Saturday, February 28, 2009


Scores of students appearing for their XIIth grade board exams in Vidharbha region, apparently, had to sweat it out in dingy rooms and sultry conditions, thanks to no electricity at the exam center.
This is what a State official had to say -
[..]Our main task is to conduct examination and not provide generators,”[...]
Point taken.

Friday, February 27, 2009



This Linkedin thing. It can bring you down...sometimes.

Like the other day I accepted a request from an old buddy to join his Linkedin network. We were roomies at one point during my bachelor days. This dude is now like a god-freaking-Sr-VP-Sr-Director.... or some shit like that in some god-damn company in India. And then later today I got another such "request" from another dick-head I worked with not long time back. I hear he is a Senior fking Director in some company in California.

OK! So I get it. The world around me is moving fast. And I have been sleeping on my ass (which i usually do and am good at) and quite clearly I am in no hurry to catch up. Not a day sooner..

I'd say, who the f cares. As long as I have my fortnightly salary being deposited, I am ok. Yeah, tha'll work for a while. Reminds me of that episode from Seinfeld though
Seinfeld : Newman, you give up too easy...!! Newman : I usually do.


Same old story. A super hot model. A super duper sports hero. And thats it. Simple right?

As if Tom Brady did not have everything already.... he now has the world's hottest babe as his wife.... Lucky bast... I tell you boss, some people... Likha Kay latey hai

Useless Book

So I am loving this Book of Useless Information that i read while traveling. It's fun. It has trivia like.. "Both Hitler and Napolean had one testicle"

(Well then.That explains)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

55 million and counting

Sonia and Co have added 55 million more people to the Below Poverty Line stats; Please add that to list of big achievements in last 5 years of UPA's awesome rule.

The number of people living below the poverty line has actually increased by a horrifying 20 per cent. India had some 270 million people below the poverty line in 2004-5, when the present Government took office. That number has gone up by 55 million, or 20 per cent, after five years of policies named after the ‘aam admi’ (common man) but shaped for the ‘khaas admi’ (vested interests).

So much for the aam admi. But then, don't worry. We do *NOT* want to have NDA at center, come what may. So..fair enough. Let's make do with the Prince Charming this time around. We'll at least get to see his Columbian girl friend
make the western media happy. (The much obliged nation already pays for her security and upkeep)

And then what's a few 100 million more poor (give and take) in a population of
1.2 billion.


Footnote: MJ Akbar is an ex-Congressman btw. Love his columns. He is India's Friedman.

Damp Squib!

What a pathetic response from Bobby Jindal yesterday. I mean come on.... People!

Here's a President, fresh from a massive win (his body language is showing), who's oratory was never in question, and one who makes an awesome speech. And then your response? A little boy called - Bobby!!

I mean Obama can carry Bobby in his pocket and no one would notice. OK, and by the by, Jindal needs a few things to get going. How about a speech writer for a start. We can work on making him look more 'presidential' in next 20 years or so. (Won't be easy though, given his performance yesterday)

I mean what a sorry reply to another remarkable speech by O. (I could see Nancy Pelosi getting orgasms sitting behind; At least it was refreshing to see her smile for a change)
I mean if Republicans think, that Jindal is the best they have got against a formidable guy like Obama; good luck to them really.

As Anderson Cooper of CNN said ... "Sarah Palin had a great night". U bet. Could not have said better.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Random sh*t

Some news items are plain hilarious.

And I am not sure what to make of this tragi-comic melodrama going in Haryana state in India. The state's Deputy Chief Minister first vanishes. Then few weeks later he emerges with his mistress in his shadows, who's now his wife. But then our hero also wants to keep his first marriage legal. So he and she convert to Islam (How convenient!)

Both these love birds change their names too - to Chand and Fiza - (lol... and it's not over) and then less than 3 months into their honey moon period both are at each others' throat, lashing out publicly. Fiza even fakes a suicide attempt, apparently.

And as if that drama was not enough, we have last heard, Chand, our Casanova Bond fled to London to get some "medical treatment". (Uh oh)

I particularly liked what our little damsel-in-distress had to say about all this...

