Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Oh what tangled webs we weave

Wandering through life wthout a sense of purpose,
Stopping only when we see a treat,
Empathy is not for we
Oh what tangled webs we weave.

Walking through life as a child in a candy store,
Unsure of what we want, grabbing at what looks good.
Only to realise that it tastes not nice.
Oh what tangled webs we weave.

Searching for love searching for succour,
But how do we do that when we cannot trust,
Life is hard and we make it harder still,
The more we connect the more we are alone.
Oh what tangled webs we weave.

Conclusions you will not find in this languid,
little verse of mine.
Here's to hoping we find a resolution
To this game we call life ,
and if you don't just remember what a wise woman said,
Hate not the player when its really the game that u hate.

Monday, November 06, 2006

So why do we need God really?

A rather alarming title for a rather innocous piece( I can't help it, thats what I learnt from most newspapers).
Personally I have always believed in the presence of an almighty God , but then I also accept Darwin's theory. So how can I recncile these two ideas? Quite simply by acknowledging all the scientific proof in front of us points to there having been an Evolution. God on the other hand is an idea for which there is no proof, truly a matter of faith.
I have experienced highs and lows like most, and the idea that there was a God helped in the bad times by providing hope that times would improve. In good times it gave me a reason to be grounded. I have never been overtly religious since I don't believe that the idea of aGod , is dependant on any religion.
So now to come down to why I am writing this piece, a sudden realisation. The realisation that we need the comforting idea that somebody is watching over our actions(as well as those around us), so that no good act goes un-rewarded (in our case) and no bad act goes unpunished (in the case of the rest). Without that knowledge(somebody is watching) there is no incentive to do the right thing and in cases where u can get away wth it, no disincentive to do the wrong thing.
But wether u call it karma or "what goes around comes around" , nature has found its ways.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why this is significant

Ever since i read this CNN article I have been on a forwarding spree. Seemingly displaying excitement beyond what one would usually reserve for studies such as these which are usually a dime a dozen. For every study that plumps for one intution, there is one that goes the opposite way. Starting with this healthy dose of cynisism, I will go on to illustrate why this study has me hopping.
The premise of this article for those who would rather not click out haha, is that greatness is a function of hardwork.(hardwork thats directed at generating continuous improvement).
Now this might be hard for most of us to accept , are'nt certain people born to greatness? Surely we have seen it in our own midst, some kids pick up things quickly while others struggle. There is one Tiger Woods and then there are the rest. Surely hardwork can achieve only so much.
It is these very statements that seem to be true , that the study debunks.
At birth we start a proces of learning that ebbs and flows with time. And ends only at death.
When we start something new , the learning always is fast in the beginning and then tapers off. Some of us keep at it while most of us are satisfied/bored enough not to.
No prizes for guessing who gets to be the best.
Now motivation to keep at it is something that we are either born with or not. But I can live with that, what I can't live with is somebody being better than me on the basis of birth.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

So you must be from India

I look Indian enough, and sound Indian enough that I expect people to guess quite accurately where I am from. Now recently I was out with an Indian friend of mine meeting some people I knew. As we were introduced to someone neither of us knew, the guy in question guesses quite rightly that I am from India, but he is thrown off a little and guesses that my friend was raised here. My curiosity got the better of me and I asked him how he had come to that conclusion. He replied that it was the accent. rowing up in Bombay I was exposed to a whole variety of accented english(and hindi for that matter). There was the telgu,tamil,malyalam , north indian , marathi and gujrati versions, each distinct from the rest(all of which I can proudly imitate). Naturally it never dawned on me that I too had an accent. But why then did'nt I develop an imitation of the american accent after living in the states for 5years(trust me there are benefits to be had)?
Well quite simply it was this converstaion I overheard at Hyderabad airport between an Indian settled in the US with his born and raised in US daughters. That grotesque blend of the texan drawl with the telgu pechnant for appending "OOO" at the end of every word was all I needed to convince me that there was no way in the world I was speaking like that.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

And the wheel turns a full circle.

The US open is in town and it brought to my attention a few interesting facts. Namely that the top women's tennis player(Maria Sharapova) makes more in endorsement deals than the top mens player (Roger Federer) for reasons that don't have anything to do with tennis ofcourse. Though my tone might indicate otherwise I have no issue with that. I mean if you are still wondering why thats the case, you have'nt seen a photo of Sharapova. The market has decided that Maria Sharapova is more saleable than Roger Federer and its as simple as that.
Then why am I writing this post? Well not too long back women won pay parity with men on certain Grand Slam events(I don't remember that all the 4 grand slam's implemented a pay parity) after a long and hard fough battle. For them the principle at hand was how could a woman be paid less to do a job , play tennis in this case than men.
Now Since my reading on this matter is not extensive I apologise for any holes. But to me it would seem a misplaced argument. Surely the men were getting paid more cos more people turned up to watch them. Wonder what those women who fought the good fight think now. Was it worth it? Since anyway now women are on top for the very same reasons the men got more prize money.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Strike now or forever hold your peace.

Those who have been following events in the Indian Sub continent, whould have realised the importance of recent developments namely the elimination of Balochi Nationalist(tribal warlord as per the Pakistani version) leader Nawab Akbar Bugti. Most of the material I have read suggests that this might prove a catalyst to the nationalist movement in Balochistan.
For India this would seem like a God sent.
For decades Pakistan has been exploiting the various fissures that exist within India. Not to say that India hasn't returned the compliment, but the sheer size and the disparate nature of its people means that there are a lot more fissures for Pakistan to exploit.
There will be those in the Indian leadership who will want to steer clear of this conflict. Their argument will be that India would lose the moral grounds on which it asks Pakistan to stop meddling in its aaffairs, stop arming terrorists etc.
To those people I have something to say. Make no mistake , all your moral posturing has yielded India no divedends. Insurgencies in India continue to rage along with regular terrorist strikes all which has happened with the Pakistani leaderships assistance. Even if geo-politically you do not see the case for an independent balochi state, do your utmost to exploit the situation.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Spare us the bullshit

