December 29, 2006

Ranting about the bottle

It has been over a month, since my last post. Life has not exactly been entertaining in the last one month. No ups, no downs, just free flowing. I have started working as a consultant. I wake up whenever I feel like, take an off whenever I feel like, and start drinking whenever I feel like, but still there is that sense of dissatisfaction which prevails. The project is going smooth, yet there is an awful lot I haven't really understood about it. I have been drinking much, but haven't been drunk really. Except a few times ofcourse :)

But there is still hope. The next cheque will come tomorrow, and along with it will come, a lot of glasses of beer at toaks. So the new year should get interesting, at least for a few days at a time.

Anyways, wishing everybody a happy new year.

November 21, 2006

Job Searching

Maybe I want to be a security guard too (link)

November 11, 2006

The Next Leader

Is this the face of our next prime minister?
(Who cares?)
Link

Executive v Judiciary

The Executive comes up with a trump card against the Judiciary in the form of this. So now unlike the politicians, each judge would be answerable for his decisions, good or bad. It should have been implemented the other way around, but well who makes the rules?

November 09, 2006

Hey Dey, Whadday, Badday

Even before I've completed the first few paragraphs, I know this article was written by Atanu Dey. Mr Dey, please tell me why is everybody an idiot? (link)

The only problem is that the bugger makes sense. (The listen to daddy link)

Closing Bell

Have you ever had a chance to watch Closing Bell on CNBC anytime? Well I see it everyday, and not because I am really interested in what is going on in the market, but becuase it has a hot anchor.

I find it quite breath taking to watch a beautiful woman rant about bulls and bears, and other convoluted financial terms. Like the other day she was grilling some bald, ugly, middle aged financial expert on why some stock he had chosen was going down. I couldn't really make out (umm is this the wrong way of saying it) what they were talking about, and I was asking the rest of the people what was that hot woman doing there?

Anyways, it might seem odd, but if everything goes to plan, then someday I would be the bald, ugly, middle aged expert. (No I am not working on being bald and ugly. I am trying to become the expert, the rest would automatically follow).

I believe in talking shit

Sheila Dixit wants the tax payers to pay for the supposed misfortune of the owners of the illegal shops. Why not ask Bangladesh for aid too? Link

First of all, please ask them who is going to pay for the DTC bus they burn everyday.

From the moment they started constructing it, they knew it was illegal. This isn't a new rule, this isn't a natural calamity. This is your own mess.

Besides, all this talk about traders misfortune, and the traders power, the stock market seems to be shooting up, so nobody will real money thinks that the sealing issue is of much importance.

Anyways, the government is going to pay for it now (by losing their much beloved seats), and they deserve it. Though they are also trying that the babus too pay for it (link). But who is going to check if the babus are declaring assets, more babus maybe. Atleast it would provide an equal black income to all babus.

Career Planning

In one of his latest posts, Gautam Ghosh declares that career planning is a waste of time. He rather suggests his eight point memo for furthering your career.

Now I'm no big shot management consultant, but I do have 24 years of experience and I can tell you this: Planning of any sort is a waste of time. Why? Because 97.23% of your plans do not work out at all, 2.76% of your plans go astray after the first minor milestone. The rest of them go beyond that level, but there are no statistics to prove anything after that. So basically all plans are destined to fail.

But then why plan? Because it's all in your mind. Planning helps you convince yourself, even though it is just one big illusion in the head. It just makes you feel well prepared. It's selling your ideas to yourself, which is why it is absolutely necessary.

(link)

Desi Big Brother

Big brother was a big hit in Australia back in 2005 when I was there and since reality TV has a history of going round, the next logical thing after the Indian Idol was a desi version of Big Brother. Sony Television, hoping to lead the way, has started Bigg Boss on the same lines. (Rakhi Sawant is in there too, if Mika is there too, then I'd watch) Anyways, if you ever had a chance to watch Big Brother in Australia, you would have known how absolutely useless the show was, but yet managed to draw audiences or pseudo audiences called TRP's.

All that is fine. But the interesting part is 'Big Brother Uncut', the part of the show which was edited from the prime time show, to be showed later on national television as free porn for the poor as it consisted mostly of people having sex on the sets. CNN-IBN supposes that it could come to India too, which is an interesting idea for sure but in a place like ours where channels pay huge fines for showing videos, I doubt if we would ever get as lucky.

Anyways, even if 'Big Brother Uncut' came to India, can you guess what would it be called??
India Uncut. hehe.

Link

November 08, 2006

It's a kind of magic

Here is a cool magic javascript that I found via indiapad. It makes the pictures go round. (link)

The way to see it work is this.
1. Open Ma, I Shot Something, or any web page with photographs.
2. Enter this code in the address bar.

javascript:R=0; x1=.1; y1=.05; x2=.25; y2=.24; x3=1.6; y3=.24; x4=300; y4=200; x5=300; y5=200; DI=document.getElementsByTagName("img"); DIL=DI.length; function A(){for(i=0; i-DIL; i++){DIS=DI[ i ].style; DIS.position='absolute'; DIS.left=(Math.sin(R*x1+i*x2+x3)*x4+x5)+"px"; DIS.top=(Math.cos(R*y1+i*y2+y3)*y4+y5)+"px"}R++}setInterval('A()',50); void(0);

3. And press enter.
4. Lo! and Behold!!

Jeev Milkha Singh

India is a land of few sportsmen, but there are a few men who have known no boundaries. One of them is Jeev Milkha Singh, the golfer son of the charismatic 'Flying Sikh' who has recently taken the world by storm, after winning the Volvo China Open and Volvo Masters. The victory, which came at the end of the season, brought him up to the 16th position on the order of the merit.

Life hasn't been all rosy for the man though. After a career best 50th place on the order of merit in 1999, Jeev suffered a wrist injury which took away his form for years. But six years hence, he seems to be coming back. Currently, he is one of the only two Indians who have won on the European circuit (The other being Arjun Atwal).

Currently, Jeev stands 73rd in the world golf rankings, and 2nd in the Asian rankings. (link)

Hindu

November 07, 2006

Followed

She seems to be following me everywhere. First it was Pune, now she's even coming to Delhi. (link)

I don't think my mom would like it very much if she came here, but well is there anything I can do to stop her.

November 03, 2006

Bad for the nation?

Scott Adams, justifies why electronic voting machines are good for the US.

There’s a 100% chance that the voting machines will get hacked and all future elections will be rigged. But that doesn’t mean we’ll get a worse government. It probably means that the choice of the next American president will be taken out of the hands of deep-pocket, autofellating, corporate shitbags and put it into the hands of some teenager in Finland. How is that not an improvement?

So damn right I say. Maybe they should get those in India too. I wonder who will hack them in Bihar. More so, the litracy rate might increase, because the government will spend more on educating the youth so that they can hack the voting boxes to get them back in power.

This is just what India needs.

Smart Cracker

Cracker, an alternative rock band, was kicked off the label by Virgin Records in 2003. Now this year Virgin released a best songs album by the band, but the band saw it coming. So they released it independently and on the same day. The latest sales figures show that the independent release has sold around 22,000 copies as compared to 66,000 by Virgin.

I don't know if their music is any good, but these guys sure are smart.

Link

Sanjay Kumar Jailed

An Indian CA goes to jail for securities fraud. Here is the news from NYT.

The former chief executive of Computer Associates International was sentenced to 12 years in prison today for orchestrating a huge accounting fraud at the world’s fifth-largest software maker.

Sanjay Kumar, 44, was also sentenced to 24 years of supervised release and an $8 million fine in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. Since pleading guilty to securities fraud and obstruction of justice charges, he faced 20 years in prison, though sentencing guidelines provided a maximum of lifetime imprisonment.

This guy had got a bonus of $330 million in 1998, and is also the owner of the New York Islanders hockey team.

Link

Preparing for CAT

The last time I heard, these guys were giving out free classes for CAT in pune. If you want to join them now, I guess you are too late. Hundreds of students seemed to be pouring in the first week itself. Anyways, if you like, you could make do with their blogs. The one on English is run by Ankur and Massey, and it's called Cat Verbalised. There is one on Quant called Cat Quant Simplified, which is written by Chandra.

Chandra, who is a 94 batch IIMC alumni, had quit investment banking to start teaching Quant. He has been at it consistently for the last 9-10 years, and has a huge fan following. Massey passed out of The Hindu College in Delhi about 5 years back, and has been teaching English forever. They say, he knows everything about English, one possibly could. Finally, there is Ankur Suryavanshi. A supposedly 2002 batch computer engineer from AIT, Pune, who defied the lure of software engineering to teach.

