If you are Indian, or of Indian descent, I must preface this post with a clear warning: you are not going to like what I have to say. My criticisms may be very hard to stomach. But consider them as the hard words and loving advice of a good friend. Someone who's being honest with you and wants nothing from you. These criticisms apply to all of India except Kerala and the places I didn't visit, except that I have a feeling it applies to all of India , except as I mentioned before, Kerala. Lastly, before anyone accuses me of Western Cultural Imperialism, let me say this: if this is what India and Indians want, then hey, who am I to tell them differently. Take what you like and leave the rest. In the end it doesn't really matter, as I get the sense that Indians, at least many upper class Indians, don't seem to care and the lower classes just don't know any better, what with Indian culture being so intense and pervasive on the sub-continent. But here goes, nonetheless.

India is a mess. It's that simple, but it's also quite complicated. I'll start with what I think are India 's four major problems - the four most preventing India from becoming a developing nation - and then move to some of the ancillary ones.

First, pollution. In my opinion the filth, squalor and all around pollution indicates a marked lack of respect for India by Indians. I don't know how cultural the filth is, but it's really beyond anything I have ever encountered. At times the smells, trash, refuse and excrement are like a garbage dump. Right next door to the Taj Mahal was a pile of trash that smelled so bad, was so foul as to almost ruin the entire Taj experience. Delhi , Bangalore and Chennai to a lesser degree were so very polluted as to make me physically ill.

Sinus infections, ear infection, bowels churning was an all to common experience in India . Dung, be it goat, cow or human fecal matter was common on the streets. In major tourist areas filth was everywhere, littering the sidewalks, the roadways, you name it. Toilets in the middle of the road, men urinating and defecating anywhere, in broad daylight. Whole villages are plastic bag wastelands. Roadsides are choked by it. Air quality that can hardly be called quality. Far too much coal and far too few unleaded vehicles on the road. The measure should be how dangerous the air is for one's health, not how good it is.

People casually throw trash in the streets, on the roads. The only two cities that could be considered sanitary in my journey were Trivandrum - the capital of Kerala - and Calicut . I don't know why this is. But I can assure you that at some point this pollution will cut into India 's productivity, if it already hasn't. The pollution will hobble India 's growth path, if that indeed is what the country wants. (Which I personally doubt, as India is far too conservative a country, in the small 'c' sense.)

The second issue, infrastructure, can be divided into four subcategories: roads, rails and ports and the electrical grid. The electrical grid is a joke. Load shedding is all too common, everywhere in India . Wide swaths of the country spend much of the day without the electricity they actually pay for. Without regular electricity, productivity, again, falls. The ports are a joke: antiquated, out of date, hardly even appropriate for the mechanized world of container ports, more in line with the days of longshoremen and the like.

Roads are an equal disaster. I only saw one elevated highway that would be considered decent in Thailand , much less Western Europe or America . And I covered fully two thirds of the country during my visit. There are so few dual carriage way roads as to be laughable. There are no traffic laws to speak of, and if there are, they are rarely obeyed, much less enforced. A drive that should take an hour takes three. A drive that should take three takes nine.

The buses are at least thirty years old, if not older. Everyone in India , or who travels in India raves about the railway system. Rubbish. It's awful. Now, when I was there in 2003 and then late 2004 it was decent. But in the last five years the traffic on the rails has grown so quickly that once again, it is threatening productivity. Waiting in line just to ask a question now takes thirty minutes. Routes are routinely sold out three and four days in advance now, leaving travellers stranded with little option except to take the decrepit and dangerous buses. At least fifty million people use the trains a day in India . 50 million people!

Not surprising that waitlists of 500 or more people are common now. The rails are affordable and comprehensive but they are overcrowded and what with budget airlines popping up in India like Sadhus in an ashram the middle and lowers classes are left to deal with the overutilized rails and quality suffers. No one seems to give a shit. Seriously, I just never have the impression that the Indian government really cares. Too interested in buying weapons from Russia , Israel and the US I guess.

