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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Common unwell th

Today - here we stand,

Our hands bowed in shame-

What else can we do?

We have no one else to blame!

For it is we who have elected,

These inept leaders to fame;

Can they even not,

Host a simple game-

Without corruption,

For sake of the nation's good name?

A bridge came crashing,

& only shreds of our reputation remain.

Unkempt our hospitality

& incomplete our stadium -

None ready to step up

To resolve this delirium.

For a people who pride,

Their guests above everyone,

We have aptly demonstrated

When it comes to corruption-

We can sell out

Even our nation!

This is the darkest blot

& generations to come have been maimed,

India - the land of so many virtues

Sadly, couldn't present itself properly

When the right time came!

Posted via email from sandylief

Sunday, June 13, 2010


05 June, 2010
World Environemnt Day! A morning with Pune weekend traffic, which was actually not so bad. Pune traffic seemed graceful in many ways - silent (no horns aka Ahmedabad) and mostly disciplined - a breeze compared to the aggressive ness one faces in Ahmedabad. Post lunch we planned a trip to Lavasa - one of India's latest private hill station. Located near the Mulshi Dam, it occupies an entire valley between two hills in the Sahyadris. As one stood at the gateway to Lavasa- Dasve on the ridge, one could see the entire valley bustling with construction activity. How does one start comprehending such a humongous private leisure space? To me, this is the epitome of capitalist greed - land grabbing has never been done in a more stylist manner! Lavasa can be rightly termed as the SEZ of townships: a land bank for the rich to get richer, only this provides the cover of a home-stay rather than some 'industry' for the betterment of the country. It never gets more shameless than this - Amby valley was a privately held and privately managed space, not like an SEZ. Lavasa, on the other hand, is promoted as a management of Govt. held enterprise. Since when does the government, and especially one that doesn't even acknowledge the right to a house, invest itself in luxury hill stations for the rich. The last government that India saw indulge in such activities was when it was a slave to the mighty British empire - the white sahibs in their summer hideouts in the hills commanding the common man below. How different is this picture than that - houses that cost an arm and a leg, around an artificial water body, in a private valley - albeit all funded by the government coffers!!! There is hardly anything to bring home about the architecture or the masterplan - except for the features of the water body and the valley - both being natural gifts the region does not have any dearth of. So, as a commercial project, what are they selling? Nothing at all - there is no USP - there is just a simple transfer of land from the common land bank to the private elite, and control over one very important future resource - part of the water that is supplied to Pune city. That seems to be the hidden USP of the project when one sees increasing water shortage in our country. 

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

AMD-BOM Trip travellogues 01

03.06.2010 AMD-BOM
The day was largely uneventful, except for Bombay traffic. We started around 5.30am, and there was nothing noticeable about the trip or landscape till we hit Maharashtra border. One has to see the industrial 'corridor' from Baroda to Vapi in order to grasp its scale - a myriad expanse of factories insterspersed in the agricultural-urban complex. We hit a wave of heavy vehicle traffic on this corridor, and even a 6-lane highway seems to wear out before the mind-boggling train of transport. Not surprisingly, the traffic turned to a trickle as one left Vapi, the last town of Gujarat. The highway enters the western ghats at the Maharashtra border, and the impending rainstorm brought  hopes of seeing a waterfall or two. Unfortunately it didn't rain as expected the whole way, as we later came to know that the storm had veered off towards Oman from the Saurashtra coast.

The western ghats part of the highway is a winding road will moderate slopes through scenic forested areas. TheVasai creek announces the arrival of Mumbai, and we took the Ghodbandar road towards Thane to meet a friend. Looking out from the 22nd floor of Hiranandani estate provides the quintessential view of Mumbai - skyscrapers clamouring for a footing with the traditional village houses and slums and a piece of the sky with the hills of the Sahyadris - all stuck along the border of Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

The way onwards to Dombivali is a challenge for any driver. Weaving through peak Thane Traffic in the core of the city, one navigates towards the Bhiwandi bypass, which itself is choc-a-block with heavy vehicles trying to escape the urban chaos. One crosses back to the other side of the Vasai creek towards the satellite towns of Bhiwandi- Kalyan. Another turn took us to Kalyan - which is surprisingly huge, and equally unorganized. Mumbai is a dream only for those who live in the main town, this place was completely godforsaken - like an oversized village shying away from its size, in fact trying to hide it with a mirage of small lanes and bye lanes along the bypass. However, it continued for a good 10-12 kms along the bypass, which essentially meant it could be the size of Gandhinagar town, or even larger! Make no mistakes, these towns are Municipal Corporations, larger than most capitals and cities in the country, but do not get their due only because they are located in the shadow of the behemoth expanse of Mumbai. As one enters Dombivali (after a garangutan effort), the quintessential stress between Mumbai and its surrounds comes into view. One sees the traditionally farming and fishing locals overwhelmed by the money, crowds, cosmopolitan lifestyle and speed of the neighbouring giant that has now been imposed on their previously simple and frugal lifestyle. The trouble starts with this fact - the locals used to an impoverished lifestyle are suddenly flooded with immeasurable amounts of money from their land combined with a loss of livelihood creating a capital rich person with nothing to do and no capability to do anything in the new lifestyle. This is surmounted by the fact that the new immigrants are the lower-middle class who cannot afford a place in mainland Mumbai. However cosmopolitan this new lifestyle is, it still doesn't solve the problem of the locals - who would have done best to follow the examples of investment from those who do - which the struggling immigrants fail to provide for. 

