Monday, December 31, 2007

I've learnt...

Through a fairly painful process called Life, I've learnt a few things. I'm sharing these with anyone who wants to avoid the entire cycle & prosper on borrowed wisdom!
  • Not to offer advice unsolicited.
  • Never to criticize anyone. It shatters the other person's self-esteem. A gentle word is more important than correcting somebody. The Quran apparently says something to this effect on criticism: "Criticism is akin to eating the flesh of your brother"!
  • No matter how many interests I cultivate, no matter how much I know about everything, No matter how much capacity my brain has been blessed with, I've learnt that even that has it's limits. I know now that in order to achieve something big, you have to make sacrifices, you sometimes have to go through trauma.
  • I've learnt: that often we’re too hard on ourselves. We judge ourselves too harshly, expect too much, even perfection from ourselves. I've learnt that it's not working for me. I've learnt that we’re as ordinary or just as significant as everyone else. So what I’ve learnt is this: No more judging harshly, and no more totally unrealistic expectations! Ambition yes, but none of the previous expecting the earth stuff!
  • I've learnt that I'm as important or as strong and as susceptible as the next guy. So no more fear of bullies. You can tackle them, and with just a little bit of luck superbly! So no more getting intimidated by bullies or unnerved in the face of aggression! Stay & FIGHT! You stand almost as much a chance of winning if you fight. If you don’t fight, then you stand no chance at all!
  • We don't understand right from wrong, or spirituality or religion when we are young. We understand these things only later, when we're battered and bruised. After we have sinned(?) and learnt some lessons in humility and in our fragility and impermanence. And we have been thru moh and have realized what a devious mistress it is. And that the devil is a seducer who tempts as depicted so effectively in The Devil's Advocate. How even a virtue can become a vice if taken to extremes.
  • Peter sinned before finally tending to the flock. Even Jesus and Mohammad started preaching late in life. Using that analogy we realize that we lesser mortals have stained damans before we begin to receive the first rays of enlightenment. Because it is only the test of fire that makes fine steel.
  • Not to worry. Worry leads to anxiety & stress, and these can become lifelong mental & physical conditions is unchecked. After all, there are billions who go through life's ups & downs unpeturbed. What do they lose? They same that everyone else loses! Also, read these two excellent couplets from 2 great poets:

Chinta se ghate chaturai,

Dukh se ghate sharir,

Lobh se ghate laxmi,

Kah gaye das Kabir..*


Chinta se chaturai ghate

ghate rup aur gyan

chinta badi abhagini

chinta chita saman

tulsi bharose ram ke

nischint hoyi ke soye

anhoni honi nahi

honi hoye so hoye!*

  • I've realized after much misunderstanding & maligning it, that Religion is essentially a school. Or a course therein. Of Spirituality. When you want to learn about Law, you go to Law school; when you wanna learn about God and Spirituality, Religion teaches you.

Note: This list will expand.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Roz subah sirf utho nahin... JAAGO!!!

OK. If you take pride in being an educated, intelligent, humane Indian, here's what you should be reading:

And need I specify what you should be doing?

I am going to do what Anjan has recommended. For a start, I am not going to shop at Reliance Fresh anymore. Spencer's, a nice secular South Indian company will get all my money. No quarrel with Reliance Retail. They're Headquartered in Bombay. None with Reliance Communications for the same reason. Quarrel only with companies operating out of Gujarat. Reasons below.
No more buying fuel at the Reliance petrol pump in Vashi. Will buy from HP.

If anyone has more ideas to add to this list, we'd love to hear!

A boycott is a time-tested form of protest against the actions of a state (as represented by its "management" or "government"). Think about the Swadeshi movement, for instance - its participants chose not to buy British goods not only as a positive endorsement to India's handloom industry, but also an economic action that disrupted the British textiles supply-demand curve. Were those factories not staffed by people like the employees that you refer to, or run by businessmen whose intention was anything other than to make an honest living - supported by a nation-state that was quietly pursuing its agenda of repression against India? Did the owners of those factories stand up and pressurize the British monarchy to give India its freedom - or did the collective weight of the Indian protests in both non-violent and militant expression drive the British out? We all make choices.
Arvind Mills and the other companies that chose to be where they are made theirs. It is our belief that a widespread boycott will compel them to rethink this - and to put pressure on the state leadership to at least shift away from the politics of hate if they are to retain their economic position.