The last major problem in India is an old problem and can be divided into two parts that've been two sides of the same coin since government was invented: bureaucracy and corruption. It takes triplicates to register into a hotel. To get a SIM card for one's phone is like wading into a jungle of red-tape and photocopies one is not likely to emerge from in a good mood, much less satisfied with customer service. Getting train tickets is a terrible ordeal, first you have to find the train number, which takes 30 minutes, then you have to fill in the form, which is far from easy, then you have to wait in line to try and make a reservation, which takes 30 minutes at least and if you made a single mistake on the form back you go to the end of the queue, or what passes for a queue in India.

The government is notoriously uninterested in the problems of the commoners, too busy fleecing the rich, or trying to get rich themselves in some way shape or form. Take the trash for example, civil rubbish collection authorities are too busy taking kickbacks from the wealthy to keep their areas clean that they don't have the time, manpower, money or interest in doing their job. Rural hospitals are perennially understaffed as doctors pocket the fees the government pays them, never show up at the rural hospitals and practice in the cities instead.

I could go on for quite some time about my perception of India and its problems, but in all seriousness, I don't think anyone in India really cares. And that, to me, is the biggest problem. India is too conservative a society to want to change in any way. Mumbai , India 's financial capital is about as filthy, polluted and poor as the worst city imaginable in Vietnam , or Indonesia - and being more polluted than Medan , in Sumatra is no easy task. The biggest rats I have ever seen were in Medan !

One would expect a certain amount of, yes, I am going to use this word, backwardness, in a country that hasn't produced so many Nobel Laureates, nuclear physicists, imminent economists and entrepreneurs. But India has all these things and what have they brought back to India with them? Nothing. The rich still have their servants, the lower castes are still there to do the dirty work and so the country remains in stasis. It's a shame. Indians and India have many wonderful things to offer the world, but I'm far from sanguine that India will amount to much in my lifetime.

Now, have at it, call me a cultural imperialist, a spoiled child of the West and all that. But remember, I've been there. I've done it... And I've seen 50 other countries on this planet and none, not even Ethiopia , have as long and gargantuan a laundry list of problems as India does.
And the bottom line is, I don't think India really cares. Too complacent and too conservative.


Sean Paul Kelley is a travel writer, former radio host, and before that an asset manager for a Wall Street investment bank that is still (barely) alive. He recently left a fantastic job in Singapore working for Solar Winds, a software company based out of Austin to travel around the world for a year (or two). He founded The Agonist, in 2002, which is still considered the top international affairs, culture and news destination for progressives. He is also the Global Correspondent for The Young Turks, on satellite radio and Air America .

12:33 AM

Lose weight now; Ask me how.

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Once upon a time there was weighing scale tucked away in a secluded corner of a cafeteria. The poor thing was never ever happy because it was a cause for peoples’ sorrows about their weight. Thousands would hop on it everyday and get down with worried faces. It felt that it was cursed never to make anybody happy. It would always cringe in fear when it was the day after a long weekend or festivals. People would binge on everything remotely edible and blame it for the accumulated weight. There was a person called KP who broke the pattern and smiled every time he stepped on it. They became very good friends and both of them lived happily ever after (separated later…but happy nevertheless)

The mini story is from a cafeteria of one of my previous organizations and I’m the friend. I’m aware that I’m very lean and underweight by a huge margin for my age and height. For most part of my adult life I’ve been mocked about this fact. But I’ve never felt bad about it. I’m used to being greeted with “Hi. Long time no see. You’ve become thinner is it?” when I meet somebody after a gap. I always reply with “I’m at the min limit. Losing weight is not possible.” Many would poke my flat tummy and try to ridicule me. I would do the same to their ‘family pack’ tummies. Some have advised me not to swat flies for I may break my bones. There was this guy who thought I would be so weak that he could fold me and break me into two. Everyone has the right to an opinion. So all I do is smile. Whenever the situation arose I’ve proved that it is not what you have that matters but what you can do with whatever you have that does.

At the time when Ghajini & OSO were released, people started the 6 pack SRK n 8 pack Aamir debate. What is the big deal? I’ve had 8 pack abs (4 of which are my ribs ) for as long as I can remember. I would have posted a pic but I’m sure not many would be interested in looking at my sexy midriff.

