Saturday, December 02, 2006

An Experiment in Stretching It

It is with not just a little trepidation that I begin this assault on my keyboard and by all accounts other than my own - and the list of those accounts is undoubtedly led by the device in question - any attempt I make to generate an electronic record of those feeble electrical impulses that I euphemistically choose to call thoughts, can only be called a brutal assault…and that is not just on the sensibilities – if there are any – of the unfortunate souls, who being devoid of any better and publicly acceptable activity to entertain and pleasure themselves with, choose to actually attempt to wade through my wild ramblings…

Now, in case you have not noticed it already and have still managed to get this far, or of course, if you have been sensible and just decided to skip that rambling introduction, let me point out to you an ability of mine of which I am immensely proud – specially as by virtue of the sheer confusion it causes, it is the one skill that saw me clear B-school at first attempt without ever flunking a paper – and that is that this sentence that you are currently skimming over and pretending to read happens to be just the second in this post of mine that already seems to have assumed epic proportions judging by its sheer volume. Oh yes, I am reasonably adept at continuing to add meaningless words to rambling sentences that lead nowhere. It’s an art that I have found to be completely ineffective in Mathematics papers (leading to my flunking one of those confounded monstrosities while in Engineering college), but a skill that takes near-scientific proportions in B-school.

Getting to what prompted me to write this however, I wonder if you have ever remarked at the remarkable irony of the situations that life seems to present one in a seemingly endless stream. Take for example this person I happened to chance upon a few days back who assured me that he represented the Society of Free Thinkers. Now, before I begin my narration, let me assure you that I bear these Free Thinkers no grudge and would willingly let them be as free as they like as long as they let me enjoy the same freedom and of course, as long as specific appendages of their male members (pun fully intended) are deprived of that very same freedom. After all, while not quite a member of their free society, one does always endeavour to be looked upon kindly by those that one sees as wishing to believe themselves to be above one.

Well, getting down to the incident then, this particular specimen of the society was attempting, as I remember the scene, to persuade me to part with some of my employer-given (and Tax department spared) gravy for a cause that he assured me was imperative for me to champion if I wanted to retain control over the free nature of my blog. I was, not unnaturally a bit concerned, given that I am quite often accused of being quite a miser (I have actually ventured as far as to install pedals inside the chassis of my Esteem to save on the petrol costs and I kid you not on this), but ventured to enquire from him why he believed that this was necessarily so, to which he responded that this was quite necessarily true as the Elders of the Society of Free Thinkers had decreed this to be necessarily true which necessarily necessitated the belief that this was necessarily true and also necessitated the fact that people must believe it to be so!

Now, as you can well imagine, I was quite astounded at the depth of his arguments for a moment, but thereafter it began to dawn on me that there was perhaps no real free thinking involved in this process…or well…not at least, on the part of any person or persons other than the ones he so reverently referred to as the Elders, unless of course, one is to look upon his decision to believe their decree as an expression of free thought in itself, which in my opinion would be stretching the thought a bit thin and stretching, to me at least, is something that is best left to appendages best left unmentioned and not to points that tend to get thin from the stretching, much in contrast to the afore-mentioned appendages. (Another one sentence paragraph! Damn! I’m good at these ;-) )

Well, to cut a long story short, I decided to conclude that while there may be a lot to be said for free thought, the idea of a society of those that follow it’s philosophy seems a tad ironic. Something like a governing body for the Anarchists almost, you might say ;-). To top it all of course, he revealed to me that the Society of Free Thinkers apparently had an admission fee if one wished to join it, which in itself seemed ironic given that I viewed it as him telling me that I needed to pay something in order to declare myself a member of a society that essentially proclaims itself as pioneering something that, for all practical purposes at least, is ostensibly free!

Yes indeed, irony is something that seems all-pervasive. Just like a certain professor who, in an Innovation class, happened to say, “This is the solution to this case and no, your point of view is not relevant to the school of thought that needs to be followed to arrive at the solution for this case…”. Hmm…or of course, if I were to draw on the paltry time I have spent in my workplace, I’d refer to the time I was told that the ‘Employee Satisfaction and Retention Workshop’ that I was scheduled to attend had been postponed as the Human Resources manager who was conducting it had quit his job…

Yes, life is quite entertaining in its vagaries and of course the ironies that accompany them. Take if you will the fact that I, despite my protestations to the contrary am taken by most to be quite a hard man to please! I do, of course, take that as quite a compliment given that hardness when pleased is something that any bloke would be content to display, but hard to please?

Oh and lest you are still searching for the point that I was trying to make in this post, as apparently a particular commenter was in one of my previous posts, hey, quit while you’re ahead! I’m a GUY!!! There is no point to this one… I did try to make one, but found the entire job a bit too hard to finish on my own… Ah! Now that’s a nice one, eh? ;-)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Just a Dream (Beyond Words)

Been a while since I blogged and it’s not at all due to that mysterious entity we call work, let me assure you. Indeed, I have discovered over the past few weeks that work happens to be the one quantity that one can actually compress to as little as one wants with no significant impact on that other mystical entity that is termed as productivity. Apparently I had it figured out correctly all through… Nice feeling to know I was right.

What though is it like at the time that one does not really have any facts on which to base one’s opinions? However rational one may be – and I certainly like to delude myself with illusions of my own ‘rationality’ – there are always certain notions one holds; certain ideas that are created and that reside solely in the realms of our own selves and that really have nothing more to them than the mind.

What of these notions, the possibility of attainment or existence of which, one can never really be sure? Time, of course, as is its wont, eventually rears its head and reveals all on most occasions. The aftermath of this is something that I would rather not dwell on at the moment, as that would possibly take up a few more reams of paper (ok, e-paper ;-) ), but the period spent in that state of animated suspension is in itself quite an experience.

The highs that accompany the conviction of being right as well as the lows of fearing the seemingly inevitable; the hilarity of watching the optimists who envision the details and the despair of not knowing just what even the attainment may be like. All of these seem to roll into one at times and at other times, each can provide an agony or conversely an ecstasy that is not quite matched by the real.

Even more confusing are some of the random events and situations that confront one from time to time; each offering the hope of fulfillment and yet each creating the risk of losing something that one never really had, but something that is perhaps dearer than anything one does. After all, a vision is never the easiest to give up on…and yet, how can one be said to possess it?

But visions are a must if one is to achieve true exhilaration. After all, how could one exult the same way in winning an objective and concrete reality when compared with achieving something that may so easily have remained just a figment of a mortal brain’s limited and poor imagination? Some things just so completely exceed words…

Monday, September 18, 2006

Forever Champion - Farewell to The Greatest Ever

Some 13 years ago, for the very first time, I saw on my television a young man in blue and green overalls, pulling off one of the most fantastic moves I had ever seen. It was the moment that marked the beginning of an addiction that I thought I’d never lose. For the next 13 years, for 16-18 Sundays a year, I was glued to my seat for two hours of electrifying entertainment…seeing in action the greatest sportsperson in the world plying his trade and mesmerising one and all who were fortunate enough to be alive and witness to his feats.

There were of course the huge rants that I had to bear initially. My travel plans, my playtime, jamming, my entire schedule, regardless of exams, hell or high water had to be built around the race. Dad was hardly a fan and the only words I heard on those days would refer to how I was wasting my life pursuing ‘these vicarious thrills that would never help me in life’. Didn’t last too long though. Today, it would be hard to tell who between him and me, the bigger fan is.

Come B-school admission time and every single interview I gave revolved around F1. Every question, including which the last book I read was, was met with a response that drew the interviewer into the world of F1 and Michael Schumacher. Hardly hurt that even the most clueless interviewer had at least heard the name of the man who is undoubtedly the greatest driver ever seen in any form of racing and who may well be the greatest sportsperson at least of our times, if not of all time. Talk about a vicarious thrill that never helped…given that I cleared all the interviews…barring the lone one where the interviewers (bless them) consciously stayed away from the topic despite my best efforts… Ironic :-).

Tiger Woods recently labelled him the greatest sportsperson in the world and the reasons are hardly difficult to see. For four long years after 1995, Michael was not Champion. Yet he always carried the label of the best driver in the world. In 1997 and 1998, despite the horrendously slow machinery he had to work with, Michael made the fight for the crown a close one and both seasons went down to the last race of the Championship.

The genesis of the label though has to be the defining 1994 World Championship, when in a Ford V-8 powered Benetton, Michael beat off Damon Hill in the Renault V-10 powered Williams. That too without having raced in 3 of the races that season. The man was in town and there was no disputing who the demigod of the sport was.

