Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Aged, slightly hunched, more salt than pepper, she walked on braving the sun. But this time I wasn't in my car. I was on a 1987 model Bajaj Super scooter.
And this time, I didn't stop by, to ask whether she'd like a ride home. I just rode on, didn't even slow down. I felt this guilt for not having visited her home to ask after her and her ailing sister. And then I felt some more guilt; this time for not having visited the grave of my nursery teacher, Mrs Palamkote. The graveyard is just a kilometer from the campus. She spent her life getting kids in shape, up to scratch, and well mannered. Come to think about it, she didn't just give us knowledge, she actually gave us an education. She taught us to eat with our mouths closed, to walk noiselessly, without dragging our feet, to always say "Thank You" and "Please", no matter who we spoke to. She made us little gentlemen.
We've all gone our separate ways since then, each one of us. And even then, I can make out how different we, Mrs Palamkote's children (calling us her students would be an insult), are from the rest of the kids. Love truly can do wonders. Mrs Palamkote passed on a few years back. I couldn't bring myself to go to her funeral. And it pinches me every time I tell my friends that I'm at XLRI now, a few feet away from the place I started my education from. I cannot but bite my lip every time I tell my friends this, because I haven't had the guts to visit Mrs Palamkote's grave.
I don't know what I'm afraid of more. Whether I will break down when I go to the cemetery, or whether I won't feel a thing. I really don't know. But I hope that I find the strength to stop my vehicle the next time for Mrs Kempster when I see her walking on the sidewalk, and that I actually am brave enough to cross the road and say hello to one of my school teachers, or to help someone who needs it. I think that's all I gotta say about that.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Always knew this, learned it the hard way a few minutes back.
@You-know-who: My sincerest apologies.
No moral grandstanding here, but I do make it a point to take a cloth bag with me each time I go shopping. Honest. So I positively hate it when people ask for plastic bags at markets. They simply drive/walk up to the shop with their hands in their pockets and expect the shopkeepers to provide them with a plastic bag.
Some time back when polythene bags weren't that much in use, retailers used to hand out stuff in paper bags and expected the customer to carry a cloth or jute bag with them. And now? Go anywhere, retailers are hell bent on handing you plastic bags with their logos printed on them. Advertising, they call it.
At what cost do we buy this convenience? At the cost of drainage pipes jammed with plastic waste? Dead animals choked on plastic garbage? Overflowing landfills? Need I say more? And why do we take plastic bags, again? Because we're too lazy to bring our own cloth shopping bags with us? Or because it's just not cool anymore?
Think about it.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
The Bird Flu in 2005, and the Swine Flu (Uh... no pun intended) in 2009. From what I saw on television, the newspapers, the internet and various other media, millions and millions of dollars were spent on the entire exercise. People were going wild, buying masks, keeping indoors, looking suspiciously at anyone who sneezed or coughed. Folks were blogging about what to do, what not to do, how to identify the infected ones and so on and so forth.
It's a great thing, no doubt, that we take care of things when they're in the initial stages. Compare it to the Black Death of 1348 or the London Plague of 1665 when there were literally millions of deaths and next to zero hygiene, and those ages were, well, Dark, things are much better now. Our healths are insured, drugs are being researched, governments stock up on medicines at even the slightest hint of anything that might go wrong.
However, having read Freakonomics and The Undercover Economist over and over, I've developed this economist's mindset. Or rather, the cynic's mindset.
A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
The same has been said about economists of late, but then it has also been proven that governments that do not listen to them are doomed to fail.
Anyway, all I wanted to say here (in what was intended to be a short post), is that the actual number of deaths that really occurred due to Swine Flu is much much less than the number of deaths that occur each day due to factors such as air pollution, heart disease, smoking, road accidents etc. How much money do we spend on controlling those factors?
As it turns out, the Swine Flu turned out to be not that different from ordinary influenza. So, who profited from all the millions that were spent by governments and individuals alike? And we, the people, spent our money for what?
I haven't put in the statistics because I want you to Google them up and find out how many deaths happen because of smoking, alcohol abuse, narcotics abuse, heart disease, air pollution etc, and how much money is spent on preventing these more widespread pandemics.
