Monday, April 27, 2009


This implodes with WTF-ness.... People have got way too much of time out there..I'll have to say...I am happy they have me at 58% at least...
man! thaz borderline.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


What are things that divide our views as people? Before you say Coke and Pepsi, I think here's what I feel...

There's one word. It's faith. Now, faith itself can be in many things apart from religion. In other words, an acrimonious debate between an Indian and a Paki can have same intensity as a fight between a Red Sox fan and a Yankee one or an argument of Mac over PC..

In either case, the two parties involved in the debate have associated themselves and aligned to a particular "faith". The Red Sox guy for instance is so "faithful" and loyal to his team he refuses to budge. So the follow up question should be, how do we become so tightly coupled with our respective faiths so as not see the opposing view clearly? To paraphrase; what is that drive that keeps us from being in other party's shoes?

Come to think of it, faith, whether in a religion or an idea, or a political party, or an ideology, or a set of convictions, or a set of principles, or a person or prime minister or a president... Why is it so strong that we bargain loosing sleep, sense of equilibrium and even friends at times?

I think the answer lies in another word. And the word is - EGO. It's almost like a game. We see losing an argument as a Loss of a point, say, in a tennis game. And try to make a comeback. Our ego, takes over and we try to reassure ourselves that our "faith" in an xyz thing is well placed. Even sacrosanct. And it should not be shaken, because it is pure.

A person however broad minded or "smooth" s/he may sound, has a set of tightly coupled faith umbrella. Let me give the example of my wife. She's as apolitical a person I have seen. She is neither liberal nor conservative. She did not support Obama in last elections but neither was for McCain. That does not mean, she does not have a mind of her own :)
She simply is detached to these things. But does that mean, she does not have faith and ego? Nopes totally wrong. You have to ask me to what it is like arguing with her. She won't budge a cent.

That's an indicator that she has tightly coupled faith. Not in Religion or Political Party or Chicago Bears. But she has her own set of convictions that if questioned can rile her up real good.

My point is, debates over Politics,Religion,Sports are probably more visible form of faith based divisions. But there are many many issues we all consciously or sub-consciously have aligned ourselves with. And these are nothing but our own respective faith in those entities. And once a person associates herself with a certain set of ideas, it's hard to decouple her from it. We are all reasonable and un-reasonable in few areas. No person is completely and absolutely reasonable in ALL domains; although our fanaticism may vary!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Black money? What's that?

No prizes for guessing why the Indian government and the loud,progressive, secular media (NDTV,IBN,The Hindu,Toilet-paper-of-India) are thunderously silent on all the Black Money stacked by Indians in the European Banks.
De has better explanation so I wouldn't really expand..

No wonder, the first family keeps coming back to power year after year after year.. The Monarchy makes me sick to my core, but the crawling and bending media houses make me cringe even more..

In their tax / asset declaration to the Election commission, the Gandhis declared, they did not even own a Car. (Puke, puke...)

If even 25% of the money is brought back to the country, we'd have more roads, hospitals and schools in rural India. But then, we need the Monarchy to continue ruling the hapless voters who can be bought at 500/- on the voting day. Democracy? Ya right.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rediff comment

Check this comment on

I am producing it in full here..

Shahrukh Khan will pay the price for removing Gaguly
by Shilpi Sen on Apr 18, 2009 03:35 AM Permalink | Hide replies

Shahrukh Khan is most hated person in Bengal. He went against Bengali people quite a few times now. Last year he sent back 6 Bengali players to cut the cost but kept non performing Ppakistani players in team.

This year again he removed Kolkata from the KKR wordings and then removed Ganguly from the captaincy.

If Shahrukh Khan is upset with Ganguly and Kolkata then why his movies should be shown in West Bengal? Why last year he was requesting Ganguly to talk to Basu for tax exemptions. Shahrukh Khan is fooling whole India in the same way but Bengali people has seen his true colors in last 2 years.