I started blogging precisely for this reason, to vent theonly way I can against the idiocy that some people indulge in when they have the ability to have their opinions read by millions. One such idiot is Praful Bidwai. The self appointed flag bearer of secularism in India and beyond.
His article in Rediff is an abject piece by any standards . Most commentators intellectuals and common folk are appalled at the degree to which the Israeli war machine has been coming down upon Lebanon.
Mr Bidwai has the gall to compare that situation with India-Pakistan situation. Even to one with the thinking capacity of Mr Bidwai, it should be apparent that the presence of nuclear weapons in this region make the possibility of open conflict well nigh impossible.
But to think that peace overtures will stop terrorist attacks as Mr Bidawai seems to think would be possible only in Alice's Wonderland. We have been at the recieving end of a covert war, and circumstances have made it difficult to bring our conventional weapons superiority into play. We can't rely on the 'World Powers' to do anything, if the last 20 years has been any indicator. We need not accuse Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism, they have provided suffiecient evidence to the world about that. The only way we have left to respond is respond with a covert war of our own.
Just as our civilian populace has realised that there are no innocents to be spared in such a war, the same realisation must dawn on those who target us. Raise the cost of each strike to unbearable levels. Israel might not have stopped the attacks, but neither will w eif we stand by and do nothing.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The fighting in Lebanon

I guess what struck me at first about the fighting in Lebanon was how qucikly it pushed the Mumbai bomblasts off the frontpages of CNN.
Generally speaking on the intractable Israeli-Arab conflict I have always viewed Israel as the agressor, In fact I have always felt that Israel flouted international Opinion and norms with impunity knowing that big brother was watching theor back and Uncle Sam's was the only opinion that mattered. At times even that did'nt matter. Almost as if the world owe-ed them something. Even in this conflict there are signs of Israeli heavy handedness, wiping out Lebanons painstakingly rebuilt infratructure was neither necessary nor do I believe it will help Israel in any particular way.
Having said all that it must be unequivocally noted that the further continuance of the Hezbollah in its military avtaar wont contribute to peace in the middle east. Admittedly on their own terms, but if anyone has been making moves towards peace in the middle east its the Israeli's. They have a right to demand Hezbollah's disarmament. The Hezbollah is a group formed with the sole purpose of the destruction of the state of Israel, and Israel has a right and duty to see that does not happen. This is a fight between David and Goliath true, but can we really root for the underdog everytime irrespective of who is right.
The origins of the current fighting can be traced back to 2000 when Hezbollah captured 3 israeli soldier and managed to secure the release of hundreds of lebanese prisoners in exchnage of 3 Israeli bodies. Hezbollah tried a repeat of that tactic and this time Israel decided to take action.
It is not always possible to correct the wrongs perpeterated by history, the Arabs in the middle east who have not as yet reconciled themselves to the existence of Israel, are merely deluding themselves. A lasting peace can be achieved if and only both sides agree that they have an equal right to the land on which they live and die .

Friday, July 21, 2006

Bombay blasts , why those bleeding heart liberals are idiots.

Now by american standards I am a liberal(my pal megan might take issue with that). But then Americans have different standards.
World over there is a consensus that no cause can justify the the killing of civilians , there is also a consensus that all nations can and should co-operate to irradicate the scourge of terrorism. But when it comes to India all such consensus does not apply.
India has been shouting itself hoarse for ages about Pakistan sponsored terrorism , and yet nobody took it seriously.
Pakistan's complicity in Afganistan and in the supply of nuclear bomb making know how to just about every rogue state in the world have all been forgiven or atleast gone unpunished.
This however does not infuriate me, because the world will not change to suit India and why should it. Every nation does and should act in solely its interest(the folks at the UN will disagree but who listens to them anyway).
What does infuriate me is those idiot liberals in India, who after every major terror strike will trot out the same tierd list of excesses of the Indian state some real and some imagined.
Time and time again those idiot liberals have had the nerve to value the lives of Indian civilians and military personnel as less important than those of terrorists. I view this as a manifestation of the Stocklholm Syndrome, where an abductee identifies with his captor.
Admittedly there are things about the Indian state that need to change, but right after a major terror strike , to say anything other than that the perpeterators should be brought to book is flirting with treason. No terrorist checks the identity of those he intends to kill( true they target certain sections) but Mr/Ms Bleeding heart idiot liberal , you might be an unintentional casualty as well the next time you use public transportation, of wait my bad, you probably have an A/c car with a driiver no doubt paid for by an "NGO", so you can turn up after the next terror strike to berate the "heavy hand of the Indian state" that has "forced frustated young men to adaopt the path of terrorism".

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Terror and our response

"Bomb blasts rip through crowded commuter trains at Rush hour" , this headline is from yesterday, but it could easily be from any of the preceeding years. Terror has been brought to Bombay almost as an annual feature.
Prior to these bomblasts there was in mind an event that was probably not unrelated. The bust of Shiv Sena chief Bal ThakerayLate wife was blackened. Predictably , Shiv Sena activists who are scrapping for a fight at the best of times, came out onto the streets in protest forcibly downing shutters and forcing the police to come out in large numbers to prevent violence.
Two days later you have these bom blasts, its no ones case that in the absense of a violent reaction form the Sena, these bomb blasts could have been prevented. But any thinking man is going to ponder on the timing.
How do we respond? Our ususal sabre rattling at Pakistan? Well that wont work , anayone remember OP parakram where half a million Indian troops spent a good part of a year on the border with Pakistan, and came back with absolutely nothing.
Should we target Indian muslims? Surely you cannot hold 200 million Indians responsible for the acts of a few.
So what do we do then. Give a chance for the Bombay police to run a proper investigation and determine who the perpetrators are , discover all apsects of the consipiracy. Then go after the killers by fair means or foul. Any Indian or foriegner , however big is fair game. Announce their guilt publicly, no courts no trials, let the Indian public take care of business.
What do u say , another Rang De Basanti script? Yeah I am working on it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The head butt of the decade.