So if you are in Pune next year, and you want to take a good chance at the 1000 rupee lottery conducted by the IIM's, and you want personal attention for a not so personal fee, and you want a guarantee that you would be taught by the best guys so that you can get to the best colleges, join these guys. (no they haven't paid me yet, but I am hoping they would sometime). I know, I know, coaching classes for any exam are useless and I never go for them anyways, but if you are hell bent on going to one, then go to these guys.

PS. They call themselves takzhila (or something like that)

Also, for those who are not really interested in CAT, you might like to know where to find Charas in Manali.

Cross posted at Pune Bloggers

November 02, 2006

What say ladies?

I found this on India Uncut.

A study of the sexual habits, says that the age at which most people have sex isn't going down. (No they are not talking about horny people like you). But here is the interesting bit,

"A single woman is more able to negotiate safe sex in certain circumstances than a married woman," says van Look, who points out that married women in Africa and Asia are often threatened by unfaithful husbands who frequent prostitutes.
Any single ladies around, I'd be happy to oblige... (Married, I don't really mind)

Link

Child Labour

Shruti has a nice post about bannig child labour. Here is what I think about it.

A relative of mine teaches at a Government School in Haryana. If you ask her, she will tell you that on days the meals are being distributed, rather for those few hours, the number of kids at the school is almost three times the usual. The rest of them never attend school.

The Mid-Day meals have been there for quite some time, but Child Labour is still rampant.

You are right when you say that banning won't help reduce child labour, but the thing is that banning it is better than doing nothing. Your post for example, is nice, but doesn't give us any new answers, which is what we need.

I like Atanu's explanation on the subject.

The way out is to address the complex of causes which leads to the effect which is millions of children being denied a childhood. The rational solution would involve, first of all, implementing policies which prevent the birth of too many unwanted children. “Family planning” vigorously implemented. But then, no political party has the guts to do so. Next, make it a law that a child laborer has to be paid the same wages as an adult. This would give employers no reason to employ children when for the same wages they can have an adult worker. Third, provide schools and meals at schools (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for all children. This would make schools attractive for those children who are poor enough to have to work for food. Finally, provide very poor parents a monthly stipend if their children attend school regularly. This would help them make ends meet without having to send their children to work. THEN, and only then, pass a law banning child labor.

Even here, family planning is almost here, meals are almost here too. But one important suggestion is to provide a stipend to poor parents whose kids go to school.

Now where might all that money come from? From stopping the utter wastage of funds by our useless politicians. (link). Then the millions which are going to be spent due to increase of seats due to reservation.

It really doesn't seem like our PM is an economist. Does it? Hope he didn't flunk.

November 01, 2006

Don

Once upon a time I used to like his blog, but today I really think he is a jerk. Especially after this (him loving Don for Shah Rukh Khan) and adding it to the fact that this guy writes movie reviews (which is not bad in itself) for business-standard (but this is crazy). And by the way, he doesn't even understand what does one mean by 'style over substance'. If you try to remember, my boy, once upon a time, you had some of it (yes yes substance).

PS. He's even linked to the sardarji who teaches English. People say he's amazing, and well so do I, but these days he's just got too much time you see, even he's writing about Don.

Update: I'm out of a job sirji, ofcourse I have all the time in the world. hehe.

October 31, 2006

From 1,000 to 13,000

Here is the ulitmate stock market story. The Indian stock market boom from 1,000 to 13,000. (link), along with other goodies about the Indian Stock Exchanges.

Sallu Bhai

The Miss Universe thinks Salman Khan is hot. Where did they find each other

Zuleyka Rivera, a Puerto Rican, met the star who gave her a ride on his motorbike in Mumbai.
Way to go Sallu Bhai. And pray tell me, how did you get to know she was standing there...

link

Anbumani Ramadoss

Karan Thapar interviews Anbumani Ramadoss on CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate. Here are some excerpts.

Mr Ramadoss, there is a widespread belief that as Health Minister you have been immature and defiant or arrogant and obsessive. Are the press being unfair or can you accept that you have made a few mistakes?
Anbumani Ramadoss: .....Because of my virtue of being a doctor, I am professional.....

Karan Thapar: Can I interrupt you there? You say he is one of the worst administrators in this country and yet on two separate occasions, the Delhi High Court had to intervene. In July, they stayed your initial action and in October, Justice Anil Kumar speaking in open court alleged that you had a one-point agenda to oust an eminent doctor by any means. He went on to say of Dr Venugopal that he was a director whose contribution to the institution and its functioning cannot be doubted. The High Court disagrees with you.
Anbumani Ramadoss: .....I am also a doctor and in the same profession as him.....

Karan Thapar: Can I point out to you why people have lost confidence in your handling of Dr Venugopal? You have capped everything by slapping 45 charges against the man, including discriminating against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, financial irregularities, administrative deficiencies, indiscipline and not tackling the dengue crisis properly. Do you have an ego problem with him or simply dislike the man?
Anbumani Ramadoss: .....I am a professional. I am a doctor.....

Karan Thapar: Do you know the impression in the country? In the end, the Supreme Court on July 18 had to order you to pay and you complied. You ended up embarrassing yourself, not proving a point.
Anbumani Ramadoss: .....Karan, I’m also a doctor.....
More questions follow, You are an arrogant, slick, two-faced bastard, I am a doctor, You are haughty and have brains smaller than an ant, I know that becuase I am a doctor, You should go and screw yourself, I can't becuause they taught me that at medical school that I can't do that, but I am a doctor and a professional.

Thanks Karan. (link)

Demolitions in Delhi

Delhi would not be trading for the next few days becuase illegal houses and shops are going to be broken down.

The traders are doing so becuase they say that the government is not providing alternate governments.

The same traders, who bought illegal property, knowing what they were buying was illegal, but still chose to steal.

Now they want the government to pay up, since what they stole has to be taken back.

I think that not only should the building be torn down, but also the bill be sent to the traders.

Capital Punishment

Santosh Singh, charged with the rape and gruesome murder of Priyadarshini Mattoo, has finally been sentenced to death.

There is no alternative.

The Rich Professors

I agree you need to be smart to be teaching economics at Harvard, but this guy is a brooding genius. On his blog, he says

If people no smarter or better than you are making ten or 50 or 100 million dollars in a single year while you're working yourself ragged to earn a million or two - or, God forbid, $400,000 - then something must be wrong.
Does Harvard really pay its professors that much?? More than $400,000???

Link

October 30, 2006

GDP Growth Rate

India's GDP growth rate (7.60%) has been tops over the last few years. You might think that a growth rate is quite high, and that China's growth rate (9.90%) is outrageous. But here is the true picture. China with a growth rate of 9.90% is ranked 9th, while India at 7.60% is ranked 25th if you rank all countries with ascending GDP growth rates.

Well, USA is ranked 124th and the UK is 171st.

The winners: Azerbaijan with 26.40% and the losers: Zimbabwe with -7.00%.

Link

Comparitive Advantage

This is how you explain it. (link)

Science and Religion

While discussing over drinks yesterday, we came to conclude that the reason why religion is more popular that science must be because of the fact it is simply simpler. Scientists for some reason or the other, keep contradicting themselves after every few years. Hence keeping up with science would require constant learning. However, religion stays the same for centuries, no contradictions, no complications. Therefore, it is easier for the masses to follow.

Defining Children

How would you define children?? Here is how Tim Harford, from Dear Economist defines them

Children are rational utility maximisers, but they have a high discount rate and therefore a short time horizon (link)
but that is not all, there are more words of wisdom by the man, like this:
Divorced women tend to take a financial hit while divorced men tend to be better off than they were when they were married. What does that tell you? You might think that it suggests divorce is bad for women, but it equally suggests that marriage is bad for them. Women must hate being married if they are willing to pay to get divorced. And men must like marriage, since they would be richer if they walked out the door. (link)
My dear economist might tell me that I might love marriages, but there are times when I know he's bluffing.

How do you find the one

Finding your prospective mate can be difficult, but if you a run a Speed Dating agency, it is possible for you to find out what exactly people look for in a mate. Michèle Belot and Marco Francesconi conducted a similar researched and after much analysis, they report that "the role of individual preferences is overshadowed by that of market opportunities".