Fiza lashed out at the Mohali police accusing them of not taking action in the case. "Police is working under is shameful," she told reporters.

Well first of all - Duh! Your dude is the deputy CM, isn't he? Don't you, like, know at all, how it works? Police and all?

And... btw, did you mention the word "shameful"?? Whoa..some grand standing there, lady!

Friday, February 20, 2009


I am sure all of us have been in situations when we meet old friends or cousins, have some beers, stay awake overnight and the conversations go into early mornings.This keeps happening every time you visit them or they visit you.

I have observed similar phenomenon on our work lunch tables too. Unless some one actually gets up and breaks the conversation cycle, lunch conversations can spiral into long ones...I think at some level we all want to converse.

Conversations are a mishmash of dialogues. It is sharing of information and opinion. We all have opinions and we all want to let them be known. When differing opinions don't tread common path, conversations can convert into arguments.

IMO, as we grow older our opinions harden. Our opinions crystallize into convictions, so much so that sub-consciously we filter out opposing view points and make efforts to shield from them.It's almost as if a sponge converting into a concrete.

When we are younger we are more impressionable and like a sponge we keep soaking in different views and view points. Then a point comes where we identify ourselves with a set of views and build our convictions on those views; holding on to those convictions dearly for good part of our lives.

Why this semi-philosophical BS today?

Coz this is my 200th post and I think blog is a form of conversation (with myself most of the times)

I like blogging. It's a non-destructive engagement. It's non-expensive and democratic in nature. And it can be enjoyable too. The day I do not enjoy it, I will stop it. As simple as that.

I like to think of it as a recording device. I am really really interested in knowing the trajectory of my own life when I look back. This online diary is what's going to help me see that at one point.

So anyways, last week I got an interesting coffee table book. The New York Times 100 years Page One - It is a collection of 100 years of Page 1 news. What an awesome concept, I thought. I can go and see what the headlines was on the day Neil Armstrong actually gave credence to the term 'rocket science' and landed on the moon. Or the day Henry Truman ordered the single biggest ugly moment in world's history- Hiroshima /Nagasaki Bombings. Or something not as gory as that....

I paid 50$ for that book. Hopefully for this blog I wont have to pay a penny when I want to refer, lets say, 20 years from now, what I was up to in the year 2008 when recession struck USA and the world. Or re-live the moment of India winning 2008 T20 world cup. Or just screen through some of my more opinionated posts and figure if my views reshaped at all in those 20 years or that I was just another concrete.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Whats with him?

I had made a deal with myself of not writing about Obama (or news related to him) for a while because my wife made me realize that I have been rambling about Obama for long time in last one year or so. I needed an Obama-break. But looks like the world around me won't allow that to happen and I will need to dis-honor that self contract ...

So now this Chomsky guy; looks like he has some issues with O and his policies too.
Noam Chomsky, by the way, was one the leading lights of hate-Bush campaign for last 8 years and his quotes, thoughts and opinion were liberally (pun intended) quoted in blogosphere. He can be quite a polarizing figure.

And that is why I got a little surprised when he had to say this about Obama : "I think Obama looks more aggressive and violent than Bush."

... ugh!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Some Countries

Some countries just fascinate me. There's something about them that I have heard or read ( or may be it's their flag) . I don't know.. but there's some random-ness about them that hits me.

Sounds weird huh? Can't explain...

Here's my top 5

1. Luxembourg: I read that it's GDP per capita is second highest in the world. Not sure why it's never in news. Looks productive to me!
May be it is in the news sometimes and I blink and miss it.

2. New Zea land : Another country that has something about it. Could be the fact that it's one of the oldest democracies in the world. Or the fact that they were amongst the first to give women, the rights to vote. Not sure what it is. And I know it is beautiful out there. But that is not what fascinates me about that country.
May be the fact that there are more sheep than people in that country. Or may be the fact that Lord of the Rings DVDs was it's single biggest export after dairy products at one point.