There is really no need to describe(or for that matter discuss) the Zidane head Butt on an Italian defender that ended in , France's greatest player(maybe all time with due respect to Platini) recieving a red card.
A lot of people including me immediately after the game , believed that Zidane had no business losing it, no matter what was said.
Is that entirely possible? Is it wise on the part of FIFA to come down hard on this offence when it has let so many others off?. When replays are available ther is a strange refusal on part of authorities to use them to administer justice.
I recall incidents in Australia where spectators who were found to be indulging in racial taunts against the visiting south africans were banned from the cricket, why apply different standards to the players themselves?
If Zidane's 'victim' did indeed use a racial slur(as is widely believed) he shouldn't be going unpunished. If the focus of this world cup has been on the reffereeing there is a reason for that. Instead of lamenting the fall in quality, FIFA would do better to apply more resources to see that games are played in the right spirit.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Buffet's anouncement.

Not for the first time I am blogging about something that I have a very sketchy idea about.
So Warren Buffet has decided to give his considerable wealth to charity , changing his long held views on the subject.
We should all be breaking out the champagne . And yet I am left with a feeling of unease. Maybe its the realisation that dawned on Warren Buffet himself, he wasn't going to be around forever. All the shares he holds will be tranferred to charitable trusts(Bill and Melinda Gates mostly).
No doubt those trusts have very competent managers, but for all their competence they are not Gates or Buffet or any of those other remarkable men who will no doubt be thinking on similar lines.
History has taught us that the mightiest empires have stumbled when leadership changed hands from those who were great to those who were competent. Men like Gates and Buffet have been at the forefront of the prosperity that America has seen in the past few decades.
Fact is ownership brings with it an incentive to make things grow and improve. I am not convinced that will continue to be the case when such large business giants are run by charitable trusts.
On the flipside, this is the best shot we have of finding a cure to AIDS.

5"9+ faithful , dependable , music lover.

Today in the subway as usual I was listening to my ipod and nodding off. At Grand Central there is always a lot of people getting off and a girl got into the seat next to me. Immediately she whipped out a notebook and started writing what looked like a list. From the length of the list she had been working on it for a while. She proceeded to finish one A4 sheet and moved on to the next and made it all the way through the middle of that page.
I caught a glimpse of the lsit ofcourse. And these are the things I can reproduce from memory.
5 '9+ , faithful, dependable , music lover, successful.
Somehow I feel this wasn't a list to select a puppy.
To all guys out there, thats what we are expected to live up to. A list that spans 1 1/2 A4 pages.
Never mind that we'll still will always be no 2 after Brad Pitt. No matter that the list writer is no Angelina Jolie either.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Mr Burns? Its a pleasure to meet you.

Recently I was able to obtain a one week free trial for this oh so great gym called Sports Clubs LA.
It costs excatly double of my current gym, but what the heck, I really wanted to see what the other half lived as.
The facilities on offer , justified the price. The space, the equipment the general opulence of your surroundings were amazing.
As soon as you enter, you are left in no doubt, what kind of people go there, the rich(and by new york standards) that means the really rich.
But one sideffect of being rich(with some honorable exceptions) is that you are usually a little older. I mentioned this to my friend as we were entering.
While working out I realised that they were playing Michael Jackson numbers from the 80's and thought to myself, this would make a great post for my blog. "They are so old they play Michael Jackson".
And then as I moved on to the bench press, I saw something that really blew me away. There was a guy who looked exactly like Mr Burns from the Simpsons , only older. Lest you think I am making fun of old people , I admire the guys drive to be in the gym, though I am not sure how it was physically possible.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Talk about ringtones

The cellphone is a wonderful device loved and reviled in equal proportion.
A lot of the hate directed towards the cell phone is thanks to ring tones that can range from the humorous to the ridiculous.
This year around January when Winter was at its peak, I changed my ring tone to birds chirping. I guess I was yearning for spring. That wheel has turned a full circle, i have managed to irritate a lot of people to the point that someone actually called me tarzan :)

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Vatican moves moves an inch .. oh well almost

Today morning on the subway I was actually awake enough to flip through the Time magazine I had brought along with me. I read an article about how the Vatican had not changed its stand on contraception. It was mostly about a move by the moderates in the Vatican to move towards a position which would acquience to the us eof contraception in certain situations such as "condom use in a marriage to prevent the spread of HIV" .
The article went on to talk about how this move was struck down by the conservatives who had earlier wrested control with the election of Pope Benedict.
I find it shocking that the Catholic Church or for that matter any other authority feels its competent to tell people how to fight a deadly disease such as HIV. I don't understand how you can preach to the rest of the universe when the Catholic Church has such a hard time keeping their flock in line. People in other spheres of life have been dealt far more harshly even if a hint of a charge of child molestation was brought against them.
Well what do I know I am destined to eternal damnation for not worshipping at the Catholic Churh anyway.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Workout in the park

I recieved a free pass from someone I know, so I'll be heading to the the workout in the Park.
Hope to keep up considering that it looks like a punishing schedule.

Narasimha Rao how should we remember thee

Like Nero, who fiddled while Rome burned if you believe the prevailing view in the ruling Congress regime. This article says the same.
I believe (maybe with a little bias), that he was one of the shrewdest politicians ever to walk this land.
In one fell swoop , he took away (or rather the BJP)the major issue that threatened to catapult the BJP to power. As was proved later, the BJP needed a, bumbling coalition that ruled at the center to capture powert for a year and a war against Pakistan in Kargil to propel them into power for a full term. The BJP's limitations stood exposed both after the demolition of the Babri masjid(they lost all the assembly elections that followed soon after) and a their rule over 5 years. Had the mandir-masjid issue stillbeen festering, the BJP would have still been making capital from it. Even now they are trying to revive the issue. Narsimha Rao might be unung, unloved and unwept in the upper echeleons of his party but then he led his life that was as well. So Mr Aiyar don't be too shocked when 30-40 yrs from now somebody writes a similar epitah for you.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A day without illegal immigrants

May 1st has witnessed large scale demostrations in opposition to the new proposed laws which would make illegal immigration a felony. This is a sensitive issue requiring way more time than I have. One observation I'd like to make is that I wonder wether these protests might have the opposite of the desired impact. For many states that do not have a large illegal immigrant population, there was ample evidence of the magnitude of the issue.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Applying band-aid when surgery is required.