The canter in 1995, followed by the shock move to one of the worst teams on the grid at that time, were the moves that would define the man later. Unlike Senna, Prost, Mansell and the rest before him, Schumacher had chosen the difficult path. He had chosen to reject offers from the best teams on the grid and rack up the wins and the records with the best machinery on view, choosing instead the mission of restoring the glory years to the sport’s most glamourous and storied, legendary team.

While Prost had attempted walking the same path (towards the end of his career), he gave up in a year. Michael was made of sterner stuff. Winning with a car that in Eddie Irvine’s famous words, “handled like a bullock-cart” is no mean feat. Winning when your team-mate, in identical machinery is not even in the top 10, is the stuff of legend. To do so repeatedly is folklore. To do so for over a decade is Divine.

Inevitably there are comparisons with Senna. Tosh! Look at the win/race ratio. Look at the pole/win ratio and you realise how silly the comparison is. Schumacher has rarely had the fastest car on the grid. Senna almost always did. Yet, Schumacher has comfortably more than twice the number of race wins Senna had. All said and done, Senna is who Senna is more because of the romance that is always associated with ones who die in the manner that Senna died in. Had Senna not died, he would probably have been forced to quit by the dominant German anyway.

As Michael retires from the sport, so shall I from viewing it. People speak of how I should mark my respect for the man by continuing to view the sport that he gave so much to make. Yet for me, F1 is Michael. Without him, there is no joy in the sport any more. I know of several who feel the same. That is perhaps the most worrying thing for Bernie Ecclestone. Never has the sport known such a phenomenon and the dip in the viewership when Michael was not competing in 1999 with the fracture is sure to be on Bernie’s mind…possibly that is what has fuelled his hopeful statement that he believes that the Red Baron may race with Renault in the coming season.

A dip in viewership is a foregone conclusion. How major of course, remains to be seen. Perhaps F1 will now be more about the sport than anything else, but that can only hurt. None of the current crop of drivers has anywhere close to the charisma that Michael does. None has his aura and none can even think in their dreams of comparing any aspect of their ‘talent’ with the Maestro…

As Michael leaves, perhaps the biggest wrench I feel is due to not having seen him race live. I had planned a trip to the Bahrain and Malaysian races next summer. That plan now lies in tatters. I hope though that Michael leaves as 8-time Champion. It would be justice. It would be the only deserving farewell to the greatest sportsperson to have walked the planet.

Thank you Michael for lighting up all those years and making the weekend so truly worthwhile. Thanks for all the brilliance and the exhilaration. Thanks for giving us the opportunity of seeing history being made and seeing the marker being laid down. Now make that 8 Championships and give us the high that you and we deserve to see you go out with.

Forza Michael. Forever Champion!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Intent Is Everything

Office seems fast to be replacing the L classrooms as the place where I doodle and ramble on...much to the dismay of those that are later forced to read of course, but then again, it's a matter of choice to read...and not that much a choice to write...somehow, my hands get restless...and then they can't be held down...

It was not without mild trepidation that he considered what he was doing. He was not entirely renowned for being the fastest driver around. Indeed, it would be fair to say that he was perhaps the most cautious that one was likely to find; a man loath to pick up speed unless convinced completely about the lack of any setback, foreseeable or otherwise.

Yet, today had been an entirely different experience for him. Looking back on it, perhaps it had been inevitable, considering the way the circumstances had played out their role. The drive had begun in perfect weather, weather the kind of which he had not really seen before...not in as long as he could remember at least. It seemed inviting; inviting to the extent that he had been conscious almost from the very start, of an irresistible urge to throw caution to the winds and surrender himself to the will of what seemed like a higher power that was willing him on. It had still taken him a bit of time, but he was now rolling merrily along, at a speed that he had not known before, but that seemed not to trouble him in the least on this day.

The estate-owner had heard of him. Not particularly known for moving at any kind of speeds, was the reputation that had floated in. True, the source of the information had been the subject himself, but there seemed little reason to doubt the veracity of these words. At this moment though, it would seem that either the reputation had been left behind, or else the driver was possessed…not that there were too many reasons to complain about that of course.

He had been quite slow when they started the journey and the trip home had begun to seem as if it would take a frustrating while longer than earlier thought. Then, all of a sudden, the Devil seemed to have come over him and he seemed to have floored the pedal. He was taking the curves with an effortless ease now and it was pleasantly astonishing to see how he seemed to be relishing this new experience. A flick of the wrist and a step further they hurtled on. Speed, it would appear was definitely a high he was not disliking…

As they approached the gates of the estate, he became acutely aware of the fact that the journey should really be drawing to an end. There were issues that cropped up, he knew, and decided that it was perhaps best to bring them up now…albeit in a roundabout manner. He slowed abruptly and turned to his co-passenger who seemed to be regarding him with an amused smile. “Err…I think I’m running out of gas”. “That’s alright. I didn’t intend to let you in anyway…” "Oh...ah...well, fine then..." He was conscious of the embarrassment he had caused himself, but was also relieved in a certain way.

On his way, he decided to drive around the outer walls. It was lovely…the sheer beauty rendered him speechless. The contours of the surface, the richness of the surrounds and of course, the exhilarating feeling of bliss and peace were not something that he had experienced before. It was as if time stood quite still and for once, he didn’t want it to move on. Drinking in the experience was like staring into the eyes of Infinity.

Jerking abruptly back to consciousness, he became aware suddenly of his phone ringing and drew to the side to take the call…

“Like what you see?”
“Yes, but it must be said that it reminds one quite a bit about the iceberg.”
“Surely there is less unseen than with the iceberg.”
“Very true, but looking at it from another perspective, perhaps what is hidden is – as with the iceberg – more important than what is so visible to the eye.”
“Well, then it may just be the eyes that need a slight refocusing, or of course, it could well be that the viewer sees but little right now and a slight change of perspective, or of course a shift in the fourth dimension shall bring more wisdom to the beholder!”
“One does see the point you make and must admit that given what has passed and the conviction and belief that one possesses - apart of course form one’s prided appreciation and devotion of all that is so exhilaratingly beautiful - that there is no doubt in one’s mind that what needs to be done, shall indeed come to pass.”
“And why would there be so much faith in such a conclusion?”
“Well, as I would say, ‘Intent is Everything…’ ”

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

With Twilight Will Come Bliss...

Frozen dreams and a day that stays,
While days roll on and dreams still die,
Would you call me a dreamer still,
Just for my dream was not a lie?

One rainbow shines and another comes to life,
While my eyes still fail to rise up to the sky,
I can see what the clouds sweep,
But it’s in those oceans that life lies

Some moments are born to be made,
Some made to be reborn,
And then some are found in a place in time,
When life becomes a dream of a song

The picture may speak of a thousand dreams,
But could a dream be just a framed reality?
I closed my eyes and dreamed away the cage,
Did that make the real a fatality?

Awake, alive and with open eyes,
I dreamt me a life, for them denial,
A lie a dream could never tell,
When did that dream I befriend?

The stars may shine on,
But it’s the mind that’s alive,
For while the miles are real,
The distance is a lie...

Saturday, August 19, 2006


I doubt if there is anyone who would remember this, for I am sure that reading even one of my ramblings is generally more than most sane people can handle, but anyway, I once mentioned in a post of mine how I have the most amazing luck when it comes to mobile phones.

Anyway, I really should have known when August began that it was time…time for me to start looking at the new handsets on the market. I mean, it was 8 months since I had purchased the last one and quite frankly that’s about as long as most of my handsets last… This one was working alrite actually, barring a couple of keys that had decided to take a bit of a break from work, but that’s ok. I don’t particularly resent employees taking sick leave and this was not really impeding me on a basis that was regular enough for me to get unduly perturbed and issue show-cause notices or the like.

Being the Crab that I am though, I obviously forgot all about this and chose to look instead at the beauty of the fact that my phone was indeed still functioning. End result of course, is that I am in Bangalore now, while my handset is gallivanting around Singapore, having reached there in Business Class aboard a Lufthansa flight. OK, now don’t ask me how it happened and how I know this, but just accept it. It’s me! And it’s technology that we’re speaking of here. I can hardly be blamed if our relationship is slightly dysfunctional!

Well, I hope that this explanation mollifies all those that may be nursing a grudge against me for now calling back or anything… I don’t think there are that many people of that variety anyway, but still… I mean, I can’t really be expected to have had a backup of my contact list! I mean, I tried to have one, but it was too damned tedious jotting all the numbers down on paper…and technology scares me beyond reason, so expecting me to Sync with the Nokia PC Suite etc is something that I really can’t be expected to do. Sorry, but that’s the way it is :-).