3. Mongolia : They are the KINGS of non-news. I mean where do you hear about them? For good or for worse. It's like they exist only in Atlas or the Globe sitting on my desk. And yet they are pretty huge in size (u'd think!!) For all practical purposes they are non-existent as far as I can tell.
I think it has something to do with the ragging days during my first year of graduation. One of my senior's actually asked me - "Name the capital of Mongolia". U bet.Haven't forgotten Ulan Bator from that day on!

4. Papau New Guinea : It's just the name in this case. Nothing else. I am sure.

5. Chile : The geographical shape; I think. It's unique. I mean those people in Chile can never say - "We'd like to travel the length and breadth of our country". Yeah, good luck trying that - Coz there's NONE!!!. It's a snake.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Review: Ascent of Money

Critique of Niall Fergusons' Ascent of Money with bullets below

1. Informative 2. Well Researched 3. Honest 4. No ideological strings attached.5. Stops it, when he should.

1. Too "technical" and rough around the edges at times (The author is essentially an economist and not a writer; so can't really blame)
2. Can be wayward with his stories; sometimes making it hard to keep a grip on the basic topic. Goes off the runway a few times.
3. Tries to build a structure around his premise of evolution but looses the building blocks somewhere in the middle.
4. The notion of "Chimerica" is a bit far fetched and won't fly with a lot of folks

Overall I would rate it 3.5/5 (which is High). If you can borrow and read, that'd be just cool. Read it without blinkers and any pre-conceived notions about money in general and you've got a good deal going for you. Else don't waste your time.

And now if you are really interested in what the book is about here are some plain jane bullets.
  • Tries to explain the concept of evolution of Money or Currency and it's trajectory through the centuries. It's origins, it's rise and fall.
  • Informative and anecdotal explanation of Bonds Market and Stock Market.
  • My favorite story is the origin of Insurance Industry and how they calculate premium against risk; how it has roots in Scotland's clergy men and their widows.
  • Amongst other explanation I liked the co-relation of anti-globalization to World War I and it's unintentional consequences to Great Depression of 1930s
  • I also liked the story of Argentina and how it is in a permanent state of high inflation and high debt. It's constantly changing economic philosophy is intriguing to say the least.
  • For the first time I understood what Pinochet (of Chile) was all about. I had only read his name in passing in some articles.
  • The author (himself from Harvard) also touches upon Chicago school of Economics which was often seen as being at logger heads with Harvard school. The "Chicago Bad Boys" (or something of that order. I forgot the exact term) as they were called in the 70s have interesting stories around them.
  • The various milestones of Financial evolution and it's relation to man's progress is well taken. The author touches upon the role of China and India in early period with Silk route and Spice route. Also touches upon the rise of Banking industry in early Europe specially in Italy,Sweden and Netherlands. The word Bank comes from the italian word benchia which means bench. How Banking industry started with some Jews sitting on chairs behind their wooden benches on streets of Florence is one of the cool anecdotes.
  • The fact of Jews rising in Bank Industry has roots in their religion. In earlier times Christians would consider charging interest on a loan as a religious Sin thus letting Jews out smart them in Banking world. Nice story there.
  • The basic premise of the book is, that like all systems we know, the system of Finance and Economy and it's sub branches - Bonds,Insurance,Stocks, Hedge funds - are evolutionary in nature. (This point really reinforces my own belief system about lot of things)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


So Israeli elections threw another Hung result today. This btw, is 5th Election in 10 years for Israeli parliament; that means, the election system over there has now stabilized into Chaos. A chaotic mix of popular opinion that is. With none really able to run first-past-the-post.

Not very dissimilar to what's happening in India. We have not had a single party majority since 1991. Actually if you look at it, since 1984! Coz for all practical purposes Narsimha Rao's 1992 government was a minority one too. And were it not for some suit cases making rounds of Delhi's corridors, it would have collapsed. So it's been around 20 years that we have had a single party rule.

I am not saying it's a bad thing. A coalition may be better option if the stake holders are responsible. One of the biggest problems with mixed election results is that too many buttons get pushed by the "kingmakers". For example there's a good chance that Mayawati would be our next PM; and not because of popular votes but because she has enough MPs to become the king maker.