List of companies to watch for:
The list is rather long and still under scrutiny for accuracy (we do not wish to penalize companies that may have registered their offices there years ago but operate de facto HQs from elsewhere - it is quite a hassle to switch the State for a Corporate office)... still, here are some of the obvious ones identified so far:

Arvind Mills (Healthier Alternative is KG Denim I think)
Torrent Pharma
Cadila Pharma
Zydus Cadila
Gujarat Gas
Paras Pharmaceuticals
Ashapura Mines
Remi Metals
Amul (Britannia/Nestle are alternatives)

Edited: 07.01.2008

Friday, December 07, 2007

Road Rage with a twist

There was another post that spoke of road rage some time back, but it's been some time since then. By God's Grace, I'm older & more mellow now. Or yellow as my twenty something cousin would put it. Here's a couple of my recent responses to aggravation on Poona roads.

I do not try & run Pune-ites off the road anymore. There's no point. They're stubborn & are willing to get their own vehicles damaged if you end up damaging yours in the bargain. So I keep my cool. I cannot overstate the importance of keeping a cool head in every situation throughout your life! Even if you have to defend yourself physically, there's no reason to let your adrenaline take control of your mind. You can do more damage to your opponent if your mind is thinking of vicious ways to do it. But more on cool in another post.
So what I do these days is stay calm & think of ways to cause permanent psychological scarring rather than get worked up, get my blood pressure up, get into a shouting match. Such as:

The Koregaon Park - Mundhwa road is being repaired for the past month. As a result of which, it is now temporarily a one-way. But Pune-ites being the priceless lot they are, break every traffic rule in the book & then some more. They drive right into the one-way, in hordes, causing immense discomfort for those legitimately on that road. Thankfully I realized the futility of trying to shout down 40 motorists. So I called the Traffic Control Room & appraised them of the situation. They're Pune-ites too I guess, so they said they'd take immediate action, but did nothing for a long time. Then one day, as I was driving past the other end of the road, I saw a police vehicle stationed there & a couple of cops. And of course, there were motorists leaning out of their windows, alighting from their vehicles, /begging/negotiating with the cops to be let off. This was my moment! I stopped my car, rolled the window down & in the loudest voice I could muster I hollered to the cops, "GREAT JOB!!! WONDERFUL!!! CATCH MORE OF THESE GUYS! DON'T LET THEM OFF EASY!" And I clapped as well. I wanted to get out of the car & do a little jig, but I was in a bit of a hurry. Plus judging by the response of one of the motorists, I think I had done enough! :-D
But it doesn't end here. As I drove onto that road, a couple of metres ahead, I saw more motorists heading down the wrong way. So I slowed down, rolled my window down, and signalling the errant motorists to stop I said, "Run! There's a police car coming right behind you!" And that sent the Puneri drivers scurrying. Where? Straight into the waiting arms of the cops at the other end!!! LOLOL!!!! BLOODY MADE MY DAY!!!

The Katraj - Hinjewadi Highway is supposed to be just that, a highway. But unlike anywhere else in the country, this highway is littered with Pune drivers, not sticking to their lanes, weaving in & out at 80 kmph, driving at 60 kmph in the right lane, not allowing you to overtake blissfully unaware of rearview mirrors that will tell them that someone behind them is signalling them to move!
Once I got stuck behind one such truck. Normally my response was to honk until the guy moved. That would entail hand on horn for a good 300 seconds and having to put up with that noise yourself! Not to mention the aforesaid blood pressure! But not now... Nah...
So I overtook this guy somehow (didn't slow down near him to wave my fist/finger or anything), and then slowed to 30 kmph right in front of him. Then one deep breath and I decided to drive like that for the next few minutes. Suddenly I saw this car overtake the truck from the left & join me in front of him. Same speed. And he waved at me as if to say, "That's the way to do it"! And then both of us drove like that for the next few minutes, in front of the trucker @ 30 kmph. :-)

As the other car pulled away, I saw his registration number. Bombay car. Gosh, I love those Bombayites! Imagine! Crazy Bombay Stranger-Friend joins me in getting back at a stubborn/deaf/blind trucker.

Apparently I'm not the only one who does this. Quite a few non locals who live in Poona for work adopt this route to get back at their tormentors. As they say in Bombay, "Tension lene ka nahi, Dene ka!"

