Friday, August 06, 2010

Where did it begin?

He is there when I wake up, he is there when I sleep.
Whether at home or woods dark and deep.

We grew together with time, we are a team
Sometimes all these past years, feel like just a dream.

He went from a pup to adult, I from boy to man
But how did he begin, I ask myself time and again.

How tiny was he, who gave him birth
Does he ever think how he came to the earth.

Does he remember when he was taken from her
Or did his life start just with me that summer.

Does he dream of a lost family or a newfound one
Is he the king of this house or just a lost son.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Bal Bal se Bachao

Image courtsey instablogs

Every time we as a country seem to be taking two steps toward future, our past rears its head and pulls us a step back. Case in point: an octogenarian led extremist political party that wants to put a regional identity above the country. That too for a city like Mumbai that has always been the face of free, progressive and united India. Even though in principal the city is part of the Maharashtra state, there is absolutely nothing Marathi about it. Its a melting pot of everything India and people from every corner of the country have lent their blood and sweat to make it what it is today. Even though Mumbai (formerly Bombay, the name change is another sad story on similar lines) is the city of Bollywood which boasts of more movie releases than Hollywood per year, this post is about a different movie playing about in the city in real life.
The villain is an ailing religious-political party leader who arrived late at the bus stop and couldn't join the rest of the country in its trip of progress. He still lives in last century and strangely is able to pull enough strings to control the lives of most of the people in the city. The power comes from poverty. As long as he can keep people in slums and control the electricity and food, he can use them to any end. So, the party leaders go to the poor person and justify his poverty based on the fact that aliens have invaded the city and are taking all the lucrative jobs and all the money that belongs to the poor people. The poor, in turn, are ready to do anything the leaders say because the rationale makes sense. Now, our leaders use this new found manpower as leverage to make the businesses in the city operate according to their wishes. They control what movies get made, who gets jobs, which businesses get permits and when the election time comes, who gets to vote. There is no happy ending to this story, at least not yet, but we are in recent times observing an unwillingness from the more well known parts of the society to bow down to this pressure. There still are many who are fearful for their investments but at least we are seeing a start.

Its amazing to see that things like these happen in a country that is speeding toward modernization at an unprecedented pace. People like Thackeray's have an inherent motive to keep the locals uneducated and poor as these are the only bargaining chips they hold. They will never underline the development that non-Maharashtriasn have been responsible for in Bombay (yes, that's the name I like and am going to use for the rest of the post). When reminded that it was a combination of north and south Indian troops that responded to a recent crisis in the city, the great leader responded "So what, our people also are posted all over India". Isn't that the whole point? It is one SINGLE country. India made Bombay and Shiv Sena came in to feast on the treats there.

The more one thinks about it, the more clear it becomes that people with means, brains and an identity need to come forward and take a very active role in country's politics. Progress has been delinked to politics in India mainly because politics has never been about results and anyone who wants to make something out of him/herself would rather stay away from a system that operates on old ideas and seldom favours radical and revolutionary thinking. But the side effect of this process has been slow poisoning of the whole political system. Uneducated masses control the results of elections and they are easily swayed by class based politics. Once people like Bal Thackeray stand on shoulders of dissatisfied people, the instantly transform to leaders from terrorists. They use violence and terror to get their way, break up the society and the country in process. The poor and uneducated, meanwhile, stay where they are because that's where they can serve their roles to perfection.

I wonder, if its time for all of us to wake up and put a dent in the vote bank politics that has made the country break up into more and more states since independence. We need to take a more active role in deciding who we let dictate our lives and anyone taking the path of violence and intimidation needs to be run through our Judicial system, not the Political system.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Eat at PDX

After dieting for 3 weeks and shedding 17 pounds just to get ready for a flavorful binge in the next month or so, I came to know how much I really like food. So friends, here is my new blog intending to capture all that captures my taste buds in the coming times:

Thursday, September 03, 2009

iPhone vs Blackberry

I'm sure this topic has been beaten to death but since I recently shifted from iPhone to Blackberry curve and seem to have an opinion contrary to popular one, I'm going to post it here. I owned my iPhone original for more than 2 years (bought it the first day iPhone was released for $599) so I think I can safely comment on its operation with an air of authoritative user. The Blackberry, however, has been with me for only a couple of weeks so take those comments with a grain of salt. Here are my observations:

1. Web Browsing: iPhone wins hands down. I cannot browse to save my life on a BB. If the website is not tailored for mobile devices don't even think about trying to access it on BB. One advantage with BB is that javascript are supported.
2. Applications: iPhone definitely has more of these. Having said that, for me it didn't matter much because I found all the apps I was using on my iPhone available for BB. add to that the availability of Google Voice app on BB, there is no clear winner here and the result will depend on particular user tastes.
3. Multitasking: BB is the winner here. no multitasking support on iPhone yet. Its nice to lock your phone and still get your IM notifications while staying online.
4. Streaming content: BB plays most of the streaming content online without any issues. Unless you have a specific app installed on iPhone (e.g. Pandora) you mostly cannot click on the link online and expect the content to start streaming directly. My phone uses EDGE network so videos do take some time to buffer before they play.
5. Form factor: Both the phones feel good in hand but BB seems more sturdy in construction.
6. Basic Phone: BB is a pretty good phone. Nice loud speakerphone and the basic phone features are easy to access and use. iPhone is a good music player but not a great phone. Even though the latest phones have added voice dialling, the speakerphone is too weak to be able to used for a decent phone conversation. Further, accessing functions like mute, hold is tough without taking the phone off your ear and looking at it.
7. Battery life: BB battery is lasting me for about 2.5 days with light browsing, 3 push email accounts, 2 minutes of GPS use and about 2 hours of phone use. I had to charge iPhone everyday.
8. Replacement battery: iPhone needs to be sent to apple (100 bucks total) for replacing a battery. One is better off buying a new phone depending on the state of his/her contract. BB batteries are user replaceable.
9. Music Playback: I haven't copied much content onto my BB yet so can't comment on this, but I suspect iPhone will beat BB in this category because of its iPod interface. BB is supposed to sync with your iTunes library though.
10. Camera: My BB has a 3.2MP camera with flash. Latest iPhone has a 2MP camera. BB pictures in darker environments seem to have a non-natural hue to them. My original godPhone had only 1MP camera so I cant comment on new iPhone's camera quality.
11. GPS: My original iPhone used cell tower triangulation for GPS, BB curve has a built in GPS and integrates seamlessly with Google Maps. I installed a free third-party app for turn-by turn navigation and things are working fine. I have not heard any complaints about the GPS from my iPhone 3G-S user friends either.

I have intentionally left out the enterprise email facility of BB since I did not get my phone for that use and have not had a chance to experience it on the iPhone either.

No points for guessing what my phone is going to be for the next one year. Other users out there: would love to know what you think : ) .

Friday, August 07, 2009

An Empty House

She was there all these months. We grew used to having her around. Her constant complaints about small things. Why are we wasting pennies on things that are not useful, why arent we keeping things clean around the house, why dont we eat on time, why dont we take care of our health. We grew used to the love that was getting showered on us unconditionally and un-interrupted. The food and delicaies waiting for us when we came down in the morning and came home in the evenings. The long walks and talks about childhood and friends/relatives back home. For us, it was the "normal" life. But she is not there now. She got on a plane this morning and will get off on the other side of the earth. The world is not the same as it was 4 hours back. The house is not the same and neither are we. Time changes everything and the new "normal" will settle in soon and life will go on but right now I know what we are missing. Here is to you mom, and all the mom's in the world. now and always.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I pull my car off the highway at the exit and stop at the traffic light before I merge with a local road. While waiting my eyes wander to the side of the road and I am immediately met with two pairs of eyes looking at me in a pleading way that is very tough to describe. One pair of eyes catches the curiosity and surprise on my face and the looks on his face become more pleading. The other pair playfully gets distracted by something else, the head turns around and the eyes shut as if they were in deep sleep all this while and had never seen me approach. The beggar's dog curls up beside his master and tries to shield himself from the cold wind blowing in the morning. No doubt the sleepy eyes will become curious and pleading again as soon as the next car rolls in. A strange sad feeling from nowhere grabs me and I hurry to get my wallet out before the light turns green again. I get some cash out from it and hand it to the beggar. He thanks me and it is time for me to pull away.

