Saturday, December 25, 2021

Funny Hindi poem on posting everything on Social Media

 Someone asked on Linkedin: Neki Kar Dariya mein daal, or Neki kar social par daal ? 

(Should you post your good deeds on social media?)

AND my head had to respond with a funny Hindi poem. Its a parody on a classic Hindi film song about the importance of humility and doing good deeds.

सजन रे post मत डालो 

खुदा के पास जाना है 

न FB है, न  Insta है,

वहाँ offline ही जाना है। 


तुम्हारे followers न्यारे 

यहीं रह जाएंगे सारे 

अकड़ किस बात की प्यारे 

ये सर फिर भी झुकाना है 


भला कीजे भला होगा, 

बुरा कीजे बुरा होगा 

Post लिख लिख के क्या होगा 

Account Memorial बनाना है 


लड़कपन Discord खोया

जवानी LI पर सोया 

बुढ़ापा देख कर रोया 

वही किस्सा पुराना है 

 This is the original song on which the parody rests: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IR9ShQEdcgg


The Roman transcript: 

Sajan re post mat daalo,
khuda ke pas jaana hai,
na Fb hai na insta hai,
vahaan offline hi jaana hai.
Tumhaare followers nyaare,
yahin reh jayenge saare,
Akad kis bat ki pyaare
Ye sar phir bhi jhukana Hai
Bhala keeje bhala hoga,
Bura keeje bura hoga
Post likh likh ke kya hoga
Account Memorial banana hai
Ladakpan Discord khoya,
Jawani LI par soya
Budhaapa Dekh kar roya
Vahi kissa purana hai


Friday, December 24, 2021

Book Review: Two and a half rivers by Anirudh Kala



Usually, when one does not like a book, one keeps quiet. If very angry with the book for wasting time on it, one tends to give it a low rating on Amazon and maybe write a short negative review. 
But this book was bought from a curated book store and then read with dedication. 
Its a 3 hour read at a pithy 234 pages. 

The book has 4 sub plots - the terrorism in Punjab, The status of Dalits in Punjab, the business of Deras in Punjab, and clinical depression in medical professionals (the narrator). No wait, there is also that subplot about Shiv Sena and Maharasthra, the missionary activity in Punjab, and so on.. 

Perhaps the author thought that it would be very interesting to present the narrative through the eyes of the clinically depressed doctor who lives in the wilderness, while also subtly covering the doctor's own struggle with depression and while we are at it, lets also cover covert conversion by missionaries in the name of education, and lets throw in a little tirade on the tough life of the shrink during violent times.

As a reader, I simply don't have the kind of range that the author brings to the table. I like stories with focused characters, exploring those characters as fully as possible, especially if it is going to be a story about historically significant events and if those historically significant events are going to be interpreted, not merely referenced and documented. 

I could probably have lived with 2 parallel plots - the story of the 2 Dalit kids who have grown up together and what they have had to go through, and the story of how terrorism affected them. But the novel narrates terrorism through the eyes of the doctor, indicating only some key actions that are taken by Bheem and Shamsie because the political climate. 

What emerges for the reader is a mixed veg sabzi in which half boiled potatoes are thrown with overcooked mushrooms, barely cooked carrots, hastily mashed tomatoes, in a thick gravy of undercooked onions. 

And therefore, you are left with that feeling of not being able to immerse in anything completely. We cannot even fully understand Shamsie and Bheem - both intelligent and complex characters, because they do these guest appearences across chapters. Why? 
Why is Sidhu's character not explored more - he fits so well into the story and deserves to get more print space. There are so many unanswered questions about him - Jassi and Bheem can't be the only good singers in Punjab - why did he tag along with just these 2? What kind of band survives without a lead singer? Esp in the Punjab of the 1980s, where a singer and a comedian were core to the performance industry? How did he manage to subdue his love for Jassi? 

Just as you start to get into the world of Shamsee and Bheem, along comes doctor sahib with his depression and the weird things that are happening around him - the dead bodies floating on the river, the kidnapping by both sides, and so on. And as you are trying to understand this barely believable character, Poof! Like a magician, Enter Dr. Mustafa and his story. 

Oh wait, we also have to talk about dera owners and partition violence and regimentation at the dera.. why leave anything out? 

But perhaps the most irritating feature of the book is its series of competely one sided inferences about what was going on in Punjab, or the hardly fictionalised academic sounding but basically one sided view of the terror issue in Punjab.

The final violence in the book is both unnecessary and repugnant. It contributes nothing to the climax of the plot, and is perhaps the most irrelevant, useless climax events I have ever read in a book. 

This book should have gone into the furnace of a sharp editor and been reworked a fair bit before being released. 

Perhaps the author targeted breadth, perhaps the author wanted to share a one sided view of history, in which it is mentioned that 8000 men will not return home because of police brutality, but does not mention the number of people who lost their young boys, earning men, and livelihoods to the Boys, as he calls them. None of those approaches worked for me, as a reader. 

He tries to bring out the negatives in the work of the Boys, but through the soft padding of anecdotes, unlike the hard numbers that he uses to showcase the police side. He also completely forgets to mention the sleepless nights that police personnel had to spend in this business of vigils and verifications. Unexpected deaths were all over. Policemen, too, left home after waving Bye to their school going children, and never came back again. 

