."
The firm said that a typical search returned a result in less than 0.2 seconds and that the search itself only used its servers for a few thousandths of a second. This, said Google, amounted to 0.0003 kWh of energy per search - equivalent to 0.2g of CO2.
"We've made great strides to reduce the energy used by our data centres, but we still want clean and affordable sources of electricity for the power that we do use," said Google in its statement.
"In 2007, we co-founded the Climate Savers Computing Initiative. This non-profit consortium is committed to cutting the energy consumed by computers in half by 2010 and so reducing global CO2 emissions by 54 million tons per year. That's a lot of kettles." 
- source: BBC
This is no aspersion made specific to google. I am sure what applies to google, applies equally to all of the other search engine providers. Some more and some less efficient, when it comes to energy savings to host their service.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

India rape, protest

Scouring the internet, can result in a few gems, like this. It was by chance that i landed on this opinion page at CNN. The tag line, itself, was an interesting composition. And so, i let my imagination run wild, with a comma at a place i thought appropriate, and used that for my blog title.

What struck me first was a bunch of interesting photographs. Indian news media, clearly need to learn a thing or two from its western counterparts - "a picture is truly worth a thousand words". Or let me paraphrase - "an interesting picture is worth more than a thousand words, written or unwritten".

Some of these images are telling of our current central government. A lot of introspection is required. Instead of letting people vent their anger (peacefully), the UPA government, besieged by protests through out 2012, decided that it will pull-off a "who is the boss?" attitude. A heavy price to pay. Politics is not about winning all the time.

This government in Delhi seems have miscalculated so much during this one year. It has managed to put its wrong foot out, all the time. A price to pay, for having a technocrat as a Prime Minister, who is always kept on tight leash. He cant perform - do what he knows best, do what he thinks best, or play politics which would have been the best.