PS: Did another nice thing that Koregaon-Mundhwa day that I forgot to mention. After the applauding, I called up the Pune Traffic Control Room (whom I have called earlier to complain) and told them what a wonderful job they were doing. I personally believe that they must have been all smiles in that office for the next 10 minutes. I doubt if they have ever received what is called an appreciation call in call centre parlance!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Racist friends...

I have this f(r)iend who's been chewing my brain for the past 6 months on how people from her native state rule India's socio-cultural conciousness. She's from Bengal & they're a people who're traditionally proud of their heritage. But this particular fiend's pride tends towards conceit, tends to get argumentative & tends to talk more than listen. So I'm adopting another route to conversation. One where she can read but cannot interrupt! This is a point by point dissection of her race-supremacy claims:

Bengalis "RULE" India!
OK... By what Logic? Here's a list of Indian Prime Ministers & Presidents. I don't see even one Bengali in here. So what exactly do you mean by "rule"??

Bengalis have the richest culture!
OK, let's use that logic again. What exactly comprises Culture? I take it to mean a mix of a regions Art, Music, Dance, Literature, Cuisine etc. Superiority in these areas will be taken as an indicator of cultural superiority.

Art: Leading Indian Artists are M.F. Hussain, Tyeb Mehta, Raja Ravi Varma. Theirs are the paintings that command the highest prices in the world art market. Any bong names here?

Music: There's Hindustani & there's Carnatic in Indian Classical Music. No Bangali. Exponents are Pandit Jasraj (Haryanvi), Bhimsen Joshi (Kannadiga), Gangubai Hangal, Shobha Gurtu (both Kannadiga). Then you have Pt. Ravi Shankar (after 3 Kannadigas, a Bong finally!), Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia (UP-ite), Ustad Allah-Rakha, Ustad Zakir Husain, Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Bismillah Khan. Any Bengali names there? We'll come to popular, film music as well, but for now I'd like you to retract the statement you made that people from other states of India have contributed very little to India's culture & development!

Dance: Well, India has Kathak, Kuchipudi, Bharat Natyam, Mohini Attam, Odissi, hell it even has Naga! Here's a full list that has Manipuri & Assamese dance forms. But no bong as far as I know. So where does this false sense of superiority stem from? A feeling of inadequacy...?

Literature: Everyone acknowledges Gurudeb's greatness & achievements. But that was over a 100 years back! And if you really wanna go back in History, there hasn't been a greater poet than Ghalib on the subcontinent & may well never be! If you take the current baromater of literary success to be the Man-Booker, then India's winners are from Kashmir, Gujarat & Kerela; Salman Rushdie, Kiran Desai & Arundhati Roy. And with the exception of Arundhati Roy, the rest are foreign nationals actually! Only our desperation makes us claim them as our own. So before you start claiming Dr. Amartya Sen as your own think again!

Cuisine: Mughlai anyone? I rest my case here! Though I will acknowledge my preference for Bengali sweets here!

OK! Moving on to more trivial pursuits, Indian Films! Names like Kishoreda & R.D Burman are thrown at me! As I duck for cover I realize that this is History being thrown at me. Again! My favourite singer is Kishore Kumar. My favourite composer is R.D Burman. But I would be the last one to refute the accomplishments of a Rafi or a Shankar-Jaikishan who Kishore & R.D. themselves held in very high regard!

But to counter my friends arguments, I list Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor & Dev Anand, the trio who ruled the film industry of yore. Yes there was a Guru Dutt, but he was actually either Maharashtrian or Kannadiga. Yes, there was a Satyajit Ray, who I think is India's only Oscar winner. But remember Mehboob and K. Asif? Mughal-e-Azam was not made by a bong. Nor were any of India's 3 Oscar nominees for best foreign language film: Mother India, Salaam Bombay or Lagaan.

Today's top stars are Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan (yes, he's a star; he may be a below-par actor, but even if it's bizzare, he is a star.), Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar & Salman Khan. No bong names here! Aishwarya Rai is the country's top heroine not Sushmita Sen. Bipasha and Lara (though YUM!) are still mere starlets!

The leading composer today is A.R. Rahman. The leading singers today are Udit Narayan (a Bihari/Nepali) & Sonu Nigam. And Sunidhi Chouhan! India's leading drummers/percussionists are Trilok Gurtu & Sivamani.

Yes, I will acknowledge the incandescence of artists like Shaan, Kajol, Rani etc. But your argument that your people "rule", holds no water!!!

