Saturday, September 23, 2006

Post 150 : Passages 24 (What is life but a set of this one!!)

SV, SR, Pg. 404 Alone, he all at once remembered that he and Pamela had once disagreed, as they disagreed on everything, on a short--story they'd both read, whose theme was precisely the nature of the unforgivable. Title and author eluded him, but the story came back vividly. A man and a woman had been intimate friends (never lovers) for all their adult lives. On his twenty--first birthday (they were both poor at the time) she had given him, as a joke, the most horrible, cheap glass vase she could find, its colours a garish parody of Venetian gaiety. Twenty years later, when they were both successful and greying, she visited his home and quarrelled with him over his treatment of a mutual friend. In the course of the quarrel her eye fell upon the old vase, which he still kept in pride of place on his sitting-room mantelpiece, and, without pausing in her tirade, she swept it to the floor, smashing it beyond hope of repair. He never spoke to her again; when she died, half a century later, he refused to visit her deathbed or attend her funeral, even though messengers were sent to tell him that these were her dearest wishes. "Tell her," he said to the emissaries, "that she never knew how much I valued what she broke." The emissaries argued, pleaded, raged. If she had not known how much meaning he had invested in the trifle, how could she in all fairness be blamed? And had she not made countless attempts, over the years, to apologize and atone? And she was dying, for heaven's sake; could not this ancient, childish rift be healed at the last? They had lost a lifetime's friendship; could they not even say goodbye? "No," said the unforgiving man. -- "Really because of the vase? Or are you concealing some other, darker matter?" -- "It was the vase," he answered, "the vase, and nothing but." Pamela thought the man petty and cruel, but Chamcha had even then appreciated the curious privacy, the inexplicable inwardness of the issue. "Nobody can judge an internal injury," he had said, "by the size of the superficial wound, of the hole."

Post 149 : Passages 23 (All writers must die, and are whores)

SV, SR, Pg. 392 Baal said, "I've finished. Do what you want." So he was sentenced to be beheaded, within the hour, and as soldiers manhandled him out of the tent towards the killing ground, he shouted over his shoulder: "Whores and writers, Mahound. We are the people you can't forgive." Mahound replied, "Writers and whores. I see no difference here."

Post 148 : Passages 22 (The Poet and His Loss)

SV, SR, Pg. 370 As he drifted towards sleep, Baa! surveyed his own uselessness, his failed art. Now that he had abdicated all public platforms, his verses were full of loss: of youth, beauty, love, health, innocence, purpose, energy, certainty, hope. Loss of knowledge. Loss of money. The loss of Hind. Figures walked away from him in his odes, and the more passionately he called out to them the faster they moved. The landscape of his poetry was still the desert, the shifting dunes with the plumes of white sand blowing from their peaks. Soft mountains, uncompleted journeys, the impermanence of tents. How did one map a country that blew into a new form every day? Such questions made his language too abstract, his imagery too fluid, his metre too inconstant. It led him to create chimeras of form, lionheaded goatbodied serpenttailed impossibilities whose shapes felt obliged to change the moment they were set, so that the demotic forced its way into lines of classical purity and images of love were constantly degraded by the intrusion of elements of farce. Nobody goes for that stuff, he thought for the thousand and first time, and as unconsciousness arrived he concluded, comfortingly: Nobody remembers me. Oblivion is safety. Then his heart missed a beat and he came wide awake, frightened, cold. Mahound, maybe I'll cheat you of your revenge. He spent the night awake, listening to Salman's rolling, oceanic snores.

Post 147 : Passages 21 (Recognized the Ghost?)

SV, SR, Pg. 368 There is no bitterness like that of a man who finds out he has been believing in a ghost. I would fall, I knew, but he would fall with me. So I went on with my devilment, changing verses, until one day I read my lines to him and saw him frown and shake his head as if to clear his mind, and then nod his approval slowly, but with a little doubt. I knew I'd reached the edge, and that the next time I rewrote the Book he'd know everything. That night I lay awake, holding his fate in my hands as well as my own. If I allowed myself to be destroyed I could destroy him, too. I had to choose, on that awful night, whether I preferred death with revenge to life without anything. As you see, I chose: life.

Post 146 : Passages 20 (The real purpose of Halal)

SV, SR, Pg. 364 He vetoed the consumption of prawns, those bizarre other-worldly creatures which no member of the faithful had ever seen, and required animals to be killed slowly, by bleeding, so that by experiencing their deaths to the full they might arrive at an understanding of the meaning of their lives, for it is only at the moment of death that living creatures understand that life has been real, and not a sort of dream.

Post 145 : Passages 19 (Closer to tricks)

SV, SR, Pg. 363 "The closer you are to a conjurer," Salman bitterly replied, "the easier to spot the trick."

Post 144 : Passages 18 ( Two questions, two answers)

SV, SR, Pg. 335 Gibreel saw a man behind his closed eyes: not Faiz, but another poet, well past his heyday, a decrepit sort of fellow. -- Yes, that was his name: Baal. What was he doing here? What did he have to say for himself? -- Because he was certainly trying to say something; his speech, thick and slurry, made understanding difficult . . . _Any new idea, Mahound, is asked two questions. The first is asked when it's weak: WHA T KIND OF AN IDEA ARE YOU? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damnfool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? -- The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world. "What's the second question?" Gibreel asked aloud. Answer the first one first.

Post 143 : Passages 17 (What is a city?)

SV, SR, Pg. 314 "The modern city," Otto Cone on his hobbyhorse had lectured his bored family at table, "is the locus classicus of incompatible realities. Lives that have no business mingling with one another sit side by side upon the omnibus. One universe, on a zebra crossing, is caught for an instant, blinking like a rabbit, in the headlamps of a motor-vehicle in which an entirely alien and contradictory continuum is to be found. And as long as that's all, they pass in the night, jostling on Tube stations, raising their hats in some hotel corridor, it's not so bad. But if they meet! It's uranium and plutonium, each makes the other decompose, boom." -- "As a matter of fact, dearest," Alicja said dryly, "I often feel a little incompatible myself."

