Monday, December 27, 2010

Logic Puzzle – Uncle Bob’s Life..

Before the puzzle: i have also created a really good (even if one says so oneself) quiz on random indian history. try it here.

And now, the Puzzle: (This one is not on Braingle) :-)

Uncle Bob had led a rich life. He had donned many hats in his 75 years and was reasonably proud of it too. On his 76th birthday, Nicole, his favorite granddaughter asked him to narrate all his professions, and what came when. His hands were quick, but not his memory. This is how his narrative went. Can you piece together the order for Nicole?

I retired as a ham radio operator, but started as a barber. Really, I did. I was only 15 at the time. In the 60 years that I have worked, on an average, every job lasted about 4 years.

I was a wine taster once, but that was after I had done some farming. I never did the same thing twice.

I was a chemist and then a doorman immediately after, but all that was before I turned explorer. The exploring was before the ushering and the innkeeping.

I was a prospector before I was a jailor, and an administrator before I was an innkeeper. The hunting profession was followed immediately by the exploring profession, and immediately after exploring I did Prospecting.

Would you believe that I was a hunter and a farmer? A gunman and a shepherd? A wine taster and an usher? All of it! Of course, I hunted before I farmed, and gunned before I herded. The wine tasting preceded the ushering though.

After that nasty jailor job, I went away to a quiet village and was a shepherd for a while. That was a very peaceful time, but it didn't last. As a shepherd, I often thought of how I'd like to be an innkeeper sometime. Of course, I didn't know it then, but that profession was a few years away in my destiny.

Guess what happened at the end of my innkeeping days? Why, I saved up some money, got a proper course done and was a Ham Radio Operator ! Fancy that, me, a proper Ham Radio Operator!

But like I said, I was a gunman once, though only a token one, you see, outside a hotel. It was after that, that I carried the gun to hunt. Now THAT was some use of the gun. I think it makes a difference, what you do. When I was a shepherd, and taking care of sheep, see, there was the urge to grow my own things, and I became a farmer right after. And when I was an administrator, it was easy to slip into the role of an innkeeper from there. It does make a difference, yes. You must remember that, my little ones – carry a token gun, and you become a hunter. Carry a little sheep, and you become a farmer.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Review of Agatha Christie's The Burden

This Xmas, i gifted self about 6 Agatha Christies. One of them is being reviewed. The Burden.

When a book's blurb says "The kind of writing perfectly at home in a women's magazine." You should understand that that is the most flattering thing the publisher could find about the work. AKA do not buy. Enough said.

Even if you are a die hard Agatha Christie fan, even if you love romance, it makes sense to avoid this book. For two simple reasons. It is not Agatha Christie. It is not romance. Thank God Agatha Christie gave up romance as a genre. And, avoid the book. Please.

Friday, December 24, 2010

More ways to go green

It started with my son asking me why i dont use notebook to practice his letters and drawing with him, and why we do it on a slate. Everyone else in class does it in a book ma.
That set me thinking. I use the slate because as children, we could not afford exercise notebooks. So all the rough work, all the drawing practice, and all the practice sums, revision answers, exam preparation answers etc. got done on the slate. We could just check if the answer is right, then rub it off and do the next answer.
Imagine the sheer amount of paper that gets saved!

I think its a good idea to pass around to other people who might be looking for ways to go green and use less paper. I am thinking of putting a slate on the fridge for my to do lists too. Right now, we use the back sides of bills that we get.. but they arent always available .. so maybe this is a better option. What do you think?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Baidu, Tencent and India

Khushwant Singh once remarked to a Pakistani friend " The difference between you and us is that you import your cars and build mosques. We build our own cars. " That was a very important statement. Its about Sovereignty. We had our own heavy indsutry. We had our own education institutions, even our own space reasearch program that was boo-ed by the naysayers, but doggedly pushed. (One of things for which I love Nehru)

And then, the currency of the game changed. In addition to physical assets, digital supremacy became key currency. While we were demolishing mosques and trying to create temples, while we were tomtomming our fat packet google and yahoo salaries, what was China doing? It was creating Baidu, Tencent, and other internet giants - basic stuff that ensured that it did not come to depend on anything external. Who has the best techies in the world? Arguably, we do. And who has the ONLY known competition in the world to Google? China Does.

Who sends software engineers to the West like a staple export? We do. And who has the courage to take on MS and Yahoo in their own domain - English, French et al? Tencent, from China.

Who has the most coding experience in the world? We do. And who has an instant messaging company that pips Apple in growth rankings? China does.

When we are done discussing the application devleopment growth numbers and the fat salaries, when we are done with honor killings, Barkha Dutt's arrogance and the color of Saif Ali Khan's shirt, maybe it will be time for that long forgotten concept - nation building with a long term vision.

Guess who will win the supremacy race in the long run? We will. Because we have it in us. :-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Book Review: Absolute Khushwant

Like I've maintained earlier, a book has to be exceptionally good or bad for yours truly to review it. Not because I m hoity toity, but because I am not a good book reviewer. Films, yes. Books, no.

Absolute Khushwant can be summed up in one word - Unputdownable. After how long has one read a book that is not a murder mystery by Agatha Christie and can be called unputdownable? Ummm....really, really long.

The man is straight from the gut, the conversational style (and the large size print) make for a breezy yet extremely engaging read. Engaging, because he forces you to think.. to almost talk back with him. The style is so conversational that you are tempted to jump in with "But you are obviously biased Khushwant. Remember when..." then you realise he is not there. Just the paper.

To make it brief, lets talk about what works and does not work for the book.
Pros
1. The very conversational style.
2. The honest writing.
3. Fresh perspective on a lot of things.
4. His absolute insistence on secularism and his correct identification of lack of tolerance being our cancer.

What doesnt work
1. A lot of opinions are not entirely based on facts, though he would like to have us believe that they are. But they are his opinions and we respect his right to have them.

In the end, I have only one complaint. The title of the book should have been Absolut Khushwant. Equally intoxicating - the book, and the man who peers through the pages of the book. 5 stars and a double Thums Up to this book.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Jab We All Met

Today was a very special day for moi. Today, we had a small gathering of the very close blog friends that we have made over the years. Mampi, nm, and ihm.

Each one of these women is very, very special. Because we know each other from the blog, we know each other first, from the inside, and then socially. Some of them dont blog so much any more, but we have to thank the blogsworld for bringing us together.

Today, sitting there, listening to conversation.. one felt.. comfortable... like in the company of old friends.. and that is what makes it very, very special. Small blessings.

Unfortunately, we were so busy having a good time, that we took no pics at all.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

When...

When did it become ok, fashionable even, to hate? When did tolerance and co-existence become "weakness"? When did pride in one's culture, faith, or language start being based on hatred for another faith, culture or language?

For a people just 3 generations away from one of the biggest recorded massacres in history(The partition of India, in case you forgot.), aren't we incredibly snug about hatred and violence?

Unfortunately, i have no answers. I do not understand this culture. Or this thought process. Or the need to hate to feel secure. When did it stop being about personal excellence, and start being about the rat race, through and through?? I feel like i was standing by the river, and everyone else took the fast lane on the road. I feel left behind, alone, but not lonely. I see the achievers and the haters and the smugness, and feel no envy at all. Just wondering.. when did all this happen?

Quote from Calvin: Nothing changes from day to day. One day, you wake up, and realise that nothing is as it used to be.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Where are the girls??

Today, i went to deposit fees in Ishaan's school. The session will only start in April, but the fees is due now. This was post school hours and it was a pleasure to see children playing all around - in the corridor, in the field, where 2 soccer games were in session, and on another side, general pushing and shoving games.. all in good fun. And then, just as i reached the building, it struck. Where are the girls? Why are no girls playing in the fields? No badminton, no basketball, no soccer (i m a sucker for Girls soccer) , no tennis.. nothing! not one girl?
I paid the fees and on my way out, stopped by at the reception and asked "Where are the girls? Why is there not a single girl out there playing? Of any age at all?" The answer was rather non commital - they are probably in the classroom or in the library or wherever they want to be. This is not the sports period. So every child does what they want to do at this time.

Well..... not ONE girl interested in playing? Thats REALLY dissapointing. What is going on here?
Is it the peer pressure? The jeers from the boys? What is it about sports that keeps girls away in a well to do(even if i say so myself) public school in a well to do neighborhood? Even girls in slums do physical play. What is going on here?

What happens around you? Do girls do active physical sports? I think its CRUCIAL for girls to be athletic and active in sports. it gives physical confidence like nothing else does. And it doesnt even have to be formal sports - just physical playing - running, climbing trees, racing, jumping contests, gymnastics.. anything at all.. where are the girls??