I would give this book a miss, and a wide berth. A book that evidently is a fruit of labour, but kind of lacks both taste and flavour. 





 





Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Is physical the only dimension of being - Meditation Chat

This came to me in the temple at Sikkim, and i was asked to write this down. 

For a few weeks now, I have wondered: 

A. Is length, breadth, depth the only way to measure dimensions of existence? What if physical was only one of the dimensions of existence, and when we zoom out, we see how our existence really looks in a larger field? "Our" means everything and everyone. 

B. Many ppl today tend to believe that the spiritual process and spiritual growth is superlative to, or more important than the accumulation of wealth and material benefits. A lot of people, of course, believe the exact opposite. Is there really a hierarchy to achievement? Is one kind of achievement more important than the other? Does one kind take us closer to Nirvana? 

And here is the answer that came at the temple. 

1. There are at least 3 dimensions of existence, and they are not l,b,h. They are the physical plane, the intellectual (चेतन) , and the spiritual. We call them in Hindi - शारीरिक, बौद्धिक/ चैतन्य, आध्यात्मिक। 

2. No dimension is more or less important than any other. They come together to form the entity at all times. Spiritual  attainment will not take you close to Nirvana until you have experienced all that your senses are meant to experience and have understood through reasoning all that you need to work out and understand through your Chetana. Even Buddha needed to do penance before understanding that starvation is not the route to salvation. His Chetana needed to do that experiment and arrive at that conclusion. 

3. There are no non living things. Chetna and Bodh exist in all things, even if they appear non living to our current level of knowledge. 

4. We understand in the spirit dimension, we know in the chetan dimension, and we experience it in the physical dimension. For example, think of the concept of tripti (satisfaction). You feel thirsty and drink water. Nothing in the intellectual or spiritual domain can help you understand tripti like the simple act of being thirsty and drinking water. 

5. Our journeys are not linear, and they were never meant to be. As our body grows in all dimensions, so does our existence. Our journeys include the journeys of our loved ones and other entities that we interact with. We leave an imprint on them and they leave one on us. Think of it as a radial map. You are growing or shrinking in all dimensions at the same time. And sometimes, we just are. That is fine too. There is no growth imperative anywhere. 

6. A lot of shoulds melt. When you zoom out, you realise that "is" is the only verb that matters. The shoulds, coulds, woulds, would haves, they really mean nothing. They never did. Try to bind yourself to the shoulds that matter to you. Shoulds should be guiding lamps, not handcuffs. 



Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Children's poetry on expecting marks of exams

 दे दी मैंने परीक्षा 

अब फल आने वाले हैं 

सब गीता के उपदेश 

काम आने वाले हैं। 


कर्म कर दिया, फल न देखो 

फल पर कोई बस नहीं है 

आत्मा अमर है 

नंबर क्षणिक हैं 


कोटा फैक्ट्री की माफिक 

पार्टी तो होगी

या माहेश्वरी, या संजु भैया 

केवल पार्टी सत्य है 

सीट, नंबर, सब फ़ानी है। 

दुनिया आनी - जानी है... 

*In an Indian web series called Kota Factory, all the successful students (who get a seat in IIT) get a party at Maheshwari classes. All the unsuccessful students are invited to the house of a mentor and teacher - Sanju bhaiya, to party. 





Funny children's poetry for exams

कोई मुझको ये बतलाये 

परीक्षा का है क्या उपाय?


हर बच्चे को सताती है 

जीवन सूना कर जाती है! 


खाना, खेलना सब हराम 

केवल पढ़ते रहो जनाब! 


अंग्रेज़ी, हिन्दी, और भूगोल 

मेरे तो सब ही हैं गोल! 


विज्ञान से न है मेरा नाता 

न ही मुझको गणित है भाता 


दस सवाल पूछ के टीचर 

खुद को देव समझते हैं 

भूतों जैसी व्यवस्था है 

जिस में सारे रटते हैं! 


पर मैं भी हूँ सूपर स्मार्ट 

परीक्षा करना है इक आर्ट 


परीक्षा अग्नि सरीखी है 

ये बात माँ से सीखी है। 


जो आग घर जलाती है 

वह माँ का खाना पकाती है। 


जिस का तुम कर सकते वहन 

वह कैसे करे तुम्हारा दहन? 


थोड़ा पढ़ो, थोड़ा पढ़ाओ, 

मिल कर यह संकट निबटाओ। 


कुछ दिन की तो बात है प्यारे 

ग्रहण भी कुछ पल रहते सारे। 


दुनिया आनी- जानी है 

यह परीक्षा भी फ़ानी है। 












Monday, December 20, 2021

Dedicated to all my friends who write political poetry

हम कविता वाले लोग हैं, 

हम छंदों में बतियाते हैं 

मज़दूर का साथ निभाने को 

शब्दों के कुदाल उठाते हैं 

कंधे से कंधा मिल कर हम 

उसका भार उठाते हैं। 


भूखों से हमें विशेष लगाव 

शब्दों के कौर खिलाते हैं 

उनके नाम की कविता लिख कर 

पेट अपने भर पाते हैं 

हम कविता वाले लोग हैं 

हम छंदों में बतियाते हैं 


दायित्व कोई नहीं हमारा 

केवल अधिकार हमारे हैं

व्यंग्य हमारा साधन है,

बस खुद पर न सह पाते हैं 

हम  कविता वाले लोग हैं, 

हम छंदों में बतियाते हैं 


We are the people of poetry 

We speak in rhyme scheme

We pick our words to help him 

The mason on the street

We stand with him, shoulder to shoulder. 

