December 17, 2006

Loaded Events ..

December 17, 2006 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
Warning : Excessive involvement in the events in this post could lead to boredom and subsequent spurts of dozes which could culminate in incomplete reading. Complaints about events of this kind can be sent to vjmsg@yahoo.co.in. Reader discretion is advised. For more information, please leave a comment in this post.

So, where was I last time ? India ? And then what happened ? Soon after the frustrated bencher post, on the same day (would you believe it ??) I ended up not being on bench :). One of my wishes got fulfilled, to be on a plane, and to land in a foreign land, preferably maybe the U.S of A. And that's precisely what happened, and is making me post this at 12:00 p.m India time, from 10:30 p.m. time in the U.S !

But taking the flight and the onward journey was not without it's share of drama. A connecting flight from Bangalore to Bangkok in the Thai Airways, then taking the United Airlines from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International to Narita (Tokyo,Japan) and then another UA to San Francisco. Sounds easy eh ? Well, it turned out to be a memorable experience. There were 2 of us on the same route, and we really were looking forward to landing in San Francisco in 18-19 hours time. That we would end up adding another 24 hours in the Bangkok Airport, wasn't a decision we took.

A decision that big, had to be taken only after we realised that the UA flight from Bangkok woldn't allow passengers who come anytime later than 1 and half hours of check in time. And the fact that there was only one UA counter in a huge airport at Bangkok and the day being a Sunday (26th Nov.) didn't help matters. The transit time was about 1 hour, and the counter had been closed when we reached it. Stranded in the Thai-Land, 2 veggies would have a tough time getting Veg food in a land more famous for seafood. Slimy pieces of octopuses and other species were staring down the menu list of ours. Finally, a Burger King stall seemed to have solved the food issue for the day. A day, because that UA flight was the only one for the day.

A comfortable lounge though was inviting us, after we cleared the ticket confusion and got it postponed for the same flight the next day. Checking into a tranist hotel, for an expensive 94$ room charge for 6 hours was something of an experience. We were dying to say ByeLand to ThaiLand, and that was to happen in 9 hours time from the time of the hotel check in.

After a rather welcome rest in the comfortable bed of the Tranist Hotel, the morning sun and the sea of clouds visible from the plane were more than raising our spirits. Without any more major events during the rest of the journey, we reached San Francisco safe and secure, bang on time, at 11:17 p.m on Monday afternoon (PST), a day late owing to the missed flight at Bangkok. However, the events at the U.S of A were only about to unfold.

A post this long had to be expected after almost 3 weeks spent in the U.S, at Santa Clara California. And by the length of this post, it would have now been obvious, that I have been wanting to write for long. Getting up on the first day when I have to go to office, with an unbearable cold, coupled with sneezing and walking nose (you know what I mean !), it was all the more difficult to stay wide awake in the meetings in the client's office. If ever there was a term like sleeping wide awake, I probably would have gone through that. Partly owing to Plane Lag(literally, because we reached 1 day late, and still more literally because we came on a plane and not a Jet !). Honestly, I have never felt so sleepy even during the Organic Chemistry classes during my school days.

After the widely awake sleeping syndrome and the walking nose problem, I finally started to get acclimatised to the room in the hote. Well, strange statement, considering the fact that, one uses the term acclimatise to the environment. When there is really cold air blowing around in the surroundings, one needs to take shelter I guess. I was more than happy getting sheltered in the room. But on a serious note, getting out into the open wasn't as regular initially.

One of the options for getting the conveyance done in the U.S is by renting cars. And that's what precisely I had planned for. A week after the bout of cold and acclimatisation got over, it was time to flex my instinctiveness muscles. The opportunity was there when during closing time at the AVIS rental outlet in ElCamino, I was determined to rent a car. Now, it really seemed a simple thing. I had taken driving class in the U.S (60$ for 2 hours) on the morning of the very same day, and now I was good to go. The first time I went the very same week, I requested my uncle at Mountain View to get me to the AVIS, only to realise while giving the credit card that I had forgotten to take the license from my hotel room.

This time, I was all ready, with license, credit card, and a whole lot of driving experience on the U.S Roads behind me (sarcasm intended). A mid size car was what I was looking at, and what I ended up getting was a large size car when one were to compare it to Indian car makes. A Pontiac Grand Prix, with 6 cylinders powering it, almost like a Sports Car, was not what I thought would be tough to drive. Upon closer inspection, realisation dawned on me that it was a big car alright ! And to know from my very same uncle who had to drive back the car I had rented that day, that it is more liek a sports car, I was like wow ! We have some stuff to drive now. But hey, I did the renting, and the driving, I was confident enough to seek my uncle's help to drive me in the car to the hotel. So much for the enthusiasm and the initial euphoria.

After having taken another of the 60$ 2 hour driving class, I felt more confident, atleast of the driving rules. But the directions were still way far off, for I was (and still am) more focussed on getting the driving right. Office being just under 2 miles away, and having travelled back and forth more than 10-15 occasions I was pretty confident of going and coming back from office. But, the catch was, I was about to try this back and forth exercise on a Saturday noon, with forecasts of rains. And yet again, this day was when I got the second instructor's class. Go to the office I did. But did I come back ? Oh yes, of course. I do know the way don't I ? Just that the under 2 mile drive extended to over 20 miles of lost way. So, essentially, to come back from office, which is 2 miles away, I lost my way and went around for 20 miles to come back, finally safe and secure !

So, an eventful stay it has been till now. Writing frequent posts is going to be more onerous a task, with lesser time, and more restrictions due to the network connectivity. But the way things have unfolded during this trip, it should be a lot of experience which I could write about. For a beginning, and on a good note, my colleagues and I went for a drive to Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, around 45 miles from our hotel today morning in my car . And yes, we did come back safely, and this post is proof of that ! And then all the way to my cousin's place in Fremont. Yes, covering those Freeways which could get notorious if you are not careful. Things have been better on the driving front (Touchwood !). Hopefully, more experiences to write home about in the very near future. For the time being though, it is past 12:00 midnight in Fremont at my cousin's, and it is now time to say Good Night !

November 23, 2006

Too Much To Carry Too Less To Wear

November 23, 2006 Posted by Vijay , 2 comments
DSC00067

Now that you have seen this ad, tell me how should I interpret it as ?

1. Wearing VIP briefs or the female version of a brief(if one exists) makes one's journey happy and enjoyable ?
2. The VIP suitcases are so spacious, one can literally travel bare naked and have a happy journey ?

Agreed, the girl looks cute, but what should we make of the ad itself ? Albeit it is obvious it is a suitcase showroom, a layman may have struggled to find out what the ad is for. Maybe if he had known VIP briefs he would have gone to the suitcase showroom of VIP and asked ..... "Briefs please ....." (aka Moods ad)!!!

The ad above is more apt for the caption - Too Much To Carry Too Less To Wear. Which is true in modern day scenario, where clothes are getting skimpier. As a result, I fear the day when they would be so skimpy, the girl in the ad may not be adorning anything at all !

N.B. I took the above snap from a V.I.P showroom I had been to, to purchase a suitcase.

November 3, 2006

A Frustrated Bencher ..

November 03, 2006 Posted by Vijay , 4 comments
I hope there is soon a verb called Benching in the Oxford dictionary. The meaning should be, any IT professional (aka software engineer) who keeps warming his seat whilst the company pays for him month on month, without allocating him into any project. Thus, the IT professional would be described as being on bench, and the activities he does (or doesn't) should be called as benching !

Now, consider a case when there is a candidate who is on bench, and another friend of his who has a long running project. They meet over a cup of tea and have a discussion, like the famous Deewar dialogue exchange between Shashi Kappor(in this case the guy working on a project), and Amitabh Bacchan (in this case the bencher)...

In typical Deewar style, the bencher asks : "Mere paas computer hai, free time hai, keyboard hai, internet hai, tumhare paas kya hai" ?

The project guy : "Mere paas .... PROJECT HAI" !!

November 2, 2006

Karnataka: Preserving Its Culture

November 02, 2006 Posted by Vijay , No comments
On Karnataka Rajyotsava day, as many as nine cities in Karnataka were renamed. Significantly, Bangalore has been rechristened as Bengaluru. However, on such a colorful and joyous day, the scenes were somewhat similar to when Rajkumar passed away earlier in the year. The difference was that there wasn't any violence. But the show of strength and might of Kannadigas was in full display with the yellow and red flags all around.

All the big shopping malls were geared up for any untoward incidences by appeasing these groups and hoisting the flag all over. In fact the flags were pasted all around food joints at Forum where I had been. Though Forum was flooded with these flags, it was ironic to note that at PVR cinemas (inside Forum), almost all seats were available for a Kannada movie, while even badly doing Bollywood and Hollywood movies were housefull.

One can very much empathise with the Kannadigas, because their culture is fast getting eroded. The cosmopolitan populace in the city of Bengaluru has made them feel insecure about their identity. MNC's, international fast food joints, multiplexes, all seem to be nurturing interests of everything which is non-Kannadiga. What was concerning to see was, the show of strength was with an intention to create problems wherever they possibly could. Large groups were going around in rickshaws and vans waving the flags all around the city. A sense of insecurity which can only be overcome by show of strength one could say. Which in a way is right. But to intimidate the citizens and then demand respect is not the way forward.