Of the estimated variation in attribute demand, preferences can explain as little as one percent along occupation, height, and smoking, and up to 30-40 percent along age and weight for male subjects and 45 percent along age among female subjects. The rest is explained by opportunities. But despite this, preferences have a part when we observe a match, i.e., when two individuals propose to one another. Matches are driven by more pronounced preferences for socioeconomic similarity along attributes like age, education, and occupation
So if you're looking for a partner, no matter what your occupation or height or smoking tendencies, just make sure you get enough opportunities with the one, you want to be the one.

Link

October 29, 2006

Understanding the GDP Growth

Ajay Shah, links to one his articles on his blog, about understanding the high GDP growth rate in India over the last few years, and provides reasons for the same. Here is what he has to say

The first quarter 2006 GDP growth figure of 8.9 percent has surpassed all forecasts. It was the 12th consecutive quarter in this streak of marvelous high growth in India, which began from the Jun-Sep 2003 quarter. In this three-year period, the mean and median of growth was roughly 8.4%. Three years at 8.4% GDP growth in India have never happened before.

Some people believe that India has moved up to trend GDP growth of 8.5%. I believe this is not the case; that average GDP growth in the next 12 quarters will come out significantly below this remarkable performance.

Trend GDP growth has slowly accelerated from 3.5% to 6.5% over the 1979 to 2006 period. This has reflected a combination of economic reforms, a higher investment rate, and the "demographic dividend" from a bigger workforce.

Layered on top of this slowly accelerating trend is a business cycle. This is a new phenomenon, which was not found when India was a socialist country, and one which has been a key feature of Indian macroeconomics from the mid 1990s onwards. We had a low of the business cycle in 2001-02, which was followed by a high of the business cycle which we are presently in. The 12 quarters of 8.5% growth reflect a combination of trend growth at 6.5% with an extra two percentage points owing to favorable business cycle conditions.
So, according to him India was just riding high on good times, things would start looking dull soon. A little later Ajay also mentions that the world economies are going to fall soon, including the US, (similar to what was predicted here), and it would prompt India to fall too.

Here is his remedy.
One element of the economic reforms program that is needed is an examination of fiscal policy, monetary policy and banking regulation, seeking to address the problem of their being destabilising (i.e. procyclical). This would reduce the extent to which India suffers from these patterns of boom and bust. Sound fiscal institutions and sound banking regulation can reduce the extent to which these two elements are destabilising. The big opportunity is with monetary policy. Instead of doing harm by being destabilising, as is the case today, it can be the mainstay of countercyclical macroeconomic policy, as is the case in all mature market economies. This requires the creation of a monetary authority with the narrow mandate of achieving an inflation target.
Link

October 28, 2006

Do you believe in reincarnation?

Desipundit is back from the dead....
... but Mr Patrix is gone, now we have a new ringmaster.

Happy Birthday!!!

Polygamy anybody?

There is an interesting discussion on at the Becker-Posner Blog about the legality of Polygamy. Now I think it is a cool idea, but as Bono might say, Posner thinks in mysterious ways.

My view is that polygamy would impose substantial social costs in a modern Western-type society that probably would not be offset by the benefits to the parties to polygamous marriages. Especially given the large disparities in wealth in the United States, legalizing polygamy would enable wealthy men to have multiple wives, even harems, which would reduce the supply of women to men of lower incomes and thus aggravate inequality. The resulting shortage of women would lead to queuing, and thus to a high age of marriage for men, which in turn would increase the demand for prostitution. Moreover, intense competition for women would lower the age of marriage for women, which would be likely to result in less investment by them in education (because household production is a substitute for market production) and therefore reduce women's market output.
No no that is not all, here is some more
In polygamous households, the father invests less time in the upbringing of his children, because there are more of them. There is also less reciprocal affection between husband and wife, because they spend less time together. Household goverance under polygamy is bound to be more hierarchical than in monogamous marriage, because the household is larger and the ties of affection weaker; as a result, "agency costs" are higher and so the principal (the husband, as head of the household) has to devise and implement means of supervision that would be unnecessary in a monogamous household. (An additional factor is that women in a polygamous household have a greater incentive to commit adultery since they have less frequent sex with, and affection for, their husband, so the husband has to watch them more carefully to prevent their straying.) This managerial responsibility deflects the husband from more socially productive activities.
. But one man, brings out the real basis of the fear against polygamy
It potentially destabilizes a society in which the total number of men and women are roughly equal. So, for every man with four wives, there are three other sexually frustrated men with nobody.
There it is.

So in a democracy, the number of frustrated people would always be more, hence a law against polygamy will always win. Hence, if you want more wives, get out of the bloody democracy.

Link

Brazil Central Bank betting on a US Slowdown

Brad Setser's blog claims that Brazil's and other cenral banks are betting on a US slowdown in the next quarter.

First, Brazil’s reserves increased by a bit less than $5b in August. Second, Brazilian central bank/ banks reduced their short-term claims on the US by $2.7b or so. So even Brazil's central bank accounted for all the fall in short-term claims, it would have only been able to generate $7.5b or so of $11b in purchases .... Yet even if Brazil's central bank didn’t do all the buying, it rather clearly invested a decent chunk of growing reserves in Treasuries and shifted a significant sum from short-term investments to longer-term investments.

That is the sort of thing you do if you think US rates are about to fall. In other words, it was the sort of bet that makes sense if you think Mr. Recession in 2007 is going to be at least ½ right, and not just about the third quarter.

Question: What would be the effects on India, in case it turns out to be true?

Link

Reason and Faith

What should a college graduate of the 21st century know? This was the question in front of a Harvard comittee. The answer to which, includes, "the role of religion in contemporary, historical, or future events -- personal, cultural, national, or international."

The Harvard committee rightly noted that students coming to college today struggle with an academy that is "profoundly secular." This was not always the case, at Harvard or at many other universities. For centuries scholars, scientists and artists agreed that convictions of faith were wholly compatible with the highest levels of reasoning, inquiry and creativity. But in recent centuries this assumption had been challenged and assertions of faith marginalized in, and even banished from, academic departments and university curricula. Requiring courses in "Reason and Faith" would be a welcome step toward reintroducing faith to the academy.

What should be the content of such courses? The Harvard committee hastens to explain that its proposal is not for "religious apologetics." Rather, the courses it envisions would offer an examination of "the interplay between religion and various aspects of national and/or international culture and society." They would deal not so much with the relationship between reason and faith as with reasoning about faith, religion and religious institutions and their impact in the world.
Link

Talking about Films

Two film makers from JNU were denied their freedom of expression. Link. However, the young men who got thrashed by the police too because they were making a documentary on child labor, seem to be resolved to continue with the film. Maybe there are more Rakesh Sharma's in the making.

However, one man gets his chance to be famous for atleast a little while, by making Jesus Black. Link. Now this one is going to get a lot of publicity, and for no good reason. I feel compelled to watch the movie, though I am quite sure, that even if the movie turns out to be excellent, contrary to my expectations, I would still count black Jesus to be a cheap publicity stunt.

But this is what really feels good, when the medium of films expands itself and grows into reality
Link . Farmers have started their agitation, in a movement called Lage Raho Kisanbhai. This is what I call, bringing the movies to the masses. I am just waiting for the time, when people will copy Rang De Basanti.

Another thing you might notice this year is that, two of the best movies this year, were based on change, Rand De Basanti and Lage Raho Munnabhai. Is it because the nation is heading towards one, or because change is yet another real world impossibility like poverty?

PS. While we are at it, the International Film Festival of India for this year is being held in Goa again this year. Anybody interested?

Seven Years

Domestic violence is now punishable with an year in jail or Rs 20,000 or both, but it has also been heard the law states that you can hit your wife after you've been married for seven years.

Next in line: Hitting your children is going to be a punishable offence.

Infact here's a list of things you can't do

Link

October 27, 2006

The Ultimate Guide to Manali

After spending the last few days, and a huge number of hours in the bug, I'm back from Manali, a small little town in the Kulu Valley, on the banks of the Beas.

Delhi - Chandigarh - Manali

I left Delhi on Monday, and took a state transport bus, which took me as far as Chandigarh. The 250 km drive was covered in about 5 long hours. After a short run up to Dhillon's place, we were back at ISBT in Sector 17 to catch our bus to Manali. We caught the bus at 8:30 pm and reached Manali at 6:00 am in the morning, out of which we spend atleast two hours sitting and having tea, while bloody driver rested.