And use our words to clean. 


We love the destitute the most 

We feed them our  verse 

And feed off their poverty, 

No one is any the worse. 


No responsibility, no sirree, 

Only rights we claim 

Satire is our specialty

But we are not fair game. 







Saturday, December 18, 2021

Book Review: Bodies from the Library 3

 If, like me, you love mystery and detective fiction, and have finished all mainstream authors, this book, and the entire series, is for you. 

The stories range from the innocent to the macabre, but the plots are all intelligent and the writing all superb. 

The book also has a rare find - the only known detective fiction story by William Collins, the scion of  Collins Publications. 

The Orange Plot mysteries are interesting - a single line of plot is shared, and 6 authors interpret it in their own way. My favourites in this series were He Stooped to Live and The Orange Kid. 

There are two long stories in the book. I liked Grand Guignol. A knotty problem was written in the form of a play and is best enjoyed like that. Too many characters for a 40 page story. 

Among the short stories, Hot Steel, The House of the Poplars, The Case of the Unlucky Airman, and The Riddle of the Black Spade are all interesting and stand out. To be fair, I have left the Poirot story out of comparison. It stands out in its brilliance. 

At 370 pages, this book is ideal for a couple of languid afternoons, or perhaps 2 flight journeys. 







Saturday, December 11, 2021

Short Story: The Sphinx

She was where she always was – metaphorically, and physically – next to a window, typing away skilfully on an old typewriter. No normal 36-year-old in 2021 would be typing on a typewriter. But normal was not an adjective that applied to her. It never had.

 It is hard to wonder, easy to ask. So, I had asked once, “Why do you use a computer for everything else, but write your important stuff on a typewriter?”

 “Because, my dear, the typewriter teaches you that there is no undo button. A thing our generation appears to have forgotten!”

Yes, she spoke like that too. Like an old English literature book or a Shashi Tharoor understudy. One could never tell whether she was saying something or reading out something her mind wrote first.

 I met her when she was a fiery, and equally abnormal, 29-year-old. At that time, the most abnormal thing about her was “29-and-not-married.”

It is the solemn duty of every 30-year-old man and woman to be married, or be doomed to eternal torture by all relatives, friends, and colleagues.

 Seven feisty years later, she was still as unmarried and as abnormal.

 But let’s start from the beginning. From when she was 29-and-not-married, and I’d just met her.

Like 80% of the men who met her, I fell in love with her in the first 10 minutes too. And like 90% of those men who fell for her, I wasted time in trying to woo her.

 Finally, after 8 weeks or so, she said, rather simply, over coffee, “You are an intelligent man. Give some credit to your intelligence and listen to your head.”

 That was that. As simply as that, she confirmed my eternal demotion to the friendzone. I also had the choice of Strangerland, but Friendzone was infinitely better, so I took that. Strangerland is also practically impossible when you are colleagues.

 Over the next few years, I saw that pattern repeat, over and over again. New colleagues, men who turned up at private parties thrown by colleagues, her friends, even client professionals. Her charm, it appeared, was incapable of missing a man.

 The worst of it was, she never tried to get any of this attention or affection. The nonchalance with which this affection was acknowledged, then turned down, was disconcerting to a friendzoned-reasonably-intelligent-ex-suitor, the wives of the men who made the passes, and the wannabe-partners-of-men-who-could-not-look-elsewhere.

One day, out of the blue, she disappeared. No, I mean, she really disappeared. A missing persons report was filed. The office was frantic, the office grapevine was frenetic.

 “Looks like someone kidnapped her.”

“Maybe she went to a strange place and committed suicide.”

“No, No, she has possibly run away.”

“Soo dramatic yaar. She got a great new job and just absconded. Now, focus on your work.”

 A week went by. Her family was informed. Her cousin came by. He stayed in her flat, keeping vigil.

 The CEO personally followed up with the Commissioner twice a day. “An employee of this company will not be abandoned. We will go to the end of the world to find her and to ensure her wellness.”

Very few of us could function in that week. The Health and Safety industry is very niche, very high paying, and very, very demanding. Safety audits are not conducted in airconditioned rooms by apprentices. They are conducted on field. Across industries, wherever physical work is involved, HSE audits are mandatory and are conducted by a small and specialised army of professionals who marry specialised skill with insane physical stamina.

After exactly 10 days, she walked into her own house. She was dressed in a saree and there were no marks of physical injury. Her cousin, who was trying to find a polite way to tell the police that he really doesn’t give a F^&* and would like to resume his normal life with HIS wife and HIS sweet daughter, was shocked out of his wits for a minute, I think.

I wasn’t there, but grapevine broadcast later that she had asked for a glass of water, sat on the sofa, drank the water. Then, she called up her parents and told them, simply, “Amma, I am home and safe.”

Then, she looked up at her cousin, and said, “Thank you. Your family probably awaits you.”