President Bush's recent pronouncements regarding the need to conserve Oil and general concern about gas prices have to be taken with a pinch of salt.
I know the late night comdedians and Senator Chuck Schumer have been holding Oil companies accountable for the spike in Oil prices , but the facts tell another story. Its simple demand supply economics were the same oil companies price gouging when Oil was less than $20 a barrel?
Well the one thing somebody coming in from abroad into the states notices, is the profusion of cars, as a boss of mine said "Only poor people take the bus". And since the republicans keep winning i am forced to think there are more rich than poor in the states. When gas was cheap, the SUV's did roaring business, supporting the American way of life, ie a huge house(meaning place are more far-flung) , life in the suburbs, 2 car families and soccer mom's putting in more miles than a union truck driver.
You can't lay all the blame on the suburbs , true. The political instability amongst the major Oil producer's has played a starring hand as well. I remember reading a national geographic article more than a year back about wether this was the peak Oil production that the earth was capable of. Well thats a hard question and natuarally there will be extremely intelligent people arguing oon both sides. Given the circumstances currently, we will be remiss in our responsibilities if we do not consider that possibility.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Reservations the topic of the moment

This is a topic that is stirring up debate in all speheres of life in India at the moment. The crux of the matter is notifcation issued by the Government of India allocating 27% for the Other Backward Castes(OBC's) in educational central(federal) educational institututions.
As Usual I am running short on time and need to rush thru such a complex issue simply because I have read way too many one sided and quite frankly poorly written pieces.
Going back, way back the hindu caste system was broadly classified as Brahmin, Ksyatria, Vaishya's and Shudra with Shudras being the bottom of the barrel. Power has shifted between the others while Shudra's (dalits) were widely acknowledges to have been oppressed and ill treated for centuries. Not much has changed over the centuries for this deprived lot. At the time of independence it was decided by the framers of the constitution to allocate quotas that were to lead to their social upliftment. However what was not wittten, rather implied was that these quotas should have some time frame, otherwise they would just create a new breed of privileged citizenery.
What the framers of the constitution did'nt realise was that mere laws in the books was going to do nothing for the uplift of the masses, instead they had set a dangerous precedent where political parties would grant reservations for all and sundry in order to corner votes. Nearly 60 years after Indian independence thats exactly whats happening.
Now infact we have a left leaning government that sees no harm in allocating resources to communities based on there proportion of the overall population. Wether they intend to or not, the message they are sending the people of India is that the only way to corner more resources is to grow your numbers. A decent education, hardwork , innovation are all passe. Everything flows from the numbers of your commmunity, the worst manifestation of democracy possible.
I have to add here that I am a bramhin, I have already been through our education system and I wont be working in a government organzation any time soon.
And yet what angers me is that the poeple behind this move to hike reservations don't give a damn about the people its supposed to benefit, and by extension the country. These are the very same people who would like the indian government to have a stake in every aspect of Indian life so that their patronage dispensing network is strengthened. Alll this vitriol is not going to change anything. Once the genie has been let out of the bottle, no political party can take a stand against reservations and risk losing the OBC vote.
So ladies and gentlemen this flight was good while it lasted , kindly fasten your seat belts , we shall be landing shortly.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

What is a worthwile cause?

Of all things , a late night show on television provoked me into writing this particular post. the show in question detailed the various charitable pursuits of Hollywood celebrities. One particular segment was on a boy suffering from a rare form of cancer. His mother thanked the said celebrities for their support and stated matter of factly that her biy was being kept alive by the generous donations of many. Nobody talked figures and I found myself considering how many lives the same money would have saved in some god forsaken part of a third world country.
Which brings us to the question , Is it wrong to Use resources to save one life, when the same resource could have saved maybe a hundred lives somewhere else? Is one cause more worthy than another? Morally I am not sure. I know that you can't put off all other causes in the real world till the most important ones have been addressed. And yet I can't accept that one life can be conidered more important than a hundred.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Three Days of Rain

I had the pleasure of seeing Three Days of Rain yesterday, for a company sponsored charity event. My first Broadway Show and it was a good experience overall. I was 10 rows away from the stage. I guess whenever a major Hollywood Star such as Julia Roberts stars in a play there is bound to be a lot of buzz. So when she made her entrance the air of expectation was almost palpable. To an untrained eye she began rather nervously but got into it as the play rolled on.
But the performance that was designed to be a crowd pleaser was that of Bradley Cooper. He was funny and connected instantly with an audeience that could afford the Opening week tickets. And I know its a sports cliche, but he looked like he was having fun out there. What struck me the most about the dialouge was how choice of words were not the kind one uses while talking. More like while writing. The magnitude odf it all hit me when I stepped out and there was a throng of people waiting outside to catch a glimpse of Julia Roberts.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Parlez vous englais?

