Monday, February 21, 2011

Building castles in the air

               We all have done that. Some have more frequently then the others. More easily when we were younger . Most of the time these airy thoughts culminate to nothing. But none of us can deny the pleasure involved in building these no brick ,no mortar, no sweat , no pain castles. The times when we sat with our friends , siblings or spouses ; holding hands or just chuckling away over tea and pakodas and discussing the intricacies and beauty of an unmatchable and favourable future full of achievements. What would we do when we become this or earn that? How great would it be when we would reach that place? What we would do when we retire? How much fun life would be when we achieve name and fame? One day I may write a book and win a Booker/Pulitzer/ Nobel!! Or enter politics and uproot all corruption and crime! Or start a big company and become the richest man/woman in the world...... the list goes on and on from the trivial to utterly significant.

                 Our mind weaves beautiful illusions which we savour with open eyes and don't mind talking about it. This whole exercise of pleasurable thoughts falls flat most of the times when hit with reality . As we grow we learn that dreaming too much may be synonymous with being dissapointed too much. So we learn the art of emotional insulation and refrain from premature celebrations. We learn not to build castles in the air as we grow wiser and walk deeper into the road called life. Thats a nice way of saving ourselves from despair. Besides this activity is but immature and childish.

                  I realised today that I have reached that understanding in life that I restrict myself from  being this imaginary architect of happiness . I shrug that dreamy circus and rationalize every possible action and it's consequence. I am meticulous and sensible. Yes! I don't indulge in building castles in the air anymore. Not that I did a deliberate attempt at that. It just gradually happened as I kept learning life. Somehow today I muse that what harm can this  little airy indulgence do, what can an innocent twinkle in the eye and an optimistic chuckle in the voice  take away. It's just a pure fun moment which can perhaps release positivity and some endorphins . Guarding too much and insulating too much may not serve the  intended purpose . So I guess no matter how old one gets one should build castles in the air occasionally ... for the sheer joy of it. I am sure doing some of that  now on ( but not overdoing of course !! :) )

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No place for a world citizen...

Kalashnikov with Russian president

China is competing with the United States in millitary might by testing a new jet plane recently while US recently talked of cuts in the millitary budget by $78 billion dollars. The millitary expenditure hence is a mindboggling figure and it's a mad race of determining deterrence by hoarding more and more sophisticated weapons. The arms race that started betweeb US and USSR  during the cold war era  isn't abating . The START III treaty is being discussed and I am always befuddled by the numbers of warheads agreed to be deactivated. Imagining the cost of research, construction, maintenance , training , security and then deactivating is beyond the capacity of my tiny brain. But I do keep wondering when the G-8 countries talked about the inability to contribute to the Millenium Development Goals ,as earlier promised , under the pretext of the global financial crisis, did they compromise on the military expenses. I haven't fully grasped the concept of investing such humongous sums of money on agents of death and destruction. I am flabberghasted that  Kalashnikov the inveventor of deadly AK-47 was awarded hero of Russia.

         Perhaps all this could have been digested better if this was happening in  a world of affluence and equality. Then again the world was never equal , it's just a humanitarian philosophy and a utopian dream. When billions and billions dollars go into pumping up the military might of the developed world people in an unfortunate world steal grains from the lowest rung of creatures in the food chain. The Hindu reported a story of mass starvation in  drought stricken West Africa in june 2010. I have heard about people eating rats and roots but this shook my soul . With livestock dying and food prices soaring people in Niger were struggling to survive by eating leaves and collecting grains from ant hills !!! The following picture made me wince with pain and pity...              
SEVERE CRISIS: A woman holds her malnourished baby at an intensive nutritional rehabilitation center in Tanout, southern Niger, late April.                                                                               
.             Nevertheless these horrifying stories of misery draw  brief attention  but don't lead to change of policies in the  developed world  that never ceases to exploit and flourish. Individuals and organizations work in humanitarian interest but invariably they all fall short in fighting the corruption, crimes, brutality, politics, destruction and war. Jeff Knaebel fell short too. He claimed to be a world citizen . The American millitary policies disillusioned this mining businessman so he  left everything and migrated to India. Here he worked for social causes and strived hard for an Indian citizenship. Even tearing off his American citizenship document could not win him Indian citizenship. He immolated himself on  Repulic day near a Buddhist shrine leaving whatever   money he possesed for charitable purposes , meticulosly dividing specific amount for each cause. Is that the destiny of a man of good intentions , generosity and humanitarian purpose?
               In a divided world alarmingly competing over death and destruction, shamelessly indulging in genocide, increasingly overpowered by corrupt minds and  hopelessly losing a human face ..... is it surprising that there  is no place for a' world citizen' .......