A peek into a local bar provides many answers to this confustion - hundreds of people, overwhelmingly males, drinking away in each of the hundreds of bars in Dombivali - every single evening. The bars are strategically located between the railway station - the transit backbone to Mumbai - and the residential district. So, each evening the immigrants looking to forget their worldly struggle in this city and the locals with nothing better to do meet at the bars - never to befriend, always to end in brawls. 

And that is why one would pray for a dry state - however wet it is behind closed doors. What kind of civil administration would expect to reap official dividends by sending its citizens into a drunken stupor each night, leading to domestic stress, street fights, etc? I would rather live in a state that looks away from one's drinking habits behind closed doors, stops all official access to intoxication, and does not believe in looking for tax income from alochol - even if the officials get rich in the illicit trade behind doors - only the desperate ones spend, and they should pay a price. Associated taboos that discourage a person would be no access to hospitals if something goes wrong, dealing with the police and courts under prohibition act, and the same. 

Dombivali is the place where the immigrants work round the clock - leaving at 6 and returning at 10, only to sleep with a roof on their heads. Weekends are washed away in completing the week's domestic chores. It is also the place where the locals hang about all day in empty streets, trying to comprehend the changes and fit in. It leaves both in discomfort - no sense of acceptance or security for the immigrants and no sense of acceptance or direction of life for the locals, a very dangerous mix that may fall either way. Only one certainty prevails - nobody goes to sleep with a content mind.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

The idea of order

"Heavy rains disrupt life in Andhra & Tamil Nadu..." reads the headline in a newspaper. 
How easily we declare the aberration in 'natural' pattern of life due to a natural event! Little do we realize that it is we who have become unnatural through our lifestyles. Never has nature been regular - that is the property of machines, & even they need repair. Our understanding of nature is limited to the last 200 years or so of data collection that has started with the industrial age. It is defined as highly erratic, with broad order manifested in the cycle of seasons, sunrise-sunset, moon phases - all connected to the rotation of heavenly bodies. The apparently disorderly event that the newspaper has described is actually micro-scale aberration for the earth, too small to even register. Such aberration could be found in any machine or mechanism. To present an analogy, we are like ants on the back of the blue whale - any change in its surface due to changes in breathing cycle, or manouvring in the oceans brings our lives to a halt.

We do know now that a small solar flare can bring down all of our communications and satellites,a small meteor can destroy areas as large as Siberia, a small cyclone can hold the whole East Indian seaboard to ransom, a tremor in the earth's bed lead to earthquakes or tsunamis. And there is nothing on earth that we - the great human race - 6 billion strong, can do about it other than run for our lives.

Yet, we are arrogant to to point of obvious self-destruction - mining deeper & deeper without understanding its long term / large scale impacts, stopping the mighty rivers without knowing when they will avenge themselves, changing the atmospheric balance without thinking of the changes in temperature, pressure, global wind cycle it will bring about. Our arrogance and greed blinds us from the simple understanding that the whole earth is one interconnected system - clip the nose and the mouth will open. The already waterfall effect of our destructive greed is apparent in the large scale (for us) changes around the globe. 

What's in it for the earth? Like i said, its just a case of lice infestation for the earth - the lice being us. First there will be light brushing, if that doesn't work, some vigorous shaking and finally a strong medicine to counter the mischief mongers. We may go back to stone age - or even cease to exist, but life shall go on in some other form, in some other way - maybe after a few million years again - a time that is just a moment's pause for the earth.

We pride ourselves in being great thinkers - the greatest of all among all living organisms. Yet how oblivious we are to the long term impacts of our momentary greed to accumulate. These theories of capitalism, democracy, economics - none provide a view beyond one human lifetime. In our 1,00,000 year history, this is the amount of foresight we have - conscious or unconscious ONE HUNDRED YEARS! That is why all economics fails to explain the true value of natural resources - its computations fail beyond this limit of foresight - its calculations of inflation, scarcity, demand and supply cannot last beyond a lifetime. We speculate in oil, metals, stocks. But we are forgetting the fast reducing supply of water, biomass, land - can we even gear ourselves to speculate for that?

