Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Generation pre-X

You belong to this typical group / generation / "genre" of middle class dudes...


#].. As a kid, your career path was defined more by your parents desire, neighbor's sons' marks and/or not knowing that there are options beyond Engineering and Medical fields..

#].. The coolest gadget you'd seen till you were in High school was a "video" game, the one your cousin brought from Muscat and would brag about

#].. You and your friends would collect 25 paise from each person to buy one MRF ball worth 2.50 INR and play cricket...

#].. you got a permanent tan playing cricket in 45 Degree Centigrades in intense summer heat and were blissfully ignorant of it..

#] .. you exchanged library books like Tinkle comics and Phantom with your friends instead of latest games DVDs

#] .. The idea of "going for shopping" for you was sacrosanct and it meant it's either your birthday, or Diwali or first week before your school re-opens...

#].. You had seen people holding onto a thing called Transister closely to their ears trying hard to get the latest score of a match being played in West Indies

#] ...you and your bunch of loser friends thought that the way to celebrate Valentine's Day was to park your two wheelers in front of Archie's Gallery and stay put on the scooter seat..

#] ... you took a hike with your cousin to other end of town to watch an "Adult" movie in your XI th grade and were so paranoid about being "caught" that you parked your bicycles 3 blocks away from the theater

Friday, March 27, 2009

Time, Attention and Media Age

Merlin Mann of 43Folders.com was recently at our office in Chicago and he presented his 'Time,Attention and Creative Work' theory.

It was a lot of common sense stuff about the present day work culture in general, packaged in a humorous manner. When I say work culture, I mean, the culture of Black Berrys, IMs, emails etc.

What he was trying to get to is, how in todays world we are "always connected" to our work. There's no escaping. In a strange way, we want to be connected. And that is troubling. It's like there's a lurking insecurity that forces us to keep checking our BlackBerrys and emails every 35 seconds. This is a connection-addiction of a strange kind. It's like we do not want to *miss out* on anything!

I tried to extrapolate his theory beyond work and profession and apply it to the "Media Age" we are in now.

Consider this. I can stay connected to the news via CNN, BBC etc, 24 by 7. If not by Television, then via internet on my laptop or via my iPhone while traveling. At no point can i say, I cannot have any information available at my finger tips. Even the elevator of my office building, that does not receive signals generally, has a small monitor that keeps emitting latest news round the clock. There is not a single moment of disconnection.

In other words, I am a 24 X 7 consumer for these "media predators" if you will, because they know they have me in their circle all the time. They can bombard me with all information, whether I am seeking it or not, and I cannot escape. Technically I *can* decide not to check CNN.com or BBC.com but I do not take that option. What more, I set one of them as my default home page on my browser.

So what's going on? - 'I am ALWAYS available; my attention is ALWAYS available'.If CNN wants to reach me now, it CAN via iPhone or through my elevator.

A human brain can sink in and process only so much information. The current media age has forced my brain to work overtime. The reason - my brain is now forced to allot sufficient time to "filter" out irrelevant information. What more, it also now needs to make sure the excessive and redundant information is kept aside. It cannot chew on same stuff again and again; you know.

Circa August 1941. My Grandfather must be in his early 30s, roughly around an age where men, seek or atleast pretend to seek world knowledge. On a fateful August day, America decided to be brutal. It roasted alive 2 million Japanese people in one day. Well actually let's make it one minute. 2 million, that is, about half the population of Chicago Land, gone.. whoosh in one single moment of monstrous inhumanity. A Democratic president supported by the Republican party, decided in it's wisdom to put an end to war with Japan in one stroke. And how!

I cannot imagine a bigger NEWS relevant to entire humanity than the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was beyond NEWS. It was beyond sound byte. It *was* the NEWS.