I can say this confidently because I witnessed many KKR matches last year and seen change of behavior from SRK when they started loosing.

Clearly it is all over the place. This statement really got me though - "If Shahrukh Khan is upset with Ganguly and Kolkata then why his movies should be shown in West Bengal?"

No comments.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

There you go!

Wisdom prevails. USA intends to invest good in High Speed Rails. I like it.
It was about time; as I had hoped earlier.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Safari Suit and the Drama

There's this notion of dressing style called Safari Suit. I am sure there's a reason why the suit is called "Safari" and I don't intend to dig it up. But I was surprised, there actually was a website called

Whatever may be it's origin or the story behind this suit, I think this form of attire is.. what's the word I am looking for here.. yeah... Obnoxious. It's creepy actually. Why would you want to do it to yourself? That is a fair question to ask, I think.

So last visit to Nagpur I took my wife to watch this Marathi drama at Vasantrao Deshpande Hall. This was part of my whole, "impress-Nagpur-on-her" syndrome. Basically Nagpur has the "culture" thing going too; something I somehow thought was important to prove (ok, you have to hold that look back.., I have my reasons.)

I booked the tickets for the show in advance. (Nobody does that in Nagpur it seems. I think the idea is to just show up. "Advance booking" is for dorks) We came to the hall around 12:50pm as the drama was to start at 1:00 pm. You'd think that if 1:00 pm is printed on the ticket, the show would start at 1:00, right? Fair assumption? Only it din't. Actually it did not start even at 1:30. Neither at 1:45. It started at 2:00 pm.

But that's not the worst part. There were people still coming inside the auditorium till 2:30pm; a good one and a half hour after the official start time. It's like they couldn't care less.

And every time someone entered that dark auditorium, a big stream of light would enter the hall via the open door, breaking the whole momentum of the show. The show never got traction coz of that. (Like it would have mattered)

By 2:30 I had already lost interest in the drama. I was observing my watch and people alternatively. I was not even freaking out. This all made no sense. So I had given up on anything remotely rational or reasonable. The people in general looked fine with all this. So I was ok too. I had turned native.

The drama was a comedy one. So you'd expect some moments of comic relief. Only both me and my wife felt out of place. It's not like we were not getting the humor. But it was just lame. Plain lame. Prashant Damle was making faces and would break into random act of song and dance once in a while too. Not sure what he had in mind.

Somehow all this made a lot of sense to the 'gentleman' sitting behind us. He totally "got it". He was totally digging it. Laughing out loudly and showing his deep admiration for Mr Damle's acting. But what bothered me more was, there was this one word he kept repeating ad nauseum.. "Class... Class... Class" even while he himself erupted into multiple uncontrollable LOLs.

I am sure he meant, it was a class act, but tiger..easy! Like this was some classic Shakespearean Comedy of Errors. He just could not gather himself. He was putting himself out there. Loudly sure, but it was not clear why. And yes he was wearing a "Safari Suit".

Man that combination. A loud man, a loud attire and the word "Class".

I was waiting desperately for the interval, although it wouldn't have mattered to anyone if I had just walked right through the exit door and left. But the samosa guys wouldn't be there. So I waited for that intermission ring and boy! did I run to the stalls to get those awesome tiny samosas.

For me, those samosa making dark circular oily maps on the white paper plate, more than made up for everything else. I'd say go to those shows for the samosas. It's easy to endure anything after that.


Post Script : Nagpur Samosa is the best snack ever. Period.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

4th most corrupt!

Quite frankly I am not sure how they come up with an empirical data for this, but if this study/survey is to be believed, India is the 4th most corrupt nation in Asia.
I am thinking it should be in top 20 if not 10 of the world.

If you were born and raised in India this should not surprise you one bit. We have seen,heard and even lived corruption. Corruption is a way of life in India. And we have come to a point in last 60 odd years of "independence" to expect corruption to be regular, normal and mundane. It's like, its a given.

