Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hunt Starter

I am on this rather quirky and purposeless hunt for starter recipes. I intend collecting 200 of them by 31st Oct 2009. I mean 200 different kinds of recipes (not the kinds where you replace peas with corn and voila! another one!). I intend covering the following cuisines in the process:

  1. Indian (there are 200 in them!!)And this is just the start(er)!!
  2. Chinese
  3. Vietnamese
  4. Thai
  5. Middle-East (covering Turkey, Iran, Israel, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, etc.)
  6. Egyptian
  7. African (need to investigate this, but Moroccan is surely in there)
  8. Mediterranean
  9. Italian
  10. American
  11. Lebanese
  12. Japanese
  13. Spanish
  14. Mexican
  15. German
  16. Scandinavian
  17. Commonwealth (!!?)
  18. Misc. (French, South American, etc.)
That is going to keep me fairly occupied!! La la la laa la!!
Of course, only vegetarian!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sonnet - 9 An Angel Asleep

Her silent head pressed 'twixt cotton and time
Lips, speaking her dream, with slightest parting.
Hope that flutter hearken not the waking clime
For her sleep soothes the vile day's grating.How could you be thus?

She holds her chin and smiles vacantly so,
The rising taut of a child's stomach, 'neath;
Soft hands curled around undrawn trust's core
I wish that were my fingers they sheathed.

I beg my mind to not clang its way in
And remind me of the wicked wrongs she'd done
For this moment is all that shall stay within
A shattered soul by this sleeping woman.

She stirs, I turn, into her her self seeps
'Tis sad in waking, an angel must sleep.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Gold Standard

Recently I was discussing the need for a gold standard of human conduct, with a friend of mine. He subscribed to the safety of assuming that there will always be something unknown about why a person behaved in a particular way, and hence, its adherence (or not) to the gold standard cannot be determined. This is in line with Steven Covey's scenario to illustrate a paradigm shift. I found that scenario rather silly. Here is (mostly) how it goes:

A man enters the subway train in the compartment where SC is seated. The man is accompanied by a whole bunch of extremely noisy children (his). The man is calmly sitting down next to SC while the kids go about creating mayhem of sorts which disturbs many an American soul in the train. SC, after giving the due pause in the hope that things would settle down, turns to the man and requests him to rein in his children (in very soft and sweet words). The man "wakes up" to the situation around him and apologises to SC. He proceeds to explain to SC that his wife had just died and they are returning from the hospital. He hasn't been able to explain things to his children and hence, they are just being themselves and he didn't notice as he was collecting himself too. SC says: Suddenly you see things differently and that that is a paradigm shift.

I call that fairly irrelevant. If the kids are disturbing everyone, then that doesn't change because the man's wife died. Undoubtedly one sympathises with the man and realises why he wasn't acting on his children's conduct, but that the children need to be quietened down is still required as it is causing a lot of discomfort to others. Or the man should announce that he is in such a situation and hence all passengers should hold back their discomfort! There is nothing hard-hearted (a heart of gold?) or cruel about this outlook. If I were in SC's place, I would have sympathised with the man and enquired into the cause of the mishap and probably offered help in quietening the boys, but the latter task is required as the crowd was getting disturbed. Or the man offers to pass on the unfortunate piece of information to everyone and everyone helps in managing the kids. People start engaging the kids and make them less unruly and noisy. The man is left to his grief and confusion. Whatever, but a situation of inconvenience to creatures (human or otherwise) other than oneself, should be addressed and not left to the tolerance of others (and top it with an expectation that they better understand and tolerate it). Hence, if SC had not found out and met my friend then my friend would have fielded SC's complaint with a "You don't know what that man was going through or what was running in his mind. You don't know whether he was going through a divorce, death, loss of job, indigestion or whatever. Hence, you cannot say that he was being inconsiderate."