Post 142 : Passages 16 (Climbing moutains to lament the death of information)

SV, SR, Pg. 313 "Why I really went up there. Don't laugh: to escape from good and evil." He didn't laugh. "Are mountains above morality, in your estimation?" he asked seriously. "This's what I learned in the revolution," she went on. "This thing: information got abolished sometime in the twentieth century, can't say just when; stands to reason, that's part of the information that got aboish, abo_lished_. Since then we've been living in a fairy--story. Got me? Everything happens by magic. Us fairies haven't a fucking notion what's going on. So how do we know if it's right or wrong? We don't even know what it is. So what I thought was, you can either break your heart trying to work it all out, or you can go sit on a mountain, because that's where all the truth went, believe it or not, it just upped and ran away from these cities where even the stuff under our feet is all made up, a lie, and it hid up there in the thin thin air where the liars don't dare come after it in case their brains explode. It's up there all right. I've been there. Ask me."

Friday, September 22, 2006

Post 141 : Mid-Day Cartoons 25 (National Game)

Source: Mid-day Artist : Hemant Morporia Date : 19th Sep 2006

Post 140 : Mid-day Cartoons 24 (Imam vs. the Pope)

Source: Mid-day Artist : Hemant Morporia Dt : 20th Sep 2006

This one requires no explaination!!!

Post 139 : Movie 1 (The Shining)

Was intrigued by a post at

Very much so that I decided to check out Stephen King's Shining.

Only when I hit wikipedia ( did I realise that this is a Stanley Kubrick movie.

For more about Shining, hit

I am a big fan of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, though I never actually liked A Clockwork Orange.

I read through the whole of Shining, and was reasonably rivetted, must be a good film to see, esp. with Jack Nicholson, playing Jack in it.

Post 138 : Mid-day Cartoons 23 (Laloo and his Train Journey)

Source: Mid-day Artist : Hemant Morporia

This one refers to Laloo Prasad Yadav, who after sucessfully turning around Indian Railways has become a sort of icon, so much so that he was invited at IIM, Ahmedabad to lecture.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Post 137 : India & the art of Nuking themsoles

Got this as a email forward, looks like it is floating all around the web. Liked it so much thought it must go onto my site.


During the Cold War, if USA launched a nuke-loaded missile, Soviet satellites would inform the Soviet army in 3 seconds and in less than 5 seconds Sovietcounter-missiles would be on their way. This was their scenario.................

But if there is a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.The Pakistan army decides to launch a nuke-missile towards India. They don't need any permission from their government, and promptly order the countdowns. Indian technology is highly advanced. In less than 8 seconds, Indian army detects the Pak Countdown and decides to launch a missile in retribution.

But they need permission from the Government of India. They submit their request to the Indian President. The President forwards it to the Cabinet. The Prime Minister calls an emergency Lok Sabha session. The LS meets, but due to several walkouts and severe protests by the opposition, it gets adjourned and adjourned indefinitely.

The President asks for a quick decision. In the mean time, the Pak missile failed to take off due to technical failure. Their attempts for a relaunch are still on. Just then the Indian ruling party is reduced to a minority because a party that was giving outside support withdraws it.

The President asks the PM to prove his majority within a week.As the ruling party fails to win the confidence vote, a caretaker government is installed. The caretaker PM decides to permit the armed forces to launch a nuclear missile.

But the Election Commission says that a caretaker government can not take such a decision because elections are at hand.

A Public Interest Litigation is filed in the Supreme Court alleging misuse of power by the Election Commission. The Supreme Court comes to the rescue of the PM, and says the acting PM is authorized to take this decision in view of the emergency facing the nation.

Just then one of the Pak missiles successfully took off, but it fell 367 miles away from the target, on its own government building at 11.00AM. Fortunately there were no casualties as no employee had reached the office that early.

In any case, the nuclear core of the missile had detached somewhere inflight. The Pakistan army is now trying to get better technologies from China and USA. The Indian Government, taking no chances, decides to launch a nuclear missile of its own, after convening an all-party meeting. This time all the parties agree. Its three months since the army had sought permission.

But as preparations begin,"pro-humanity", "anti-nuclear" activists come out against the Government's decision. Human chains are formed and Rasta rokos organised.

In California and Washington endless e-mails are sent to Indians condemning the government and mentioning "Please forward it to as many Indians as possible".

On the Pakistanside, the missiles kept malfunctioning. Some missiles deviate from target due to technical failures or high-speed wind blowing over Rajasthan. Many of them land in the Indian Ocean killing some fishes. A missile (smuggled from USA)is pressed into service. Since the Pakistan army is unable to understand its software, it hits its original destination: Russia.

Russia successfully intercepts the missile and in retaliation launches a nuclear missile towards Islamabad. The missile hits the target and creates havoc.

Pakistan cries for help. India expresses deep regrets for what has happened and sends in a million dollars worth of Parle-G biscuits. Thus India never gets to launch the missile.

Pakistan never gets it right. And we live happily ever after!!!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Post 136 : Ear Problems, Blog of the year

For the past few days, I have been having a strange problem.....

I cannot hear anything when I am chewing. Absolute nothing...khattam shud..."arrey, itna sannattaa kyun hain bhai?"

I decided to google on my problem, and the only related link I got was something about occulsion.....(sounds very occult and voodoo). it was a disappointment, or was it not? Not exactly, one of the search results was for Chewing the Cud....

Destiny. Ho Hum.

A great blog by someone called George Koshy....(a mallu by the sound of it).....Loved the blog. I wish my blog was a dime as interesting as this one.....

How do you reach him?

I have posted my most favorite post of the little I read on the site:

Geogre (of the jungle or not), take a bow.....Keep on chewing my friend (oh no can't call you that, have not even met you)....