Except, my Grandfather wouldn't have known. He and his wife (my grandmother) lived in small rural India. They were disconnected from the world. For them Japan was a distant land where some strange looking people lived. Nothing more than that. My grand father was active in nation's freedom struggle and I am sure he was very interested in World War II as that had a direct impact on Indian freedom movement. But he lived in a village in remote end of central India, where any piece of news took days if not months to reach. For one, there was no electricity or radio. The newspaper I am assuming would come from the nearest big town and would land only a few days later. The "latest news" was quite late in arriving.

There was no '24 hours' analysis of what happened. There was no "Doomsday" being predicted. (I think that bombing was the closest, mankind ever reached Doomsday. Nowadays we are "doomed" every day by some expert or the other). For people in my Grandfathe's village life moved on. For them that August, probably the monsoon was topic of discussion in local panchayat. Or may be their lands and labor issues and how to deal with other security issues. Japan's and America's war was not their problem. This may sound in-human, but that's the way it was.

In a sense, since they were so disconnected from Global events, their mind never thought "it's all going to be over" or "Mankind days are numbered". Now a days, we are ready to call off Human race at the drop of the hat. If a Wall Street scandal breaks - it's all over, if 9/11 happens, 'it's all over..we are doomed', if one nation goes for war, again 'it's all over'.

We have started using words like Doomed and Disaster quite liberally. If we really want to know what disaster means, we should pay a visit to Zimbabwe and see what it is like to live at inflation of 40 million %age.

We are in age of superlatives and exaggeration. In a way the media age has now conditioned our mind to respond in this manner. "It's going to be a disaster. If such and such things happen, we are doomed."

I am thinking, my grand parents survived one of the worst period known in contemporary history, where virtually every nation was fighting one another. When famine was common and Medicine had not even conquered even simple diseases. Cholera would neutralize an entire region, malaria was rampant in some parts of country. When the statistics of death was always in 1000s if not more.

So what has gone so wrong in last 10 years that hasn't gone wrong in last 100 years or 1000 years?

The world as we know has always been in state of flux, turmoil and constant state of war. This last link gives a list of all wars fought in the world over period of time.

2,00,0000 dying in a span of 2 days in Japan, 600,0000 Jews executed in Germany, many dying in Sino-Japan war, Korea War, Vietnam War (where 55,000 US troops were killed).

World was never ruled by Angels. This is the hard fact of life. To believe anything else is naive. Yet, in a weird way we have been conditioned to think otherwise in this media age. A media that is using my Time and Attention to create this virtual world where every little detail is over stated ad-nauseum


Happy New Year

Today would have been something back home in Nagpur. Puran Poli, probably bhajees, kadhi, patal bhaji and what have you.

Guddi Padwa is one of those simple, non-fussy, non-loud days. It's subtle and neat.

Happy New Year to you all .... :)

[I have to add though, it's not all bleak. V, has decided she's going to make it as special as she can. She does a good job at keeping me from going off the unnecessary gastro-senti.. path]

[//todo : Update with a pic]

Thursday, March 26, 2009


# Indian General Elections have been announced. My prediction is that the same set of rulers, with a slightly different combination of political parties will come back to power. I can only think of this old adage for the electorate - "Insanity is, repeating the same thing and expecting different results"

# Malika Sarabhai is contesting elections against Mr. Advani. Ms Sarabhai has lived an ultra lavish, albeit socially visible life all these years. It's good to see her talk of "doing something about her city". Hope she also finds some issues that go past her Limousine-Liberal-romantic-idealism,

# Udhav Thackrey in one of the election speeches allegedly called, Manmohan Singh a eunuch. Quite honestly, even if this sounds indigestible and perverse, Kaaangress and it's media cohorts should really spare me the outrage. If I remember it right, in last elections, Gulam Nabi Azaad, secretary of Kaangress, had called Atal Bihari Vajpayee.. impotent .. Well, actually he said na-mard which really packs some punch in hindi language and also alluded to the fact that Vajpayee was a virgin (and hence namard in his opinion).
Talk of moral high ground!