Move Over Captain ...

November 02, 2006 Posted by Vijay No comments
Funny that Greg Chappell has been more in the news than the captain Rahul Dravid. Not that Dravid hasn't done his bit to try and bring Indian cricket to higher standards. Chappell has been like a strict disciplinarian while Dravid more of the low profile type. This has been perceived as a lack of assertiveness in team decisions by Dravid. What this has done is quite the opposite of what captains normally undergo when their teams do not do well. For the first time maybe, the captain is not quite as much under the scanner as the coach is.

While the subcontinental teams, have always had captains as the scapegoats, this time around the coach is bearing the brunt. Over experimentation is the main reason why everyone is blaming on the Indian coach. Quite contrary to earlier times this. This is not to discount the efforts of Dravid as captain, who has been deservedly nominated for the captain of the year award by ICC. Being a low profile captain probably has helped Rahul's cause. The stature of Dravid and the respect the team and India as a whole has for him helps in him not being blamed too much for the team's bad performances. It has always been the case that the captain is blamed for the poor performances of the team, which is totally unfair. The players have to contribute and play as a team. This is so even when all are blaming the coach. There are now reports that Chappell's contract with the BCCI might not extend beyond the World Cup in 2007.

The captain can definitely have a bearing on the game of cricket. Cricket is one of the very few games, where the captain's strategies and moves can decide the fate of the game. When a game such as cricket, which is a religion in a country with a population of over a billion, the pressure becomes too much at times. It becomes imperative that the captain of such a team performs well, and consistently, even through tough times. This is what Tendulkar, and (now) Dravid have done. But even Sachin's captaincy was under scrutiny after disappointing team performances in Australia in 1999-2000 which is when Saurav Ganguly stepped in.

To Win Or Not To ???

November 02, 2006 Posted by Vijay No comments
So, SETMAX continues to woo a large audience now, courtesy the entertainment factor, rather than the cricket one, which sadly for Indian audience died a sudden death with India's early exit. The Dhoom-2 cast appearing for the pre match shows, does help MAX manage to get the same TRP for their Extraa Innings show. As part of the promotion of Dhoom-2 , prizes too are being given away to lucky winners of various contests during the cricket matches.

One such contest has Bipasha coming on air and announcing the prize that can be won by the winner. The winner would get a costume from the Dhoom - 2 collection. Now, if it is one of Bipasha's costumes,then I really do hope that the winner has some spare clothes with her. He/she wouldn't want to be dressed(or not ???) like Bipasha, would she ? I also do hope the Dhoom 2 collection is not the used ones of the famed actors. Or, would there now be ads for the sweaty amalgamation of the stars being marketed as Swe(a)etScent ??

October 24, 2006

Inzi in trouble

October 24, 2006 Posted by Vijay 2 comments
The turmoil in Pakistan cricket is not going to end any time soon. And this can be vouched for, from what has happened over the past 2 months and what is in store for the coming days ahead. This includes phases during and after the Champions’ Trophy. The spate of controversies started off with the Oval Mess, and the PCB issues which came up, leading to Shahryar Khan’s quitting the chief’s post. Couple with it the refusal and then the final acceptance to lead Pakistan by Younis Khan and then of course the doping scandal and we have a great climax building up.

The climax will certainly include the main protagonists in Inzamam, Younis Khan and the new chief of PCB. What has been noticed of late is how the PCB has all of a sudden swung into action with the induction of Nasim Ashraf as the new PCB chief. Not only has his team went ahead with the doping well ahead of the random tests that ICC had planned to do, it has also made it possible for Younis Khan to be reinstated as Pakistan team’s captain. Couple of days’ back, PCB also blamed Inzamam for the entire forfeited test match at the Oval.

October 23, 2006

Marital Bliss Is Amiss

October 23, 2006 Posted by Vijay No comments
Strange that such a topic has to be selected for a sport related issue, that too when it’s not about marriage per se’. When Sony’s SET MAX took up the challenge of “marrying” entertainment with cricket, the general consensus was that both should be treated separately. But such a union would blur the already thinning line of commercialism and cricket. Sony though, with their popular Extraa Innings show had brought a lot of curiosity to the game, especially among the female audience, mainly due to smart hosting by Mandira Bedi. The marriage took place, and now it was the turn of Extraa Innings to take centre stage for each of the Champions’ Trophy matches being telecast on MAX. Mandira Bedi was to epitomize the entertainment value, with help from another failed actor, and Charu Sharma the co-host of the show would give the cricketing perspective.

It all seemed a very good idea, for Extraa Innings had a good reputation and was supposed to do remarkably well this time too. But that is not how things have turned out to be. If anyone has been watching the pre-match and post match shows of Extraa Innings, it is quite evident that all is not well with the 2 hosts, Mandira and Charu. Charu, whose torso refuses to move even as his hands and head move about like a robot, tries to be over enthusiastic, a trait which Mandira exudes no end. As a result Charu Sharma looks more artificial than he always has been. Trying to show a penchant for passion and enthusiasm is just not his cup of tea. This is precisely what happens when a former commentator is put in a predicament where it is more entertainment than pure analysis, as is the case here with Charu.

October 18, 2006

Surprising Win? Not Really

October 18, 2006 Posted by Vijay 5 comments
What may have been a surprise for many wasn’t so for me. Pakistan won the match against Sri Lanka in the Champions’ Trophy at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Pakistan, embroiled in a spate of controversies which began with the Oval Test fiasco and has reached a new nadir in the form of the doping scandal on Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, struck back in the best possible way, by winning an all important game against the Lankan Tigers, whose 11 match winning streak was brought to an end yesterday.

For me, watching the Pakistan team has always been an enigma. As is the case for any cricket lover. You never know what they will be upto. They can get beaten hopelessly one day, but when they win, they do so, so convincingly, that they leave the opposition shocked and even hurt. They are capable of anything, and I always love watching them. My dad and my cousin always criticize me and say, that I always support the Pakistan team. Not really. It’s more about fascination than support. The amount of talent they have is unbelievable. They have bowlers for all conditions, spin, pace, medium pace, and have batsmen for all conditions too. Inzamam (when in the team), Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf as the pillars for the other strikers of the ball to come in and shake the opposition. Quality all rounders in Razzaq and Kamran Akmal. And to think that Salman Butt and Taufeeq Umar are not part of the team speaks for their talent pool. Whenever the Pakistanis struggle, it almost seems a problem of plenty, than dearth of talent.

October 16, 2006

Not Upto Scratch

October 16, 2006 Posted by Vijay 2 comments
India were billed the overwhelming favourites for their opening encounter in the Champions Trophy against England on Sunday. And not without reason, for India had thrashed the poms 5-1 when they toured India earlier in the year. But everyone was aware that India was coming into the competition after not having fared well in the Carribean series and a disappointing show in the DLF cup in Malaysia. But, with the dismal run of the English team in one dayers team India still were touted the favourites.

England struggled to come to terms with the pitch which was inconsistent in its bounce. Pathan for once, in a long while seemed to have regained the swing which he has been known for, and bowled really well. The English batting was given a boost(or so thought Flintoff by opting to come in one down) with Flintoff coming at number threee, but it totally backfired with a resurgent Pathan trapping him in front of the wicket. The slump hit a low at 55 for 5, when Dalyrimple and Collingwood came in to restore some credibility to the England total. But with a dry pitch and India opting for two spinners, the English slide was complete and they got bowled out for a paltry 125 in under 40 overs.

The Indian batting though has a star studded line up, is only star studded, and nothing more. It was good to see India coming out with Sachin and Sehwag to open the innings, and just when everyone thought that experimentation and Greg Chappell had bid farewell, out came Pathan once again at number three, which has been a move severely criticized by many former cricketers. Sachin was in imperious form and Steve Harmison totally the opposite, as he was all over the place, the only saving grace being a wild shot to an even wide delivery by Harmison which got him Sehwag’s wicket.

October 5, 2006

Hairy Oval Mess Continues ....

October 05, 2006 Posted by Vijay No comments
When the hearing of Inzamam's ball tampering charges and bringing the game of cricket into disrepute was finally over, ICC had managed to somehow wash it's hands off the entire controversy. Who remained utterly confused were the cricket fans . The ball tampering charges levelled against Inzi were cleared off him, but he was given the bare minimum penalty of a 4 ODI ban, in lieu of the fact that the ODI's would be the most recent cricket form to take effect through the course of the Champions' Trophy. So essentially, the action which Darrel Hair had taken, or what he thought was ball tampering ,was cleared. It didn't help Darrell, that the evidence he had, to prove the tampering charges were as few as the hair left on his head.