 After a week of this episode, she resumed work. The police had done their paperwork. The CEO’s email mentioned that she had “co-operated fully with the capable police force of our country” and “we were all relieved and glad to have her back with us.”

 What the CEO’s email did not mention was that she had been given complimentary therapy sessions, which she had accepted, and had gone to therapy, diligently, once a week. She was also put off field work for a while.

 Only one eccentricity was observed. The clients’ final reports (or anything important) were always typed on an old typewriter that she had bought with her own money. Never on the laptop.

 That was all. In all other respects, she moved on from the incident and went back to being the same person within a few months.

 Why am I saying all this today? Well, remember that opening line? She was typing on that typewriter of hers. I have just seen the content of that typing. It’s her resignation. After 12 years of being with the same organisation, she is leaving.

 

The thing is, HSE audits, like I mentioned, is not IT. The jobs are rather limited and people usually rotate and retire within the same 2-3 firms.

“Why are you leaving?” was the only thing I could blurt out.

 She just smiled. That is her most irritating feature. She smiles when she really means to say, “STFU or None of Your Business.” Or Both.

 After this, things moved fast. Everyone kept their calm, outwardly. Inside, we were all seething. For various reasons. No one could write reports as she could. No one could look at a building blueprint and point out structural vulnerabilities better than her. No one could audit a safety checklist and find a blind spot better than her. No one could take her place, personally, or professionally.

 In the final fortnight, the farewells started. Group farewells. Some individual dinners and teas. Finally, the friendzoned-reasonably-intelligent-ex-suitor plucked some courage and asked her to dinner, to say Goodbye.

 “If you hadn’t asked, I would have! How’s Tuesday night?”

 “But Tuesday is your last working day! The party will go on till late. Are you sure?”

 “The farewell will end at 6, and then I will have all the time in the evening to nurse my new-found loneliness. So, yes, I am sure, and I definitely want you to be the last colleague I speak to before leaving town on Wednesday.”

 So, I was special, after all! I was going to be the last person in office to say Goodbye to her!

 Tuesday night could not arrive too soon for me after that. Eventually, there it was, and there we were – at a nice little place, cosy, and definitely quiet. There was much to talk about.

 “Why am I the last person you are saying goodbye to?”

 “Because you are the only person to whom I said, ‘You are an intelligent person. Give credit to that intelligence.’ And because you will understand.”

 “Understand what?”

 “Why I had to do what I had to do.”

 “But I don’t understand. Why did you resign?”

 “That’s not what I meant when I said you will understand. Remember the 10 days that I was away, many years ago?”

 “Oh yes! None of us, not even the office grapevine, could figure out. What happened then?”

 “It doesn’t matter ya. But I had to close the loop. Ensuring everyone’s safety is part of my job, after all!” she winked.

 “Are you hinting at something?”

 “Not at all. I just told you all there is to know. And now, as a parting gift, I want you to have something. I painted this specially for you.”

 “What is it?”

 “A self-portrait.”

 “Yours?”

 She nodded, then smiled, then handed me that packet and with her eyes, gestured that I should open and see it.

 I did:


PS: This is my first ever short story that is not for children. 


 

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Chits

Master,  there are so many problems.  No one to trust.  No one to work with.  No one to even talk to.  Things are getting harder day by day. 

I'll tell you the solution.  But you won't do it. 

Is it very hard,  master?

It's very simple. 

Is it very expensive then?

Doesn't cost a penny. 

Very time consuming?

On the contrary,  it'll save you time. 

Then why will i not follow it master? Please tell me. 

Think hard, child. Its just 2 things. But you won't be able to do them. 

I will master.  Please tell them to me.

Ok. I'm writing them on this chit here.  See them when you're sure. 

On opening:
1. Trust and let go.
2. Love. Always.  Just. Love. 

But this is so simple. 

But child,  do you know when to use which chit?

Both together master.  Always.  Both. together.  

 I think, one of the blessings of this blog is that when the world disappoints you, yet again, you come here and read the old posts. One of them will tell you what you are feeling, and unable to say. 


Wednesday, December 01, 2021

More original one liners

 शादी की 25 वीं सागीरह पर लोगों को Grand Party नहीं, बहादुरी का पुरुस्कार मिलना चाहिए। 


Vendetta is not vindication. 


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Funny Hindi poem on exercise

 एक दिन हुआ ये संयोग

सीखने चले हम भी योग

 

पहले प्राणायाम कराया

फिर टीचर ने गले लगाया

इतनी गहरी होगी सांस

हमको कब था ये आभास?

 

पद्मासन ने छक्के छुड़ाए

टांगें कोई कैसे सधाये ?!

पैर करें न वार्तालाप

हम ही करते चले विलाप!  

आ- आ – आ के साथ

पद्मासन न छोड़े जान

 

“चलो तुम्हें कुछ सरल सिखाएँ”

गुरु ने ये तेवर अपनाए

सूर्य नमस्कार करें आरंभ

सरल हो योग से संबंध

किन्तु सूर्य नभ-पथिक हैं

उनका  नमन बहुत कठिन है!

 

गुरु अब हौले से मुस्काए

अपना ब्रह्मास्त्र ले आए

“आपके लिए है एक ही आसन”

कह कर सिखाया शवासन!