Technically, I can say anything!! :-) Point is, the man was being inconsiderate and that inconsideration stemmed from unconsciousness (which, as I said, is fairly irrelevant). That SC realised the cause of unconsciousness and managed (?) the situation that had arisen from the man's inconsideration doesn't make the act less inconsiderate. Being inconsiderate is not a crime or a punishable offense (at least not always), nevertheless it is a cause of concern for people around the inconsiderate person. How long does it take for a man to pull in his children and request them to stay put? How simple it would be to take them all in a cab so that his grief and confusion are contained? Isn't it far more complex to expect total strangers and several of them to immediately realise that this man is in a state of grief and hence, the acts of sons should be instantly pardoned?

This brings us to several different modifications to the above scenario. What if I have a major tiff with my manager and then shout at the vendor at the gas station? Should the vendor be expected to understand my mental state? Should he then swallow all need to explain the situation as it was instead of how I have perceived it in my state of anger!? And this goes on ad infinitum, ad nauseum!?

Which is what brings me to the need for a gold standard of human conduct. The conduct could well contain the need to never assume that the person who is being a nuisance is doing so intentionally or with malefic intent, and I am ok with it though I would also like, then, to include the need to not burden everyone with the difficulty that one is going through. I am ok with anything that everyone agrees with, accepts and follow. I am dead against something which people like other people to follow but have no inclination to adhere to, as it goes against their self-interest. That is being damn parasitical! Oh! I so love that word. In it is carried all the truth of human base intent and pettiness which people refuse to acknowledge. The sheer shock and revulsion that is observed on the face of the recipient of that title is apt.

My friend was convinced that having a gold standard would be ideal though he recognises that it is impossible to have one. He believes so because "people are different". I believe so because people in their need for self-preservation and self-propagation will do anything to ensure that they are not inconvenienced or harmed. That "anything" includes violating any commonly constructed gold standard. So, my friend and I agree (but for different reasons) and are happy!! :-)

Let me illustrate why having a gold standard is vital. Consider that you live in a small village of about 20 families and houses. If you believe that thieving is wrong and assume that others too believe in the same, you might be encouraged to leave your door unlocked and all your valuables lying around in the house. You return home after a day's labour to find them all gone. You realise that asking people if they have seen those items leads to hostility. So you go about earning enough money to replace those objects. Again, one day, you return home and find them all gone. This goes on. What do you do? I, personally, would meditate on the Taoist question of why hold anything valuable. But my meditation leads to another question: Even if my mattress is the only thing I have and I do not hold it valuable should I not be concerned when it goes missing? Should I learn to sleep on the hard earth? What if my clothes are stolen? Should I learn to walk around naked?
Does this mean that I too go about stealing!? Personally, I wouldn't. I would simply leave the village with whatever little I have, and if I find all villages to be the same, then I will go and settle on an uninhabited island. I realise that this constant escaping is not eternally sustainable. Maybe I can do a Galt-ian move and collect all like-minded folks and create an Atlantis for myself. Whatever!

I hope I have impressed upon the reader the need for a gold standard. 

Now let me explain why Nature created the seed. The seed is a precursor to all the wonderful architectural concepts of patterns (and Christopher Alexander is a man I bow to) or the notion of kernel and core systems that software industry recognises (and there are few to none in this industry whom I bow to). The seed is the essence of whatever must and can grow from therein. Am I making sense? The seed is the distillation of all that goes into an apple tree or a shrub or even weeds. As Master Ugway points out to Master Shifu: "Ah yes, but no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange but you will get a peach." Oh! btw, that was from Kung-fu Panda. What all this means is that the gold standard is nothing more than a seed. A seed which will always grow to be a human being whose fruits will be noble and honest. Some will produce less fruit, some more, but all will take pretty much only what they need and do so in an honest and noble way. Those who produce no fruit will be firewood (and without regret). Those who produce lots of fruit will one day be left bare and will also be infested with all kinds of pests and insects. But they will all be noble and aware of the one Truth that Nature effortlessly instills in all its creations, except man, for man wanted a mind in lieu of Nature's guiding hand. Everyone else chose Nature soft hand that only nurtures.