It's funny, that Hair whose head is precisely the same shape as the ground in which this controversy took place (i.e.The Oval,exaggeration intended), wasn't awarded any penalty at all ! Quite surprising ,since it was his immature action which led to the controversial forfeiture. Of course, the England team were never involved in this whole incident. But what did come to light a couple of days after this incident, was that some of the English players including the coach Duncan Fletcher had suspicions, that Pakistan team was indulging in ball tampering. This they cited to the umpires themselves, and Hair, who always loves the big stage, was always on the lookout for any kind of misbehaviour of the cricket ball.

When Umar Gul bowled an absolute peach of a yorker to trap Alastair Cook plumb in front of the stumps, with a ball which reverse swung quite a lot, Darrel Hair's hair must have stood up. And very soon, he discovered the sixth sense in him which would tell him that the condition of the ball has indeed been changed through unnatural means. And Inzi, for whatever reason, did not protest then and there, when the penalty 5 runs were awarded to England and the ball too was changed. Inzi's mistake was that he took up a protest regarding this action, post tea, which would prove to be the deciding factor in the cricket match.

October 3, 2006

Weekend Surprises ..

October 03, 2006 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
A weekend full of killings, not if the human kind, but of moments, of minutes and seconds. While the whole of India was engrossed in celebrating Durga Pooja, my friends and I were busy plotting what next, to kill time ? Saturday and Sunday went by at a Bengali Community event at Koramangala, at what is a Kalyana Mantapa. Well, evenings went by at this place, as we looked around for Bongs and I was eying the Bong Babes ;-). But the pooja celebration which essentially was an excuse to invite Bangaloreans to come do some bird watching and go back home, having feasted the eyes and the stomach alike.

The Kalyana Mantapa, was chock-a-block with food stalls, lavishing bengali pleasantries, which varied from the vegetarian food, which includes fish, primarily. Stalls weren't limited to just fish slices, but also chicken biriyanis and, guess what else ? Pizzas too !! Pizzas, at a Bengali function to celebrate Durga Pooja ? And I thought the fruit stall selling Sondesh and Rosagulla, would be the epitome of Bengali food, and just that. Upon closer observation, it was heartening to see that the moorthis of Goddess Durga were atleast spared from being sponsored. It seemed almost everything was sponsored, with the banners reaching the close proximity of the moorthis.

So, the age of globalisation also has also infused the advent of commercialisation and vast opportunities for young folks looking for that elusive soulmate. Well, I must confess, though my intentions were always to find out how Bengalis celebrate the Durga Pooja, the second priority which would later become primary was to eye some of the prettier Bong Babes. Nothing wrong, for the gathering(which is what I call it as) had attracted a huge audience, with cultural programmes also happening in the Mantapa hall.

September 27, 2006

In The Line Of Fire In Quite A Mire ..

September 27, 2006 Posted by Vijay No comments
Mr. Pervez Musharraf (General) would have thought of not wetting his pants when he was threatened, albeit not at gun point by Richard Armitage. And so, he was all too willing to switch sides from the Taliban to the U.S of A. Through his autobiography, the general has apparently made these remarks, which he was only too willing to disclaim when he had the joint press conference with George Bush 2 days before the release of his book, "In the line of fire". That he declared it in a humorous way does not detract from the more dubious claims he has made in his book.

The book, released on September 25th, Monday in New York, goes on to claim that Kargil was in fact a victory for Pakistan. And in fact also states that the Kargil war in fact helped both the countries come to the negotiating table. Really, he is indirectly proclaiming that any acts of war or terror would be the main trigger to bring in the parties at war to negotiations. A really unwarranted statement he has made in his memoirs, which really seem to have been a mix of day dreams and nightmares. Nightmares of how Pakistan cannot cope with a strike by the U.S due to the lack of homogenity and because a strike by the U.S if not co-operative on terrorism would cripple the Pakistani economy badly forever. Clearly, he projected Pakistan as a fragile nation, not even capable of being united when being under attack. Sad statement considering that he is the general of the army staff. One wonders how on earth can the Pakistani public believe in such an individual ?

The general has also retracted from some astonishing revelations in his memoirs where he has mentioned that CIA officials in the U.S had paid millions of dollars in return for Al Qaeda suspects whom Pakistan had handed over to U.S.A. The general now, has said in an interview that such a thing was untrue and if it was part of the book, then these statements would have to be removed. Apparently the general says that the money was not given to the "government" per se , but the book clearly says so. Quite embarrassing for the general to say the least. What all this has helped though is the moolah he will rake in through the royalties which he will get. Since it is already in the top 10 best sellers, one should imagine the general would be able to live a monetarily happy life later on.

More significant remarks that the general has made are regarding his interactions with the incumbent Indian PM, Manmohan Singh. While he says that he got positive vibes from the Indian PM 2 years ago, the same seemed to be withering away, and he felt that the Indian PM needs to get more bold. Well, for a man who still claims the violence in Kashmir is apparently a freedom struggle and this was NOT the reason for the Agra Summit failure, such dithering is very problematic. More so for the Indian establishment, for one the one hand he says he is not confident of Manmohan Singh, but at the meeting on the sidelines of the NAM summit, he feels there has been a positive impact after the nearly one hour talk. Clearly, the general seems to have constant bouts of amnesia or is irrevocably delusive by nature. All said and done, his book will sell. And that is something for which he needs to be given credit for. As for his credibility itself, it has spiralled dramatically downwards.

Head Back Home

September 26, 2006

Lagey Raho's Loss Is India's Loss

September 26, 2006 Posted by Vijay 5 comments
I was quite surprised that a movie like Rang De Basanti (RDB) was chosen for the Indian entry into the Oscars for best foreign language film. Even the selected list of entries into the list of probables was a little bit surprising, the list which included Madhur Bhandarkar's Corporate and Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (KANK). Surprised because, being a multi million dollar Film Industry, India still struggles to get a decent entry into the Oscars. More than 800 films per year are being made by the Indian Film Industry and to know that there have only been 3 nominations in all these years is quite appalling. And, when Paheli was chosen as the Oscar nomination last year,everyone was flabbergasted.

Though this time around, there seems to be a consensus about RDB being chosen, I felt rather shocked, that a Lagey Raho couldn't make the cut. Jury members who selected the entrant RDB, say that since RDB has Aamir, who has had prior experience promoting Lagaan at the Oscars in 2002, can pull off the Oscar this time with RDB. One cannot but wonder, isn't Munnabhai M.B.B.S the first ever Indian movie to be remade in Hollywood ? With such a wonderful reputation that the Munnabhai series has begun with, Lage Raho would have had an even better chance I feel.

There are a lot of factors I feel, which go against RDB itself. It was in troubled waters initially when the defense establishment, wanting to have a free to watch movie, got to know that the film revolved around an Air Force pilot being killed in an MIG crash. The movie eventually got the clearance. But, when the youth are being led into believing that if a minister feigns ignorance for the bad MIG deals, and so can be can be assassinated by the youth whose friend was the pilot of the MIG, it is quite a dangerous precedent. With such an influential youthful population that India has, this can have disastrous repercussions. The positive aspects of the movie, is that it stands for the good, and wants the system to be in place, and rightfully so, without any corruption.

September 15, 2006

Why Indian Sport Struggles ...

September 15, 2006 Posted by Vijay 4 comments
Why does Indian sport struggle ? With a population of 100 crores, India still hails one Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore for just a single silver medal for a nation this big at the Olympics. It has been so for nearly sixty years now. And it is tough to see his getting better, unless India mends it's ways from emotionalism, sentiments and cult hero following.

That, I had to pull out these observations from a sport like cricket is expected, since it is one sport where India has done well, but that too only sporadically. For a sport which is not even in the Commonwealth Games, the whole of India roots. Not that there is anything wrong, but this shows the lack of fan following for any other sport ! And when Pankaj Advani gets the Khel Ratna ahead of a cricketer, the whole cricket fraternity, and even the whole of India, which knows only cricket, goes up in arms ! Really, quite disappointing to see the kind of monopoly that Indian cricket has over the entire Indian sporting arena.

Indian Hockey, being the national game, has been relegated to such a state, that when Indian cricket team sets out for a series which is not even like a World Cup, the hockey world cup gets only second priority. And when Indian Hockey, is in the doldrums, everyone starts bashing up the reputation of the team, but hails a Dhoni, a Yuvraj a Tendulkar, a Dravid in the Indian cricket team. Note the usage of the 'a' in the above sentence. That is what Indian cricket has come to be. A team full of stars,stars and stars, each of them blown out of proportion so much that they eat into whatever little reputation a hockey star could have had.

September 13, 2006

Blood Donation Camp At Brahmagiri

September 13, 2006 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
Such a title wouldn’t be what you would normally associate with a travelogue. But situations, circumstances made us involuntarily volunteering for a blood donation camp at Brahmagiri, where we attempted to go for a trek on the weekend which just went by. More details about this unusual nature’s own donation camp will be covered in the later part of this travelogue.