हम भी हो गए तुरंत प्रसन्न!

गुरु को किया कोटि नमन!

Friday, November 19, 2021

On the repeal of farm laws

 Woke up to the news of repeal of farm laws. Either Punjab has made its second big mistake today, or Amrinder Singh has just secured the kingdom of Punjab.

Punjab's first big mistake was not making drugs a political issue. Both political parties in Punjab were making money from drugs and transport. That explains the suboptimal rail network in Punjab. 

Last year's govt procurement in Punjab sent a clear signal - Record procurement was done from the non-protesting regions of Punjab and minimal procurement from the protesting regions. 

Someone then told me that maybe this is part of a secret pact with Amrinder. That changes things completely. Because with this masterstroke, the Maharaja of Patiala (Amrinder Singh is the descendant of the Maharaja of Patiala and also would have been the holder of that title if the titles had not been legally abolished) has secured the kingdom of Punjab forever. 


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

More One Liners

 उसकी नाक उसकी अक्ल से ज़्यादा बड़ी थी। 

 

Ignorance, Embellished with arrogance, usually calls itself wisdom or experience.  In the worst case scenario, both.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Bal Divas par Hasya Kavita

 कैसे-कैसे हैं क्या बताऊँ

मेरे गाँव के बालक

एक से एक नमूने सारे

भगवान हैं इनके पालक।

 

भोलू नाम से, काम से चालू

टिफ़िन छीने जैसे भालू

 

मोहन सबसे लड़ता है

किसी के मन नहीं बसता है

 

विद्या को न भाये किताब

कनकव्वे उड़ाएँ जनाब

 

विनोद नाम का लिया है ठेका

इसे कभी हँसता न देखा

 

रोशनी इतना सताती है

जीवन अंधियारा कर जाती है

 

सुभाषिणी के मुंह से निकलता

साक्षात भूराल (लावा)

सुशील के मुंह से निकले गाली

बिना किसी अंतराल

 

सबसे प्यारा नाम है धर्म

चोरी-झूठ हैं इनके कर्म

 

जो बच्चे मन के सच्चे हैं

वो मेरे गाँव न बसते हैं

 

जो बच्चे अक्ल के कच्चे हैं

वो कान कतरने में अच्छे हैं. 

 

 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Udaipur Travelogue

We were in Udaipur for a whirlwind 3D/2N holiday, which is hardly enough to explore the city. 

But, we learnt some valuable lessons on this journey, and that deserves to be documented. 

First, when we usually stay at a heritage property, it is so far removed from the main city that the sounds of the city never reach us. This time, thanks to last minute booking, we got a property that was pat in old Udaipur city. The arti from the nearby temple, the last day of Navratri celebration, everything reached our ears. It was so lovely to be out at midnight, just walking the tiny lanes of old Udaipur. 

The auto drivers we met were both very nice. The taxi drivers were the exact opposite. Because of the weather, it was great fun to get into an auto and just go all over town. We would love to do that again some day. Deepak, our Man Friday, went out of our way to be available whenever we called him, and did a lot to ensure we got everything we wanted. 

The taxi owners (they were self driving their cars) - Bablu and Raju, were both uniformly pathetic. They: 

A. Overcharged us

B. Did not understand what the guest would like. Routinely, they took us to places we did not like and completely missed places we would not have discovered if it wasn't for Google baba. Please avoid at least these 2 taxi drivers if you can. 

C. Specifically misguided us. Instead of saying "I do not want to go there" they said, "That is a complete walk way. Vehicles are not allowed there any more." I remembered that the City Palace gate is different. They took us to a gate from where we spent 100 rs per head extra on the golf cart, it took longer, and we had to buy an extra ticket for no reason. Another time, they took us to the Vintage car museum, we bought expensive tickets though we did not want to see the cars, and found that their recommendation of what we would find at that place was completely incorrect. Another time, I specifically checked with them if the amenities at Kumbhalgarh are clean, otherwise we can stop at a place before reaching. "Don't worry, everything is available. All amenities clean and accessible." Zilch. Zero. nada. We walked out of Kumbhalgarh within minutes of reaching. When you have been in a car for more than 1.5 hours, you do NOT want unclean amenities soon as you reach. 

D. Do not go to any expensive showrooms. Do NOT buy Semal ki rui ki rajai. It is a rip off. We bought it at twice the price of a regular Kapaas (cotton) ki rui ki rajai and it is in tatters within 15 days of being at home. Do NOT buy marble artifacts from showrooms. No one told us where we could get something for ourselves. 

E. When you search for properties on the internet, the Lalit does not come up at all. But The Lalit has a LOVELY property in Udaipur, near the Fateh Sagar lake. Isolated and beautiful. 

Things to do in Udaipur 

If, like us, you dig heritage properties and history, Kumbhalgarh and Haldi Ghati will be nice. Don't go to the private museum. Go straight to Haldi Ghati. After that, go further ahead, and you will find distilleries that make ark and gulab jal etc. We bought from there and it has been v nice. The Chaitri Gulab fragrance in particular is very lasting. 

Within Udaipur, the City Palace is the draw for the right reasons. Absolutely amazing. Do keep at least 2-3 hours for this one. Do invest in a guide. Do NOT respond to sexist jokes by the guide, esp about why is the lion smiling. 