The Nobel's too establish no superiority. There's an equal number of Bong & Tam winners & a Punj in the list too! Our desperation is at it's height here. We claim Mother Teresa to be an Indian on the basis of her work in India, but we also shamelessly claim two others who have spent an entire lifetime working in the US & the UK!

And now to tackle that History book that was being constantly hurled at me... Historically, India's greatest kings have been Akbar & Ashoka. There's been a Mughal Dynasty & there's been a Bihari Empire (Magadha, Patliputra). There's been the Chola dynasty down south, there's been Hyder Ali & his son Tipu Sultan. There's even been a minisicule Peshwa rule! Bengal's impact on history in comparision has been zilch!

You see little girl, the larger the scheme of things grows, the smaller our local achievements get. Even on the world stage, we are recognized for our achievements in the English Language. And we're all viewed as Indians. So really, drop this racial supremacy attitude. The last person to use it was Hitler!

THERE... THAT FELT GOOOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Why I don't like Shahrukh Khan - the actor

I'd said I'd elaborate upon this quite some time back, but am only getting down to it now. To be fair this should've been done a long time back; one cannot allow the myth to be propagated unabated.

I don't have any problems with Shahrukh Khan the individual. I actually admire him for being well read, his generally civilized public demeanour, his sense of humour, for what he has achieved in life. I believe he is an extremely intelligent human being who would have succeeded in any sphere he would've ventured into. But I do have problems with the public image of the man. And I have serious concerns about the blatant media manipulation behind this public image.

While I will give Shahrukh his due (one must): he is very popular, he is an extremely energetic performer, he has a modicum of sparingly used talent as well; one thing I will not concede to is the myth that Shahrukh Khan is a good actor.

Shahrukh is at best a mediocre actor. Even if you do not compare him to previous greats like Dilip Kumar & Amitabh Bachchan, even if you compare him to his generation of actors like Aamir Khan, Akshay Khanna & now Akshay Kumar, he comes up short. And we're not even going down the Om Puri-Naseer-Anil Kapoor path! So that should really put an end to the argument that he is a "good" actor. He is like I said before an actor who has uptil now displayed only limited range. This may be in part because he has hitherto chosen to deliver only what the Indian movie-going masses required. There may be an actor inside him that he chooses to let out only occasionally. Let us examine that argument as well.

To be fair to him, he has recently attempted genuinely different roles (Swades and Chak De India), and he did put in a fairly decent performance in Swades. But again it is not the kind of performance that will come up while Om Puri's, Naseer's or Amitabh's performances are being discussed.

To every well educated, exposed mind it should be amply clear that while SRK is a huge star in crazy ol' Bollywood, calling him a good "actor" is belittling the other more serious practitioners of the craft. They may be too dignified to say anything, but it must hurt them when such irresponsible rubbish is printed.
Enough said about his acting abilities. Let us move on to more the sinister reasons for my dislike of SRK the "star".

Why is it that one doesn't read the opposite point of view in any form of media about SRK? Why hasn't even a single film journo written about SRK's limited talent? There are multiple magazines (and filmi channels now), and he has been around for over a decade. Are you trying to tell me that not even once in the last 10 years has a fair analysis of him as an actor has been attempted? There has to be a reason for this. And while I don't understand the workings of the Hindi film industry(!) or the media that thrives on it's fringes, one thing is clear enough: There is a filmmaker-filmstar-media nexus that is for the first time in Indian Cinema's history, manipulating the already semi-literate Indian moviegoer to further their cause!

When Anil Kapoor was attempting to fill the superstar shoes for a while, the media went all over town calling him manipulative. But you don't hear the media write anything negative about Shahrukh Khan. There's been talk about SRK buying awards, about doing favours to Filmfare & others to win them over & garner more awards, and I agree that it could be nonsense, but there's no mention of it in the media! Forget manipulative, the media has never even referred to his acting style as cinematic, forget a fair, unbiased analysis of the star! No wonder serious journalists have so much contempt for not just the Stardust/Filmfare types but also the Bombay Times kinds. It's quite a shame actually! In a greater sense, it is a reflection of the morality of the modern Indian. There are hardly any champions of truth left.

Anyway, Filmfare awards are hardly the barometer of acting talent. They're essentially popular awards that are voted for by the unqualified general public and very different from the National Awards that are judged by a jury/panel of experts. And the news is that SRK hasn't won any National Awards, while Ajay Devgan & Sunny Deol have been previous winners. Actors like Mamooty, Anil Kapoor, Mithunda & Amitabh Bachchan have all been winners. But no SRK.