Any local municipality in India charges about Rs. 7 - 20 ($ 0.15 - 0.5) per kilo liter (1000 liters), while a bottle of packaged drinking water sells for Rs. 12 per liter (Rs. 12,000 per kilo liter). However, put in perspective of human population increase and demand with respect to availability of water, its easy to see that very soon we'll be paying Rs. 12 per liter for municipal supply and packaged drinking water will sell at the cost of a permium bottle of wine! But that will happen before the actual scarcity hits us - capitalists will start speculating soon enough and inflate the prices!

Looking at the history of oil prices, we have learnt that any amount of increase does not lead to a decrease in demand. We can however, start looking at alternative fuels and supplement / replace oil with these over the next century. But can we find a replacement for drinking water? 

The point - natural resources are sustained only in a sense of balance controlled by the earth. Any activity - human or otherwise that disturbs this balance leads to disastrous results - the scale or timeline of which we have no way for forseeing or forecasting. Its better to prevent than to cure - but as far as our natural gifts are concerned - we haven't learnt our lessons yet.This is the idea of order that we need to understand - the natural order - where we are just one of the gears in the system, we don't dominate it, we cannot control it - we can only follow. This order will soon turn into disorder and the only rusty bolt responsible is us!

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Sunday, March 21, 2010


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul!

- William Ernest Henley

Ps: Thanks Rohan for forwarding me this...

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Monday, March 08, 2010

And the book shall kill the stone...

"& the book shall kill the stone...." goes the phrase in Count of Monte Cristo... I first heard it in Ar. Prem Chandvarkar's lecture on the design of a design...
Architecture was one of the highest regarded arts because cultures imbibed their history (& prowess) in the built form before the invention of printing. The written word was a scarce commodity, and one difficult to preserve... Buildings, by comparison, were easier to maintain, and more mighty (seemingly).

As the written word spread (thanks to Gutenberg), architecture lost its place as a representative of the cultural idiom, and there began its search for the inner soul... what did architecture stand for? what would it show the world? ... leading to the birth of so called design ideals...

Put that in our lives, and we are shocked by the rude awakening.. why are we here? what is our purpose? is wealth, health, material comfort our sole aim? will we live as a lost soul, or will our names be etched in stone? what defines us? what drives us?

It is, has and will be the most pertinent question any human could / should / would ask oneself.. 
it is the darkest question of all, for it scares us into obsolescence.. 
are you up to the challenge?

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Friday, December 18, 2009

OZYMANDIAS - Percy B Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Need for Farce

I've been wondering on the need for overwhelming pounding of media over trivial issues...
I have just seen a documentary on genetically modified foods & read Next (by late Michael Crichton) again. Both talk about the inherent problem underlying patenting of living organisms or their genes / parts. 

Now, we generally see our parliamentarians arguing about trivial issues & the media showing similar stupid issues all day interspersed with ads by large corporations. I used to wonder why somebody doesn't tell both these guys to go find something more sensible to do. Then again, after going through the above two items, it has dawned on me that maybe that is what the hidden agenda is: to keep the public at large running around their life & be bombarded by senseless issues rest of the time, so that the real & important issues are hidden behind the screens. 

If one were to just read through the list of acts passed in the parliament without so much as an hour's discussion, one would understand. Increasingly, countries are passing laws that profits larger corporations. What is the largest source of money controlled by the least concerned people? It is inevitably the public funds. Any subsidy, grant, loan is provided from the public corpus and accountability is minimum - not just in India - but worldwide. 

So what do large corporations do? They dont market products like consumer goods- they market items for public body consumption - health, arms, agriculture, public services, etc. What do the largest corporations sell us? They sell us fighter jets without accountability, vaccines & emergency medicine procured by the government without adequate tests or assurance, genetically modified food sold through government gene banks, public services like consultancy, water supply & waste management, electricity, etc that no person is able to question directly. It is simply the money that is taken from the public in form of taxes, and not given accountability of. The public is not in direct control of this money, and the people entrusted with this money can be easily bribed or provided stake in the corporations in order to gain access to the money.

If we see around, there are a million examples - Dabhol Power Project, Bhopal gas tragedy, Submarine scam, Bofors scam, etc etc...We are being systematically robbed (yes, that is the correct word) of our earnings, and the corporations are getting more powerful using the same money, and eventually even control what rules apply to them. Its a vicious circle that will end in the slavery of a general person to larger corporations - the future kings / dictators of the world.