Bordering the Kerala Karnataka border, in the Coorg district is the Brahmagiri range. It is around 250 kms from Bangalore. To reach this place, one needs to catch a bus going towards Srimangala, via Gonikoppa. We (Suresh,Renjith,Alok, myself) took a Rajahamsa Executive bus booked for Friday night (8th September 2006) 11:00 p.m., going towards Kutta, which goes via Srimangala. The booking this time was wee better than the one which I had done for the Mullayanagiri trip, because, I did this one 6 hours earlier, but still just 2 days prior to the trip itself. Through the last week, we had spoken with the Forest Officer, Pramod (Ph: +919448813835) at Srimangala, to confirm our arrival at the place on Saturday morning.

The plans were extensive. It was to trek up to Narimalai, cover Brahmagiri on the same day, then camp there overnight, then trek to Narimalai/Munekkal Caves the next day (Pakshipaathalam in Kerala side of the range) and return back on Sunday evening. Such plans for camping needed preparations, atleast for food. For camping sake, we purchased Ready to Eat MTR foods, noodles and all. And we were all set to go by Friday night.

September 8, 2006

Essentially Troubled !!

September 08, 2006 Posted by Vijay , 3 comments
To realise that essentials are missing to be donned on a human body is quite an embarrassing situation to be in. It would have literally meant lo(o)sing control.That this calamitous turn of event had to happen to me, was something I had no idea was coming. I was dismayed and had no idea what to do, as the realisation dawned on me yesterday late into the night that all these so called essentials had to be washed, and I had no time whatsoever. The pile of clothes in the bathroom was proof that I probably would have to be essential-capped for today.

Though I did not have the time to stitch a new essential, I had to dig into some old sets of clothes and lo and behold, opened sesame !! There was ONE ! But just one mind you ! I understand that this post may not make for good reading for anyone, but the liberty a blog provides is something which I have always needed.That I donned this miraculously discovered essential today with no other alternative need not be further illustrated.

Now that I have to also embark on a 2 day trek tonight, with a bit of shopping and packing to do, makes it further more difficult to wash the essentials. That leaves me with no other option but to buy a brand new set of them, and not just one or two,maybe 3-4, since I will need one for Monday too, what say ??!!

N.B. For those who are not able to make out what I mean by essential, it is an underground bear hug, without the ground and the hug, but with a w instead of the b in the bear. Hope that makes some sense !!

August 31, 2006

August 29, 2006

Mullayanagiri - Reloaded (26th &27th August)

August 29, 2006 Posted by Vijay 3 comments
Reloaded, because Renjith and I (We) had been there on a partially successful trek on the first Saturday in October 2004, in what was a forgettably memorable trip which we cherish till date. I know the usage of the adjectives in the sentence gone by was nothing short of confusing, but the trip was all about each of those words and I couldn’t find a single word to fit in our experience.

Sanity was restored, when we again started planning for a weekend outing (from Bangalore) in the weekend (just went by) to whichever place held surroundings which would be on a hilltop. That’s all what we had in mind. Freak out and trek to some hilltop. We had been going through a lot of options like Thiruneli/Pakshipathalam, Brahmagiri and Babbudangiri/Mullayangiri. After enquiries at Pakshipathalam at the DFO we were told that it was unsafe after a lot of rain in that region and Brahmagiri too lies closeby. And since we hadn’t quite completed the Mullayanagiri (read MU) trek 2 years back (having lost our way and drenched away downhill in heavy rains!!), we didn’t have any problem in zeroing in on Mullayanagiri.

Sanity restored, because when we embark on such treks we seldom plan, which can have its pros and cons. But we have always been ready for them. Buying 2 tickets at the back, in an express bus, 2 days before the trek, is proof of what I just said. We bought the tickets for Chikmagalur which is where the beautiful hills of MU reside.

On Friday last, we did some quick shopping for food items which comprised of dry fruits, a pair of 2 litre bottles, biscuits, 3 bread packets and some water proof pants (you read it right) knowing its not the best time of the year to trek. But the weather Gods had given us a green signal it seemed, with the Lycos website predicting good to cloudy weather in Chikmagalur for the weekend. We though, were better prepared with 2 umbrellas instead of 1 in the previous trip, and with jerkins which were seemingly water proof.

August 22, 2006

Gone Up In Smoke ??!!

August 22, 2006 Posted by Vijay 4 comments
The Cola bans are creating a lot of heat across the country.When SRK (i.e. the Bollywood star - Shah Rukh Khan) made a comment, trying to justify his Cola endorsements, saying that even mother's milk is contaminated, there was anger amongst the political brass which was vented out at a theatre screening his latest Bollywood movie, KANK (Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna). Window panes were smashed down and posters were torn apart.

The point is not about the Cola controversy itself. It is not about endorsements either, which really are out of the hand of these cinestars. But such justifications and comments can only instigate more protests. What irks me more is the way SRK had vowed to quit smoking as part of his new year resolution, and gone ahead in DON and stylishly (atleast that's what the intent has been) smoked away to glory !

DON, a remake of the old Amitabh superhit, being directed by Farhan Akhtar of Dil Chahta Hai and Lakshya fame, has SRK puffing away for almost 5 seconds on national television, in slow motion ! Now, what I find absolutely ridiculous is that there were restrictions imposed on smoking on the Television and especially in films. It seems these regulations which if ever existed have been thrown out of the window. And if SRK had any conscience, he would have thought twice before going on air with a 5 second slomo trailer of the biggest star in India smoking away to glory.

August 21, 2006

No BALLS ??

August 21, 2006 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
The title of this post epitomises what the ICC or the International Cricket Council is all about, that they don't have balls ! Well, Pakistan and England had to end what was quite a well conducted and well contested test series on a controversial and sad note, with Pakistan having to forfeit the final test, even when the match was still in favour of Pakistan to win it. The ball tampering controversy came back to haunt Pakistan after the incidents in the late eighties involving Imran at the helm. Only this time, the umpire involved in "accusing" Pakistan so to speak has had other controversial involvements in the game. The name is Hair, Darrel Hair !

The 4 match series was already pocketed by England 2-0, and this the 4th at the Brit Oval was the last test match and was a mere formality. When Darrel Hair, before the tea break got hold of the ball and believed that it's condition had been changed by means other than cricketing ones, he wouldn't have known the ramifications of such a decision. That he took the ball in his hand and then enforced penalty 5 runs on Pakistan, and then also replaced the ball, was indication of the fact that Darrel did believe that the ball had been illegally tampered with. It was obvious that the Pakistani captain and team alike were quite disappointed and aggrieved that this had to happen, eventhough they were in a commanding position, and when there was no evidence whatsoever to justify such an action by the experienced Hair, whose sense of common sense seems to be disappearing as fast as the hair on his head has too.

Post tea, after these events took place, Pakistan wanted to register a protest with the cricket officials that they felt they had been hard done by and were being wrongly accused of ball tampering. This is what the version was of the PCB head Shahryar Kahn. They wanted to delay coming on to the field of play as part of the protest even as Billy Doctrove and Darrel Hair walked out with the 2 English batsmen at the crease, Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell. After having waited for a few minutes, and not having seen the Pakistani team come out on the field, the most controversial action of all happened, with the umpires removing the bails of the stumps, implying that in their view, Pakistan by not taking the field had forfeited the match. The drama had just begun.

July 25, 2006

इर्र्शाद ..

July 25, 2006 Posted by Vijay , 2 comments
उड़ चला में हवाओं में ..
उड़ चला में हवाओं में ..

दूर गगन कि छाँव में,
मेरी निगाहों कि पनाह में,
बसा ले अपने दिल कि सलाखों में।
हमें भी अपना लो तुम्हारी निगाहों में,
ना होगी कमी वफाओं में।
तेरी याद लिए आंखों में।

उड़ चला में हवाओं में ..
उड़ चला में हवाऊँ में ..

July 24, 2006

Bravo Media !!!

July 24, 2006 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
First of all, I would like to share a good news with you all, that this is my hundredth post, during my blogging stint of a little over a year. I still can't believe I could write almost 8 posts per month !! Anyways, let's come to the more important matter which my post seeks to address.

A fifty hour ordeal in a well of a child hardly 6 years old, came to light all over the country in the weekend that went by. Prince, got stuck in a well on Friday evening in the state of Haryana. Well, well it was, and a child it was, and rescued he had to be, and so he was, by no less than the army itself. Bravo Indian Army !! Kudos to you !! For it was not an easy task to carefully get Prince out from the well, without the sand covering him up even as there was a tunnel being dug out from another nearby well to reach little Prince. And the media as always was there. To cheer on the rescuers, to show how agonising a wait it was for Prince's parents, and all the while giving coverage of the rescue effort.

End result ? Two days of coverage for Prince, like a Star born overnight, and front page headlines today read, how Prince was finally rescued. For God's sake, isn't there other important bits of news to cover ? Media seems to be following a trend wherein people are only interested in the smaller things in life. True, amidst all the chaos and bloodhsed of the war in Lebanon and the Storms in China, a successful rescue of a little boy brings in a lot of happiness. But for the whole country to pray for Prince and then to be as far as being well wished by the PM himself is nothing short of being ridiculous.

July 14, 2006

Post Number 99 coming your wayy...

July 14, 2006 Posted by Vijay , 2 comments
And here is an inspirational quote from my experience handbook ......