People think of death as a fullstop. The end of a sentence. The culmination of a state of being. The climax. But what if life endures. What if it spills over, and carries on. And instead of a fullstop, what if life's more like a comma. A momentary pause before you continue your mission in another plane. I'd like to believe in a comma more than a full stop. So afterlife is not a new sentence, merely a continuation of what has already been said.

Maybe that's what we are. Sentences that go on till some sense has been made, with commas to accentuate certain learnings along the way. In that case, we add new words as we go along and use a comma to slip into another thought without having to change the sentence.

A sentence can have many commas, as long as it can, for example, this sentence, make some sort of sense. The idea is to have said something, to have made a statement about your life. The idea is to have less commas and distill your sentence into a succinct phrase, sans punctuation.

So a truly enlightened lifetime could read something like "I think therefore I am." instead of "Since I can think, and evaluate different thoughts and processes, it is natural to infer that my being constitutes of my thoughts and my own mirror of my conscious self."

And that would make ghosts, sentences in brackets. Stuck without an end, (in a state of suspension).

I know there are flaws in my theory but maybe if I think it throught, i might end at some conslusion. But I'm scared.

What if my sentence is something negative like "I'm wrong." Or "Learn from my mistakes".

But I don't fret that much. The universe, like a book requires all sorts of sentences to make sense. And being wrong doesn't make you a bad sentence. As long as the language is right and the meaning clear. I'd hate to be a sentence with a flaw, like a splenning mistake. Or uncorrect language.

Then you stick out like the last two sentences. And the editor may have to remove you. So you would have spent a lifetime, meaning nothing. Just a sentence that has been struck off.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Post 135 : Mid-Day Cartoons 22 (The web of justice)

Source : Mid-day Artist : Hemant Morporia Dt : 18th Sep 2006

This one refers the 1993 blast case, and the fact that though it appears justice has been delivered, the judgement can be challenged further, and its inevitable that the accused shall survive another 13 years as free men, by when they shall naturally die.

Post 134 : Passages 15 (Can Fish Drown in Water)

SV, SR, Pg. 305 The city was her medium, she could swim in it like a fish. She was dead at twenty-one, drowned in a bathtub of cold water, her body full of psychotropic drugs. Can one drown in one's element, Allie had wondered long ago. If fish can drown in water, can human beings suffocate in air? In those days Allie, eighteen nineteen, had envied Elena her certainties. What was her element? In what periodic table of the spirit could it be found? Now, flat-footed, Himalayan veteran, she mourned its loss. When you have earned the high horizon it isn't easy to go back into your box, into a narrow island, an eternity of anticlimax. But her feet were traitors and the mountain would kill.

Post 133 : Passages 14 ( Everest as an iceberg)

SV, SR, Pg 303 An iceberg is water striving to be land; a mountain, especially a Himalaya, especially Everest, is land's attempt to metamorphose into sky; it is grounded flight, the earth mutated nearly into air, and become, in the true sense, exalted. Long before she ever encountered the mountain, Allie was aware of its brooding presence in her soul.

Post 132 : Passages 13 (Raining diamonds)

SV, SR, Pg 302 The universe was a place of wonders, and only habituation, the anaesthesia of the everyday, dulled our sight. She had read, a couple of days back, that as part of their natural processes of combustion, the stars in the skies crushed carbon into diamonds. The idea of the stars raining diamonds into the void: that sounded like a miracle, too. If that could happen, so could this. Babies fell out of zillionthfloor windows and bounced.

Post 131 : Passages 12 (Mount Everest)

SV, SR, Pg. 296 The incompatibility of life's elements: in a tent at Camp Four, 27,600 feet, the idea which seemed at times to be her father's daemon sounded banal, emptied of meaning, of atmosphere, by the altitude. "Everest silences you," she confessed to Gibreel Farishta in a bed above which parachute silk formed a canopy of hollow Himalayas. "When you come down, nothing seems worth saying, nothing at all. You find the nothingness wrapping you up, like a sound. Non-being. You can't keep it up, of course. The world rushes in soon enough. What shuts you up is, I think, the sight you've had of perfection: why speak if you can't manage perfect thoughts, perfect sentences? It feels like a betrayal of what you've been through. But it fades; you accept that certain compromises, closures, are required if you're to continue."

Post 130 : Passages 11 (What is language)

SV, SR, Pg. 281 Hanif was in perfect control of the languages that mattered: sociological, socialistic, black--radical, anti--anti-- anti--racist, demagogic, oratorical, sermonic: the vocabularies of power. But you bastard you rummage in my drawers and laugh at my stupid poems. The real language problem: how to bend it shape it, how to let it be our freedom, how to repossess its poisoned wells, how to master the river of words of time of blood: about all that you haven't got a clue. How hard that struggle, how inevitable the defeat. Nobody's going to elect me to anything. No power-base, no constituency: just the battle with the words. But he, Jumpy, also had to admit that his envy of Hanif was as much as anything rooted in the other's greater control of the languages of desire. Mishal Sufyan was quite something, an elongated, tubular beauty, but he wouldn't have known how, even if he'd thought of, he'd never have dared. Language is courage: the ability to conceive a thought, to speak it, and by doing so to make it true.

Post 129: Passages 10 (A personal soliquoy)

SV, SR, Pg 260 I am by nature an inward man, he said silently into the disconnected phone. I have struggled, in my fashion, to find my way towards an appreciation of the high things, towards a small measure of fineness. On good days I felt it was within my grasp, somewhere within me, somewhere within. But it eluded me. I have become embroiled, in things, in the world and its messes, and I cannot resist. The grotesque has me, as before the quotidian had me, in its thrall. The sea gave me up; the land drags me down.

Post 128 : Passages 9 (Names in common use)

SV, SR, Pg 217 But names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth's marvels, beneath the dust of habit.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Post 127: Mid-Day Cartoons 21 (An ode to violence in the world)

Source : Mid-Day Artist : Hemant Morporia

This is easily on the finest ones by Morporia. In my interpretation, illustrates the violence-begets-violence kind of world we live in. A bomb as an answer to another bomb, in a nutshell, leads us nowhere, yet that seems to be the only language humans seem to understand.