This is where all the farce comes in - caste politics (a la Mayawati), regional politics (a la Thackereys), saas bahu serials, pointless arguments on news channels (both funded by ads of larger corporations, and hence dictating what should be shown), reality shows, and in extreme cases even acts of terrorism - in short anything that distracts or disrupts the normal persons life enough to take his or her attention away from what is happening to public funds, public rights and opinion on things that are actually affecting the world at large...

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Glory to the inglorious!

every once in a while, one sees a work of art being portrayed on the cinema screen - and it is so intense, that one does not realize how much time has passed absorbing it... This is exactly what happened to the 4 of us who went to see the Inglorious basterds tonight. It was a 10pm show & we realized it was 1pm after we came out!!

The Inglorious Basterds is not a typical Quentin fact its a Bollywood style movie that beats Bollywood movies black & blue by simply concentrating on one simple thing: attention to detail ....

Its a simple screenplay that Quentin would have ripped from any Bollywood movie - action, love, war, thrill & loads of comedy - all of that combined! But the mastery of the director lies in ignoring the story completely!! Yes, truly that is what happens - I did not care whether the story would go one way or the other! What I craved for with each longing moment was the dialogues & depth of scenes... The complete narration is held together by 7-10 scenes, but each of this scene is brilliantly composed - each speck of dust & each monosyllable, each movement by the actor / actress contributes to the moment in the scene... If you miss the smallest of gestures, you are bound to be left confused.

Now, I've heard somewhere that it took Quentin 12 years to write the complete screenplay. I can only imagine how he must have perfected each of these scenes by playing them over again & again in his mind - polishing each moment - each nanosecond of the movie. I was left not only breathless with wonder, but also hoping that the movie would never end- even after 3 hours of playing time!

Coming to the director's attention to detail - each word spoken by the actor is made to work hard along with physical movements, music & photography in order to contribute fully to the meaning. The language provides a loud charactersketch for each actor, while long climaxes (some even 2 mins long) are held together by expert movements, ever so subtle to catch the corner of one's eye, but not appear in the conscious view of the scene. All of this - together - makes the movie an unforgettable experience.

Look out for Col. Hans Landa (played by Christopher Waltz) - the scripting of the character & his potrayal by Waltz are a true work of art!

And yes, we laughed, we shuddered, we waited for the climaxes, we cheered the action - in short we did it all!!!
Final word, go see it for yourself - though some of you would dismiss it as stupid... & yes - BEWARE - there isn't any story!!

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Diwali Greetings!

Greetings for a joyous Diwali &
Happy New Year with a plenty of Peace and Prosperity.


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Friday, October 09, 2009

A noble piece prize

Obama wins the Nobel Prize! Thats one of the most shocking news i have ever heard to date.. My belief in the nobels is completely shattered! I agree that Mr. Obama is much better than Mr. Bush. But no president of the US of A can be given a nobel peace prize! For the head of a country that lives off by waging wars, the nobel peace committee has either gone bonkers or is trying to wag tails to the most powerful office on earth. I am still not able to make any sense of it as i still read the news, but one thing is certain: the nobel peace prize can NEVER be given to an office that is directing wars in 2 countries (Iraq & Afghanistan) and threatening 3 others in full world view (Libya, Iran & North Korea). The very act of waging a war should be the sole reason to deny the peace prize - & the nobel committee- by giving it to the person currently holding that office, is degrading its own integrity....

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Monday, September 21, 2009

A few words about the performance reality shows

Mufaazaa is disgusted with the level of Indian reality / performance shows... I am appalled by the concept of a performance / reality show where one is judged by the laypersons. Its exactly the democratic ideal, where the consumer feels the power to keep or remove somebody. It is a sorry sense of power over somebody that one relishes in exercising due to lack of any control over one's own pathetic life, held together by a self-inflicted combination of social duties & career demands. 

To make my point louder, I haven't come across a single reality / performance show that has third-party checks / audit for the amount of sms - votes that come in from public.. Get a grip guys!!! They can as well manipulate anything, based on what is convenient and more glamorous / TRP catching to show...However, it doesn't disturb me, since it solves the general purpose mentioned above - hypothetic power to the powerless.

A more disturbing fact is that the participants actually believe in these shows - parents groom & force their children to participate. We are trashing the sacrosanct relation of guru-shishya and deciding our skillset based on laypersons' perception. Now, the word of our teachers doesn't suffice, we need to prove ourselves by monkeying around on the stage!!! Please remind me how many of these people last in the public accredited careers for more than a couple of years?