It is being said that though Tzipi and Bibi won the same number of seats in Israel, the real winner is Liberman, head of the ultra-nationalist party Yisrael Beitenu. He would be calling the shots. Precisely my point.

Looks like both these nations need to think hard for coming up with a better system of electing.


Friedman makes some interesting remarks in his new post. I am not sure I agree with all.

The idea, however brilliant and even correct it may be or sound, won't fly with the lawmakers. Specially Dems, who have been fighting *for* protectionism (of American jobs) for last eight years. Just because they sit on this side of the aisle won't make them turn coats all of a sudden. After all they have their local votes to cater.

Politics and administration is a tricky business and O and his team are just about getting a taste of it even as they find their footing in the hill.

Friedman also fears that Silicon Valley will be another Detroit. Well, there's some 'creative destruction' for you right there, Mr. Friedman. Go figure!

And why have the new Googles and Apples to come from the valley? Wouldn't it serve the argument of creative destruction better if the next Google comes from India,China or God damn Luxembourg even?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Somethings about moi

One of those early morning weekend posts... just out of the blue (this while my wife makes her weekend calls to her mom.. which run into..ahem... anyways)

I am not sure if I know myself well enough. But these are the things I certainly know about moi...

- I never get a good parking lot in a mall. Meaning, if there is a vacant spot just near the entrance which is also the most convenient to park, I never get it. So much so that, I am now convinced that a good parking-vacant-near spot is a Myth. They don't exist. I think the mall owners themselves park all those fake cars near the entrance to create an illusion of their shop being a hit.

- Another thing is a myth IMO. Good Deals. Nopes. They do not exist. Laptops,Sofas,Travel Deals all those things that shallow people like me would crave for at some point... No.. They don't exist. Its now official. I have NEVER EVER got a *deal* in my life. So I have come to a point in my life where I just go and *buy* stuff when I need. Deal or No Deal.

- I think Bad food is also costly. I tried doing this. I went to really really upscale places in Chicago downtown after getting impressed by all the culinary shows on Travel channels. More often than not, I came out with real bad taste in my mouth and deep hole in my pockets. None of these big-plate-small-decoration stuff could ever plug my satisfaction ever. I always have a plan B in place after having a fancy meal. The notion of Big and Hearty meal at upscale places is just that... a Notion.

- I eat and drink very slowly. That's my problem and also a confession. I just cannot keep up with folks speed around me. Usually I am at 2nd beer when most are at 3.5 or so.That's less than 50% of the average speed. I am slow. Very slow.

- I have got 2 speeding tickets thus far in 6 years. Once when I drove at a speed of 37 where 30 was speed limit and once when I drove at 55 when 45 was speed limit. Point is, it embarrasses me to tell the speeds I was caught at and the fact that I was caught at all for driving at those speeds.

- I have no big achievements so far in my life. Something I can brag about or even broadcast publicly. I am as average as an average Joe can be.
I am thinking I am done with half of my life. And I have no plans for remaining half too...

And now, if you'll excuse me I need to do my weekend vacuum..

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pub Bharo

Kudos to Renuka Choudhary for coming up with such an idea. She has made a clarion call to the nation's youth to go and bharo all pubs.Yeah sure, that should help the cause!

Our nation needs more pubs. More power to youth!!!... Halla Bol... Go get drunk. Our own Minister is asking you to. In fact I'd go a step further. Make pot / mariuajana legal (like in Amsterdam). And while we are at it, i'd really like the good 'ol Beer to get a little cheap. I think our water problems really need a second look here. We drink too much of water nowadays. It's not potable and not healthy. Sigh!

P.S: Couple of years back, Renuka Choudhary passed some bills that brought about stringent laws against... hold your breath ... Yes. The EVIL Boy-Friends.... Yeah. She wanted to make sure, Boy Friends don't dump girls just out of the blue.
Well, talk of moral policing

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Difference is Sharp

"For top executives to award themselves these kinds of compensation packages in the midst of this economic crisis isn't just bad taste -- it's a bad strategy -- and I will not tolerate it."

Well said Sir!

Obama also willfully acknowledged his wrong judgment in selecting Tom Daschle for the post of health and human services secretary. It takes a man of character.