Anyway, there are people who have asked me what I think of Bangalore and how I like it here. Well, here are a few snapshots of Bangalore…some that make me wonder, some that make me smile…and some that make me contemplate how bad it could be to be in the gas chamber after all!

- Auto drivers here don’t seem to want to go anywhere. You can ask them about any place in the city and the answer is a common, “No saar”. If you’re really, really, really lucky, it’s a “Saar, dubbal meter”.

- Real estate agents here don’t work on Sundays and work only half the day on Saturdays… Yes…that’s a fact.

- Shops here shut after working hours (7PM) and stay shut on Sundays…

- ToI has launched it’s ‘Refresh Bangalore’ Campaign… The tagline reads, “Put the ‘bang’ back in Bangalore”. Err…yes, this is true as well…

- Above one of the traffic signals here, there is a HUGE signboard that reads, “Red Means Stop”.

- There is no left, right or straight in this city. It’s leftaa, rightaa and (get this right) stry-taa”. Yep, the last one being pronounced as rightaa with an ‘st’ at the beginning.

On the positive side of course, since this isn’t home, there are no restrictions…then again, given the deadlines of this city, who needs parents? Oh and before I forget, I have also managed to coerce (for want aof a better word) my folks into promising me an N-series or something 30+ anyway, in return for buying a cheap handset this time :-).

Oh and just another point of similarity. That last post I mentioned at the start of this one, was made at a time that I had launched a pre-doomed attempt at quitting. Twas five days then. Over 3 weeks's good...even better than the real thing...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Overadequate Inadequacy

There seem to be a thousand thoughts that encircle my mind at the moment, which of course is a massive departure from situation normal which normally is a huge void in that part of the body that is called the male brain. Anyway, this isn't a normal day perhaps, but be that as it may, I find myself unable to type anything remotely coherent given the fact that there seem to be no two sentences that I am able to string together that are not on quite different topics.

In a strange kind of way, that paragraph leads quite neatly onto one of the things that I was contemplating. Reading what I had written left me quite lost about what, if any, point I was trying to make and that is only reinforced the belief that was driven home last night by a question that I found myself faced with. Quite simply, words, for all their adequacy in certain situations, are so woefully inadequate when they are truly needed.

Could you define the expression on the face of a person who looks upon the endless sea and sees therein simply the concept of complete and absolute freedom? Could you describe in words the feelings of parents casting their eyes for the first time on their first-born? Could you describe in words what you mean by perfection and your emotions if you were perhaps to be confronted by it or him or her in your astonishingly short lifetime?

That of course, is another issue at hand, for what is it that deserves a superlative? Being, as I am, a follower of the school of thought that would have us believe that superlatives are best used sparingly, a subject I find worth contemplating is about what - if anything – constitutes a person, situation or happenstance that would warrant the use of one of those words that I am so disinclined to use.

And then what exactly is it that causes one to pause and look around and then feel like one in a dream looking about as Barrett so beautifully summed up “on the outside looking in”?

Then too, one wonders why a dream can’t be made to follow the direction one wishes it to take. Why for instance, does my noble steed always seem to end up either tripping over my shoelaces, that seem to start growing inordinately in my dreams, or rear up and neigh in fright at the sight of a hedgehog or some such? Why does it always happen that just as I find myself in a lovely place, there’s a truck that runs me over?

That of course is so different from the waking dreams one has that seem to follow the straight and narrow, so to speak, without any real conscious effort. In that drowsiness, somehow one is always smiling as the dream meanders down the path one would have wished it to…without one actually knowing what is happening. Even the silken touches seem more real at that time… Strange perhaps…and then again…

Talking of silken touches, has anyone ever quite understood the sheer joy of standing by the seaside and feeling the reality that is the mystery of everlasting and never-ending bliss? Just that one moment of connection, while gazing out at the setting Sun seems to last forever. The sea, afire and alive and yet so astonishingly silent as it roars out with the smashing of the waves on each other and on the walls of the sea-front…

However, while so woefully inadequate at times, words seem to possess a life of their own when woven by those who seem to create an interwoven mesh of pure magic. At times, a verse can scream out thoughts; thoughts that nobody could word or mouth, but which through that verse seem to take a life of their own. To be honest, I envy such persons and can only bow down and hail their extraordinary and blessed talent and wonder whether such a level could be attained by another who wasn't perhaps born with that magic touch.

It is not of vivid descriptions I speak here, but of abstract thoughts, worded in seemingly simple lines. Herein lies the true art, for the words by themselves are apparently masking nothing and stating but simple facts. As is quite obvious, I find myself unable to express just what I am thinking, yet not attempting to do so seems impossible. 'The essential dilemma of the reluctant ignorant' would perhaps be an apt statement of my state of mind on this one.

If dawn was all and dusk never fell,
Would the farewell last no more?
Would you still await the morn?
But then, there'd be no night at all...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Honey-Flavoured Cyanide

Of all the days that have passed in the last few months, this is one of the toughest I’ve had to spend. I can’t for the life of me figure out just what I should be doing and for some reason, even my usually ultra-reliable laziness is not coming to my rescue to ease my restlessness. Strange when one pauses to think of just how inert (No, not inept, inert) and lazy I am under normal circumstances… Ah well, the trick is to keep breathing…

A much better dawn may await the sleeping,
Than the dusk you hold in your embrace.
But would you see the never-ending sea,
Or choose to live the next man’s Fate?

Don’t lose your way, stand still at the fork,
I’ll rescue your faith as I’ve done before,
Try not to fail as you try no more,
Nobody suffered in oblivion

Stand still and cry or walk and smile,
For a little while, leave the fear behind,
For each one that tried, a million died,
Fame is naught, but what of pride?

It wasn’t the day, but the mind of yore,
When you spoke again of the holding of more
For each step you ponder in your mind,
Hark back to when the past left you behind

If that was you, what would I be?
Or would you perhaps light it up for me?
A million flames now lick the sky,
Where a moment before the last spark did die

A wall behind but that’s still the way,
I can’t go on, for I’m not there,
Of those that are, not a word I say,
For maybe tomorrow, myself I’ll betray

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Help Me Roll Away the Stone

There can’t be anything that is less gratifying to a person like me than seeing people not err and trip up over their own shoelaces once in a while. The dear SD Sharma (then President) proved himself incredibly astute in gauging the desires of the adoring and expectant masses and did not disappoint on that count – obliging all of us by very nicely falling over at the Republic Day Parade while trying to wear his slippers. *Sigh* I think we can safely refer to those as the good old days.

Yeah, well, things move on and sadly cameramen these days are far more astute, but I quite frankly think that this is only half the problem. The bigger problem for the adoring and ever-willing-to-be-entertained masses – me obviously being a part of this category – is that the protagonists of these situations have grown even smarter than the cameramen and editors.

In today’s era of smart thinking, quick action and infallible logic, there could never arise a situation like the SDS one I mentioned above. If Sonia Gandi happened to trip over Sheild D’s backside, you’d hardly be able to see the photograph on the front page of the next day’s ToI. Sure, the cameraman may have captured it and the editor may even be allowed to bung it in and publish it, but circulation and viewing of the paper would be banned.

Indian Express of course would also be banned as their not carrying the picture would not by any means be a guarantee that they didn’t perhaps have some other anti-national stuff – like an article detailing how FIFA has handed Zidane a 3-match ban (It’s true, they have. Wonder what they thought retirement means, but still…) or how the editor believes that women’s education is a must for the way forward.

DNA and Hindu would not be banned of course, since the circulation of these two would be regarded as being too low for them to be considered as threats to national unity and homeland security. Oh well, too bad if you don’t subscribe to those because changing newspaper brands would need you to buy back-dated copies of your new choice from their date of beginning circulation…except of course that access to these back-dated copies would also be banned…

Yes, life-forms around me these days seem so logical and intelligent! The poor Doctor declared with complete faith that India would win the “War on terrorism” as he called it and then fired his first salvo already, by getting the G-8 to condemn the attacks in Bombay. The effect was shattering to the enemy, as in a departure from normal, the G-8 leaders actually condemned terrorism for a change and told him that India had been a very responsible child. As a result, they rewarded Doctor by telling him he was doing a sterling job and that India was headed in the right direction.