There was something like Sa Re Ga Ma, where industry stalwarts would come to judge people. That was good for exposure & talent search. Today, there are too many shows & hence, unrestricted opportunities to participate in any one of these drills and see oneself on TV. While the judges vary from good to absolutely pathetic, they hardly have any power over the outcome. The public vote is given an equal rating over the word of an expert. I'm not saying that the expert cannot be wrong, but the probability of an expert going wrong over a layperson going wrong is much much lower. & public opinion is always clearly expressed in the way the person is able to deliver in later life as a professional, buy listening / seeing him or her...

Why do we need public endorsement for what we do? Are we really an insecure generation? Do we not believe in ourselves enough to just go ahead & do what we think right, instead of getting public opinion beforehand?? That, I think, is the crucial difference between the achievers & the followers....

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Monday, August 10, 2009

are we for real?

i was just discussing with my friends...

my parents have a few photographs, but are able to relive the exact moment in each one of them..
i have thousands, but dont remember most of the moments..

my parents go on trips once a year or less, but can remember all their days on the outing..
i go out every weekend, but am unable to register any of it..

my parents used to see movies once a month in their youth, & the memories lasted a lifetime.
i see one every other day, but fail to get entertained by any one..

this seems to be the case with an entire generation - the one living in excess: excess of money, food, entertainment, time, & what not... there is no real struggle, no need to conserve anything: time, energy, money, environment... we are just big time spenders.

the worst part is that all this excess fails to make us happy, & maybe one great proverb says it all: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!

I am not sure of this lifestyle anymore - the more i have, the more i crave for. Its an unending abyss of demand & supply, one into which the entire world seems to be spiralling. Happiness is a commodity beyond the means of an entire generation for the first time. We seem to be trading it in futures, and the future is always tomorrow! never today, never now.

I remember a poem from my childhood, where i thanked God for the food, my parents, my friends, my life.. Today, i dont believe in God, i take food for granted, my parents as a given, my friends as ever-changing travellers in a journey, and my life - i don't even know the meaning of my life... am i here to accomplish something? anything? does my life mean anything? 

everything interests me as does everything bore me.. its a self-defeating aim to want something, to get it and to want something else after that... its a self-contradictory happiness to reach somewhere and then to want to be somewhere else...

To my reader, don't dismiss me as a sadistic / depressed guy. I feel perfectly happy on most days of my life, but i don't remember it! What use is a happiness that i cannot recollect, cannot relish, cannot preserve in my memories.. a dialogue in Ghajini says: SHORT TERM MEMORY LOSS! Is that what we are suffering from? memory loss- short & long term both? or is it just a dissatisfied & spoilt lot of kids turned into adults but havent realized that yet?

Is maturity at stake or has the its definition changed? Is satisfaction unattainable or are we unable to feel satisfied? is the pace of life too fast & blinding or are we insecure in our own world? are we all accomplished beings or  is success just a beta phase?

In many ways, Dev-D is an apt portrayal of a generation at a loss of understanding itself, forget understanding the world around them...

maybe im an old-timer to say that our ancestors had enough time & peace of mind to understand not just themselves, but their surroundings & the necessity of convserving them. We are just a bunch of brats bent upon destroying everything that comes to our notice..

let me say no more, R.I.P.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

against order / consistency / equity / globalization...

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative" - Oscar Wilde reads a friend's fb status... & ive been thinking of the same. I'm reading the Organic Farming Reader - a collection of articles on organic farming. It leads me to a conclusion that I have repeated arrived on previous readings & thinking : globalization is stupidity! I am not against the availability of all things everywhere on earth, the whole point of localization is not closing oneself, but to have something unique - something that suits the local environment, culture, climate, etc etc etc...

Talking about farming, experiments & hereditary knowledge proves that each region has a unique environment (composed of climate, soil, geology, ....) and hence needs a native plant variety to survive. Bring in plants from elsewhere & either they die or kill... The authors say we have gone down from about 10,000 varieties of wheat in India to just a few hundred in less than a century! Each of these varieties have come down through generations and are suited to their specific local environment. Each variety gives not just optimal harvest & protection against local pests, but also proves more digestion friendly & nutritive for the local environment!!

Now combine this train of thought with Robert Pirsig's Zen & the Art of Motorcycle maintenance: we are talking about quality of a material that is marketable only in a certain region. The quality is dynamic for the same material based on geographical location!! & this is just agriculture! Why are we buying polyester clothing in India, which is not at all friendly in the hot & humid weather, or using agricultural methods more suited to temperate soils, where organic matter is in mineral form, whereas it is stored in plant life in the tropic & the soil is mineral poor.. 

Why do we take shelter in aping western systems when our own are as efficient? Why should an imported item be more valuable than local one of the same quality? Is it just globalization or our mentality? 