Booking a room and a cab

It was cold, though active morning in Manali, where the bus, is chased by about 50 men, as soon as it enters the city limits. There is visible friction on the ground, and as soon as the bus stops, all of it comes inside. Before people can get down the bus, the agents fill up the place. Each of them seems to be looking for a 'capple' (couple), and they fight bitterly for each one that is lost. After a long ten minutes we managed to get down from the bus, and light up.

In another 20 minutes, we booked up a place in some 'Hotel Pawan' at the end of the Mall Road for Rs 250 a day, and a cab to take us around for Rs 1000 a day. However, if you're looking for cheap accommodation, you can get a room in a dormitory for Rs 75 a day, or if you're looking for someplace nice, then try Beas, which costs around Rs 600 a day. Regarding the cab, you'd be better off if you don't take one from the Hotel, rather walk down to the Union and catch one. The costs would be Rs 1000 to take you to Rohtang La (Rohtang Pass) and Rs 400 for local sight seeing, which really isn't much. If you're interested, you can also rent bikes, mostly Enfield and Yamaha for around Rs 300 for 8 hours.

Anyways, we reached Manali early in the morning, got ourselves a room and a cab, had breakfast at the duplicate shier-e-Pujab (there was another Sher-e-Punjab which said that they were the original one and did not have any branches. By the way there was another Shan-e-punjab too, but let's leave that) and then set off for Rohtang. We also got some 'mink' coats in between (which cost around Rs 100 for the trip). It was more 'yak' I guess, but we preferred to call it 'mink'. Anyways, the coats were warm, and the shoes couldn't get wet, so they were a formidable pair in the snow.

Rohtang Pass

After about two and a half hours we got to Rohtang Pass, where we didn't get to see any snowfall, but did enjoy some snow there. It's easy to get dead tired in the snow, especially if you're smoking, and so we did. People around us were busy throwing snow at each other, a majority was stuck in a traffic jam, (yes, there are a lot of them), but interestingly, some were skiing. It was a shameful sort of a skiing if you ask me. Parents were pushing their kids around, who would move like half a foot, and then jump around with ecstasy. Pure filth.

On the way back, we thought about paragliding, but when we heard they were charging Rs 700 for a minute, we got out fast. Anyways, if you are interested, you could try the other paragliding place on the way to Roerich museum. They charge Rs 1500 for a flight of about 20 minutes, but you have to book one day in advance.

Place to Drink

After coming back to our room, we decided to go out for a drink. Dhillon had read about Moondance on some blog, so we decided to check it out. We got there at 7 and it looked like it had been closed for months. That was when we came to know that most of the places shut down when there was no business (ie from November to May). Anyways, the only other place we know about was Cafe Shiva. We later found out that it was a creaky old place, which served disgusting Lasagne. So early in the night, we were done with dinner and started walking back the dark lanes of manali. That was when I remembered about the only decent place we had seen on the way, where drinks were served.

In the same lane as hotel pinewood, there is an amazing hotel, which has a terrific pub, by any standards. The place is called 'Caverna' something. The pub has an warm fireplace, a host of drinks to choose from and a pool table, definitely worth spending all your evenings in.

For the record, there is also Khyber on the main crossing, but the service sucked there.

Charas Finally

That was the end of day one. Day two started with Charas :) It's worth the first few puffs atleast. I found atleast two places to get it, basically you can ask just about anybody to tell you where to get it. Incase you need my directions, go here. After that we started on the local sight seeing tour. The only thing of note was the Roerich museum, one great man I had never heard of. He gave lectures, painted, read loads and books and knew all the important people of his time, including Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Yuri Gargarin and a lot of others I can't recall. They don't let you smoke in there, so we got out real fast, but it would have been great if you like that kind of stuff.

Smoking on the Beas

Anyways, that evening, we sent the car back, rented an Enfield and trekked down to the Beas. The water was cold and the wind was chilly, and there we sat and smoked everything we had. hah. It's not just beautiful, it's cold, and it's comforting. And when the lights start fading, it starts getting a little scary, but still retains all it's beauty. If you ask me, those were the best two hours in Manali.

From then on, there wasn't much to look upto. If you're on a bike, do drive on the road beyond Moondance and Cafe Shiva, and remember me on the way back.

Way Back

We left the next morning, got into a state transport bus, which took 10 hours to get to Chandigarh. The journey was all the more painful in the day, when we realized that it took us 8 hours to leave the Himalayas. Anyways, we had chicken at Tejal Singh's and things started looking better. Though we just crashed for the night after that. Finally, I caught a bus to Delhi early in the morning, and got back here in one-piece, waiting eagerly for the trip to Nanital next week.

Where to find Charas in Manali

After much traveling I found two places to find Charas in Manali. (Charas, another form of marijuana, is quite popular in Manali, Himachal Pradesh in India. Also called the Indian Manali Cream and grows everywhere) One is at the bottom end of the Main Mall Road in New Manali. If you keep going down the road, you cross the Taxi union, then you cross the road to the monastery, then you cross the Parking lot. A short distance away, right next to a restraint, on the right side of the road there is a 'Dhaba' where you get eggs, paranthas and tea. And if you ask him, you'll get Charas too.

Anyways, if you're too fucking scared to ask people near the Mall Road, there is another place you can find the stuff. What you have to do is that, from the main crossing of Manali, you take the road towards old Manali (there are two other roads, one towards Rohtang, and the second is where you came from), on that road, after a little while, you take a left towards Hadimba temple. On that road, if you go down some distance, you ask for 'Rohit Dhaba'. It is a small, blue colored shop, on the left hand side of the road, right next to it, and is impossible to miss it. There you will find and old lady, who would give you the stuff.

So the next time you go to Manali, Happy Trekking....

October 24, 2006

WalkAbout

I wish I could carry this one back with me to Pune!

Its my absolute favourite place in the whole of Sheffield. It doesn’t mean you can find me here every night of the week, just that I’ve been here more than any other place.

What I love really is not just that they play good music but there are always people in here and the crowd is just right. It’s mostly students getting drunk and jumping around. They play live music every Saturday and Monday nights are super duper cheap.

No matter where I’m headed for, I always end up here. In fact I think this might be the only place I’d miss when back in Pune.

October 22, 2006

Snow by Orhan Pamuk

It has been a week since I bought the book but somehow I haven't been able to come up and read it yet. I book is called 'Snow' by Orhan Pamuk. Christopher Hitchins, tells us why does 'Snow' give us important insights into Turkey, which might be our idea of a modern Muslim nation, there is much which doesn't meet the eye.

When frozen in the present, the mise-en-scène discloses a community of miserably underemployed people, caught among a ramshackle state machine, a nascent Islamism, and the claims of competing nationalist minorities. A troupe of quasi-Brechtian traveling players is in town, and it enacts a "play within a play," in which the bitter violence of the region is translated with shocking effect directly onto the stage. Drawn into the social and religious conflict, Ka seems to alternate between visions of "snow" in its macrocosmic form—the chilly and hostile masses—and its microcosmic: the individual beauty and uniqueness of each flake. Along the scrutinized axes that every flake manifests he rediscovers his vocation and inspiration as a poet and arranges a cycle of verses. This collection is lost when, on his return to Frankfurt, he is shot down in a street of the red-light district.

October 21, 2006

Indian

Here is why Atanu Dey thinks that the name of Indian Airlines was changed to Indian:

First, it was not as if the name “Indian Airlines” was biting someone in the butt. It was not as if a person was not very sure what that name meant. It was not that someone else claimed that domain name and the airline was forced to change its moniker. No sir, there was no problem with that name. But then, you may say that perhaps the name was getting old and somewhat generic. It could happen, you know. You say “Indian Airlines” and someone thinks you are talking of Indian air carriers in general and not about the specific carrier. I have found that about “American Airlines.” You have to be careful to distinguish between the specific and the general. So alright, “Indian Airlines” could have been changed to something else.

But removing the “airlines” and just retaining “Indian” is as astoundingly stupid as one can ever get. So now when you say “Indian” you don’t know whether you are talking about food, clothing, land, thought, behavior, or . . . an airline! Making a bad thing worse is not an improvement.
This man is funny. If the government servants stop stealing, how will their kids survive.

After all, you are well read Atanu, look at your biography (besides, you are also working on putting together a new and improved bio), what have they got?

And I agree with every word he says here. I see those young kids begging on the red lights, because there is no school they can go to and I just imagine that a lot more would be joining them soon, becuase the government of our great nation, wants them to.