If there were any terrorists who did not renounce their paths due to this, they are surely going to be forced into giving up terrorism forever and be forced to live a mundane life after Doctor Singh fired his bonus weapons. I mean, really, with blogs blocked, we really have them on the run! They’ll never know who is to bomb what, nor when to call up the Mastermind blogger whose comment book too will obviously be inaccessible…

Having got them on the run – if not shivering in some jail cell post-surrender – Doctor is now going to let loose the biggest Indian weapon of them all – peace talks with the General. If I were a terrorist I would really prefer being in Lebanon at this moment…really…after all, who wouldn’t prefer the much safer atmosphere there, with friendly air-drops and the palsy-walsy country across the border? That nice Hezbollah there would ensure that I didn’t ever have to figure in peace talks et al…sheer bliss and lifelong safety and security for my family…

Bombs away then...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Big F*ck You To Peace (Alternative - Of Terrorism and Impotency)

The cleaner version of the post below...altered and edited for family reading...

"We make no distinction between those who comitted these acts of terrorism and those who harbour them"

"In this war, there are only two sides. With us or with them"

Statements made by GW Bush after 9/11.

If only India had even a shred of pride, a response would be given. To date, not one person has been even convicted in the 1993 blasts case. Pakistan continues to be a target for "friendship".

To date, India has yet to mount even a single pro-active campaign against the bases of any single terrorist organisation, barring the terrorism in Punjab.

To date, India has yet to even label Pakistan as an antagonistic nation.

India continues to spend hundreds of crores, nay, make that thousands of crores, every year on defense expenditure. Most seems to go towards the last rites of the soldiers killed by terrorists whom they are not allowed to shoot.

To date, India has yet to display even once that she has the steel and resolve to respond appropiately to any act of aggression on her citizens.

To date, India has yet to inspire even an ounce of fear in any terrorist.

India is the softest of soft targets. It is similar to the scenario where a man rapes your sister, stabs your brother, shoots your father and strips your mother and you call him a brother and try to embrace him. Every day Indians are killed, women are raped and the country is stripped and shamed and every day we make overtures of friendship to the perpetrators.

Sad to say, it is perhaps time that we made it official that Gandhi is not the idol after all. He was a violent man. He turned his other cheek to a slap. We don't believe in such harsh acts. We turn around, take our pants off and bend over before the slap is delivered...except that it is much more than a slap.

How much longer are we to tolerate being shafted? How much longer do we praise the 'resilience' of the Indian people? It's not resilience, it's apathy and numbness. We no longer seem to feel the anger. Instead we continue as if it were just a daily occurence. The way things are going, it may soon become a part of daily life.

Perhaps I am a nationalist. Is that bad? Is it bad to love your country? Is it a heinous crime? Every time an American citizen is taken hostage, the entire nation unites and demands that justice be served and the offenders punished fast and in ruthlessly.

Every time an Indian is killed, we...well...we don't even realise it. Pride? We have none. Post 9/11, say what you will, no act of terror has been comitted on American soil, despite a stream of statements and commands from the snake in the hole, Osama. The war on Afghanistan was a failure? Err...I think it accomplished what it set out to do.

Every act of terrorism is a sort of call to the nation that suffers it, to rise up in arms and stamp out the perpetrators. As long as that is not done, the offender continues to gain strength and spirit.

America showed that even destroying an entire country was not beyond her, if she was attacked. India showed that even self-destruction is not beyond her in her quest for being seen as a 'resilient' and 'peace-loving' nation. Take your pick of which you would rather be. Personally, I'd prefer being alive...and only one of these paths can get one there.

Dawood Ibrahim - In Pakistan
Memons - In Pakistan
Masood Azhar - In Pakistan

The list continues. Yet, of course, Pakistan is a friend! "India must resolve the real issues" was the response of the Paki Foreign Minister to the blasts. For once, I think he is right. India must finally get off her backside and resolve the real issue. And the real issue seems obvious to me...

When a weed is to be exterminated, one strikes at the roots. Perhaps therein lies the clue. It's not as if anyone in this country is blind to the truth. Yet what is vexing is that for the most part, people are now accustomed to shutting their eyes to the obvious...someday the pain will hit close to home...what a tragedy that perhaps the day they join the fight will perhaps be the day that they'll have lost what they're fighting for...

A Big F*ck You To Peace

The post below is not hot-headed. It is written in cold blood. Something has snapped within me and I’ve had enough. If you’re offended by the post or if you don’t agree with any aspect of it, don’t try debating with me because I won’t bother listening to you.

So Mumbai has suffered yet another terrorist attack and we sit by and praise the resilience of the citizens of the great city. People shower praise on the “Spirit of Mumbai” and politicians praise the people for helping those affected in this, the hour of extreme need. Yet I, and I am sure I am not alone, can’t help but feel disgusted by this attitude.

Since 1993, Mumbai has suffered six major terrorist attacks. Websites publish articles on the 5 must-dos and list making of the will etc as the imperatives. Is this all that we can do? Have we no balls? No self-respect? No pride? Are we to accept terrorism as a part of daily life?

The Home Minister of India said he was clueless and would talk to Soniaji about it. The PM said he was surveying the situation, had beefed up security in Delhi, put several areas on high alert and was scheduled to meet…yes…Soniaji. Who is that fucking bitch anyway? The c*** holds no position of any authority and is a damned nobody. In this hour, why is that c*** the one being consulted? What does she know about the situation anyway?

Yet, let me not diverge from the point I was getting at. When George W Bush addressed the US of A in a state of the nation address after the 9/11 attacks, he made a statement that is etched in my memory. “We make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbour them”. I became a fan of the man who wrote that line as well as the ideology behind it.

When Parliament was attacked, I awaited similar steel from the Indian Government. It started off all right, but then fizzled out. Then there were serial blasts in Mumbai and once again I awaited a show of pride. Now, there have been serial blasts yet again in Mumbai and all I feel is despair. Is this what we are? A nation of impotent peaceniks with no pride who are just waiting to be hit by terrorists whom we would rather call ‘militants’ lest we offend them or their masters?

I for one can not understand the national psyche of India and Indians. Let’s see now. Dawood Ibrahim? In Pakistan. The Memon brothers? In Pakistan. Masood Azhar? In Pakistan. Terrorist training camps? In Pakistan. So, what should we do? Umm, have confidence-building measures with the country and try enhancing trade with them. Love them and say that they are great, friendly people. Yeah, makes sense. Fuck you too.

I hate Pakistan. Want more? I think every single Pakistani without exception should be exterminated in a war that would put to shame the WW2 casualties. I also think the ungrateful extremist bastards in Bangladesh should be annihilated for the role that they now have and their al-Q links. Want still more? I think I am being nice. Personally, I’d like to torture the miserable bastards to a slow death over a week’s period…

I also think that India should stop all defence expenditure if we are not going to follow the course of action I described above. We have an impressive array of arms and weapons, not to mention missiles, tanks, aircraft etc. Yet, if we are never going to use them, why spend on them at all? Deterrent? Excuse me, but it kind of works as I will outline blow:

Someone comes up to you and taunts you. You don’t react. Then the person taunts and insults your race, religion and family. You still stay impassive. Then the person slaps your parents. You try to make friends with the chap. Then that guy rapes your sister, stabs your father, shoots your brother and strips your mother. You try to embrace him and call him your brother. If that is what a person is like, then I think you’d agree that any money this person spends on a gym or buying a revolver is kind of a waste?

Now, while that example may seem extreme, it is exactly what has happened with India. People are killed, women are raped and the country is stripped of its pride in each of these attacks and yet we respond just like the loser in that example. Makes sense now?

I know that people are going to talk about how war is senseless and never resolves anything. All I can say is that this is untrue. If a war is fought and seen through to its end, it works. Look at WW2. And let’s also acknowledge one fact. At times, war is the only solution. How does one deal with those harbouring terrorists? If someone can outline a plan that will work, I’ll gladly tear it apart. Want an example? Look at that disastrous attempt that was made by the previous government in Kashmir, when they declared a ‘unilateral ceasefire’. Huh? Why wasn’t I surprised at what followed? Terrorists want nothing less than to own you. Where is the middle ground then? They are extremists and the only way to deal with an extremist is in extremes!!!

They are governed by no laws and make a mockery of the ones that govern us. Murder, for them is the aim. Will they ever be satisfied? No! Their existence is based on finishing ours. In that case, for me, it is damned simple. Better me than them.

I think it’s time to say that enough is enough. We’ve lain down far too long now. We’ve taken all the shit we could and now its time to kick some terrorist butt. Bomb them, nuke them, torture them, but kill at any cost. They deserve no mercy. Balls to bloody human rights. That’s a topic I will address later though.