# As I quipped in my "Chai Tapri" section, I was not impressed by Mr. O's press conference yesterday. He needs to take it a bit slow. He seems to be in a hurry to "reach out" to Americans. I'd say "Easy Tiger"!

# China has made a pitch for a new Universal currency... While the idea needs a serious thinking, coming from china that holds 2 trillion USD in deposits, makes my cynical mind wonder, what's it all about?

# The drug war has killed more people in Mexico than the combined war causality of US troops in Iraq-Afghanistan. In a similar analogy, purely in terms of absolute numbers, Darfur far outnumbers any war in Middle East. Another reminder that violence has many faces and names. Much more than what mainstream media chooses to cherry pick.

Images : India

Check this political orgy.
RJD,LJP,SP,PMK,AIADMK,DMDK,JD(U),NDA, INC !!!!! And many many more.We are fortunate, English has 26 letters. I think Indian political system would soon exhaust all possible permutation combination.

And if you allow me, I am looking to start a new party - ZXYQ. Why the step motherly treatment to these letters?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Totally blown away

First of all thanks to rathchakra, for introducing me to this awesome website. It's a gold mine. And to Pradeep for this particular link.

Some of my convictions only get stronger after viewing this kind of presentation.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Freaking Morons

Ya, now blame this crisis on India... and "Indian guys in backroom"
"They had some back room somewhere where a bunch of Indian guys who'd been doing nothing but math for God knows how many years would come up with some kind of model saying that this or that combination of debtors would only default once every 10,000 years,"
On the other hand, how seriously you really wana take RollingStone, is a matter of personal choice.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Indian Mem

Looks like the British Groom is now looking to woe Indian memsaab - The IPL

"Once the ECB are aware of the requirements of the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) and IPL, they will move heaven and earth to try to accommodate this."

Have the tables turned or what in 61 years. Brits "moving heaven and earth" to accommodate India's product? Well what can you say? Money speaks, I guess.

In the meantime South Africa has already "proposed" to land of Gandhi.... Lez see who wins the Indian Mem finally. She for once looks gorgeously desirable.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Images : America

Starting a new series - Images.

As they say, a picture can say a thousand words. In this series, I would have random images of day to day things I observe here. Each image, IMO, will try to speak something unique about this nation. I am trying not to make it all Dark. Because I sincerely feel it isn't. Like all places in this big bad world, there are shades. It's a PACKAGE.(Contributions welcome)

Image 1: @50 types of packaged cheese. All lined up in this fairy land...

Image 2: @Checkout counter: #Jen lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks.#How to make solid abs in 1 minute. # 24/7 ultra-metabolism. # One celebrity loses 110 lbs in 28 weeks.

Twitter shwitter

So joined it finally. I am putting my twitters under column "Chai Tapri". Thats the closest I can think of twitter to be. All random bakwas and BS can find safe haven at a Chai Tapri.

Imagine if there was a way to compile all the bakwas, analysis, commentary, debates, news and trivia that comes out at a Chai Tapri... I think it would have more quality information than Larry King, Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs shows put together.

Friday, March 20, 2009

'Daily Me'

Kristof, one of my fav OP-ED writers in NYTimes, although I agree with him only 50% of the time..has this to say today

[..] because there’s pretty good evidence that we generally don’t truly want good information — but rather information that confirms our prejudices.We may believe intellectually in the clash of opinions, but in practice we like to embed ourselves in the reassuring womb of an echo chamber. [..]
Yep. Spot on.

And what a way to end his post..
Now excuse me while I go and read The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page.
Hahaha.. Could not have made the point better.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Almost Weekend

# The Pope says condoms are the reason for increase in HIV cases.
And as I always say - 'In God we trust'

# The Goyal. This random item is the ultimate LMAO this week - read it
(Thanks Rohit for the link)

# Pak says, it's not happy with India's reply on 26/11 attack.
What did we forget to provide? Ass-prints of those Mo Fos??

