Saturday, 15 December 2012

Vox Populi

This is so typical it almost make me wonder about the shade of blue the sky reflects today. No, this isn't some sort of quasi metereological blog, although the meteor shower witnessed the day before yesterday in India was quite interesting, or so I'm told. This blog is about democracy, and as most blogs about democracy usually are, is quite disparaging. Now, almost all naysayers of democracy would have you believe it wasnt a great idea in the first place. I mean, look at the sort of uselessness prevalent in such democratic countries as the US of A(that great beacon of immorality and diplomatic skulduggery) and the European Union(that great beacon of financial mismanagement and general avarice). These crackpots would have you believe that the way to go is the China way. That would be before you tell them there isn't any porn in China.

NO porn! My, that is such a travesty, but the only possible route to development I presume. And the widespread censorship of free opinion is only a side effect, maybe. But, seriously..no porn...

The key thing is, no matter how flawed the basic idea of democracy may be , it is still the only one that works. You merely have to look at Muammar Gadhafi or Hosni Mubarak , or even closer to home Pervez Musharraf to see why dictatorship isn't really the best answer. Thermodynamically speaking, nature does abhor a vacuum, and if power becomes too concentrated it will try its best to spread itself as thin as possible. Dictatorships then, cannot be condoned and neither can the sort of politburo politics that would create an oligarchy of politicians and suppress dissent. A democracy works, and we have countless examples to back that up.

But it doesn't do very well in our country, and you may really blame the politicians for it, but they aren't really at fault. We are still in ruler mentality, we refuse to give politics the amount of disrespect it deserves. Our rulers are the best dressed, richest, most venal people in the land. They should be the exact opposite. You see, our rulers should be the worst dressed, poorest and most straightforward people in the land. We refuse to acknowledge this because we still want some sort of rajah, we dream of the sort of benevolence we read about in our schoolbooks, of Ashoka, the sort of egalitarian justice practised by Harishchandra. We have glorified and immortalised these historical figures, and we expect our new masters to have the same characteristics as these wise people of our history.

But perhaps the worst culprit of it all is our own self centredness. We only glorify such rulers because they unify us through our collective adulation. Without such a polarising figure we would be completely incapable of any collective action. Rational beings that we are, most of us act only in our own self interest. And of that there is no shortage in our country. We are pulled in a million different directions mainly because we have a million different agendas and most of us are content to reduce the agenda of public good to a sideshow, because our chai is getting cold. While we support the idea of a free and transparent government, that we should be didactic in our support, particularly to the dichotomy of having people committed to eradicating corruption doing so for their own political gain, is completely egregious. In our own awkward arguments, we would weaken the arguments of those who would seek to fight for us.

The truth of the matter is the world revolves by dint of self interest, it is set into motion by the sort of people who believe that it would stop if they left the room. There is no action without profit in our world, we just have to make sure to see the larger picture.

Sometimes it pays to align your opinion to the world of greater good. To analyse intent without judging motives. Sometimes the objective is bigger than the people working towards it.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Popular Posts..and alliteration as an atrocious aside

"You don't argue with popularity..but if you did..you'd be wrong..." -Robbie Williams

This is not just another social networking blog, this is another social networking blog with recommendations, which makes it doubly pernicious to you, the bored reader. But there is no real need to get vituperative with the invective right now, because (unlike the Indian cricket team) things can only get better from here. The point now is that popularity, as a contest can now be judged in the purest way possible, through numbers and raw data(yes Google have been at it again)... and well, if you are observant enough, you would observe rather flippantly that my blog is close to the lower end of the popularity spectrum. When I say close, I mean inhabits.

And while there are a quite a number of remedial measures to take in order to mitigate this particular situation, I won't just list them to you in the space of a boring old recourse or two(seriously, where is the fun in THAT?) I will bring back my old system of blogging(I can almost hear the deafening applause), that of writing long and seemingly unending lists of things that are ultimately..pointless. Honourable mentions to items that did not make the cut are of course.. putting up a banner ad on Wikipedia, considering that Jimmy Wales refused multi million dollar offers, if this is not to be believed, and skywriting for advertising purposes, which just seemed a little bit over the top, although many say is the weapon of choice for jilted lovers and real estate agents. Anyway, here goes..

1. Aggressively promote your blog/mouthpiece/newspaper/article on facebook(yes that's why they have the Promote button on there anyway) or twitter or linkedin or your mum's recipe blog(if she has one you probably shouldn't be reading this)

2. Agressively promote your blog offline. This includes the use of knives/pistols/brass knuckles/lampshades in achieving your desired objective. Remember to leave the target (audience) wanting more(or at least able to read).

3. Aggressively promote your blog(ahh..you see there's a pattern developing here) to people who would aggressively promote your blog. It helps if your blog is about the art of living or about actual issues related to living.

4. Write about sports that you know nothing about but others would have an especially strong opinion on for no apparent reason. The EPL is a good topic if you study or have ever studied in a snotty private college with epithets like dude forming breakfast fodder.

5. Hyperlink. i really cannot stress this enough. This is because most web crawlers have a system of backtracking on links, and image links generate extra hits of search engines. But hey, even if you think SEO has something to do with SETI, it wouldn't hurt to put up a youporn/porntube/tubeporn/pornyou/anyporn/wtf..porn link on your site anyhow.

And there you have it. Between classes, the blog with genuine tried and tested advice on how to do well in life and beyond, the sort of practical tools you need for your life. Carry on then, create your own blog, and before long, you would be mouthing off your own little tidbits of nonsense to an eager and mostly disingenuous crowd of supporters. Good luck.. and happy reading!


Thursday, 6 December 2012

Face-palmed

And this is where things get interesting. The reason why Facebook doesn't put out ads, unlike that pesky Google+(yes a blue bar asking you to join is an ad, contrary to what those marketing geniuses believe) would be because they really have no need to. Pick up anything these days.. yes and that means ANYTHING.. chances are it would have a facebook logo on it, asking you to either like a page, or comment on it, and encouraging you to pretty much go berserk on THE social network of choice posting about what a great time you have had and so on. Most often the facebook logo is so big, it almost obscures the product logo, and the link assumes that you would of course sit down and type the whole thing. Now there have been significant scientific advances in the sector of viral marketing. I kid you not, there have been papers published on the average human being's propensity to type certain lengths of characters at a stretch. Unfortunately the human race as a whole did not do too well, bloggers and database programmers were, of course exempt from such inanity.

The whole point of viral marketing now, is to get as many people hooked in as little time as possible. That, of course, you might argue was the hook earlier as well, for ALL kinds of marketing. But that's not necessarily so, while television and print ads used to target groups of people, or sectors if you will.. viral marketing has a more.. proletarian approach. The idea is to make a product universal, where all categories of people would be able to purchase it, and enjoy it. The Nintendo Wii did superbly on that count, trading console power and the traditional crazy adolescent market, for good old fashioned exercise and some geriatrics. The hook these days, is where the marketing people would have it placed. And it appears to be placed right on the scruff of the neck of the facebook user. Anyone, young or old can put up something that everyone can view and share. While placement used to be one of the 4 Ps of marketing(where do they come up with this anyhow), it now seems to have changed to profit. Marketers want to spend as little money as possible ,with as excellent results as possible.

