Wednesday, July 28, 2010


It's a small remote village in interior parts of the state of Maharashtra. It's a place where mud houses galore, there are no roads and when I last visited it, it had a notional version of Electricity; The one who's existence was based purely on MSEB's mood swings.

It is not a green village, and the once free flowing village river has dried out long back. The only means of income is farming which depends heavily on subsidies. It has a local co-operative bank and a post office too, but for all other practical administrative purposes, the people of this village go to the nearest big town which is called Wani. Wani is about 30 kilometers from it and Wani itself has not much home to write about.

Why am I bothering to write about such a place in the first place?

Because it is where my family started it's journey. It's the place where my Grandfather held a sway.

My Grandfather owned land and house in there. He had a big family of 6 kids. But since he was involved in freedom struggle he missed out on the childhood of some of his kids. My Grandmother was the defacto head of the house in his prolonged absence at times. How she managed all this, I have no clue. But she did manage and all my uncles and aunts completed their education. They used to attend school and college in Wani till they finally had to move to Nagpur for doing graduation.

All this while, my Grandfather provided the financial support (he did good for most part) while my grandmother provided the moral and emotional one. Between handling Mardi and Nagpur, India got it's independence.

If I have to connect the dots backwards, I see it as something remarkable. We have been a family of immigrants. My Grandfather held it on his own in a small village in British India. My father worked his way up in a small 2nd-tier city of Nagpur in Central India and lived all his life there. Nagpur is him and he is Nagpur now. My Uncle on the other hand lived all his professional life as a scientist in Mumbai. And now me, the 3rd generation relative to my Grandfather have been living in Chicago for last few years.

In each case the immigration was triggered by one word. The word is Opportunity. In my father's and uncles case it was more the educational opportunities which were better in Nagpur than at Mardi, And in my case it's job.

We moved to place where there was a "better" opportunity than what was available at our current setup. Of course I have to put the word better in quotes, coz it's all relative. In other word, if I wanted to, I could have had created for myself a good career at the place of my birth - Nagpur. But I still moved out of Nagpur. What drove was "better" opportunity.

If I have to put all this differently, I would put it this way - "A place where I get better returns for my efforts".

If you look at it, the previous generation moved away from their roots for the same reason. They saw better returns for their efforts.

It may seem to be like a "trade". And at the very basic and fundamental level - it is. And that's what humans inherently do. We trade.
And not only charges. We are constantly trading. We trade ideas, knowledge, skills, labor etc. I trade my skills in return of income. So we all do. When we join a firm, it's basically a trade. I will provide work,idea,creativity,analysis,labor in some form, in exchange of salary. The place that provides me more buck for my bang would be my natural relocation point. Of course there are a lot of factors. But the one thing that does not change is the word it self - opportunity.

The Opportunity to do something positive, constructive, creative, analytic, intellectually stimulating, progressive and one that allows me to indulge into a positive engagement of my mind,time and energy in return for some greens to keep me going.

Mardi did not offer same to my father so he moved to Nagpur. Nagpur did not offer me the same so I moved out. What system or model of governance really offers more fruitful and fulfilling opportunities, that's personal and debatable. I don't want to go into that. But the very fact that I made an informed choice of moving to America, a country that was not my natural birth place, tells me something about my own choices. And I cannot be in denial of that.

And I also believe in standing up for that choice I made. I fully and completely stand by it. I think given the circumstances I would not choose another path.

Bottom line is, we do not choose the country, city, state, village we are born. But we do at some level CHOOSE what place we make our life moves in adulthood.

For centuries humans have done this. We moved because of weather conditions, river, resources, skills etc. In each case the basic word was opportunity. Opportunity to have a "better" quality of life. For 3 generations at least my family has moved. And I am totally cool with it.