& finally, freedom is not in globalization, stupid! Thats just a marketing strategy!!! LOCAL IS THE NEW GLOBAL!! albeit a few years hence, & that i can predict with confidence!

ps: im trying to shorten my posts after an avalanche of complaints against my ramblings!

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Perfection: a few musings

I'm reading Lila by Robert Pirsig (of Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance). I haven't yet fathomed the ideas on quality presented in the book, but the concept of dynamic & static got me thinking. At this stage, Im not sure whether Im talking of quality or perfection. But for my & your sake, lets consider the concept of perfection, where we strive to achieve the best possible in any given task / field/ etc.

The biggest defeating hindrance is the very idea of achieving perfection. Since the world around us is a dynamic entity, we cannot aim to achieve a static state. Hence, perfection should be a dynamic state. In other words, one should live perfectly in all walks of life / tasks / fields, etc. One should literally breathe perfection! That is the only way to achieve it...

Lets take a simple example. I bit my tongue the other day, and was badly in pain for 2 days. But after that the pain subsided. However, there was a nagging feeling sometimes, and I decided to go to the doctor. He told me that the wound had worsened, as I had not taken any medication. When I told him the reason for not coming - the pain receding, he told me that the body adapts to anything. If one part pains repeatedly, the nerve will send the same signals faithfully, but the brain will learn to suppress them from the conscious mind. Hence, one feels the nagging only when idle. 

In the same manner, the world & we are continuously adapting to the ongoing events, leading to change in situation at any given moment of time. Hence, the definition of perfection is also changing with every moment. The change could be either in the course or higher or lower levels of achievement. But of all things: it can never be static!

So, when we decide to be perfect, we are actually assigning ourselves to a lifelong task. For this very reason if we try to extract happiness from one act, we lose it over some time as the world has changed and the situation has changed. Our past achievement does not hold any value in the new order of things!

So, if the reason for perfection is to be happy: our rishi-munis were right in professing detachment, the only way to stay away from the dynamics of the world, and set one's own order of things. If the reason is achievement, you are doomed to a life of struggle!!! Its not so bad! Some people enjoy struggle!!!!

Whenever I finish a post to my satisfaction, Muffazza's words come ringing at the back of my head: what is the essence of this post? Is there a conclusion?

So my two cents worth: perfection is about trying the best of one's ability at every step of life, either that or nothing!

I'm sure Jun's gonna butcher this one!!!!!!

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Mom's poem: निरंकुश माणूस (The Unbridled man )

Presenting my mother's poems, starting with this one (about the modern amoral & ever-dissatisfied man). the poem is given above & the line wise translation given below it. My mom is a published poet (in some local marathi magazines during the late 70s & early 80s). This is her latest poem. However, I'm trying to locate her older works & put them online some time. I should acknowledge that this is my first exposure to marathi literature, & I'm enjoying it thoroughly!

निरंकुश माणूस
भौतिक सुखाच्या ह्या गराड्यात
हरवलय माणसाच माणूसपण
धरुनिया सुखाची अतृप्त लालसा
बांधलय वेठीला स्वतःच स्वपण
असू जरी आम्ही हक्कासाठी अधाशी
नसे मात्र सोयरसुतकही कर्तव्याशी
दडपली सारी आधुनिकतेच्या आवरणात
आपल्याच चारित्र्याची सखोल संस्कृती
वरकरणी जरी दाखवत असू पुरोगामी
दिसुन येई नेहमीच प्रसंगी अधोगती
कशास जगलो, का जगलो कोणी बरे सांगावे
उठता बसता मात्र दोष नशिबाला द्यावे
तुडविली सारी बंधने आज माणसाने
म्हणून का फिरविली पाठ निसर्गाने?

NB: I would like to say that any weakness in language while translation is mine, the poem reads well - those of who can read marathi fluently will agree with me..

निरंकुश माणूस The Unbridled man
भौतिक सुखाच्या ह्या गराड्यात
In this great heap of worldly joys, हरवलय माणसाच माणूसपण
man's humanity is lost धरुनिया सुखाची अतृप्त लालसा
having the ever unquenched greed of these joys बांधलय वेठीला स्वतःच स्वपण
one has even bet one's self-esteem असू जरी आम्ही हक्कासाठी अधाशी
if we are greedy for our rights नसे मात्र सोयरसुतकही कर्तव्याशी
but there is no consciousness of one's duties दडपली सारी आधुनिकतेच्या आवरणात
in name of modernity we have bundled away आपल्याच चारित्र्याची सखोल संस्कृती
the entire culture of our morality वरकरणी जरी दाखवत असू पुरोगामी
even if we display our sophistication outwardly दिसुन येई नेहमीच प्रसंगी अधोगती
when the occassion comes, seen is one's regress कशास जगलो, का जगलो कोणी बरे सांगावे
for what did we live, why did we live, who will tell us उठता बसता मात्र दोष नशिबाला द्यावे
time and again (literal: sitting & standing) cursing (putting responsibility on) one's fate तुडविली सारी बंधने आज माणसाने
broken all ties today has man म्हणून का फिरविली पाठ निसर्गाने?
is that why nature has turned its back on us?


