Saturday, December 19, 2009

HolidaySutra @ Konark

There was plenty going on at work and I was getting hassled....I tried wearing my 'indifferent' hat but that worked only for a month. So I decided to do what I do best. Just pick up my bag and go. This time it was Bhubaneshwar. And my friend Amitav and his family took good care of me.

I love stories and our history is full of them. Given the kind of historians we have had, unfortunately, I was on a steady diet of 'manufactured' history. Don't laugh...I know even you read the same books by N.C.E.R.T. Our historians romanced the Mughal dynasty and the British rule so much that they developed selective amnesia towards whatever happened in India before 1500 A.D.

Sample this, my Turkish friend tells me that all the countries today which end with 'stan' were at some point in history part of Bharat (modern day India). He adds, 'stan' is a Sanskrit word and not Persian/Arabic word. Further in conversation, I asked "in Istanbul, you would have plenty of history everywhere, right?" He replied, "yes, but we generally don't consider anything which is less than 600-700 years old as historic!" Wonder whether he was bragging about Turkey's history or taking a sadistic potshot at India's historians. I am no good in History so I didn't ask any more.

In line with my visit to the Sun Temple at Konark, I learnt this temple was constructed around 1250 A.D. The temple has such elaborate carvings on stone and it depicts everything from different dance postures to sexual postures and the like. Threesome, oral name it! If we were a race which carved all of this on the temple walls, how have become a race which doesn't respect its womenfolk even in its capital city?....something seems amiss. It doesn't sound like following a natural evolutionary path.

Further, I surfed around a bit and I got to know a bit more about Sun God. Every ancient civilization has worshiped Sun in some name or the other.

Greeks - Sun God - Apollo
Egyptians - Sun God - Ra
Aztecs - Sun God - Huitzilopochtli
Hindus - Sun God - Surya
and I believe the Japanese had a Sun god as well.

Keeping religious thoughts aside....worshipping the Sun makes a lot of sense to me - the single most important reason that supports life. Nothing wrong with that.

Those who question the idea of Idol worship or existence of a power above us in general, I suggest you do this; catch the sunrise and sunset alone one day in profound silence (without your camera). Best part, it doesn't matter which religion you were born into, Earthlings have got just one Sun - no scope for plurality or diverse view points here!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Very, Very, Lovely

We are born - depending on where you are born, you are either black, white, brown or yellow. We grow up, we live... watch some TV where you see a commercial that reeks of such lack of creativity, that you die. Or rather, become a living dead animal. OK, cut out the drama, Unilever really wants to sell their Fair & Lovely 'fairness' cream and the level they can stoop to is quite unremarkable. Most Indians in the last fifteen years would have seen numerous commercials of Fair & Lovely and I am sure it made some of them squirm and others...well, they went to the store and bought a tube of Fair & Lovely. I don't blame them, the medium of TV is a very powerful medium and it does shape/change our opinion.

I believe that 80% of Indians have my skin colour or darker. The guys in charge of Fair & Lovely have a huge market to tap into. Unfortunately, it seems Unilever guys are not going to stop at anything. In some of the TV commercials I have seen lately (in the last 24 months or so), they have exploited the relationship between a father and his daughter to sell their product. Neither am I a dad nor a daughter...but I can tell you, son to mother relationship is perhaps as special. Doesn't every father think his daughter is the most beautiful girl in the world...irrespective of what the world thinks? By these commercials, Unilever is wanting the fathers to buy a tube for their daughter(s), or the daughter for herself...or better still, get them both to shop! Sell as many as possible, maximise profits at all costs.

I want to ask Unilever a question. Your sales graph is soaring and you are happy? What's next?

Given the consistent TV commercial degeneration for fairness cream over the years, I will not be surprised if Unilever comes out with Fair & Lovely milk powder in near future. And its probably going to say, make your baby have it regularly for its 'fair & lovely' future.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ear Contact

It all started with 'eye contact'. When I was between five-ten years of age, I was a very shy kid. Whenever there were guest(s) over at my place, they would ask all sorts of questions 1) What is your name? 2) Which school/standard are you in and the like? I usually looked at the floor and answered the questions in the most feeble dad didn't like what he saw. Once they are gone, dad would train me to look him in the eye and then he would ask me questions for which I have to reply by looking him in the eye with a certain air of confidence. I did that...and I believe it has worked.

Duh...establishing eye contact is a two way street. These days, when I meet someone for the first time, I try my best to establish 'eye contact' and initiate small talk. After the initial few seconds, they start looking at my ears and keep switching from left to right. Maybe they come from the 'ear contact' school of thought! Some go a step further..."is it diamond"? Before I could say "no, it is some cheap stone", they follow it up with another question "Is it solitaire"? Hell No. Curiosity aside, what I wear on my ears is minor part religion, major part vanity....but definitely not for others to establish 'ear contact' :-)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Adam and Steve

Adam was out taking a walk and he was feeling very horny that day. He turns right and Eve is standing there striking a sensuous pose. Adam walks though he did not see anything. He doesn't feel anything, he did not get any naughty thoughts and Eve is left scratching her head.

