Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Heroine?

They live next-door or in our very homes. Movies are not made and books are not written about them because they are not the women that the media has stereotyped. Neither do they come up with assorted complaints about the unfairness of life nor do they claim to have made the world a better place to live. They are heros in their own right.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

When fact meets fiction.. Scary !!

George Orwell must be laughing to himself. Every page of 1984 comes alive with "The Turkmenbashi"

Ps: Thanks to Nimbupani for the Guardian link

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Saturday Mornings and Personality Tests

Saturday mornings and email forwards catalyse personality tests. The result...

What am I like ?

Extroverted (E) 75% Introverted (I) 25%
Intuitive (N) 91% Sensing (S) 9%
Feeling (F) 60% Thinking (T) 40%
Perceiving (P) 77% Judging (J) 23%

So I am an
ENFP and I am an "Inspirer" ( !!! ???)

Who am I like ?

The result of this test was interesting and I took it again after a month just to make sure...and both times... the result was this
dude ... hmm... interesting !!!

Suggested careers for ENFP people like me.

Who and what do these tests say you are ?

I wish someone would give me a kick on the rearside and make me do better things than check out personality tests !!!

Virtual Acquaintance III

The ex-army truck driver Kissan Baburao 'Anna' Hazare and the villagers of Ralegan Siddhi

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Virtual Acquaintance II

Vandana Gopikumar and Vaishnavi Jayakumar are entrepreneurs and leaders if you want to call them that. The Banyan is good enough reason to know them.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Autograph

I don't collect autographs.

It must be close to 9PM. I am waiting with Chitappa outside the room where he is to come and meet people. It is the SIES School in Mumbai. The corridor was full of people, young and old alike waiting to meet him. The wait lasts 15 minutes. We walk in and he is drinking a cup of tea. Chitappa introduces himself and so do I . He smiles at us.

He: Enna padikara ?
Me: Engineering panren sir.
He: Good..enna field.. endha college?
Me: Electronics and Communication Engineering, Shanmugha College, Thanjavur
He: Thanjavur...Good.. Mumbai le enna panra?
Me: BARC le final year project panren sir, High energy Physics Divsion le..Image processing project.
He: Keep it up. Engineering apram enna panna pora? BARC join pannalame?

( Chitappa gives him a piece of paper and asks for his autograph)

Me: US le higher studies panna poren sir.

( He signs the piece of paper and chitappa gives him another piece of paper)

He: Good...higher studies mudicha apram thirumbi varanam. Varuve illa?
Me: Yes sir.... Kandippa

( He hands the second piece of paper to me )

He: All the best.
Me: Thank you sir.

I walk out with the piece of paper in my hand. My first and only autograph. Three years ago.

Today I don't know where that piece of paper is. I might have lost it. But I have lost only that piece of paper.

I still don't collect autographs.

Happy birthday dear Mr.President.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Virtual acquaintance I

We meet new people everyday. There are people who we might never meet in person. However they might be the people who change your lives or other lives. They might not be the "unsung heroes" but they are definitely worth knowing about.

Rangaswamy Elango is the president of the Kuthumbakkam panchayat in Tamil Nadu. Why is he a worthy acquaintance?



Tuesday, October 12, 2004


The marching started at daybreak. Four hours later it was as slow as it was when it started. The women and children marched in the middle, their men on the sides protecting them. Four years of living in squalor had not made the forgot the basic instinct of protecting their women and young ones. I was not one of them. I did not wear the Star of David on my arm or back or the chest. I was there on work and I had watched these men, women and children come to the live in the capital four years ago. Live they did in the "residential districts" and leaving came with the penalty of death.

I was disturbed when they were first herded into the city from all over the country. I had believed all this hate the Jew talk was all rhetoric. My life however went on. My wife delivered a six pound girl child that year. On the day she was born, a ship carrying Jewish refugees was turned away from the United States of America and sent back to Europe. She has two brothers to protect her and a sister she would want to be like.. Three months later the war began. A census was ordered and there was talk of the "final goal" . Life was happy, work and the kids kept me ticking. My wife was however always uneasy about the city and the soldiers. War meant more soldiers inside the city. One day there were columns of troops marching through the city for reniforcement. Four hundred and twelve soldiers, my younger son counted till he was called away to play. He loves to count. Sometimes I think he likes it more than other games. He learnt to count by drawing small lines and consolidating at every fifth count. That year we never saw any fighting and we didn't have to wear yellow stars. Yes it was now yellow stars. They didn't have to wear them if they were not over ten years old. And we didn't have to wear the stars because we were not 'them'.

The numbers began to come in. Initially the numbers reported were small. 3300, 3800. I started taking notice when 35,000 were shot dead in Odessa. At the end of that year the numbers reported were 45,476. Next year the tally was 229,052. There were rumors of poison pellets called Zyklon or something like that. It was also rumored that there were experiments being carried out. That summer we went on several picnics. My little one started talking. My wife turned thirty that year and I gave her a crystal pendant. We have been married for 12 years now.

Time was galloping. The boys have grown several inches taller. The older one is almost as tall as me. the little one adores them and we all adore her.She lost two of her front teeth this week. She is the prettiest thing in the world. The marching started at daybreak. I watched through the living room window. They trudged along. I was not one of them. The wife and the children were asleep. I was safe. A sense of shame and fear and anger filled me. The anger and the shame left soon. Fear lingered on. I had heard about the camps. There was everyday talk about Auschwitz and Majdanek. It is rumored that over 1,000,000 of them have become the numbers of the 'final goal". My wife walks in. She can't sleep well these days. She sits across from me as we watch the marching together. Fifteen years into the marriage, we don't need to talk to know what the other is thinking. Her thoughts make me more uneasy and mine reassures her that we are safe.