Contrast this to what's happening in India. A fellow Election Commissioner keeps going to the Loo during the meetings passing all sensitive information to his bosses at 10 Janpath. His colleagues come out to the press and make some serious charges against Mr. Chawla, who btw, should be holding the institute to high standards.But neither Chawla nor the UPA bosses care a hoot about CEC's report.(It is common public knowledge that Chawla runs a trust which is funded by Gandhi family, by the way. Mere "coincidence" may be)

And here's the best part. The same media, that would have gone hammer and tong about this scandal if any other party was ruling currently, conveniently removes the news item (completely) from headlines. It's like it never happened. (Try looking for the Chawla scandal in any major news media website. It's gone. Whoosh.. just 48 hours into it being exposed). And then here's how NDTV spins such a serious issue and trivializes the institution..

Check what the so called "Poll" says. If you read between the lines, what it's really saying is - is opposition going to take advantage of rift between CECs? ("Oh we are so worried if our dear rulers get exposed. Shame on you, Opposition, for dwelling on this trivial matter" sob.sob.sob.)

Imagine this being a scandal during NDA. I bet the poll would have been -
"Should the Ruling party use CEC as a tool to promote their own agenda". I am willing to bet anything on that. And I am also willing to bet that NDTV would have great number of shows .... like "We the People".. the "State of The nations"...debates and documentaries and what have you, to keep this in the foreground all the time. But since "there own" people are running the show, it needs the spin doctors.

NDTV has now bought over India Today group (the power of money, you see), and the last remaining citadel of non-Monarchical news media house has fallen. With TOI,IBN,HT,The Hindu,NDTV (of course) all into it's pockets, its advantage UPA.

Oh well. Let's resign ourselves for another 5 years of the same. I have, already.

Although I must give this to NDTV. They really know what side is buttered. These meaningless polls they have on their website, can really take one's goat. Boy! the way they spin. If for nothing else, I will give them all the Bharat Ratnas and Padma Bhushans available in President's shelves. They have got *it*. (Padma Shrees are already going to them all the years. Why not raise the bar a bit)

We are still a long way to go before a vigilant media (with views from both sides) matures into a more balanced domain. But till then, bloggers like me with our limited minuscule power (actually non-existent one) can keep challenging the Barkha Dutts and the Vinod Mehtas of the world.

For now... I will toast to that! It's a start alright.

Monday, February 2, 2009

20 million and counting

According to a Chinese official an estimated 20 million (!!) jobs have been lost in China over past few months. 20 million is a massive figure even by Chinese standards.

Now I generally don't feel sorry for Chinese people (this open prejudice of mine stems from a certain things that I have known/read over the period of time.., ), but I do feel sad for those folks. Because those who have lost jobs do not belong to the powerful politburo of China and / or their foot soldiers. The complete totalitarianism of China can be suffocating for people without the right "connections". And this is applicable not only for China. You can ask some one from West Bengal (or may be get a glimpse in Venezuela). Totalitarian regimes have a way about them. You just have to suck it up to them if you want to move up the food chain.

For all it's ills, I think I am lucky to have been born and brought up in India. And even though I do have very strong reservations about the Congress party and the Monarchy that came along as a package, I still need to take a moment to appreciate the fact that they have helped keep democracy alive in India. With all it's imperfections, corruption and rag-tag mess, it still is better as far as I can tell.

I mean imagine a Slumdog Millionaire, being made in China! Would the dreaded Army/Police (of the Tienanmen Square fame) allow such an open display of Human Rights abuse and so called minority victimization? I wonder if Dan Boyle could even have put his foot in there? A country that wouldn't allow youtube videos and blogs,...nah.. I am thinking it wouldn't have taken the Boyle guy lying down. For all we know, they may have literally boiled him.

You know what, if i don't have a job, that's only so much depressing. Not having job, and not having an option to express freely or "create" freely can really mess up my equilibrium big time. I mean if i don't have a job, I at least want a place to freely express my frustration. If you bottle up that option of mine, I think, there's a good chance I will throw up. And not in a good way.

Anyways, to each his own as they say.