How much longer will we continue to just talk about resilience and spirit? Is that what life is about? Ask those dead. Ask their families. Resilience? The biggest example of resilience is that fact that India survives as a nation despite the impotent whores who govern her. I don’t think India is a strong nation. I think India is among the weakest nation in the world and if we fail to respond even now, we will have proved it.

Why is terrorism on the rise in India? Simple. Because by reacting the way India does, India has convinced every terrorist that come what may, we shall not take any action. We do not believe in it. The collective psyche of India is: “Slap me and I won’t turn the other cheek. I’ll turn around, take my pants off and bend over”.

And yes, if you don’t agree with me, I don’t accept your opinion. I think you’re a loser whose self-respect is nil. I think you’re an impotent loser who will never be respected by those around you. I also think you’re anti-national. To borrow a quote from George Bush (much though I dislike the man, he has a brilliant speech-writer), “In this situation, if you’re not on our side, you’re on their side”. After 20 years of seeing impotent bystander reactions and the results, I for one think you’re a lunatic if you still can’t see sense.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

With Finality Begins Eternity

Why try to look beyind when you can't see a few feet ahead? Does the mind ever tarry a moment to ponder over the beauty of a life that lacks nothing but a life? Maybe it's only a kind of fear, but there are moments when the endless ocean seems to hold less secrets than a body shorn of all covers but one...

They want to be somebody and then blame me,
For every time they tried and fell,
And every bruise of which they don't tell,
For every smile they faked and then hid,
For every time they tried to themselves forbid,
And when they looked and saw the time,
Realising the years that had passed behind,
But then it was all just an accident

The spirit rose but the wick had burnt out,
When you're afire, would you lie back and sigh?
But of the promise that I had held out,
They betook only the part of which I lied,
Where they sought, they found it all,
Yet what can you find when you're blind?
If truth be told, they'd sooner I die,
But they linger in hatred and hilarity

When the dark is made of pure light,
Take a leap lest you open the eye,
For it was never meant to be the way you see,
I'm hiding lest you get me in your sights
They seek a Grail they'll never find,
And stand tall where great men crawl,
The everlasting irony,
Will haunt the one that glances down

Await the day you dig my grave,
Await the day you carry me away,
Maybe I was just that hateful slave,
And maybe I was the gift you gave away,
Wanted not but wasted still,
A mind so full it saw in life peril,
Take it to the one that haunts my dreams,
Forsake the pain and rest six foot deep

It burnt, it pained and singed the hair,
Yet the parting never was betrayed,
Could a ditch ever take me full,
Or would it be the dance floor?
The music plays and tears them apart,
The words will swirl for Eternity,
When facing the lie no one could ever buy,
Every joy will rest on mourning

Still the one remains apart,
Twisting away from the feeble tries,
They encircle and raise victorious cries,
Before finding once more a denial,
That caresses a self lost in another,
Yet that last ember it can’t find or kill,
But when die is cast and Fate unfulfilled,
The toil still never will be uphill

To find a peak let’s go rushing down,
Leave the guide behind and seek what I hide,
When hands that laid the peace to rest,
Rise to exhort another pause in life
Hallowed is what lies beneath,
A tear unstained, unfelt, unseen,
Just as they seek the liar’s dream,
Of what I speak you’ll never feel

Monday, July 10, 2006

To Be True Is To Lie...

Why do you take that ‘breather’ of yours every five minutes?
I like it. I like having those few minutes to just relax a bit and think of things other than work.
Do you realize how much time you end up wasting every day because of that? Try cutting that out. It reduces productivity and disrupts concentration.
I don’t think it is a waste of time and quite frankly, I couldn’t care less about what you call ‘productivity and yeah, lest I forget, my concentration span is less than 20 minutes anyway. And please stop nagging me about work. I don’t like it. I work because I have to, so stop trying to ‘motivate’ me already!
Don’t you have any pride? Don’t you feel like you should fulfill your potential and do something worthwhile?
Refer above for the first bit and as for the second, trust me, you don’t want to know what I call worthwhile…

You are capable of being so sociable at times! Why can’t you always be like that?
Perhaps the temporal aspect is less relevant in the ‘at times’ which may have more to do with the recipients of the afore-mentioned behaviour.
You know that is not true, so stop fibbing.
Untrue? Perhaps it is, come to think of it, when you say that from a solely grammatical and syntactical perspective, but what about the circumstances that surround such instances? Call it choice or whatever you will, but there is always an environment.
That would be hypocrisy, wouldn’t it? And let’s face it, what I say is also true of purely social interactions.
Some people deserve better and some worse. As for hypocrisy, once again I suppose that depends on perspective and the priority one gives to one’s various priorities…

Why don’t you learn from your errors and just take the plunge for once in your life?
And on the same note, why don’t I try wearing a toga to work tomorrow?
Stop being the clown and think seriously about what I am saying. Time and conviction has cost you so dearly in the past. As they say, ‘Better to bend than be broken’.
Try telling that to an oak tree.
Then stop trying to be an oak tree and learn from a willow.
Then again, perhaps you would appreciate the toga, huh?
Talking sense to you is like trying to break a brick wall with one’s head!
Would you like that toga red or black? Oh and yeah, experience tells me that a lie is generally more flexible…

It’s time you started loving yourself. Nobody can love anyone or anything, unless he or she loves his or her self first!
Yeah, Narcissus was such a great example of that. Ever wondered why the vain are so alone?
It’s got nothing to do with vanity. Everything does not exist only in extremes, you know.
True and yes, I do know that, but could you please enlighten me on that illuminating opening comment? Somehow, the more I contemplate the subject, the less coherent your remark seems to be.
Well, it’s simple. A person who feels inadequate would be so consumed in his own perceived shortcoming that they would engulf his being and become at least a pseudo-reality.
Perhaps a good read on the difference between confidence and vanity is in order for you. Oh and of course, a refresher course on verbosity would suit you well too.

It’s funny in a way when I think about how tragic and melancholy your existence is. It’s funny because it’s the melancholy that makes it tragic.
How do you know it’s melancholy? Maybe it’s not melancholy, but just the way the entire scheme of things pans out. Perhaps you aren’t able to see the other side and while the road there may seem one way, the destination may be the exact opposite. As may the road itself to the traveler…
Err…life’s a journey, not a destination.
Stop giving me clichés. And as far as that crack is concerned, who spoke about life being a destination? It may be a journey, it may be a road, but remember that both those have destinations too.
That’s the point, isn’t it? This is life. It’s not about destinations. Life is to be enjoyed. To be lived! It’s not a trip to a certain point!
And if that is so, then what is death? What is life itself for that matter? Is it really just that interlude that is defined as the span of time between a ‘birth’ and a ‘death’? Or is there more to it than that? Is that ‘birth’ in itself a small part of a larger continuum? What is sleep? Why does one remember things otherwise but not when one sleeps? What is…
*Sigh* There you go again… And perhaps that answers my question more than any other answer you could ever give me…
Or perhaps your question itself has now become an answer…or my answers could have become your question…

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Fever...and it's B&W (like the ball)...not Yellow ;-)

Have just finished watching the 3rd place match of the World Cup and just felt like making a post about that. I love football and I think it would be a crime if I let this occasion pass. Coming into the WC, I was open in my support for the Dutch, Germans and Portuguese in that order. As it happened, things did not quite work out, but hey, that happens. Here’s my take though.

This edition, more than any other that I have seen though, seemed to have a lot to do with the managers, rather than individual players. In most tournaments, you have a particular team that is excellent in terms of work-rate or more importantly and more commonly, a fantastic player who makes the difference. This time though, it was the managers who came to the fore and determined what happened to the teams…

1. Holland: My pre-tournament favourites. They had been playing breath-taking football and were on a real roll. And then, it all fell apart in that match against Portugal. The main reason I support Holland is Marco van Basten. I am convinced that he is the greatest footballer the world has ever seen and given the way he started shaping his squad, I felt he was headed for the moon. His aim, first and foremost, was to create a squad that would not squabble and would be united.

Ironic then, that this was exactly the point where he himself failed. In the match against Portugal, Holland created chance after chance only to see each one wasted. Yet, van Basten did not bring on Ruud van Nistelrooy, who is arguably the best finisher in Europe…at least one of the top 3. Why? Well, if rumours and statements are to be believed, it was an ego issue. How typical… I hope they get over it, for this team is certainly one to watch out for in the future. Young, dynamic…and all they need is a striker who converts chances and a manager who plays him…

2. Germany: For some reason, I have always liked German sportspersons, be it Becker, Graf, Michael Schumacher or Klinsmann, Mattheus,Ballack and Schweinsteiger. Before the tournament therefore, despite what people were saying, I backed the Germans to do well. I believed that with a striker of Klinsmann’s quality in charge, they would definitely do well and make a mark an quite frankly, they did not disappoint.