Well, here's a revolutionary idea. Make a product so good, everyone would want to be talking about it. Make a product so cool, everyone would post pictures up of it on Instagram. Failing all of which, make an ad so brilliant, it could rival gangnam style(nonsense) music videos in terms of absurdity and popularity. Concentrate on QUALITY, rather than the mass push of the ad. Yes, it is true that is seems almost retarded to depend on the fecundity of marketers these days, hence leading to the sort of snide comments about marketing being too important to be left to the marketers. Maybe it is, and we'd never know.

Either way, the point is that we'd really like to talk about the sort of things that interest us.. Like the next Justin Bieber concert or the goings on of our respective colleges and what not. We'd love to talk about what you're marketing, but get off our backs about collective euphoria and try to engage our attention with the sort of creative chutzpah that I assume you are paid for. There isn't any need to advertise facebook pages, because it kinda defeats the purpose of social media anyway. 

Product first. Advertise second.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Of Mangoes and Men

These days the only times I am prompted to blog anything of any sort is when I have a headache. That, some experts have concluded, with knowing glances and revealing smirks, is the symptom of a busy life, and an extremely atrophied mind. However, and I contrive to bring value to my readers as well, of course, this blog will aim to transcend petty everyday matters and delve into the realms of the unknown. Yes, as stated before in my rather lengthy, convoluted and extremely pointless mission statement, I shall not blog about girls(comparing them to the sun or to the homeless stray next door as per the vicissitudes of life), or about socks or about girls and socks(sorry to disappoint you kinks out there). What this blog(it sounds kinda funny when you say it out loud too...blawwg) is meant to be about is not tedious parenthetical interruptions(contrary to appearances, damn it I did it again!!).

This is then, about the sort of blogs and articles that would make you cringe, including the ones that use italics for no good reason. There are millions of them coming up on Rahul Gandhi all of a sudden. The whole of the opposition seems divided on every damn issue, including whom to fire and whom to promote. And out of nowhere a third front seems to have emerged, almost like an apparition to haunt the hell out of our conscience and our elections. First things first, though, the Gandhi scion, so often derided for being..well a Gandhi scion, is not young. Yes he looks young, and girls find him attractive, but that still does not magically transport his biology to the past. Then again books that would make him out to be a great CEO, but not such a great politician would obviously gain traction with a public hungry for any sort of information on this one man who was supposedly born to lead the country.

We are a country of a billion people and change, and as far as the law of averages goes, a billion people would have to be as confused as hens in a coop. So we got smart, and we decided to appoint local leaders, assuming that while a billion people acting in their own respective interests concomitantly would bring chaos, a few elected representatives would bring order. And living in the era of information as it were, we assumed that we would be apprised of their everyday movements, and any conflicts of interest that might arise between our leaders and our wellbeing.

There isn't any conflict of interest of course, among our leaders, there's just...interest. Theirs, not ours. You see, these people might like to call themselves leaders, and that's brilliant because it gives them the swagger of a rockstar with the power of a monarch to boot. I have a different title for our representatives though, and that would be servant. You can bet your behind no one would sign up for that post, Servant of the Democracy....or Elected Servant to the Legislative Assembly. But, in short, that's what their job is anyhow...to SERVE. US.

These are the ideals espoused by one brave man, and his decision to form a party for the common people of India is undoubtedly a laudatory one. His idea is putative as well, and as far as most of us on the internet are concerned we are all sold on his promise to deliver a corruption free government to us, for us by us..and all that. We, the mango men of the country, are to be held solely responsible for the actions that affect our daily lives. And this is such a brilliant concept. So much better than a lady looking to ally with a former rival to bare her political teeth and ambition, so much better than news channels selectively filtering news, so much better than girls being jailed for expressing their opinion, and so much better, of course, than the circus of corruption that passes off for politics every day. This awe inspiring mango man brings to us a HOPE...for a better tomorrow, for his fellow mangoes.

Except... for who the mango men are in this nation. It's not us. It's not the sort of people who can read this blog and go..hmm..this idiot should be arrested and tried for sedition. It's not the sort of people either, who would write such blogs. The mango man of this country can't read this, and doesn't earn the sort of money to be able to afford a computer to be able to read this either. The mango men of this country don't give a damn about what corruption is, or how it works, or why it should be eradicated. This is why such a brilliant concept must also become street smart.

Give something to the mangoes, Mr. Kejriwal. To gain power, you must play the game first, and the only way changes can be made is through the requisite channels of power. There is no point in being short sighted or idealistic.

The mangoes are ripe enough for the taking, but you have to scale the tree first.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Learn

"Everyone has so much to say they talk talk talk their lives away...don't even hesitate"
-Slow Cheetah, Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are a fine place to start your study on philosophy, if at all you would want to start such a study(I can think of no reason other than anaemia or a concussion why you would). Anyway, ever since the days of their magnificently shambolic performances as Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem and the unforgettable Cocks in Socks tour, the Peppers have been something of a bastion of morality, spirituality and the Talmud of how to let your hair down and get groovy. But then again so have most post modernist psychedelic punk funk bands of the era. Their whimsical lyrics followed up by their utter disregard to the rather banal putative interpretation of music allowed them to transcend barriers and lift us up into the realms of the unknown. Music wise of course, although you could argue that cocks in socks were pretty radical, even for the eighties.

Well back to reality, and if you would believe the naysayers, or was it the soothsayers? My Shakespeare clearly has not withstood the test of time, it is the rapture. Or the Ragnarok, or whatever you would like to believe heralds the End of Days. It is 2012, of course, and of course a certain Barack Obama has made himself rather popular on Twitter by dint of winning a second consecutive term as the most powerful man on Earth. He just about edged out Justin Beiber, who we must now believe is the second most powerful man(person) on Earth. Although he had help, Obama, not Beiber, in achieving his position because of a certain shapeshifter individual, who somehow managed to espouse the exact same ideals that were on the news channels that very morning. And being an (extremely) casual observer has its advantages...you can see politics for all it's worth, smoke and mirrors and the lot.

But this pretty much reflects the way we have evolved as a society. From have designated roles and an efficient method of operation in teams viz. hunting, gathering, we have evolved through the ages into less clearly defined roles where we can subsist by pulling a hood over the other guy's head. The best, and richest people on this planet can now survive merely by pretending to be better than everybody else, and the key thing there is if two people believe that they are, their whole family, acquaintances and all would definitely be on board with it all. Because we are in such desperate need of leadership, we would be willing to accept anyone who said they were better than us merely because they said so. And because we really don't know better.

The thing is, to listen more. Because when you listen, the world seems to open up and you get to see people for who they truly are, rather than what they are trying to be. And even though you can't really change anything by listening, you can do a lot better. You can try and figure out the stuff that's worth changing, and the stuff that's best left alone. Because even though our society is now being subjected to the sort of dry rot we find in week old mushrooms, what is significant is the number of people who are willing to stand up and fight for themselves. And if you listen hard enough and wait long enough, you would hear the winds of change rustling through the land, almost  as silent as a tiger on the prowl, and just as deadly effective.

When the Chili Peppers sing there's a reason for the 21st century, they're damn right there is.