The seed is also the basic minimum that spans across all cultures and geographies. It isn't an IBM mainframe which tries to capture all with the philosophy of one-size-fits-all. Let us create a quick little seed and observe how it is also a potential gold standard.

In all interactions, if a person is honest and lives in the midst of people who are honest, then there is nothing to fear. If I did not do my homework, and I tell my teacher that I did not, my teacher could punish me. If everyone does that I do not consider the option of lying just to escape punishment. I, instead, focus on completing my homework always (since that is the only way to avoid punishment, or I drop out). No matter what I do, I do it with honesty and hence, with a respect for another person's need to base their actions based on my word/actions. If I live in a village where everyone only lied (and not merely stating the opposite which is a lie but is also readily available to providing truth by inference) then life would be nearly impossible to lead. Hence, honesty can be an element of the gold standard.

I shall leave it to the reader to realise why not harming anyone intentionally, taking not more than what one has or can give and helping all creatures co-exist are elements that can enter the definition of a gold standard without causing cultural/regional/geographical/racial anomalies. A simple seed!!

1. Honesty
2. Not harming anyone
3. Taking commensurate with what one has to offer
4. Treating all elements of the Natural world with equal importance and value

That is it! 4 facets to the gold standard and this is something that human beings find so difficult to adhere to. There are folks who do adopt these and there are millions of people who do not. It requires putting the common good before the self. It does not imply loss of individuality, but simply the chopping away of elements of the individuality which are detrimental to a collective non-parasitical living. BTW, point 3 can also be (partly) interpreted as not doing what you wouldn't want others to do to you.

What this ensures is wherever a person may go, all the people he meets will have these values effortlessly inherent in them. The person you meet might eat with his hand or break wind in public, but he will still have all of these. He might expect that you eat a lot to show your gratitude and a lot of minutia which do not make living impossible. 

I read this article from Boston Review. Please realise that there is nothing inherently right or wrong in any stance you take for the scenarios mentioned in the article (or in the surveys mentioned). What the author addresses is a related issue. The point I raise in the previous paragraph is what Turiel's thesis summarises as "the distinction between conventional violations, which depend on local authorities, and moral violations, which do not." 

In the article you will also find an insight (which has been used to probably strengthen some other point) coming from natives in Zimbabwe. Understandably, tribesmen, animals and Taoist have this in common. There are no morals and no rules - only the proper way (Tao). Hence, I unconsciously (and now I am glad I didn't use any other word or phrase) used the phrase "effortlessly inherent" in a previous paragraph. The natives say that the closest word that they have for the English "morality" is "tsika" which means "good manners" and maybe more particularly "the proper way to greet people".

Why did I place point 2 in my gold standard? Because I feel that it is vital. I was surprised (and let me assure you this article was written over time and the external article was read just now. Hence, the motivation to publish this article) to find that scientists have observed this about human beings:

Another hypothesis is that children acquire the notion of “wrong” actions in their second year, once they are old enough to hurt others and experience firsthand the distress of the victim.

Do I believe all of scientific literature!? :-) Does it matter!? :-) E.g. after reading the article I am still wondering why "Licking the dirty toilet" is immoral!! It might be crazy, eccentric, unhealthy or disgusting, but why immoral?

So where does all of this leave us? We could adopt a gold standard and stick to it, or promise to adopt one once everyone on Earth does the same (resulting in deadlocks), or condemn the notion of gold standards as it makes machines out of men (as much as it makes machines out of peach trees or hummingbirds). One might rush to say that Ayn Rand was suggesting just the same (and some very interesting human beings think that all she was advocating was rudeness. Frankly, my dear, that was when I realised how scared a human being can be in the face of simple truth) though many (including myself) would disagree. Some might say that one can only control oneself and hence, we can be the only ones to adopt a gold standard and expect nothing from others. That, as many (including myself) believe, leaves one in the situation of the man finding his house burgled. Adopting a religion or a god-man (sic) takes us nowhere. Having met people who believe they are devotees of a god-man (sic) and spew out bromides, but behave like any of the "un-realised" ones leads me to believe that that path takes us nowhere. Running away from everything might seem to be a solution but having met people who tried that I personally believe that that doesn't help establish or disprove the need for a gold-standard.