Friday, November 26, 2010

2 years after 26/11

I can only share these links:

This is a spine chilling, must watch documentary. Do find time to watch it: (49 minutes)
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=1e4_1246490858

And this event, which is happening in multiple cities. We find time to go pandal hopping, we find time to go for religious processions.. find time for this one please (you will have to scroll down to find the contact for your city)

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/IndiaArmyFans?v=wall

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beautifying the Hotel

If you are a facebook junkie, you might have heard of a game called "Hotel City".Here, players have to create a hotel, and as they play , they make game currency. What is that currency used for? Beautifying the hotel. There is no game benefit to beautifying the hotel. It is just that people "like" to do it. A lot of money that Second Life makes is based on this "like to beautify" instinct in humans.
Have you seen the new Airtel logo and heard the new tune? It sure looks like someone was playing Hotel City there. Sure, the brand logo needed repositiong because there was a possibility of visual confusion with a new entrant - Aircel . But the tune? Why would you kill one of the best known advertising tunes in india? WHY?
This is not the first time organisations have played Hotel City. (Made expensive, but essentially cosmetic changes to their corporate presence without any known strategic, marketing or other benefit).
 
But in some companies, a lot of Hotel City is being played right now. Nokia about tops that list in mind. What are some other Hotel City playing companies that come to your mind?

Monday, November 22, 2010

To Abid Khan posted at Nathu La

This October, i took a holiday to Sikkim and for the first time, visited Nathu La - the China Border.

There was a soldier posted there. Coincidentally, there were 2 soldiers with the same name. As we were getting down, a child of about 11(walking a little ahead of moi)  looked at the 2 name plates and said "aap dono ka naam same same hai? " (Both of you have the same name?) The soldier replied with a smile "haan hamara naam same same hai." (Yes, we have the same name)
The child replied with wonder "Aisa kaise ho sakta hai?" (How is that possible?)
To which, the younger of the 2 soldiers replied, with so much ...hope .. and ...  innocence on his face "Kyun aap same same nahi ho hamare jaise?" (Why, arent u the same as us?) the child looked from one to the other, and really had no answer. At this point, i looked at the 2 name plates. They both said "Abid Khan". This post is for the Abid Khan(s) at Nathula. That was one of the most touching moments ever for me. It will be a long time before one forgets the look on that face as it said "Kyun, aap same same nahi ho, hamare jaise?"

The second instance was, when we were at the top, requesting the soldiers to pose with us for pics. And Abid Khan (the older one) said " zaroor pose karenge. aap log itni door se aaye ho yahaan tak sab kuchh chhod kar. ye bahut badi baat hai. " I said "Aap log itni door rehte ho sab kuchh chhod kar, ye us se bhi badi baat hai." He looked at me, then pointed to peaks still higher up and said "vo dekho, hamare bhai vahaan.. hum se bhi oopar rehte hain.. hum akele thodi na hai..." I dont think any of us city slickers could think like that.. to live in such difficult conditions and still to think of other soldiers - living even higher up. It takes a lot to be that....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why is telepathy so hard to understand?

How does information travel over the internet? Do you see it travel? No. But you know it does. How do you know its all "real"? Because you see it on your computer screen - right?

But you also know, and see, in equally "real" terms, that on some days, your computer(or your grinder, or the garden) seems to hate(or love) you. On some days, the person you are thinking of tends to call. When you are fervently hoping for something to happen, it does. That is equally real too, right?

So why is it that we believe in the "real" of the internet more than we believe in the "real" of the "Real"? Why is the bad mood of a "tool" less tangible (God knows we suffer real enough with it) ?

I've been thinking of this a lot. Why is Reiki, telepathy and auras still "occult"? We saw auras with Kirlian Photography and then some people started to believe it. Like our own eyes are less reliable than a camera. If we devised a camera someday that could, magically, capture "thought waves" as they flow out of our bodies, into the auras and then into the area around us, if such a camera comes into being, THEN, we will believe in the power of thoughts to make things happen. Until then, all the proof that stares us into the face, every single day, is "unreliable" and "coincidence".

THEN, we will see that thought waves emanate from every single entity - from our "non living" tools (anyone who has worked with tools knows that they are as living as it gets) , from plants, animals, and of course, people. We will see these thought waves travel from one person to another, miles away, and THEN we will believe in telepathy. We will see that thought waves of positive emotions make people happy and thought waves of negative emotions make people unhappy too. We will know why mass meditation works.

We will see that its perfectly possible to understand why, when some people enter the room, there is a sudden calming effect on everyone, and when some other people enter the room, the same set of people is somehow more agitated. We will then understand the power of using the most potent power that we share (other than breath) with every entity that exists in the physical and metaphysical world - the power of thought waves.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Volunteers Needed Please..

Holla! Remember the Esha 100th post where we announced the Google of Audio books?



If you do, you will remember that we mentioned that the search database is:

1. Manually monitored to ensure clean results and non copyrighted material.

2. Needs significant enhancement.

Only you can make it happen. Please, please volunteer to enhance this search engine and the tree structure.

It is pure data entry and editing work. It can be done at any time. You can even devote 15 minutes a day.



If you can join hands to bring more and more audio books directly to the blind, please drop me an email at eshabraille@gmail.com



Thanks!!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

We invented the Sanskrit Script?

The Sanskrit script, belonging to the Aryans, is considered the most scientific script in the world. It is exactly phonetic, it has a separate place for vowels and for consonants, and the consonants are arranged in a scientific manner. How cool is that?

Except that, there is a doubt that is nagging the back of mind for a while now. The Aryans, no doubt traveled from the West to the East. It is widely believed that they brought Sanskrit with them. However, the scripts of the entire route taken by the Aryans, are based on the alif, be, ABCD, alpha beta gamma.. NOT the vowel  - consonant differentiation . The European scripts have no vowel consonant differntiation at all. The middle eastern scripts have this differentiation, but the basic structure of the alphabet remains aliph , be...

Something happened, in the movement from Persia to India, to cause the creation of a script that is organised fairly differently. What was it? I havent been able to find an answer to that one. Neither in the head, nor in the research papers online. There are pointers to an ancient Indian script called the Brahmi script. Am impressed with what one knows about the Brahmi script now.

But the Brahmi script could not have come from the West. For the simple reason that the Brahmi script has two major differences  - One, it makes it possible to represent vowels separately, and Two, the breakdown of the alphabet itself, into the now familar and almost universal ka - kha - ga- gha - Dha.. that we know from Hindi, Sanskrit, and every other Indian language. This phonetic(based on which combination of the tongue-mouth-lips was used to create the set of sounds) breakdown of the alphabet was just not there - not even as an idea, in any other script. Thats why i refuse to buy the argument of an Aramic parentage of the Brahmi script or the Sanskrit script. Influence, yes. parentage, no. (There is a reason why i m leaving Kharoshti out of this.)

My hypothesis is that this script, the structure of the script, and the layout, was worked out right here in India. I started with the hypothesis that this script was in some way derived from the Indus Valley script, or from the other native civilisations. That the Aryans adopted the principles of the native script and then, as is characteristic of them, obliterated all mention of the native scripts and that the new script has only learnt from the original. However, there does seem to be a bridge script - the Brahmi, which is dated at about 3rd - 4th Cent BC. I think the date has to be before that. Why? Because, if at this time, Ashoka got his edicts carved on rocks to be put up all over the kingdom, a certain level of literacy among the subjects will have to be assumed. That means that the script itself, should have been widely understood and used before those rock edicts were created.

All scholars indicate little knowledge of what India used from 1500 BC - the estimated end of the Indus Valley civilisation,to the 3rd Cent BC - when the Brahmi script was used by Ashoka in his edicts. (If you know of anything from this period, please do point me to it)

However, i have not been able to shrug off the pictoral similarity in the 2 scripts. (Indus Valley and Brahmi)

Compare this:


With this:

The images on top are simpler, but there is an amazing pictoral similarity.
This is the entire set of the Indus Valley symbols.


Soo.. we took the symbols from the Indus Valley civilisation people, added elements of Aramic, and slowly refined the script to its most scientific form, right here in India.

What do you think?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Investment strategies my grandparents taught me..

1. Plan for the biggest expenditure first.
2. If it doesnt make common sense, then it doesnt make any sense.
3. Protect your assets and dont blame the managers.
4. While running after Lakshmi, NEVER overlook the importance of Saraswati (meaning, if you have 2 potential partners - one, whose ability to create material wealth is proven but his maturity is slightly lower, and second, who will not help you make as much money, but is a more mature/ wise person, go for the latter.)
5. ALWAYS use a part of your income for charity, and make sure your children know of it.
6. There comes a time when any incremental wealth / income will give u disproportionately more heartburn/ stress. Know what that point is for you. Dont go beyond it.
7. Remember that the reason why you are trying to make all that money, is to be able to sleep peacefully. And remember that peacefully is the key word.
8. Gold never grows old.
9. Dont invest in stocks. Invest in businesses. And then stay.

PS: I will keep adding to this post as more and more things come to mind. I have to put it at one place.. for moi! :-) And.. Thank you!! (to the Grandparents)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

mood of the day.. pata nahi kyun..

is Rabbi Shergill..

obviously this post is about Babri Masjid

This morning, i woke up thinking of 2 things - my son's school and the Babri Masjid verdict. Then i thought back to the cause of the whole thing - to 1992, the  riots that followed the event .. and then.. one thot led to another.. and here is the blog post.