Mr Afzal

Everybody has something to say on the clemency petition by Mr Afzal, and most of it is either repitition or utter crap. Atleast this one is well said. (link)

If I was the SC, I would make Afzal join the Indian Air Force and make him fly the Mig-21's. For once, people would be happy after the crash.

The people at Acorn take themselves very seriously most of the time, but they linked up to something really funny - Mahatma Gandhi praising Kim Jong Il - who was 7 when Gandhi died. (link)

I wonder if Munnabhai writes that blog? Then who writes this?

He is like this only

A will from the twenty second floor.
Who wrote it? And for whom? And why is it on his blog? Link

But sometimes he's awesome Link

Point of View

An interesting Point of View, by Point of View

The Supreme Court has held that unlike the charge of attempt to murder, the Indian Penal Code does not recognise the charge of attempt to rape. Rape is said to have been committed only if a man inserts his sexual organ into the victim. Any other act only qualifies for the offence of outraging a woman or child’s modesty.

How about a failed attempt to blow up Parliament? Would that be terrorism or merely an offence of outraging our nationalistic and patriotic sensibilities.

or indeed a failed attempt to evade taxes?
Link (There seems to be a problem with a permalinks!!)

The Desi Dating Guide

One thing that stands out in this long discussion is that dating is tough and dating is complicated for our desis in America. I don't understand why doesn't any desi tell us when they come home. I can bet that dating is easier back home, so in case you're having real problems in firangland, do take a trip back home.

Anyways, we were on the post at SM (link), which has a lot of links to relish, like the video of 'Desi OC', and then there are the awe-inspiring comments. Some people have real hard questions that need to be answered, like this one:

Punjabi girls are impossible. Northies are patakhas macacas. Must I go South for love shove, pyar vyar? Being a Northie boy, can I go Southie?
How do you answer that? And just see how much this girl is enjoying being the intimidator. heh. (link)

Finally, here is a list of movies by the director of the 'Desi OC'. I have to admit, this guy is no novice. (link)

The Unified Theory

75 years ago this month, The New York Times reported that Albert Einstein had completed his unified field theory — a theory that promised to stitch all of nature's forces into a single, tightly woven mathematical tapestry. But as had happened before and would happen again, closer scrutiny revealed flaws that sent Einstein back to the drawing board. Nevertheless, Einstein's belief that he'd one day complete the unified theory rarely faltered. Even on his deathbed he scribbled equations in the desperate but fading hope that the theory would finally materialize. It didn't.
Here is the story of science by Brian Greene, from Newton's laws of motion, to Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and from Quantum Mechanics to the String Theory. And the future.

Link

October 20, 2006

Justice for Imrana

There is so much amusement in the world. And the Muslim Clerics are ensuring that we get our fair share. Some of them really like to make a joke out of it.

I will not believe that Islam says that because Imrana got raped by her father-in-law, she cannot stay with her husband anymore, becuase she is now her husband's mother. This is absurd. What about her five kids? What does Islam say about the relation between her husband and her children. Are they siblings?

What about the fact, that rape under Islam is punishable by death. Why would the clerics be more worries about Imrana not staying with her husband than imposing death to her father-in-law?

The funny games are not yet over. Maulana Khalid Rashid, head of Lucknow based Firangi Mahal Islamic seminary, says that he welcomes the court verdict in full spirit, but, yes but, wheather Imrana can stay with her husband or not is not upto him to decide, he is waiting for divine intervension. Who calls this man a leader?

It has been 17 months since the Muslim Panchayat asked Imrana to call her husband 'son'. And since the last 17 months, all she is asking for is that her marriage should not be annulled. She is 28 years old, and is the mother of five kids.

And they say it is according to Shariat Law !!!

Link

Nerve Endings Vibrating

I have never completely realized why did he name his blog that way and what does his punch line mean, but I really like some of his stuff, so it isn't hard to ignore the rest.

However this one is interesting. Mr Patrix says

Spammers are now hacking vulnerable blogs. Beware! I can imagine the anguish if someone breaks in and messes with your content.
. What content I say. And what anguish?

I would rant endlessly about things I hate and blame it on somebody else (like Nilu). Maybe like I'm doing now. hah.

Link

Ramadoss very interested in reproductive health of the Chienese

A lot of minister travel around the earth on our tax money, but they don't know how to give us interesting replies in return. After all, we deserve funny replies from government offices, why else would we be paying them in the first place.

So this guy, who's after Mr Venugopal for improperly treating the SC/ST at AIIMS, called Mr Ramadoss, our Health Minister, went to China last November. The reason for the trip? He wanted to study the 'reproductive health'. Hmmm. Of what, the men or the women? And WHY???
Just to amuse us I'd say.

Judiciary vs Executive

I trust the judiciary more than the executive. He doesn't

When the executive keeps changing the constitution like we software engineers fix bugs, I think there should be a cap on how many amends can be made in a year, after all even we have to bear a limit on the number of bugs.

Oslo Gay Animal Parade

The Oslo Natural History Museum now has an exhibition on homosexuality among animals and people seem to be liking it. The curators say that

We hope to reject the all too well known argument that homosexual behaviour is a crime against nature.
Penguins, they say, also form many same-sex couples.

Interestingly, the opponents of the above exhibition came up with as interesting replies as 'they will burn in hell'!!!. I wonder what kind of grown up people argue like that. Anyways, I believe it must be one's right to burn in hell if one feels like.

Long Live the Mardi Gras...

Link

How to reform India?

The answers are easy, we just need some dedicated action.

For example, take this journalist and sell his liver to pay for the food of the kids he's found. (link)

Or take Mr Ramadoss (link), and send him on India's manned space mission (link), with one of IAF's planes (link).

Or make the ministers fight the babus (link)

Or take this money (link) and make schools and polytechnics, to help remove our poverty which just doesn't seem to go away (link)

Or maybe listen to Jadgish Bhagwati for once, on why does he think that India does not need SEZ' (link)

Or Maybe even make a martyr of this man (link)

Oldest Whiskey

The world's oldeset Whiskey bottle is on sale by a family in Co Armagh in Northern Ireland. The Glenavon special Liqueur Whisky, whose distillary was closed way back in 1850, is about 150 years old. It is expected to be sold for atleast 10,000 pounds, equivalent to Rs 8.5 lakhs. (link via Praveen)

The cost of the bottle would be equal to the average daily salary of 13,600 Indians. Nobody is buying it here for sure. hah.

Kamasutra, Sex and the scientist

It sounds funny but here is the smart scientist from nonopolitian (link) on the Kamasutra of Personal Computing (link), the Kamasutra of reading (link) and an essay on the intricacies of pornography (link).

I hope he's a professor. hah.

Petrol Prices and Pune

Andrew Samwick of Vox Baby, is intereted in raising the Gas Tax in the United States, becuase he cites that the US has one of the lowest Gas Taxes in the world. Link

Now I'm here in India, and this particular claim doesn't really affect me, but what does comes to mind is that where are the Indian economists, and why aren't their suggestions being used? See, Andrew suggests an increase in tax, but in a revenue-neutral way. The extra income from the taxes should be offset by the income tax. Now this is quite logical, and I'm sure our prime minister, an economist, very well understands it. Then, how come the principle is not used in India.

Is it becuase we are an illetrate nation? Or being exploited doesn't really make us feel bad anymore?

I don't consider myself very old (well I'm 24, not too young but not too old either), but I'm old enough to remember that a litre of petrol used to cost Rs 20 at a time, today it costs Rs 55 in Pune, where I stay. Surprisingly, the cost of petrol here in Delhi, where I'm vacationing, is Rs 45.

When the infrastructure of Pune can in no way compare to that in Delhi (for example, Pune has non-existant roads while Delhi has smooth six laners), why does the government in Pune charge an extra Rs 10 per LITRE.

When I come home from office, I drive on a battered road no matter which direction I go. After every two months, I pay an additional grand on my bike, because the bad roads screw it up. Still I pay Rs 10/litre more than citizens of any other state in India.

The real question is that if I can do anything about it. Throw out the government in the next elections, you might say. But no, I can't even do that. To get to vote in a particular constituency, I need to be a resident for atleast five years in that area. Now I haven't been able to manage tht in twnety four years, so I can't vote in Delhi where my parents stay, nor can I vote in Pune where I stay.

Now since it is not possible for me to take part in the democracy, is it possible for me to opt out of it? Hell, no, you tell me. But we need a way don't we? Or atleast Tax benifits...

