Tuesday, December 28, 2010

San Francisco Baby!

Pretty impressive at first sight...

Monday, November 29, 2010

can you keep a secret?

WikiLeaks has done it again. Last month it released classified Iraq war logs and now it has published classified US embassy cables. US is embarrassed and fuming, understandably so. One does enjoy the high level gossip but one is forced wonder about the 'rightness' of it all. In this age of 'Right to Information', it is rather easy to feel a sense of entitlement. One might argue that the public has a right to know about everything that goes on in the business of government. But it is not that straightforward is it? Governments, not just dictatorships but valid democracies need certain information to be classified. And for reasons that include national security and interest. We enter tricky territory with WikiLeaks style operations.

Simon Jenkins from Guardian dwells on the - is it justified?

Monday, November 01, 2010

the thought that counts...

Every thing about the society is designed to convince us about the axiomatic nature of the existing order of things; centuries of mental conditioning and baggage duly passed down in inheritance don't help either. Every rebellion either of a personal/youthful kind or a wider societal one, must have started with an unsatisfactorily answered WHY.

The philosopher will always be stoned; he is the address of the yet-unknown destination that the brain-washed populace will arrive at only the day after.
It's not for nothing that they say - the most important people of any given era are the philosophers and thinkers.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

nothing quite like a good quote

"Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."
"Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't. "
"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."
"What a wee little part of a person's life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself."

- Mark Twain

100 years after his death, Twain's unexpurgated autobiography is set to come out this November.

Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer - the names bring up distant memories of high school English Non-Detail. Time to hit Refresh. And rediscover. I reckon.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

watching the CWG live...

It's beautiful and exciting. And I sense a hint of pride too. Yay!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

blink.. blink

I have been conscious through out, but I still can scarcely believe it. Gosh!
And to those who are horrified that I am online now, just 4 hours due; all I can say is
'well people have been tweeting through the ceremony, so I am pretty conservative by those standards' :P

Friday, August 13, 2010

past rap

They shook hands and walked off, aware that the past isn't a fun place to live in.
Both had trains to catch.
Jill jerked her head up, pulled her jacket closer, buried her hands back in the pockets and walked on.
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"We are defined by our experiences"
"But we can choose not to be restricted by them"

Monday, August 09, 2010

Sakhi saiyaan tho khoob hii kamaat hain...

Mehngayi daayan khaye jaat hain.
This song from Aamir Khan Productions' latest film 'Peepli Live' is full of that catchy folksy charm.

Made me think of that Ramanamma song that captured the imagination of a recession hit populace. Not quite what you call elegant but it did hit the nail on it's head whilst talking of travails of the recession hit software engineer. Ask me.
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Tere Bin Laden

A must watch. Ali Zafar, the pakistani singer turned actor is fabulous. Think he should become a bollywood regular; would fit right in.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

that damn old shaming story

Everyone is busy damning the games, expressing shock, anger, shame and embarrassment.
There are of-course some sane voices that can keep cool heads and look at the big picture.

Shekar Gupta's takes on the whole CWG corruption drama; on how it's important to not get carried away and to keep things in perspective and in scale.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Pledge

Here is a (lengthy but insightful) piece in Guardian on the Melinda-Gates Foundation.
The numbers can seem huge but as pointed out in the article, it still is just '3-5% of the overall solution.'

As you might have been aware, Gates has been on a drive to get the richest American families to pledge a majority of their wealth to philanthropy. They are calling it the Giving Pledge.

Food for thought: Many who want to give are often turned-off by the horror stories they hear about the misuse of funds. The answer though is not to turn back but to find a cause and a reliable channel which can be monitored. Like they say - there is always a way.
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As a child I remember going to the Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad and being awe-struck by the white tiger. I still recollect it as the high-point of the visit.
Saw this video today of white tiger cubs from Germany. Beautiful aren't they?!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

live and let live

Most convictions are made up of easy assumptions.
Lazy perhaps but not timeless.
The safety and assurance of having a belief system lasts only whilst the doors stay closed.
Reality and experience move in to muddle everything up.
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For all the cribbing he does when shortchanged for time, Man is really designed to be occupied.
Leisure is an addictive toxin that doesn't even grant the mercy of stupor whilst sucking the life right out.
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I have a thing for people who love language. Who enjoy it's dynamic nature rather than bemoan the loss of some perceived sanctity. Who believe that it can be used for a lot more than serving just straight laced communication.
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Where there is no exaggeration there is no love, and where there is no love there is no understanding. It is only about things that do not interest one, that one can give a really unbiased opinion; and this is no doubt the reason why an unbiased opinion is always valueless.
—Oscar Wilde, Speaker, 1890

Monday, July 12, 2010

I was convinced...