Yesterday a friend and me were walking back from the gym, we stopped infront of his house where I was finishing off a story. My firends an Indian born and bred in the states, me Indian born and bred in India.
A woman walked up to us and the first question she asked us was wether we spoke english. I replied ofcourse, and my friend probably more offended replied "What kind of question is that".
Now this woman was white in her 40's and seemed a little occupied. She started off with how she had left her purse in a taxi and she needed to get back to Long Island and she needed some help. I offered my cell phone for her to call someone, but she said she lived alone. Now since we were returning from the gym i knew my friend had nothing on him( Not that either was in a mood to oblige) . I told her, "We are on our way back from the gym and don't have our wallets".
The friend reiterated the same. Now she asked for a metro card, the only one I had was a monthly pass I bought day before worht $75. No way I could part with that and anyway we had come too far down our lie. If she had some out straight off and asked for $2 to take the subway i might have given it to her. Last thing she said was "You wont help" me and left.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Friday, March 17, 2006

Masala Bhangra II

Once wasn't enough so I had to go again. At the end of the first class of masala bhangra, the instructor asked wether anyone would go to the class thursday evening. Now this was a class conducted by the Indian lady who came up with this class originally. I had read about it in the newpaper at some point and was tempted to meet her. Now the catch was there would be a film crew shooting the class for some television show. I figured that my clumsiness would ensure a swift snip at the editors table so no problem there.
My knee however was feeling dodgy after a week where i went overboard working on my legs at the gym. I got over that by warming up and stretching more than usual.
So I show up at the class and not unexpectedly realise I am the only guy there. And immediatley the instructors points me out and says she is really excited to have an Indian guy in class. That was followed by a series of other friendly though embarassing references. The instructor for the first class showed up and recogniosed me , so I felt more at ease. And once the musice started , the adrenalin rush took care of the rest. What followed for the next 45 mins was the more excrutiatingly fun workout ever. No breaks mind you. I kept pace much to my amazement, but cudn't mouth a single "Balle Balle"

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Palestine Blues

When I watch a movie, I watch for entertainment(has there ever been a more redundants statement?) . I don't demand to be intellectually stimulated or emotionally charged. I was lucky enough to see Palestine Blues since I usually would'nt see such a movie with not much entertainment value. And its not as if my opinions of the Arab Israeli conflict are half baked.
The movie focusses on the Israeli's withdrawl from the Gaza Strip and the Security Wall that they are building in its wake. The movie is shot by a Palestinian with an American passport so you know which side of the story it tells.The movie manages to be very objective however.
What I saw was a farming community being uprooted with nary a bye your leave. Families that had been nutured by their pristine farmlands for generations are suddenly uprooted and in a region racked by conflict there is seldom opportunity to start anew.
And we wonder what pushes people to blow themselves up along with innocent men women and children. The sorrow and helplessness felt by everyone affected by the tragedy would soon be replace by rage. And cycle of violence continues.
I allowed myself to drift , but coming back to the movie, the directors effort was most structured and I could almost see the movie as if it were a book .
Not much of a review but I feel lazy all of a sudden.

Masala Bhangra

I don't remember exactly when, but I remember reading about an Indian lady conducting this exercise class at NYSC called Masala Bhangra. Sounded like a lot of fun. At that time NYSC(new yorsk sports club) seemed like a lifetime away. Now, I have been a member for a good part of the last 1 1/2 years.
I started out running and lifting weights and graduated to taking pilates since I found that both running and weights without the necessary stretching made the body preety stiff. Admittedly it was awkward at first sinc there are'nt too many guys at exercise classes.
Now being too cheap to spring for a real dance class , I also decided I need to take up some dance based exercise class since I really wanted to be a little more graceful in any future exertions on the dance floor. But that would be even more embarassing, since such classes have steps that are way too girly(Yes I did one in Binghamton a fact that I'll never live down).
Bhangra can never b e too girly, so it fit into my plans well. so I went this week.
Trust me being Indian, did'nt give me the slightest advantage. I was still the worst in class. I was amazed at how good everyone was, and it was tonnes of fun, maybe a tad high impact for my liking. But, if I can , I'll go again.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Its a razor not a rocket

Am I the only one who finds gillete ads extremely irritating? Sure razors have come a long way. But Gillete would have you believe that they have rocket scientists making their razors, if you go by there ads. Very attractive women wearing glasses and studious looking gents in lab coats all granted access to a lab using body imagers. Come on give me a break. What happened to the good old, man shaves followed by some alone time with self and mirror, followed by mandatory blond caressing the face.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Indo-US nuclear deal

The just concluded Indo-US nuclear pact has elicted reatcions that range from Euphoria, to caution and even outrage. It is a rather confusing issue but like most its a matter of choices. If India chose not to sign, our nuclear industry would continue on its way in complete isolation. Being a nation without readily eavailable uranium , we would have to wait for the promised Fast breeder reactor technology(which runs on thorium, yeah we got that in loads) before we could think of nuclear power as a viable source of energy.
The Indian nuclear industry has done exemplary work, excatly how exemplary no one knows due to the secrecy and the fact that their accounts are not audited(I migth be mistaken on this one). Our civialian energy reuqirements compell us to look at nuclear energy. That being the case this pact is the only option. The downside, we wont have as much fissile material to make bombs.
Now exactly how much fissile material we have is not known, but I assume its enough to meet our strategic interests for the Manmohan Singh government to cotemplate this pact. There is no way this information can be obtained in the public domain, so we have to accept it as a matter of faith.
But the aspect of the pact thats being overlooked, is the level of trust and mutual respect on both sides. This bodes well for India's future since even the "Cholbe Na" communists must realise that our strategic interests at this point in history, intersect with the Hyperpower of our times.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sad as it is , we can't afford Bush to lose

Iraq hase been a powder keg on a short fuse for the last 2 1/2 years since the invasion euphimistically labelled as the liberation. Inspite of the seeming lack of progress in Iraq for a while the Bush adminsitration had things to cheer about , including the election in Iraq, the pro-democracy demonstartions in Lebanon, Sharon agreeing to withdraw from the West Bank, democracy flowering in Egypt etc. The administration could reason that the loss of american life, and Iraqi( who is counting really?) and the general destruction of Iraqi infrastructure was not in vain. For reasons best known to them, the adminsitration blustered their way into an expensive war. None of the explanations or justifications are offered any longer long since disproved.
Fast forwarding to the present, I think it would be safe to say that the shit has finally hit the fan with a Sunni-Shia civil war looming. Bush's first instinct would be to pull back troops to satisfy a restive public that no longer buys any of the justifications for the war. But if he does that , the last thing stopping a full scale civil war from breaking out would be gone.
There maybe many who will be sniggering at the United States plight. "U'r mess u clean it" seems to be the underlying theme. All those with such a view are not wrong by any standards.
But this sitiuation is way to dangerous to just walk away from it. Al Quaeda is a threat not just to the US but to the whole world. Just as the Soviet withdrawl in Afganistan, strenghtened the Islamists and made them set their eyes on bigger things, Victory for them in Iraq will unleash another attempt to at the very least terrorise and disrupt life in countries that do not subscribe to their world view. Just as Afganistan led to the disintegration of the 'evil' Soviet empire, Iraq will have a lasting affect on the role the US plays in todays world. Are we really ready for this tectonic shift in the world's geo-politics? This situation reminds me of a cartoon i used to watch as a kid. Insoector Gadget was the buffon, who was always bailed out of trouble by his niece Penny's pet dog brain. The best part was he never knew it.
George Bush is our Inspector Gadget who has blundered his way into a position between a rock and a hard place. The rest of the world has to pay the part of brain for the greater good.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It'll be a while