The boys wake up and walk into the living room. The boys argue about the rules of their new game. The wife and I finish breakfast in silence. Something draws me back to the window. My eyes fall on a small girl as young as my little one. She doesn't want to march. After all it is still early in the day. Her father takes her and she decides to go to sleep on his shoulders. I feel a knot in my stomach. The boys are at play and the wife is back in the kitchen. The marching continues. As slow as it was when it started. I wonder why it is not slower. The girls join their mother in the kitchen and I can hear the older one talking about something. The wife replies but there is something in her voice that says that she is hearing them but not listening to them.

The little one walks in sleepy-eyed and stands in the middle of the living room. I take her in my arms and go back to my chair by the window. She is now onto her favorite pre-wakeup-nap on my chest. The little boy walks in and sits alongside me. He watches the marching for a while and runs into the bedroom only to come back immediately. He has brought paper and pencil with him . Four hours since daybreak and it is still as slow as it was when it started. The women and children in the middle and the the men on the sides. He now sits by chair with the pencil and paper and begins counting. He loves to count.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

We, the People ?

Every Saturday I take a bus ride from home to school on the city bus. The city bus passes through the peripheries of urban America that I haven't seen before. The city bus is air-conditioned and has a card-reader that permits passenger access. The seats are plush and the lighting is soft. As the bus passes through the urban neighborhood, people get on and off on an everyday routine and one gets to see a section of the cross-section of the people. The middle-aged woman on her way to a waitress job at IHOP(a national breakfast franchise), the janitor on his way home after the early morning duties, the student who has to juggle his academics with his part-time job at Walmart. I eat at IHOP, I see janitors in my building and I shop at Walmart, but I have never seen these people before today. Or maybe I have !! But today I saw the waitress who was worried about how little time she is spending with her children because she has to work two jobs to meet her bills, the janitor who was worried because health insurance wouldn't cover his wife's hospital bills, the student who was worried about his mounting debts.

Rewind time to 2001. The place is Thanjavur. The town-bus takes me from home to college . The bus passes through a semi-rural neighborhood and people get on and off in an everyday routine and one gets to see a section of the cross-section of the people. The middle aged flower vendor women on her way to Vallam where she hopes to earn a day's living selling the flowers. The waiter+cleaner at the tea-shop in front of the college, the old man who sits at the STD-ISD telephone booth near the Vallam bus stand. That day I did not see the flower vendor who was worried that she might not be able to repay the money she loaned from her neighbor, the unofficial money lender at 5% interest per day. I didn't see the old man who had to sit at the booth all day because his son was not making enough money to feed the big family. The waiter+cleaner from a village near Nagarcoil who had to work in Thirumalaisamudram so that he could send home Rs. 400 a month didn't catch my attention. Today, the past reminds me of the present but only in this past I did not have to take away the frills of prosperity around me. The bus was on the verge of a breakdown with the red paint peeling of in more than one place. It was hot and stuffy and dirty inside the bus and I was standing with 30 other people.

What do I think I saw today ? These people don’t want to go to war against cruel dictators on the other end of the world. They do not want to destroy mosques or riot in the name of religion. They do not believe they are the leaders of the free world. They do not bay for a war with Pakistan over Kashmir; they are not the prosperous and arrogant Americans or the poor and illiterate Indians. They are the People. All they want is to live a life. They are happy when their children say their first words. They are happy when they balance their monthly budgets. They wake up everyday with the hope that today will be a better day than yesterday. They watch basketball games on TV after a Taco bell take-out dinner or the latest Vijayakanth movie on a Rs.6.50 ticket after a rice-gruel dinner at home. They snatch brief periods where they escape from their worries. They are always back the next morning to take up their life where they left it, dishing out pancakes at IHOP or poori masal at SKTs.... Always !!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Thanneer Thanneer

"Inter-linking of rivers" , the pet-project of successive governments at Delhi appears to be a distant dream. Water and Rivers are in the state list in the constitution. Two states in the South cannot come to an agreement and resolve a deadlock on water-sharing. These feuding state governments might have genuine positions in terms of their concern for their farmers. Achieving a compromise between all other states in the Union is going to be an enormous excercise. The cost figures quoted for construction alone are around $ 200 billion. Add to this the operational costs and the environmental and social costs including the rehabiliation issues, we have a project whose size is of the orders of our GDP.

Before we embark on a project of such enormous magnitude, it is important that we look at other alternatives. The article talks about the seeds of a possible solution. So what is virtual water? explains more.

We have seen rioting, never ending legal actions, demonstration by everyone from farmers to filmstars, symbolic fasts by superstars and chief ministers. None of this has helped in the case of the 2 southern states. Is it time we started exploring other solutions. Could Virtual Water be a solution ?


Why does a 19 year old girl who has only pleasant things to reflect about life and a fun-loving 23 year old young man be condemmned to not live while you and I are given the luxury of life? Why do a few cells in the body decide to turn rogue and why do freak accidents like drowning occur to a few people while others go about their lives like every other day? Why do we cry for the loved ones we lost today and forget about them with the passing season? Why do we not cry for the child that lost its life in the famine somewhere in Africa or the grandfather who was killed in a terrorist attack in Iraq? Why are some lives assumed to be more valuable than others? Why were those eighty children that saw living hell in a fire accident choosen from among the several hundred that were in the same school? Why are some people born physically, emotionally and intellectually gifted while others are born with a curse ? Why is life a game of dice? Why are we? Why are we asking these questions? Why are there only questions and no answers?