To the Hindus:
Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the story of Rama is in fact, true. Without going into the details of the historian debates, let me just sum up the brief understanding:
If Rama's antiquity is as figured out by most historians (the Treta Yuga), then the present day Ayodhya for sure, was not an Aryan inhabited city at that time. The Aryan assimilation happened much later.

If the story is a more recent one, then this Ayodhya is the birthplace, but we still cannot tell whether that exact space was the birth spot.

To the Muslims:
Delhi had over 10,000 historical monuments. Most of them have been taken over and dilapidated, run down, and even deliberately torn down by ever increasing families and population. Before 1992, this was not even a popular mosque - one of the many in Faizabad.

SO, whats the big deal?

Usually, one tends to be diplomatic and say that both parties are right in their own way, but in this case, one will bluntly state that BOTH ARE IN THE WRONG.

This was a non issue. There was absolutely no need to create this as a national level crisis issue. This is a very cruel joke on the people of India.. and continues to be so. The only tragedy in this whole situation is the human lives lost because of some very very flawed "ideologies". Shame on us.

Monday, September 27, 2010

That pet bottle that you buy

To store water in the refrigerator..

Is the same quality as the disposable mineral water bottles.

Did you know that?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The invaluable contribution of the Nehru Gandhi family to India - part 2

Rajiv Gandhi

In this section, we will discuss the contribution of Rajiv Gandhi to the country. Of course, by now, we all know a lot more about Rajiv Gandhi than we did when he was alive.

The LTTE
He decided to send the Indian peace keeping force to a neighboring country. This did not go down well with the LTTE, and the rest is history.

The Bofors Scandal
Enuf said.

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy
The tragedy happened when Rajiv was PM. Who helpedAnderson escape? Who made sure that there was no immediate prosecution? Who ensured that the compensation was paltry?

Financial Folly
Under whose stellar leadership did India find itself at the brink of bankruptcy in 1991? Whose stellar ideas led to the situation where India had to ship out its physical gold just to stay afloat? Manmohan did it, but Rajiv caused it.

Sonia Gandhi

Is it just a coincidence that in the 13 years since Mrs. Gandhi has been in power, the situation in the North East, and with the marginalised tribals has worsened to a point where they are now taking up armed struggle?

That our intelligence has failed to a point where 26/11 happens ?

That there is a well connected network of organisations working towards internal destruction of this country, and all we can do is focus on India growth story?

It is all very well to show the shiny bark of the tree to the visitor, but someone has to contain the termite before the tree falls. Mrs. Gandhi did not realise that unless these marginalised groups are brought into the mainstream and looked after, China and other groups will be more than happy to supply them with weapons and ideology.

Today, we are grappling with the Naxalite issue. Why is no one asking how the Naxal movement suddenly gathered so much steam? What was the policy failure? Where did the State fail?

Can we blame her for all the failures? Was she the leader or not? Her U turn on the land acquisition issue has one rather in splits.

This is not a fountain of vitriole. Indeed, i have nothing personally against the Nehru Gandhi family. But when one sees that the mistakes made by them, the fissures created, are fissures that continue to bleed and hurt decades after they have created them for small political gain.. one wonders how we can continue to vote for them.

The division of Hindus and Sikhs.
The division of Tamils and Sri Lankans.
The divisions of the land owners and the land acquirers. (aka the Naxalite movement)
Ignoring the development needs of the North East until it was not possible to ignore any more.. and now we have a terrorism movement in what could have been a very peaceful part.
The Kashmir issue - mismanagement that goes on and on and on.


Can any of this this be forgiven?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The contribution of the Congress to India's progress

If there is one family that has, quite literally, spilled blood (whether or not they have been in power), it is the Nehru Gandhi family. We must never forget their contribution to the country. Of course, while they are in power, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry will not let us forget either.

Here, then, is a summary of the contribution of this family to India and its freedom.

Jawahar Lal Nehru

The Kashmir fiasco. Patel negotiated and got all the other states - all 564 of them. Nehru had to manage exactly ONE - and he messed that up. We still have that conflict raging. Even though the conflict was created by the Nehru Gandhi family, and grossly mismanaged by them, not one member of the family has been hurt in Kashmir. Which is more than what we can say for the innocent Kashmiri youth and the army jawans posted in hostile terrain. How come no one blames the politicians for the Kashmir fiasco? The AFSPA is discussed again and again, but no one discusses why the average kashmiri youth is so disillusioned that terrorism is actually an *option* for them. Why does no one discuss the absolute failure of the national machinery to create a sustainable solution in Kashmir. The Army, after all, is there because you nincompoops cannot do anything. Here is a solution. Lets call the army back, and send the politicians to Kashmir.

The 1962 war: After cries of Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai, the country was "taken by surprise" by the 1962 war(which we lost, irrespective of what the Congress written history books tell you. Net loss of territory at the end of a war is not victory. )
"Taken by surprise" is a very good explanation for a VERY large scale war.

The Father of sycophancy led leadership: The only reason that Nehru became the PM, was Gandhi. All the Province Congress units favored the name of Patel for PM. Gandhi wanted Nehru.  Nehru needed Gandhi to ascend the throne. And then, what does Nehru do? Promptly downplay the importance of all other national leaders  in the history books - reducing them to sidekicks - Tilak, Patel, Bose... have they honestly got their due in our history books? The culture continues in the Congress to this day.

The Partition of India: Did you know that Jinnah started his political career with the Indian National Congress? As late as 1937, he was trying to arrive at ways to integrate Hindu and Muslim demands in a free India? He was trying to create a joint front to face and negotiate with the British. What happened, between then, and 1946, when he put his foot down and asked for a separate Pakistan, no compromise? Take a wild guess. Or, read some more. You might get some very interesting insights into what our "leaders" did to us at the most important time in our modern history.

The Foundation
This has to be given to Nehru - he laid the foundation right. He created industrial plants, and Educational institutions which are still the forerunners in their domains. His focus on self reliance in these domains is also commendable.

Indira Gandhi
Her contribution can never be forgotten.

Emergency
The only leader who can get away with using Emergency blatantly because there is no other way to save her government.

Forced Sterilisations
Her son (Sanjay Gandhi)'s focus on population control was rightly placed. And his integrity in standing up for that reform is very very commendable. Wish a leader with half a spine would get up today and ask us to collectively stop breeding like mosquitoes. But i digress. His methods, however, left a lot to be desired. Targets for Nasbandi, forced sterilisations are hardly the stuff democracies are made of.

The Punjab Issue , Operation Bluestar, and the 1984 Sikh riots
Let me try and explain, briefly, what happened in Punjab. The Akalis, based on the Akal Takht philosophy, were getting political mileage from the Sikhs - the predominant voter population in Punjab. Indira had to find a way to look better than them, and fast. Along comes Bhindrawale - a "Sant" created and nurtured by the Congress. He was an upright man who believed, quite simply, in Sikh supremacy. Slowly, he turned into a Frankenstein. The ISI saw a ripe opportunity here to milk and harvest the state which had contributed the most tothe Green Revolution. It was one of the richest states of the country, and madam herself had created a fissure that was waiting to be exploited. Along came the weapons, and the 'training", and "terrorism" entered the land taht had always known peace between the 2 communities - HIndus and Sikhs. Even the British could not, in all 300 years, divide the Hindus and the Sikhs. Indira did that work admirably well.

When it was not possible to control the terrorism in any way, she had only one option left - to directly storm the Golden Temple. That was the headquarters and that was the only way to do it. It was necessary, even though a lot of Sikhs have not forgiven the desecration. But whats interesting is what made it necessary.

She was shot dead by her Sikh guards. Immediately, the poor, working class Sikh population across the Northern part of the country - people who had nothing to do with terrorism, Punjab problem, or the assassination, were massacred with a planned brutality that had to be seen to be believed. 25 years later, no one has been punished for this massacre.

The Bangladesh War
We won the battle, and lost the BIG war. What has Bangladesh done since its "independence"? It has exported population and terror into India at a scale that cannot be imagined. THAT was one mistake India could have done without.
Part 2 coming up..

Monday, September 20, 2010

EVA and EVC

As a species, we are obsessed with Economic Value Added(EVA) and Economic Value Consumed(EVC). If you cant be measured in money, then you cant be measured at all.

There is something inherently wrong with this premise. There are innumerable examples of value created, but we do not place any real worth on that value, just because it is not measured in currency.

Lets start with some examples:
1. Housekeeping
2. Childcare
3. Wikipedia and online free content (facebook included)
4. braingle.com and other peer created and peer shared content.
5. Blogs - where you get a lot of good reading, but dont have to pay for it.
6. Online newspapers.
7. When your doctor uses you as part of a clinical trial (have i mentioned, doctors in India dont think its important to tell the patient when he is being used in a clinical trial)
8. Case studies and research generated by students. its available in the library for free, and no one pays for it, except the student/university, depending on who usually bears the cost of the research.
9. Quid Pro Quo acts. e.g., neighbor housesitting for you and you returning the favor. These transactions are not monetised.
10. Volunteer work.
11. Kitchen gardens and private gardens.
(I am sure you have at least 2-3 examples of your own in the head right now)

If you want to put numbers on these, and most economists will want that, lets do some simple maths.

how much would you pay a housekeeper?
Multiply that by the no. of households in your city, and you have the EVA of the spouse.