Haron plese

Well even I took time to decipher that one. No my english vocabulary is intact and this ain't any European language. That is an inscription on the back of a truck. Does that ring a bell? Well I was travelling today  and this truck halted in front of my car at the traffic signal. Lost in my thoughts I absent mindedly read 'HARON' inscribed in bright blue several times. It was only after my gaze shifted to 'PLESE' that I was enlightened and I almost burst out laughing. That was the most ridiculous, innovative , blunderous distortion of 'HORN PLEASE' I have ever seen. With " बुरी नज़र वाले तेरा मुह काला '' as the standard prototype tag line accomanying the 'HORN PLEASE' the rear ends of those giant carrier machines could be real entertainers if you are on a long road journey involving highways. I am sure as you read through this one you would definitely recall some similar  distorted far from grammatic english that made you smile for that innocent display of ignorance without a clue.
                    PS . Have you ever been to a '' CHAI- NESE RESTAURENT" ?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Honey we shrunk our brains...!!

Yeah our brains are 10 % smaller then our anscetors. The latest research brings about this startling fact. So are we losing our minds as we are getting more advanced? or are we getting dumber with all the social networking, tweeting, texting and multitasking ? or is it that we are simply nearing the doom of the species? I thought we were getting smarter.

 Scientists are puzzled and put up different theories the most soothing and convincing one is that it is because we are more advanced and it's easier for us to survive so we don't need an extra grey matter. But it hasn't ruled out that it might be a dumbing down process. After all we have lost grey matter the size of a tennis ball!! Thats a whole lot of intelligence lost. Humans have worked tremendously hard to make their surroundings comfortable, safe and technologically advanced. We have reached a time where distances have shrunk, time isn't a barrier, communication is swift, almost everything can be canned , preserved, exported and purchased. People just need to earn and all is available at the nearest mall and that too on great discounts! All we need  to learn is how to operate in this hi-tech world . Reminds me of the movie 'The Gods must be crazy' where the narrator says that the humans became so advanced in the cities that it required 10 to 15 years of education for their children to learn to operate in that world. How true! So when your kid already an expert in texting on phone and using the internet looks all surprised and disgusted when he learns in school that milk comes out of a cow don't be alarmed .Perhaps the tennis ball of grey matter went away with all the  trivial taken for granted facts , some of the wisdom  and a lot of morality. My only hope is that our humour stays intact after all we are becoming light headed :P.

   Those who feel sad at the loss can find solace in chocolates cos a latest research ( of cos done by scientists from Hershey institute ) says  that chocolates are healthier then fruits when it comes to antioxidant content. And even  if the wrinkles on your brain are decreasing Loreal shall always ensure we wont have them on the face either :D :D. 

On camera

The spy cams are on sale with a discount offer.The the companies make sure you are aware of it through regular unwanted sms. I keep wondering what is the use of open sale of such products except to jeopardise peoples privacy. With all those technologically advanced cameras incorporated in phone sets its so handy for anyone to not only  to intrude but violate others privacy.
        The latest MMS circulating in JNU campus shows no matter how much we harp upon  improving education and curb deemed universities the rot has set in . JNU is the apex institute known to have generated and cultivated the best intellectuals in the country. This incident shows that education sans morality is the order of the day. The open  internet comments  on the issue were even more disheartening. The problem is the mms is probably still circulating and those who condemn it might have not restrained themselves from watching it. The girl left college without graduating. Whether she was a victim or a party remains uncertain. But  I see it as a discouragement to parents who send there girls to pursue higher education in such institutes.
     This loss of privacy and innocence is going to escalate. The inventors and innovators do not think about the far reaching implications of these gadgets. It isn't safe for girls to live in PGs cos they might be taped through hidden cameras , it's not safe to use trial rooms in shops cos you never know somebody might be using a camera. Girls can't be too trusting of their friends and boyfriends. These gadets are proliferating and flooding markets and luring the young and vulnerable minds with ever increasing consumerism . There is however a complete lack of check , restriction and laws as regards these technology tools. Being exploited , filmed , threatened , blackmailed  and blemished would become the order of the day if concrete steps are not taken in this direction.