We could not experience boating or the ropeway because the lakes were being cleaned after the festival, and because the ropeway was far too crowded for our liking. But if that's your thing, please do try them out. 

DO pluck the custard apples etc. on the way to Haldi Ghati. Do engage with the local children. Do see the local water harvesting wheels that you will encounter if you look closely. 

We also recommend the thalis very highly, esp if you love the thali system of eating. Natraj it was for us. 




Ceiling of the Udaipur City Palace courtyard

Pencil sketch of a section of the hotel

Our ceiling

Hotel

View from the room 

We also spent an entire evening just walking the tiny lanes of Udaipur old city and it was nice. We were there on the last day of Navratri, so there was all night praying and celebration. The lake was walking distance but we were too tired to walk by the lakeside, though have been told that that is good too. 

Our hotel was, as mentioned earlier, a proper old haveli, pat in the middle of the old city, and had a good view of the lake and the city palace. It was quiet, not crowded, and that suited us very well. 

THE Haldi Ghati



Our staircase at the hotel





दिवाली

सुनो, इस बार यूं करो 

ये 'मन का दीपक' रहने दो 

'अंदर का रावण' रहने दो 

सब ज्ञान की बातें रहने दो 


लड्डू खाओ, पेड़े खाओ, 

वो हेल्थी - वेलदी रहने दो 

बाज़ार जाओ, समान लाओ, 

ये ऑनलाइन - वॉनलाइन रहने दो 

 

पैर छुओ, गले मिलो, 

ये व्हाट्सप्प मैसेज रहने दो। 

खूब सजें, मन भर के हंसें,

अब ऐसी दिवाली करने दो। 


Thursday, November 04, 2021

हिन्दी बाल कविता दिवाली पर Hindi Poem on Diwali

 दीप ले कर आई दिवाली 

सबके मन को भायी दिवाली 

धनतेरस, गोवर्धन पूजा 

भाई दूज भी लायी दिवाली 


अनार, फूलझड़ी, और लड़ियाँ 

देखो जुड़तीं हंसी की कड़ियाँ 

बादाम, पतीसा, रसमलाई 

क्या-क्या अच्छा लायी दिवाली! 


मौसा मौसी मिलने आए 

हमारे लिये खिलौने लाए 

हम भी सब से मिलनें जाएँ 

चलो भई, आ गई दिवाली! 




Wednesday, November 03, 2021

The Case of altered LinkedIn algorithm

Once upon a time, a person called Reid Hoffman co-founded a website that would allow professionals to share their knowledge and experience with each other. Unlike industry specific websites, this one was for all professionals to connect with each other. 

The platform turned profitable within 3 years of launch and has, since inception, remained the world's no. 1 professional platform. 

In 2016, it was acquired by Microsoft at a valuation of 26.2 billion dollars. The leadership remained the same. 

Some changes were made to the UI then. These changes were criticised in the short term but the overall usage of the platform did not suffer. 

In 2019, Linkedin decided to change its algorithm. The key driver of the change was "engagement" - that elusive Utopia of networks. 

In its blog post,  Linkedin spoke about the technicals, but this article helps break it down, to some degree.

What we can understand is that underrepresented content creators will be given some algo space on the feed so their reach can grow, and community engagement will be one of the key drivers of what succeeds, and what does not. In short, the algo will learn what works and what does not. 

The intention, perhaps..

was to create a situation in which exceptional content created by any content creator, would be highlighted. In time, the best content would get traction normally, and the algo would learn what works and what does not. 

The program worked perfectly, but... 

So, what happened was exactly what was intended - content creators were given feed space. The best performing feeds were picked up by the algo and similar feeds were amplified in the future. 

The result of which was that images of Gods, personal stories of pathos, achievements of children, random polls, political jokes, and other assorted paraphernalia increased. In 2021, it is hard to tell whether one is scrolling Facebook or Linked in. 

The algo learnt perfectly. The humans behaved ... well, not as intended. 

The success of the algo was based on the assumption that users would only engage with professional content on a professional platform. That didn't happen. 

So, dear readers, please do not blame Linkedin for the perceived deterioration of your LI feed. This is what other humans want to see and read.  

Users who still value only professional content on LI, are called LI purists (and that is not a positive term). 

Friday, October 29, 2021

1984 by George Orwell

 Does anyone know why 1984 was written for one corner of the world and came true in the exact opposite corner? In the exact space that was meant to be the opposite of 1984?

I am truly interested in thoughts.

https://www.msn.com/en-in/money/technology/a-departing-facebook-employee-said-omniscient-robots-owned-by-mark-zuckerberg-won-t-save-the-company-from-its-moderation-problems/ar-AAQ3YDX?ocid=msedgntp

Book Review: Maharani by Diwan Jarmani Das

I have long campaigned that if we have to save the planet, we should not tax consumption. We should tax the waste generated. Every household should be taxed according to the waste it generates and the progeny it creates. 

If the trash tax was a reality, it would apply to this book. The publisher would have been taxed on every copy going off the press. 

According to Diwan Jarmani Das, it is customary for the Maharajas to have mistresses and concubines, but for their own safety, the Maharanis must be kept in the 3 layer security in the palace and any transgression should be suitably dealt with. 