Post 126 : Wannabe project manager, Me ?

I was handling an issue with a system, late into night yesterday. Jigar confronted on me, why were we working extra to solve the problem.

I tried to explain that we were working on grounds of responsibility and dedication to get the system up and running as soon as possible.

J asked me a pertinent question, “Who is going to fund the cost of solving it?”. Obviously what we were doing was implicitly adding to the cost of the project, though explicitly it was not adding any cost, since most white collars workers today don’t get paid any overtime.

I explained this to him, and his point, because it did directly did not pinch me (or my organization), we allowed ourselves to get lax, and let work spillover to late evenings and weekends. On a simple planar level, the point is bang on.

What J went on to expound, that its this lax (and hence ability to stretch without really feeling the dollar pinch) – which tends to make the whole industry full of crappy project managers.

Infact he accused me of managing the relationships well, and not actually managing the project well. To be honest, I did not have any defense against such an argument.

The conversation with J disturbed me a bit….infact quite a bit, and made me wonder, am I actually a good project manager? If not, well I ever get there?

- I like people who disturb me, who abrade me….force me to think along a lateral path. That is probably the single most important input I crave for from the world around me. So a silent thanks to Jigar. Probably yesterday’s conversation will push me to be more precise as a project manager.

Post 125 : Mid-day Cartoons 20 (Lage Raho Gandhiji)

Source : Mid-day Artist : Hemant Morporia

This one comes on the back of 'Lage Raho Munnabhi' and its re-interpretation of Gandhiji's non-violence (called Gandhiji), and potrayed in a good light in the movie.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Post 124 : 'Accidents'

Prashant, Jigar and me were talking about how wrong people get themselves into the 'right' slots in life. How often do you see a bekaar actor in a completely wrong role for him and so on....

Jigar wanted to call it 'accidents'. So the usage of the term would be to say, 'Ajay Devgan as Omi in Omkara is an accident (I am not way too off in my example I guess)'....

A related precept to this theme, was given sufficient amount of time, an 'accident' will eventually blow itself up....and hence the situation will correct.

Jigar was quick to add that, since the 'right' sperm has to race ahead to go and eventually form us.....we all broadly can be classified as accidents....and given a span of few years (60-80 on an average), we eventually decay and die.....An accident that eventually blows up

Post 123 : How important is upbringing

Jigar is the child of normal parents, has lived all his life in some small town city of India, and yet he brings a level of insight and freshness of thought to his ideas, which is actually very unusual or even surprising in the generation of today.

What is in him that makes him so susceptible to wild thoughts or ideas, which normal people run away from? Why don't normal people use the seat of their intelligence in all scenarios.....

People like Jigar, really make me wonder, what my old boss Maninder used to say all the time....'We as humans are partially functions of our genes or our upbringing....but a large part of it is innate and comes hardwired with our birth....all signs leading to some ulterior intelligence at work, which goes beyond normal forms of transmission'.....I was never comfortable with Maninder's ideas completely, but with time they are sinking in....I can see the wisdom of his thoughts flowing by.....

I don't hobnob with a lot of intellectual types, but both Jigar and Maninder must feature at the top of everyday people who amaze me their abiliy to think, theorize and thrill. (Probably Roshan should feature there as well).

- Don't confuse my appreciation of brilliance with them being superlative as individuals. I think they are ace thinkers and theorizers, but all of them are ironically more flawed (misfits for the common world) than normal....and I think that is a disease that plagues any genius....(partly afflicts me too).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Post 122 : The rise (and fall...and rise) of the Davids

Life is full of patterns, and one of them which stares at your face, wherever you look, is about how a giant grows too big – just too much to handle its own weight, goes through a process of collapsing, by when one of the David’s has already stolen the march…..this David jogs ahead till he becomes a Goliath in his own right, and then……the cycle repeats.

AMD vs. Intel (where AMD is the David and Intel is the Goliath), Microsft Xbox(David) vs. Sony, Lehman Brothers (David) vs. Mother Merry (Merryl Lynch), HSBC (David) vs. Citigroup, Toyota (David) vs. GM…..

Maybe there is a learning for all of us, somewhere out there, we can never be at our peaks for long enough. Someday, the fire will being its journey to get extinguished…..Should we be living as if the fire will always be burning…..or should we be burning the fuel more slowly so that the fire lasts longer.

Post 121 : Beauty can give you a job, and give me a new way of looking at life

It does not fail to amaze how often the front office receptionist of a firm is a pretty looking female, who besides being the proverbial bimbo is also crude and rude (both at the same time)… all probability her only claim to fame is that she is a stunner and looks pretty.

All the time I was growing up, I was taught, there is more to life than the superficial, and just physical beauty never got you anywhere.

Having grow up and seen the world for myself, I am tend to now believe, that maybe the adages we were taught were quite outdated. Beauty, even the skin deep kind, can get you a propah job…..

Efficiency, courtesy, politeness, who needs that in today’s dog-eat-dog corporate world…..

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Post 120 : The alfalfa male speaks (Patrick Barkham)

Source : HindustanTimes Date 11th Sep 2006

The alfalfa male speaks (Patrick Barkham)


The background to this is the Jessica Lal case, which has now been re-opened on account of public outcry, and yet, the police is gunning for small fry and take a long winded route to implicate Manu Sharma (the main accused), and its doubtful whether he shall ever be indicted.

‘I WANT a pig that’s had a happy life,” a gourmet friend of mine declared to a local butcher recently. Like him, you are probably concerned about your family’s health and aware of your food shopping’s impact on the environment. You dip into farmers’ markets and buy organic. You are suspicious of GM crops and worried about food miles.

Peter Singer has a term to describe you: conscientious omnivore. With his new book, Eating: What We Eat and Why it Matters, the Australian philosopher also brings a challenge. As a conscientious omnivore you are a little like McDonald’s: you have improved your food habits a bit but you could do an awful lot more.

Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University in the US and author of Animal Liberation, the seminal treatise that sparked the animal rights movement more than 30 years ago, has written, with co-author Jim Mason, not about healthy eating but the ethics of eating. The pair examine how the purchases made by three American families (a price-conscious family of supermarket shoppers, a middle-class family of conscientious omnivores and a family of vegans) affect the people, animals and the environment from which the food came.

Beginning as a familiar — if powerful — critique of industrial farming and the ‘fallacy’ of cheap food, Singer and Mason provide unusually forthright guidance for consumers struggling with the ethical minefield that is the modern food shopping trip.

Confusing labels, disingenuous producers, conflicting research and the lack of any kind of system to weigh up the merits of, say, food miles versus organic: the time-poor consumer can easily be overwhelmed by the effort of right-thinking. Singer, who became vegetarian after meeting a graduate who refused spaghetti bolognaise in an Oxford University canteen 36 years ago, says the first ethical step meateaters should take is to buy organic. With US consumers spending 6 per cent of income on groceries compared with 17 percent 50 years ago, everyone should pay more for their food, he says.

“Food is absurdly cheap by all historical standards,” he says. “There has never been an era in human his tory when people have been able to feed themselves for so few hours of work as we can today in the developed world. That cheapness has come at a price. It has imposed costs on animals, on the environment and on workers in the food industry.”

Eating is not a rant against big corporations. Singer’s arguments are a challenge to knee-jerk antiglobalisation campaigners for whom McDonald’s is an unmitigated evil. Trapped in a small town and forced to choose an independent takeaway or the golden arches, Singer would plump for the latter (as his book points out, in the US, McDonald’s has insisted its eggs come from hens given more space than the legal minimum, among other ‘ethical’ inno vations). “The fact that a big chain has a national and international reputation to protect means they need to be cautious,” he says.

Singer makes a compelling argument against cheap food. But what about time? Trapped in market capitalism, don’t we simply lack the hours to source our food ethically? He thinks we can choose to spend more time on food shopping and says the growth of farmers’ markets shows that some people are treating it as “a recreational activity”.
While recent reports have exposed fraudulent mislabelling of meats and other produce on farmers’ markets, Singer is a big fan and sees them as a chance to chat to producers and even perform your own farm inspection. “You can say, ‘Can I come and see your farm?’ and if they say no, you should be suspicious. If they say yes, that’s a good sign but you should try and take them up on it.” He accepts, however, that consumers must be helped by a tough regulatory framework.

He offers some sharp thinking on issues that have bamboozled conscientious omnivores. GM crops are not dismissed as evil foods. “I don’t have an ideological objection to GM. I don’t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with altering the genetic nature of beans,” he says, accepting there are hazards, but arguing it is not always best to apply the precautionary principle.

He argues that it is better at times to support agriculture in developing countries than ‘selfishly’ protect local farmers. Is it better to support developing economies over the local economy? “I don’t see why we should favour British farmers over Kenyan farmers just because they are British. We should favour farmers who most need economic support to make a living, and that’s likely to be developing-world countries.” More alfalfa male than alpha male, Singer makes clear that the red-blooded West’s hunger for meat cannot be replicated globally. A carnivorous lifestyle is unsustainable: there isn’t enough land to farm meat for all. One moral rule he suggests is to eat meat only from a farm you have visited. Most people would therefore conclude it is simpler to avoid meat.

Is dining in a fancy restaurant ever ethically okay? “I don’t think there is something objectionable as such to eating out. It is good to talk to the people in the restaurants about where their food comes from and let them know their customers are interested in whether it is organically produced.” Do people eat out too much? “Yes. A lot of fine dining is really a kind of gluttony or status-seeking. When people go out for a meal and spend something that could have fed a family in Africa for three months, that strikes me as something that is not defensible.” So is eating for pleasure ever defensible? Singer smiles. “I’m not that much of a puritan. Gee, I think pleasure is a good thing. I just wish that everybody, animals included, could experience more pleasure in their lives and less suffering.”

Post 119 : Mid-day Cartoons 19 (Jessical Lal vs. Manu Sharma)

Source : Mid-day Artist : Hemant Morporia

The background to this is the Jessica Lal case, which has now been re-opened on account of public outcry, and yet, the police is gunning for small fry and take a long winded route to implicate Manu Sharma (the main accused), and its doubtful whether he shall ever be indicted.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Post 118 : Inequity in an unfair world

Prashant and me were talking about the new Merc SLK and how snazzy it is. It did not require us to think too much to come up with a conlusion, that if ever in our whole life, we shall even drive one for a single day, that in itself shall be a achievement.....(let alone owning one).

In India the new SLK costs around 80 Lacs, which is probably what my retirement corpus shall be, even if I am pretty focussed around it.

Desire is such a funny thing. If our families had been richer, then probably we would not have to plan so much for ever wanting an SLK.

To imagine 80L of surplus cash to spend on a SLK requires us to think right into our retirement.

Conversely, the maid who helps us clean our house, her daughter is in 10th Standard (SSC) - or the final year of secondary education in India, and yet she not only studies, but she also swabs floors at 6 houses - they live in a chawl. I am sure she must feel the same envy of us who live in a nice flat apartment.

She must be thinking that by the end of her life, if she can move into a flat, she would be happy with herself.

With the amount I would (if ever) spend on a SLK, she could probably buy 10 houses of the kind she desires....

It almost appears, as if, the world is telling us, to each his own. I am sure, any other unfair and inequitable organizm would do the same.

Post 117: That weary feeling

I have twice in the past posted onto this site, that I have felt mentally and physically fatigued. Luckily both of those have been over weekends or when I have been at home.

Today was just another similar day, I reached the office, and my body language was dead from the word go. Disinterest was what I was experiencing towards meetings, issues and discussions.

Its almost as if, my job expects me to be cheerful and bubbly all the time....a tough ask on someone like me.