How much would you pay for your vegetables? How much of that do you source from your kitchn garden? thats the EVA of the kitchen garden. Multiply that by the no. of houses in your neighborhood that have a kitchen garden, and you have a no. Multiply that some more and you have a very impressive number to take home.

You get the picture.

Now, we have 2 choices:
1. Either we start recognising the worth of this non monetary , but nonetheless important contribution. OR
2. We start putting currency numbers to all pro bono transactions, and start valuing those creating this free for us.

Is this the CommonWealth or the Emergency?

Saw this post by projectwhy yesterday and was aghast. There were also some reports in the papers about this unnecessary harassment of the poor.

Under which law are these poor people being harassed? Can you imagine what it means to go without daily wage if you are a daily wage earner with zero savings? Does Sheila Dixit have any idea? Is this the Commonwealth games or the Emergency? Even under the Emergency, babus were pulled up, not the poor like this. They were forcibly sterilised, but they were not forced to starve for 15 days. What the hell is going on here? Why is no authority willing to talk about it? If the rich were being forced to live indoors for 15 days, all hell would break loose. The TV channels would run 24 hour bulletins and the government would be on air with "we were misquoted" within 2 hours. Here, with impunity, the poor :
A. are being forced to go without daily wages.
B. Are being harassed, and told to go home (to Bangladesh and Bengal and Bihar, among other places) for a month.

What will you achieve by sending them home for one month? The only thing that will happen is that your sanitation staff will go away and u will be left with filth for a month. Where will u get temp sanitation staff?

And this, when the tourists are not even coming! Has EVERYONE in the government lost their collective, atom sized head?

UNDER WHICH LAW IS THIS BEING DONE?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The CLABIL project files are now ready for download - from the Esha blog

On the Esha Blog , some time ago, i introduced the CLABIL project - Central Library of Audio Books in Indian Languages - for the blind and the print impaired across the country.

We recently crossed over 100 audio files under the project, and have collaborated with Inclusive Planet for their entire set of user uploaded audio files.

You can download Esha files from the Esha blog starting now.  This link will have access to all the Audio files and other information about the CLABIL project.

All files are copyright free. Please feel free to use them for :
1. Blind Schools
2. Village Schools
3. Older people whose sight is not as good and who would still like to hear audio books.
4. NRIs who want their children to learn Indian stories but dont know where to go beyond Karadi tales et al.

And of course, if you can find time to record, please do record whatever you can.. and send it across. Just upload it as a google doc and share the link..

Thank you!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Imagination and Children

Lately, i have been watching a lot of kiddie television. Have you ever noticed how fertile with imagination that world is? Elmo is furry, and Teletubbies are... well, teletubbies, and In the Night Garden and Waybuloo and Little Robots... to a child, it is all REAL.
Somewhere along the line, we are taught what is "there" and what is not "there". What we are doing , in effect, is placing boundaries on our thought. We suddenly start to exclude so many possibilities from our mind, just because they are not "real".

Now comes the best part - after closing our minds to dreaming, and fantasy and that which can be (in corporatespeak: potential), we go out and create "brainstorming" sessions, where we are supposed to "think freely" think "out of the box" think "imaginatively" ... Arent we the best ever? We started out by thinking imaginatively, and then were taught to be "real" and then were asked to "imagine" to "excel"
I love the world!

And i love The Little Prince.. nothing captures the angst like that book does..

Monday, September 13, 2010

Civil Disobedience Movement aka Urban Panchayat Raj

Dear Administration

Since we are all Gandhi vadis and all that, and since you have steadfastly and consistently failed to provide any semblance of civic administration, we, the citizens of every colony, have decided to:

1. Collect all the taxes due to the administration from all residents. This includes but is not limited to Income Tax, Sales Tax, Property Tax, Professional Tax etc.
2. Spend it to first ensure that health and sanitation facilities are in order. This includes dispensaries, spray in water bodies, road repairs to avoid stagnation of water in rainy season, desilting of the sewerage system, garbage collection and any other activity vital to health and sanitation services.
3. Next, spend it on civic administration - repairing broken street lights, paying the salaries of  the local police station etc.
4. Next, we will adopt sarkari schools in our vicinity and ensure that the teachers get pay for being present and for teaching.
5. We will hand over to you the receipts for spending all these funds. The receipts should be accepted as payment of our taxes.

Gandhiji called it the "Panchayati Raj" - power at the lowest level of administration. About time we had urban Panchayats in small, meaningful numbers (say, 1000 - 2000 residents)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Need volunteer for Esha..

Hi.. Esha is looking for a paid volunteer to help with the day administration of Esha.


The thing is, that we are growing at a really fast pace, and since i do Esha work at night, a lot of follow up and work that can only happen during the day, gets not done. This slows down our growth in a big, big way..

The ideal person would be a mom who is based out of Gurgaon and would like to work from home when the kids are at school. If you know anyone who would like to join hands, pls get in tuch..
And the other fact is, i m sick of being the only think tank for Esha..

Thursday, September 02, 2010

whats with Dengue anyway?

First, Tejaswee. Then, a dear friend's mother. And now, MM's cousin K.

Dear Lord, please dont let anyone suffer from something like Dengue. Or Swine Flu. Or the Delhi govt.

As they say in Hindi - to the callous government that is letting this happen - may you get your just rewards. And immediately. What will Sheila Dixit do if someone in her family gets Dengue? Next day, all of Delhi will be fumigated. Is she waiting for that?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just thinking aloud..

There are over 10 websites (at the very least) who have free audio books for download. There is bound to be some repetition. Now suppose, there was a website that searched ALL these sites and gave u a list of audio books that match ur criteria?

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bringing it all together

What is an attritioned employee? An attritioned employee is a disgruntled employee who was not listened to in time.

What is a separatist movement? A separatist movement is a marginalised group that was not heard in time. And it is an axiom that the time, energy and resources required to please a marginalised community is miniscule compared to the time, energy and resources required to quell a separatist movement.

When does a spouse want a divorce? When the stress of living together is higher than the fear of loneliness.

Moral of the story? It is VERY important to take care of your marginalised groups, no matter who you are or what you do.
The disabled, the minorities - religious and otherwise, the women, the really oppressed poor..

Be VERY scared of those who are tormented, or left behind in your 'race'.. and be even more scared of those whom u torment.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Peepli Live

What does one say about peepli live? Nothing that has not been said before.. or discussed..

Only this... it deserves to be seen.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Female foeticide

Thats all this post is about. I was once moronic enough to believe that once they have to pay for their wives, they will start to respect their girls.
Then, Annie Zaidi blogged about the Shakti Vahini report which states that less women means even more exploitation. And a bomb exploded somewhere within. Of Course! They will buy the wives, but exploit them even more, and kill the daughters all the same so no one "else" can exploit them. What was i thinking??

Its important to save the girl child. And the woman. And her self respect. And her financial freedom. And her education. And her right to nutrition.
In an MBA style diagram, these would be the parts that make up a wheel like diagram. Because without one of them, the whole structure will collapse. It doesnt matter which part of the circle you start to protect, it will help save all the other parts of the structure.

As Gurdas Mann puts it so beautifully.... रब दे कम विच विघ्न पौगा, धी न मार दयो वे लोको, धी ना मार दयो॥ (It will impede God's work if you kill a daughter. Don't do it.) (What he means is, without a daughter, God will not be able to continue the Human race. Dont do it.)

It takes a lot to write this post while i am still grieving the loss of Tejaswee... but it had to be done..

Monday, August 16, 2010

To Tejaswee Rao

She is the daughter of someone i look up to. Then i met her- through her blog. And loved her.

Only, she isn't around to hear this. I am not sure exactly where she is, but am sure they are about having a ball there right now. They switched off the lights. She will brighten a room just by being in it.

RIP Tejaswee Rao. You will be a bright star wherever you are, and the Earth is at least 2 shades darker.

PS: Bhagwan kisi ki nahi sunta.. bachchon ki bhi nahi (Amrita Pritam). Dear God, i will know better than to trust you blindly again. This, i will remember.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Girls Like us...

.. are not for self alone. Girls like us, have to be very careful what we do. We carry the baton, not just for our own race, but also for the race of the others who come after us. One false step, and the baton that was to relay them out becomes the Cross that bears their corpse.

Girls like us, are born to families where girls are meant to study only as much as makes them marriageable. Where their primary job is to learn how to keep the home , the husband and in laws happy. Where girls are not meant for ambition, or love, or a wish of their own. Girls like us, are born to a social set up that sees nothing wrong with dowry, chauvinism and mental abuse. Sometimes, even physical abuse.