So, really, where does all of this leave us? Nowhere right here.

Look heavenward for the answer...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Being Responsible

The Delhi blasts brought a lot to the forefront. It raised the typical debates surrounding why the government didn't bother to respond to the intelligence reports that they received, why are the Muslim extremist outfits so agitated, does violence help, is our infrastructure in place to handle such situations, are we making enough noise about such incidents (look at London, Australia, US of A and the noise they make for every misplaced whimper) and in all this, what should we do.

I tend to be rather laid back about these things ever since I figured out that violence doesn't help (which doesn't mean I manage to escape volubly violent outbursts). I do not believe in non-violence, but I tend to look at things with a rather fine-its-done-what-should-we-do-now kind of eyes. My sister is not me.

My sister and I have been discussing things since last evening and today morning she couldn't help shout her frustration over the Indian telecommunication miracle. I tend to lower the volume of my mobile whenever I have to speak to her, but today her volume was totally justified. She was rather annoyed at the way the hospital staff at AIIMS handled a man's enquiry into the whereabouts of his relative. Apparently, he was tossed around with no concrete information and finally gathered all the required news from the TV in one of the hospitals before reaching the right hospital where his relative had already succumbed to injuries.

"E, what the hell is happening to the world!?"
"Going to the dogs?"
"Shut up, and all of us will only be concerned when things happen to us and only when our near ones are the victims."
I couldn't help realising the truth in that, though my mind flashed back to the time when my father died in the Poonam Chambers collapse more than a decade ago. I was relatively calm then and didn't consider the option of suing the builders or anyone like that. Nevertheless, my sister's point was valid.
"I agree, because not everyone has the capacity to be concerned about everything that happens on earth. It is simply not sustainable. Everyone picks a few things and watches over them carefully."
"But everyone surely has also picked their kith and kin!"
"I suppose so."
"Life has become cheap and disposable in India, E!"
With over a billion people here, that was inevitable. In a place where I meet a human being once every 10 miles, I might value his/her presence. When I meet a new human being every 10 milliseconds I do not think I will consider them special or something like that. People treat trees the same way, and water and nearly everything else. No wonder folks in the West and cold countries strip down to the most permitted by prevalent statutes of decency and bask in the Sun which any Indian has had enough of. My sister continued:
"10 people die here and another 10 die there, and no one cares."
"And what do we people do? Sit on our arse and watch TV."
I wanted to inform her that I do not watch TV but thought it inappropriate a confession.
"Damn it, E! We were not educated to watch all this and talk to each other over the phone about it. We should be doing something. We have to."

Hence, I am here writing this post. My education has only given me the skill to think and write (and of course, read. Gosh! I sound like Siddhartha!!). I do not think the bombings are going to stop. I do not think Muslims are bad. I do not think the Muslim extremists are going to stop their maddening rush to eliminate all and sundry and probably have a few outfits surviving before they fight amongst themselves to figure out whose Allah is better and destroy themselves. I do not think that is a bad idea. Human beings are inherently destructive and hence, all that they do (and sometimes, with the best intentions) will go wrong! The human specie is the most inhuman one in that it is the only specie which builds up arsenal to destroy itself. No other living specie does that. I will reserve my comments about dinosaurs, though I believe they were far more wise than present day human beings. Human beings are worse than viruses (please correct yourself, Agent Smith) since viruses do not destroy themselves. I also believe viruses have ethics.