I read somewhere that risk = hazard + outrage. Do follow up the link and get educated.
The Swine Flu and Bird Flu are important, and are to be doubtlessly tackled. But that is a very small part of the picture. The bigger picture is staring us in the face and yet we refuse to see it. Our eyes are open, but our minds are closed. They want to keep it that way by diverting our thought processes to things that aren't really that important.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Press the Power button on the CPU, wait for Windows to load, click on the Broadband icon to connect, and click on Internet Explorer/Firefox and just get cracking! Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? And here comes the strange (to me) part... The above instructions are simply too difficult for Mom to understand!
This often leads to some rather nasty altercations between her and me. Here are some excerpts:
Me: "Oh come on! How difficult is it for you to understand? Just click on the box next to 'User Name' and start typing there..."
Mom: "You raise your voice at me one more time and no lunch for you, young man!"
After several days of such heated discussions(to euphemise that is; "screaming our lungs out" would be more applicable) I decided to take a step back and think about it. What seemed so damn simple to me was obviously very difficult for Mom. And the reason was painfully obvious. It wasn't that she didn't want to learn, it's simply that she couldn't. The learning process slows down after a certain age.
However, this is not the end of the discussion. It is only the beginning. Our parents tell us so many things that simply don't make any sense to us; don't waste the food on your plate, don't wear torn jeans, don't forget to turn out the lights, and so on and so forth. We fail to understand the reason behind those statements... Because for the same reason as our parents are unable to pick up on new technologies, we cannot pick up on old wisdom.
They tell us to not waste food because their parents often had trouble arranging for two square meals a day.
They tell us to not wear torn jeans because, way back, in their childhood, our parents often had no option but to wear torn handed down trousers.
They tell us to turn out the lights because they didn't have electricity.
And naive as we are, we call our parents stubborn, miserly, inconsiderate, while they call us thoughtless, wasteful, and (as in my case) threaten to not make lunch!
Now, I won't be all goody two shoes and say that I listen to what my parents tell me all the time because I'm not and I don't. What I will say, however, is that there always is a reason for the way people behave.
And as the next generation that we belong to, we must never stop questioning, we must never stop trying to find the reasons to why things are the way they are. The Learning Curve must always be climbed. For the generations that are to follow will think the same of us as we think of the ones before us.
Like they say in French, c'est la vie. Life goes on.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I was driving too fast to stop in time, so I didn't even slow down. I was deliberating whether that could really be Mrs Kempster from Kindergarten. She used to be feared back then, 20 years ago.
Boy, even as I write this, I feel old. Have two decades really passed by since I joined Loyola School in '89?
I'd love to say that I took the first exit, circled around, and came back to where I saw Ms Kempster. But I didn't. I think the world has made too much a cynic of me to really still believe that one must be chivalrous and helpful and all those nice things that one learns to be in school, the things that make the difference between being educated and being literate. Even if I had stopped on time, what would I have asked her? What if she lived somewhere off route from where I was headed? Then I'd have to go out of my way and drop her. What would I tell my mom if she asked what had taken me so long? What if...?
"BALLS to everything.", I said to myself. I took the next free left, circled around and got back to where I had seen Ms Kempster about a minute ago. She wasn't there. I turned down the volume on the car stereo; Ghazals make me sadder than I already am. Decided that she had found an autorickshaw to take her to her destination.
"Damn, I should've turned around then only." I mentally cursed myself for taking too much time to think, for worrying too much about what someone else would think about my decision, for ...
"Hey wait a second, there she is!". I saw Ms Kempster walking down that road I had just driven along before taking the free left. I drive slowly when I've got too many things on my mind so I did a handbrake stop(no idea why!), rolled down the passenger side window and called out, "Can I drop you off somewhere, Ms Kempster?".
She couldn't believe that someone had actually stopped by to help her, I could make out from her expression. She got into the car, and the conversation started on some random topics, which batch I was from, etc etc. About half a minute of driving later, she asked me to turn right, on C.H. Area Road No. 4. That was barely a 20 second detour from my route.