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Song on trying hard...

This was written a few days ago while listening to country music- im not sure as yet whether i want to call it complete:

idle we rust -
fiddle we must:

edison the great -
exhibited this trait:
a million failures-
lit his success!
cross your comforts-
to achieve new landmarks

einstein says:
One who has never made a mistake-
has not tried any new ways...

hard work
smart stuff,
not just the muscle
its also the mind..
as both are brought together -
a new strength we find..

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

मेरे साँसों की आवाज़..

तुझ संग  बिताये पल जैसे एक ख्वाब -
तुझ से थी रौशनी -
और तुझ से ही ज़िन्दगी हसीन.
तेरी मीठी आवाज़ से होता सवेरा -
ढलती तेरी आँखों में शाम.

तेरे जाने से जो
हुआ ज़िन्दगी में अँधेरा,
सोचता हूँ
कब आएगा अब सवेरा.

तुझ सी ना कोई कभी 
न थी, न होगी मेरे लिए.
इस कलम से जलाता हूँ 
अपनी गुजरी ज़िन्दगी के दिए 

खो गया हूँ जालिम दुनिया के सागर में
न कोई कश्ती 
और न कोई किनारा 
ढूँढ रहा मैं 
कोई सहारा.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009


I've been reading Al Qaeda by some Mr Burke & simultaneously witnessing two events:
- Racism against Indians in Australia
- radicalism in India, (almost) single party government elected in India & the internal strife in one of the largest Hindutva parties...

Al Qaeda is a blandly written book, but an interesting (though I dont know how true) resource on terrorism & radicalism in Middle East & Pakistan. The author puts Pakistan in the centre of the entire terrorist movement, something I have never come across before. The birth of terrorism arising from the discontent of local peoples with the rulers who are willingly or unwillingly allowing western countries to control their resources & eventually lives is documented well in the book. The entire burden of the rise of terrorism is attributed to the cold war between USSR & USA in Afghanistan, subsequently spreading to other nations due to western corporate interests in Middle Eastern oil & business opportunities. The author appeals that local people have been uprooted from their traditional lifestyles & regions due to western intervention and that is the root of terrorism. The people have lost the only ideology they lead their lives with & do not connect to the western society, hence, they try to forge a pseudo-society based on the ideals that they should have followed - be it religious, social, geographical or cultural. When Westerners look at these definitions, they brand them as pagan, derogatory and even blasphemous. The entire problem lies in the increasing interaction between people of different cultures.

I tried to apply this perspective to the Indian scenario, and unsurprisingly, it works well.  The urban youth is born in a Western style society and does not relate to the traditional idioms. On the other hand those living in non-westernized parts of the country are being forced to live in increasingly western / foreign societies as people migrate from rural to urban & native to westernized areas, torn from the culture that they have always known & seeing it disappear. The word western here is used in the social context (& has no geographical attribute). When these two different kinds of people are put in the same place, there ought be a friction. Those who fear the foreign cultures then try to create a pseudo-ideology that they want to cling to, in absence of their original one. When they find they cannot live on that ideology in isolation, they try to force it on others,and thus result attacks on discos, morally correct dress codes, etc. Truth be told, its just a wrong-headed attempt to assimilate oneself in a modern Indian urban society. 

Apply this example to modern day Australia and one can see the frustration of the local unemployed youth at the Indian students who (usually from higher middle class families) flaunt latest gadgets while working at lesser pays. The Indian lifestyle is distinctly different, and somehow the students manage to save for things they aspire, by saving on daily rations (thats what i know, & i may be wrong). Whatever the reason, local youth increasingly feel they are unemployed and pushed lower in the class order due to such foreigners. Thus they try to rebel, bully, etc etc. The Indian students have some kind of an association, is there one for locals???? There is no representation, and that i believe is the underlying flaw, denying any chance of a civilized dialogue.

So how does one assimilate people from two or more drastically different cultures? Its a very tough question, but one of prime importance. I think the first step is to avoid alienization of any culture. People rise voilently when threatened, and that must be avoided at all costs. It is important to note that different people feel threatened in different ways, and that needs to be studied well by anthropologists / sociologists / psychiatrists. 
The second point is to have complete representation of all kinds of people. Unless that is achieved, one cannot hope for a dialogue, as the Australian example might show. 
If the people feel they are being represented / heard, the tendency to resort to violence is reduced. One can easily see the opposite in terrorist activities where people feel their leaders are not representing them, and hence attack them & their collaborators. 