P.S : I had written this a couple of years back. This was lying on a txt file somewhere in "My Documents". I have a son now. Not sure where he is going to Migrate?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lingo Bingo

Something intrigued me while watching the series Mad Men the other day. In 1960s Manhattan, 'swell' was a commonly used term. The closest word to match swell in today's lingo is 'cool'

It's funny how our lingo, both spoken and written, keeps changing. It seems to me like the classical English we all learnt earlier in our life, the technically correct one I mean, is a drag now. There you go, I just used .. "is a drag". I don't seem to remember if "is-a-drag" thingy I used much, just few years back. (Thingy? Really?)

Here are a few things (slang I guess) I picked up in last decade or so ...

'you are kidding me'
'get the drift?'
'keeping it honest'
'size it up'
'i wouldn't do that'
'That is 'so' not cool'
'big time'
'cool'and now 'kewl'
'don't quote me on that'
'that's a given'
'shove it up your..'
'it grows on you'
'we are in a home stretch'
'that was smooth'
'oh boy'
'r we on same page'
'crunch the numbers'
'here's the rub'

and many more I can't seem to think of..

Just a thought : English is probably the most structurally scalable language IMO.(I admit I don't know enough languages to make this call)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why I am a Hindu?

In a way I agree to Karl Marx's view - "Religion is opium of the masses". It indeed is. It intoxicates and numbs big part of humanity into becoming irrational zombies.

So after giving such a dramatically negative introduction to my views of religion, why do I put - "Why I am a Hindu?" in the post title?

Let me explain. But before that, let me get something straight out - I am not a fan of Karl Marx's. I hate his theories in general and oppose communism/Marxism to death. I think communism is bigger danger than all religions put together. It's a bigger evil. Period. (The 'why' side of this? Some other day)

Why I am a Hindu? Or rather why I chose to be a Hindu?

I'll manoeuvre one path of this labyrinth at a time.. and give my best shot.

I was born into a Hindu family. As in, a family, who thinks they are Hindus. Who believe they are Hindus. But if you really ask any of my family members what a "Hindu" really is; I can bet a million dollars (something I don't have), that no one can spell it out clearly.

Quite frankly no one really knows who a Hindu is? Or what a Hindu is? And that to me, is the first plus. It is like pulp fiction. No clearly defined borders. No clearly defined boundaries.

What that means is, you can pretty much believe in what you want. And can believe in what you don't want. There's no over-powering authority (like a Pope or an Imam) who can dictate what's "allowed".

It is non-monotheist in nature. That's a second plus for me. I don't like monotheism. It reeks of superfluous power.

The basic premise of Hinduism, if any at all there is one, is - Karma. And Karma or action/deeds itself is a universal notion. It's non-religious in nature. What I am getting at is, being Hindu in a sense is being non-religious.

People confuse "rituals and traditions" with religion. Religion per se is more like a doctrine.

That brings me to the 3rd plus. Hindus have no overriding doctrine.

Then the point really is - why follow religion at all? What's the point?

I think saying that all religions are evil and all are same is over simplifying stuff. I don't think all religions are "evil" and I most certainly don't think all are same. And there in lies one of my answers for following Hinduism.

Since not all religions are same, but the big ones are really really imposing in a way (either because of money power and/or muscle power), as a human being, I feel obliged to counter it.

Think of it this way. If the tea party crazy loonies form a big political party in the US, thanks to large money power pumped in by Talk Radio hosts and they start throwing their weight around so much so that they start defining and imposing their ways of life, you would need a counter balance, a positive, liberal, alternative pole, to hold. A group that can stay put and hold its own against a bigger power, lest being in danger of being run over.

Hinduism is something like that. It's a counter-alternative (albeit a weak one) to the 2 very big and powerful religions of the world. It's the most liberal religion on earth with no hard-core contours.

Being a Hindu is in essence being a liberal. It's needed sometimes to call out, and be counted and not give the big and powerful a free run. And that's where Hinduism comes to play for me.

Hindus don't massacre "others" under the guise of 'jihad'. They don't have crusades in their entire history of being. And to think its the oldest religion, they had a higher probability of doing that.