Theory is convenient. Words are easy.
Philosophy is easy and so are expectations.

It’s the living-up-to, that is so darn hard.
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I want to want it as badly as I did yesterday.
In despair I watch the sands run through my fingers.
Can’t bring myself to label it fleeting.
This sense of betrayal, I don't know what to make of it.
I am both, the victim and the inflictor.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Up there and In transit

I see someone up there laughing at a bewildered-at-myself me and going -'Must have been careful about what you wished for'.
I look on dazed and fazed like a lost puppy.

Almost enough to justify self-pity.
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Ever in search of, ever striving and never quite reaching.
Pathetic low lives we are - ever stuck in the transit terminal.
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If you cannot worship the ideal, how can you love the process?
How can you feel the pain of that struggle bob in your veins?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

before the dust settles...

Is it easier to reign in that primal instinct if at the very same moment you are also fully conscious of it?

We all have our guilty pleasures and overt indulgences. Times when one is easy on self and uses words like afford/deserved/but-I-work-my-arse-off to squelch the last hesitating atom in your hand as it hovers over the counter with the credit card tucked in between two fingers. Another give-away: Itching to go back even before the dust settles on the last spree.

Mine: Books
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It's almost been two months since I listened to any music.
A full song, not some background score or stuff one hears whilst random channel surfing.
Don't really know what to make of it.
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Q.I , a BBC show is fast becoming one of my favorite shows on the television ever.
Eagerly awaiting the upcoming H-Series.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

whatever that's keeping you

It's amazing how profound a change, one incident can bring about in your life.
How you no longer are sure about that one or two things that you hold most dear.
How it can fundamentally alter the way you define yourself.
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People lie.
Lie for all kinds of reasons.
Reasons none more tragic than to avoid guilt.
Guilt of hurting someone.
Someone who probably can only be set free by the truth.
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You should check out the Intelligence Squared Debates.
Here's one on "Is the Catholic Church a Force for Good?".

Friday, May 21, 2010

your score?

Once he has convinced himself to not feel bad about having so much leisure time, man has fashioned many-a-ways to trudge through.
After he has silenced that nagging voice with a loudspeaker that tells him that if he had any shame he would put his time to better use, he comes up with something like this -
1) Open the TIMEs list of 100 All Time Best Movies
2) Sort them into the following 2 categories -

a) Watched
b) Heard about/Probably have it already on my Comp

My score: 16/14
That leaves a balance of 70 which automatically go in the unheard category.
Makes me feel pathetic. Grr! I am off to find some thing else to do.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

the elephant in the room...

Does India need a caste based census?

Forget the implementation part, which would most certainly be challenging and error-prone. Just in principle, do you think it is a good idea?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

of polo mint and google news

There aren't very many things that help us trudge on with our existence that is enclosed in a 8x8 cubicle. News websites play a far more significant role than we can bring ourselves to admit - in our restricted-internet-access work lives.
And nothing quite stirs up frenzy like an election. Afterall one does grow tired of foots-in-mouth and statergic twitter leaks to raise the curtain on the 'controversy of the year'. Bah. One pines to be engaged in the affairs of the world in the old school way.

I remember reading somewhere that an ideal state of being was where the elections become a non-event. I wouldn't comment on the validity of the statement but guiltily pray that the day never comes. For, what shall we do should such a day arrive? Oh the horror of it.
We need elections. In all sizes and formats. Local, national and foriegn; Ours and Others. Ours, where we actually have a stake in, no doubt rises passions. Others gives us the balcony seat to the spectacle. Distant enough to be smugly academic about it but in-the-hall nevertheless.
We need them with one prerequisite though. Place of manufacture should be an authentic & vibrant democracy, where the result could indeed go either way. No fun in rigged ballots and rubber-stamp democracies.

We need elections and the frenzy they bring along.
Nothing short of a frenzy will do; how else are we to plough on, wide awake. Coz caffiene addicted we are, and by extension resistant to it's powers to stir us up to consiousness.

The brits have not yet concluded their affairs. And I am already wondering, who's next?!

Updated
It's a Tory-LibDem coalition for UK. And the media couldn't resist the Cameron-Clegg story. Have a look at the front pages.

Friday, May 07, 2010

since we all love a grand story...

Shah Faisal, a doctor from Kashmir tops UPSC.
We hear a lot of goose-bump inducing stories of how people from less-priviliged background somehow find the will and the hunger to aspire, to work towards that seemingly unattainable goal and finally emerge victorious. Plenty such stories surface every year with the announcement of UPSC results.
This story about Faisal is however appealing on a different level. To have young men from a state like Jammu & Kashmir aspire to become part of the Indian Administrative Service is in itself quite a thing. And to see them succeed is just the cherry on the cake.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

what took you so long?