Nevertheless, I have been educated by such human beings so it makes sense to offer them the fruits of my thoughts.

We need the following facilities built into all the cities of a country (of course, prioritising them will help):
  1. Risk alarm buttons. These large red buttons should be available at every traffic signal post. This automatically triggers necessary plans to divert traffic from the sensitive area and also alerts the police to reach the spot. Activating them is not a trivial brush of the elbow.
  2. Ambulances equipped with photo equipment. Ambulances servicing such affected areas should have equipment to capture the victim's profile from various angles including any identifying objects possessed by the victim. These images will be transmitted to all police stations immediately allowing them to create charts with these images, the hospital deploying the ambulances and names of persons to contact. If any information about the victim's family can be obtained, then they should be brought to the hospital rather than wait for them to find out on their own.
  3. Single identifying card. Every individual should possess a single identifying card (with a microchip in it). This card is tied in with the person's fingerprint and DNA sample. This card cannot be used for any monetary transaction although it can (and should be) used for identification when creating bank accounts, demat accounts, insurance policies, purchase of assets (mobile or immovable), passport issuance, etc. Hence, damages due to this card are negligible. This card will contain the entire history of the person's interaction with the government and monetary institutions including all his personal contact details and emergency information. If this card (even a photocopy) is found on the victim's body, then it can be used (only by the internal security service's authorised personnel) to contact his family/relatives/friends immediately and they can be brought to the location asap. I have always believed that this sort of a card is vital to all citizens of a country though it treads a very thin line between good use and a threat to privacy. I will not address those issues here.
  4. Bomb containment units. These will be small dome like structures built with high tensile metal fibres and meshed with carbon fibres to provide the strength required to mitigate explosions. Every commercial enterprise and every public centre will be provided with several of these. On pulling a chord, these units will expand into domes (like the dome shaped lampshades that one finds nowadays) and can be used to cover suspicious objects. Of course, the mouth of these domes would be flexible to accommodate different sized/shaped objects. If sealed properly to the ground they can minimise the impact of explosion (well, there is always a limit to what can be achieved. I do not imagine them doing The Mask like thing with a million stick time-bomb!!). These units can also be designed to slowly contract over the object and essentially seal it off (effectively swallowing the objects, doing The Mask like thing which I just said is not to be imagined!). If there are chemicals that can be used to diffuse standard explosive devices then these units can be equipped to release them in a calculated manner over the object that they contain. No prior training is required to handle these units. People will simply have to treat the situation like trapping a mouse by covering it with a basket. The unit should take of the rest.
  5. One set of emergency numbers irrespective of technology used (landline, mobile, WLL) or service provider.
  6. Deploy an ambulance for every 1 km radius cell (a city will have to be divided into cells like how mobile companies do). These could be ambulances deployed by local hospitals in addition to ones put into service by the government. 
One thing we all need to realise is that, we cannot eliminate such incidents. Simply not possible. We can only take steps to make it extremely difficult to plan such things. Similarly, we can only take steps to make the aftermath less messy.