For the last 3 months I have been going to the gym religiously. I was intent ( I still am) of recovering from the surgery I had on my knee in September. I had help in the form of a gym buddy who was way more focussed and driven than me.
Naturally I like what I see in the mirror. Only today at the gym I was working out close to where one of the personal trainers was lifting weights. The PT in question has easil one of the better bodies at the gym. I looked at the mirror and for a brief instant thought "Hey! I am almost there, I look not much smaller than this guy". The moment came and passed. It passed when He picked up a 120lb dumbell. So now I have t revise my estimate, I'll be there but it will be a while.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Getting jiggy with it.

I have a couple of friends who have been telling me to try out Salsa. My roomate who is also an expert in a few dance forms was encuraing as well. In keeping with my cheap-ass ways I signed up for a 4 hour crash course($25 only!!) in Salsa on Superbowl sunday. I was scheming to be one of the few guys in class. ( who the hell would want to take a salsa class on Superbowl sunday?)
Turns out a lot of people think like me :( . Mommy I am not so special after all.
The class was packed beyond belief. We spent the next 4hrs doing a few basic salsa moves first with the instructor and then in pairs. I thought I was doing preety ok, till I had to pair up. Again I schemed my way to finding a partner who wasn't 60. I did preety ok considering that I ended up dancing with a gorgeous asian girl. I have never felt more intimidated in my life. Pairs dancing is a the very least a huge leap from all the gibber/jabber i had done till now. I guess she felt my fear cos she did'nt stick around.
I jiggled my ass like there was no tommorow for 4hrs. And i have a sore ass to prove it.
Salsa here I come (maybe)

Did the NFL want the Steelers to win?

During the AFC divisional championship game, with the Steeler's in the lead and time running out in the fourth quarter, Steeler's safety Troy Polamalu came up with what would have been a game winning interception. On a review, the Referee quite schockingly overturned the play. The Steelers went on to win, but the call left a bad taste in the mouth and drew allegations from people prominent amongst whom was Steeler's Linebacker Joey Porter. It was alleged that the NFL wanted the Colts to win.
It would seem the script was repeated in Super Bowl XL. But this time the beneficiary were the Steelers. No one expected Seattle to win. The tough as nails Steelers were going to ride roughshod over a team that had nohopers The Cardinals, the Rams and 49ers. But what happened was quite the other way around. Seattle managed to come out with the right mx of run and pass to dominate the first half. In all their wisdom the Ref's denied Seattle a touchdown for an absurd pass interference call. And the half ended at 7-4. Then there was the Ben Rothlisberger attempt at running in the ball that clearly did not break the plane.
So Joey Porter, was the NFL rooting for u this time?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Are we really That out of ideas?

A friend forwarded me an article on "Anger in the Muslim world on the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad" . This did'nt quite inspire interest in me quite as much as a headline, "Embassies torched in Syria and Lebanon". Western leaders have quite predictably reacted with Righteous indignation asking that the Muslim nations in question provide adequate security and deploring violence. In the middle of this we hear voices that pipe up to reiterate the importance of freedom of speech and press. To me its more a case of common sense. Living in India with a Muslim population that is second only to Indonesia and Bangladesh, I have grown up with the view That muslims in general are not going to take kindly to that kind of stuff(cartoons of the prophet etc.)
Its another matter that everyone in India would have heard stories of migrant workes to west-asian nations having their photos/idols of thier God's being snatched at the airport and destroyed.
I can't imagine that someone with half a brain would think that they could publish those cartoons without evoking the kind of reaction we see today. This controversy is needless to say the least. Freedom of press also carries with a certain responsibility of self censorship. Call the rest of the world primitive , but its not an entirely redundant concept to view God as Holy. So please think twice before u stick a photo someone else's God on a thong as was done by a certain fashion designer with Hindu dieties.
No to flip the coin over. The cardinal rule of getting respect is to give respect. So muslims of West Asia, it might not be such a terrible idea to be more accepting of other religions. Just like watching Brokeback Mountain has'nt made anyone gay yet(I am still not taking any chances)
, so to being tolerant of other religions wont dilute your credentials as Muslims.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The President as Quaterback