Am I in the wrong profession? Possibly.

Its also possible that this is what they call as a emotional burnout. I have worked for the past 7 years with only 5 days of actual vacation. ( I loathe travelling). For a large part of these 7 years I have worked 50 hours (at the least) weeks (which is what makes my wife classify me as a clinical workoholic....she thinks I need help).....

If this is a burnout, hope I recover soon. How I wish, I could just take a month off, kaboom and khattam shud, away from everyone and everything, just me and a beach house. I would literally lock myself up...the only connection I need with the outside world is a mobile and an internet connection.

What would I do? Read, Listen to music, Learn to play music, contemplate on my life, recharge...possibly re-look at the shards of my own life with a very different lens.

So much for pipe dreams...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Post 116 : Reins in a relationship

Not too long ago I was with Vijiamma and Manji (her mom and my grandmom). We were discussing about generation conflict (what better forum than to be doing it with your mom and grandmom).....

Viji amma was making a point that every relationship should be treated like two people have been bound in it using ropes. If the ropes are too tight, they shall stretch and abrade the person's wrists, if the ropes are too loose, we would never feel its existence. It has to be set to a delicate tautness....the one that makes itself felt, but does not abrade.

I found that an apt metaphor to explain why most of us fail at relationship.....since there is no formula for tautness.....If the other person is moving away, you need to move closer; and if the person is coming closer, you need to move backwards - all to retain the same level of tautness.

It needs to be perpetually adjusted and re-adjusted.....

Yesterway was reading, 33 strategies for war, by Robert Greene, on page 66, there is a similar example to explain corporate commandeering....

The Reins. A horse with no bridle is useless, but equally bad is the horse whose reins you pull at every turn, in a vain effort at control. Control comes from almost letting go, holding the reins so lightly that the horse feels no tug but senses the slightest change in tension and responds as you desire. Not everyone can master such an art.

Post 115 : Passages 8 - The Imam in Exile

SV, SR, Page 205 Who is he? An exile. Which must not be confused with, allowed to run into, all the other words that people throw around : emigre, expatriate, refugee, immigrant, silence, cunning. Exile is a dream of glorious return. Exile is vision of revolution:Elba, not St. Helena. It is an endless paradox: looking foward by always looking back. The exile is a ball hurled high into the air. He hangs there, frozen in time, translated into a photograph; denied motion, suspended impossibily above his native earth, he awaits the inevitable moment at which the photograph must begin to move, and the earth reclaims its own. These are the things the Imam thinks. His home is a rented flat. Its a waiting room, a photograph, air. The thick wallpaper, olive stripes on a cream ground, has faded a little, enough to emphasize the brighter rectangles and ovals that indicate where pictures used to hang. The Imam is the enemy of images. When he moved in the pictures slid noiselessly from the walls and slunk from the room, removing themselves from the rage of his unspoken disapproval.

Post 114 : Passages 7 - Blood and wine

SR, SV, Pg. 209 Fiend, the Imam is wont to thunder. Apostate, blasphemer, fraud. When the future comes such individuals will be judged, he tells his men. Water will have its day and blood wil flow like wine. Such is the miraculous nature of the future of exiles; what is first uttered in impotence of an overheated apartment becomes the fate of nations.

Post 113 : Passages 6 - On the abscence of time

SV, SR, Page 214 'They love me', the Imam's voice says, ' because I am water. I am fertility and she is decay. They love for me for my habit of smashing clocks. Human beings who turn away from God lose love, and certainty, also the sense of His boundless time, that encompasses past, present and future; the timeless time, that has no need to move. We long for the eternal, and I am eternity. she is nothing; a tick, or tock. She looks in her mirror everyday, and is terrorized by the idea of age, of time passing. This she is the prisoner of her own nature; she, too, is in the chains of Time. After the revolution, there will be no clocks; we'll smash the lot. The word clock shall be expunged from our dictionaries. After the revolution there shall no birthdays. We shall all be born again, all of us the same unchanging age in the eye of the Almighty God.'

Post 112 : Passages 5 : Names and Sounds

SV, SR, Pg. 217 But names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology buried, like so many of the earth's marvels, beneath the dust of habit.

Post 111 : Mid-day Cartoons 18 (Crocodile Tears - Steve Irwin)

This one came a day after 'Crikey' Steve Irwin, the crocodile dundee on 'Animal Planet' died after a stingray pumped a hole in his heart.

Irwin had courted controversy recently by taking a dead chicken and his 1 month baby in two of his hands on his walk to the crocodile pen (he intended to feed the chicken to the croc, and but obviously get his child back....but the risks were there....and the world watched and mourned (and moaned maybe?))

Source : Mid-day Artist : Hemant Morporia

Post 110 : Mid-Day Cartoons 17 (Ragger to politico)

This one comes in wake of student leaders pounding a professor to death in North India (Raipur).

Source : Mid-day Artist : Hemant Morporia

Post 109 : Mid-Day Cartoons 16 (Pesticide in water and fruits)

Source : Mid-day Artist : Hemant Morporia

Post 108 : Puppy love, infatuation, platonic love and its correlation with age

I have a neighbour who has a child of 2.5 years, who is as prattlish as any other 2.5 year old. He lives in our apartment complex, which consist of only 16 flats, of which more than 8 are really empty, the remaining 8 are occupied either by young adults or by older people. The point being – this youngster is alone and lonely. How much can one talk to a lady (his mom), day in and day out?

Over the past few months, he had developed a strange kind of friendship with another older lady - another neighbour of mine (lets call her Mrs. Surrogate (for surrogate mom and who is in the north of 55)….

He keeps talking to her, playing ‘kitchen-kitchen’ with her. Over the period of 2 months, this daily routine has extended from 30 minutes to almost 2 hours recently. Mrs. Surrogate, who initially enjoyed his company encouraged him and pampered him….

Last week, she got into a mood where she said that I am not able to spend as much time praying as I earlier could……and cooked up a few other reasons, why the child was now turning into a ‘pest’.