The Germans forsook their normal defensivce style and took on a more scoring-oriented approach and it paid off! They were entertaining and took their opponents by surprise and got far further than they were expected to! I am extremely glad they took third place at least for they really did deserve reward for their attacking approach in a competition that has seen teams adopt a predominantly defensive approach. The error that they made? Well, why on Earth was Schweinsteiger on the bench for the semi???

3. Argentina: Well before the tournament began, it was apparent that the Albicieste had the best squad in terms of talent as well as depth, but that they had a manager who could easily waste all of that and more! And that is exactly what happened. What more need I say than the fact that against a German team that was bent on equalising and had the crowd behind it, Pekerman substituted all the attacking players with defensive ones, with more than 15 mintues to go and Lionel Messi and Saviola did not get a look-in in that match. Sad but true. The most talented and perhaps best overall group of players left empty-handed thanks to a terrible, terrible manager.

4. Brazil: Parreira really didn’t have a clue or a plan, did he? He seemed to be praying that the individual brilliance of his players would see him through and it may have done too! But what was Ronaldo doing on the pitch…with that paunch of his…while Robinho was on the bench? And pray, just why is Roberto Carlos thought of highly? That goal in the quarter summed it up for me. He is useless as a defender…

5. France: Pure luck and screw-ups by the opposition. No skill whatsoever. No talent whatsoever. Barring Zidane in that one game against Brazil that is. With a simian as a striker, what more can one expect?

6. Italy: Great, great squad. I remembering a friend of mine before the WC started that this time around, Italy had the best squad they had had in years, yet they were under-rated (partly due to the scandal) and expectd to flop. They started badly, but have really picked up. Once again though, and I say this before the final, they may yet regret the manager’s decision to play Toni as lone striker. They have a formidable array of strikers with Gilardino and Inzaghi, not to mention Iaquinta, on the bench…yet Toni, who has been disappointing, seems to retain Lippi’s faith. I hope he can pay it back..or that Lippi sunbs him early 

7. Portugal: If it was not for Figo and Ronaldo, I would say that this team was a bunch of very ordinary players. But they are not… The sad part? The manager, the universally acclaimed Scolari, was unable to see something that everyone else seemed to see. When you are trailing, it makes no sense to play a lone striker!!! Specially when that striker is a Pauleta… Still, they will learn and in Ronaldo, they have a world-beater.

Overall, I hope Italy thrash the living daylights out of the French tomorrow. I hate Italy normally, but simians like Monkeyface Henry, who do not know how to play football, do not deserve to touch that trophy and hence I am backing Italy which clearly is the better team. Yet, given the record of my favourites over the past two years, you can rest assured that France will nick it . If that happens though, I will really start believing that the entire WC is a farce and a rigged competition…something like WWE wrestling…

Already the Golden Ball nominees have made me believe that there is massive corruption that riddles FIFA from within…and if France win, there will be no further doubt about that…

Thursday, June 29, 2006

In Mars We Trust - XI

I have really never understood why women are so obsessed with this whole maturity trip! What makes maturity such a desirable quality? Specially considering that none of them is able to define it!

I personally believe that ‘maturity’ is something invented by women who lack any fun in life to explain just why they are so lifeless and why people who are full of life are to be pitied rather than admired. That’s why a ‘mature’ person won’t go out and party or just decide to do something that he/she feels like regardless of what other ‘mature’ people would think about it!

She: What? You watch WWE??? (The erstwhile WWF for those who’re wondering)
Me: Yeah, so? I think it’s funny!
She: But that’s so immature!!!
Me: Eh? Why?
She: Well…it…it just is!

Immature. Ever counted how many times women use that word? It’s almost like they have some sort of fetish for using that word. Everything a guy does that a woman doesn’t like or approve of, it’s immature! So, drinking beer in a pub with friends while watching a football game is of course the height of immaturity.

Please note though, as a guy, it’s highly recommended that you do not try to debate the relative maturity of sitting all evening watching Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City, contemplating falling in love with a plumber or of course, discussing the dimensions of the assets of the sundry partners that one has had. Experience tells me that women tend to segregate the maturity of these activities based on gender…and then of course, they call us the sexists!

Sample this, if you will:

Me: So, what did you do over the weekend?
S: Nothing much. Some friends came over, so we were discussing what X plans to do when she gets married…as in on ‘that night’.
Me: What?
S: Yeah! I mean, she was discussing how they got to Base 2 last time and…
Me: Excuse me! I mean, you discuss explicit details…damn, you probably even discuss dimensions in that case!
S: Yeah! So? Big deal!

Next day:

Me: Yeah, well K was just talking about how his fiancée has pretty weird taste in tops…
S: What??? You discuss your girlfriends with each other???
Me: Err…so? I mean, it’s not like we mention even a tenth of the stuff you people do!
S: No way! That’s so ungentlemanly! It’s so…so…so immature!
Me: So, what is maturity?
S: Well…just acting…I mean, just behaving in a mature manner…you know…well, you know what I mean…it’s just being mature!!!

There you are then. Typical female hypocrisy… This really got me thinking though. Just what is it with women and this whole maturity trip?

You watch WWE? That’s so immature!
You spent the entire evening watching football and drinking beer? That’s so immature!
You like driving fast? That’s so immature!
I can’t watch a Rowan Atkinson film! It’s so immature!
Mithun? Ewwww! How immature!
You like blondes? That’s so immature!
How can you wear T-shirts with slogans? It’s so immature!!

And then, in a moment of pure frustration, the truth struck me, like a teak bulwark would strike a sailor doing an Archimedes impression on the deck on a sinking ship (Tragic analogy perhaps, but at least you get the drift!). It’s the same concept as that old joke:

Q: Why do women close their eyes while kissing?
A: Coz they can’t bear to see a man having a good time!

It’s true. Women, I have grounds to conclude, essentially believe that men have no right to have any fun, lest it is with them around to approve and thereby make the men feel even more slavish than they did before! It’s their complete lust for control in its most blatant and uninhibited form, though some might say that the word blatant is misused here as they do mask it ever so beautifully in the garb of ‘maturity’ and trying to ‘alleviate the poor male soul’, trying to - as Florence Craye and Vanessa Cook so beautifully worded it – ‘nurture the latent potentialities of the sleeping mind’. *Sigh*.

I rather think that this is the very reason that women prefer older men. Let’s face it – with no offence meant to the senior citizens that the mayor of Bangalore would have us believe are out assets – older men don’t really have that many outlets for fun apart from those nubile young women they romp with…and of course, the women enjoy the shopping for those ever-so-mature beauty aids!

Come to think of it, when was the last time a chappie with a girlfriend really had a good time? I can’t think of anyone who can claim to have had one…without his girlfriend being around to approve of course…and of course, apart from those romps in the back rooms which I should not mention (since I am a guy) and which the woman is around to approve of as a mature act anyway…yeah…the same romps that the women dissect when they are indulging in mature verbal intercourse!

I wondered after reaching these illuminating conclusions though, as to what the remedy to this dilemma may be. After all, one does not wish to upset the fairer sex for fear of the fact that we may deprive them of the opportunity to discuss a romp – a romp which, if I be permitted to say it, we men enjoy much more than the women enjoy the discussion (after all touch is more potent – in more ways than one – than words! How much can a Penthouse letters do for one after all?).

The bottomline guys, is that unless you’re really stupid you will fall for that maturity thing. And no, there was no typo in that previous sentence. Remember, at the end of the day, she can’t really police you all the time…and hey, there’s no real match in the real world for a good old-fashioned romp… And to top it all, Ten Sports re-telecasts WWE in the mornings…so you don’t miss the really good and enjoyable part of life either!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Then Again...Perhaps It's Just Me...

The past few days have really been a breeze. I’ve had no time for doing anything at all other than lounge around and chill out, from when I’m making a mental list of all the things I need to buy to furnish my apartment to watching the football at the TGIF next foor. Given me tons of time for thinking of all kinds of things, ranging from work to my future and also why I seem to perpetually be in a state of abeyance when it comes to deciding just what I should do next…in more senses of time than one.