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Power of Equality

It's been quite a long time... I must say. I seem to have suffered the sort of haemorrhage in creativity  that seems to be a rather common affliction among the salaried middle class today. But, as they say(and just to be clear, I have no idea who 'they' is either) there isn't any rest for the wicked, or some such suitably epiphanous epithet. Not to waste your time, dear reader, not that I have bucketloads of it to spare these days either, I will get straight to the point. Man is born equal, some men are born more equal than others, and most men tend to live their lives in the pursuit of equality. Indeed, someone like Robert Vadra, whose name appears in such exalted(and generic) company as the Prime Minister and President of India when it comes to airport authorities would only argue that it was his right to be exempt from frisking, in the name of equality and all that was held holy by the constitution of the country. And not the black and white kind either, but the sort of higher echelon we attribute to the state of moral steadfastness.

Indeed, our law minister would have even more of a fan following among the good natured secular citizens of our country. As his website so proudly proclaims:

"If their (muslims') forefathers decided they wanted to stay with 80 percent Hindus rather than 100 percent Muslims, go to Pakistan -- if they decided to stay here, it means they're liberal, it means they want a secular country, they want a country that isn't dominated by religion" -Khurshid

Of course, no one said that quotes had to make any sense. Most of 'their' forefathers didn't in fact decide to stay here, or this whole odious question of going to Pakistan wouldn't have arisen in the first place. And the whole point seems to be assumed here. We assume that because people like to live in secular countries, they aren't extremist. And conversely, any Muslims who live in single religion countries are bound to be extremist. But who the hell heard of a terrorist blowing up a bomb in the mountains of Afghanistan anyway..don't they have their own problems? Secular countries have more extremists, for monotheists there wouldn't be enough parochialism to justify the body count.

The point here is, that our bright, burning, righteous sense of justice... our eternal quest for equality is as hopelessly misguided as the prime minister of this country. Reservations in educational institutions, in government office, benefits for women in the workforce and almost every step taken to enforce equality are counter productive and egregious. You see, man isn't born equal, neither does he die equal. Most men strive towards being equal to whatever high or low standards they set for themselves. You give equality to man, and you strip him of any reason to continue to live. And you give equality to man and the only thing he would want to do is to be better than you.

The next time anyone tells you about equality, in the workplace, in our centers of learning or pretty much anywhere, remind him that human nature abhors equality. Most people just want to earn more money than their neighbours. And most people aren't wrong.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Ponderous Pandering: And why the world stands at the brink of total collapse

We, as a race of human beings,(as opposed to Bonobo monkeys, who are much friendlier) have a nasty irritating habit of placing bear traps in our own path. A bit like the sort of creative hara-kiri you would expect of lemmings and the Japanese, only much more incredulous. In a few sad months for the impressive ideals of free speech and capitalism we have managed to subvert the patent system, persecute(rather than prosecute, or even prostitute) Julian Assange, and close down some rather useless file sharing sites. All the while, Tim Cook, or some other parvenu left swimming in his own desultory money bin, would be contemplating the paraboloid nature of karma. Or why, when a boomerang is left to its own devices, inevitably tends to return to its thrower.

What we have achieved, is scary to the point of being completely ignored by most of the human populace. The logic goes, hey..if you cant stop it..don't worry about it..ooh look, a bonobo!! After the closing down of Megaupload.com, and the purported extradition of Kim Schmidt, that brought with it a raft of other closures, the founder of The Pirate Bay has been arrested in Cambodia, FileSonic.com has decided to down its shutters, and well, the world is pretty much going to hell even without Wikileaks to provide running commentary.

The idea is to prevent that most cataclysmically pernicious of all human evils...piracy. Because piracy stops the author getting his legitimate due, the executives who write up the author getting their legitimate cut, the distributors who do such a hard job distributing from getting their cut, and the fat cats who spot the author's talent from getting their cut. In short, pirates probably cause half of the world's poverty, and record company moguls probably routinely have to send their kids to bed hungry because of depraved lechers like you downloading stuff free off the internet. Yes you!! dont pretend to be innocent, you've done it too.

It's shameful. In a world of "Occupy...." and "The Protester" , to enact laws that prevent the free and easy sharing of entertainment, to people who can't afford it, or probably do not have easy access to it. It is also shameful to restrict the sale of products and restrict competition based on a couple of ridiculous arguments. Frivolity is probably the buzzword in America's courtrooms today, with lawsuits probably being filed now on who invented the shoelace, and on who Santa Claus really is. It is shameful also to assert that piracy causes people to lost their jobs, or restricts talent, or that it is tantamount to theft.

As a demotivaitonal poster once put it..think of it as your car getting stolen, but its still there the next day, piracy isn't theft,it's just..piracy. Piracy helps talented people get inspiration, helps talented people get the tools to harness that inspiration and  create quality without requiring startup capital. Most importantly, piracy makes things better, because you know you've got to go that extra mile to get people off their asses and buy your product. Piracy helps promote your product to areas with little knowledge, but a fast internet connection, going viral(anyone?), and piracy helps cultivate free speech and the ideals of democracy that we have so long cherished.

If  your product is good enough, then people who form an emotional attachment to it will surely support you. Hell or hard weather, fans are fans, and the right way to do things is by creating something that people need and that people would be enriched by. Rather than spending those billions on marketing.

But no one really gets that. The whole of human kind now seems to be one large cattle market, at the mercy of our overlords. The only question is how fat we would be allowed to get before we're slaughtered.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

A History of Violence


The last time I went to Assam it was unseasonably hot and humid. The roads were in bad shape, and there seemed to be little to indicate that the state was in a steady state of progress. The people seemd reasonably content with their fortune, but ominously, they had seen very little of the progress that the rest of India had made. Now this is a region of the country that is connected to it by a 20 km odd wide umbilical cord of land. The mainland seems to have very little influence here. I went there a couple of years ago, and even then the atmosphere seemed quietened into a lull that could only bode a storm.

Things have gone steadily downhill since then. A mix of despondency and apathy has beset the Seven Sisters, and Assam, as the largest, and the putative spokesperson of the group is probably the most obvious bellwether of the climate of unrest that has gripped them. Many people tend to classify the unrest as communal, or societal, but that would, in effect be too simplistic a definition. You see, we as a country have been communal ever since our inception. We were never meant to be united as one nation, for most periods in our history we have never been as such. When we have, however, our unity has been cemented by comparatively long periods of productivity and prosperity, and by a strong charismatic leader with the will power to hold us together. Neither seems to be available today.

Communalism has always been a disitnct part of the state. You need only to indulge people in casual conversation in order to confirm their deep rooted xenophobia against Muslims. But then again,this had to be  an issue in a state which is so close to Bangladesh. We are not the first country to have problems with illegal immigration. Most European countries and the US have had much worse. The immigration that Assam has witnessed is in keeping with the sort to be expected when your neighbour is unable to enocurage the sort of growth that your country takes for granted.

Coming back then, to the great leadership, adn the issue of productivity and prosperity. The government at the centre is a farce, now, and by extension, so is the government at the state level. However, the average man on the street has little to do with the government at the center or at the state levels. He is happy as long as he has some money in his pocket, and enough work to keep him busy until the end of the day as a means to earn it. This is something of a concern here, not because the state does not generate enough work opportunity, but because the people in the state are simply not skilled enough to match up to them. The chief minister had even admitted as such in a recent interview, and vowed to rectify the situation.