One evening, last week she turned him away, saying she did not have time to play with him…..The child whimpered, felt rejected, but finally went back home….His parents probably got the message better, they don’t allow him to go to Mrs. Surrogate's place as often as in the past….they are weaning him off this habit.

Infatuation is not something that comes only with puppy love….neither is platonic relationships a term reserved only for pseudo…..We all are equally guilty of it, some of us are more guilty than others (because of our lack of ability to recognize it).

One side observation (or a question), which is more divine, making another human being happy or praying….I,…..I don’t have an opinion….I never prayed in my whole life…..

Post 107 : That strange feeling of space and nostalgia

I was googling for something (and I use the forum search feature quite a bit), and I saw the name of an old acquantaince of mine pop out on the search results. It kind of gave me goose pimples, suddenly to remember that 10-15 years we (or more so I ) were so different….our friends were so different….our desires were so much more uncomplicated……

Makes me wonder, what have we done to ourselves? More so, why have we done this to ourselves?

Perhaps, time will tell....

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Post 106 : Precepts 3 - John Galt vs. Peter Keating (and the art of conflict management)

Jigar, Shrinivas and me (all three colleagues @ a common workplace) were talking about ‘conflict management styles’. I must admit Jigar does get pretty vocal and opinionated about certain things, and just to lend a perspective, I don’t think that is negative at all.

As usual, the discussion veered from the general to the specific to the abstruse and back again.

At times like these J does not fail to amaze me, he is probably far more intelligent than normal people, and yet, he is like any other genius – cross with the world, unable to relate and integrate with everyday people and things……its sad that in our infinite pursuit of wisdom, we as a society have not yet managed to reconcile ‘intelligence’ – both as a group and as an individual (Also note, I grossly distinguish between intelligence and wisdom).

We defined conflict as any two different viewpoints which need to be reconciled, and J proceeded quickly elaborated a framework which said that you can manage conflct in one of the 4 ways (and I repeat him verbatim) :

1. Confront : Where you attack the point of conflict in an unemotional way, always remembering that ideas are what cause conflict, not people per se (So it means, in an ideal world, two conflicting individuals could be best of friends). You keep this onsalught and attack on, until both (or multi) parties agree to one single direction in a rationally convinced fashion, where (at least in an utopian world), all parties win something in the bargain, leading to a win-win.

2. Smoothen : Where at least one of the parties involved in the conflict, takes the approach of pushing either the whole or part of the conflict under the carpet, to be either dug out at a later more ‘appropriate’ time, or to be buried there indefinitely. (This tends to a situation, where one party – the one who is smoothening, tends to be a percieved loser (in terms of value), and hence this arrangement typically tends to be a lose-win kind of approach.

3. Avoid : Where every single possible conflict scenario is avoided, a kind of implicit escapism.

4. Withdraw : Where you tend to say, that since there is a conflict, I will not actually debate the conflict, or try to resolve it, but instead I will simply withdraw, which means I will retreat all my armory from your stable, leading to a breakdown within the corporation……the net result being, I don’t win, but you do now have a heightened chance of failure. (If this sounds familiar, don’t fret, it is simply John Galt of Atlas shrugged at work). This approach can be summarised as you lose approach.

From here we veered into discussion into pros and cons of all the above mentioned models. We agreed that each one needs to be used depending on the given situation, but J was vehement that smoothening can never be a long term strategy. It will eventually lead to implicit unhappiness and frustration. His point was initially for every conflict we must confront (aim for a win-win), post which we must simply withdraw (aim for a ‘you lose’ result).

Personally I was impressed with Jigar’s values because it tends to gravitate towards John Galt. But…..(yes the proverbial spoke in the wheel)… confront-and-withdraw the ideal approach in a dysutopian world. Conflict-and-withdraw points towards building a more ‘correct’ world, while conflict-smoothen-withdraw or conflict-smoothen or simply smoothen points to a more peaceful world (both individually and as a corporation)…..though J disagrees, he tends to believe, smoothen adds onto an individual (or coporation’s unhappiness).

Also, just like J I often tend to philosophically debate and preach values which are ‘correct’ and yet ‘difficult’….I also practice them to the extent I can….more so in the past, than in the present….the slow rot of my utopian soul is there for everyone to see. In all of these I have realised that the world hates people who believe in utopia and people who believe in utopia don’t see the world as the right place for them….eventually leading to more ‘correctness’….and yet more conflict both personally and as an a group.

I have often experienced, that the burden of being a hero is too much to carry, the world dumps more and more of its obesity on you……

In all of this the question remains, do you want to be a ‘John Galt’ or do you want to be a ‘Peter Keating’…….

I admire the fact (actually envy is a better word) that J has the gumption to chase to being a John Galt, but…(again the but or the butt)…..I have chosen in my own eyes to be a Keating. Probably I am tired of being a hero….(but how the f**k can I ever be a hero, if I get tired som easily, heroes never get tired, they run, they battle, they withdraw, just like J (both John Galt and Jigar).

This post was to celebrate the triumph of John Galt over Peter Keating in the utopian world, it was also to mourn the slow death which the Galt in me is metamorphisising within me)

I like the way, J sometimes puts across points… for this one he had a sexist remark saying, ‘I pump and pump, and if it does not work, then I withdraw before the orgasm’. (Very policitically uncorrect).

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Post 105 : Weightwatcher - 1 (My big fat greek shedding)

Achieved the distinction (or is the word Notoriety) of touching 105 kgs body weight around 20th August. That was for me a wake up call.

Too fat, too cold, too soon, too much....

Since August 23rd, have started working around again, and given that I typically workout about 3-4 days in a week (can't seem to be do it everyday given my work life), and given that I read recently that to lost 0.5 kgs of weight you have to walk for 12 hours......that meant I could lose about 1.5 kgs in 2 months.....

I have set a target of touching 90kg by Mar 08.......with intermediate targets being 102 by Dec 06, 97 by Jun 07, 92 by Dec 07.....I also want to touch a waist of 36 by that time again.