# Rediff.com has an opinion poll on sexiest Bond Girls ever
Sans Halley Berry, the list seems inadequate to me.

# Rediff.com also has a chilling account of 26/11.
Makes my blood boil.

# This whole AIG thing has me thinking. At the rate we are printing dollars, would it be a good idea to buy stocks of company called Dollar Ink ?

# My 401K is clocking at minus 15% currently.
Such are the things that I am actually pleased with it.

# And thank you Ashu, for letting me know Citi is now trading at 3$. I was blissfully unaware I made a loss of 300% already [virtually speaking :)]

# Google is eying Expedia.com and IBM has made a bid for Sun Microsystems.Both these news items hit close home.

# I am trying not to join the twitter bandwagon. But one of these days I might...

# Ok,whoever contributed to this wikipedia link
You guyz rock!

# Apple has introduced 3.0 for iPhone
I'd say, this did not come a day sooner!

# My Toyota Prius has served me royally for 2 years now.
If there's one thing I am gona miss dearly if/when I leave US, the hybrid, it wud be.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Capitalist Sport

My coworker Joe (name changed) took one at me at the lunch table last week. On my suggestion that we should look to Golf this summer for hanging out, he gave me some serious Blue-Collar-White-Collar mouthful...

"Golf is the ultimate Capitalist sport.", he said. "Acres and acres of well manicured lawns, caddies following you, carrying heavy duty stuff along, a handful of people watching, not to mention all the maintenance needed to keep the Golf courses going, using cheap labor from Latin America.....It's a vulgar display of riches and grand waste of resources"

There goes my Golfing pipe dream in smoke.

Boy o Boy! Not sure, what I said to deserve that onslaught.. But I was seriously considering Golf as my to-be Sport of the future.

I am not day dreaming, I have a hunch, I will be good at it. I know it's costly but so is Prius.

Now since the EVIL word Capitalism has got associated with that sport, makes me wonder if I should reconsider my options. But then Tennis , by same argument , should be off my plate too!

Damn. I can't be a free wheelie capitalist no more. Its a bad word.

Well, never mind. I think Ping Pong is not all that bad. I am getting good at it too...Should work for me I guess..

Post Script : I can only take solace in the fact that Cricket was once considered a sport of Aristocracy and Bourgeoisie

It is still considered bad by many a people.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Quotable Quote

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today.
It's already tomorrow in Australia"
-Charles Schultz

Thursday, March 12, 2009

phukat friday tp

Random rants

1. People should stop blabbering on cell phones in Metra. Especially when they are sitting next to me.

2. I am not sure why March has to be so cold in Chicago. That's so not 'cool'

3. I wonder if enough desi bachelors read NYTimes.com to justify an online ad of BharatMatrimony.com.

4. American's should just calm down now. We have got the Economic message. Rubbing it in 24X7 is not going to help.

5. Filing Taxes is one hell of a drag. But one of these days I will have to get off my bums

6. Tendulkar continues to defy me. I had wanted him to retire almost 4 years back. But I think he will stick around till 2011 World Cup.

7. I have a theory for all these shootings that happen in Western countries. It's because people live in splendid isolation. I may be 'splendidly' wrong though.

8. The phrase - 'I am just throwing it out there'.. is really being overused in our meetings now a days. Especially from the UI/Design folks. I'd say drop it already.

9. Frieda Pinto has been signed up for Woody Allen's next and there's also a buzz about she being in the new Bond movie. And all I can say is 'Howdy'!

10. The youtube on my iPhone has got latency and performance issues. I have no clue where to register a bug for this.


There's this quote I like - "You can fool all people sometimes, you can fool some people all the times, but you cannot fool all the people all the times"

Apparently this does not apply to Elections in India. From what I have read so far, looks like current rulers will be back in the saddle in 2009 General Elections. Only stronger. As there is, what is called as the, TINA factor. Meaning 'There Is No Alternative' factor.