The idle hands, presumably would be taken care of, but then, what about the empty pockets. And this is where some of the most telling revelations take place. The Indian per capita income has been bandied about a lot in some of the more skeptical publications abroad as being a measly Rs. 33,793. This is a paltry sum when compared even to some of the African nations. However in Assam, an average worker can expect to earn only Rs. 20,500 odd. This is a sharp difference, and is probably the reason why most youths would choose to look for work elsewhere, thus leading to an exodus to more  lucrative climes.

Poverty in this country has long been the subject of academic and political debate, however, almost everyone would agree that nothing has been done in the short term to effectively ameliorate the situation. Reasons range from the very endemic nature of poverty to the fact that the government has its hands tied on absolutely any issue by the opposition. Whatever the reason may be, idle minds and empty pockets are surely fecund breeding grounds for the devil. Unemployment and monetary woes are the real devils here, not communalism or immigration.

The only effective solution is to fill people's pockets rather than prick their conscience. But then again, money has this anachronous way of getting lost in transit somehow, and it does certainly seem easier to fill people with hatred rather than put food on their plate.



Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Gangs of Gotham

Aside from the obvious asininity of the title, what might strike you is the rather cunning portmanteau of the two movies that have been solely responsible for the Indian public's remarkable attention deficit disorder being elevated to almost Promethean proportions. Not to critique Prometheus, a movie that was directed to smithereens by one of the most talented, and hence most obdurate directors in Hollywood. Nope, we as a civilization have now moved on to bigger and better things. Let's see now, these two genre bending, mind blasting, and all round snazzy movies are about a small mining town in the hinterland of Bihar, in the far out country of India, and about a considerably larger, albeit vague town in the hinterland of God Knows Where, in a country that can only be assumed to be America by the amount of dubiously bad English, and weird accents spoken throughout.

Language, probably, is one of the last reasons why you would go to watch either movie, but Gangs of wasseypur is more than just a delightful romp through a land of sex, drugs and guns, it is in fact quite educational. Linguistically, it does for the national language(I'm assuming it's Hindi) what the Boston strangler did for door to door salesmen.Judging by the staggeringly large number of families present in the theatre with me when I watched it, they considered it to be quite educational too, and would have little trouble homeschooling their kids in the subtleties of transcendental profanity.

In short, akin to this blog post, Gangs of Wasseypur is an unapologetic, untrammeled, unbridled, no holds barred epic of nonsense. The story is useless, the lyrics of the songs are strange to say the least, the invective is catchy, but unnecessary. It is the longest film about absolute bloody nonsense that you would ever dare to watch. And it is probably the longest film about absolute bloody nonsense that you would pay some more money, and go and watch again. It is probably the longest movie that you would have on infinite loop over a lazy Sunday afternoon, over a couple of months. It's that brilliant. In terms of nonsense, there is qualitative, there is epicurean, and then there is pretentious. In no place would you find this movie aiming to over reach, to present iteslf as something other than plain old self-styled nonsense.

Now, the Dark Knight Rises(and this is the basis for this strangely titled comparative post) is something completely different(I would have written kettle of fish, but that really doesn't seem to do it justice). It is a movie so wrapped up in itself it barely seems to be able to wake up and smell the snow. I have no idea what Bane does in his spare time, but I think most of it would revolve around adjusting his face mask and pumping some iron while preening in front of a mirror. In trying to create an intelligent villain and a flawed hero, Nolan has managed to create convoluted nonsense. Most of the plans, the twists, the deviously cunning schemes of the inordinately nefarious villains are nothing more than qualitative legerdemain at best, and confusing at worst. But it pretends to be so much more. Like the title, it aims to rise beyond its limited plot and average performances to become the successful conclusion of a brilliant trilogy.

It used to be, at one point of time, the greatest putative compliment payable to Bollywood to compare its movies to those of its western cousin. That point of time, seemingly, is long past. While more people were queuing up to watch TDKR(as it is affectionately known) versus GOW, it is a completely different story for the return show.

So many people consider TDKR money well spent, its almost laughable to consider that GOW2 would be available at half the price, and twice the fun.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Reclaim your life

Now the banks have been coming in for a lot of stick lately. And most of it is their fault. Some rather puerile traders at Barclays of course, thought the key exchange rates to be their own personal playthings, and showed a scary tendency towards that most inimitable of Indian talents, jugaad. Now to put things simply, banking is not a laughing matter. In fact, banking is what put us in the sort of shit that we are in right now, today. You see, these days if you find yourself having to turn out your wallet to buy a couple of onions don't blame the Congress(opposite of progress if the posters are to be believed) blame the banks. Banks were never really meant to facilitate anything other than their own self interest, and have never done anyhting else.

The rules that impact our lives the most today therefore, are also the most arbitrary. Strangely enough, the all pervasive law of gravity is as meaningless to us as a crow lying upside down on a deserted street(I'm assuming none of us are Buddhists). The sort of people who manage to make it big these days are not the mundane theoretical physicists, but those who have discovered n even more fundamental law of the universe, How to turn a PROFIT. For these days that's all that matters. Now to most bankeres, creating a profit is almost like making money out of thin air. Even for you, the end user, it might seem so, after all, it goes against the very law of conservation of mass, (and the far subtler) law of conservation of sanity in order to create something out of absolutely nothing. Yet this is the sort of skullduggery that allows our banks, and indeed, the whole global order to flourish.

So, what is it that allows a system this arbitrary and reactionary to exist, might be a question that all but the most apathetic would only be too ready with. It is our nature, as human beings, to disagree on almost everything. For dichotomous as most issues are to us, there is very little that unites man quite like money. And since we have absolutely no idea of how to work together, money is used as a substitute for teamgeist. Make no mistake, almost all of the world's problems could be solved if currency were abolished. But to do so would mean to descend into chaos, because none of us could possibly imagine how to deal with goods and services in an era of the absence of anything to pay for them.

This post is then, not a call to reclaim your life from the materialistic money hounds that seem to have chased it down and ripped it apart. For without money, your life would have been as meaningless as the lunar cycle to the coelacanth. This post is also not about the post apocalyptic nonsense that seems to have taken hold of fantasy writers' imaginations, in which in a not too distant future there will be no money, and people would manage to fend for themselves by producing power, food and water along with disposable nappies and dinner table spoons. This post is about that age old truism that happens to be more relevant today than ever before.

Money is a good servant, but a bad master.

And banks, are probably, given these economic conditions, the worst guardians of your money imaginable.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Boom..Like that

In a city where donuts seem to be the de rigeur a la carte filler food, and the entire female population seems to get its haircuts done from the same place, it is more than a little enchanting to find a bit of humanity in every nook and cranny. Whether it is a polite food server or a desperately honest auto driver, this is a city of great potential, and very little hubris. Hyderabad, it is then, seems to be the Shangri-la that Mark Knopfler seemed to sing about.

The not least impressive thing here is the startling number of couples who manage to turn up at every late night show there is for any movie there might be. It is also not very unimpressive to note the number of BMWs driving around with apparently cavalier disregard for their status, or the state of the roads for that matter. It's amazing how everyone here seems to have a little more money to spend than for their own good, and about how IT seems to be a catchword for half of the working population(the other half seem to be shopkeepers). And as a friend of mine seemed to point out, the girls here get prettier after 12 (with absolutely no reference to the lighting of course).