Again, this is just one angle of the story. Ofcourse terrorism has arisen due to various other political & social factors. But the very idea of instigation lies at the root of every revolt. In a democracy like India, it is necessary (& quite easy) to provide a platform for equality. I can only imagine if the radicals who push north Indians out of Mumbai, attack discos in Mangalore are asked to help in law-making for application of their views, they will have to face a much larger issue of actually listening to the other side - something they evade during violent interactions. 

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Midway review - Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine

As I delve deeper into Klein's rantings about the Chicago school agenda on how the capitalist systems undermines democracy by  concentrating power into the hands of the rich, which impoverishing rest of the citizens, I was suddenly struck by a revelation that Klein is constantly avoiding. By giving examples of Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Poland, South Africa and China Klein repeatedly concludes that the Chicago schoool capitalist system supports autocracy and oligarchy.She asserts that Friedman propagates the use of shock therapy for complete & swift application of the free-market theory in any given system, which in turn leads to large scale privatization of industries / basic infrastructure and concentrates power in the hands of the rich few, while also inreasing their monetary power.

Luckily, at the same time I'm also reading Narayana Murthy's Better India, better world - a capitalist's perspective of India's change from a socialist to a capitalist (controlled) market. He too, supports the principle of free-market theory, but strongly supports the importance of philantrophy at the same time.

After comparing both approaches / descriptions, I realized that it is a particular thought of capitalism (namely, the Chicago school) that Klein is so stubbornly opposing. She goes on to say that the Chicago school thought has penetrated IMF, World Bank, etc and hence is being implemented the world over. It becomes clear that she is confusing the political agenda with the economic one. While both go hand in hand,the idea that an economic agenda can destroy democracy cannot be concluded. In each case, the leaders have willingly chosen to go with the free-market theory because it empowers & enriches them at the cost of other citizens. This is a glaring example of a high-level corruption and not that of free-market theory. Klein fails to conclude that the Chicago school theory encourages corruption instead of providing actual free-market movement. 

The idea of free-markets is democratization of the economy - providing power to the people to conduct business, choose products & services in a competitive market, and encourage a global competition instead of restricting the market to local products. In each of Klein's examples, the market has promoted foreign investors at the cost of local ones, leading to large scale unemployment and capital & resource flight from the host country to the investors. Many countries, especially India & (to an extent) China have provided examples of a balanced outlook. While foreign investors are free to invest (in certain sectors), they are not free to take the profits to their own country. The profits must be re-invested in the host country, or there should be a technology transfer. Technology transfer is the more lucrative & important aspect of inviting foreigners. Most or all of the countries taken by Klein for the study are third world nations lacking technologies to use their resources or increase quality of living. 

It is only logical to invitie global leaders (corporations) to invest in their country & provide technology transfer that will allow the host country to introduce its own services. If a free-market economy is not established, the end result will be like India's telephone system before 1991, so distraught with stone-age technology & lack of management understanding that it was impossible to think of more advanced servies like internet. However, as the foreign investment was opened up, India is now a thriving telecom market with the cheapest service offerings (compared to anywhere in the world), and the rates keep falling every year. Also, all companies find it lucrative to introduce the latest technologies  as there is a large consumer base ready to use those. They are currently held back only due to a lacksidal government attitude. The more important fact is the telecom revolution has empowered all individuals from all walks of life without discrimination - anybody from a vegetable vendor or taxi driver to a professional can buy a cell phone service complete with internet, fax, etc to start working & connecting -thus increasing his or her business prospects exponentially. I see this at work daily as my father works from the ease of our home, compared to 3-4 years earlier when he had to run about the whole day connecting with various people. I also see it in my own office where emails are the fastest way to send & receive drawings, get opinion from experts and send changes to the site, without moving from my seat!

I do believe Klein's hypothesis that the Chicago school interpretation of free-market economics has led to large-scale corruption. But to draw an analogy that the free-market theory itself is at fault is not an acceptable conclusion. conclusion. While i have not yet read the entire book and hope that the conclusion doesn't go the way most of the book is, I think the book could really be a misplaced attack on a theory instead of its proponent. Moreover, if the book intends to attack a proponent, it does not deserve critical acclaim, since it is the theory that matters not a single school of thought. Klein would have done better to show the positive side of the free-market theory that Chicago school approach lacks. All said & done,Kleins's book is an important eye-opener in the recent global events and the resultant depression that we are facing. I have been lucky to be provided with such thought provoking reads by Mufaaaza in the line of Chomsky, Economic Hitman & Klein. 

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