Hundred steps down the street...there is someone else walking towards Adam. Who is it? It was Steve...their eyes met...they got thoughts and then they got married. Plenty of things happened between their eyes 'meeting' and they getting married..but I do not want to explain all of that. This is story of Adam and Steve : they lived happily ever after.

Fast Forward to today : I wake up in the morning and as usual I go straight for the newspaper...yes it is a little weird. I know many who go for their mobile phones. My dad glances at the newspaper and he goes like this "I am amazed at the amount front page coverage article 377 is getting". I did't pay attention...or...maybe I did and that is why his quotes are here.

I do wish to educate myself more and if I get to read an article by an anthropologist/population scientist, I will be very happy. In my opinion, Article 377 in its own twisted sort of limited way will help in controlling population as the copulation is happening only between the people of same sex. Imagine a world where everyone is a gay or a lesbian. Given the current life expectancy, human race would finish in a span of 100 years as there would be no reproduction. Reproduction - the most important aspect of evolution will not happen. When god made all other species our objectives were to eat and mate. Eat for survival and mate with the opposite sex for the bloodline to go forward. It is a completely different thing that we have evolved, we went to the moon...and did plenty of other things...and I am writing this blog.

From a human rights standpoint I believe it is OK to legalise same sex union but nothing beyond that. Somehow can't understand the posters which read "proud parents of a gay son". Support your son, fine. Aren't the parents in their self-congratulatory mode going overboard?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Leave Interrupted...Earth Hour

I am on leave from June 20 to June 30.


On June 22nd, I had to go to office for a quick meeting in the evening. Once I was there, a colleague asked me "If you are on leave, what makes you come here? I thought for a second and replied, "I love the free Internet connection and the AC in office is really nice, so I came over". Obviously she was distracted, everyone had a good laugh and she walked away saying "have fun". Best part is, everyone thought I am joking but I was serious.

To make an equipment work, we need electricity...but that ain't there. Make no mistake, it is not shortage of power or power theft in transmission or inability of the country to produce power that is demanded by the masses. It is just that India's intelligentsia in New Delhi has taken to Earth Hour very, very seriously.

Earth Hour : Households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for 1 hour every year for just one day.

We are Indians, we will do it left, right, center, above, below and better than anyone else can. The day after Earth Hour, you have to look out for our 'enthusiastic -yet -will-remain-immature' media for chest beating. 'Indians have done it and the capital city is leading by example. Delhi's power demand fell by 1000MW. The “phenomenal” dip is attributed to the Earth Hour observed by Delhi on Saturday evening and lower temperatures caused by rainfall. Forget the rainfall...that is not happening, so it is all about we coming together for saving the planet we love. There are two things that united India...Cricket and there is a proud third addition. Yes 'Earth Hour' everyday for you, me and the generation that is going to follow'.


Considering there are variety of reasons that affect power consumption (stage of economic development, climatic conditions etc.) I was searching for some sort of neutral ground. 'Average per capita power consumption' fit the bill.

US, China, Canada, Russia, Japan, Germany consume more power than India. I can make peace with myself for all the other countries but Canada was a big surprise...I was baffled. To cut the long story average Canadian consumes 38 times the power an average Indian consumes. In other words, a country of around 35 million population is consuming more power than a country of 1.2 billion population!

The power cuts here have nothing to do with citizens of the first world but at the same time, there can be absolutely no excuse for excessive consumption on the part of our Canadian/first world friends.

Do you feel like participating in Earth hour when you have power cuts throughout the year, just so that media can pick on what extraordinary thing India is doing on that one particular hour? I seriously don't. Here is what I am going to do....on March 27, 2010 between 9 PM - 10 PM I am going to turn 'ON' all the non-essential lights at home. I will call it 'UNEARTH Hour'.

Care to join? Membership is free. I will close this club once the developed world decides to curb their excessive consumption and does an Earth Hour 'act' at least once every quarter.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Warming Up

"Stop Global Warming. It is a threat to people who like to chill out. Let's stand up against Global Warming for all mankind and my kind. So, be fair and don't warm the chair"

I read the above lines on appy FIZZ label and I am totally taken. It seems, appy FIZZ guys have done their homework...if you are going to sell a beverage you first have to sell the bottle.

It is timely as my taste buds are rejecting the stale taste of coke & whisky/rum combination. Nothing against this combination...just I have had it far too many times and I am done with it. I said to myself, let me experiment and whip out a new drink. Rum and whisky somehow doesn't taste right with appy FIZZ but you really got to try Vodka with appy FIZZ. I have not known many guys who would name Vodka as their first drink of choice, so this is really not for you to consume. Make this drink for your.....xXx....As for the really bright ones out there, try not to ask for vodka + appy FIZZ (or any aerated apple juice) at the bar...I haven't and I probably will not for the fear of the bartender backlash.