So there you have it: I don't like SRK the star because of these 2 reasons:
. His limited acting ability and
. His being part of this blatant media manipulation.

There is another reason to not like him, but since it's a personal decision that he needs to take, I'll only touch upon it here.

SRK can use his stardom for great causes. He can influence public opinion against the BJP in Gujarat, lead an anti-spitting drive to clean up Indian roads, genuinely bring change about in India. But he hasn't done anything!

In contrast Shabana Azmi and even Aamir Khan recently have at least attempted to give back to society. And they're superior actors as well! When will the Indian public wake up???

And while I'm at it, here's the best review ever of SRK's latest OSO sorry film! Seriously! Best review ever! Looks like some of the movie-going public is waking up.

PS: SRK on being voted Sexiest Asian Man: "I get embarassed when people call me sexy."

Me: "You get embarassed??? I get embarrased when people call you sexy!!! What has the world come to!!!"

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What's wrong with the PadmaShri?

While civilian awards are meant to honour citizens with noteworthy achievements, the flawed selection criteria leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the richly deserving kind. How come sportspersons & film-folk are accorded the same honour as literary giants, scholars & explorers???

Sania Mirza is barely twenty & with a fairly limited set of achievements has a PadmaShri to her name. Others such as Leander Paes, Azhar, Shabana Azmi & Sachin Tendulkar too have received Padma Shris. No doubt they've made contributions on the world stage, but these are all transient achievements (with the exception of Sachin Tendulkar). Their work will not live on for years to come and will in all probability have no great social impact.

Compare this to the lifelong work of people like Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Dr. Zahoor Qasim and Ali Jawad Zaidi, giants in their own fields, people who put India on the International map in fields like music, oceanography and literature as opposed to sports!
Others like Kaifi Azmi too received a PadmaShri. As did his daughter Shabana & son-in-law Javed Akhtar. Both of them will willingly acknowledge the superiority of Kaifi's brilliance over their own achievements. Yet the Govt. clubbed Kaifi's literary achievements with their (in comparision) dabbles in art?

I'm not belittling sport or cinema here; I'm just saying that most of civilized society will rate the Sistine Chapel over all of Navratilova's Wimbledon crowns! And over Citizen Kane or any other movie you please! And this comes from a die hard Tennis enthusiast! One who had to confirm the spelling of the aforesaid chapel on the net before hitting publish! Yet I realize that science & art has always held sway over sport for some reason.

So why are our awards lopsided? It's bad enough that we have so-called popular awards. Must our Govt. of India awards pander to popular taste too???

I don't want to make any random allegations, but a close look at the Padma Shri recipients list & Padma Bhushan recipients list does seem to point to the existence of lobbying. The more powerful a recommendation/lobbying, the better your chances of an award. As with everything else in the hands of the Indian Govt, I guess...

There is a story about of Ali Jawad Zaidi being shortchanged because of a recommendation/clerical error. He was supposed to have been awarded the Padma Bhushan but erroneously his name made it to the Padma Shri list. Genuine artists are never bothered by such things & Ali Jawad Zaidi let it go. But shouldn't someone in the department have been bothered enough to correct the error?

Why does everything in India seem so warped to me?

I dunno if ranting bloggers like me will help but I sure hope that leaders like Manmohan Singh, young blood like Rahul, Sachin & Jyoti and initiatives like Lead India bring more fairness & transparency into our system.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Our turn...!!!

Letter I received from a group called Citizens for Peace that I am a passive member of (but I am a member!!!). This one is important. Please read & ACT! They've done their job, it's our turn now!!!