Steps to discourage such plans:
  1. With the single identification card, people can track the history of tenants and be forewarned about people with a dubious and/or criminal history. Those affiliated to extremist outfits can also be identified. Every landlord must register the card ID of the tenants he keeps in his house irrespective of age, sex and caste. Hostels are also required to do the same. Hence, electricity/telephone/gas bills paid by anyone other than the landlord or the identified tenants will flag a situation of violation of rules. The landlord need not have to quote the rental value or anything like that while registering the tenants. Landlords should also regularly check the premises that they have rented out (standard rental agreements permit such acts) and notify the zonal rental body that things seemed normal. This makes the landlord responsible for the people he houses.
  2. Chemicals required for such explosive devices as well as chemicals that can be used to prepare chemicals required for such explosive devices must be tracked by each state government. Selling them in small quantities and the like should not be permitted or be allowed after due authorisation.
  3. People entering public utility spaces (bus stands, railway stations, airports) must be scanned thoroughly like during baggage check. I find a lot of the personnel just running a ladle like contraption all over me and not bothering about the various beeps that are sounded. I realise those beeps keep sounding even after I leave!! We need software to better recognise suspicious objects and maybe chemical sniffers to smell out any particularly eyebrow-raising substances.
  4. We need better and more reliable red-alert notification systems. Undoubtedly, there will be pranksters making a mess of it, but we need to make it better and treat each of them equally seriously. We could actually build systems to call another nearby phone to ratify the statements of the complainant (oh! and yes, calling the person they are complaining about is a sure no-no!!).
  5. We definitely need better and more humane teams to tackle such situations. We need them to appear quickly, too. They must be educated (no, not the kinds which let you talk over telephones about disaster management) about how to handle such situations and reduce panic attacks.
  6. We need to eliminate spaces where explosives can be slipped in unnoticed. Large garbage dumps or open-air godowns in market areas and the like must be eliminated.
  7. Understand and appreciate that panic is bloody contagious. Educate people about it. Run several drills in public areas so that people get familiarised with what needs to be done.

Things to make the aftermath less messy:
  1. Have large bunkers (maybe underground) where people can go and stay till the situation is restored to normalcy. This is like what I read about the WW-II days when there were bomb-shelters. I am sure these bombs are not half as good as the ones the Nazis dropped, though I realise that no shelter is safe from the ones the godforsaken Americans dropped on Japan! People who are in the area where there is a confusion can swipe their card at the entrance of such bunkers and enter them. There will be limited seats in each bunker thereby avoiding situations of death by asphyxiation. People simply have to go to the next bunker. How? Read on.
  2. When the red buttons on the signal lights are hit, indicator lights along the roofs of shops will be switched on to direct people to the nearest bunkers (like on the flights, though they are to the nearest exit). Once a bunker reaches capacity, the indicators to that bunker are switched off and people are informed to head to another bunker. I know I am assuming sensible and considerate people who will follow instructions given to them, but if I am to design for the current lot of human beings (or at least the ones I have met on the street) then I am out of ideas!!
  3. People staying back to assist victims can dial a particular number from their mobile (and the number is the same irrespective of service provider! Gosh! I wish some day these dumbos will realise that their war for bandwidth should not make life difficult for the consumer. We need one set of emergency numbers to call from mobile, landline and WLLs irrespective of service provider) and they are on a hot connection with paramedics and internal security service. They will be constantly guided and encouraged to maintain the situation at near-normalcy. Handling victims will also be more informed.
  4. Every body removed from the site will be identified using the single card (if carried by the victim) and/or photographs taken by the internal security personnel and/or paramedics. These will be uploaded immediately to a central location from which it can be beamed across television channels and hospitals and any other public location. 
  5. Hitting the red button will also send out alerts throughout the city and citizens will be requested to keep off common areas and/or enter bunkers. Speaker systems will be activated to notify citizens of the location(s) of unrest.
  6. Ambulances from 5 nearby cells should immediately rush to the spot and provide feedback to ambulances in the next circle of cells. If the damage is huge then it makes sense to move more ambulances to the affected cell without moving all of them there as a subsequent explosion elsewhere would result in chaos. I have an algorithm which these ambulances could use in order to move in a pattern which allows least confusion. Will put that out sometime soon.
  7. Identified victims' family members must be contacted immediately and brought to the respective hospital where the victim is. Internal security service should clearly keep track of "unclaimed" victims so that they can send out more identification information just for them.
  8. Every hospital must deploy sufficient personnel as the points of first interaction for outsiders. These personnel will be responsible for establishing calm, streamlining information, directing the victims family, providing the complete and honest information about the sequence of steps taken to ensure the safety of the victim, empathising with them, sharing their concerns and allying them without being rude or clinical.
  9. Traffic should be redirected and slowly brought to a halt (if deemed appropriate) based on information made available over the internal security service network. There should be some "clean" areas earmarked in cities where no "object" can be placed (like an open ground or a large parking lot) and vehicles should be ushered into such areas, thereby taking the load off the main roads.
  10. Parking vehicles along the pavements before entering nearby bunkers should be considered ok on broad roads. In narrow lanes, traffic should be moved quickly and into less packed areas. Slowly vehicles should be visible only on broad roads and in "clean" areas till the internal security service gives a "all-clear" signal.
  11. Reporters and camera-crews should be kept outside the affected cell in order to reduce the confusion in the cell. They are not important and are of no help. Information is anyway being gathered and passed around by the paramedics and internal security service. Guys, please don't get adventurous and sneak under the ropes!! I hope someone issues a shoot at sight order on these guys!!!
  12. People in the bunkers are good people because they are not adding to the confusion. They need to be constantly informed of what is happening outside. They can also swipe their cards in slots placed in the bunker and their family and friends will be informed of their location and safety. The bunkers will seal off all mobile signals and only allow calls to be made to the internal security service and other emergency numbers from the telephone units on the walls of the bunkers. Yes, the bunkers are well lit. You can meditate in there or read a book. Yes, even if it is One Night at a ...