Look at the appy FIZZ in a wine glass...and it is hard to tell whether it is sparkling wine or appy FIZZ. Oh, consider having a few wine bottles in your collection...drinking wine is good and you don't need a mixer at all.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Stereotype Theory

Put yourselves in my position: When guys my age are spending hundreds, going to fancy salons to get the hip hairdo, I am going to Dr. Batra's clinic, spending thousands to retain whatever is left on my head! The governing Indian societal stereotype theory "a guy must not loose his crown before marriage". You know what...I love the girls of today, they are so easy going and progressive. There is no dearth of verbal assurance and it goes somewhat like this --> "Vinna don't worry...we care more about what is inside the head than what is covering it on the outside. Even otherwise, the bald look lends you maturity, which you probably don't have otherwise". Aha! the joke is on me, this way or that way.

Somewhere in between job enrichment sneaked in....Meet the Doctor who is treating me at Dr. Batra's. Perhaps she has seen so many middle aged men sit in front of her and sulk over the lost 'crown' that she has become more of a psychiatrist than a hair fall expert that she was not too long ago. She is like "Mr. Aiyer, you must understand, there are seven stages of balding and you are in stage five". I jumped from my seat and said "wow, I am almost there!". Gods must be we age, hair grows from almost everywhere else except for its right full place. Don't blame the men, the society puts so much pressure on them and all of us to look young all the time. The pot belly, receding hairline...sigh the list is long.

As for girls, go to any of the PVRs, South Ex., GK-I/II etc. It looks as though the city is under attack, everyone looks the same...dare if I may ask, do you all come in an assembly line from a make up/sunglasses factory?

Psst...I have started working out again.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Dream On

Some months ago I watched this video on you tube titled "Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams". I was spellbound...I am ready to die tomorrow if I can deliver a speech like this. Got to thank a truly awesome guy who pointed me to this. Will not reveal his real name here...let me just call out one of his aliases and say thank you "Bruce Willis". Moved, inspired...I copied Randy Pausch's idea and I drew a list of significant things that I have done or I have always dreamt of. On the list there are 36 things. Some are my childhood dreams, some teenage dreams and there are more that I am picking up as I go on with my life. One of them was going to Bhutan. Yes, it is the 9th item on the list and I have put a tick mark against it. Dream scoreline 9 out of 36.

Being a city bum, I am blessed with the energy that only a city can give. This energy is so powerful that I dreamt of Bhutan and back within Rs. 10,000 and I smashed this target by a mile. Travelling 'low cost' was the mantra. I am going to be writing more about the Bhutan trip...and I intend to break it down into small pieces. First piece is about eighty plus hours that I spent on the train from Delhi to Siliguri and back. Travel through Bihar and Uttar Pradesh took lion's share of the hours.

"If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India!" - Romain Rolland

Talking about dreams...let's go back about hundred years and imagine what a freedom fighter in India would have dreamt. When I say freedom fighters, I am not talking about stalwarts like Bhagat Singh, Bose or Gandhi...I am talking about yesteryear's equivalent of me and you. They probably dreamt of an India which is independent, prosperous, has a functional democracy (big words these), where people are educated, there is no poverty and there is respect for everything an independent country has to offer to its citizens. Of course, this is just me imagining and no way exhaustive. When I travel in sleeper class through U.P and Bihar and I feel the heartbeat of India, with authority I can write, freedom fighters have turned in their graves and their dreams are shattered. Indians - we just don't care. Absolute contempt for anything and everything around us. Train is over twelve hours late, ticket less travel is rampant, those who have got the tickets are reduced to idiots by the goons who push their way in and the filth - do I even need to get started about it?

This is particularly heartbreaking for me as I really believe in the stuff world media is churning out which predicts - India's hour has come on the world stage. No matter which way I look at it, our population is the biggest problem and the population pressure on our resources is so severe that over the years we have become billion plus people chasing too few resources. We need at least twenty-twenty five years of negative growth rate in our population backed with educating the illiterate masses. Growth rate of population can't be controlled unless you and I (and million others) decide and execute on some drastic steps. It could be as drastic as deciding to stay single and not get married at all. The socio-cultural stereotype in India dictates, 'kids' as a natural outcome of marriage. But you have the power to make a about adopting a kid from an orphanage than having a kid of your own? If you can't do this, please do not feel guilty in pressing the 'escape' button and emigrate to a country which has declining population and need young population to form a part of their workforce.

I am stating the obvious, we really have an emergency situation as far as our population is concerned and if we keep going at the rate we are going, very soon we will have civil unrest as fruits of 7-8% GDP growth is unevenly distributed. Don't believe me? Open your eyes and look around...there are plenty of silent indicators to this. Needless to say, I have plenty of doubts whether we will be able to create jobs at the speed of our population growth rate.

Anyone who has spent their precious time reading this post....I want to say, this really is not just another post. And it definitely is not an idle Sunday rant. It is much more than that. Only I know, how badly I want to see my country as a developed country before my time is up. Oh yes, we can dream together....or let's just say, 36th item on Vinayakan's dream list : India - A developed country. This is one dream, I know, I can't achieve alone.