I’ve never revealed the secrets of how I’m the way I am so far. It’s time now. 3 simple rules is all there is to it.

Rule 1 : Eat because u have to, not because u can.

Eating is one of the most enjoyable things known to the human kind. Many try to enjoy it a bit too much. I like food as much as the next guy. Sometime I’ve surprised myself on what and how much I could eat. Eat anything you want but not as many times as you want. The ‘3 waqt ki roti’ is essential. But anything in between is what lines up under the skin.

Rule 2 : Walk because u can, not because you have to.

Given today’s myriad options for commuting, one really never has to walk outside the house. Even to go to the store at the end of the block people take out their vehicles. It may be a luxury to do so but not using the luxury doesn’t decrease your prestige. Walk whenever you can. That’s the simplest exercise you can do. It doesn’t make too much of a sense to take your car to the gym to burn off the fat you saved to go there. Take the stairs to your office. I’ve worked on 12th floor for 2 years and I’ve taken the stairs most of the times. If a skinny guy like me can do it so can you! And remember every time you walk you are reducing carbon emissions directly or indirectly.

Rule 3 : Donate Blood. Save lives. Help yourselves too.

Doctors always say that donating blood doesn’t deteriorate blood quality but improves it. The qty replenishes itself in 4 days…. blah blah blah. I know I’m hardly qualified to be talking about this. But something happens after you donate blood and you do lose weight till things stabilize in a month or so. My losing weight is impossible but I have lost weight every single time after a donation. So I had to stop doing it as frequently as I used to.

That’s it. Simple isn’t it?

There’s just one exception which overrides the success of these rules. Don’t be happy….. or be happy of gaining weight because you are happy! Happiness is often confused with laughter. By happiness I don’t mean being able to laugh. You may laugh when you feel good, nervous, jealous, angry, anxious, sarcastic….In my opinion laughter is the body language equivalent of the F word’s versatility in English. But happiness is …. ummm….diff to define it. It’s the feeling you get when you saw your lil sister or your kid for the first time or when you got the dream job against all odds or when you got your first kiss…. I’m sure you get my drift. The reasons for happiness are rarely repeatable and u can never express it interms of money. In today’s lifesyle chances of being happy are very rare. So unless you are one of the few lucky ones who is happy most of the time…follow the 3 rules and see the magic work!

Stay fit…Keep Walking! Cheers!

1:33 PM

The Answer (?)

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Although is was a rhetorical question, many answered it,
So many perspectives and yet it didn't help one bit.
Thinking about it again, all I have is a gigantic zit
And yet I'm at it; another blog with the answers knit.


Asked a guy who married his long time love.
Would be prefect coz he's living his dream now.
I was sure he would reinstate my faith somehow.
Listening to what he said, I ran away saying ‘Ciao!’.

Reminiscing about his bachelorhood he took me aside.
"Maccha, marriage is 'self-induced voluntary suicide'.©
If u are thinking of it, you are better off drinking pesticide.
Do you really want to go down that road..... you decide!

Before getting married I was an optimistic believer.
I used to wake up happy everyday, keen to see her.
To each other nobody else in the world was dearer.
Now we irritate the other. She shouts, I only murmur.

Not to mention numerous problems with the in-laws.
Their ultimate goal in life is to find in me flaws.
Stuck btwn them & my wife I’ve become tomato sauce.
My experience says it’s a loss…Peace goes for a toss.

Talking about all of this has been a stress reliever
If you are seeing somebody, please leave her.
Love is quite difficult...not really worth the trouble.
If that was your dream, sorry to burst your bubble.”


Reading "The ?" A married friend cringed in fear.
Poor guy hardly managed to hold back a tear.
Out of concern for me he unfurled his married life;
Told me his experiences at home, with his wife.

"Initially it's nice, cozy, leaving hickeys on each other's necks,
You will get closer to eachother. She invites you to have sex!
A few months later asking for it again will get you her vex.
U wonder where's ur wife when she shows the fury of a T-Rex.