Yep, apparently thats what Indian diplomat-turned-spy Madhuri said when she was nabbed - what took you so long? Surely a line fit for a Hollywood action thriller.
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Voting - Cross voting - Miffed partners - Threats of breakup - Concession offers - Scurrying back to makeup.
This story has it all, the high drama of Indian politics.
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currently watching / recently watched
- On the Waterfront (*ng Marlon Brando)
- Star Wars
- Darling
- Q.I (BBC)
- Stephen Fry in America
- House MD
- The Big Bang Theory
- Johnathon Ross and Craig Ferguson shows

currently reading
- India in Slow Motion, by Mark Tully
- Dialogues of Plato, translated by Benjamin Jowett
- Moab is my Washpot, by Stephen fry
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I never gave audio books much thought. I always had too much fun reading and was never particularly taken in by the idea of listening to somebody read out an entire book. Also, I read fast and figured audio books would be too slow for my taste.
I tried it once with my favorite book and I couldn't connect to the voice. I gave it up thinking it's not for me.

But like it happens ever-so-often in life... I discovered I was wrong. And am I glad or what! I am hopelessly hooked to the Moab is my Washpot audio-book. I do think it has a great deal to do with the fact that an autobiography by definition would read best in it's author voice.

I am sold!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

necessarily unrequited...

"For most people their first love when they’re teenaged... that unbelievable hole that opens up inside them of longing and yearning, of pain, of joy, that huge great bundle of toxic emotions and allied to beauty and opening out into nature and to glory and suddenly connecting you with every love poet and every love song ever written, that explosion in my head and heart will never be matched. You can never hope to recapture the first fine careless rapture as the poet put it, but it stays with you like a good acid trip.

"You know, you get a little flashback every now and again. It will never leave you and it teaches you to look at things differently and to feel things differently. It educates your soul if you like, and all first love is unrequited ultimately because it’s so huge.

"It’s such an act of giving and it requires so much back that it can never be given back and in that you wouldn’t necessarily want to give them back. It’s just like a… It is like an atom bomb. It is like… It’s all the energy of who you are and who you want to be and what you love and what you hope to be explodes, and it is impossible for a single human being to offer that back to you in a mutual way. It would be like matter meeting antimatter.
It’s sort of almost important that what you do is worship and yearn and long, but so that was to me of course the single most important thing in my life and occasionally I get dreams and I’m back there again and I’m still as trembly as ever I was and I get."


-Stephen Fry in an Interview

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Let's play...

Clich├ęs or not… we tend to associate certain characteristics with people grouped under a banner.

Did you ever look at someone and muse.. “he is so British!”
So tell me who do you think makes a fine ambassador for the brits?

Mine is Stephen Fry.

Update: Strangely enough, just after I posted this, I found this video. Stephen Fry talking to Craig Ferguson about America in general and taking up citizenship amongst other things.

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I have just finished the BlackAdder series. Season 2 and 4 were fabulous.
Sir Rowan Atkinson, take a bow.

Currently watching - A bit of Fry and Laurie

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

1 2 3...

Here are some numbers to chew on:
35 states and union territories. 640 districts. 5,767 tehsils. 7,742 towns. 6,00,000+ villages. 24,00,00,000 households.
120,00,00,000 people.
Census 2011 starts today.
Every one of those 1.2 billion over the age of 15 will be photographed and have their biometric fingerprints collected for National Population Register.
Also, for the first time data related to mobile phone and internet usage, bank accounts etc will be collected.
Don't you find it all terribly exciting?!

More numbers to mull on:
Cost of Census operation -Rs.2209 Cr
Cost of NPR creation - Rs. 3539.24 Cr
No. of personnel deployed - 25,00,000
Paper used - 12,000 tonnes

can't believe...

I have heard people talk about how they grow wary and a mild-uneasy fear takes over them whenever things go too well in their lives. Not used to too much good, they say.
I finally understand what they mean.
Yep, now I understand how one cannot simply relish the good luck and leave it at that. That much good luck almost always has some dreaded thing tagged along. Maybe the uneasiness is just the mind's way of reacting to something it is not used to.
Well, disbelief to the point of physically rubbing my eyes and an uneasy feeling in the stomach immediately following the initial euphoria - is how my mind reacted to an extraordinary event yesterday.
I had green signal at both Khairatabad Junction and Jubilee Checkpost. BOTH. And not on some public holiday or bandh or at some ungodly hour, but in peak office hours.
Go explain that! No wonder my poor self couldn't cope.
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Bad news ain't drying up in Hyderabad.
Nothing quite catches up with Religion when it comes to turning people into blood thirsty maniacs. Of course the problem has always been its combination with the Politics of power