Every girl who gets out, and carves her "independence", carries on her shoulders, the burden of all the girls to come after her. Every girl after her who wants to study, have ambition, or get out of the vicious cycle, uses her as an "example". "Look what she did." - like ants crawling out of a flooded anthill, we ride on the shoulders of those who are safe, and then carry the others out on our shoulders.
One false step, and "Look what she did" becomes "Remember what happened with her?" The baton becomes the Cross, on which all such girls are crucified together. Girls like us, are not for self alone. We carry the burdens of many, many others, on our shoulders.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Jinhe naaz hai Hind par vo kahaan hain?

http://www.dailypioneer.com/DisplayContent.aspx?ContentID=272655&URLName=Victim-of-indecent-diktat

बड़े अजीब आदाब हैं आज कल के ।

In a shocking display of Taliban-like fanaticism, a lecturer has been barred from entering the campus of Aliah University in Kolkata, West Bengal’s first ‘Muslim university’ set up by upgrading the Calcutta Madarsa and funded by taxpayers, simply because she refuses to wear the burqa as demanded by the students union. Ms Shirin Middya, who has stood up to the absurd and untenable demand that she comply with a ‘decent’ dress code, that is, don a burqa, has flouted no law of the land or rule of the UGC. Yet, she has so far found no support from either the university officials, including the Vice-Chancellor, or the CPI(M)-led Left Front Government. Authorities have inexplicably refrained from intervening although Ms Middya has been forced to stay out of the campus for three months now. Rather than succumb to the terror tactics of the Islamist goons masquerading as ‘student leaders’, who obviously enjoy the patronage of cynical politicians and their morally bankrupt parties, Ms Middya has chosen to sit it out. This is in sharp contrast to the other female lecturers who have meekly agreed to wear the burqa. What makes the hounding of Ms Middya particularly obnoxious is that Aliah University is not an Islamic charity funded institution but governed by the rules of the UGC; its expenses are borne by the public exchequer. Hence, to insist that female teachers must wear the burqa simply because the institution is labelled as a ‘Muslim university’ amounts to a crime that merits tough punishment.

As for the stunning silence and inaction of the Left Front Government, which does not tire of parading its ‘secular’ credentials, it can only be explained as craven indulgence of fanatics in the hope of Muslim votes. It is the Left’s sly collusion with Islamists that has fetched grief to Kerala; the situation in West Bengal could not have been any better.
.With what had been kept under wraps till now becoming public knowledge and the entire nation repelled by the grotesque assault on personal liberty by those claiming to speak for Islam, the least that the Left Front Government can do is to instruct the Vice-Chancellor to rid the campus of malcontents and abolish the ‘dress code’ that has been imposed by those who have scant regard and even less respect for the law of the land. If the Vice-Chancellor fails to do so, he should be sacked and the so-called university should be shut sine die. India does not need such dens of regressive fanaticism.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Udaan Film Review

To make it brief and to the point, this review will be written in bullet points.
  • Fantastic, fantastic music score that one notices even though its not used very prominently in the film. In fact, if anything, the movie tries to remove the differentiation between music and background music - that subtle is the use. One notices good lyrics somewhere in between, but they are lost in the overall intensity of the moment.
  • Cinematography is good.
  • The storytelling is adept. In fact, this is good story telling. The Great Indian Butterfly, the last film reviewed on this blog, had very little story. This one, on the other hand, has a tight story which is kept "to the script". There are no loose plots just hanging around. That which is not relevant to the central characters is entirely left out. The pace might be slow for some people, but it worked perfectly well for yours truly.
  • The overall experience of the film is awesome awesome awesome. I was sobbing out loud at the end of the film(which is saying a lot)

In short, if you have to bunk school/ college / office to go see it, it will be time well spent. Do see the film. It is a shame that the really good films pass us by like this, and utter nonsense like Milenge Milenge gets the marketing and the hype. Its sad for us, that is.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

mumbling

how do you tell the world
that you sold it
for a glance?

How do u tell a glance
that it couldn't care less
and you couldn't care more...

How do you tell care
that it is at the wrong doorstep?
This house belongs to heartache.

How do you tell heartache
that it is a misnomer?
It hurts everywhere.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vedic and Mental Maths Techniques

I am a mental maths junkie. All kids in our house learn these maths shortcuts even before they have been able to learn the long cuts (aka the propah way of doing things) . The latest victim is the nephew.
Finally, today, one decided that its time to get together a list of links from where to teach a child this magic of maths...(one cld have written a book and made money, but well, ahem, this is simpler, and more logical) . Almost all the techniques that i'd worked out are here now, except for a few, so hopefully, some of those will be covered in blog posts. For instance, did you know that the difference in the squares of 2 consecutive positive numbers is the sum of those numbers? i.e., 14 square - 13 square = 14 + 13? :-) Yeah, and simple things like that.

Here, then, is raw material for a book, whoever wants to write it.
http://wildaboutmath.com/2007/11/11/impress-your-friends-with-mental-math-tricks/

http://www.hinduism.co.za/vedic.htm

http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/Santoshmehta-907-vedic-mathematics-techniques-vedicmaths-mba-cat2007-easymultiplication-squares-cubes-mathproblems-solve-quantitative-wiziq-final-education-powerpoint/ - i recommend this one.

http://listverse.com/2007/09/17/10-easy-arithmetic-tricks/

http://www.speed-maths.com/maths-techniques.php

Do u know of any similar links? For the speed maths junkie in all of us.. pls add here..

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Great Indian Butterfly


Remember Yaadein? It was a Sunil Dutt movie with just one character - Sunil Dutt himself. The film was made after the sad demise of Nargis Dutt, and was a tribute to her memories. There was only one problem though - even an actor of the stature of Sunil Dutt could not really carry a movie on his shoulders alone for 3 hours.

Therefore, the achievement of The Great Indian Butterfly is amazing by any standards. Just 2 characters. 90 minutes. And you are spell bound every single minute. No thumkas, no item numbers and no comedy dialogues. And yet, 3 minutes into the film, you shut down everything else, forget the popcorn, and just focus on the screen. Show me another film that can do that in recent times.

Technical - The cinematography is awesome. Places close to Mumbai and yet scenic. The Mumbai - Goa highway has not looked this pretty, not even in Bombay to Goa. Lighting again needs special mention because natural and artificial light both has been used to create the desired effect each time.. distincly enough for one to sit up and notice how well light is being used. Very little Art Direction, but all of it blends very well with the film. Only one thing - I am not sure if the story needed a gorgeous Sandhya Mridul to look so haggard. A little good makeup on her would really have helped.
The acting has already been talked about. It takes a lot to hold interest for 90 minutes. With the same "look" on both characters. Of all the things that are remarkable about the film, performance in acting is completely, absolutely the most notable.
The story is not new, neither is the theme. Urban couples losing "it" and each other, looking to reunite and find solace. But the treatment.. aah! The treatment! This is one of those films that one must watch in one's growing years.. and if one is a student of filmcraft, then this film is a textbook.
One line review: 5 stars. Must watch.

PS: Here is a writeup by the director. I quite enjoyed reading it.



Monday, July 05, 2010

review of I Hate Luv Storys

  • Someone tell them that bad spelling is too prevelant to be funny any more.
  • I hate Imran Khan.

Pearls of wisdom from the Other:

  • For this movie, what happened was that KJ got all his old props together, and told his director, reuse this... i dont care how. Then he hammered his editor to get a story out of all these unrelated images. Then he told his team "Picture bas 1 din chalni chahiye, hum paisa vasool lenge"
  • The Director Award for this film shld go to the Editor.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A tag for you.

http://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/my-sins-against-gender-stereotypes/
Text from ihm's blog:
If you are a woman,
Have you ever wanted something that is considered ‘manly’ ? Like a basketball, a cell phone, a dog, a camera or a new laptop? A new car or motor bike? Ever wanted to be a pilot? A doctor or not a nurse? And the manliest want of them all – The remote!
As a kid did you enjoy playing with a bat and a ball?
There was a time when books were considered ‘manly’, women authors had to pretend to be men – would you say books are still rather manly – women should want to embroider and crochet?
If you are a man,
Have you ever wanted something that only women are supposed to want – like bags, shoes, clothes, creams, perfumes, babies, flowers? A peaceful home and a happy family? Have you ever been afraid of the dark or of insects?
As a kid did you ever want to play ‘teacher-teacher’, cooking or did you like playing with a doll? Have you ever enjoyed cooking? Bought something in pink? Loved chocolates?

So here’s a tag – Please list at least ten things you have ever wanted or done which your gender is not supposed to.
The tag is called ‘My Sins against Gender-Stereotypes’. And you must tag twelve blogging friends.
************End of text from ihm's blog******************

i tagged self on this one.
Here's my list. What's yours?

1. Played football as a child. And wondered why there isnt a girls' football team.
2. Saw Dil Bol Hadippa and wondered whats the big deal abt girls playing in a boys team. Its a game, and any one can play it.
3. For a while, handled the investment portfolio of our house, incld. home loan negotiations with banks. ( You should have seen their faces)
4. Wanted to be a pilot to fly a plane (but hated maths and science)
5. Love gadgets.
6. Can read a map. Really well. Use GPS for navigation on a routine basis.
7. I genuinely like driving. Though, in all honesty, the old car was driven way better than this one is driven. And two wheelers were driven best of all.
8. Love spending time alone and cannot talk too much in general. (women are supposed to be good with words and articulate. beats me)
9. Value investing in stocks is sth i have a gut feel about. My portfolio has beat BSE sensex over the last 4 year period - at almost every interval. Its a small portfolio, but its gud.