Manali and Rohtang Pass

Dhillon was here a few days back, and after drinking three pitchers of beer at three different pubs, we decided to loiter around the whole night. Five minutes later, after the doors at home were closed on us, we realized that it wasn't such a good idea. So we spend the next six hours driving around endlessly, having super expensive coffee at the Taj and sleeping in the car parking. Somewhere in there, we planned to go upto Rohtang Pass after Diwali.

The last time I had been to Rohtang Pass, I was one and a half years old and a teetotaller. Now I'm twenty four and haven't been sober for the last many years. So I reckon the trip ought to be different.

While doing some research, I found that one thing that Manali, the biggest town closest to Rohtang Pass, is famous for quite an interesting thing... charas. Yes, that is what it's famous for, they say it makes the place a lot more beautiful than it really is. Maybe it will be on our menu someplace.

Another interesting thing was that the people who stay near Kulu and Manali, were called 'rakshas'!!! Why? Not because they make fascinating Charas, but because way back in history, the people here were hunters, not agriculturists like the rest of the north Indian population.

The very fact speaks volumes about the fertility of the land, and about how the cities would die without tourism. Interestingly, the uncles and aunties and their bacchas, who come down to Manali, and all the other hill stations in the north, destroy a little bit of the place everytime they come here, with scraps of crap, they leave all over the place. In other words, it's the tourism which is killing the cities too. So we are not sure, what kills them more, or is it something else which is destroying it?

Anyways, we'll think about those after we've had enough charas. Right now, we need help, no not donations, just little ideas about what we can do there. Click here to drop me a mail with your delicious ideas.

In case, you're out of ideas, here is a compendium of posts about Manali...

A nice pic just to get you started (link)
Now that you're interested, here is the flickr tag called 'Manali' (link)
Then here are photographs by TrekEarth (link)

The first one is this guy from Canada who trekked across North India (link).
If you don't really want to hear about firangs, here is this guy from xBHP, who ravelled to Manali on his Enfield, and has really interesting observations. (link).
I would have loved to crush him under my truck, but good for him, he got back alive (link).
Here are some highway tips, if you need any (link).
This firang's been pissing on Indian soil... but he had an amazing trip too (link)
Okay, this one is to see if you're really reading the posts (link)

This is what we ought to be doing sometime soon.. Chilling in Manali (link)
This is what it feels to leave Manali (link)
And this is how to get there cycling (link), along with this (link)
If you'd like to have your honeymoon there, get this (link) and this (link)

Here is some information about Trekking and Sking (link)
Also the Directorate of Mountaineering webstie (link), whatever that is...

Now about staying there... here is the stat tourism website (link)
Here is Manali on MakyMyTrip.com (link)
Here's Manali on Wikitravel (link) and on Wikipedia (link)
Here are facts by Outlook (link)
And some fast facts by World Room (link)

Finally, this is somebody who wrote a poem about Manali...... (link)

Manali vs Switzerland

My girlfriend is off to Switzerland for the weekend, while I'm off to Rohtang Pass. Who's jealous? Any Guesses??

They might make chocolates in Switzerland, but they make Charas in Manali. Any guesses now??

Zurich is 408 metres high (link), Geneva is 516 metres above sea level, but Manali is a whooping 2625 metres above sea level (link).

I don't know, why do I still feel jealous...

Maybe they are the same, like this guy believes (link), Manali is in Switzerland.

Is Ladakh India? Is Kashmir Pakistan? Is Tibet China?

Here's a brilliant article by Uday Kanth about 'The Story Behind Kargil War'

Although Indian maps might say so, Ladakh is not India, in the same way that Tibet is not China. If the ever-homogenizing cultural diversity of India must be ensnared by an international boundary, then, in my opinion, India ends at the Rohtang Pass, 50 km north of Manali. The notion that Ladakh, or other areas of the embattled so-called "Jammu and Kashmir" region somehow "belongs" to India is a hangover from the dreadful legacy of the Great Game, and is nothing but jingoistic hubris perpetuated by raving Indian nationalist/imperialists who just can't let go of the habits of their awful colonial past. Neither India, Pakistan or China are doing anything in their respective occupation zones beyond brazen warmongering, subjugating the unique and distinct local culture, desecrating the environment and pandering to those dreadful colonialist-imposed perimeters that were arbitrarily drawn across the arc of the Himalaya by their once British masters.
Link

October 18, 2006

Cops and Robbers

Smart Robbers:

A bunch of thieves in a suburb of Kolkata, managed the impossible, police protection for their robbery. Now that is what I call smart. If my kid wants to be a thief, I'll send him to these guys. What really happened was that the officer in-charge at Chatterjeehat police station was asked by a dozen men, supposedly from BSNL, to provide protection, to dig up roads and remove copper cables. It later turned out that the documents were forged, and now BSNL customers are fuming about their internet connections, which has now disappeared. The officer in-charge, who obviously feels like a moron, has been suspended. hah.
Link

Smart Cops (actually smart software developers :-)
Using a special software in her Nokia N72 cellphone, a student at Vile Parle, in Mumbai, helped the police find her stolen cell back. Amazing I know, for people always assume software engineers are the most useless of the lot. This special software, for which you need to pay Rs 300 a year, actually worked in this case, unlike everything else, developed in India, informs you that a new SIM has been inserted in your hot cellphone, which is now in somebody else's hands, and even messages you the number of the new SIM, on an alternate number that you have provided. So all you cell snatchers, who read my blog, please me careful.
Link

October 16, 2006

Media Freedom in the UK

Britain is moving towards a new state of vernacular freedom, after a ruling by the country's high court, which states that newspapers can use "public interest" against defamation if prosecuted.

While being a step in the right direction, the buzz word would be 'to act responsibly'. For if the newspaper fails to do so, they could print just about anything, and try to get away with it without being punished. It would be the responsibility of the judiciary to protect the citizens from something like that.

How far would be India from a similar ruling?
Very far, because cases for libel are still not the rule in our land, and also "public interest" is not a very well understood term.

Link

October 13, 2006

Orhan Pamuk wins Nobel Prize

Orhan Pamuk, the well known Turkish author, has won this years's Nobel prize for literature.

Almost an year ago, Pamuk was in the news for insulting Turkey, though the cases agianst him were dropped earlier this year.

I haven't read anything by him as yet, but I did get 'Snow' a few days earlier. It so happened that, I was moving to Delhi and needed some books for the journey. At Manney's, amongst others, I came down to two books, Snow by Orhan Pamuk, and The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, who had won the Booker that morning. For some strange reason, I chose Mr Pamuk's book.

So it so happens that, all the author's that I am reading right now, have won the Nobel prize in literature. They include The Flounder by Graham Greene, One Man's Bible by Gao Xingjian and Snow by Orhan Pamuk. But till I get over all of them. Bye.

October 11, 2006

The absurd Nilu

At this point I perceive, therefore, that hope cannot be eluded forever and that it can beset even those who wanted to be free of it. This is the interest I find in the works discussed up to this point. I could, at least in the realm of creation, list some truly absurd works. (Melville's Moby Dick, for instance). But everything must have a beginning. The object of this quest is a certain fidelity. The Church has been so harsh with heretics only because she deemed that there is no worse enemy than a child who has gone astray. But the record of the Gnostic effronteries and the persistence of Manichean currents have contributed more to the construction of orthodox dogma than all the prayers. With due allowance, the same is true of the absurd. One recognizes one's course by discovering the paths that stray from it. At the very conclusion of the absurd reasoning, in one of the attitudes dictated by its logic, it is not a matter of indifference to find hope coming back in under one of the most touching guises. That shows the difficulty of the absurd ascetics. Above all, it shows the necessity of unfailing alertness and thus confirms the general plan of this essay.

But if it is still too early to list absurd works, at least a conclusion can be reached as to the creative attitude, one of those which can complete absurd existence. Art can never be so well served as by a negative thought. Its dark and humiliated precedings are as necessary to the understanding of a great work as black is to white. To work and create "for nothing," to sculpture in clay, to know one's creation has no future, to see one's work destroyed in a day while being aware that fundamentally this has no more importance than building for centuries---this is the difficult wisdom that absurd thought sanctions. Performing these two tasks simultaneously, negating on the one hand and magnifying on the other, it the way open to the absurd creator. He must give the void its colors.

This leads to a special conception of the work of art. Too often the work of a creator is looked upon as a series of isolated testimonies. Thus, artist and man of letters are confused. A profound thought is in a constant state of becoming; it adopts the experience of a life and assumes its shape. Likewise, a man's sole creation is strengthened in its successive and multiple aspects: his works. One after another they complement one another, correct or overtake one another, contradict one another, too. If something brings creation to an end, it is not the victorious and illusory cry of the blinded artist: "I have said everything," but the death of the creator which closes his experiences and the book of his genius.