The two positions I am comparing have a lot in common. The president of the United States is easily the post celebrated post on the planet. And the Quaterback the most celebrated position in sports(Hey! the Superbowl is called the world championship like it or not).
Both positions require deft handling of resources, a fine understanding of strategy and courage under pressure. Ultimately there are many reasons to fail or succeed but the buck stops at your door.
With these things in mind lets examine George Bush's Quaterback rating.
Here are various talking points that the Bush Presidency has harped on.
George Bush is not a Washington insider and will the Job done. Which by the Conservative constituency, means reducing the size of Government. The size of government has actually gone up.
George Bush has made America safer. How is that If may query. Burying parts of the 9/11 commision report that pointed out the lapses that lead upto 9/11? By Invading Iraq and turning a large and oil rich nation into a haven and breeding ground for terrorists.
George Bush's tax cuts boosted the economy. This one I can't biff. But its sustainable economic growth that would be appreciated. The reasl estate and home sale biz that has been a major reason for growth is slowing on account of increasing rates. So whats the next boom area?
George Bush wants to usher in an era of Freedom and Democracry in the rest of the world. By selectively siding with dictators like Musharaff? The only good dictators are the one who listen to the United States.
I don't know enough to biff the "No child left behind" either. But echoing the views of others , this legislation has imposed stringent testing on schools, without necessarilly providing schools with the resources to deal with them.
Now that these talking points have been rubbished, The Bush team has fantastically turned to new ones. "We will reduce our dependance on foriegn Oil". Hmm. sounds curious coming from a Texan oilman who believes "Someday the synthetic oil generated from soya will be used to power drills in Alaska". Sorry I did'nt catch that. Did u say power or lubricate. George , are u really trying to prepae the grounds for the invasion of Iran and $100 oil ?
Oh yeah and one final talking point , Bush will bring a new era of accountability in public life. Wait a minute did'nt we just have l'affaire
Jack Abrahmoff and Tom Delay , Scooter Libby and Carl Rove, Katrina and Michael Brown, and the ongoing Iraq saga. Is it just me or is there a serious lack of accountability for George Bush's inner circle?
So lets add that performance up. Quite a few passes intercepted, a few sacks, no real yardage, preety much no touch-downs and u have a preety lousy passer rating. The funny thing is America does'nt need fancy Quaterbacking, just somebody who is competent and manage the game. Well the Presidency and Quaterbacking are preety similar after all, only the Quaterback can actually lose his job.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Movie Review: Rang De Basanti

A line taken from a poem by the reknowned Indian Revolutionary Bhagat Singh makes a fitting fitting title to this movie that dares to stray from the mundane. I hate hindi movies mostly because it takes bollywood a whole year interspersed with drivel to come up with a movie that is both original and entertaining. Salaam Namaste fell in that category and So did Dil Chahta hai.
The first half is light hearted and entertaining , giving you the impression the movie is not really about anything. After all a british beauty making a documentary about An Indian revolutionary with a bunch of unemployed "youth"(I shudder to use that term when talking about Aamir Khan) is hardly the makings of rivetting cinema. But considering the last disaster I saw was Garam Masala, the first half seemed positivley heavenly.
The slick camera work and intertwining of narratives is striking. The second half is to say the least rivetting. And thats all that I am going to say wthout betraying the plotline.
I am glad that a superstar like Aamir Khan did not overshadow the young and talented supporting cast. Kudos to the director who centered the story where it should have been rather than yield to the temptation of having the hero Aamir Khan be the be all and end all of the movie.
Oh yeah, I could not believe the number of people at the movie. For a few hours new york resembled Mumbai.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Say a little prayer for ...

Once in a while as an Indian living and working abroad I allow myself the luxury of a little hand wringing at the goings on back home(without getting into the "If u have a problem come back and solve it OR shut up" argument).
As most would have concluded there is really not much of a difference to the common man no matter who is in power. But there is something about the current arrangement that runs the nation that stinks to high heaven. So lets briefly examine our players.
Dr. Manmaohan Singh
The Saint-Scholar who can truly claim to be one of Modern India's Champions. A follower of Mahatma Gandhi no doubt, Dr singh neither hears any evil nor sees it.
Our Prime Minister would have us believe he is powerless in the face of the vile abuse of power his cabinet colleagues (and other notable party colleagues)indulge in. Funny thing is I believe him.
Mrs Sonia Gandhi
Last Known educational qualification: A course not amounting to a degree in English.
Last job declined: The Prime Minister of India.
Current job: Giving orders to The Prime Minister of India.
Forseeable goals for the future : Perpetuating rule of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty for the next 50 years.
The Rest
The overenthusiastic Nehru-Gandhi family sycophants, who operate in what appears to be a total lack of responsibility to both cabinet and country. The only game in town seems to be to see
who can curry favor with the Nehru-Gandhi's. It reminds me of medivial times where local cheiftains would compete with one another to present expensive gifts at the Emperor's Court.
Nothing much has changed. The people of India can be won over by promising things that will never be delivered. But his congress regime is atleast nuanced enough to realise that they might be better served in giving Manmohan and his finance minister a free(er) hand in deciding policy so that the coffers are full. This money ofcourse will be used to buy votes one way or another.
So my friends who wud rather I shut up . Like someone i know says "What would you have me do?"

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Yogurt anyone?

I realize now that growing up each kid is subjected to the the 'miracle cure' for all ills that the parents fancy. Case in point , the windex in the movie "A Big Fat Greek Wedding" .
My mother was the same way about yogurt. It became the running joke of the household. I was at the forefront with my "Yogurt can cure cancer" barbs.
Well I just got off the phone with my mother and she very triumphantly pointed out , that yogurt might not be able to cure cancer (not yet anyway) but apparently it can do something about AIDS. Yes mom I'll eat my yogurt. And while I am at it I'll go outside for a run (Another favored recommendation).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Can't beat em so join them

I know I bitched about it cloud no. 9: Rage against the ipod. But I had to get it, so I went ahead and got myself an ipod video 30Gb and black. What I really hate about apple is their pricing strategy(I cud'nt contain myself). The 512Mb shuffle is $99 good for the gym, but wont allow u the luxury of playlists. The 1Gb shuffle is the same way at $150 and for an additional $50(thwts $200 for those who are counting) u can get an ipod nano . Now an ipod nano comes in 2 GB and 4Gb. At $300 the ipod video (all 3-0 Gb of it)seemed like the only way to go. Congrats Apple u won the mind game and I just did what u wanted me to.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