Dear all,

First, thank you for joining this group. I had planned a cheerier first mail to all of you but circumstances dictate otherwise.I'm sending the text below on behalf of the trustees of Citizens for Peace, in my role as consultant on their web presence. But I also endorse the contents as an individual.This is about Tehelka's expose on the perpetrators of the violence in Gujarat in 2002, which you can see here: press statement has been posted here: Statement - 26th October 2007The expose showing perpetrators of the 2002 carnage in Gujarat boasting about their crimes is an open challenge to all citizens of India. It is an urgent reminder that we must renew efforts to prosecute those who commit such crimes against humanity.We, Citizens for Peace, in particular appeal to the people of Gujarat to break silence and oppose the politics of hatred and terror. It is possible that many residents of Gujarat may have been unaware of the enormity of crimes committed in their state with open state support in 2002. Others may have hesitated to confront a truth so bizarre. Now, after the confessions, silence is equal to endorsement of the chilling crimes.Justice delayed is better than justice denied altogether. It will make a difference if citizens from all walks of life, across India, stand emphatically opposed to the continuing miscarriage of justice in Gujarat.We urge all citizens to:1. Write to the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister demanding that they take immediate steps to prosecute the culprits of the carnage.2. Write to all national political parties in India asking how and why the constitutional crisis, of a dysfunctional judicial system in Gujarat, is allowed to persist and urging them to address this grave threat to the idea of India with utmost urgency.3. Write to the BJP, impressing on them that this is their chance to dissociate themselves from those responsible for these crimes, and to help this country make a new beginning towards justice for all.For the text of our letters please see these posts on our website:“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”Citizens for Peace is a Mumbai based non-party group of volunteers committed to working for communal harmony and a vibrant secular polity. The Trustees of CFP are: Julio Rebiero, B.G.Deshmukh, Titoo Ahluwalia, Rina Kamath, Tariq Ansari, Dolly Thakore and Cyrus Guzder. The Managing Committee consists of: Titoo Ahluwalia, Tariq Ansari, Dolly Thakore, Dilip D’Souza, Gulan Kripalani, Pervin Varma, Rajni Bakshi and Devieka Bhojwani.In addition, CfP has posted open letters to- the Prime Minister: the Home Minister: the BJP: all political parties: please pass these links around, discuss them, link to them from your personal websites and blogs, come by and add your comments to them if you like. Please feel free to use the text of these letters if you should choose to write to our leaders yourself.
Thank you

Things I cannot get out of my head...

However hard I try to get rid of them, there are some things that stick with me. Here are some of them. If you know how I can work on getting rid of some of the clutter in my head, let me know.

  • My first licking in a street fight in Bombay. It's been 13 years but it still rankles. Though, self admittedly, this one is fairly insignificant, but it's here because it plays upon some small part of my brain occasionally.
  • Not getting to meet my Dad before he died.
  • Losing our baby: Was quite a shock. The worst shock that I had ever received. I have come to terms with the loss, but it took a while. The aftershocks were more difficult to deal with actually. The event needs to be over-riden with good news I think, but all that is in the hands of the Almighty.
  • Job loss: So bloody unfair... While I have come to terms with the fact that the separation had more to do with the company than me, remnants of the event still float by occasionally in my head.
  • We'd just moved to Pune after two personal tragedies (we'd lost a baby & my wife had tragically lost her mother a few months later), and both of us had taken up new jobs. My wife was relating to a colleague, the list of appliances we needed in the house. The conversation went like this:
Colleague: Do you have Appliance X?
Wife: No. Need one.
Colleague: Do you have Appliance Y?
Wife: No. Need one.
Colleague: Do you have Appliance Z?
Wife: No. Need one.
Then in an obvious reference to Deewar, the colleague goes: You have a Mother at least?
  • Losing my Grandmother
All these things bother me I guess because I couldn't do anything to change their course. I was helpless, powerless. With the passage of time & with some effort, they bother me less each time they flit by, but up until recently they impacted me fairly negatively.

I know this post is in a very different vien from my usual rants, but I figured that the blog was supposed to be a personal diary among the many other things it has since become. So I went ahead anyway.

Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

On Religous Intolerance and Conspiracy

I was sitting in my supplier's cafeteria, happily eating a chicken panini, when again I heard words to this effect: "Sikhism is an offshoot of Hinduism; it originated as a Dalit rights movement and therefore...". For some reason this left me glaring at the speaker, & while I finished my sandwich and walked away, I am still seething half an hour later. I am not Sikh so I wonder why these words rattled me so much. It probably has to do with my abhorrence of the underlying conspiracy (or for that matter any attempts to cover/disguise/mutilate the truth) and the fact that I was face to face with one of it's perpetrators but unable to correct the impressions that his audience of 3 was forming.

Such conspiratorial utterings have also attempted to belittle Buddhism & Jainism. I don't know the root of these conspiracies, but I am told all aggression (veiled or otherwise) is a result of fear.