PS. I was wondering how many spy cams have already been sold?

Monday, February 7, 2011


How would you feel if you enrolled in a new government initiated integrated graduation and postgradutaion course and when you are about to finish the five years you come to know that the institute cannot provide you a degree? worse how would you feel if you  gave up an engineering course to enroll in this course?Sounds like a nightmare. Doesn't it?
        Well that is the plight of the IISER (Indian Institutes of science education and research) students. A concept , started in 2006 aspiring to provide these institutes the same status as IITs ,has failed to carry the promise. The reason is simply lack of a law that would empower them to grant degrees. It  was hard to fathom the despair of students who once enrolled thinking they becoming the first batch of an excellent course.I was surprised the  government  could not pass this bill in five years!!  The reason the bill couldn't pass even this winter session was even more enraging. The 2G spectrum scam sapped away all the time of the winter session . Hence the fate of some brilliant students hangs in air .
       The scam is  a definite blemish on the existing government and a symbol of how deeply entrenched corruption has become in the system that a minister in office indulged in irregularities eating away public money while playing quid pro quo with telecom companies.Despite his deeds in 2007 he was reappointed the telecom minister and even after the allegations he continued to be in office. But deeds like these have more far reaching outcomes then what is directly visible. The monetary loss to the country is ofcourse there but the non passage of the above mentioned bill exemplifies how the spectrum of these scams can extend to overshadow the future of the citizens. The bright and promising career of some of the brilliant minds hangs in uncertainity because the parliament was too busy tackling whether there should be a JPC or not. The opposition party ( which sometime back was in deep mess when the Liberhan Committee report finally saw  light after thirteen years) was too busy pointing fingers at the ruling coalition (as the tables turned) to allow for minor laws to be passed . Then we have a CVC who himself is not free of corruption charges and still he is being backed up. .So 2G's  spectrum digged out  another scam -the  Palmolien case .Even if these are false allegations isn't it the responsibility of the government to appoint someone who has a clean record . Don't we have any other eligible candidate for that post.
             Alas! when one scam exposed brings out more and more dirt and mud slinging the bland topic of degrees of mere 79 students  can't possibly pull enough attention. They can wait for a degree because this nation is too busy  producing and dealing with scamsters .

Friday, February 4, 2011

The story was about to end. This was a predictable end  and I was still wondering why was the story so highly rated on indiblogger.More so why did I even put in the effort? But after some space there were two lines in the end . As I was about to scroll down and pay attention to those two lines my phone rang.