That effort, that superhuman consciousness are not necessarily apparent to the reader. There is no mystery in human creation. Will performs this miracle. But at least there is no true creation without a secret. To be true, a succession of works can be but a series of approximations of the same thought. But it is possible to conceive of another type of creator proceeding by juxtaposition. Their words may seem to be devoid of inter-relations, to a certain degree, they are contradictory. But viewed all together, they resume their natural groupings. From death, for instance, they derive their definitive significance. They receive their most obvious light from the very life of their author. At the moment of death, the succession is but a collection of failures. But if those failures all have the same resonance, the creator has managed to repeat the image of his own condition, to make the air echo with the sterile secret he possesses.

The effort to dominate is considerable here. But human intelligence is up to much more. It will merely indicate clearly the voluntary aspect of creation. Elsewhere I have brought out the fact that human had no other purpose than to maintain awareness. But that could not do without discipline. Of all the schools of patience and lucidity, creation is the most effective. It is also the staggering evidence of man's sole dignity: the dogged revolt against his condition, perseverance in an effort considered sterile. It calls for a daily effort, self-mastery, a precise estimate of the limits of truth, measure, and strength. It constitutes an ascesis. All that "for nothing," in order to repeat and mark time. But perhaps the great work of art has less importance in itself than in the ordeal it demands of a man and the opportunity it provides him of overcoming his phantoms and approaching a little closer to his naked reality.

Let there be no mistake about aesthetics. It is not patient inquiry, the unceasing, sterile illustration of a thesis that I am calling for here. Quite the contrary, if I have made myself clearly understood. The thesis-novel, the work that proves, the most hateful of all, is the one that most often is inspired by a smug thought. You demonstrate the truth you feel sure of possessing. But those are ideas one launches, and ideas are the contrary of thought. Those creators are philosophers, ashamed of themselves. Those I am speaking of or whom I imagine are, on the contrary, lucid thinkers. At a certain point where thought turns back on itself, they raise up the images of their works like the obvious symbols of a limited, mortal, and rebellious thought.

They perhaps prove something. But those proofs are the ones that the novelists provide for themselves rather than for the world in general. The essential is that the novelists should triumph in the concrete and that this constitute their nobility. This wholly carnal triumph has been prepared for them by a thought in which abstract powers have been humiliated. When they are completely so, at the same time the flesh makes the creation shine forth in all its absurd luster. After all, ironic philosophies produce passionate works.

Any thought that abandons unity glorifies diversity! And diversity is the home of art. The only thought to liberate the mind is that which leaves it alone, certain of its limits and of its impending end. No doctrine tempts it. It awaits the ripening of the work and of life. Detached from it, the work will once more give a barely muffled voice to a soul forever freed from hope. Or it will give voice to nothing if the creator, tired of his activity, intends to turn away. That is equivalent.

Thus, I ask of absurd creation what I required from thought---revolt, freedom, and diversity. Later on it will manifest its utter futility. In that daily effort in which intelligence mingle and delight each other, the absurd man discovers a discipline that will make up the greatest of his strengths. The required diligence and doggedness and lucidity thus resemble the conqueror's attitude. To create is likewise to give a shape to one's fate. For all these characters, their work defines them at least as much as it is defined by them. The actor taught us this: There is no frontier between being and appearing.

Let me repeat. None of all this has any real meaning. On the way to that liberty, there is still a progress to be made. The final effort for these related minds, creator or conqueror, is to manage to free themselves also from their undertakings: succeed the granting that the very work, whether it be conquest, love, or creation, may well not be; consummate thus the utter futility of any individual life. Indeed, that gives them more freedom in the realization of their work, just as becoming aware of the absurdity of life authorized them to plunge into it with every excess.

All that remains is a fate whose outcome alone is fatal. Outside of that single fatality of death, everything, joy or happiness, is liberty. A world remains of which man is the sole master. What bound him was the illusion of another world. The outcome of his thought, ceasing to be renunciatory, flowers in images. It frolics---in myths, to be sure, but myths with no other depth than that of human suffering and, like it, inexhaustible. Not the divine fable that amuses and blinds, but the terrestrial face, gesture, and drama in which are summed up a difficult wisdom and an ephemeral passion.

-Albert Camus

via The Blue Boy

Kiran Desai wins Booker

Kiran Desai, an Indian born has won the Booker prize for her novel "The Inheritance of Loss". At age 35, she is now the youngest winner of the award.

"Never again," Sai concludes, "could she think there was but one narrative and that this narrative belonged only to herself, that she might create her own mean little happiness and live safely within it."

The novel is set in New York, with a teenage girl as the lead character. The New York Times says the novel "manages to explore, with intimacy and insight, just about every contemporary international issue: globalization, multiculturalism, economic inequality, fundamentalism and terrorist violence. Despite being set in the mid-1980's, it seems the best kind of post-9/11 novel." This was Kiran's second novel. She had debuted with "Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard" in 1998.

The other books which had made it to the list were were Kate Grenville's "The Secret River", M J Hyland's "Carry Me Down", Hisham Matar's "In the Country of Men" and Edward St Aubyn's "Mother's Milk".

Kiran's mother Anita Desai, was herself a celebrated novelist, having been nominated for the Booker a total of four times, though she never won.

I haven't read the novel, so I can't comment on it, but if you would like to read about it, you could consider going to the following pages.
The review at the New York Times and Sepia Mutiny
Kiran Desai's interview by Jabberwock, Bold Type and Critical Mass
Finally, here personal biography on BBC
Other interesting posts by Amitava Kumar and Guradian

Here is a list of the excerpts from the books nominated for the booker. (Link, Link)

PIL against Orkut

One staunch Indian patriot, who goes by the name of Yugant R Marlapalle, an advocate, has filed a PIL against Orkut, which is maintained by Google, since it contains a community against India. The High court has directed the Maharashtra government to issue a notice to Google for the alleged spread of hate.

I wonder what is the idea, get orkut banned in India for the same?

People are people, and there will always be animosity amongst them, but for every such community against India, there are a hundred which show their love for India. So if the site goes down, it will also take with it thousands of members who were atleast as patriotic that Mr. Marlapalle.

Besides, orkut provides an option, to submit such a community as bogus. It can be done, if just a thousand people decide to. Though it makes one think, that if even one thousand of the millions on orkut don't think so, what does it say about the community? Either nobody has ever heard about it, or it just doesn't matter.

If Mr. Marlapalle, the advocate, had anything better to do with his time, he wouldn't be worrying over a non-issue like this. Still if he was interested, I believe it would be a much saner option to find a thousand people who thought the same and get it removed automatically. Or if required, ask the people at Google what could they do about it.

Moreover, if the community was created by someone who was not based in India, how much control can the authorities exercise over them? Hardly any, but what they can do is make it invisible to us, here in India, like what the government of China does routinely.

As far as the question about any terrorist activity going on there, I am sure terrorists have better ways to go about it.

To be true, I believe Orkut has been one of the better services around, because I have been able to get in touch with hordes of long lost friends I had lost over the years. I have found people I knew, from all corners of the world, and so have all the people I knew.

It would be a pity, if the authorities were to take a silly decision, like the ones they are famous for.

If this is a Public interest Litigation, I don't believe I belong to the public who think this is in their interest.

The most our authorities can provide us is an illusion of security against the monster in the cupboard.

Link

Update: While we are at it, if you would like to read some non-violent, intellectual content about India-Pakistan relations, please visit Chowk.com

October 10, 2006

Beer in the Parliament

Members of the parliament in Mongolia are officially discussing about what most people discuss over, yes BEER. Actually, it is not beer they are debating, though I would like to think of it that way. The issue at hand is the name of 'Genghis Khan', which is used by atleast ten different companies, even some making beer and vodka. The lawmakers feel that if somebody started making toilet papers using with Genghis Khan written on them, there would be nothing to stop them.

I might enjoy having 'Genghis Khan Beer', but swiping my ass with a paper saying Gengis Khan doesn't really sound that interesting. Still, Good work I must say. Atleast the fellow countrymen of the legendry warrior worry about better things than changing the names of cities.