So this isn't Bangalore's poor cousin is it... I seem to be asked every now and again. I would like to say no. You see, this is a city with very little ego. While Bangalore seems so full of itself it can barely stand up and walk out of the room, Hyderabad is a city filled with humility, almost as great as its heritage. It is not a city that has been handed everything on a platter. It is a city that has been built upon great sacrifice and is still faced with great struggles for its daily bread and butter. Strangely then, while it has been relegated to the ignominy of playing second fiddle to what has been unequivocally proclaimed the godliest of godly cities in this country(and no I don't mean Varanasi) it is quite different from Bangalore.

As with any city, the point is not the brick and mortar structures or the magnificent edifices that may confront you on your way to work every day. The point is made by the people who live and work here. The people are what make up the heart and soul of any city. And while the people here seem to have only two rules, namely take off your shoes while entering someone's house, and watch every movie that releases..period, there is something that the people here are not prone to. There is a scary lack of perversion here. No voyeurs, no masochists, and very little sadism.

And while this lengthy rambling post seems to have left you with very little dear reader, there is a reason why I feel it necessary to extol the virtues of this city. It is my new home, and a very pleasant home at that. While I might have had several apprehensions about this place, it seems to be..fairly...alright.

No really...it's great!!!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Irritating Imbalances and a post for the rest of us...

I hate beginning posts like this..but hey, what the hell?! A good friend once wrote on his Facebook wall, the easiest way to get people's attention is by saying Jobs on an admissions guidance forum. This good friend possessed an insight not normally possessed by people, but then again, that's why he is presumably a good friend. Now, everyone knows there are in fact two ways to get any average college-goer's attention. The first involves shouting "X Lakhs per annum" at a random spot inside the college(replace X with a suitable double digit number), the second involves taking your bra off.

Since I do not own a bra, and would find it highly reprehensible(not to mention morally questionable) to be found in possession of one, I must take the former route.

70 lakhs per annum, is a sum of money that most of us would find a little incomprehensible to digest(or spend). I mean not all of us are MLAs or drug dealers or Facebook programmers. The whole point with the salary explosion now faced by the average Computer Science student is that it is so bloody unsustainable it makes me want to throw somebody into a fire(preferably someone from Goldman Sachs). While salaries for those in CS have climbed up to nearly unscalable heights, salaries for the remaining few of us have stayed near about the same or have actually worsened. It can't be considered a surprise either, we are hardly facing the best time in our economic growth story.

The question now is, have these recent big shot recruiters found some topical analgesic for the world's economic woes? Can they afford to go to far flung countries and recruit the best brains in the world and throw insane amounts of money at them for no apparent reason? The answer is, obviously not, and that we are sitting on probably the worst bubble in internet history since the 2000 dotcom bust. But that still doesn't solve the problem. You see the problem with these bigshot recuiters and India's screwed up foreign exchange situation is that they have artificially widened the divide between CS and non CS into the bloody Grand Canyon. If you have heard the question,"Beta, X branch me scope hai?", you may now reply confidently enough, "Nahi uncle, bas CS me scope hai..baaki sab branches toh timepass ke liye khol rakha hai".

This skewered system is not only bad for the mindset of students in the country, it is downright reprehensible. This is like giving the mechanic a middle finger and a sad chuckle, and giving your house to the guy who puts a TV screen in your car. There is no easy solution for this, except to be pragmatic, and remember that the industries that actually USE computers do not actually employ computer engineers. Computer engineering, and more particularly the creation of software is kinda like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle. It's tough, its mentally demanding, and it just wouldn't be possible without the idiots who made jigsaws, or the idiots who made the room you're putting it together in, or those other idiots who keep the fans running. You really cannot have software engineers, without the other sort of engineers, the boring kind, that wear hard hats, and black shoes and shirts with collars.

While currently all that those particular engineers have to go on are a sense of pride and a passion for the job, it is important to note that the bigger picture needs to be taken into account. The monetization of social media, and the boom that has been piggybacked with it, is essentially nonexistent. That while the imbalance between some particular breed of CS students may seem large right now, it is much better, and much safer, to do what the smart people have always done.

Stick to what you're good at. You won't have to do it for free(unless you want to of course).

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Lakhs of Success

Now it has taken a great deal of bravery, a burnt hand, and a singed soul to take up the cudgels again and get back to what I do best, write random nonsense about absolutely nothing. Indeed my absence on the blogoshpere would have left as much a mark on it as a housefly could be expected to leave on an African elephant. (Yes, not those stupid Indian ones). But hey, since my getting back to writing would be tantamount to roughly the same, I might as well choose the latter. And on a day of revelations, it might interest you to know that the largest selling shaving cream in India(by over 100%) is manufactured in New Delhi by a large number of Sardarjis who go by the name Kochhar. Yes, I am not talking about the Gillette corporation here.

Anyway, what is really unfortunate these days is the sort of razor sharp cutting edge focus our younger generation seems to have. Most of the queries on my (ex-)college admissions guidance forum deal now with placements. And the students are hard nosed about it all... they are very particular about how many lakhs of rupees to expect in their first jobs, how many lakhs of rupees it might cost for them to give up a job and get into some sort of a higher (higher) education programme, and how many lakhs of rupees their senior earned, and how many lakhs of rupees might be on offer at so and so branch. In short, the students of today seem less preoccupied about what they hell they would like to spend studying for the next four years of their lives..and more about..you guessed it..lakhs of rupees.

All of this is done, however, without taking into account exactly HOW those lakhs of rupees are disbursed to the students concerned. No one asks about the companies involved, or the work, or how exactly to go about getting better grades or the specifics of a branch. Indeed, at that level, 17 years old, having just cracked a major exam it should be the least of your worries which branch you choose or which company you would like to get placed in. Indeed all that any average 17 year old should be worried about are bikes, and girls. And well, moeny seems like a very logical way to go about getting girls...and of course bikes. And ipso facto, IITians, and engineering graduates in general, do seem to be able to generate a lot of money. Insane amounts of it, judging by the astronomical spurt in starting salaries these days.

Which is why it would seem justified to take your eyes spectacularly off the ball here, dear reader. I dont really think jobs aound here are judged by the quality of work, hours you need to put in or the scope for future growth. Indeed, passion does not figure very highly on the jobseekers shortlist of desirables. Nor should it. We are a country where half the population lives and dies without figuring out what it wants to do, forget about what it would be good at. No one knows what their interest is here. Mostly, it is either handed to them, or they resign to it hoping that they really wouldn't end up worse than the other guy. And it doesn't matter because as long as our education system remains results oriented(as it needs to be in order to support a billion people) people would only look at the sort of money they can make, as opposed to the sort of work they can do.

Now none of this matters, because our services output is like the proverbial elephant, and our students are the proverbial houseflies. The only difference is success, and once you get out of the lakhs of rupees mentality(and yes, it IS pretty difficult) you realise that it is not about what your education can do for you.

It's about what you can do with your education.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Aldehyde

"My love affair with everywhere, was innocent, why do you care?" -Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wet Sand

I am still reeling under the shock of the weighty revelations that I received this morning. That of people actually being interested in what I write. Strangely enough, dear reader, you seem to read, and actually like most of the blogs that spew forth from my rather modestly priced laptop, and rather immodestly retarded brain. Equally strange, I seem to have received 4900 hits for the 153 blog posts I have written, and assuming the highly overpaid engineers at Google aren't complete idiots and know something of what they are doing, they must be unique.