"You remember the senior Ms Kempster?", she asked. "Of course!", I replied, half expecting to hear some sad news about her. She was pretty old even twenty years ago. "She has taken too many falls and is bedridden. I take care of her now.", said Ms Kempster. Twenty years have passed by since I last saw her. Wow.
Then she asked me to stop the car in front of some rather swank apartments. "Those are some really nice apartments there!", I said rather naively and rather too soon. She smiled, "We don't live in the apartments, we live in those small rooms behind the apartments. We moved here about a month ago. You must have heard about Loyola Flats...". "Yeah, I heard they've renamed it Loyola Niwas and now the Fathers live there.", I said.
And then it hit me. All at once. Like I'd been sitting on a nuclear bomb all along and then it had decided to suddenly explode. Loyola Flats are the apartments that are now known as Loyola Niwas. The old teachers from Loyola used to live there and that is where Ms Kempster and Ms Kempster lived. Until a month ago. Loyola Niwas now sports high ramparts, it's almost fortress-like now. And only the school Fathers live there. All the old timer teachers have been evicted from their decades old homes. Teachers who did not marry so as to carry on the profession that they so loved with the students they adored. Teachers who quite literally spent their lives teaching generation after generation of children. Can anyone from our generation even imagine spending our lives doing something? In our impatience for obtaining success in different forms and fields, we forget the things that matter most.
Ms Kempster and I said our goodbyes and she left. I reached home taking at least thrice the time that I'd ordinarily take... It's difficult to drive with tears in one's eyes, you know.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Strange wicked world we live in, ladies and gentlemen. The kids above look clearly very very poor. Going by the state of their skinny arms and legs, they probably have difficulty having even one square meal a day. And yet, they have guns in their hands instead of a notebook and pencil. I couldn't find a more exact picture on Google Images to put up here. What I saw that day on CNN made me lose my appetite for a week. People, thin as sticks, bones sticking out of their torsos with no shoes and barely any clothes covering them, who obviously hadn't seen prosperity in a long long time had guns in their hands. And not just any ordinary country made gun; they had Kalashnikovs! What hopelessness, what absolute collapse of a system could reduce matters to this state?
In the news, we hear of school shootouts all over the developed world. Here, there are no schools, just shootouts. I worry a bit too much, folks say. I say, isn't it time you guys started too?
Image courtesy: Google Images
And here's a nice picture of the aftermath of one.
In case folks are wondering why I'm writing about such a different topic than what I normally blog about, it rained today. And there was hail. And it was FRIGGIN' COLD!
Sunday, May 3, 2009
There was a particular monologue in the movie that I LOVED. It is as follows:
Howard: I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression.
Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's no one anywhere that seems to know what to do with us.
Now into it. We know the air is unfit to breathe, our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had 15 homicides and 63 violent crimes as if that's the way it's supposed to be.
We know things are bad. Worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy so we don't go out anymore. We sit in a house as slowly the world we're living in is getting smaller and all we say is, "Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster, and TV, and my steel belted radials and I won't say anything." Well I'm not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad. I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write.
I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crying in the streets. All I know is first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, "I'm a human being. God Dammit, my life has value." So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" I want you to get up right now. Get up. Go to your windows, open your windows, and stick your head out, and yell, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
Things have got to change my friends. You've got to get mad. You've got to say, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open your window, stick your head out and yell, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
The creepiest aspect of Network is that it was made in 1976 by the legendary Paddy Chayefsky and yet the lines hold true even today. Each and every one of them.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Having said all that, I hope you see what I'm trying to put across here. What these advertisements are selling us, is not products or services. It is fear. Pure, unadulterated fear. The fear of being a social outcaste for having bad breath (and thus selling a surgical antiseptic as a breath freshener), the fear of losing a job because of dark skin, the fear of falling ill because of using a random brand of soap, the fear of losing teeth to cavities for not using a specific brand of toothpaste and so on.