I am sure even reading about it is a yawn. But just think about it, why have we taken this for granted? How low have we set our bars?

I know people will say, "So what? All nations are corrupt. America has corruption too, but only at higher level."

I would like to stick my neck out on it. America may be corrupt. And I am sure in the higher echelons it is. But I can say for sure, that for day to day routine for commoners like me, it is not in same ball part as India. Not even close.

Point in case - I got my US driver's ID in 1 hour flat. It took me years to get it in India, and when I did get, I got it under the table (there; i have a red flag in my blog now)

I was speaking to one of my co-workers the other day. Her family is originally from China although she's an American citizen. We often compare stuff on India and China. She did mention it to me a couple of times that corruption is rampant in China too. You cannot get your simple, regular "work done" unless you grease the palms of some authority.

Considering that both India and China are pretty corrupt, it can logically be deduced that "monopolizing" of a system leads to corruption. Both India and China had "socialists/communists" leanings and hence had the State controlling the 'commanding heights of economy'. The result was that extraordinary power came in hands of few. This monopolizing of power gives sundry authorities like government workers more power than they merit. And power corrupts.

In other words distribution of power diminishes the probability of corruption instances, although there's no possible system that can completely eliminate it. Distribution of power is necessary although NOT a sufficient condition for eliminating corruption.

Which comes to my next conjecture. Since man by nature is imperfect, it would be impossible for man to create a perfect system. He can only improve but never "nail it" really.

6 billion imperfect men cannot develop one perfect system. The chances are 6 billion times remote. But we can create the closest to best or perfect (second best, i.e). Meaning the closest we can get to be best.

In terms of CMM model we need to "optimize" and keep improving. None of the systems will ever be perfect. But we should try and adopt a system that gives more bang for the buck. In short, something that is beneficial to vast majority, if not to ALL. (There are always going to be fringe elements in society who would loose out. To think that those fringe elements somehow represent the whole template is not reasonable)

If all the systems of the world are to be compared, Socialist and Communist model surely do not make a strong case for that "second best system" I am talking of. It can be a romantic concept, but on ground it has reverse impact on quality of life for the majority. And the key word I need to emphasize is Majority again. Which is exactly my argument. (If 42% of children in India are still malnourished, you get the drift)

For all the rambling that I have done so far, only one line from the brilliant Winston Churchill should really suffice -
The inherent vice of Capitalism is uneven distribution of wealth. The inherent vice of Socialism is even distribution of miseries

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Such are things...

The current Indian government's partner in these elections the Samajwadi Party released it's manifesto..

The party says it is against computers..
"The use of computers in offices is creating unemployment problems. Our party feels that if work can be done by a person using hands there is no need to deploy machines,"
And add this one..
The party's manifesto also mentions that it will work to abolish schools providing expensive education in English medium..
But oh well, since "all parties are same" and we need to keep some "bad" parties away from power at any cost, we may as well vote for UPA in elections.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


[Warning: Long post..]

The only other place, outside India, I had ever visited before coming to USA was our friendly neighborhood Nepal. And Nepal was not really foreign, coz we clubbed that trip with Sikkim and Darjeeling.

Quite frankly Sikkim felt more 'foreign' than Nepal. At least people in Nepal understood Hindi. So much for Nepal being alien.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was where I landed and started my professional journey in USA. Like any other Desi who first arrives here, I had little clue what to expect. The cab ride from Pittsburgh Airport to the hotel (Holiday Inn,Greentree) felt surreal. It was late evening and our African-American cabbie was listening to some random radio channel. He also had a walkie-talkie which for some reasons constantly emitted messages. We were three of us, me and my two co-workers, who were going to lodge in the hotel for a few days before we could find ourselves more regular accommodation.