Which also means UPA will come to power by default. And one of these days...I am gona throw up...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I know Jai Ho is the flavor of the month; but this *is* the song that really got me....almost 10 years back.

Then again, Ratnam+Rahman+Gulzar; it's a combustible trio. Kan't go wrong..

Check how only a total of 3 instruments are being used to deliver that effect. I would call 3:20 onwards as beyond genius.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jaya Ho

J.Jayalalitha has now discovered Gandhigiri; she is - Fasting to protest the Lankan cause.

If I had to take a guess, she could very well be masquerading her once-a-week strict diet plan, as "Fast". (Ek Teer Doh Nishaan)

Wonder if she has considered Weight Watchers!

Horn OK Please TATA

Anyone who has traveled on Indian highways are much too familiar with these words- Horn,OK,Please,TATA - written in random order on those black carbon fuming Trucks.

I must say some of the funniest little comments I have ever read in my life, have been on those Trucks and Lorries. (Too bad no one has created a link of them. Tried Google, but won't work.)

Those phrases are work of genius...like.. "yaha mile theek hai...upar mat milna..aur miley toh pehechan mat dikhana"...
Nopes. Won't translate. Won't do justice.

Coming back to OK/TATA, here's a good article on the 'origin' of this mishmash phrase on Indian lorries.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Akbar Singhvi

MJ Akbar has a nice piece on India-Pak here. His article - A flawed idea has some incisive comments.
I began with the suggestion that every Indian Muslim should offer a special, public prayer of thanks to the Almighty Allah for His extraordinary benevolence - for the mercy He had shown by preventing us from ending up in Pakistan in 1947. The suggestion was received with startled amusement, instinctive applause and a palpable sense of sheer relief.

Not to be out done by his fellow journo, Vir Sanghvi has finally woken up and called spade a spade. A refreshing change coming from a quintessential jholawala, who is so ever consumed in political correctness...

It's good to see him not make that oft repeated romantic pitch of Punjabiyat and Biryaniyat for a change...
Three Indians won Oscars: A.R. Rahman, Resul Pookutty and Gulzar.
Their victory set off a frenzy of rejoicing. We were proud of our countrymen.[..]
But here’s the thing: Not one of them is a Hindu

Lets just leave it at that.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ripped off

I got ripped real good by City of Chicago this weekend.

To divert my wife from going to the Macy's or more like trying to get myself out of the whole shopping scene , I proposed going to a new Restaurant in downtown instead... Smart Alec that I am, I thought I had pulled a fast one.

I had no clue, my supposed act of smartness (by half) came with a price tag... I can only put it down this way...

Dinner at new snooty Indian restaurant - 45$
Seeing your wife's angry face on missing car in parking
lot, post dinner - 0$
Taking a panic cab ride to Lincoln Towing Company and getting a smirk from the cabbie - 5$
Providing unsolicited and flimsy excuses to that dis-interested dude, behind towing booth - 0$
Paying for the towing charges - 170$

Breaking into a spontaneous bout of laughter after a three and a half minute silence inside the car.... PRICELESS...For everything else... you have life..

Friday, March 6, 2009

It happens only in India

Monkey Business

...Some things happen only in India, I guess.

Looks like now there's a monkey in Bangalore city, who would not allow the city authorities to demolish a Ram Temple; Of course that monkey is now a celebrity of sorts and is being worshiped by throngs of people...
"After the monkey assumed his role as ‘protector’, the devotees have started offering prayers to him, taking him to be an incarnate of Hanuman."
If I were to suggest something to those civic authorities I'd say stop monkeying around with him. The dude looks sharp.
As they say - 'WE ARE LIKE THAT ONLY'.

Stealing in broad day light
I love this. So Vijay Mallaya, the high flying corporate honcho goes all the way and gets these Gandhi glasses by paying 1.8million USD. I am sure he was expecting a pat on his back by the Government of the day. Instead here's what our Union Minister of Culture has to say - "We sent him to buy this.."