The consistency in the inconsistency is very consistent.

Some more head spinning ones which could follow would be ...

The inconsistency in the consistency is very consistent.

The inconsistency in the consistency is very inconsistent.

The consistency in the inconsistency is very inconsistent.

I know I know, that was worth a laugh or a smirk :D.

As long as it has elicited an expression or a response to this post,I really don't mind :)

But really, after writing those so called quotes, I am absolutely totally confused, what each of them mean. I only know that, after I read all of them, I got confused whether there exists a word called consistency at all !!

July 12, 2006

A Day To Pray ..

July 12, 2006 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
I never thought my 98th post would be about another tragedy, just like no one involved in yesterday's tragedy would have known what is in store for them. Sadly, there has been no respite to the terror attacks, and increasingly so in India. Mumbai has had a very tough last 10 days, with people who barely recovered from the rains, and then a quite unnecessary bandh by a political party, and then, on top of all of this, a major terror attack on its local train commuter network.

Just as I was seeing some gory pictures on the television, it struck me I should write a post, condemning these cowardly and dastardly acts. But then I thought, am I not doing the same mistake what the media is doing ? Just that I am sensationalising through a medium which is still in its nascent stages of growth. I realised, getting hits on your blog is similar to having more TRP for your new channel. That, I guess is what human nature is, opportunism, which is not wrong, but at times of tragedy, not the right thing. But this post is only to pray for the bereaved souls and to give solidarity to all Mumbaikars.

I again come to the point about the media, and its opportunistic nature. It's all fine to provide helpline numbers and provide sms service to stranded people. But it is not fine to telecast pictures of mayhem and death on national television. It gives a picture of the bad shape of the administration and the city in question. This is not the time to sensationalise, but to help, and give more strength and resolve. A good thing that I observed was the extent of the coverage, which involved as to how all the Mumbaikars came together in this tragic event to help each other. That is something I really admire and appreciate. This inspires more people to give that extra drop of blood, which can be life saving, the shelter, the expenses. And that is what is required more than anything. News can be covered, but it can also be done, once the city recovers.

And for the people of Mumbai, who have shown such resilience, after last year's floods and these recent events, I have nothing but admiration. I believe Mumbai is showing the whole country, what India is, what Indian resilience means, and how ineffective any acts of terror can be for India's unity. All of India is with Mumbai, and such tragic events gives more strength and belief amongst the whole of India, to face any disaster be it small or big.

What is sadly disappointing, is that lives are lost because of man made disasters and not natural ones. It is almost as if, humans can control the existence of life. Almost as if, fate and destiny have no real play in life. It is said, you never know when life will end. But life to be ended because of the evil designs of humans ? I would not call it fate. I think, for all what has happened , there are individuals who are responsible, and they should be punished. What these evil forces do not realise is, time is running out, and so is patience for all those who are affected by them. Intolerance has set in so much, that once these evil forces get captured, the whole country will want nothing but death sentence for them. And these forces should realise, that the more they attack , more the resolve and strength that a united country will gain. Beware evil forces , time is running out for you !!

July 4, 2006

Coincidences .....

July 04, 2006 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
Been wondering, how much of coincidence there is in life. For, without this english word, I can't imagine anything to be existent on Earth. Wasn't it coincidence that Adam and Eve Arrived and met ? Wasn't it coincidence, that a spark by rubbing two stones was found to create fire ? Isn't it coincidence that creates all the movies around us ? Isn't it coincidence that we believe the earth is round and meet our very own long lost friends after years and years ?

True, all this can be attributed to God's gifts to mankind, that God gave all these boons. But, if we were to think for a moment that "God" does not exist, won't it all boil down to a mere coincidence ? But, coincidences have also been forced into existence, by the sheer want of mankind. The more the human understood the power at his disposal, the more he wanted it. All inventions have been coincidences. This is not to say that theory of relativity would have come into being without Einstein. But somebody had to stumble upon it. And Einstein did. But the point to be thought of is, what would have happened if there were no coincidence ?

Lovers often say, love at first sight. Isn't it sheer coincidence more than love at first sight ? All movies which we rave about, have all been made under the assumption that, in the span of the movie time which lasts just about 120 minutes, there is coincidence that an alien drops on earth, that superman is born, that a spider bites a man and makes him spiderman. Aren't all these creations, but coincidences after all ?

Yet again, the argumentative point could be, where am I crediting those who create such magnum opuses ? I never discredited them in the first place. It is just that, as i said, these creative people, were willing to seek that coincidental part of their life, which would create an icon which millions of people will follow. And that is a credit which is the sole propriety of these great individuals.

But, the very essence of coincidence is what makes our lives more enjoyable. We meet new friends, and get to know that they are in someway related to you. And the cycle goes on. Life will move on the wheels of the ever chugging coincidental train. And mankind will continue to believe, it is God's gift, that it is the talent of the man, to do something so spectacular in a field. But what we don't realise is that, at the back of it all, is the drive to find that coincidental instant which can make such a big difference to life. It is upto us to seek that instant and make our lives better.

Here I Come Again

July 04, 2006 Posted by Vijay No comments
Back to haunt or to make you pull your hair out ... Here I am, at my blogging best
:D

This has been the longest hiatus in my blogging history which has spanned just over
an year and a month. And my my, the number of occurances that have occurred
around me are worth reminiscing. No, I am not going to write a long post with all
the major news headlines.

This is an intro for things to come :D

And for a start, I am thinking of blogging something right now ..

May 25, 2006

Reservation - Why it is of major concern

May 25, 2006 Posted by Vijay , 2 comments
I had made my point felt in my earlier post. But seems our politicians are adamant to make use of whatever the vote bank can do for them. This is not to say there aren't under privileged citizens in India. There are.
But before the pro-reservation lobby goes up in arms for what the anti-reservation lobby is fighting for, they need to think how much the sincere politicians have done for their well being. The boon of giving reservation has been , that there are seats lying vacant in UGC, and other universities. This only further proves the point, that the politicians in general, will go in for any short cut solution to get the vote bank. Why these seats are lying vacant is evidence enough to prove that the candidates of the under privileged section have not been given exposure, nor the requisite training to reach such standards. Doesn't that directly reflect on the apathetic nature of the politicians on the Educational System as such ?

This is not the whole point. The matter of concern is about India at large. In this age when media drives the emotions and sentiments of millions of people, the caste system seems to have breathed a new life. The more the media coverage, the more the anger and condescending the attitude becomes towards the OBC's so to speak. Yes, the distinctions in society were made, through years and years of rule and exploitation. But that doesn't mean that this should take a new turn and revenge be a sort of solution. What we need to do is essentially abloish any kind of quota/caste system. I would go further to say that about religion as well. But that is not in context here. What is relevant is the upcoming generation should realise that their merit is what takes them forward. For this, any kind of financial assistance should be handed. Instead, any move to agitate the hidden caste system at large will prove to be detrimental to any growth that India hopes to achieve. It will only drive a deeper wedge between the whole of the Indian Populace. Manmohan ji, are you listening ??

May 11, 2006

Emraan Jahaan Sangeeth Wahaan

May 11, 2006 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
Well, it seems only when Emraan Hashmi stars in a movie, the music is good. The list of hit songs from his movies is proof of this. Starting from Murder, then Zeher, Aashiq Banaaya Aapne,Chocolate, Aksar,Kalyug,Jawani Diwani, and now Gangster. Each movie has had superhits as far as songs go. But Emraan Hashmi is an underrated actor.

Well, it seems the more acclaimed actors are struggling to get decent songs in their movies. Krrish struggles to appeal through it's songs. None of the songs on air have the magic created in Koi Mil Gaya, supposed to be it's prequel. Starring Hrithik Roshan touted as a challenge to the Khans when he became a rage with the overnight success of his debut Kaho Na Pyaar Hai, the movie has some wonderful stunts, but the basic necessity of a hit number may drag the movie down a bit.

Same with Fanaa. Starring the ever so talented duo of Kajol and Aamir Khan, except for the song "Chaand Sifarish", none others seem to evoke an quality. And Jatin Lalit have gone back to the Yaara Yaara song in Hum Tum (2004) and lent the same tunes to this movie. Seems music directors are struggling to get new tunes in. It has become so bad that they are having to copy their own tunes ???!!!!

I guess, for a producer, it'll be of utmost important to ensure that Emraan atleast has a guest appearance role in his movie. That will ensure that the music for the movie is a hit, if not the movie itself. Music directors may want to insist this themselves to the producers I guess !!

April 20, 2006

Netas' Quotas

April 20, 2006 Posted by Vijay , 8 comments
Neta typifies what an Indian Politician stands for. The hands folded greeting that he gives to all his blind followers, who he finally cheats once his means of winning the election is done. And it is sad that even in prime boom time of India, these Netas still rule the roost. And vote bank politics it seems is back with a bang to sting again. In this context one hopes that the new party, the one with a difference, LOK PARITRAN formed by 5 former IITians creates some semblance of a change. But, when a Prime Minister as educated as our Manmohan Singh hints at reservation in private sector, one just wonders, whether a change is possible at all ?