Bottom line is this: the air we breathe is polluted, the water we drink is tainted with chemicals, and the food that we eat is impure with all the pesticides in it. We are a much vulnerable species with all the things that we do to ourselves. We drink Coke/Pepsi instead of water when we're thirsty, we eat potato chips instead of proper meals when we're hungry, and we go to oxygen spas instead of heading out to the mountains when we need fresh air. They say that the average lifespan the world over has increased. But at what cost? We live faster and more impatient lives, and we glorify that fact. Or do we? Are we placing our short term goals on a higher priority than our long term objectives? Are we missing the forest for the trees?
I don't know. But I don't like what I see.
So the question here is: do I really need all this stuff? And the answer would be a healthy mix of both: yes, and no. yes, because I wouldn't want my laptop to seem inadequate if I decided to play some new game on it, or run a heavy application. And no, because I'd only just be "keeping up with the Joneses".
p.s. I've narrowed down to the Studio 15 Laptop with the following configuration:
| Dell Studio 15 Laptop (S540506IN8) |
Base System, Genuine Windows Vista(R) Home Premium SP1 64 bit (English)
|Base System|| Base System || [210-27712] |
|Processor Options|| Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor P8600 (2.40GHz/ 1066 FSB/ 3MB Cache) || [213-10508] |
|Memory|| 3GB (1X1GB + 1X2GB) DDR2 SDRAM || [370-14408] |
|Keyboard|| Dell(TM) Keyboard with Touchpad (English) || [340-16225] |
|Video Card|| 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 || [450-12551] |
|Hard Drive|| 320GB SATA Hard Drive || [400-16220] |
|Operating System|| Genuine Windows Vista(R) Home Premium SP1 64 bit (English) || [616-10117] |
|Optical Drive|| Slot Load 8X DVD+/-RW Drive with DVD+R double layer write capability || [429-13408] |
|Audio Solution|| Integrated Stereo Sound with Subwoofer || [219-10069] |
|Software|| Microsoft(R) Works 9.0 (English) || [630-12305] |
|Warranty & Service|| 1 Yr Ltd Hardware Warranty, InHome Service after Remote Diagnosis || [205-11377] |
|Palmrest Option|| Silver Palmrest || [214-10081] |
|Wireless Network Card|| Intel(R) WiFi Link 5100 (802.11a/g/n) Half Mini-card || [555-11886] |
|Bluetooth Module|| Dell(TM) Wireless 370 Bluetooth Module || [555-11729] |
|Dell Service: Remark|| Dell's Terms and Conditions apply |
Laptop Batteries Carry One Year Warranty Only From Invoice Date
| [205-11378] |
|Batteries|| 6-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery || [451-10783] |
|Carrying Cases|| No Case || [460-10921] |
|Item Included in the System|| Integrated Fast Ethernet 10/100/1000 |
34mm ExpressCard Slot, (DOES NOT SUPPORT PC CARDS)
ICC Regulatory Label
India Country Info Mod
System Driver DVD Kit
System Driver Mod
Dell(TM) PC-Restore Included
Discount is only valid if the corresponding upgraded item is selected above.
Limited time promotional offer only. No further discounts apply.
Windows Live Software
Noise Isolation Ear Buds
| [219-10125] |
|Security Software|| McAfee(R) Security Center(TM) 30 days trial || [650-12030] |
|Color Options|| Jet Black Colour with Black U-Trim || [320-10394] |
|Label Options|| Intel(R) Centrino(R) 2 Label || [340-16714] |
|Display|| 15.6” 720p WLED (1366x768) Display with TrueLife™ and Built-in 2.0MP Web Cam || [230-10741] |
|Freight Charges|| Studio-NB Handling & Insurance Charges /Express Premium || [990-15161] |
|Delivery Charges|| Inspiron(TM) Delivery Charges (India) || [990-10898] |
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Taking this a step forward, I believe the government is also going to ban:
- fixed line phones (Landlines)
- cell phone services
- courier services
- The Indian Postal Service
- messenger services (Gtalk, Y! Messenger, AIM, MSN Messenger etc.)