Which means that an average of 30 odd people would actually take some time off to read the stuff that I write. Which should make me suffocate under the burden of an unbelievably large quantum of expectations.

Yeah right!!

A common complaint is that no one can actually understand what I write. Presumably, they just read my blog because they're preparing for the GRE, GMAT or any other acronymous(read shit) examination that requires a healthy knowledge of English. Considering that I never let my prose adumbrate the exigency of my epistles, I dont feel like anyone would hope to gain any sort of reasonable knowledge of English, or anything else for that matter from my blog. So then, why do people read it? Let's face it, most blogs really don't talk about anything in particular, other than that of opinions. And the larger the number of opinions that are present, the larger the number of interested readers logging on to get their fill.

But that's not the point at all.

The point is, being a polyvore or a polymath(I forget which is which) enables me to write on probably every topic in the world. Which probably isn't a good thing, since I do not happen to be a hot girl. Considering that there isn't any dearth of hot girls anymore in the world(seriously...what the hell happened to average-looking females in this country?!) I would be out of business if any one of them figured out what a blog was. OR how to log into their google account AND then create a Blogger account.

So, I guess I would continue to extol the virtues of writing, on any range of topics, ranging from alcohols to aldehydes, and from zebras to, well, bras. And all manner of exhortations aside, the world economy really wouldn't engage as much attention as the sort of explosive chemistry that would allow you to make TNT using some ice and a bottle of shampoo.

Or I could just write about bras...

Thursday, 26 April 2012

How to Change the World


You might remember the essays you used to write in junior school. One of the topics that would require you to scratch your head was that of Ambition. Or, as your junior school teachers tended to elucidate for the benefit of your puerile mind..” What do you want to be when you grow up” 

Now most people want to be doctors or engineers (yes.. that’s the Great Indian Dream). A few want to be rockstars or astronauts. A few want to travel the world and meet new and exotic species of camels. But every so often, some weird kid decides to write an essay on how he would like to change the world. Predictably this kid gets lambasted by his teacher, scores the lowest grade on the paper, and gets a severe bout of head shaking and fist pumping from his parents. But what is really surprising, is the statistics of it all. You see, with an occurrence this rare, in schools across the world, you can be sure that there would be a million such weirdos who would do something like this (Pareto distribution..huh??). And for the million who have the dream in their head, there would be at least a hundred thousand with the necessary talent to pull it off.

But if everything ended there we would be living in an ideal world, and alcohol would be free of cost and professors would be your best friends and drinking buddies. It is really NOT an ideal world, as the most perceptive of you must have already figured out. It is a cancerous world, and we are all living out our own sad little versions of non Hodgkins lymphoma. The point is, of those hundred thousand weird kids who have the dream and the talent to change the world, only five would ever get the chance to make it happen. Three would die early in road accidents involving Yamaha bikes. One would die accidentally while trying to plug her hair dryer into a two pin socket with no earthing. And the ONE, would grow depressed, and question his motivation at every single point in his life.

In the end, that is what it all boils down to..motivation. Very few people with the wherewithal (the REAL talent, not the sort of shit that passes off as talent these days) to change the world are actually concerned about money, so there that goes down the drain. And even fewer are motivated by power and prestige and the ability to become their own personal version of God. What most people would like though, is recognition, and a little bit of appreciation.

And this is where everything falls apart. The world, you see, is made up of idiots. And in the end, if you are looking to them for motivation, you are bound to come up short in some respect or the other. Most people would not appreciate the changing of the world, albeit for the better, because most people love to be safely ensconced in the security of their own static world. Most people also tend to appreciate people like themselves, which means idiots would earn most of the acclaim from the other idiots of this world.

The motivation to change this world should not hinge on the appreciation or recognition you get from it. The world is a thankless creature, and would do anything to ensure the status quo is maintained. The motivation should hinge on your own personal satisfaction, dear weirdo, to be able to stand up to yourself one day, and say that you did it.

You changed the world.

Altruism

We have often heard the words human nature bandied about. These two words are used to cover everything from repetitive excesses of indulgence to rape and murder. We can allow ourselves to believe that whatever mistakes we commit, and whatever fraud we are guilty of can be explained away so easily because we are in effect the sort of flawed creatures we call human. In fact, this is so ingrained into our psychology there is a very famous saying in our society, we say, to err is human, and to forgive divine. We tend to associate our nature with the least desirable of our qualities. In essence, most humans tend to deviate towards evil, and this has been reflected to no small extent in our history and our religion.

If this is true, then what is most repugnant to human nature, would in fact be altruism. You see, what makes altruism so brilliant is that it bucks the trend.

Most, if not all humans, can in effect be categorised as being self centred. Now, wait a minute, you look at yourself, dear reader, and for all that you know, you are probably the most generous person in the world. Hell, you probably give more to charity than you save up in a year. But, keep in mind, you only do this because it makes you feel GOOD. It gives you the right to look down your nose at all those other idiots who seem to be wasting their lives (and a considerable part of their incomes) satisfying meaningless cravings. It allows you to scoff at materialistic pleasures and earthly avarice. The point is, dear reader, that in being GOOD, or probably BETTER than most, you are still acting in your own self interest.

Human nature then, can be defined as actions undertaken by us in our own self interest. Or so you would THINK.

Because, you see, what sets us apart(from animals and magic talking lizards) is the fact that we can be altruistic. And altruism isn;t just doing good, or doing the right thing. Altruism is doing the right thing even when there is no perceptible reward available for the same. And if there is a severe detriment to us for doing the right thing, then some of us still go ahead and do it. This is known as sacrifice, and is something that our religion and all of our mythology has gone into great detail on. Human beings are capable of great sacrifice, almost other worldly sacrifice, the sort of scrifice that you would normally reserve for epic tomes of fiction, like one of our fabled epics.

Now, after all of this dear reader, the question still remains. What exactly is human nature? And the only way to answer this is through a quasi-answer, something that does not satisfy the question at all.

You see, the only thing that is consistent in human nature is that it is random. And that is what makes us human. The fact that we can be utterly random. This allows us to make great sacrifices, or act in our own self interest. We will always deviate towards evil, the only thing that saves us from its overreaching clutches is that sometimes, spontaneously, and rather randomly, we decide to do good things.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Like Crocodile, but not spelt that way

So, after the launch of the Agni 5 which, rather predictably, failed to create any major ripples in the international militaristic scene, we can rest safely knowing that if perchance China were to destroy all of our major cities we would be able to defend ourselves by blowing up the least important part of Beijing. Indeed, so apathetic were the Chinese, that in their nonchalance they remarked that the ballistic missile might not even reach its intended target and might blow up somewhere over Tibet, which would give the Dalai Lama a bit of respite... no doubt. The Americans seemed happy though, and are very content to let the bleddy Injuns and the bleddy Chinks blow themselves up while they go about prospecting for oil. However, there is still that North Korea hassle that sticks up rather persistently like a sore thumb. You see, the other side of Korea (rather imaginatively named the South) is a rather favourite ally of the Yanks. They make their iPods, their iPads and their other tidbits of inspired engineering available to the unwashed masses. And they seem to have a healthy disrespect for patent infringement lawsuits.