It is true that a major part of the Indian population is Below Poverty Line. It is true that 75% of Indian population is rural. And this bare truth is what comes to the politicians' rescue whenever they have to fare well in elections. Promise the needy to deliver their needs and after that who cares who heeds ? That is the mantra followed by the politicians. Sadly, to win elections, with this high a percentage of rural populace, even Loka Paritran may have to (God Forbid) resort to such vote bank politics. And when the politicians announce a slew of reservation promises at educational institutions and then also in the private sector, the votes start swelling up. And by Jove, what a timing. Few weeks before major assembly elections in Assam,Kerala,Tamil Nadu, West Bengal is when this gets announced. And more disturbingly, the reservation in top educational institutions like the IITs happens 3-4 days before the exams itself !! And now, another reservation issue hots up, the one in private sector jobs.

What the government is inadvertently doing is 3 things :

1. Politicising prestigious educational institutions like IITs and IIMs, by
creating a divide amongst young bright students, branding one set as
backward and another as the forward.

2. A set of students who in the merit based students' eyes have come through by virtue of reservation, and not on the basis of merit. This is detrimental to the whole set of students in the institutes. Every performance is scrutinised, as to whether it is by merit or influenced politically. Do we need such divides in sacred places like educational institutions ?

3. Same is the case with the private sector job quota issue. Raise a voice,
because someone of the backward class didn't get a job, and lo and behold, the
politicians' come into the picture and make sure the job is given, even if
the candidate doesn't deserve it.

The aftermath of such a huge reservation percentage of 50% nearly, can be detrimental to the quality of education when the above said points are taken into account. IIT aspirants this year were very pessimistic about chances of making it, because, with this high a reservation coming in from next year(if it does that is) their chances of making it are very minimal. So this year the candidates chance was as good as their last, since from this year only 2 attempts can be made at cracking
the IIT JEE.

Consider this. If the reservation at the educational institutions becomes 50% and the private sector becomes, say even 33%, the chance for a general candidate to get a well paid job after graduating from a top notch institute would be 1/2 * 2/3 i.e.1 in 3 !!.So, there is only 33.33% chance that a candidate gets a well paid private sector job. What's more, one can foresee more foreign placements being taken up rather than domestic ones from these institutes, simply because, the seats in these companies would be first given to the reserved candidates and then come the general candidates. Talk about brain drain. Think of how many bright entrepreneurial minds who would not be working towards India's development because.

It is sad, because, rather than focusing on education itself, the government wants to give shortcuts for the backward classes to get a job or a seat. Even having raised such an issue, has brought forward so many viewpoints from all over India, and this can be even more disturbing, because, the awareness of a community divide creeps in amongst the common citizens. This can't help even the current crop of students pursuing education or working in big companies.

What is required is education. The proper kind which needs to uplift the backward classes so that they compete at the same level as their peers. And this kind of education needs to be given at the HSC and the SSC levels. And I believe at these levels, financing should be provided for the backward masses, to enable the best ones to fare well. And financial aid doesn't end there. It should be given to them at the graduation levels as well, where they pursue an Engineering or a Medical degree. But it should end there unless he/she wants to do a post graduation as well. Someone who isn't capable of getting a job even after that doesn't deserve it at all !! So why would you require a quota then ? Does that mean the government is not providing the kind of education required for these socially deprived, but promise them jobs even so ?

It is tough to look at the other side of the story, i.e. to look at why reservation has to be more or why it should be provided for in private sector job quota as well. Because, the government is doing something to cover up it's own wrongs. Which cannot be accepted. It is now that parties like Lok Paritran have a dilemma. To get votes, they need the huge socially backward votes. But they also stand for what modern India is, and would want to desperately shout against reservation. It will be interesting how they do a balancing act now. But one this site provides insights into why such reservations might be useful after all ! A mix of rural population in the IIMs can give tools required to improve the livelihoods of the backward classes. Also, it makes a lot of sense to see which of the backward classes truly deserves a seat, as in, the ones which are actually in need of financial aid. For if the previous generation of the candidate has availed of such benefits and is doing well enough, they shouldn't be given extra privileges. This is where I think the PAN way can be so helpful.

The PAN card or the Permanent Account Number is used to declare the Income Tax by salaried people. Through this the dependants can be tracked and one can conclude whether the candidate is well to do or not. Even here, the issue of SC/ST and OBC is so evident. It almost seems India wants a workaround for declaring a section as SC/ST/OBC rather than abolish such class divides. To abolish these quotas would be the best possible thing that could ever happen. And to enable financial aid for the poor to pursue education, an income declaration should suffice. And then getting a job is in their own hands. Quotas are definitely not the way out.

The views and thoughts expressed in this article are my own

Head Back Home

April 19, 2006

A Career To Remember A Passing Away To Forget

April 19, 2006 Posted by Vijay 2 comments
I have not intended to hurt anyone’s feelings. All these are just my thoughts and it is with due respect to all Rajkumar fans.

Shameful, that’s the image that Bangalore projected to one of Karnataka's icon's death, that of Rajkumar's. Shameful, because the death of an idol triggered riots, and not prayers. And that it occurred even though the death was natural, which was even more bizarre to say the least. Shameful, because the IT hub of India, the city which has arguably given India the impetus for economic growth and a prominent position on the Global Map, took a beating as far as it's image was concerned. Shameful, because despite a change of guard in governance, despite an infrastructure which never even threatens to improve, Bangalore had all the time in the world to go amok over the death of an idol no less. And thus was buried, the great Rajkumar, who didn't realise, that 8 more would be escorting him to the doors of heaven in a day, which would include the security given on the way up by a policeman.

It sure is a pity that the great actor's body had to be taken around the city of Bangalore, without knowing where it would be placed for the public to pay their respects. It almost seemed like a soul which didn't know where it belonged and was wandering around. First it was the residence of the late actor itself, which was a scene of fans' grief. A crowd so large, the police authorities it so seemed were scared of taking control of the situation. For the presence of the police was nothing to write home about. And then, the procession of the body to be shifted to Palace Grounds for public viewing.Realising the strength of the late actor's fan following, the body was later shifted to the Kanteerava Stadium. All this even while angry fans were trying to catch a last glimpse of the great man. Now, that does send out a small signal of planning gone wrong, or do I have to mention it in as many words at all?

All through the procession from his residence to Palace Grounds and then the Kanteerava Stadium, thousands and thousands of fans accompanied. They just wanted to catch a glimpse of their hero, the last glimpse of the man they idolised for over 4 decades. But the mood was not all about grief it seemed. The bizarre acts that followed Rajkumar's death can never be forgotten. Grief turned to anger and fans took to the streets. Smashing windshields of cars, burning down tyres, disrupting vehicular traffic, forcing shutting down of shops. It can be understood that the fans were not allowed to catch a glimpse of the body, due to the enormity of the crowds by the police. And this made them angry. But I can vouch for a fact that, if it were a true fan, anger would have been there, but the intention being to see the last glimpse of the star, he/she would have remained calm and paid his last respects. But for the anger to turn so hostile as to go out into the streets, far away from where the body was, seems anything but absurd.

This leads us to the critical question. Why would fans want to forcefully shut down shops, burn down vehicles? Is it a mark of respect to the great Rajkumar? If that is so, this is the most disgusting way of paying homage. Bangalore was closed in down in a matter of 2 hours on the day of the death of the icon. My friend who returned from Delhi on the sad day for instance, was clueless what was happening in Bangalore. He couldn't get a single auto to get back home from the Airport. He had to finally seek the assistance of a policeman to get one. He still didn’t know what was wrong with the city. He got home only to realise that no hotels would be open to satisfy his hunger. He had to finally end up buying 2 bunches of bananas, which he would survive on for the next 2 days!

The day after the death was even more deplorable. The amount of tension that gripped Bangalore, for the natural death of an idol was anything but astonishing. Lack of security at the Kanteerava Stadium only led to more confusion and outrage among the fans. And they left no stone unturned to show it with all their vigour. Hapless policemen were brought down by huge gangs who formed within a matter of seconds and pummeled the policemen into submission. Stone throwing was the order of the day for irate fans it seemed. It was so chaotic and more saddening to see what was happening in the city you live. And it was more absurd to see the fans pelting stones rather than chanting prayers for the departed soul of Rajkumar’s. The violence in Bangalore, throughout the day near Kanteerava was disturbing to say the least.

Media too was ubiquitous in the places where the stone pelting happened. And with news channels growing everyday, anything sensational to be shown would mean more TRP ratings. One channel continued to air a 4 minute clipping of violent mob frenzy over and over for about an hour. Finally, they realised their folly of giving a false impression of widespread violence, ironically from a filmstar whose views they were seeking live. Now, is that the level of responsibility that the media has?? And is this the way to present news which more than a crore people in the country believe in? Or should I say, are made to believe in?