Marriage is a prison..... The price is your soul;
the most expensive deal to get access to a hole.
It'll puzzle you what tuned ur bride into a ghoul.
Deal broken, u’ll have cold showers and a stroll."


A western guy's opinion, with which, I couldn't quite agree.
"We find a girl, pursue, date for 2 years and live-in for three.
Till we can, we have all the fun. If there's trouble we flee.
That's how it works here... We are a developed country.

If the chemistry continues, we get married, seal it with a kiss.
We break it up with a divorce if ever the fun goes amiss.
All problems solved. Can it get any better than this?
Trust me dude it's the only way to have marital bliss!"


Married women had nothing to say, those who read were few.
Am sure spinsters had an opinion, but nobody gave me their view.
Probly for 'em too it is scary, but like having ‘Mountain Dew’.... (Darr ke aage jeet hai)
Marriage is good for them(?); their power on men will renew.


Saw what Kramer has to say. Wrong.. wasn’t he?
Is it necessary to ask your wife even to pee?!?
At dinner will it be a gross sin to watch the TV
Koi to batao. Such mein aisi hoti hai kya biwi?

The guy who married his love, rang his wedding bell
says it’s wothless. I’m better off jumping into a well.
The 1 who married the old fashioned way calls it hell.
So far nobody has said anything for the idea to sell.

Is marriage just a social arrangement for sexual favour?
Come-on ppl. Somebody give it more positive flavour!
As of now marriage sounds risky… without the fervour.
Enough already! No more feedbacks. I think I got a fever.


Tears... Sorry....Cheers!


10:54 PM

Sundays with Katie!

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"We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It’s the best deal man has ever made." "A dog is the only thing on Earth that loves you more than he loves himself."

Anybody who's somebody in my life would agree that I believe in these phrases more than I believe in gravity. This being the case one would assume I have at least one dog at home. The fact is otherwise. Thanks to my father who's allergic to dogs, my mother who thinks I can hardly take care of myself let alone a dog and my granny who thinks it is inhumane to rear a dog without providing sufficient space for it to play around in, none of my dogs are at my
house. Someday I'll have a dog(s) of my own. Till then, I'm forced to take pride in claiming pseudo ownership of friends' dogs. Often when I visit my friends the common complaint is that their dogs get more of my attention than they do. I don't argue with them... I never argue against truth!

My time with dogs so far can be described 'playful' at best and nothing beyond. I pet them, they demand belly rubs, a few licks/smooches and I go home feeling on top of the world. So dogs to me were a thing of unadulterated love and nothing more. Never have I seen them go through pain, agony or the caring nature that humans (some of us at least) have to deal with. A few months ago all that changed...and how!

Oct 2 while most people spent the long weekend in their own way and paid tribute to Gandhiji by smses or blogs (like this one), I got a msg which said "Katie gave birth to 4. You became an uncle. Congrats!" Katie - A 3 years old Labrador is one of the 4 dogs that my friend has at her house. I was hyper excited and raring to see the new born puppies, but had to wait till I got back to Bangalore. When I did get back I was fortunate enough to be able to visit every week for a month and see the sides of Katie that I never had seen earlier. It was amazing to watch those tiny things grow into dogs. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have witnessed that beautiful transformation and photographed it. I've never craved for an SLR camera so much in my life. I begged, tried to borrow one but had to draw a line at stealing! Someday I shall have my own. Although my faithful camera could capture them well enough, I know it could have been better. Link to the album posted at the end.

The Dog House:
G's family is extremely passionate about animals. Anything with 4 legs or colorful feathers are welcome in their house. Without feathers or 4 legs, I'm probably the only exception! Over the years I've known them, I've seen numerous dogs, cats, frogs and birds at their house. It was nice to see cats and dogs living together happily. Currently 4 dogs and a parrot have made it their home. Goldie - A Lhasa Apso (My first bitch), Katie - A Labrador (My favourite as of now), Cleo (I call him clitoris just to annoy G) - A Basset Hound, Betty - A Cocker Spaniel (My sexy bitch) and a parrot called Polly. Everyone names parrots either Kiki or Polly... What's wrong with
Raju?