Thats all i can think of.. whats ur list? Consider yourself tagged if u r reading this.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thoughts on offshore model

Slowly, offshoring is moving to higher end services like consulting and even specialised consulting. (Legal, Technical, Medical etc)

First, a brief on how the model works. Usually, there is an onsite co-ordinator who front ends with the customer and gathers requirements and inputs. An offshore consultant then provides the solution that is shipped back to the onsite consultant. This onsite consultant then presents this solution to the customer. The customer OKs or modifies it, and then the offshore consultant starts work to implement the solution.

My 2 penny:
Offshore -onsite model is like a split AC. The blower throws all the cold air, but the backend unit has to do all the work. Most importantly, the duct connecting the 2 must be absolutely clean and clear.

what this means in the real world:
The onsite co-ordinator usually gets the credit for all the work. Thats a reality that cannot be changed. The only time this will actually hurt the project is if the onsite co-ordinator also starts giving himself/herself that credit and forgets that the work is being executed by a more experienced consultant in the backend. The blower can throw the air, but there cannot be 2 cooling units in an AC.
The offshore consultant has to remember that the customer will never see how articulate one is, how well one has designed the solution et al. That clarity on expectation needs to be in place. Even if the customer knows that another consultant is doing this work in the backend, the onsite co-ordinator is the face and just as you see how white the blower of the split AC is, the customer will also see just one face.
The communication channel between these 2 must be absolutely transparent and clear. This is key to the success of the project. Sometimes, onsite co-ordinators might start to take decisions that rightfully belong to the offshore consultant. The offshore consultant then withholds good advice from the onsite co-ordinator. Thats like the AC failing. If there is an expectation mismatch, or if there is a communication error, it needs to be set right rightaway - by the 2 consultants in question.

Software programming organisations have been working this model for decades now with a very respectable level of success. The higher end industries should benchmark to see what works in that industry. After all, they are the pioneers of the game.

PS: do you think i shld start writing a separate technical/consulting blog instead of taking up byte space here?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why population is an economic issue

I was talking to someone who works with the poorest of the poor on their health issues. I asked them if they also work to generate awareness abt population. They said that since population is a "personal" issue, no, they do not talk about it in the health camps, where they provide free check ups and medicines et al.
I really think that population is an economic issue. And a health issue.
A woman's health is severely compromised through multiple gestations. Also, her poor health in turn impacts her ability to look after her children, thus impacting their health as well. A woman with just one child and one gestation is any day healthier than one with multiple gestations.

It is an economic issue because, the one way out of poverty is through education and employment in higher paying jobs. But if there are so many mouths to feed that basic food is an issue, no one can think of education. This, in turn, creates a vicious cycle of poverty-sickness-debt-poverty that is impossible to get out of.

Therefore, for any health initiatives to happen with these people, it is imperative that population - and its economic and health impact, is discussed and openly debated. Unless people - especially the poor, are driven to the debate, they will not think of it as a factor in their poverty.. and its important that they do...

What do you think?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Super 30 - Himmat-e-marda-madade-khuda

They used to tell us this phrase when we were children... Himmat-e-marda-madad-e-khuda.. meaning.. if you make the effort, God will help.
This story this morning made my day...
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/Hat-trick-for-Super-30-at-IIT-JEE-exam/articleshow/5979009.cms
so much that i had to blog about it... though the post logically belongs on the Esha blog where i write about other people doing great work.. it is here that it will be read more..

How to create a coaching institute with 100% result in the first 3 years of its inception - for ALL the 3 years?? Learn from the Super 30 in the link above.

Monday, June 21, 2010

To my soul sisters..

We all know this pain... its born to us even before we are born to our mothers...
How long have i known you? 10 years? 12? I feel like i have known you all my life.. and you have known me all that time too.. from a life before, and before that.. in all these centuries.. only the numbers on the calendar have changed.. very little has changed in the truths of our lives..

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The End.

i should have waited for you
by the mango tree
where we promised to meet
and elope.
But when
you left
unannounced
the thought
did not
cross my mind.
To look
for the small , familiar things
about you
to go
to the mango tree
where we always met
and breathe the air
and imagine
your scent
still in it.
Noi... nope
not
the thought
did not come
at all.
I just
went to the swings
and reached higher
and higher
until
i could breathe
fresh air again
and the tears
were washed away by the wind.

Monday, June 14, 2010

तेरे झूठ

तेरे झूठ ,
मलमल जैसे,
नर्म, मुलायम, चमकीले
उस का सच
खद्दर जैसा
ओढो तो सख्त
बिछाओ तो खुरदरा

तेरे झूठ
महलों जैसे
बड़े, हवादार, मायावी,
एक पल में परी बना देते
एक पल में बेघर
उसका सच
झोंपड़ी जैसा
न कमरे, न कोई आराम
पर सर पर छत
हमेशा ।

तेरे झूठ
सपने जैसे
बहुवचन।
उस का सच
सपाट, एक सार,
बस एक वचन।
****************************
Translation:
Your lies
like velvette
soft, caressing, shiny..
His truth
like the rough cotton cloth.

Your lies
like a castle -
BIG, airy, unreal..
They make me a fairy one minute
and homeless the next.
His truth
like a poor man's hut
there are no layers
not enough room
But always
a roof on the head.
************
Note: this is not a literal translation. This is what i wld have written if the poem was in English.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

To the Union Carbides of the World

India loves being raped. Come.

If you can only bear to read one more piece of writing about the verdict, read this:
http://serious--fun.blogspot.com/2010/06/bhopal-case-some-ignored-facts.html

In fact, read it even if you cant bear to read another word of rhetoric. This one is no rhetoric.. pure facts. Brief. incisive. Highly Recommended.

BTW, did you know that Eveready Batteries is a product of Union Carbide?

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Different people
are made of different substances.
I, you see,
am made of paper.
Fold me like this, and I am a flower
Turn like that, and its an aeroplane that you can fly.
Fold in this way, and i am a doll again
There, that was easy..
Now let's try something harder, shall we..
Suppose you turn a new leaf
And make me
a breathing woman again?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kites Film Review

A one line review of the film is this: what were u thinking???

Great performers, very good looking, great action, excellent cinematography, great locations... but even these things need at least a sliver of a story!

The failure of this film is sad. It had all the ingredients.. but like a car is made primarily for transportation, and it has to do that right, all additional features are dispensible.. a film is essentially a story told, and we needed a story here.

Barbara Mori was a surprise package - the dame can ACT. And she is good looking, AND she has a character that is just plain superbly crafted by the writer.
Hrithik really should try a different dance style now. It was absolute pain to see the MJ steps again . And Again.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

dont come to me
for shards
of your life.
You will not find
in the sparkle of my eyes
the splinters
that you never had
or created.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

i was pregnant
with the anticipation
of seeing you.
It was
an abortion.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

One day, before you know it..

.. your time will have ended.
Most days, we think of at least one person during the day whom we havent called or heard from in a long time "Sometime soon" we promise ourselves, "I must call him/her."
Sometime soon never happens.
One day, there is no more sometime left - either that person's time ends, or ours, or they just move to a place where we dont have their contact information.

Sometime soon is now. Or Never.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The post about technical implementations

Once upon a time, there was an ERP company called ABCD. ERP was a revolutionary concept. It integrated data from all over the business, integrated processes across departments. It was good.

The implementation had 2 kinds of consultants – Functional Consultants, who understood business processes and translated them in ABCD terms. And Technical consultants, who developed applications that the standard could not take care of. These applications were supposed to be the exception rather than the norm, bcs the product was very well researched and prepared to meet most business needs.

Over a period of time, it became apparent that every implementation will have to have some technical applications built especially for that customer.

Over a period of time, it became important to contain project costs, and customers started questioning the existence of 2 consultants – functional and technical. Customers wanted to know why the same person could not do the development.

On the other hand, technical consultants wanted to do something more meaningful, and that “more meaningful” was “functional work” .

Therefore, it made common sense to let the technical and functional consultants learn and do each others’ work. Right? Wrong.

This model overlooked a few small points. These were:

· Coding is like Poker. It takes 5 minutes to learn, and a lifetime to master. Good technical skills cannot be learnt in a matter of a few weeks or even months. Coding is specialized activity. It takes a good coder to write a good code. And the difference between good code and bad code is the difference between Microsoft and Apple. You may inundate the market with volumes. But that will not make you the “customer delight” company. Likewise, you may have years of coding experience, but still not be the coder who writes easy to implement, and easy to update code quickly, effectively, efficiently. Mediocre coding costs more money than most organizations can imagine.

· There is only one way to know what works and doesn’t work with a business process. Its called experience. To know what will and will not work in an technical product, you don’t have to look at the flowcharts or the product features. You have to look at that incongruous being called “The user”. Implementations are a study in user behavior. Users are not a part of most implementation projects. Which means that as the functional consultant, you have to know already what users will and will not do with your product.