Link

October 09, 2006

The Weed Massacre

In another disturbing news, the police destroyed SEVEN HECTARES of cannabis crop in Jammu and Kashmir yesterday. The police reasons this would prevent farmers from growing the crop. But I am sure, the farmers will stand strong in the face of such atrocities, and cultivate more crop next year, to provide for the hundreds and thousands (and maybe lakhs) of engineering students, who would not be able to survive the tortures four years without grass.

Long live weed.

Link

Atom Smashing in North Korea

Word is around that under the obstinate leadership of Kim Jong II's, North Korea has tested the nuclear bomb, it had been talking about for so long. Even though the Japanese still maintain that they cannot confirm the test, the Americans have confirmed that there was seismic activity in the region which was felt in Korea and Australia. Russians have confirmed it was a nuclear bomb. The test took place at 7:06 am IST on October 9, 2006.

Reports say that the bomb was equivalent to 550 tons of TNT. The White House, which ordered the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, 22 times the size of the one tested, more than 60 years ago, has condemned the act.

North Korea said that it was a giant leap for the communist nation, whose citizens survive on foreign aid because of the collapse of state-run farming in the country. It was a giant leap for sure, but it seemed to be in the opposite direction. Aid would be difficult to come buy, since the leadership has refused to join talks with neighbours, who provided the country with much needed supplies.

With this the North Korea also joins an exclusive group of countries crazy enough to use the nuclear bomb. United States was the only known member so far.

International politics keep getting more and more convoluted, because it keeps getting more difficult to choose between the bad guys and the bad guys dressed up as good guys.

Links
New York Times
Acorn

October 07, 2006

Pandora

While browsing across Vantage Point today, I came across Pandora, another Internet Radio Site with a cool interface. Have been on it for a few hours and thoroughly enjoying it. If music matters, this one is for you, do check it out...

October 06, 2006

India - The next superpower


The New York Times talks about India, looking forward to be the next Industrial Giant, in one of it's latest articles.

For decades, India had followed a route to economic development strikingly different from that of countries like Japan, South Korea or China. While its Asian rivals placed their bets on manufacturing and exports, India focused on its domestic economy and grew more slowly with an emphasis on services.

But all that is starting to change.
It talks about the growth in manufacturing catching up with that of services, about increasing exports, about the weak infrastructure, about the inbuilt corruption and about the unexpected boom in Manufacturing. The article explains why Multi National Corporation are putting their bets on India in the forthcoming years.

On the whole, India has been growing well for the last three-four years, but in order to keep up or exceed our own limitations, a lot more needs to be done. Where would that extra come from? Time will tell.

(Link)

Two (bullets) in the Bush


Mark Almond writes a detailed description of the reasons of and the reactions to the assassination of President Bush, and the changing face of the world after the event. Quite funny, a must read. (Link at the end of the post)

Well he missed out India, but we know what would the news would be like. The Prime Minister would show his grief and ask the world leaders to unite against the forces of terrorism. NDTV would show the story of the life of the man who was the President. In Kashmir militants would kill five more, 15 people would die in floods in Orrisa, 7 Dalits would be murdered in Bihar, India would lose to Pakistan, Sania Mirza would make it Round 3 of the French Open and AajTak would be showing a one hour special on the ghosts in Mirzapur, who come out after listening to Himesh Reshmiya's songs.

Some things never change.. for everything else there's Mastercard.

Link

Is God Male?


Some dudes called Enos Das Pradhan, of the Church of North India, has stated categorically that the Christian God in India is male, because the Church of North India is an autonomous, independent Indian church and because they have no hierarchical links with the Protestant Church of England.

I wonder how God feels about all this, being a staunch male that he is. I would be worried if my followers were discussing about my sex or if they had any doubts whatsoever regarding the uhh so important subject.

But the women are fighting, or atleast I hope they are. Maybe like the constitution, the misconception can be fixed by addding an amendment in the Holy Bible. It would help them to know that since a long time has passed since it was written, there is no chance that Mr Moses would not be able to sue them for copyright infringement.

With people bickering over religion all the time, I believe the time has come to quit religion as we know it, and move on to something more profound and enlightening, like Atheism or maybe even Scientology. But I wonder if our politicians would allow that...

Link

Time for a comeback


It has been five long months since I decided to quit blogging. The reason that I gave myself was that blogging was taking up most of my time, and I really needed to get on with life off the internet. But what I have realized over the last few months is that after I quit writing, I also gave up reading. So I concluded that I should begin again.

The last few months, I must add, have been quite exciting. First of all, I decided to go for my MBA in maybe a couple of years time, then I appeared for the GMAT, and scored a 750. Finally, today, I quit my job. It was a tiring, though fulfilling two and a half years with Phoenixgen Systems.

So anyways, here I am again, following up with my years old blog. Let the light shine.

May 12, 2006

The Time To Quit

"A poem is never finished, only abandoned."

- Paul Valery, French Author and Symbolist Poet

So I bid a tearful end to my beloved blog, and abandon it for all eternity henceforth.

May 10, 2006

Of Authoritarian Regimes and Uniforms


A debate is going on in Germany over wheather uniforms should be compulsory in school which started after two Muslim girls were suspended for turning up in school, dressed in Burkas.

BBC reports that school uniforms are still associated by some in Germany with the Nazi era and especially the Hitler Youth. Critics argue that school uniforms suppress individualism and are typical of authoritarian regimes such as the Third Reich.

And I suddenly have memories flooding my mind. After all I had served in an authoritarian regime for about 16 years, which made me wear silly colorful uniforms everyday.

I remember the cold mornings in middle school, when I left home in the dreaded weather every morning dressed in white shorts, since all students below class 8 were not permitted to wear trousers to school.

I remember running around the ground after assembly, for wearing the wrong sneakers, which weren't part of the uniform.

I remember the monday uniform in college. Why in college? Because the director was in the Army. Now it was very clear that they need to wear uniforms to work and I'll agree that for the most part, they even look good in it.

But it never made sense to me that wearing a uniform had anything to do with discipline, or any of the good that is in men. It rather gives a pleasure of the mean, sly and sadist kind.

Tagged

Chandrayaan - I

ISRO and NASA have joined hands, to allow India to send it's first unmanned lunar module. The two-year mission, which would be called Chandrayaan-I would do what all unmanned space missions seem to do, map the lunar surface and investigate its surface properties.

On the subject of a manned Indian mission to the Moon, Mr Nair said no decision had been taken. And asked whether the US might fly an Indian astronaut on one of its space shuttles, Mr Griffin said "we can train but we don't have any seats for the next eight years". It made me wonder, if Arjun Singh would try to get reservation there too?

(link)

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May 09, 2006

Government Shuts Down in Puerto Rico

The government in Peurto Rico, a US territory, has shut down all government operated schools and offices except the essential government ones. As expected, the effect is huge, almost 100,000 people are jobless and 500,000 students suddenly have no school.

The problem arose because the government could not agree on a budget with the congress due to the $740m (Rs 33,300 crores) shortfall in public funds. The government pays almost $500m in salaries being the biggest employer. The legislators blame the governer, who blames "legislative inaction" for the crisis. The government is now using the 2004 budget since there has been no agreement since the last year.

Governer Aníbal Acevedo Víla, wants to implement a 7% sales tax to pay off the deficit, but most of the legislators do not want anything more than 5.5%. Currently there is no sales tax. Puerto Ricans do not pay the US Income tax, but the islands receive federal funds.

Even the political status of Peurto Rico isn't quite clear. Recently it was questioned in the White House. (Peurto Rico is a commonwealth, but president Bush is the head of the state.) The opinion on the island is divided between complete independence, becoming the 51st US state and maintaining the current position. In a nation wide survey in 1998, only 2.5% wanted complete freedom.

(link)

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Beggar wants begging Legalized

Prasadi Sharma, a 60-year old begger, has moved the Supreme Court asking to legalize begging. The law says the begging is a crime, and recently Prasadi was arrested under the provisions of the Bombay Prevention of Beggars Act in Feburary this year and sentenced to one year in detention in a beggars home in Delhi.

In his petition he emphasized that the law had made not just begging, but poverty and illness a crime and that needs to rectified.

Begging has been defined in the act thus

Exposing or exibiting any wound injury, deformity of disease with the aim of receiving alms constitutes begging. Receiving alms under the pretence of singing, dancing or fortune telling constitutes begging.


IBNLive states the irony of the Indian Law where a person causing death by negligent driving serves for two years but a begger for upto ten years.

Now that he's been snubbed by the SC, there is nothing much Prasadi can do except wait for his ten years to get over.

(via)

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