I think I will now throw this post open to more ideas and comments from readers. If you think this makes sense and you can pass it around, then please do so (no, I never cared about increasing readership for this blog. If I did, I would write about Ms. Sherawat's assets or simply keep providing links to other webpages. BTW, zen koans and sonnets never make for wide reading). If you know someone in the political circle and you think that this might get them thinking (oxymoron?) then please do pass it on to them. I wish some more ideas could be rolled into this post.

Of course, there are tonnes of way in which one could still blow up a section of the city (or the whole city if your city is as small as Mysore or Madurai). Here are some of them:

  1. Simply load your car with tonnes of explosives and get trapped in the traffic on M.G.Road in Bangalore. Step out (everyone seems to like doing that), and disappear. Blow your car to smithereens.
  2. Keep filling traffic cones with explosives and then blow a whole road and some more.
  3. Garbage disposal trucks are another sweet container of bombs
  4. Use a whole series of parked cars as explosives (well, they contain enough petrol and tin for a similar effect)
  5. Let flutter a whole bunch of pigeons with bombs stuck... sheesh! Sick. Please don't. Kill human beings if you want, but not animals and birds! Whoever-you-are, please!
Trust me, there are tens of thousands of ways of undoing all the precaution that one might observe. So please never assume that you are totally taken care of. If you are married, you will know what I mean!! :-D

At the end of the day, I still wonder what are people trying to achieve! If attention is what they want, I am sure Mamata B is doing something enough to get it without making a noise (and given that they are fasting or something like that, other noises are also eliminated). If they want a country to themselves, we should allow them a chance to come up with a clear cut 15 year plan on all fronts of administration. If they can convince a panel of experts and also convince them as to why things are different and unacceptable now, then they can have their piece of land. Why not? If they mean good, then let them do good. But why kill someone whom nobody knows!? Kill a bunch of politicians and/or filmstars and/or sportsmen and/or some bigger criminals, and it would still be pointless. So don't kill. Just give birth to less children!!