Bangalore crippled back to life after the burial in the evening after the death of Rajkumar. I was unsure of whether I would get my bus to Chennai that night. Autos were still few and far between. I ventured out with my luggage to the nearby Bus Stop. I asked an auto wallah to take me to the Bus Stand. I was willing to pay double more than the meter charge. And that would come to Rs. 100. Guess what the auto wallah demanded? 300!! I would rather cancel my bus ticket than take a ride in the auto of that lousy driver who was relaxing with his legs in the air in his auto. He seemed confident of raking in big moolah from atleast one other person. But I was not game for this day light (night considering it was already 8:00 in the night that time) robbery. I went away with a smile which could have had 3 parts in it. Shock, surprise, helplessness. But, lo and behold, a BMTC bus chugged along and I got in. But hey, even the buses were opportunistic it seemed. Realising the situation it took a longer route to pick up passengers in desperate need for commutation. Atleast monetarily they weren’t demanding more. I heaved a sigh of relief.

All these incidents, the lead up to the riots, leads us to the most crucial question. What went wrong? Why did all this happen? Why would fans turn violent on the day when they had to pray for the peaceful departure of their idol? Many interpretations have been given. Lack of security arrangements, planning gone haywire as to where the body was to be shifted, and so on and so forth. But this still doesn't answer my most important question of all. WHY??!! Why should fans get violent in times of grief??!! What is the reason? Why would they want ordinary people going by the wayside to suffer for a loss which is Karnataka’s? Why? Is it that, if someone dies, nobody around should move? If that was so, why did the gangs involved move around and burn up things in the first place? If there was something like a gang at all, who were they in the first place? Who is to be blamed for the unwanted and illogical loss of lives and crores of losses of business and property damage? One reason given has been the growing socio-economic divide in the city of Bangalore. The growing number of big money earners and the poor who seem to be left behind. It seemed it was an opportunity that was well utilised for those who wanted to show the strength. But who they are, is still an unanswered question. There was a cartoon in today's paper, which pictured people joining in the riots, by throwing stones and beating up policemen, without knowing why on earth they were doing it. And the next line read, "Who knows, we will come to know the reason in tomorrow's paper". Well, I am not optimistic that the "why" part would ever be known and nor will the "who" part be.

Whatever it is, what has happened has happened. And life has to move on. I am sure Rajkumar wouldn't have wanted this kind of homage. And in hindsight, none of his fans who were genuine would have wanted it either. Anti social elements are everywhere. But to force people into submission, those who are not related in anyway to the events, is inhuman and despicable to say the least. Life cannot be smooth. It never has been and never will be. But life can certainly be peaceful and calm when a state mourns the death of an idol.

Head Back Home

April 3, 2006

A Letter To WWF

April 03, 2006 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
From,

*****
*******
*********
***********

To,

Director,
Network Services and Supporter Relations,
WWF-India.

Subject: WWF Service.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I happened to receive a renewal letter from WWF. I had donated a sum of Rs 2000 towards WWF in 2004-05 financial year. I wanted to be a part of the movement to save wildlife, and I still am. However, the undelivered promises from WWF India have left me in very bad taste.

For a donation of Rs 2000, I come under the Supporter bracket. And I am entitled to, and I quote – “WWF-India newsletters, a personalized subscriber card, car sticker, toy panda, wrist watch, and a 15% discount on WWF-India merchandise”. This is what the registration details say. But during my term as supporter for WWF India, apart from receiving outdated newsletters which numbered 2, I have received nothing else.

Here I pause to ask a few questions:

1. Why promise to deliver something which you can’t?
2. If you think the money donated can be used for so many promises, but you still don’t deliver on most of them, where does all the money go? With this kind of service, I will definitely not buy the argument that this is going towards the overall cause of saving wildlife.
3. I can’t even imagine how you could ask for a renewal even after all this? I am returning the same back to you.
4. If this is the kind of service you offer, I don’t foresee much donations coming your way, or are these for other ulterior motives?

I apologise for the harsh wordings in this letter. But I couldn’t hold back in expressing my outrage in such a noble cause as saving wildlife going astray.


All this is not to receive whatever has been entitled to me. But this is to bring to your notice that such kind of service will not go down well with true nature enthusiasts. And they are the ones who finally matter. I am not willing to accept any of the gifts I am entitled to get through my donation even if you send them now. But I would sincerely hope, pray and wish that the money set apart for this has indeed been used for the actual purpose of WWF. If not, it’s still not too late. It’s really ironic that someone outside of WWF is having to remind you of this. But the situation demanded that I brought this up.

Hope that this letter is taken in the right spirit and necessary changes are taken.
Kindly wake up to the cause, and act before it’s too late!

Thanks,
Vijay

Bangalore
3rd April 2006.

March 24, 2006

Three Four Three

March 24, 2006 Posted by Vijay , 1 comment
I had found something for the number 343. Well, it can be expressed in terms of just 5's and 2's. Finally got a space to put my equation :) I was thrilled about this ...

(5-2)^5 + (5*2)^2 = (5+2)^(5-2)

i.e.,

343 = 3^5 + 7^3

until I confronted Friedman's number theory.... 343 = (3 + 4)^3 :(

But my theorem still holds good eh :D

March 16, 2006

Cravings in Engravings

March 16, 2006 Posted by Vijay 2 comments
Well, I couldn't have thought of a more apt title for this post. And that too when all my thoughts are succinctly portrayed in it. Ever seen toilets in Indian Railway Trains ? Or, for that matter, the wall in front of any crown where a guy can relax and attend to nature's call ? Well, they are all profuse with the engravings of artists who are fascinated by a girl or a girl's(to put it more subtly that is, no offense intended).

Well, one good thing about it is, that the crowns are distinctly separated between the guys and girls. So, there is no possibilty of embarassment - first, if a girl were to enter a guy's restroom, secondly, if the girl were to observe such passionate drawings. This is not to point fingers at the artists themselves. Sometimes, in moments of privacy, one tends to imagine passionate portrayals. And the artist in us, tends to come out I guess.

But the point the transformed artists forget is, that the place is of public nature shrouded in privacy, and needs to be maintained cleanly. For the same will be used by other citizens who are equally in need of it, sometimes too soon. And, not all enjoy the artists' feelings in front of them. Also, it really gives a bad impression for foreigners who have the same human nature to use such public places when the need arises urgently. And though they might enjoy the engravings, it leaves a bad impression as far as maintaining such public places are concerned.

March 10, 2006

March 9, 2006

Heightened Reduction

March 09, 2006 Posted by Vijay , No comments
An employee with a reputed MNC, enrolled himself for a health check up camp at his office. He had some health concerns and had undergone a medical checkup in the earlier month. He wanted to see how his health progress had been since the last check up. When his turn came, he gave his blood sample and went to have his BMI(Body Mass Index) checked, along with his BP.

There were 2 physicians and an assistant helping them in the camp, specifically for the BP and BMI checks, for the employees. The assistant checked his height, and noted it down on the check up sheet as 160.6 cms. Now, our dear employee in his previous checkup had been measured as 162 cms tall. He couldn't accept such a reduction in height and wanted another verification. One of the physicians, then took him and did his BP check. After that, she yielded to the employee's requests and took his height reading again.

March 8, 2006

Terrorism - A veiled political act ??

March 08, 2006 Posted by Vijay , No comments
It is with great sadness that I am writing this post. Yet another bomb blast in India. At the very holy place of Sankat Mochan in Varanasi and another in Varanasi's Cantonment Railway Station. Varanasi a place where Hindu Muslim faiths have lived in harmony, has been raked up to communal tension. I thought divide and rule policy existed when Britishers ruled India. Seems, it has continued on and even after Independence, this is being followed by the freed citizens of India, who are donning Political colors.

This is not to discount any kind of involvement terrorists might have. But, such a thing to have happened within a week of Anti-Bush Protests and the protests against the Cartoon Controversy in Lucknow, throws the door wide open to other hands behind the bomb blasts. Let me try to get into the mind of a politician, who plays the communal card and woos the voters by raking up communal sentiments. This is just a point of view . Mr X thinks thus - " Terrorism is hitting India badly, and India has been always a soft target of terrorist attacks. So, it really wouldn't be a surprise if another terror strike occurs. Besides, if I can trigger it in a communally sensitive area, I can get the voters on my side by playing the communal card. And more importantly, if I can set of these bomb blasts, it can be branded as yet another unfortunate terrorist activity. Thus I can pull voters on my side even while being safe myself !".

February 21, 2006

Virender Sehwag's Feats in Test Cricket

February 21, 2006 Posted by Vijay 2 comments
Post Pakistan Test Series, 2006, following are the records our Veeru holds in Test Match Cricket. It is quite mind boggling from the Najafgarh Butcher :)

* The only Indian batsman to make a triple century in test cricket
* The only batsman to reach a triple century with a six in test cricket
* 2nd fastest triple century.
* 2nd fastest test double century when he reached the landmark against Pakistan off just 182 balls
* Broke Don Bradman's record of most consecutive 150s by scoring 7 of them in his last 7 centuries.
* Partnering with Rahul Dravid, both were involved in the highest opening partnership for a test match played away from home (India) scoring 410 runs versus Pakistan in the 2005-06 season. They were only four runs short of making the highest opening partnership in test cricket.
* Sehwag's score in the same match versus Pakistan saw him score 254 off 247 balls which is the highest-ever Test score at over a run-a-ball.