But the morning's thoughts haven't left me yet. Why did I feel sad and why did I help? I come from a land where beggars and stray dogs are as common as land, air and sky. Still, I have never felt this bad like I felt today. Is it because in a land full of opportunities I did not expect to see someone begging or were it those pleading eyes belonging to the man's best friend that turned my day upside down. He was looking as happy as content as any domestic dog I have ever seen but then he wouldn’t know that he could have had an equal chance of being somewhere else, much warmer and with a full stomach. But then, I guess, if I was ever able to tell him this, he would prefer his beggar friend to all the comforts anyone could offer.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Auction

India has succeeded in taking the first step toward getting Mahatma Gandhi's items back home after they came under hammer in a public auction in New York. After various Indian groups and alleged government representatives with the same goal of returning the heritage back to India tried to outbid each other, in process raising the auction price close to 2 Million US dollars, the items were procured by Vijay Mallya of Kingfisher fame. He presumably will be donating these to the trust that takes care of Gandhi Ji's memorabilia in India. I followed this event quite keenly as it unfolded and I have to admit that at one point I seriously thought of putting an advance bid on the auction because of the quite a low reserve price on the items. But those thoughts of mine poofed away quite quickly after I realized how much other groups were willing to offer. Yes, people actually went on TV and said they will be bidding upto X amount (That’s what happens when you don’t train on eBay first). Here are a few things that stood out for me from this whole episode:

First and foremost was the proud feeling of being an Indian. As an Indian I did feel that after making a point about Gandhi Ji's items being a part and parcel of our legacy, culture and heritage, we absolutely had to get them back to India no matter what. I did not think that the person who owned the items (James Otis) was doing something wrong by selling his collection, he has every right to do so and from his perspective these are collectors items, nothing more. He must've at some point paid for these and it is not-logical to think that he shouldn’t expect a return on his investment. Leaving aside his ridiculous attempt at playing with India's budget distribution, which BTW I thought was a cheap publicity stunt, he did not do anything wrong in my opinion. What made me proud, however, was the stand that all of visible India took and delivered on. We heard that come what may, the items will come back to India and in the end they seem to be on their way. I feel proud when we say that we can do something and actually do it even if it is a seemingly small thing for the world. I remember a similar case about Chinese items that went on auction in France and China had to subvert the auction through false bidding. I'm not trying to demean the Chinese government by this, their bid went far higher and they did what they thought was right to protect their cultural heritage. But the fact that multiple individuals and organizations from my country can come on the world stage and commit to shell out a large sum of money separately to make sure that our identity stays ours is something. It means a lot more when you think the times in which this auction was held. The world economy is in doldrums and the last thing any big entrepreneur or a government wants to do is spend millions on a collectible and donate it to a trust. In effect we just said: even in these troubled time, we have the resources and the will to be patriotic and get what is important to us.

Second point has to do with the identity of the person who actually managed to snag the items at the auction. Dr. Mallya is a well known personality in the Indian corporate circles. But I am not sure if his ideas about living would be in sync with those of late Gandhi Ji. Apart from being the beer baron in India his company also publishes the most popular and the only major swimsuit calendar in the country. Even though Gandhi promoted the minimalistic lifestyle for all, Im not sure if he had swimsuits in mind at that time. I like to think of this as the evidence to the fact that one can serve his country and be patriotic in many ways. Great Mahatma showed us one way but we can think on our own and as long as we are honest about the end results we can all make our country the force that it should be and will be.

The last thing is actually a doubt that has been nagging me. It has to do with the price at which the items were sold. In a place where the items started out at 20,000-30,000$, how did the bidding go up to 1.8 Million dollars with most of the bidders trying to get the items for the same purpose. Why not just let one person bid on behalf of all. And why advertise how much you will be bidding upto? I guess thats what we call "order in chaos" and that’s what will keep us going as a nation.