How many human lives make a holocaust

Talk about quixotic tendancies, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems to have them in plenty. His latest venture is a conference to 'investigate' the holocaust carried out by the Nazis in much of Europe under thier occupation during World War II.
Surely Iran and its people have bigger problems than arriving at the exact number of dead jews it takes to define a holocaust. I must admit as an outsider looking in , I never quite understood the US and west's unstinting support to Israel against the Arab's who possess oil.
I can understand why the United States clear tilt towards Israel clearly upsets a lot of the Muslim world. I guess they would appreciate a somewhat neutral approach.
But this frustration is manifesting itself in strange and unproductive ways. This joke that the Iranian's call a conference will not prove their case, nor make any progress towards resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. All it will achieve is that hawks in the west and Israel will point at such immature acts on the part of Iran and ask "U want to deal with this joker?".
After the occupation of Iraq , and the virtual vassal status that the other Arab states(and Pakistan) enjoy with the US, Iran is keen to grab the mantle ofcthe Muslim World's leadership.
A good start would be to speak with a voice of moderation and maturity. If that proves too tough, just try not to make an idiot of yourself.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Freakonomics

Is the rather surprising name of the book I am reading. Economics as I understand it lies on the bedrock that men are rational beings and take rational decisions.
I was recently introduced by a magazine article to Behavioral Economics , a branch of economics that adjusts for human tendencies to make decisions on certain intangibles.
Behavioral economics seeks to quantify that effect.
Freakomics the hugely popular book seems to be an effort in a similar direction that asks seemingly innocuous questions and provides astounding answers. I am not all the way thru yet, but here are my two favorite tid-bits.
By the early 90's street crime by disaffected youth with easy access to guns was a very serious matter. This lead to dire predictions from experts about a future full of violence and chaos. Then suddenly crime rates began to drop. So much so that murders in NYC dropped from 2,245 in 1990 to 596 in 2003. The author attributes it quite stunningly to the Roe vs Wade verdict that legalized abortion in 1973. His argument that legalized abortion prevented the birth of many unwanted babies who would otherwise have been born into (for the lack of a better politically correct term) 'adverse family environment', making it quite likely that they would exposed to violence and deprivation early in life and consequently take to crime when they were old enough. Wow! Take that Republicans.
The second one is funnily enough about on-line dating. The author comes up with the none to interesting discovery that most people lie about themselves in online profiles. A sobering fact that 57% of men who put up profiles do not get a single response, may be explained by the fact that men are expected to take the lead in the dating ritual. Schemes differ but most websites charge u to contact someone while placing a profile is free. So there, my own little observation, women are just not willing to go to the point of paying a fee to get a date.
But the observation that really takes the cake is as follows.
50% of white women and 80% of white men on dating websites indicate no racial preference. Of those who indicated no racial preference 90% of the e-mail queries by men were to white women. The women went one better, 97% of their queries were to white men. Hmm. Interesting indeed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Called in Sick

I had to call in sick today, after battling a stubborn cold for nearly a week. It was just getting better before getting worse. Sounds like John Kerry. I voted for it before I voted against it and then voted for it. I know steaming should help, so I am thinking of going down to the NYSC steam room later on.

Taken in by the Tofu mob

As you would have noticed there the trend of vegeteranism has been gaining strength in the west. Walk into any organic store(which I admit I have done recently) and you are likely to be presented with a variety of meat subsitutes made from tofu. So u can have tofu turkey or if u please tofu bacon. Tofu on its own is a good idea, but if you buy this based on hope u will be eating meat thats good for u , u have another thing coming ur way. Recently I bought tofu steak. The directions indicated that u had to saute the tofu with ur favorite BBQ sauce. Sounded promising enough. What I got was tofu that tasted like tofu. You can't win em all I guess.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Overheard

In the elevator of my office building.
Woman 1: "Oh u look cute" (Woman 2 is a 30-40 lady dressing like a 21 year old).
Woman 2: "Thank You! I try"

Monday, January 02, 2006

Boxing class

I took my first boxing class at NYSC after my friend Maneesh testified to its positive impact on the abs. Ofcourse Maneesh was paying a gorgeous personal trainer some serious dough for the privilege(sorry Maneesh I cud'nt resist).
Mine was a group class. For the last year and a half of going to NYSC, the only other group exercise class I took was Pilates. For some reason, I always feel the need to add that I took it to enhance my flexibility, and yes I was the only guy in the class. Much harder than u think. I felt the boxing class was way to intense, to the extent of being manic. Today's experience enhanced that image. But it was worth it. I learnt the left jab and the big right. Most of the class was spent doing sit-ups,squats and push-ups.
The instructor would ask us to unleash a sequence of punches. If u screwed up more push ups. And I screwed up a lot. One of the more amusing/disturbing parts of the class was the sparring between the instructor and some of the students he selected. The instructor had pads while the students had gloves. And some of them got the instructor in pretty embarrassing positions. I'd hat to be in that position. One lucky punch and that guy would come after me like there's no tomorrow.

An otherwise enjoyable evening

My roomates friends(Volker and Daniella) from Germany have been staying at our place for the last couple of weeks. Volker had lived in NY for a few months around 4years back. Volker kept talking about a bar/club with live music and no cover on Sundays. The place in question was Cafe Wha. So we decided to go today (a sunday).
The evening did'nt get of to a great start. After finding out that there was a cover(since Monday was a holiday) and there was a 2 drink minimum, I asked the waitress wether food would count against the 2 drink minimum. She said no, since it was a "drink" minimum. I know Daniella and Volker found that to be silly, but I said it aloud. I have to admit that got under my skin. But the band more than made up for it. They played such a vast variety of cover songs. I really had a whale of a time. There were patrons dancing in the narrow aisles jostling with the waitstaff. The band was that good.
Later at the break, I asked for the cheque. Volker did'nt have enough cash on him, so we decided that he'd pay by card and I'd pay him cash. When the checque was brought out, it had the tip calculated. The tip was calculated on cover + food + beverage. Now I might be wrong but it struck me as distinctly unfair. Volker agreed and he filled out an amount that was a 15% tip on food + beverage.
The waitress already upset presumably by our earlier encounter, was dismayed and made it a point to tell me "Just so that u know a 15% tip is 8 bucks".
she did'nt stick around to hear my response , even more infuriating.
Moral of the story, let the other guy ask for the checque.