Blowing up South Korea then, would be a severe inconvenience for the Americans. And rather like in the movie Battleship (or Jungi Jahaj, depending upon where you watched the damn thing) the Americans, with all their naval firepower would be rather powerless to stop it. So while North Korea drew severe reproofs for testing some sad ballistic missile, the Injuns got a pat on the back, and a thumbs up, and a promise of some saltwater taffy and retrofitted fighter jets. However, and it must be of severe concern this, our defence budget has remained a rather stationary 2% or thereabouts of GDP. This while it seems impressive, really does not equip us to go into battle with China. The Chinks have seen their defence budget grow to 2.5% of their GDP, which in turn is growing at a phenomenally underwhelming rate.

You see, Hu Jintao, before stepping down addressed a General Body Meeting of the Chinks, and rather regretfully informed them that under global pressure, and due to a shift in emphasis to infrastructure growth, the economy would grow at a rather laggard 7.5%. Our own finance minister responded with an emphatic bout of fist pumping and a middle finger to assembled journalists. Keep in mind though, that the Chinks usually release figures adjusted to a minimum, whereas we tend to squeeze every last drop out of a positive statistic. In the end, we have been rather unfortunately relegated to a position where our maximum growth rate(in ANY field) is almost(but not quite) equivalent to the Chinky minimum growth rate.

And while creative manipulation (yes..I shall cover this in another blog) does allow us to stay at the forefront of the GDP charts, our joy must be shortlived. For we cannot be as myopic as not to see the creative crocodile snapping at our heels, and waiting to get at us..

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Generosity of Strangers

The best part about writing blogs is you could randomly criticise anybody without any fear of retribution whatsoever. That is , provided your blog does not become immediately popular. Then again, if you do indeed have any sort of substance about your blog, you will want it to become immediately popular, which, then again, puts you in the sort of catch 22 situation only Mamata Bannerjee should have to face. The point of all of this being, that most blogs do not become immediately popular, unless written by a hot girl typecasting boys as being general idiots. What goes into making a blog popular, then,( really popular I mean, not just the 100 likes on facebook chickenshit,) is the ability to merge sexual frustration, teenage(or middle aged) angst and vedic karma into one neatly wrapped package.

For those of you wondering what I'm going on about, nevermind. Very few things are as profligately underappreciated and as mundanely devalued as the really good blog post and the generosity of strangers.

But let's just focus on the latter for a change. As a recent trip to Mumbai reminded me, kindness does still exist as does virtue. And there are still good people in this world. And, rather sadly, very few peple remaining to appreciate the true goodness of such. And like the blanket erythema that seems to be so much a rubric of society these days, apathy seems to be a better option to appreciation. Indeed, so many people prefer to remain wrapped in their own little bubbles of isolation. If they could just pause to reflect on just how much of their life is owedd to the generosity of strangers the moral obligation to repay them in kind would be so large that we would either have an ideal society or no society at all.

But the best part is, most people take such kindness for granted, most people would not stop to wonder about any of what I am writing. Yes and that does include YOU. So the next time someone goes out of their way to be nice to you or do something for you, make sure to return the favour.

Because most of our life, most of us will always be dependent on the generosity of strangers..

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Lit club

This morning it feels kinda surreal.

That is one sentence that sums it up. Now, contrary to your expectations (or lack of them, dear reader) I shall not launch into a series of senti speeches about so and so members of the Literary club and the profound impact they have had on my life. Indeed, the impact that they might have had on my life, or conversely I might have had on theirs is miniscule. The only reason why this is significant is because I have always been able to have the outsiders view on this club all the time. And judgemental and parochial as I am( or as most people would have me be), I have formed certain opinions about them.

The first, and easiest observation to make is the abundance of talent within this community. Parenthetical interruptions aside, these people are some of the most talented people that I have ever known. These guys are GOOD. I have known most of them to set such lofty targets for themselves so as to be considered beyond the reach of the average mortal, and then manage to achieve them without breaking into sweat. Some of them are underrated, and some underestimated, but each one is a creative tour de force. We need such people to lead our country into the birght future that our newspapers cannot seem to stop talking about, but mostly, we need such people to remind ourselves of the sort of potential that we have in our engineering colleges and in our country.

Anyway, reverting to BHUspeak (as opposed to BHUkamp, which is really not that great an idea) enough of the fatte. The lit club is home to some of the biggest bakchods in the college, and you know it's you I'm talking about. Yes YOU. Whether we're being pedantic, stupid or lugubriously disinteresting we can go on and on about absolutely nothing. As a result, we at the Lit club pride ourselves on being the most high quality bakchods out there. While other, more mundane people may talk about girls and gadgets, we talk about girls and gadgets...in much better English, and in much more refined terms (no maal or londiya in our vocabulary). The Lit club also seems to have a lot of entertainment poking genteel (as opposed to gentle) fun at other people. A hazardous occupation at the best of times it has to be said, but we always seem to get away with it.

As brevity seems to be the soul of wit, I shall not stretch your patience any longer, dear reader. I have not been able to pay fitting tribute to the Lit Club, nor will I ever be able to. I can just thank all of you for having me along for the journey, and say honestly that I have loved these five years with you people. Some of the best, most creatively engrossing, most intelligent and most talented people are present in this little niche that we have managed to create for ourselves, and I can promise you that most of the names written on my Coffee Mug will be marquees in the years to come.

And about the coffee mug, it might probably be the most lasting impression of IT-BHU that I will have. Thank you for it, and I shall treasure it always.

It feels even more surreal after writing this, but I guess I have yet to come to grips with the fact that I am leaving this place. Good luck, everybody, and thanks for all the memories, and as Arnold Schwarznegger never said...

I hope I'm back..


Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Ides of March

Well, it's only the second post for this month, and pretty much the last post I am going to make (yes, I seem to have gone from prolific, to rather useless in the short span of a few years). Anyway, when you write a blog post in March, about the post apocalyptic decline of a certain political party that you hated in the first place, the title seems, rather apropos. It was probably around the time that Kapil Sibal said that the JEE was about to go (right along the lines of the Class X board exam and Freedom of Speech) that most of the kids around India decided to sit up and say,"This shit's got to go."

And it has gone. Imploded in fact, to such an extent that cars are being set afire in UP by the people who have actually won the elections. Presumably they are happy. Most likely they are frustrated, or were, at least until recently. Anyway, it is now news that the Congress party has been shot in the foot, mouth, and private parts. But to what avail, would be a good question to be asked by the people of India. For you see, most people in India would be wise to be a little bit circumspect about the entire issue. The Congress party was not the root of all evil plaguing our country, it was merely the face of it. And Kapil Sibal was its rather moronic pinata. Sadly, this country has a long way to go before anything will change for the better, and UP has absolutely nowhere to go, it won't change at all.

But, hey, let us not ignore the power of positive thinking on this one. Yeah, there are so many reasons to rejoice, not least if you are a member of the Samajwadi Party, bhaiya..

1. At least we don't have Vladimir Putin in our country. At least we are ruled by Sonia Gandhi, the Italians always were a bit generous. And they won the war, or did they??

2. Most likely, and this is a big big leap of faith, the education system in our country will be restored to (kindof) normal, and Kapil Sibal will be shot.

3. This one is indubitable, we will not have any more elephant statues in the countryside, not that they weren't pretty of course.

4. The corruption in our country will occur in a manner so as not to be made daily news of, we won't get to know about it at all, which is a BIG relief

5. Facebook will FINALLY be free of all those idiotic Manmohan-Sonia jokes and whatnot, as a result we might actually be able to focus on our studies..or stalk girls..