  It was an international call from an old college friend. A study partner and close to heart friend. But I was not smiling I looked at the phone and her name flashing for sometime. Finally made up my mind to pick the call . Her familiar voice. She was beginning to say something and suddenly realising something stumbled and asked " first tell me how are u?" I replied that I was fine. The call was distant but I felt my heart was more distant from her then ever. I don't remember  anymore how special she was to me . How many silly hours we spent talking philosophy, dreams , reading alchemist and Kahlil Gibran's work to each other. Then one day she pointed to an advertisement in the newspaper and asked me "what do you see?". I just saw two kids with candies in there hand .She pointed out that the sizes differed and the one with smaller candy was looking very longingly at the bigger candy. It took me years to grasp what she said later-- "this is the real philosophy life'.
     The green monster crept her heart without warning and ifelt it's presence when it was too late for me to recover from her accusations. She tormented herself and in the process stiffled our friendship. My success in her eyes became her failure and for me it was difficult to handle. I worked hard but hurting my close friend was not on my list. The togetherness ended with one sentence that scalded me for a long long time. I found solace in a virtual word , in my books and writings. In three years hence never came an apology or a word from her. As my wounds healed and things changed I rationalised that misundertsndings should not overshadow a beautiful friendship. There was a genuine effort from my side. It worked . We were talking and sharing again. However things never could be the same because seeds of jealousy never leave. I suddenly found myself trying to reach out and finding improper responses. Since I believe in being loyal and keeping friends I did not change. Past one year made me realise the second chance I gave to this friendship was not worth the effort and things can never be the same. Sometimes making me wonder was she ever a friend ! She moved to US and mailed me sometimes. When she needed help she always called else she wouldn't bother to contact.  As she was talking on the phone somehow all this was silently moving in my head as a background score. There was a kind of indifference and detachment that had seeped in me. I was trying hard to decipher the purpose of her call. Seemingly marriage and immigration was giving her a feeling of  being uprooted and a recent encounter with in-laws at a family wedding had left a bitter taste in her mouth. She was endlessly going on with her story. On one hand I was feeling angry and uneasy for being served all those miserable stories so late at night when I was sleepy and that I was still listening to her when I know that she isn't the same anymore. But on the other hand I felt sorry for her. I kind of understood her inner struggle. That severe identity crisis she was going through. Reluctantly though I still gave her a pep talk in my capacity but somehow poured in sarcasm which she couldn't miss. I tried to figure out what could make her feel better. Though single I tried to pacify her with examples of in laws of other friends . How they handle them . It was a weird conversation as in my head I was constantly reeling between hitting her on the soft spot (and making her pay for all the unpleasant feelings she gave and being indifferent to her plight )and really trying to give her  a fresh breath and a new thought. We talked for around an hour and as I was silly tired by then I ended the call.

 As I was winding up my things I suddenly recalled  the last two lines of the story still to be read . To my surprise after all that paranormal crap it wasn't a predictable story after all! The title of the story was intrestingly " The Last Number Dialled" . The author's reflection gave me a little insight into what I was beginning to lose sight of.... (if I may quote with credits to the blog author)

AUTHOR’S REFLECTION: Life might give you the second chance or it might not. But you definitely can give yourself that second chance. When it comes to relationships, don’t make hurried decisions and if you make them, make those decisions work. ( link to the story )

    I am still musing at this subtle coincidence . However in all probability despite all the contradictions in my head I know relationships/ friendships  go through phases and it's not easy to snap out of them .Perhaps it's all about holding on when it comes to long term ones.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A characteristically shaped Coca-Cola bottle. Summers in childhood meant mangoes , vacations and that fizzy drink in bottles that had a sweet teasing taste and that gave us funny burps that irritated the nostrils . Inspired from coca wine and kola nut flavoured citric acid non alcoholic drink called coca cola was a treat in summers .As we grew so did that carbonated drink not only the sales but the brands and flavours. Then cola companies became international giants who spend millions on just advertisement Now of course its perrenial , omnipresent, celebrity endorsed (Heck I don't understand why they keep making new ads every few months) and almost acquiring a cult status ( remember youngistan!!)  . Off and on in controversy for contaminants and with absolutely no nutritional value surprisingly it has a great hold on the markets. People consume it all over the world just guided by the taste buds and hardly bothering about health and cost effects. Cola for sure is hard on teeth and the sweetness is just additional calories. In short unhealthy. So what is the secret of cola . Is it the magic of marketing? Is it cos it's another symbol of US hegemony and there 'thurst upon the rest of the world ' American lifestyles? Or is it the magic of fizz? . Whatever the reason it has side tracked other healthier beverages (like tea, coffee , milk products (chhachh , lassi), panna, fruit juices, lemonade, coconut water). I personally have shunned carbonated drinks for more than a year.

   However there is good news that finally Indian scientists at CSIR have come up with a herbal carbonated drink which is under trial . I was glad that they were thinking and working on those lines .I hope that they produce a herbal cola that give a healthier lifestyle to not only Indians but rest of the world.This is a pleasant relief and hopefully we will see it in the markets in a few years.