· If you combine half baked process knowledge with good coding skills, or if you combine good business knowledge with less than excellent coding skills, you will get the same result – a mediocre implementation, with limited scalability. Which means that you will need an upgrade faster. And because your processes and/or your code are not easily scalable, you can look forward to a nice upgrade project costing just a few million dollars. Because you wanted to scourge on that extra consultant. What was that poem again, for want of a nail, the battle was…. ?

So what’s the point? The point is that one needs to go back to the basics –To be penny foolish and pound wise. To understand the importance of both kinds of skills, and that excellence in both of them has to be valued *equally*.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Name Wanted

For the Esha Theater Workshop, we need a brand name now. For the product. A name that is more exciting than Theater Workshop.. lots of ppl have been suggesting that.

So, please put in your creative energies and come up with a brand name for the theater workshop. To know more abt the theater workshop, please go here : http://www.braillecards.org/faqs.htm.

The brand name should be:
1. Connecting in some way, with the theme of fun and team building.
2. Distinctive
3. Should NOT, prima facie, refer to disability or blindness in any way.
4. Could hint at Theater and drama as a part of the package.

Pls put ur suggestions in the comments box. Please ask your friends also to suggest a name in the comments box. Please dont suggest a name that will unknowingly land us in a legal soup. We are bad at being eaten. ;-)

Thank you!

Well Done Abba - Film Review

A Shyam Benegal movie after ages. Minissha Lamba, Boman Irani in the cast. And why did i miss it? Because the paper review said so. This is the second good film i have missed because of the paper review. Paper, go hang urself. No, actually, yours truly should hang self. For listening to a paper whose paper ream is of more value than the contents thereof.

And what made one realise one's pigheadedness? An sms at 2330 hours from a friend. "Don't miss Well Done Abba at any cost." At 2330 hours?? Sigh! Newspaper, are you recruiting? Please hire my friend as your film critic.

Anyhoo, Well Done Abba is BRILLIANT film. In every sense of the word.

If you have not seen it yet.. please do. This is one of the finest films this year. Or ever.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

26 Summer Ideas for children

These are primarily no fuss ideas for working mothers. Most of them need play dates with other children, but can be done solo also. Best of all, they can be done indoors.

1. Origami - get them a book, buy enough origami papers, and empty a showcase to show their work.

2. Reading and Junior Book Clubs - Junior book club is where children meet once a week, to discuss a book they have all read that week. It cld be Chacha Chaudhri, Enid Blyton or Winnie the Pooh. A shared library in the building is a great idea too. All kids can borrow from each other using "tickets". Meaning , 5 kids get together and start a book club. Each child is given 2 tickets. These tickets can be used to borrow books from other members of the club. When you borrow a book from me, i get to keep your ticket for the time that my book is with you. At the end of the holidays, all children must have their tickets back. Books kept for more than a week lead to loss of ticket permanently. Try it, its a lot of fun.

3. Painting.

4. Theater - Give the kids a story and let them make the play that will finally be staged for all adults. Excellent time pass. A parent with some knowledge of theater can help part time. But no supervisor. Let the kids work it out among themselves.

5. Finger Puppet Theater and Puppet Making - Give them a book, a slightly older child to supervise them, and let them do their finger puppet theater once a day, or once a week. The other puppets that are made can be given to charity at the end of the holidays(save one for memory).

6. Story Telling - Give the children a story. Let them find props from within the house, and tell a story. This is super gud fun.

7. Gudiya ki shaadi (Doll's wedding) - The making of dresses, the bridal jewelry painstakingly made using beads and pearls and sequins. Gud Time pass for everyone. The boys can be the groom's side.

8. Paper Models and Craft Work - Vikas Paper model books are available at a very affordable 40 rs for 6 models. They are worth a try.

9. The usual - blocks, sculpting clay, baking, embroidery, jigsaw puzzles- 300 pieces and above, logic puzzles (try braingle.com) , Sudoku, Scrabble Tournaments.

10. Gardening - For the summer, turn over the maintenance of your garden to the kid(s). Ditto for keeping a pet.

11. Quiz Show - The kids have to prepare a quiz show for the adults of the house. The show is called "Kya aap paanchvi pass se tez hain?"

12. Dance Drama - No, not your regular bollywood jhatkas. The children have to do a dance drama - using just dance, a story has to be told. It can be any dance form - Ballet, Indian, bollywood, anything. Basically, i believe that kids need to know that there is more to dance than bollywood and salsa.

13. Classical Music - Classes at home or in a group.

14. Yoga - Great time to start. Every morning.

15. Prayer - Yes, seriously. They have to learn some part of the scripture in the holidays.

16. Calligraphy - Get them a book to learn Calligraphy, a set, and some blank sheets to practice. Then get your new name plate made at the end of the season.

17. Speed Reading - This is a vital skill for children 8 years and above. Find a class near you and get them started.

18. New Language - The child has to invent a new language and teach it to others in the family. Everyone has lots of fun and this makes for the most memorable summer ever!

19. Stamping Fun - Create greeting cards, books and what not ! Get some rubber stamps made and let them loose with a stamp pad and a blank book. There is Stampit! series available at all game stores, but its more fun to get special family stamps made, esp ones with everyone's names and caricatures. They will make special cards to be sent to everyone that year - Happy Birthday cards for grandparents and special relatives, Happy Diwali and Happy new year cards.. all the greeting cards that year.. and this year, you will send hand made greeting cards AS A FAMILY, without fussing about it at the end because viola! you made them all in summer! (Dont worry abt the beauty quotient of the cards. Their being hand made by grandchildren is quite enough to bring grandparents to tears)

20.Eklavya's Best from Waste - Just make a kiddie group in your colony, give them some of these books by Eklavya, and let them loose. Eklavya has some fantastic books and phenomenal ideas!

21. Dumb Charades - The beauty of this game is that it can be played at the end of the work day, can easily become a family game, and is a great bonding tool. Other things that fall in this category are - scrabble, card games, monopoly, ludo and pictionary. But nothing beats Dumb Charades and the quiet undertanding it creates.

22. Cartoon Strip - The children have to create a cartoon strip. One cartoon every day. They can pick up anything in their environment. But each day must have one cartoon. The characters have to be consistent. At the end of the season, a cartoon book will be created and published and kept in the family chronicles. Drawing skills are not important, but if your kids are sensitive, give them http://www.toondo.com/ . On this site, you can create characters and comic strips easily without drawing skills.

23. Learn Sign language and Braille - This is one education that all children need. Because it will teach them something about their own gifts. How to be grateful for their own senses, and how to treat those who are not as lucky. "The summer i learnt Braille / sign language", is going to be among the most memorable summers for them. Braille can be learnt at the local Blind School (or contact me if you are in Gurgaon, India). Sign Language can be learnt thru online printed manuals. Its easy. Download the manual, give it to the children, then practice together as a family . Easy to do after office hours, and fun.

24. This one comes from a friend - Take an old carton and give it to the children to convert into a doll house or a castle. Her 5 year old daughter managed this! Using cardboard, thermocol, and paint and sundry accessories.

25. Record for the blind - While the kids are reading, they can pick up some books that are not under copyright, and record them for blind students all over to download and listen in audio. There is a serious shortage of books for the blind, and a service like this - where they can just download and hear, is not available at all. As part of Esha i m doing a summer project, requesting everyone to contribute anything, even a small recording, so it can be put up for free download. Please record. All it takes is a simple voice recorder or laptop.

26. Film Festival @ Home - Seriously. Bimal Roy. Satyajeet Ray. Other masterpieces. One film a day. There is nothing better than a film festival, complete with tickets, to budget the TV watching time of kids in summer. Needless to add, good cinema is as relevant today as it was years ago.

What are your summer ideas?

Monday, April 26, 2010

humein milna hi tha humdum, kisi raah bhi nikalte..

Have been wondering about how, in a planet full of people, we manage to find friends .. who remind us of ... well, us.
Just when you think that finally, the big churning pot called the World has sucked one in, and there will be no more madness, just method.. along comes Polly, who puts the kettle on, and reminds one that madness is not a habit, its a character trait.. and it cannot be wished or punished away.
And how does one manage to meet other mad people so effectively? Who share our exact mental malady, more or less?

To the mad caps(you know who you are): May the tribe increase!

These are the posts that brought one to them.. one did not go.. the posts practically got them:

http://thegeneralwhirl.blogspot.com/2010/04/missing-you.html

Thank you!

Monday, April 19, 2010

I am not a driver. I am an insurer.

I am not a driver. I am an insurer. Just by being in a bigger vehicle, i have automatically insured everyone in a smaller vehicle against their own stupidity.

Everytime a 2 wheeler driver thinks of overtaking me from the wrong side, they do not have to think about simple things like giving a horn or an indication that suddenly, the left side of the vehicle is going to be scaled by them. If there is a vehicle ahead that prevents their victory, and if, per chance, they bump into my vehicle and injure themselves, it is magically my fault, and automatically, a crowd gathers, expecting me to reimburse the guy for his injuries. Last I checked, You did not pay me an insurance premium for guarding u against ur own lawlessness and stupidity.