The idea of our company booking us in Holiday Inn had impressed us. But once we landed at the hotel reception our temporary effervescence fizzled like a flat soda bottle. Signs of human existence seemed far fetched. It was also scarily silent. It was around 10:30 pm alright, 'but still', we thought. No "salute" wala doorman, no one to pick our luggage, no one at the 'reception' to receive and to register. The contrast with Holiday Inn, Pune was telling to say the least.

It hit me that we had finally arrived in a country where any kind of service will be at a premium. All three of us looked at each other with complete zero-ness and vacuum; something usually associated with a long travel or, say a, tough Viva question.

After waiting for about 10 minutes at the reception counter, a grumpy looking fatso appeared on the scene. She registered us without a smile or small talk and showed us our way. No "welcomes" or anything. (Our desi blood expected that on our first day in America for some reason). It was plain. We went into our respective rooms without talking and walked silently towards it. Thankfully the rooms were in a much better shape than the fatso at reception.

My company had given all of us a list of "Dos and Don'ts" for the client office visit next day, where we were expected to work on a seemingly long project. It had some random draft about American work culture and how Desis should behave and more importantly *not* behave etc. This must be some CMM level 5 shit my company usually had up it's sleeves, I thought to myself during the 'orientation' routine.
(It's a little weird that a few years down the line I got another similar "Dos and Don'ts" list, but only this time from my current company, which is American. It was for my first official visit to India. The classic role reversal. This time I was the Client visiting our offshore Vendor)

Inside the room, I took out some thalipeeths from my bag and ate some of them, thinking it was morning breakfast time in India. I tried to channel surf my way through boredom but it was futile. The overall SILENCE of the entire premise was killing me.

Next day morning we went to have breakfast. It was plain-jane again. Waffles,Bagles, Bread etc. Man, I had already started missing kande pohe, idli sambar, khuchkara. The plain-jane-ness of this whole place was just sinking in. Yet we were all prepared to face our clients in downtown. We had formal attire with laptop bags. Holiday Inn had a free downtown drop off shuttle and that was a relief, because the notion of ordering a cab was alien to us. In India it would have been simple - just yell for a rickshaw and hop into it.

The address was xxx, Fort Duquesne Blvd, Pittsburgh. I told the shuttle driver we have to go to Duquesne street. I pronounced it - Dukuznee. It was supposed to be more like - Dukane - where 's' was silent. He had a smirk and a smile when he understood what I wanted to say.
I found my self in an embarrassing dialect situation with my pronunciation of a Noun even as my colleagues enjoyed a vicarious laugh at my expense. My first lessons in American-English had officially begun.

The ride from Greentree to Downtown Pittsburgh was impressive. That city has a very Ooty kind of feeling. Hilly terrain, topsy-turvy roads and tall pine trees. There was minimal honking of cars or not at all. I also saw a series of bridges around downtown. Finally we reached our office right on the river boulevard. This was Fort Duquesne. The office building was imposing even as we waited for someone to fetch us at the office reception.

The dude from the client end who was co-ordinating our stay was Gerald. Gerald had few idiosyncrasies that are hard to describe. He had a way about him. He introduced us to all other team members and let us settle in our respective cubicles.

After a while he came back and asked us out for team lunch. Since it was our first day, it would be a good start to know each other over lunch, he thought. Not a bad idea, I thought.

All three of us made a presumption that the lunch will be on the house or on the client actually.

As it turned out, it was not. It was a soldier payment system. We were now like a deer on the headlights. Almost stranded. We looked at each other again clueless ly as others started chipping in cash on the bill book after the lunch was over. (It was called 'check' here in USA, something I remembered from that "Dos" List).

It was our first day in this country. We had yet to open bank accounts so there was no Debit card. We din't have any credit history so there was no Credit Card. We had lot of traveler checks, if the restaurant was ok with it. But I don't think they'd take. Finally we chipped in cash, which our company had provided before leaving for US.

I got my first lesson in American office culture. Always expect soldier or dutch payment. "Atithi devo bhava" is not valid here. And I don't know why it should be valid anywhere.