Hinduism is like a big umbrella under which several smaller religions found home and wisdom. Buddhism and Jainism to name a few.

But here's the most important reason I like being a Hindu. Believe it or not, Hinduism actually has a branch that supports atheism. In a way Hinduism is OK with atheism.

If I chose not to believe in God, I don't have to and still be counted as a Hindu. Can't say that about others..can you?

As a proud Hindu, I believe in Action. I believe good actions bring good results. I strive not to worry about the "fal". If it comes it comes. Although I am not always successful doing that, Hinduism does tell me it works.


Caste System

Most westerners, or people who have been bred with western influence deride the 'caste system' in Hinduism, and to an extent rightly so. Anything that tolerates differentiating between humans based on caste of birth has to be criticised.

But we are making a big assumption here. Hinduism has nothing to do with caste. Caste is an outcome of several hundred years of (mis)rule of Kings who happened to be Hindus. It's not religion specific. It's country specific. And most people forget one of the most important data available out there.

Most of the castes that are supposed to be at the bottom of the ladder today were actually rulers and dominant forces few hundred years back.

I was born in a Brahmin family. Most of the Brahmins were extremely poor few centuries ago. Then they started learning and educating and slowly getting into good books of rulers and aligning themselves with power. That's how they started getting better off. Even in today's India, a very large proportion of Brahmins are extremely poor. The so called "upper cast" people who live below poverty line, with virtually zero help from government.

The point being, in cycle of events spread across centuries, some group of people (note : caste = group), find their ways around and move up the food chain while some group simply fall behind due to various circumstances. Both external and internal to the group itself.

Just to simplify this logic a bit, take a look at the different states in India. Each state has a different mix of caste and sub-caste. In overall scheme of things, check what state is ruled by what group. Who's the dominant force. It's a nice homework, if you want to understand caste system in India.


The Hindutava forces

Shiv Sena, VHP, Bajrang Dal represent Hinduism only as much as English represent Soccer. Just because the notorious English soccer fans go rogue with beer in hand, does not mean, Soccer is bad. Or English Soccer is bad. Soccer is followed like a religion by bunch of hooligans too. Does that make Soccer itself bad.

And without going into details of Shiv Sena, VHP etc, I can only say, these are reactionary forces that got created because of extremely lopsided policies pursued by the Congress party over 60 years of its gigantic misrule.(Congress created Shiv Sena to counter rise of communism in Bombay. In last elections in Maharashtra, Raj Thackrey voted for Congress and Sharad Pawar. Something people gloss over conveniently). In fact lot of caste and class struggle is result of Congress's super bad policies.

Does Shiv Sena represent Hinduism. Hell no. Not an inch of it.


In the end, here's something I am going to say. I like Bill Maher to a point. I know he hates religion. I know a few close people who do too.

I am not in argument with any of them. In fact i welcome constructive criticism (not blind hatred plz) of something. For me Hinduism is Karma; actions. It's a spiritual binding if you will.

When I go to temple every few weeks, I close my eyes and sit for sometime. I have a couple of minutes of spiritual connection. And then come out of the temple and go on with the daily routine. That's about it. I don't expect anyone to follow Hinduism. I don't preach it. It is what it is. If I am the last follower of Hinduism, that's perfectly fine too.

I don't want to impose any religion on anyone. Not even on my own kid. If he grows up to dislike Hinduism for whatever reason; that's fine too. Like me, he will have a choice to follow or not. I won't have any say in it.

For me Hinduism is personal. Period.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Was sort of an eye opener, this article in

How granted are referees taken in a game of sports? I don't know a single WC referee although I know a bunch of international players.

This snippet stands out for me from the article..
Referees, who can be twice the age of the players, sprint across the field keeping up with the players and closely tracking the action. They tend to run 12 miles during the game -- five more than the players, according to data from the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Hmm.. now that's something. Add to it this..
Unlike the elite soccer players who have a cadre of trainers and specialists, most of the referees have day jobs, like teaching or office work, and must find their own time to train.
I think I have a new found respect for them now.