Not content with convincing us that the Maharanis had only one side to their personality - the erotic, he also goes on to generously disburse his opinion on why working women and educated women are a disaster. The woman comes home tired and is not able to look after the welfare of the family. This leads to a situation where the husband returns tired from work and finds that there is no one to look after him and his needs. This is the main reason why men go astray. 

So generously is this advice doled out, in fact, that the book reads like a sermon book rather than a record of the maharanis. Not content with giving advice to mere mortal beings, the author also decides to give advice on the Khajuraho temples. (Read excerpts below) 

And the book is not about Indian maharanis. It also tells us the details of the sexcapades and the bitter retribution given to European queens. That section, of course, is a waste of time because the book was bought to read about the lives of, well, Maharanis. 

Here are a few excerpts from this book. They are self-explanatory. 

In my opinion, women's main job is to look after husbands and children and the formation of their character. 


The homes which were like paradise before the so called emancipation of women have become, in most cases, a blazing till due to the disparity in thought and culture between husband and wife, between father and daughter. 


Most of these perverted maharanis were the offspring of the ultra modern education with they received under British tutors in India and at schools and colleges in England. 


The husband and wife do not have enough time have intimate talks with each other on family matters and to spend a few hours of bliss which is the duty of the wife to provide for the husband who comes home tired after a hard day's work. 


Women in the services, and particularly in high posts, dominate their husbands, with the results that mutual love or confidence between them is gone. In the upper classes, wives are becoming nagging monsters and behave like superior beings. 


They wear chiffon and high coiffeurs, and their mouths are reddened with lipstick and the eyebrows blackened, the back lines above the eyebrows giving them the look of a professional prostitute. 

But the majority of women do not believe in feminism, they care for more for femininity. 

French women, even though they are in service or politics, are seductive and sexy. They take care of their figure and complexion unlike the suffragete women of England and the USA who, when in politics or high office, look more manly and neglect their dresses. 


Women want to create a lovable impression on their husbands and get things done without having legal rights. 


In France, before the Matrimonial Bill of 1964 which abrogated the old laws that forbade women from opening bank accounts or obtaining passports, the wife's infidelity was considered more serious than her husband's desertion and infidelity.


And finally, advice for our temples: 

Khajuraho and similar temples in Orissa and other states depicting sexual poses are a gross insult to Indian culture and civilisation. 


We should either demolish these temples or forbid foreigners to visit them. 

Whatever explanation one may be able to give the visitors about the true interpretation of these sexual poses, they begin to believe that Hindu religion and temples are all dedicated to sex worship. 


Endnote: 

1. Women should not buy this book because (read excerpts above) and chauvinistic men who agree with the author should not buy this book because the book will kill their domestic monopoly on misogynistic advice. At least within their house , they deserve to remain the specialists on the subject of what women should and should not do. 


2. This book, if it remains in publication, should be heavily edited to completely remove the personal insights of the author, remove the European history and sexual laxity, and just share the facts of the lives of the maharanis. 


Monday, October 25, 2021

More Venting

Please tell me that you have a running season of "Teenage Tantrum, Mad Mom" in your houses too?

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

One more sexist joke, and my repartee

 पत्नी औ घड़ी के बीच का संबंध :....

 - समानताएं :

1. घड़ी चौबीस घंटे टिक-टिक करती रहती है !! और पत्नी चौबीस घंटे किट-किट करती रहती है !!

 2. घड़ी की सूइयाँ घूम-फिर कर वहीं आ जाती हैं !! उसी प्रकार पत्नी को आप कितना भी समझा लो, वो घूम-

फिर कर वहीं आ जायेगी और अपनी ही बात मनवायेगी !!

 3. घड़ी बिगड़ जाये तो मैकेनिक के यहाँ जाती है !! पत्नी बिगड़ जाये तो मैके जाती है !!

 4. घड़ी को चार्ज करने के लिये सेल (बैटरी) का प्रयोग होता है !! और पत्नी को चार्ज करने के लिये सैलेरी का प्रयोग होता है !!

 

- विषमतायें :

1. घड़ी में जब १२ बजते हैं तो तीनों सूइयाँ एक दिखाई देती हैं !! लेकिन पत्नी के जब १२ बजतेे

  तो एक पत्नी भी ३-३ दिखाई देती है !!

 2. घड़ी के अलार्म बजने का फिक्स टाइम है !! लेकिन पत्नी के अलार्म बजने का कोई फिक्स टाइम नहीं है !

 3.घड़ी बिगड़ जाये तो रूक जाती है !! लेकिन जब पत्नी बिगड़ जाये तो शुरू हो जाती है !!