One thing that has stood out more than most others in this time though, has been the fact that just about everyone in the current generation – and that includes me – seems to move less from one state of mind to another and more from one complaint to another. It’s a malaise that is so widespread that I don’t think we even notice it ourselves. It sets in real early of course and for that, we can thank our fantabulous education system and the Indian obsession with academics and qualifications.

For more time than I care to recall, I have moved from one goal to another…constantly accompanied by a growing and gnawing feeling of dissatisfaction. There’s been only one phase in my life when I can’t recall having felt any such emotion and needless to say, that didn’t last too long either.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be dissatisfied or to have high aims. I happen to endorse aiming high. It’s just that I feel that at a certain point we tend to allow the dissatisfaction to cloud our judgment in gauging just what is causing the feeling. It’s endemic really and it’s not a very nice thing to see happening around you – particularly when you start feeling that perhaps you’re prey to the same syndrome yourself…

One thing that has almost always made me laugh is reading these celebrity interviews where the interviewee declares that he or she absolutely detests hypocrites. Oh yeah? Awesome mate…ironic, but good for ya ;-). The sad part of course is that the older people grow and the further they drift apart, particularly geographically, the more hypocritical they seemingly become. Helps me smile a bit once in a while to think of it, but that’s the way things are.

The conclusion I have reached on that of course, is that the greater the timespan since your last interaction and the more courses you’ve done since then, the more hypocrisy you will be privileged to be witness to. Like people claiming to be your best buddies after having thoroughly despised you over the course of half a lifetime.

It seems as if people are so diffident about themselves that they can’t even decide whom they like and whom they don’t. They seem so lost that at times you begin to wonder whether they are indeed the ones of whom it was so appropriately said that they are to be pitied rather than censured.

Yet, we move on…and then the realization hits home that for some reason, it seems to be this very hypocrisy that gets people places. Look down upon it if you will. Frown upon those you deem to be that way or the ones you term sycophants…but after a certain point of time, people start saying it’s jealousy that causes it…and it’s not because they’re tired of hearing you say what you think…it’s mainly for they’ve understood and chosen the course they wish to follow. Would you care to do it? Your call. Do you do it already? Think and the answer may shock you…

That of course brings one back a full circle to the question of just who you are! Are you the person you imagine when you’re with yourself? Are you the person the ones around you think you are? Or are you just an elusive construct that nobody including you ever gets to see?

At the end of the day, it all depends on the confidence one places in oneself. That’ what will determine the definition one chooses to choose, so to speak. It’s a function of the person one wishes one was correlated to the person one has been successful at projecting and of course, the person one realizes as perhaps existing…with the twist of course coming from the element of honesty one is willing to throw in when pronouncing judgment in each of these areas.

Ah well, as Bruce Dickinson once said, “Maybe someday I’ll be an honest man. Upto now, I’ve done the best I can…” Wasted Years indeed…

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lunch? Dinner's On The House Too! - II

None of us – neither those that write or post on the issue, nor those that read the same, nor the ones that participate in or lead marches and rallies on either side – has investigated the entire issue of reservations. The only investigation into the same was done was by the ‘Group of Ministers’ and one of the leading lights was of course, Monsieur Pranab Mukherjee.

Post the inevitable thumbs-up from this group, Mr. Mukherjee said openly on a television interview that the GoM was unanimous in their opinion and that the government would not permit any ‘non-political’ body or person to look into the issue. Arjun Singh too (as you would have read in that interview with Karan Thapar) has refused to really divulge any details at all on this increased reservation by 27%! Strange, when one considers that the Act ensuring Free Access to Information to the public was one of the closest to the PM’s heart!!!

I mentioned that there were a few issues that I had not touched upon in the previous post. Well, here they are:

Point #6
The merit argument is unfair as can be seen in the fact that over 65% of the top 2000 candidates in TN are from the reserved categories.

Sure! But then, TN (by virtue of a Constitutional Amendment that over-rides the Supreme Court ruling, has 69% reservation anyway! Do the Math for yourself and then let’s reopen the discussion on this point.

Point #7
Reservations will ensure diversity in batches and show the ‘real India’.

Sure. Let’s also have the IITs and IIMs adopt a better policy! To ensure more diversity in the intellectual capital, let’s have them recruit the top 50% and the bottom 50% after the Entrance exams. After all, the ‘real India’ can’t be all smart!!! There must be a fair number of people with low IQs in the public…we need that perspective too, don’t we? As per the law, there is no caste system and in today’s cosmopolitan society, different castes don’t have different ‘cultures’. It’s region, language and economic strata that cause this diversity, not caste.

I think it is quite obvious by now – or should be at any rate – that reservations are merely a sham put on by the politicians to earn – or at least to not lose – votes in certain sections of society.

Now, I’d like to raise a few other points which the pro-reservation guys also touch upon. For one thing, they blame the general category students of looking down upon those from the reserved category and say that this is a great example of the crying need for reservations!

I think this is totally asinine! If anything, this reason actually proves why caste-based reservations defeat the very purpose for their existence. I have yet to see any student looking down upon a financially less fortunate person who avails of the need-based scholarships. Indeed, these students are greatly admired as everyone realizes the effort that these students have put in and the hardships they have endured to reach the position that they are in.

The scholarships do not detract from the achievement. They are seen as a just and sometimes even ‘not-really-enough’ reward for these students. Reservations however, earn the scorn of the same students. The reason is obvious. The recipient of the benefits of reservations is more often than not, from the more affluent sections of society and is, most often, one of the laggards in the class (as proved by the fact that 50% of all reserved category students that enter the IITs fail to graduate even after 6 years!!!). This is then seen through the eyes of students who have seen several deserving acquaintances and friends fall by the wayside by the last 10th of a percentile. How do you expect these people to react to seeing someone with 10 percentile lower score than that person in their Institute by means of a crutch? Are they (and I too fall into this category) not justified in their judgment of the ‘quota’ student as undeserving and as a person diluting the concept of a meritocracy?

It is ironic that just a couple of years ago, Arjun Singh’s voice was the loudest in opposition to the then HRD Minister’s (MM Joshi) decision to slash fees in the IIMs to make the education more affordable and increase the number of seats to provide education to more students and also to ensure that the IIMs still drew in enough cash. He claimed that increasing the number of seats would ‘dilute the quality of education’ and that this decision ‘violated the autonomy’ of the IIMs.

Now, he has imposed reservations on the IIMs; reservations that I know the IIMs bitterly oppose. Did he consult them? I’d like to end this post by highlighting just how unfortunate the fallout is of caste-based reservations. I’ll give you three examples from my personal life, but here’s a bit of background before that.

I hail from the North of India and have spent my entire life in Bombay. Never for a minute in my upbringing was caste ever spoken about. Caste was a word I read about in the History texts; a word that we considered a relic and a reminder of a bygone era. We didn’t even know about how various castes could be gauged from surnames. Yes, that was what society was like…and then came the VP Singh government and the Mandal Commission Report…the self-immolations and the brazen bulldozing of the government. Caste politics were here to stay and these are the results.

I, along with two really close friends, have often discussed our ideas and ideals regarding how we ought to stay in India and do something good for the economy. Give back something in return for all that the nation and every single taxpayer gave us in the form of education, facilities etc. For the past few weeks, we have been discussing if it may actually be time to do a rethink now. As one of my friends pointed out, “Would you be willing to entrust the lives of your loved ones to the hands of a doctor who only got admission through the quota system?”

My friend’s father is a recruiter for one of the world’s most reputed and famous companies. He told us over dinner the other day, “I always ensure that I don’t recruit the quota candidates. Regardless of what they may seem like in an interview, you can never really be sure!”

A professor at one of the IIMs mentioned to a group of students, “The super-strict rules regarding failing students in the IIMs were framed with the intention of weeding out the quota students.”

Yes, these facts sadden me. I sympathize completely with those deserving people among the quota candidates who face these prejudices and are unfairly penalized. Yet, these are now a sad and cruel reality and the blame for this scenario quite clearly lies squarely at the doors of those that have put this unfair system in place.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lunch? Dinner's On The House Too! - I

“Government gets Dictatorial”, screamed the headlines of today’s newspapers and I did not even need to read the article to know that it spoke of the government forcing through the reservation policy that now means that from the coming academic year, all central Institutions of education – including therefore, the IITs and IIMs – will have an additional OBC quota.

At the outset of this post, I’d like to enlighten those of you that may not be aware of this fact, that even Jawaharlal Nehru, the biggest proponent of caste-based quotas at the time of Independence, had by the 1960s realized the futility and the folly of this method of ‘social justice’. In this post and the next, I just thought I’d address a few points that the proponents of quotas like to raise in their arguments. After all, if I oppose the system, I believe that I ought to have enough valid reasons and facts to contradict those that support the system!