As the world prepares for the biggest sporting showdown starting next week, I sure will keep in mind, that guy wearing black T-shirt and shorts running all across the field in stressed out situations making split second judgment calls. Salut to their Tribe.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pak Face Off

Pakistan has banned Facebook and Youtube for its people. I am not sure how many people there use either of these applications, but lets say even if 5% of the people have internet access and use it, I'd take it as a big chunk. (SAARC nations and Population is never an issue)

Does Facebook care if Pakistan bans it? I don't know. I seriously hope, they don't. It's not worth it, because Facebook should be smart enough not to dignify Pak's actions by even entertaining their "protest".

I have strong views on Pakistan; some may say hawkish, and I give a rat's ass if anyone thinks I am unreasonable.

The issue with Pakistan is not Kashmir or poverty or education. These are all side effects; symptoms if you will. The very foundation of that country is an issue. A country that was built purely as a "reaction" to something; a negative one at that. A foundation based entirely on Religion and Ideology is a weak foundation and that kinda of foundation can only grow a failed state, as Pakistan has so graciously proved us all.

How do you deal with it? I don't think we can - directly. (I'll bring back a quote I put sometime back on this blog - "Some problems cannot be solved. You have to manage them")

Let's say for example, India does agree to give Kashmir to Pakistan; will that be enough to buy peace? Naha. If people think its that easy, they are just being naive. It's not about Kashmir. Kashmir is an excuse. If it's not Kashmir it will be Punjab, if not Punjab it will be "why-are-you-treating-Indian-Muslims-badly" chorus; we gona bomb more of your cities.

They will keep creating n-number of excuses to be a nuisance in the region.

I have no respect for Pakistan (as if it's not evident enough). It's for me an extremely bad excuse for a nation. It's not a nation. It's a land where enough people have been indoctrined to "serve Allah". Pakistan is actually an extended Madarsa.

Pakistan's Army's motto if translated from Urdu reads - "In service of Allah". Yes, no kidding. That's their official motto.

Do I feel bad about the "regular" people of that country? The "normal" people? The "like us" people?

I used to. But not any more. I think they are as much to blame for being passive observers. They have been sitting on the fence for so long that now its meaningless. The power is long gone. Many of the middle class people (the "like us" people) were actually cheer leading from the same fence, when general Zia was running riot, converting Pakistan into a theocratic state and playing footsie with the US. During the late 70s Pak would rub our noses of the ground, since India was still a struggling socialist nation. (We din't have Pepsi/Coke that they had. They assumed that was sign of "progress". It was actually crumbs thrown by uncle Sam to use their land against Soviet mission in Afghan)

Much water has flown through Jhelum since then. And probably the state Pak is in, blood is the single biggest pollutant of Jhelum.

Will it implode under its own 8th century ideology's weight? I don't know. It has already once in a way, when it was split in 1971. So who knows....?

I say Pakistan should ban internet itself. Why stop at facebook/youtube etc. Isn't internet against their holy laws?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Weekend Listee

- Got ripped by the new ISP guys - Clear. Had to go through a whole lot of trouble having to cancel it. Still not sure, if it's done. //todo : Write a letter, spread the bad word around and register with consumer complain agency. (Like it'll ever work)

- Waiting for World Cup Soccer to start, but not sure how I will catch all the action. Most games will be during day time; which sucks. Will this be Leo Messi's year? (Check the slow motion part of the video. It's a cracker..)

- Tories won most seats in UK general elections this week, but fell short of majority. I wrote something about British Elections in one of my earlier posts where I said - France the poster child of liberal Europe brought in a conservative Sarkozy to power. There's a good chance England will follow suit in next elections. My prediction fell short by just a few seats, but it still looks like 10 Downing will have a conservative PM after a long time. Being a centrist, I consider this a good sign, and hope for sake of UK that David Cameron does the trick.