4. सबसे बड़ा अंतर ये कि घड़ी को जब आपका दिल चाहे बदल सकते हैं !! मगर पत्नी को चाह कर भी बदल नहीं सकत

 

My Response: 

पति और गधे के बीच समानताएँ और विषमताएँ

  1. गधा समय समय पर धैचू- धैचू की पुकार लगता है और पति समय समय पर चाय चाय की।
  2. गधे से आप वज़न उठाने के अलावा कोई काम नहीं करवा सकते। वो भी तब जब उसकी इच्छा हो। पति का भी ऐसा ही है।
  3. गधे की टांगों को बांध कर न रखा जाए तो वे कहीं भी भाग निकलता है। पति का भी ऐसा ही है।
  4. गधे किसी के सगे नहीं होते। सालों उन्हें कोई खिलाए पिलाए, उनका ध्यान रखे, पहला मौका मिलते ही नकेल तोड़ कर भाग जाते हैं।
  5. गधा घास चरता है, और पति दिमाग।
  6. गधा दुलत्ती मारते हुए बिल्कुल नहीं सोचता कि चोट किसे लगेगी, कितनी गहरी लगेगी। पति भी मुंह खोलते हुए ऐसा कुछ नहीं सोचते।
  7. सारी दुनिया को पता है कि गधा अव्वल दर्जे का आलसी, बेवकूफ, नीरस, और बेसुरा प्राणी है। किन्तु गधे को इस प्रकार का कोई आत्माभास नहीं है। अपनी नजर में वह सचमुच दुनिया का सबसे सुंदर, सर्वश्रेष्ठ प्राणी है।
  8. गधे की नजर सदा नीची रहती है। उसके इरादों पर भी यही विशेषण लागू होता है। पति भी पत्नी के सामने भीगी बिल्ली बनने का अभिनय करते हैं, और उनके इरादे भी अपने समतुल्य प्राणी जितने ही नीच होते हैं।   

 

विषमताएँ

  1. इन दोनों प्राणियों में कोई विषमता नहीं पाई जाती। विधाता ने इन्हें एक ही साँचे में ढाल कर बनाया है।
But this is so painful, that people think it is ok to post stuff that is this insensitive and cruel. I hated writing this repartee. Its cruel and insensitive. But telling people to lay off sexist jokes makes one appear as a party pooper. Giving them a taste of their own medicine will hopefully help them understand exactly what they are bringing to the table. I have now asked the group to post fewer sexist jokes. If this person does not stop, i will have to write more obnoxious stuff. Gives me something to vent, for sure. But not the thoughts i want to have. 
This is, however, the best way to get rid of the anger that such petty content creates. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Why does the development sector lie so much?

I have now been engaged with the development sector for more than 25 years. 

Yesterday, we found another overstated work that could not be verified. 

While complaining to a mentor, I said, 70% of the work in development sector is hogwash. 

He agreed. We both knew. 

But after the angst was over, i sat down to wonder why that is so. These millions of people who make it their life's work to change the lives of others -why do they overstate their impact? Why do they project that which we know, through experience, is not going to happen? 

Malafide motivation cannot be the answer, because development sector jobs don't pay that much. Even for large NGOs, getting honest grants on an ongoing basis is a real challenge. 

There is no easy answer. 

But the top 2-3 things that jump up are: 

A. The structure of the industry 

Everyone knows that human change is a slow and laborious job. Yet, funding agencies need to see numbers and impact within a finite time. If you want your mother to give up a habit (that is one person and one behaviour change), you do not know how long it will take. Yet, funding agencies want NGos to wave a magic wand and tell them that they will get 100x people to change 10x habits / beliefs / attitudes within  the next 2-3 years. 

B. The incorrect inherent assumption 

This is actually my realisation after 25 years in the sector. When we did गरीबी हटाओ, we assumed that that was an objective for everyone. That everyone wants to improve their lot by working hard and /or studying. If we just create the opportunities, those opportunities will be taken. 

Turns out, that is not true. People want to get rich, but not by working hard or studying hard. They want to get rich by getting doles that they can then sell at a profit and go back to being poor and underprivileged to get more doles. That is their personal revenue model. That is their chosen profession. 

Low income housing, MNREGA, PDS, and a host of other welfare measures, both state and private, have taught us that a small fraction of the population will indeed choose hard work or education as a means of upliftment. But that assumption cannot be applied to the entire population. 

Yet, 75 years and counting, neither the planners nor the funding agencies, nor the NGOs themselves, have started to factor in "beneficiary receptiveness" in their model. 

We created an employment model. The idea allowed a person to become financially self reliant. Out of over 100 people we presented the idea to, only TWO people wanted to try it out as a profession. 

In our other projects too, we have had a proportion of people who want to try it before not taking it up, and a much smaller population that then goes on to benefit from the opportunity. 

At first, we thought this was a case of poorly designed solutions. That if we created better solutions that actually do meet the need, that solution would be adopted by pull model and we won't have to push it. 

2 years and 2 research projects later, we learnt that we were wrong. It was not a case of a poorly designed solution. It was a case of poorly understood problem. We assumed that knowledge was an inherent need. It is not. People do not know because they do not want to know. This was a huge shock to us. 

But think of it from their perspective, and it makes perfect sense. 

We tend to think of life in terms of a single currency - money. Therefore, the more money we have, the better our lives will be. 

But they know instinctively that that is not true. Time, leisure, relationships, are all currencies. When we lift ourselves to a better financial position, we lose the social ties with our peer group. With our relatives. We have to fit into a new social circle which may or may not be as welcoming. When we devote time to hard work,  leisure is sacrificed. When we spend time in studying, we cannot use that time to earn, to help, to meet friends, to do other things that lead to more instant gratification. 

So, I end this day, not with complaint, but with understanding.