Taking this another step further, the next items that will soon be banned are:
- currency notes
- toothbrushes, knives, and other items of daily use,
Friends, now is the time. Please suggest the above list to your legislator and make sure you play your part well in this joke we call a democracy.
p.s. The above post is based on an article that was a hoax. However, just imagine a scenario like that.
Monday, April 27, 2009
- Cares for the environment(by turning off the engine),
- Cares for himself(by taking off his helmet),
- Cares for his bike(by flicking off the dust)
- And hardly gives a damn for all the derision poked at him by the villains.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
What he said made a lot of sense to me. He said that the World Economic Order has been decided by white boys with blue eyes who never saw poverty, leave alone lived in it, since the Second World War. They have decided for EVERYONE how business is done, and they have ALWAYS said that whichever way the Whitey does it is the right way. Also, of late, Whitey has stopped making any stuff of his own. All he does is print a lot of funky looking designs on some shiny paper and passes it along to everyone to buy stuff. That paper which is commonly known as the Dollar, has no intrinsic value (in Gold, for example). Having printed too much of this worthless paper, the American system subsequently collapsed under its own weight with banks and funds Leveraging all they could until finally it all gave way. After all, there is only so much shit you can feed a pig until it pukes, right? Well, the pig has puked and the shit has hit the fan. The poor horse that was making his living in a stable far far away also has been affected by the shit-fan episode for his fodder is now toxic and he too has to pay for the pig's bad eating habits.
And not just the horse, even the mouse and the chicken and the goat. Everyone will now have to pay for the pig's idiocy. Here's the worst part of all this: The pig had his fun eating all that stuff. Gobbling up Central American economies, his own citizens' pension and medical insurance money, bailing out his toxic banks, while letting his own citizens' savings go down the drain. Sure makes a lot of sense for the pig. But what about the poor horse? The one who's been slogging all his life and when he finally saw a nice retirement coming along, poof! Gone! Just like that! So, as the story ends, or begins, the horse had his legs tied to the pole earlier. The pole of poverty and ignorance. Now, the horse is free to kick the pig. And it sure looks that the pig's in for serious kickin!!! Wow!
Monday, March 9, 2009
I watched Harold and Kumar's Escape from Guantanamo Bay. Totally inane movie, just the way I like it! :) The most touching part of the movie ( I guess there's just one!) was when Kumar crashes his lover's wedding and recites this poem when his sweetheart says that nothing could be more embarrassing than what he's put her through. It's titled, "The Square Root of Three". Call me a mush brain but I really loved this piece!
The Square Root of Three
I fear that I will always be
A lonely number like root three
The three is all that’s good and right,
Why must my three keep out of sight
Beneath the vicious square root sign,
I wish instead I were a nine
For nine could thwart this evil trick,
with just some quick arithmetic
I know I’ll never see the sun, as 1.7321
Such is my reality, a sad irrationality
When hark! What is this I see,
Another square root of a three
Has quietly come waltzing by,
Together now we multiply
To form a number we prefer,
Rejoicing as an integer
We break free from our mortal bonds
With the wave of magic wands
Our square root signs become unglued
Your love for me has been renewed
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Sri Rama Sene is the name of this outfit. As far as I remember, a majority of this army comprised monkeys. In which case, this behavior of these people is justified! On a more serious note, I know of another organization which does this. They want to prevent "western" influence, they do not want their "culture" to be "polluted" by outside influences. They call themselves the Taliban.
And I'd hate to see my country to be Talibanised. We must stand up for ourselves. It's time we stopped cowering behind our facade of civilization and say NO. We must say NO to these fanatics who believe they have our support just because we follow the same religion they do. Condoning this sort of idiocy would make us no different from those Islamists who would be rejoicing when the Palestinians shot rockets into Israel. What they don't realize is that nobody gains from these random acts of idiocy. Nobody gains when there are innocents suffering. All it leads to is more and more violence. These Rama Sene folks do not represent the Hindus. Just like the Islamic terrorists don't represent the Muslims. And if these people really think that there would be virgins and rivers of wine and a meeting with God, etc etc, WAKE UP CALL, they'll only be wasting their time here!