Mallaya must be like.."Wait a second, ...What,How,When,Where....???" ....LOL..good one, Ambika Soni! Talk of eating the Mallaya...I mean the Malai.... The term WTF does not even begin to tell this...

What's in a name?
One of my wife's co-worker's name is...mmm... how do I put it... not the "regular" kinds. On asking what's the story behind such a long name...He goes like this..

"My maternal grandmother wanted to name me Mosses so there's Mosses in it. My maternal grandfather's name is Samuel so it's in there too. My father's name is Daniel so there's Daniel in it. " And here's the knock out... "My paternal grand mother wanted Gyanraj to be my name. So I now go by the name Samuel Mosses Gyanraj Daniel"

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Much Ado about...

So M.K Gandhi's glasses are being auctioned. I am not sure what all the fuss is about though? I tell you, getting outraged is our national pass time now.

James Otis, the current owner is auctioning it for some reasons. (Bad times I think!). If most Indians feel, these glasses are important, and should be with India, just go and buy them.

In fact while we are at it, I'd suggest India in general and Congress Party in particular should go on a shopping spree and take advantage of current economic downturn. Go, get all those Gandhi's and Nehru's stuff around the world. Both M.K Gandhi and J Nehru were rich NRIs at some point in time. I am sure they have a lot of other stuff up for grabs in London, South Africa and the US waiting to be auctioned...

And Congress Party is flushed with money. It has a multi-million dollar ad budget for coming elections. And more importantly, the "other" Gandhi family, the ones ruling us, have tax declaration in crores of rupees. I don't see how a set of glasses that cost around 20K can be such a big issue for them. After all Mohandas Gandhi was a lifetime member of the Indian National Congress, no?

Go for the KILL! Dodos.

Dancing with the Wolves

Omar Hassan Al-bashir and China have a deal. China needs tons and tons of oil to fuel it's economy and Bashir needs tons and tons of money to fuel his genocide pogrom. Both need each other. And both have done a good job being together so far. China is getting it's regular fuel supply from Sudan and Bashir, well let's just say, he has easily topped Idi Amin.

Kristoff of New York Times argues today that..
We also must call on China to stop training the military pilots used by Mr. Bashir to strafe villages, and to stop supplying weapons and spare parts to Sudan as long as Mr. Bashir is in office.
Ya, good luck trying that. The Chinese could care less. They have a billion plus people to feed. For them Sudan makes business sense. 300,000+ Africans dropping dead like pins or not.

Meanwhile Bashir is busy celebrating and dancing on streets of Khartoum.

Last heard, George Clooney had contacted Dan Boyle in UK. He sees a good script in the making.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

'Aadaa Paadaa'

U know how school kids can be so weird about Farting and stuff. Like they'll blame each other and giggle and make a huge deal about it.

So I had this friend in school who would rip a few and he would quickly point finger at the next unsuspecting kid; before any one could figure out that he has royally polluted their breathing space. It was the classic blame game defense mechanism.

Looks like ISI is acting like that obnoxious little school kid. They are blaming India for the terrorist attack on the visiting Sri Lankan Cricket Team.

I'd say the only way to resolve this conundrum now is to use the time proved - Aadaa Paadaa;

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Too bad!

An EconomicTimes article on immigration says ....

[...]large parts of the general public are more than aware that a skewed welfare system, a generation of soft living, a screwed up education system, and a lack of available skills[...]

Sounds uncannily familiar? No, it's not uncle Sam we are talking here. It's their partner in all crimes, the Great Britain that's being referred.

As much as I hate to break this to the Brits, but, having too many facilities without having to pay for it have there own consequences. Too bad, you dug yourself into one hole...

In case you missed the big news gulping all those beers sitting on your snobbish little asses (and taking 3 months paid leaves), your big brother on the west of the Atlantic is currently dealing with his own screw ups. So good luck trying to get off that nanny state.