Katie - The Dog / Bitch:
Katie is about 30" tall on 4 legs and close to my height on 2. She weights over 35 kgs which gives her an upper hand over the other dogs. Whenever I visit she acts real bitchy...overpowering the others to attract attention, expecting me to
play with her. It's all out of pure love! I never knew that she was pregnant till her due date was close. Somehow pregnancy.... even a dog's is hidden from guys as long as the guy is not the reason for it. I don't understand why. She was mated with another lab which would make her pups thorough bred.

Katie - The Mom:
While delivering it seems she had problems positioning and had to be helped by
B (G's mom)..something like a mid-wife. She gave birth to 4 very cute pups. Rowdy, Snowy, Fluffy and Pinky in that order. Pinky being the last was quite underdeveloped but the cutest. When any of us tried entering the room where they were, Katie would wag her tail and be herself as long as we were far away. But if we went near the pups, the protective mom in her emerged and barked at us with all the fury she could muster. However B was allowed to go near and even handle the pups anytime. I think moms trust each other...species doesn't matter.

We tricked her and took her out of the room and handled the pups. She was barking all the time, whimpering, scratching at the door, poking into the window trying to see what we were upto. After she was assured that we would not harm the pups she kept quiet but did not budge from her watching station. I was feeling guilty and didn't take too long. As soon as she was let inside she picked up each of them in her mouth and made sure they were alright. A typical mother!

The Puppies:
I had pictured all those cute doggie pictures I'd seen on the internet and was
quite disappointed with what I saw. There were these 4 lumps of flesh, pink all around, not many features recognisable...not even a proper paw. Their tails had no life if it. They looked ugly! I could hold 2 pups in the palm of my hand..they were so tiny.

Katie - The Doc
She took extra care of pinky and would carry her around all the time. I thought
just like pinky was my favourite, she was katie's favourite too. But when pinky was about 6 days old, she was abandoned suddenly. Pinky died the 7th day. I like to think that Katie's natural instincts knew that pinky couldn't make it. After she died Katie went on nurturing the others. It reminded me of a doc who deals with death and still continues with his responsibility. The rest of us were feeling depressed for quite some time. May pinky R.I.P.

Puppies grow faaast..
The puppies seem to grow at an exponential rate. For the first two weeks they would drink milk till their tummies were stretched to the limit n sleep. Nothing else. For two weeks the only significant change they went through was size. They opened their eyes around the 17th day and started walking about the 22nd day. Slowly the facial features started taking shape. The paws, nose and other pink stuff turned black gradually. Took three weeks for their ears to open, start barking and recognise ppl. The third week I visited, fluffy's snout was so deep into his bowl that he got his head stuck in it. It was comical to see him wearing the bowl as a hat and barking from inside and his little tail wagging furiously. At the end of 1 month they were dogs with individual personalities...they had hit teenage in a month!

Nobody wanted to give them away, but 4 dogs in a house are a handful already. Rowdy the girl was given to G's little niece, snowy had to be given to the person who brought the male lab for mating and fluffy was taken for adoption within 15 mins of placing an ad on sulekha. You can imagine how painful it was for me not being able to take even one of em home. Instead I was posting an ad for adoption :(

That was the last I saw of them. But it seems they recognise G & B whenever they visit. I hear they have grown a lot too. But however old they are I will always remember them as they were - sleeping in the palm of my hand.

The entire album is here. If you like any pic in particular pls post a comment...for the doggie's sake. They are internet trained now :)

Bow Wowwwww!


PS: ಸಂK You have till the end of Jan to translate "ಗಾಂಧಿ.. ಎಂಬ ಮನಸ್ಥಿತಿ !" If you don't I WILL. You decide!

7:49 PM

The ?

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The question was asked as if wielding a gun.
When do you intend to get married son?
I just said the thought has not yet begun.
While I can, let me have some fun.

It’s easy to avoid the question than give an answer.
I’ve been dodging this like an agile belly dancer.
Probly tis something everyone does including myself.
But it’s easier to fool others than oneself.