There is no denying the fact that the prophets of all 3 religions mentioned were originally Hindus, but to claim that they're therefore mere offshoots of Hinduism is as bizarre as claiming that Christianity is merely an offshoot of Judaism!

World over these religions are acknowledged as independent religions, not offshoots or sects of any other religion. Only in India does does one get to hear such nonsense. I am also a more than a little surprised to read that the Arya Samaj (who I previously believed to be a modern, progressive body) was one of the initiators of this thought process.

Read here, what Sikhs have to say about themselves.

And I wish there was a psychometric test that evaluated people for religious tolerance before allowing them into their organizations. And I also wish that the idiot from the cafeteria reads this!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Indian Tennis's contribution to World Peace

My favourite sport is Lawn Tennis. I've followed it eagerly & when I was younger I could rattle off the names of Wimbledon champions for the last 25 years!

Therefore 2 recent developments in Tennis make me extremely happy. They're actually 2 pairings: Sania Mirza-Shahar Peer & Rohan Bopanna-Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi.

The Sania-Shahar is a Muslim-Jew pairing that defies religous intolerance; and the Rohan-Aisam pair is an Indo-Pak pair that should gladden all pro-peace hearts both sides of the "original" border.

These pairings bring to light a couple of important points that we otherwise miss:
India despite it's riots is a more tolerant country than some others.
And people who want to achieve something in life (like these 4 people), do not allow their focus to be diluted by trivial considerations.

Interestingly Sania & Rohan are also partners in doubles & do duty for India in the Hopman Cup.

Three cheers to these 4 soldiers of peace & humanity. May God bless them & their mission!

Friday, September 21, 2007

More on Kalam...

Some time back I'd requested this. Recent information reveals that no one is above making mistakes, however great they're otherwise perceived to be.

Apparently President Kalam's presidential term was simply a reward for being supportive of the BJP - including its nuclear agenda.

I present excerpts from a leading national magazine for your perusal:
"Dr. Kalam has been called the People’s President. True, his simplicity has won him a huge fan following. Yet he signed a late night proclamation allowing the dissolution of the Bihar Assembly which the Supreme Court held to be illegal and “a subversion of the Constitution.” Thanks to him, a portrait of Savarkar hangs in the Central hall of Parliament — right opposite the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi in whose assassination he was once implicated."

Compare this with his predecessor, a low-profile, dignified man.

"Just days ago, Ms. Swaraj summarily dismissed President Narayanan, saying he couldn’t be compared with Dr. Kalam. It might have been a Freudian slip by the BJP spokesperson. In office, President Narayanan was a towering figure, twice returning for reconsideration questionable Union Cabinet decisions. He stood his ground on tricky issues — refusing to confer the Bharat Ratna on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and speaking his mind on the Gujarat pogrom of 2002. He called it a “grave crisis of society and the nation” and wrote to Mr. Vajpayee seeking Army intervention to control the killings. The letter, written in his last days in office, ensured that he would be denied a second term."

Read the full article here.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Let's have APJ Abdul Kalam continue as President

Revised since this came to light.

Dear all,

Our honorable president period ends by 2007. Some youngsters of INDIA set a site given below for requesting the Indiangovernment to extend his period for the next five years. If you are willing Dr.APJ to continue as president can enter their support in that website. Hurry UP. Please forward it to all Indians.

plz help!!!!!!



Saturday, January 13, 2007

Best comeback line of all times...!

Marine Corp's General Reinwald was interviewed on the radio the other day and you have to read his reply to the lady who interviewed him concerning guns and children.
Regardless of how you feel about gun laws you gotta love this!!!!

This is one of the best comeback lines of all time. It is aportion of National Public Radio (NPR) interview between a female broadcaster and US Marine Corps General Reinwald who was about tosponsor a Boy Scout Troop visiting his military installation.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: So, General Reinwald, what things areyou going to teach these young boys when they visit your base?

GENERAL REINWALD: We're going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery, and shooting.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: Shooting! That's a bit irresponsible, isn't it?

GENERAL REINWALD: I don't see why, they'll be properly supervised on the rifle range.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: Don't you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?

GENERAL REINWALD: I don't see how. We will be teaching them proper rifle discipline before they even touch a firearm.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: But you're equipping them to become violent killers.

GENERAL REINWALD: Well, Ma'am, you're equipped to be aprostitute, but you're not one, are you?

The radio went silent and the interview ended.

You gotta love them Marines!