- Still waiting for my IRS refund. The first time home buyer thing din't really click. We din't qualify for 8 grands as promised by US government, and that was a real bummer. Will take the pro-rated amount now (crumbs really). Damn the fine print.

- Was looking for some old Hindi "lori" songs on youtube and came across this signature Gulzar, RD, Kishore Kumar trio song. Liked it.

- Will like to end this Listee with one good quote I found - "The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind" :D

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Phases and Folks

I lack one art that I wish I had. That of keeping in touch with folks.
I started using Facebook only after slacking for a while. Was not sure whether to jump in or not. And now although I use it quite regularly, I still ain't good at keeping in touch.

For different phases of life you end up choosing different folks to bond.

As kids, you are close to your school and neighborhood friends and to lota extend cousins, both paternal and maternal. Then you go to college and you bond with folks there (specially if you live in hostel). That phase of friends extend to a certain period till you get married.

For most part you still continue to be in touch, but it's not the same anymore. The dynamics changes a bit (whether you agree or don't) as it becomes us from I.It's just the nature of marriage. So, no pinning blame here.

Then of course your work friends join the inner circle and now your time and space is further divided.

Point here is simple, really. You "choose" your folks, based on your phase, situation and liking of course. This cycle probably continues till the end of your life, where you keep adding new friends, but then somehow also loose touch with old ones.

It's not bad really, if I am making it sound like it. It's really not.

You can stay in touch with only so many people all the time. It's practically impossible to sustain same level of rapport across ages, across phases and sometimes across countries / continents.

Things change. Situation changes... and again one ultra random stuff.

Monday, May 3, 2010

m back!

Alrite. So it was almost 6 months hiatus; and t'was a long self-imposed "exile" from blogging. It's actually longest of anything I have imposed. You see, I am not 'imposing' as such - physically and figuratively. (Ok - so some PJs just don't fly. Never mind)

So what's going on? What has been happening?

Ahh. I got one. I hear USA has now joined the bandwagon of universal health care. Mr O is back in business after a brief Boston Tea Party set back. I thought the Republicans really shot themselves in the foot and pushed themselves into the corner by their extreme negativism. Serves them well. In the end, the bill wasn't perfect but a victory for O and Pelosi nevertheless. Congratulations Dems. You showed you had spine; for once.

Had some personal changes in life in the meantime. Bought a house in the Chicago burbs and became a father to a handsome baby boy. He's doing well, thank you.

This is probably the only time I am gona mention something like this on the blog. I want to keep this blog about me. My views, my ideas, however dumb, demented and insane they may be. This is my private zone. And I wana decouple it from my personal life as much as possible and as much as I love my family. And yes, I have my reasons, not to bring in personal stuff in here.

I don't have much to blabber about today. Life is alrite. Going well so far. I am turning old and not necessarily wise. But that's ok. Sometimes wisdom is overrated. You just got to dig your hands and do it. That's how it works. That's why Socrates never became a King! Karma; that's all it is, as my Hindu blood would say.

Oh yes. Haven't seen television in a while. Nor seen any movies. Oh wait; I did see 3Idiots. It was a quintessential Hiranisque movie. I think he has the finger on Indian pulse. Or atleast some demography of it. He's got a hat-trick now, no? (Disclosure : I am biased about Hirani for 2 reasons. He is a Nagpuri and also my fellow alumnus from S.F.S)

What else? Yes. I have been boring my office people about Nagpuri Samosas a lot. Well, atleast I have it on their radar now. So anytime someone mentions Samosa, they can think of Nagpur. I am doing my bit of promoting my you can tell.

It's almost 11:00 pm now. My mind is dense and I can't think of much. Had a long day at work; although was working from home. (I feel like I work more when I am wfh)..

So anyhow; I will keep posting stuff in here. So hang around sometimes. I promise I won't bore you with Samosa stories. That's for my hapless co-workers. And ye, I may be sending some of you an unsolicited email/message. For all those who I think may have read my stuff in past and may like to reconnect.... and apologies for this ultra random post. But it had to start somewhere..

C U soon.