Looks like a big fat shedding is on the way.....

Hope I meet these targets for my own good and for a chance to burn a few years more of fossil fuel.

PS : Coincidentally, this is my post number 105 ;-)

Post 104 : The God That Failed

A friend of mine had to cancel her visit to a temple on account of ....guess what.....'chums' (do they use the same shortcode for periods elsewhere?).....

This temple was not something close by, but was far away in another city, required quite a bit of planning, and guess what, a bit of blood was all it required to be blown away.

This is slightly different from Sabarimala, where the God is a confirmed bachelor, and needs to stay away from women to avoid temptation....

This temple and this God, forbid 'chumming' (sounds so hammy) women from visiting, because a chummy is considered to be 'dirty' (and no 'dirty' is not a dirty word in India)....'unclean'....and in an impure state.

My friend in all her infinite faith and intelligence respects these, and I hope I am not inadvertently hurting her. Yet, I can't help but question the merit of such hare-brained customs.

Why should we be encouraged to hate our own bodily excretions? (both religiously and otherwise)....why is it necessary for us to bathe before bowing to the Lord.

Maybe, being an atheist (or variously a materialist), I am too myopic to see the point. Maybe, just like in the corporate world where certain rules don't make sense but are yet followed, religion is similar? Maybe, I just can't accept a power that is so frigging irrational? Maybe, its just that I am an earthbound misfit, I.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Post 103 : Mid-day Cartoons 15 (Mumbai Potholes)

Source : Mid-day Artist : Hemant Morporia Date : 4th Sep 2006

Bombay's roads get all craterish during rains and its terrible to drive along them. What keeps happening is the Municipal Corporations keeps giving dates to correct the situation and then keeps missing them, this one is a spoof on that 'failure'.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Post 102 : Passages 4 - Wanting to exhale (to let go)

SV, SR, Page 183 Saladin was dead, and she was alive. She drank to that. These were things I was waiting to tell you. Saladin. Some big things; about the new high-rise office building in Brickhall High Street, across from McDonald's - they built it to be perfectly sound-proff, but the workers were so disturbed by the slience that they now play tapes of white noise on the tannoy system - You'd have liked that, eh? - And about this Parsi woman I know, Bapsy, that's her name, she lived in Germany for a while and fell in live with a Turk. - Trouble was, the only language they had in common was German; now Bapsy has forgotten almost all she knew, while his gets better and better; and he writes her increasingly poetic letters and she can hardly reply in nursery rhyme. - Love Dying, because of an inequaliy of language, what do you think of that? - Love dying. There's a subject for us, eh? Saladin? What do you say? And a couple of tiny little things. There's a killer on the loose in my patch, specializes in killing old women; so don't worry, I'm safe. Plenty older than me. One more thing; I'm leaving you. Its over. We're through. I could never say anything to you, not really, not the least thing. If I said you were putting on weight you'd yell for an hour, as if,it would change what you saw in the mirror, what the tightness of your own trousers was telling you. You interrupted me in public. People noticed it, what you thought of me. I forgave you, that was my fauly; I could see the center of you, that question so frightful that you had to protect it with all that posturing certainity. That empty space.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Post 101 : Desire to make it work (Deeeesaaaaaeeeeeaaaarrrrrrrrrr….as Bono sings it in the U2 song)

Was speaking to a friend of mine who just does not get along with her mom-in-law and its almost come to flames now(but in a under the carpet way, the rift is still not acknowledged, even amongst themselves). I know the family well enough to have some opinion on both my friend and her mom-in-law (MIL).

Very briefly, the MIL is old, about 60, has seen ups and downs of life (more downs than ups), has ‘sacrificed’ quite a bit for the family, has gotten very lonely (and hence grumpy) over the years, and generally believes ‘the world is conspiring against her’.

My friend is a ‘sopho’, well educated, born and brought up in a modern suburb of Mumbai, working with a large investment bank, married to someone who she loves (it so often happens, that people forget, they don’t actually marry a person….but they marry a family, and when its considered otherwise….more often than not, it leads to a dysfunctional equation.

To be fair, my friend has been patient, has hardly ever been rude with the old lady, in general, tries to keep the boat afloat.

To be fair to the lady, inspite of being grumpy she does her bit for the family, cooking them meals (when they are late back from work….which is more than usual), she does ‘pray’ for their well-being (because she believes in that).

Who do I hold culpable for the current tinderbox of a situation?

None, actually.

Yes, but, I could not help re-affirm an observation, which I have held for quite some time. As a generation, we have lost our desire to make it work (or at least weakened). This loss of desire to make it work (LODTMIW) is quite apparent even in our professional lives. We don’t like the pantry at our job, quit it….we have 1-2 harsh months at the current job, quit and hop onto the next one.

Extrapolating a bit, LODTMIW also leaks into our relationship with our children and youngsters in general. Children, being what they are, are subtlely aware of this quality and pick it up at a very young age, demonstraring their LODTMIW to their teachers and friends at school…..and so the cycle continues.

How is LODTMIW relevant to the above example? Well, my friend wants to escape (and yes we all have a escape threshold and velocity in mind ) for almost every activity we take up, but I feel, that maybe as a generation (or in the case of my friend) we have lowered the bar significantly. My friend wants to run away, and she can, quite easily, she can move to New York, if it suits her, and do so, at her whim and will.

Is LODTMIW a bad thing? I am not sure, though it definitely does not seem to be a desirable syndrome.

My point though is, LODTMIW is here to stay, a sign’o’times… that shall parasitically gnaw at the ropes that bind us into this complex web of relationships.

Watch out for my next post on similar lines, ‘consistency’ of upbringing, or how the lack of it affects the fabric of our relationships, and some dope on the ropes that bind us.

It is said that one who observes life minutely (and get affected by it), has the makings of a poet in him…..’Poet’ – not sure, ‘desolate’ – getting there all the time.