Religion would have probably been spared this bad a name, had it not been manipulated, championed and enforced by those in power... since millennia.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pink n Blue

I saw him again today. Must be 60-65 years old, sits just in front of the Control Room/Assembly bus stop and sells Jasmine flowers.
The flowers were spread out in two neatly separated groups on an old green rag. He sat on the hard concrete road and his narrowed eyes were concentrating on the needle he was using to piece the garland together. He usually sells only one variety - Jasmine, spicing up his spread only occasionally with Marigold when a Hindu festival is due.
Today however on the farther right end of his green rag, were a bunch of roses; stuff that is not usually part of his modest stock. Some 10 of them in baby-pink color, long stemmed - the kind you find on Archies cards and adorns expensive glass vases. They were starting to dry up and would probably fetch half their price today and close to nothing tomorrow.
I looked down at my watch; it was 8.30 in the evening. At the same moment, he stopped making his garland, picked up the rose bunch, turned them around, had a good look, carefully put it back and went back to his garland.
He will most likely not sell a single rose today.
The roses must have cost him dear. The investment must have been an exercise in hope, a little adventure and risk for him, today morning.
What must run through his mind when he goes to bed today, I wondered.
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Currently Watching:
The Black Adder - Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson

Sunday, March 14, 2010

shut shop

I can get a book for a discounted price if I shop online.
I will have to shell out more if I go physically to the same store to buy it.
Why?
Do they hate having customers walking around their store? Or are they incentivizing online purchase so they can shut shop and eventually be online-only?
OK, I have a thing for personally going to a store and picking up a book. Why should I be penalized for that?
Makes no sense to me.
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Alice in the Wonderland is here. Burton + Depp -> Now that's a combination.
Rubbing hands in gleeful anticipation.
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Movies:
A Brief Encounter
It's a Wonderful Life
To Kill a Mocking Bird (again)

Books:
Dork - Sidin Vayukut
Notes From a Small Island - Bill Bryson
The Last Mughal - William Dalrymple
The Argumentative Indian - Amartya Sen
Dreams From My Father - Barack Obama

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Jack: I expected you to figure that out.
Jill: I did. But I had to ask.
Jack smiles sadly at her, knowing the words before she spoke them.
Jill: Couldn't leave any stone unturned before giving up. Can't sleep otherwise.

Monday, February 15, 2010

far and few

Sometimes it's almost like a bet on who can get more morose.
Funny thing this - blogging.
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And somedays you wake up like a feather.
Taut and tight, the head neither heavy nor too light.
Like I said once before, the spring in your step matches the smile on your lips.

Guess it helps that the previous night was well spent... around a campfire and under a star studded sky... far far away from the city lights, bang in the middle of a jungle.
I'd say a good followup would be a lazy late morning stroll in the jeep beaten jungle tracks, after a cup of coffee. Not to forget - the coffee has to come from the surrounding plantation - to complete the effect.

FYI - the place is Coorg.
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A big BIG recommendation - am ol' brit series called Yes Minister!
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This is why my friend says he likes the Manmohan Singh's govt.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

all and none

Somedays you wake up wrong,
The first dose of consciousness - full of confusion.
A blindfolded grope for whats amiss and you are no wiser.
Lots of clues and smart guesses later, you still have nothing you can put a finger to.

I wonder about it all day, wandering across the hall lit with the lazy sunday afternoon sun.
And now I go to bed, still scratching my head.
What can it be, afterall? The stuff I dreamt about last night or the thought I woke up with?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

much before 'Constitution' became part of my vocab

I used to wonder...
if Aug 15th was when we got our indepedence, what is Jan 26th celebrated for? I knew it was somehow related to our freedom, but couldn't fathom how, given the 3 years gap.
Somebody told me "it was the day we really became independent, really became free".
My ignorance spun a story out of that line - On Aug 15th the british left India, but not all of them did. Some of them stayed back and it was only on Jan 26th that the last brit left our land.
Amusing it is, to look back at the thought today.

Happy Republic Day. The 60th!
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If one comes to think of daily life as merely a means to fill up the interval between two journeys,
does that make him an escapist?
Will he fall hard one day, knocking his head off on the cold floor of reality?
Or has he found enlightment already?
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Here is more of Rajasthan. Well more of Jaipur and Jodhpur to be precise, since we have covered Jaisalmer in the previous post.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

you know it's nice...

Grand even; when things live up to all the hype and the expectations that follow.
Rajasthan has been a dream since close to 10 years. And woh mukammal hua just this last week. We did the beaten track : Jaipur - Jaisalmer - Jodhpur.