The Gurgaon Toll Road is closed to two wheelers. Yet, every time an accident happens on that road involving 2 wheelers, no one asks the 2 wheeler driver what they were doing on that road in the first place. In fact, no one anywhere asks a 2 wheeler driver what the hell they are thinking when they drive like they do.
So let me be the poineer:

To the cyclists:
  • There is no cycle track on our roads. And that is not right. But is that, by itself, reason enough for you to take your cycle to the right most lane, and keep it there? Do you realise that if a bus overtakes you, most likely, a small car driver behind that bus will NOT know that you are up ahead, because his view is blocked by the bus?
  • Have you ever paused to think that it is NOT your birthright to jump signals just because no one can stop you?
  • Have you ever considered that when you drive on the right most lane, you may or may not meet with an accident, but there are enough accidents that happen trying to "save" you.
To the adrenaline pumped 2 wheeler drivers:
What, really, is your excuse, other than that you can get away with it?
YOUR TWO WHEELER IS NOT YOUR WILD CARD ENTRY TO THE FORMULA 1.
There are rules. Please follow them. When you don't follow them, don't create a mob and expect the other person to pay up just because 50 of you have surrounded him.
And the end note:
One day, yours truly was at an intersection where, the day before, two scooterists were crushed by a blue line. This is a T intersection. On the long arm of the T, a blueline bus was waiting for the signal to turn green. As soon as the signal turned green, the bus started moving to the left (there was no free left) . Within 2 seconds, a scooter appeared on the right of the bus, overtaking it from the right just as the bus reached the divider on the left. This scooter, instead of stopping and waiting for the bus to make the turn, cut and appeared right in front of the bus just as the bus turned into the divided lane. The bus driver screeched on the brakes to avoid crushing them. The pillion rider turned back and grinned shamelessly at the bus driver. I was too busy observing these 2 to see what the bus driver was thinking or saying. But one could say what one was thinking - Those 2 deserved to die.
Disclaimer: Not all 2 wheeler drivers are bad. Not all bad drivers are in 2 wheelers.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sensitising a child to blindness and impermanence

Sorry, there is nothing interesting to report on this blog.. but there is some really interesting stuff on the other 2 blogs, so permit me to direct ur attention to these 2 posts that i think readers of this blog shld read:

A very pertinent Bedtime story - On Ishaan's blog

Sensitising a child to blindness - on the Esha blog.

Tell me what you think.. am waiting!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

When you find a Ghazal you love...

You post it.

वो जो बेख़ौफ़ मुहब्बत का हुनर देता हैं,
हाँ वही शख्स बिछड़ने का भी डर देता हैं॥

प्यार भर देता हैं उड़ने की तमन्ना दिल में
और मेरे पंख भी पत्थर के वो कर देता हैं॥

मेरे हिस्से के खुदा गम तो मुझे मिलते हैं,
मेरे हिस्से की तू सब खुशियाँ किधर देता हैं॥

रिश्ता ही प्यार का होता हैं इक ऐसा रिश्ता
तनहा दुनिया से जो लड़ने का जिगर देता हैं॥


Rough translation:
The one who teaches us to love without fear,
is also the one who puts the fear of separation in our heart..

Love fills me with the desire to soar
And also turns my wings to stone..

O God, you sure give me all the pain destined for me
Where do you hand out my share of happiness?

Only Love can give enough courage
To fight the world alone...
From: Tum Milo to Sahi ; Sung by Kunal Ganjawala.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Film Review - Tum Milo to Sahi

Movies are like paintings. Some(like Traffic Signal) are landscapes - they tell a story about things that just ARE..and no matter how long you stare at the landscape, the scenery remains unchanged. Some(like 3 idiots) are caricatures. Some (like all Amitabh Bachan movies) are portraits - focusing on one character and everything else is part of the background. Some, like Das Kahaniyan, are clearly collages. And some, like this film, are like the picture below:

where each character is so well etched that its complete in itself, and yet, every character merges effortlessly into the overall story. Their stories, distinct yet interlinked, not like the Gordian knot, but like a beautifully designed tapestry pattern. This film was a delight to watch.

Its a difficult film to review, because one cant talk about the costumes, the art direction, the lighting, the story or the songs, in isolation. If anything, this movie has a... "well blended" feeling to it, where everything falls into place just so, and nothing (except Amit's confession at the end) is jarring or stands out. The climax was predictable. But the film wasnt about the climax. This one time, the journey mattered more than the destination.

One cannot NOT talk about Dimple and Nana. Where have you guys been? When one looks at these performers, the difference in the sheer level of experience is not funny. Even within the film, though the entire cast acted way better than average, the shots which had Dimple and /or Nana just plain stood out. Dimple has a stage presence that lights up the screen just by being in it. Even if she is in a corner of the frame, you will notice her. ONLY her. She was flawless. Mohnish Behl dissapoints. Or maybe one just expects too much out of him now. :-)

The title track deserves special mention. Its rare to find a single song that easily captures all the required situations in a film. And rather easily. With fantastic lyrics. And good singing.

The last film that had such awesome characters that stayed in mind was DDLJ. No kidding. Rocket Singh was a very well written character. But as a film, it has to be DDLJ, where every character had a place and was "well thought out and well executed." Not to mention, perfect casting.

In the end, it all boils down to just one question: Will I see it again? Yes, and then some more.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

To the Esha Blog please..

Today, i m celebrating a small thing at Esha, that has never happened before. Please go to the blog www.eshabraille.wordpress.com and read about it.

Since its an imp day (for a small reason, but imp nonetheless) , one cant help looking back. 3 years ago, when one started Esha's employment for the blind initiative, it was a lonely battle. No one else seemed to believe that the blind cld become entrepreneurs - service entrepreneurs at that, and make money at it. No one seemed to believe that a business could be run without an "office" - using telephone and email, and working after office hours on flexi hours (Both Chandrashekar and i work flexi hours, as do all the other Esha volunteers)

3 years later, Chandru has proved that it IS possible, and i cant thank him enough. Even more so because for all the subsequent searches for an Esha beneficiary, i havent been able to find the same grit and determination to succeed. But 3 years later, a lot more ppl now believe that its possible for the blind to be entrepreneurs.

Hats off to Chandru, for ensuring that we can all believe in a model that i cld only envisage, and he could make real enough to prove.

Monday, March 29, 2010

क्या भूलूँ क्या याद करू

Today is a sad day. Just realised that the last famine under the British was in 1943-44. Also realised that 60 years after independence, we have people dying of starvation. Yes, no food. As simple as that.
(Image Courtesy: Hindustan Times)
When you start your day with the image of an obviously etiolated grandmother feeding an infant black tea, because she has nothing else to offer, you want to run out of that office, home, whatever, and help. But dont know how to help. dont know who is working there, other than HT. I dont know what to do.
That one image will haunt for a long long time.. and in some strange way, feel like i have failed that child... like all of us have failed these children..
...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

जाने दो मुझे जाने दो...

जाने दो, मुझे जाने दो,
रंजिशें या गिले, वफ़ा के सिले, जो गए, जाने दो...

थोड़ी खलिश होगी, थोड़ा सा ग़म होगा,
तनहाई तो होगी, एहसास कम होगा...
गहरी ख़राशों की, गहरी निशानियाँ है,
चेहरे के नीचे कितनी सारी कहानियां है,
माजी के सिलसिले, जा चुके, जाने दो...

उम्मीद-ओ शौक़ सारे, लौटा रही हूँ मैं,
रुसवाई थोड़ी सी, ले जा रही हूँ मैं...
बासी दिलासों की शब् तो गुज़ार आयी,
आँखों से गर्द सारी, रो कर उतार आयी,
आँखों के बुलबुले, बह गए,
जाने दो...

Roman Transliteration:
Jaane do, mujhe jaane do,
Ranjishein ya gile, wafa ke sile, jo gaye, jaane do...

Thodi khalish hogi, thoda sa gham hoga..
Tanhai to hogi, ehsaas kam hoga..
Gehri kharaashon ki, gehri nishaaniyaan hain,
chehre ke neeche kitni saari kahaanyaan hain..
Maazi ke silsile, jaa chuke, jaane do..

ummeed-o-shauq saare, lauta rahi hoon main..
Rusvai thodi si, le jaa rahi hoon main..
Baasi dilaason ki shab to guzaar aaye,
aankhon se gard saari, ro kar utaar aaye
aankhon ke bulbule, beh gaye, jaane do..


Rough Translation:
(This translation is literal, one can neva translate all the layers of this ghazal)

Just, let me go..
The grivances and the complaints,
The return for our loves,
Its all gone now... let it be..
and let me go..

There will be a little emptiness,
and a little sorrow..
A little loneliness,
but a little less sensitivity..
Deep gashes have caused deep scars..
Oh! How many stories reside under the skin!
But all those stories of the past,
are now gone..
let me go, too...

All my hopes,
and all my fondnesses,
I leave here
All i m taking with me
is a little ignominy...
The whispered condolences, are stale now,
And that evening (of shared condolences) is far behind us..
The grime of my eyes
was washed away by tears.
The bubbles (of sorrow) in my eyes,
have burst..
let them be..

Just, let me go....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOU3vBEMYy4

Album: Dil Padosi Hai - Gulzar, RD, Asha.