It feels like it has been a while since I first landed here and much water has flown through Allegheny and Ohio river. I have been living in Chicago for last few years. Have got pretty well acquainted my self with American culture, both work and social. At least I think I have. My current company is native and is as cool as it gets. Non-fussy and Non-bureaucratic. Over the years I have not been able to keep in touch with those 2 dudes I came with. I last visited Pittsburgh in 2004. Last year I did pass through it but did not go inside the city. (I don't know why;I think I should have).

Pittsburgh was not as big as Chicago for sure, but had a neat little downtown. The Heinz field would be filled with yellow T-Shirts every Steelers game and from the distant bridge that was on my bus route the field would look like a big bowl filled with yellow custard.

There were countless number of bridges going into downtown; and I think Pittsburgh used to be called "City of Bridges" if not "City of Steel". It is special in the sense that it was my first city in an alien land. That's where I started this so far short journey and learnt whatever positives and negatives about this nation. As I connect my dots backwards, I can't help but mention Pittsburgh as an important station where I halted for a brief period whilst I discovered more of my own - America.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


There are a few inescapable attributes to a college life. One such attribute that cuts across all lowest common denominators is Udhari (Credit, for the more anglicized..)

Udhari finds a natural place for itself in a system that engulfs a college guy's de facto pauperized state. A dude is always in state of economic recession during his college phase and udhari is that, much needed lubricant that keeps his system going.

For example for us when I was in college there were two principle credit centers. Ganpat and Sanju. Ganpat was the owner of a small and shady wada-pav and tea shop outside the hostel and Sanju was the owner of a STD booth (again STD = Subscriber Trunk Dialing, for all the dirty minds out there ). Both these men catered to products / services that were essential for a hosteler's survival. The oily-greasy-unhealthy wada-pav of course being the substitute for staple diet and STD booth, the sole connection point back home.

We depended on Ganpat's and Sanju's largesses to survive and they in turn depended on us for their business. This mechanism of udhari that got built over the period of time became so seamless that both these people would trust us, the consumers, to make entries into their books each time we utilized their service. It was just trust essentially.

And trust is actually another name for Udhari. Because there was no legal contract on us to "pay off" the debt. It was only faith (and may be hope and pray on their part) that we would "some day" pay off our respective udharis. [It is little surprise then, that the word 'credit' itself comes from the Latin word Credere, which means trust.]

Our credit worthiness and our credit history was never really investigated by the Ganpats and Sanjus of the world.

It is pretty apparent to me that credit is the necessary evil for a financial system to function. Without credit there's loss of trust and without trust there's loss of confidence.

What happened in the Americas last few months can be explained using Ganpat and us. Ganpat kept giving udhari to us students and students kept eating and over leveraging their trust. At some point a bulk of dudes got indigestion and stopped eating, while still others started defaulting. At a certain threshold of defaults, Ganpat could no longer sustain credit and the system collapsed. No wada-pavs and no Tea.

Will China be USA's Ganpat? Who the f knows.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Friday Spoofs

# The spoof says - Pakistan is awarded World Heritage country
Well, makes sense to me; any entity that is in danger of being extinct should be declared World Heritage.

# Pak, says it will probe the incident of flogging of a young girl.
So what's the probe? Whether the incident happened at all (I think you have it on camera already) or ...

# Just discovered at the work lunch table today that Chicago has an area in city called 'The Viagra Triangle'. The reason it's called such, is because the restaurants around that location are visited by rich old men with fancy cars accompanied by young females. Enuf said.

# SRK says, Cheerleading is not vulguar. I would have to agree. Although, his cheerleading for the Congress party, is...

# Rohit heard this another BS doing rounds in work meetings nowadays and this one was swell. "The ninja move for getting this thing done now is...". Ninja move?Here's my question though. How do you Bull Shit with a straight face?

Thursday, April 2, 2009