Point #1
The entire Parliament was – for once - in unanimous agreement on this topic.

Sure! It would be political suicide to oppose these reservations in the political climes that prevail in India today. Add to that the upcoming elections in UP and you can see for yourself the reasons for not opposing this bill!

Point #2
OBCs form a huge percentage of the population of the country.

Firstly, there is no accurate or dependable survey or census that proves this point. Three surveys have thrown up numbers ranging from 28% to 52%. The argument in favour of the quotas is based on the latter figure. What if the reality is the former? What of the argument then?

Secondly, even if we do, for the sake of argument, accept the figure of 52%, so what? How does that, in any way, reinforce the argument for the system? Which survey shows that these people are ‘underprivileged’ and backward? As a matter of fact, the Communists are asking that the ‘creamy layer’ of the OBCs be excluded from the quotas. The government does not dispute that this layer exists. So, how big is this layer? And how are the ‘underprivileged’ upper castes any different from the underprivileged lower castes? Does caste determine where the person is in society today? After 50 years of Independence in a ‘caste-free’ society?

Also, is there any evidence at all to support the fact that reservations do in fact help those that are the beneficiaries of the policy? If so, why does the government refuse to exclude the progeny of those that avail of this benefit from availing of the same themselves? Surely once they are provided the education, they cease to remain backward! If not, then are quotas serving their purpose?

Point #3
The Entrance procedures for these Institutes are incorrect and do not check the merit of the students in that profession anyway. So the merit argument is pointless

This is the most fallacious and ridiculous argument of them all! Firstly, does this mean that the Entrance procedures for Engineering should check if the person is a good Engineer, for Medicine that the person is a good doctor and so on? In that case, the very course is unnecessary!

Secondly, even if we were to grant that these are indeed the wrong methods, that still does not have anything to do with the quotas! After all, if it is wrong, change the system! After all, the general category students go through the same procedures too! The very fact that one student does better than another in this system shows that in this system he is the more meritorious in this system. Why should he then be penalized based on his caste?

Moreover, reservations in this regard would then mean that the people who get in through reservation are not meritorious anyway then, right? So, what point are you trying to make?

Point #4
An increase in the number of seats will ensure that the general category students are not harmed

Firstly, being from an IIM, I can assure you that none of the IIMs has the infrastructure to support the kind of increases that would be called for. Even the HRD Mininster, the Damnable Arjun Singh, admits as much. Secondly, the issue is of merit here. So, this argument is totally irrelevant.

Point #5
Access to quality education must be provided to these sections of society and this is the best way to do so.

I agree that access must be provided. But access is a problem to the ‘backward’ sections on mainly economic grounds! Reservations do little – if anything – to address that problem. That is the reason why candidates that I see availing the reservations are all middle if not upper class citizens! So, they didn’t need the reservations anyway. The ones who needed the access are still deprived of it. That is why, to this day, almost six decades after Independence, almost all the people that were ‘backward’ at that time, remain that way.

I know that I have overlooked a few arguments, but as I mentioned at the outset, I will have another post on this issue and aim to tackle the remnants in that one and if you let me know any that you feel I ought to, I will gladly counter them too. I also know that I have not yet said anything about what I feel could be done to address the undeniable issue that there are indeed people that are deprived of the opportunity to avail of a good quality education. I intend to do so as well in the next few days, but this post is already too long to incorporate that into this.

I you see any flaws in my reasoning, please do let me know of them and I will try to either clarify or will rethink my stand.

Also, please do go through an excerpt of Karan Thapar interviewing Arjun Singh at this link. I think that interview puts beyond the realm of any doubt, the issue of just why this step has been undertaken.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Free Lunch Anybody?

Think about this scenario for a moment if you will. Let’s say that you’re the financial head of a corporation and the chap in charge of R&D comes up to you asking for an increase in the budget for a project that’s been in progress for over 55 years with ever-increasing budgets. What do you think your most likely response would be?

Frankly, my first instinct would be to question the existence of the project itself. Surely if 55 years have failed to show any results, the project should be shelved! That however is clearly not the way the current Congress government sees things. Particularly not Arjun Singh and there doesn’t seem to be any political party that has the will to stand up for logic either!

Yes indeed, I am talking about the recent proposal of Arjun Singh and the Congress to increase by 27% the reservations in the top Indian education Institutes including AIIMS, the IITs and of course, the IIMs.

If you desire a pointer to the national sentiment on this issue, the survey results in the morning papers today said a lot. Over 97% of people across the country actually support the doctors who have been on strike over this issue for 4 days now! This in a country which condemns doctors and criticizes them roundly whenever they even threaten to strike! What a change…and that is purely because of the grounds for the strike. As of yesterday, the students of IITD have also joined the stir. I hope that the protestors win this war…for a war is what it is.

I’d like to deviate a bit from the normal issues that are debated when this issue is brought up. I think the issue of merit has so many proponents that nobody with the slightest shred of sense would argue that on grounds of merit, all that reservations do is to ensure that sub-standard and Low IQ people are promoted at the expense of more deserving people, wrecking lives, households, morale and of course damaging greatly the economy and the image of the country.

What I examined the other day though was the logical construct for having reservations in the courses for higher education, even if I do – though I don’t – the logic for reservations in schools and junior colleges.

Let us therefore assume that these castes are so underprivileged (despite over 55 years of reservations) that they can’t actually afford to give their children money and a proper environment for education and therefore require reservations at the school level. Let us extend this hypothesis further and say that these reservations are also required at the junior college level.

But what after that? After all, surely this is where this crutch should be taken away! I mean, this person who availed of these reservations has now been educated to a fair level. Surely now it should have brought this nitwit to the same level as those peers of his who used their own merit and not a crutch to rise!

I’m an Engineer and I refuse to accept that any person at all who has cleared his XIIth is so underprivileged that he/she needs reservations to be at the level of those that are ‘more privileged’. The only reason I see that could make anyone ask for this is that the reserved categories are inherently less meritorious and I don’t think they would like to be considered as such.

Moreover, if they are – for whatever reason – less meritorious, they shouldn’t be in the best Institutes competing with the brightest minds. Apart from demoralizing the meritorious who fail to make it to these Institutes due to these undeserving people, it would also be devastating for these people who would, quite understandably, lag behind the rest (DNA in Mumbai carried an article to this effect and actually quoted reserved category students echoing these sentiments).

After my XIIth, I remember standing at VJTI leafing through sheet after sheet that listed the candidates who had made it to the best Engineering Instituted and I remember the helpless rage that coursed my body when I saw tons of students with more than 10% lower than me who had made it to the best Institutes in the first list while I had not. As things turned out, I didn’t need those seats anyway, but I have nothing but sympathy for so many that must have lost out just like I nearly did…and nothing but pure hatred for those that created this system.

BR Ambedkar is often vilified as the person who created reservations and he is eulogized by the Mulayams and Lallus of the world for creating reservation, but that is one of the biggest lies of the 20th century. BR Ambedkar, by all accounts was vehemently opposed to reservations!

His contention, along the same lines as those of the present-day opponents of reservation, was that reservations would be a crutch to the depressed classes and would give them an incentive to become lazy and not attempt to rise. He wanted it ensured merely that there was an equal opportunity in terms of access!

The detestable duo though – none other than Nehru and Gandhi – ensured that they forced reservations on Ambedkar and the nation and condemned the nation to decades of mediocrity that show no signs of drawing to an early close…sad…so damned sad but true.

Think about these questions. Have 55 years improved anything? Are the poor any closer to quality education? Does caste really have anything to do with economic welfare? Is caste or money a bigger barrier to education? Would you consider taking your family to a doctor that you knew was a ‘quota’ candidate?

Finally, I’d like to just point out the biggest irony of them all. As per the Indian Constitution, the caste system stands abolished and discriminating on the basis of caste is illegal. Ironic then that discrimination on the basis of caste is exactly what reservations do!

PS: Reservations, when written into the Constitution were (at the behest of Gandhi) time-bound and were meant to be reduced as the years wore on till they were abolished. As it stands, every ten years the vote-hungry governments pass Constitutional Amendments to increase the term of reservations and also the castes, sub-castes etc included in the purview…not to mention the damned percentages of the quota…a practice started by the biggest natural disaster of them all – Jawaharlal Nehru…

PPS: With the proposal to force reservations on the private sector on the anvil as well, please treat this as an entreaty and an advertisement… I am a Business Consultant…any vacancies in Vegas? ;-)