But hey, what difference does it make. We'd still be the picture of a happy, prosperous, educated India, till some Samajwadi Party hooligan shoots us in the head at least.

Baba Black Sheep


While this curiously titled post may have something to do with black sheep, Harley Davidsons or even Rudyard Kipling, I’m sorry to disappoint you, dear reader, by saying that I will focus on neither of the above. In fact, as I am sure the literary geniuses (and aren’t there many these days) among you must have figured out already, this post is in fact about another species of sheep, humans. Let’s face it, Plato was correct when he said most humans are stupid. We tend to ignore this basic fact about ourselves, but we are, in fact, very very stupid. All of us need to take a long hard look at ourselves, and if possible, slap each other twice on each cheek before gibbering like orangutans.

But that is beside the point.

The point being, that since humans are so stupid, they need other humans to tell them what to do. So in your school, you had your principal and in your college, you had your dean and in your job you had your boss, and at your home you had a succession of parents, spouse and kids, in that order. But that is not significant either. Because all of those have been obligations, and ones you could not safely ignore. I mean, very few people have the guts or the brains to tell their parents to simply leave them alone. In that case, it isn’t so much about free will being the victim as it is about common sense being replaced by that unctuous sense of responsibility.

What is avoidable, what makes a victim out of free will, is the now ubiquitous baba. And these are the people who can now don saffron and presume to tell you what exactly you should do with your life. They have all sorts of popular names, some even portmanteau names that can lead to many sorts of acrostic permutations. Irrespective of all of this, the one uniting factor among all of them, is that they are presumptuous enough to tell you exactly what it is you should do with your life. In order to lend their opinions- and, let’s face it, the biggest certificate they have is the testimonials of their millions of followers- any credence they must convince you of their greatness.

And this is where methods vary, often spectacularly, some resort to vile calumny while others prefer common sense advice and deep breathing to induce some sort of placebo effect. But where things get interesting is when they use scientific/ quasi scientific methods in order to convince you that there are in fact things such as impurities in the blood and little green gremlins inside the head. And let’s face it, Indians more than anyone are susceptible to all sorts of subterfuge. We are a people of extreme optimism and very limited rationalism, and if anyone asks us to do what Krishna would do, we would go ahead and do it without even pausing to consider exactly which Krishna did what.

In the end, it is the faith and belief of a billion people that blinds them to the consequences of their actions. But then again, who are we to question them or their beliefs. The only reason I can think of doing so is because one day all of this might prove tremendously dangerous, just as blind faith usually does. Sadly though, none of the people so blinded by faith would ever realize how dangerous it might eventually prove for them. So we end up with a non sequitur and a lasting regret on the failure of rationalism to actually change anything.

Oh well, might as well get some chanting done.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Immortals

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

-William Ernest Henley, Invictus

Most people would write a short story, or a poem, or an open letter to a Chennai boy or Delhi boy or some other sort of peripatetic character. It falls upon me then, dear reader, to give you some sort of respite, from all of this banality. You see, it is all well and good to write entertaining shit, witty shit, and obviously it gives you some sort of comfort from the mundane and dreary existence you are no doubt forced to live. However, there comes a time when all of the bullshit that you accept for daily reasonable news must be shaken up, stirred, and put inside an olive, just to complete the James Bond reference.

You see, Bonds there are many, especially in our college, and dear reader, you would be hard pressed to throw a stone at our most populated chai shop without hitting one of them. Although, what the consequences would be to this action is debatable, and mostly not considered to be in your favour. Strangely, we have so many types of bonds that classifying them will involve some sort of Dewey decimal system. We have the Bodies of this world, and then the Bakchods of this world, and then some. And all convinced, in their own little cocoon of inanity, in their sublime little bubble of bullshit, that they, in fact, are the best the world has to offer. They would laugh at every joke, irrespective of whether it was in fact a joke or not, or whether it was on them or not. Then again, they would tend to crack a few jokes. And all of this with the absolute disregard for common sense, or how do I say this..subtlety.

The thing is, you think you are immortal when you are 23 years old. Everything seems like it can't hurt you, or touch you, or even whizz past you with a strong metallic whine. And it is this sense of immortality that permits you to do the things that you do, when you do them. It is this sort of positive disregard for absolutely anything that life could throw at you, that allows you to be great.

And all of this ends as you grow old, dear reader. And you begin to feel a bit more mortal. Your joints begin to ache, and your liver isn't as good as it used to be. Almost all of your thoughts are second guessable, before you can even think of them. As you grow old you tend to realise the extent of your own vulnerability. Most people, cannot even think about this because most people are too engrossed in their own lives to care about when or how or why they would die. Most people tend to scoff at people who gently (and generously) inform them that they might as well show a bit of circumspection before it comes to bite them back in the ass.

But, you and I, dear reader, we are not most people. And it is all well and good to be immortal and everything...just as long as you look out for that bus.

Monday, 16 January 2012

We Try Harder

"Avis is only no. 2 in rent a cars, so why go with us? We try harder..When you're not the biggest, you have to"

It has been a long time since I wrote a blog. I would put it down to severe mental absence and semi-severe writer's block, both of which are non fatal diseases, so you need not rejoice, dear reader. In the absence of decent topics to write on, vituperate, spew forth on and the like, one necessarily reverts to type. However, it has been so long since I wrote a blog, that i have all but forgotten what my type was. So, i have decided to take the easy way out, and poke fun at random people whom i don't know, and have no intention, or possibility for that matter, of meeting. Strangely enough, I judge them by their actions, and not by the sort of people they are, kind of like judging the Mahindra Scorpio by the number of accidents it's been in, or like judging the moon...by its average visibility on a stormy night.

Most of the people who make the decisions that affect most of our political life do it without our knowledge or consent, and are usually the least qualified people to make them. But we have never let that bother us, now have we.

So, the Indian political system is a joke, but Indian politicians seem to have gone one better. They have now become the Jokers. While Mayavati is off using elephants as a metaphor for the much abused Dalit community, Kapil Sibal is busy trying to make an ass of himself. So what have we started the new year with?? Here's a review:-

1. The death of free speech:- So google and facebook are being tried in court for something that is not their business, that they didn't do, and would be helpless to stop, a few weeks after Kapil Sibal said that something had to be done about all those(highly entertaining) Manmohan-Sonia photoshopped photos..Go figure.

2. Elephants now symbolise the poor and downtrodden people of UP, which is incidentally about to become 4 different states, each with its own set of poor and downtrodden people, and probably its own species of elephant.

3. Google+ is soo out of tune with the masses, Google has to put a blue bar next to its search menu just to get you to do something on the site. For god's  sake, Google says, just click the damn thing.

4. Now that people are actually in 2012m talking about how the world will end this year seems a bit lame. Most news channels(the Hindi ones) have stopped running it as their prime time story, and well, the mood seems to be one of subdued optimism. We're all set for one hell of a party on the 20th of December though.

5. Trying harder seems to be just a bit better than crawling into a hole and dying. Doomsday prophecies do that to you, it seems.

And just when the Avis ad, brutally (and conveniently) honest, seems to hit the mark, you should also remember dear reader, that giving up is probably the easiest thing you could do. And since it is already 2012,(yes..already..you're old) it couldn't hurt, to try harder, for one last time.