Is it soo important… Having a wife?
‘Wife’ reminds me of a double ended knife!
Even then, she’s an essential part of life?
A good marriage… that’s not too rife.

I’m aware that down the lane it’ll be empty house.
For company, a dog will do, but diff to delouse.
Or something cuter like a pair of white doves?
Naah… Nothing compares to a loving spouse.

My cousin married too early, my aunt too late.
The right age will always be a debate.
I hate myself when in this confused state.
Maybe I should stop thinking and leave it to fate.

What am I waiting for?.. a soul mate?
Does everyone have one? If true ain’t it great?
Maybe there’s already one for me. Shouldn’t I wait?
Oh boy!... I’ll never get anywhere at this rate.

Now that twinkle is taken whom do I marry?
I should have loved other girls. Now I feel sorry.
Love’s a dream, but looks like it’s gonna be arranged.
Why did I let her go? I must have been deranged.

The most diff part is to define a lass.
“Tight in the right places, particularly the ass”
I say this at home I’ll become carcass.
Sounds naughty, but it’s the fancy of the normal mass.

Turns out there are groups to force me into tying the knot.
Old men’s and wise men’s counsel is already sought.
What kind of girl suits me best…war on the topic is fought.
Finding the best way of pushing me into the well… crazy lot!

Somebody help me out, I need a date.
After IPC 377, for the record… I’m straight.
Another shot at love… hope it’s not too late.
I donno what to do… I still am in the confused state.


Have I nothing better to do than blog this crap?
Eventually I guess I will fall into the trap,
For now atleast time to take off my thinking cap.
G'nite ya all. Time to take my usual nap.

Cheers!


10:00 PM

Reinvention remix

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Thanks to the generous media attention showered on General Motors over the last few months, almost everybody is aware of what GM is going through. After a lot of debate and hustle with the Fed, we opted for (read 'were forced to opt for') protection against insolvency.... Chapter 11.

Till the restructured GM takes birth, ad campaigns are being aired in the US media to retain customer interest and to assure that GM is here to stay. I like this ad in particular.





A spoof of the ad is gaining more popularity.... and I must say that I like the spoofed version better :) Watch it before it is pulled off.








I have signed papers which prohibit me to say anything against the interest of GM. So whatever I have to say will stay unpublished or probably end up on wordpress. All I can say is that the spoof of the ad is funny and truthful!!


It is good to see so many ppl supporting the GM brand and giving it a touch of patriotism. After all GM was one of the companies that US economy was built on.


"This is not about going out of business, it is about getting down to business.

Coz the only chapter we are focused on...is Chapter 1!"

Snazzy punchline...



Chapter 11 or not.... I still think GM makes some really good cars. We just don't know how to sell them efficiently!



Cheers!

Someone had a youtube link on their gchat status and I followed the link to be directed to a talent show clip. I usually stay clear of reality shows. Honestly I don’t have the patience for it. So I’m vaguely aware of what American Idol, Indian Idol and Britan’s got Talent are. I’ve also heard and seen Simon with his attitude of gigantic proportions a couple of times. I’ve thought more than once that he deserves a sound spanking! And that he got from Susan Boyle on Britan’s got talent. She's called The lady who shut up Simon Cowell! Watch the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY
Embedding is not supported.


A not so confident Susan walks in on stage, faces the great Simon, wants to be as successful as Elaine Paige and decides to sing ‘I dreamed the dream’….an opera kinda song. The cynicism is obvious throughout the audience which just dissolves into her voice the moment she starts singing. Mind blowing voice! It’s difficult to believe that she’s not a profession opera singer. The energy in that auditorium must have been somthing! How I wish I were there.
I’ve watched it 5 times already and I get goose bumps every time I did. At the end of it, all she has to say is that she feels bloody fantastic!! She Dreamed a dream and is living in it's glory.

This video has gained immense popularity. Stats speak for itself. As I type this, the video has been viewed over 21 million times in 7 days…that’s about 35 hits / second!!

The best revenge is to accomplish what others thing you are not capable of.

Cheers!