Source - Veeru Feats

February 7, 2006

The Struggle To Wriggle

February 07, 2006 Posted by Vijay , 3 comments
What a struggle it was ? The pant won't budge. Emergency not withstanding to attend to the loo chores, the tailor's gift to human kind wouldn't let go of me. The pant stood between me and freedom, it seemed. And I was getting late for office as well. The zip revolution had come back to haunt my pant, and try as I might, it won't come down. I was stuck. It had to come down, but it wouldn't. I wanted to save my pant for the day, to wear it back to office. So I was gentle with the zip. You see, I am never one to give up.

But then, the urgency coupled with the frustration added to my getting late for office got to me. And pout , broke the zip hold. Now, the zip was intact, but without a hold to bring it down. What a dilemma to be in. This is like between the loo and the deep long zip (aka devil and the deep blue sea). Now this was another challenge. Again, I wanted to save the zip. Actually, it didn't cross my mind that it had already been spoilt. Late realisation you could say.

Next 5 minutes went into pulling the zip down with instruments, which no mechanical engineer would have ever even thought existed. But you do find them in the kitchen alright ! Those five minutes of struggle, didn't help in the overall cause and I still grappled with the zip. But in vain. All methods were tried out. They had failed. And I was only getting further delayed for office and the loo chores.

Well, realisation dawned on me. I realised, there was no point in saving the zip which was already spoilt beyond repair. I discarded all the 'instuments' emlpoyed earlier and brought the zip down with my bare hands. Hurrah !! Success. I rushed in to complete what I had set out to and then changed into pants which had better zipsand I was off.

What a time to be in such a tangle. Believe me, that one was frustrating. I couldn't have sat all day with the zip on and not attending to nature's calls !! Right ??

February 1, 2006

Where is Test Cricket Headed ?

February 01, 2006 Posted by Vijay 2 comments
India suffered a mammoth defeat at the hands of Pakistan in Karachi today. A defeat as huge as 341 runs, in a span of 4 days. Well, in the past, such a defeat could have been thought of to happen if a team posts a huge score of 600, batting 2 days long, and then bowling out the opposition twice in the next 2 days. Times have changed dramatically though. In the Karachi test which got over, in 4 days it was possible to complete 4 innings, and yet have such a thumping defeat. In 4 days it was possible to score over 1300 runs, that is, more than 400 runs per day. Mind you, that too in less than the stipulated 90 overs a day's play. So, that makes it nearly 4.5 runs per over everyday. This is test cricket in the 21st century !

For the spectators, it is delightful to watch runs being scored rapidly in test cricket. Lot of shots and runs galore. Looking back at the past 5-6 years, test cricket has changed dramatically. The change to such hectic pace of test innings was started off by Australia, when Steve Waugh took over the reigns from Mark Taylor. One of the major contributors to this revolution has undoubtedly been Adam Gilchrist. He did not change his game plan in test matches vis-a-vis' his one dayers. Justin Langer, then Mathew Hayden followed suit. Autrailia's game plans were simple. Score runs at a fast clip, and make 400-500 runs in under 5 sessions, then leave it to world class bowlers in Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath & co. Game over in under 4 days, inevitably the winners being Autralia.

January 18, 2006

The Wallet Pocket Love Story !!

January 18, 2006 Posted by Vijay , 3 comments
Scene : A bakery shop, which also sells milk packets.
Actors : Customer,Shopkeeper
Purpose : To buy a packet of Milk

Customer : Give me a packet of milk please, half a litre one.

Shopkeeper digs into the freezer and pulls out the magical packet. He says ..

Shopkeeper : Here you go sir.

Customer is a young man, earning pretty well. In his formal clothes. He puts his hand in his pant pocket, to pull out the wallet. At first he feels the wallet,pulls it out. It doesn't come out. He tries yet again, but the wallet just won't come out. It's been 2 minutes and the shopekeeper is waiting for the educated looking young man to pay up. The young man keeps trying, to get the wallet out. He then drops the bag he had been carrying , on to the floor in frustration and starts the same exercise. The wallet, it seemed, was in love with the pant pocket. But the young man was determined to get it out and rid himself of embarassment in front of the shopkeeper. He even thought whether he might have to end up removing his pants and get the goddam wallet out. But, the young man was determined to prove a point to the wallet and the pocket. He wanted to show who was the boss amongst him and his clothes. One final hurrah and lo, the wallet is out.

Customer(to himself) - "I did it !!"

He proudly pulls out the money from his wallet, places the money on the shelf and goes back home relieved and satisfied, but not before he got frustrated and almost embarassed. So what prevented the customer from removing his pants to get the wallet out ? His sheer determination ? No, it was his luck that he was able to get it out. Else, he would have removed his pants too !

Now that I have illustrated the events here, let me come to the crux of the matter. Wallets and their love for pockets. That's what I am talking about. Clearly, the pocket is possessive about the wallet and the male protagonist in this love story, is undoubtedly the wallet and the female one, the pocket. The pocket just wouldn't let go of the wallet easily !!! Coming back to the main point, the wallet in the pocket, seldom allows easy retrieval of money for payment when it is very urgent. Why is there no money in the shirt pocket ? That's because, the money could fall out while bending over. Thus came the wallet in picture. All the cash stuffed away in it. But, more often than not, there is a frustrating struggle to get the wallet out of the pocket. It almost seems as if the pocket is so deep, that the wallet has diappeared in it's depths. And when you do get hold of it, the leather is so smooth, that it keeps slipping away from the supposed firm grasp of your hands on it. Well, I wish I could go and slam the person who stitched my pants. But, for that I have to go to the Peter England Office ? Now, it's tough to choose a pant which has pockets which allow proper entry for your wallet. But then, you can't have your money in your shirt pocket ? So live in misery as long as pants exist and as long as you can't buy things for free.

That was w.r.t guys. For girls though, things are much simpler. Purses are a boon for the womankind. And purses are but one of the innumerable accessories that a woman sports. And what is a purse for ? Money, lipstick, sunscreen lotion, pads (Thats the best way I could put it - no offense intended), not to mention mobile phones,and what not. So, a mini dressing room is what a purse can hold ! And purses are not restricted to a single piece as in the case for wallets for guys. They come in different designs, colors and shapes. One is designed from leather, another from cotton, one has camels design on it, and another has flowers decoration on it. So, in respect to pulling out money immediately, women are far quicker I guess. But there's a hitch to this. It's a separate entity on a woman's shoulder if she has to step out of her working place. She has to carry it around everywhere. Well, no wonder it's an accessory and very much a fashinable thing. Sometimes, it does make sense for guys to take tips from girls. Maybe, using a purse will be a beginning. But surely not putting on lipstick !!

P.S. All characters in the above act are purely incidental. Any person living or alive who may have resemblance to the customer can be attributed to my existence.

January 12, 2006

Expectations ...

January 12, 2006 Posted by Vijay 3 comments
Is What you expect what you get ?
Or is there something more you wanted ?
Is what you got what you wanted ?
Or is there something else you always wanted ?

Can't but limit one's expectations,
For what they fathom are seldom met.
But there in lies wings of hope,
Desires which drive to get the best.

What if you get what you want ?
Will that be the end of it all ?
What if you don't get what you want ?
Will THAT be the end of it all ?

The former can never end a thing,
For greed is what humans are for.
The latter can never end a thing,
For hope is what humans live on.

What if you didn't get the call,
From a dear friend, living afar ?
What if you didn't clear the exam,
One which you always dreamt of ?

A call which would have sealed
More strongly the bond of friendship ?
An exam which could have sealed
Forever a career short of hardship ?

Is that all there is to expect ?
But fret over failed friendships ?
Is that all that one can do ?
But crib over fate what was destined to be ?

Isn't the expectation a sign of ego,
Misplaced in the realm of emotion ?
When the call doesn't come your way
But you never intitiate one anyway ?

Isn't expectation a sign of helplessness,
When an exam will by no means
Seal your future,
Nor make it or break it ?

When she doesn't turn around to greet,
Forget coming out to eat.
Isn't that expecting something,
Which is best left unattended ?

When you expect a hike,
For what you work for,
But it never realises,
And gets buried forever.

Isn't that expectation and greed,
That one is having to need
More to life than what it gives,
More to live than what it needs ?

Is it all in human nature ?
To expect and have what he wants,
But be disappointed when it's not
Met nor got when he wants ?

Is it all in human nature ?
To be expectant, and get disappointed ?
Or is it what we make it out to be
And miss out what happened ?

But, as is in God's wish,
The wanted happens when least expected,
And then we grapple with life,
Only to return back, disappointed.

What you do is what you get,
For by your actions are always met
The expectations that you had sometime set
Over which you should never fret.

There is destiny, there is fate,
But both can be made our own.
When the veil of expectations can be taken off,
That is when new life can be sown.