Here is my suggestion to terrorists. If you want to be heard, then try one of these things:
  1. Adopt a whole thousand children. Inform the government about your adoption. Teach them about what you believe in and that they should also adopt another thousand each and take care of them. One day, when you cannot accept the way you are being treated, walk over to the parliament (now you are a big force) and tell them that you will fast unto death. Well, you were planning to blow yourselves, right? Die slowly and in a more decent manner. I am sure your words will be heard and you will not have your visa cancelled anywhere on earth. As a matter of fact, you are more likely to gain greater support from people who simply want to support some soft spoken person.
  2. Monopolise a segment of the economy. Let's say you take up iron ore mining and processing. Let your entire outfit be engaged in just that activity. May your outfit be the only ones who will produce iron in this country (highly unlikely, but let's just ponder over that). Tomorrow, when you cannot accept the way you are being treated, then increase the prices ten-folds in order to compensate for the ill-treatment that you are receiving (come on, let's be honest. Are you really being ill-treated?). The government will simply have to discuss things with you.
  3. Spend the money on advertisements and hoardings where you can clearly state and graphically depict the atrocities mete out to you. Buy airtime on radio channels. Have centre-page articles in the leading newspapers (no, you cannot convince ToI to sell you page3 space) to represent your case. Speaking of cases...
  4. Educate your outfit to become lawyers so that they can create infinite petitions against the government and make their life hell till they behave decently and treat you properly.
  5. Don't hijack planes or bomb them. Just wear stinking old clothes or carry rotten food. People on the flight (and on the next trip) will not want to travel in those planes. Airline companies will pressurise governments into talking to you. 
  6. Basically, don't kill people or cause bloodshed. Just make life difficult for people till they listen to you. But before you do that, be sure you have a valid case, and remember that eliminating the "others" is not the best way to solve any problem that you might have. You might be the "others" for someone else. Actually, you are the "others" for everyone but you.

Dear Sis,
I think I am done doing what my education has skilled me for. And I still did it sitting on my arse! No, I do not watch TV.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Rash Driving

Bangalore is a city where private vehicles carry a benevolent sign on their rear (wherever there is space). This sign asks the reader to call a particular number if the vehicle bearing that sign is found to be driving rashly. A typical message is:
If found driving rashly, please call 9812345678.

I wonder whether anyone really does call. I suppose a typical conversation would be:

Me: Hello, 9812345678?
He: Yes
Me: I have a complaint against your driver
He: What's his name?
Me: Name? As in, I only saw the car driven rashly.
He: Did he kill someone?
Me: No, but...
He: Did he run over someone?
Me: No, but...
He: Did he make a bus swerve and run over the median to hit some lamp-post?
Me: No, but...
He: What was rash then?
Me: He kept overtaking everyone and zipping past all vehicles, honking away and flashing his headlight.
He: And what was he supposed to do? Wait for you to reach home before he turns on the ignition? Please sir, you shouldn't be dishonouring our drivers like this. They have small kids and a wife? Wife of any size but small kids... very very small kids. 
Me: But that doesn't mean he drives rashly. If every driver with a wife and small kids...
He: Very small kids
Me: Whatever! Very very very small kids! If every Indian drove like that then only those wives and kids will remain and none of the men!
He: Oh! So you want me to fire him?
Me: No! At least...
He: I should cut off his salary for this month so that you feel happy while his very very small kids starve?
Me: No, but...
He: Maybe I should rebuke him in front of everyone so that he gets depressed and commits suicide. His small small kids will then cry "Papa" all alone.
Me: Dammit!! Why don't you put his kids on the bonnet of the car so that he drives carefully!!?
He: Silence
Me: Silence and thinking whether this man has put the phone down
He: Hmmm. So you want me to suggest to him that he kill his very very small kids?
Me: Goddammit! I am asking you to tell him that he should drive carefully and not rashly!
He: Rashly? But did he kill someone!?
Me: Slam the phone really really hard and wishing that someone invent a way by which that impact can be transferred to the other end.

Nevertheless, I was wondering what happens if this benevolent sign was not restricted to private transport services alone! Some of the results follow:

Husband sticks this on his wife's car:

Banker has this stuck on his car:

A Virgin Mobile subscriber in India (and they will know why!):


The devout Kannadiga with least regard to being understood: (btw, I just pasted together stuff, so in case it doesn't mean anything or means something blasphemous, please excuse)

Car driven by a teenager:

Jealous wife's husband's car:

Literature student:

Zen Master:

Touchy person:


FCS (the parallel of an MCP):

Teenage girl's car:

Page 3 regular: