Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wanderlust and work takes me to Brno, Czech Republic

Reached Brno in the Czech Republic on Sunday night from Bangalore, India. As the receptionist at the Royal Ricc, where I am staying, said, it is very far from India. I took the flight from Bangalore to Prague, with a layover at Frankfurt. There is no direct connectivity from Prague, only 1 flight and a Bus Service twice a day. So I had 4 hours at the Prague airport with nothing to do – and a suitcase that I could not leave behind and check the city out, unfortunately.
After a long wait, finally it was an uneventful 2 and a half hours bus ride and reached Brno at 8:30 PM in the night and boy, was it cold! I had expected it to be cold, but this was unbelievable!

Royal Ricc is a nice hotel, built in the late 1500s with Baroque architecture! Their breakfast leaves a lot to be desired especially with hot food.

What stunned me about this place is that I am the blackest person, I have seen here in Brno. I am not saying that I have been discriminated against (though I was the only person who was asked to put my bags through the X-ray machine at the customs at Prague Airport!), but I am actually sticking out like a sore thumb!

Well, I have to go off to work now – Will update again, later!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The saga of an epic or an epic saga?

The latest news in India these days is the fact that the right wing BJP is against the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal project.

What is the Sethusamduram Shipping Canal project?

The project proposes the linking of Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka through the shallow sea – Sethu Samudram and through the island chain of Rama Bridge also known as the Adam’s Bridge. The main advantage of this is the reduction in travel distance of more than 350 Nautical miles, therefore reducing the cost of transportation.

Why is the BJP against building this channel?

As per the BJP, the island chain of Rama Bridge is the bridge that was built by the Vanara (Monkey) Army led by Lord Rama to save his consort Sita who had been kidnapped by the evil king Ravana and taken to Lanka. Whether this is actually the same bridge or not is pure speculation and at this point in time not borne by evidence.

The Government of India in its affidavit in the Supreme Court had maintained that this fact – there is no archeological evidence that it was built by Rama – thereby questioning the very existence of Rama.

Now Rama is the main protagonist of the book Ramayana written by Valmiki. Ramayana is widely treated as an Epic in India and abroad just like IIiad written by Homer is in Greece and elsewhere.
My disconnect is with the fact that we seem to be moving away from the understanding that books which have later been hailed as Epics have mainly become that because of the fact that these books give the nation a sense of what is right and wrong in the period that it has been written in – Most of these definitions of rights or wrongs have invariably stood the test of time, which is why they are so revered!

This is so typical of India today – we always come up with a problem rather than thinking of solutions – We need to at least get an alternative solution to a problem – whether it involved the Rama Bridge or 123 Agreement. I understand that there could be, in the future, some proof that can possibly prove beyond a shadow of doubt the existence of Rama or a being like him (setting the cat among the pigeons here!) – it could even be aliens – remember humans did not have the necessary technology at the point in time in history – for example – Rama’s most potent weapon was the "Brahmastra" which is comparable to today’s Nuclear weapons!

I am from the Services industry and this attitude of always coming up with problems and not an alternative will hurt my job and my career – why is it so different with the politicians of India?

Lets not be a part of the problem – Let us be a part of the solution!

Friday, September 14, 2007

God paves way for moolah in Bangalore

Last night, I was heading home from office and noticed that a new Call Center started on the way. This was the same site where, a year and half back, a temple existed! Some entrepreneur obviously paid the temple authorities and bought the land and constructed a glass paneled 21st century commercial building where 20-somethings work for mostly Americans during the night and make money thus helping the country’s economy grow, not to mention to help increase the size of the middle-class in India. This was done so quietely that under normal circumstances, this could have possible led to a strike leading to the eventual demolition of the structure - by Hindu findamentalists.

This clearly is a perfect example of my theory that if there are opportunities to make money – people will and will also put aside religious concerns, in this case, the demolition of a temple so that they can prosper! Hopefully, this will also help in bridging religious differences among the people in India.

I just wish that this happens in more cities in India where we see unscrupulous people building temples/mosques/churches to usurp land around the sites they own to illegally acquire more land! This will certainly help in widening of roads, building better infrastructure which will go a long way to help develop our economy and hence our country!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Economic Reforms: Impact on Hyderabad

Last week, I was in Hyderabad for a whole week after a really long time – 4 years to be precise and I was stunned!

I had left Bangalore by train on the ill fated 25th August evening, when 2 bomb blasts had rocked Hyderabad, one at Lumbini Park and the other at Gokul Chat Bhandar, which I must add, I used to frequent when I was living in Hyderabad.

Arriving on Sunday, I had expected Hyderabad to be gripped by fear psychosis, which was common while I was there. Whenever there was a bomb blast, the place would simply shut down! There would have been rioting and general strikes! This time around – while most places in Hyderabad were shut, note, it was a Sunday, there was a feeling of a need to get back together, something that we Indians typically associate with cities like Mumbai! Some political parties called for a general strike on Monday, but buses were plying albeit at lower frequency than is normal, we could find autos that were willing to take you wherever you wanted to go without charging the Earth! The economic reforms, I felt, had truly touched every citizen in Hyderabad; people are finally busy with making money rather than spread rumors or violence!

Bangalore vs. Hyderabad - No comparision!

The last 4 years, I have been living in Bangalore, considered to be one of the quieter cities in South India. Whenever a general strike is called, the place simply shuts down, there is absolutely no public transport available – the Government pulls buses off the roads, Autos and Taxis simply disappear!
Added to the above – I have a few friends in Hyderabad, who complain about the Hyderabad’s infrastructure – The only thing I had to say to them – come and live in Bangalore. Every road in Hyderabad is wide, traffic constantly moves, there is political will to actually improve the lot of the citizens of the city! Compare it to Bangalore – the roads are narrow, traffic barely moves, there is absolutely no political will to change things for the better; there are no road widening projects that are in progress! To reach most places in Bangalore you have only one route, whereas in Hyderabad, there are multiple routes! Things are so out of hand here in Bangalore that the coalition parties that rule the state are constantly bickering with each other, one party does not trust the other with regards to hand over of the power due in October this year! There is only one road to the spanking new Airport that will be ready by April next year and it will take longer for a person travelling to Hyderabad to reach the airport in Bangalore than the flight time to Hyderabad! The work on the new road to the new airport in Bangalore, which has been conceptualized, has yet to start – Land has still not been acquired! The flyover on airport road, the airport where dozens of CEOs visit every year – took 5 years to build! Hyderabad is building 3 flyovers on one road (the busy Lifestyle road to the Nagarjuna Circle) and the target for completion is before the airport is completed in Hyderabad – which is March 2008!

The only advantage that Bangalore has over Hyderabad is the weather and it will not be to long before the weather deteriorates!

Hyderabad will go places – I will not be surprised the day that Hyderabad will overtake Bangalore in all aspects!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sanjay Dutt: Crime and Punishment

I think there is just too much being said about Sanjay Dutt being sent to jail about the fact that the sentence has been harsh – I do not know the legalities of the sentence nor, frankly do I care. I have nothing against Sanjay Dutt but am arguing the fact that this whole debate is unnecessary and a waste of precious time.

My take on the issue is that the law took its course – yes it took 14 long years, but it did catch up. I understand the fact that Sanjay Dutt has had problems in life – so will most of the common people. He got caught – and the fact that he has reformed since then cannot be brandished around to say that he should have been given a lesser sentence. Why should he be given a lesser sentence? Would someone give a lesser sentence to Sivarasan and Subha if they had reformed after assassinating Rajiv Gandhi? No we cannot – While the analogy might be too harsh, the point that I am trying to make is the fact that a crime is a crime – there is no such thing as a lesser crime or a more horrific one, and each crime deserves a punishment, no matter what.

Yes, I agree that he is a good actor, has done much for society has a gained sympathy from the Bollywood insiders and his fans – but if you go back to 1994/95 – it was the same Bollywood fraternity that ditched him saying he was a terrorist and Mahesh Bhatt had to rally around with superstars such as Shah Rukh Khan to get him back into the industry. At that time, Sanjay Dutt was a less bankable actor than he is today; in fact his career actually took off only after that period with a string of hits. At this point around 100 Crores is riding on his films and that will hurt the industry and which is why the industry is saying that the verdict has been harsh.

Moreover, what I truly do not understand is the fact that greats such as Dilip Kumar and all are actually filing affadavits stating that he has reformed and he has gone through too much in life and that life has already punished him! This is quite silly.

While I wish that he gets some leeway from the Supreme Court – We cannot condone the fact that he did actually buy AK 47 and later tried to destroy the evidence. This is clearly against the law of the land. If a Paris Hilton can go to the jail for the screw ups that she did, I can’t see why Sanjay Dutt cannot do the same. We would like our politicians who get caught taking bribes etc. to be jailed and yet we want a popular actor who has done a crime get away scot free – what are we a nation of hypocrites?

The media, for want of better news also plays the whole issue up and whips up passions that need not be whipped. Why can’t the mass media follow up on scandals like the MPs who have tried to smuggle people abroad, take up the rights of the people against the MPs taking bribes for asking questions? Isn’t it their job, nay responsibility, to see that the nation prospers or are they here just to fill their coffers by having round tables on Sanjay’s sentence?


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Apple iPhone - Marketing genius or excessive hype?

Steve Jobs, as far as I am concerned is a brilliant marketing guy! The hype surrounding the iPhone is simply stupendous!

He has managed to still have a niche segment of customers with the Mac, completely blew the market with the iPod – that brilliant device, which has in my opinion, revitalized the music industry and now is trying to carve a slice in the overcrowded mobile phone pie with the iPhone!

Why would anyone want to buy the iPhone from a company which is just getting into consumer electronics?

The answer is simple – Jaw dropping features – everyone today listens to music on the phone, obvious usage as a phone and of course surf the net! Plus the added bonus of being a product of the Apple company! It looks sleek and small compared to the rest of the phones, which end up looking like prehistoric models! I suspect, this will eat into mobile biggies such as Nokia, LG, Samsung and Motorola’s revenues.

I have been following the hype closely over the internet and cannot wait for it to launch in India – even though it is tentatively scheduled to be launched only in 2008.

Let there be no doubt that there will be teething problems but will be nothing that Apple cannot handle and I am certain, all of the features that the critics are saying that are missing especially with regards to direct downloads of music from iTunes will certainly overcome. With the other common gripe that there is no keypad – well, I think that is precisely something that will help the company – remember the jog dial on the iPod – who thought that will work and it became iconic!

The iPhone can again, like the iPod, change the fortune of Apple and I am just dying to own one – even though I have never owned the Mac or the iPod – simply because of the iconic style quotient it will have, at least initially.

Live on Steve and get out some more great products!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cindy Sheehan gives up protest against the war in Iraq

Today Cindy Sheehan, the activist mom, whose son died in the war on Iraq gave up her protest against the Iraq war. With all due respect for her, I think she has done the right thing.

While I am not condoning the war in/on Iraq, there are reasons why I think it cannot be stopped now.

Why did the US start the war?

The US started the war on misleading claims that Saddam Hussein had WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction for the uninitiated), which was a crock of horse manure to start with! My take on it is that George Bush Junior wanted to finish what the Senior could not for one and the second one being Iraq having some of the largest deposits of oil – lets face it, the war was for oil and nothing else! So the war was launched and Saddam was hung. Unfortunately, and I mean it in the most sincere way, what started as a means to end Saddam’s dictatorship, ended up becoming a war on terror, with Al Qaeda joining the rebels against the American occupation in Iraq. So what should have been capture and get out became a war that neither George Bush not any of his team actually thought through!

What are the choices we have today?

George Bush orders his army to get out of Iraq, which is something that will make Messrs. Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton et al. happy, but leave Iraq in a state of conflict with no solution in sight in the near future something they did not anticipate – The Middle East is a cauldron with so many conflicts and George Bush, instead of making the world a better place to live has done exactly the opposite. He has managed to alienate the entire Middle East, parts of Europe and most people on the face of the Earth, hate him for going to war. To put things in perspective, the Americans are fine with having a dictator, who will tow the American line, no matter what - look at President Musharaff in Pakistan for example! No matter what he does and there is ample evidence to the effect that Al Qaeda is re-grouping in Pakistan – the Americans simply look the other way!

The only other choice is for Americans to stay in Iraq and ensure that all the warring parties come to the table and trash out a goal for the common good of the country. While, this is easier said than done, there is no other choice.

So the Americans are stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea with no chance of redeeming all the bad will they have managed to generate against themselves and in the process made the world a worse place to live in!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Wanderlust – Bath, UK

Wanderlust drags me to Bath and I wasn’t too sure if it could match the sheer intensity and mysticism of Stonehenge.

I took the train back to Bath, the station is called Bath Spa barely 10 minutes by walk is one of the oldest and best preserved Roman Bath in the world.

This place has become a major tourist attraction and it is amazing how well the bath is preserved.

Roman baths were not just a place for cleaning oneself, but was the equivalent of today’s cafes, where people meet friends, exchange ideas and had debates.

The baths had cold and hot water pools, saunas and the equivalent of jacuzzis of the age. It had reading rooms, gymnasiums and hair cutting salons.

This place is a true marvel of engineering of the times and featured drain that work to this day, aqueducts and springs that have hot water, which were considered to be Gods work!

The Romans used Lead pipes to carry hot water to the spas and used gravity to help them do it! Any surplus water not used in the spa would flow out to the River Avon which was 400 meters away from the spa.

The baths still contain a few hypocaust pilae, which show how the heating system would have worked.

I then walked out of the Spa and walked my way through to the Pulteney Bridge. It is one of the only 4 bridges in the world which are lined by shops on both sides. It was built for William Pulteney, whose wife had inherited rural Bathswick across the river from Bath.

All in all, this was a thoroughly satisfying day and I made my way back to the hotel in Slough. I was leaving back to India in about 3 days time and I saw what I could.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Stonehenge

It has been a long time, but I needed a clear head to write about the place!

While I was in the UK, I was pulled inexplicably to Stonehenge – I do not know what these old ruins had for me – but I did decide to go!

There are a lot of options to choose from, rent a car and drive to Salisbury, take a train or take a tour! I did think of the tour and then decided, I would rather do this on my own!

I researched the net, booked tickets on the net from Slough to Reading, then onto Bath Spa (which was also on my agenda) and then on to Salisbury. I had booked the tickets a week in advance and got it at a steal for £22!

So off I went on a bright, warm and sunny Sunday morning after I had a hearty breakfast! Went to the station, got into the train to Reading and then changed there for a train to Bath Spa where I changed again for one to Salisbury! The train journey is scenic and while going from Bath Spa to Salisbury, one can also see the famous White Horse carved into the chalk hillside above the village of Uffington.

Anyways, I reached Salisbury in Wiltshire, which is a small quaint village. Salisbury is on the banks of the River Avon, where the main attraction is the cathedral. The cathedral is considered to be one of the finest specimens of medieval architecture. This is also one of the few cathedrals that was built in one go, with the only subsequent addition being the tall spire, which is the tallest in England.

I walked my way to the town square, a very nice 10 minute walk where you can see a variety of shops selling knick-knacks. Specialist shops mingling with the best in high street brands set in beautiful medieval timber framed buildings are the norm. I then got some grub at Subway and then walked my way back to the station, where I took the Bus tour of Salisbury and Stonehenge.

The tour conductor was very knowledgeable with a dry sense of humor; unfortunately, he had an audience of only 10 people – some Chinese folks from Seattle who moved to England, some American kids and yours truly!


We drove through the city, with the conductor giving us an overview of the city of Salisbury, The bus drives us through the city, via the Old Sarum. Old Sarum is where the original city of Salisbury was formed. The Celts built a hill fort called Sorviadum which translates to “Fortress by the Gentle River”, during the Iron Age. It was then taken over by the Romans and then the Saxons. The Norman William the Conquerer was a frequent visitor to the site after the Norman conquest. During medieval times, the Bishop built the cathedral and the town then moved to the New Sarum or the Salisbury, we now know.

We reached Stonehenge and what a visual sight it was on a glorious Sunday afternoon – Words will fail to describe it and here I am giving it a shot anyway! It is the most important prehistoric monument in Britain.


Stonehenge that exists today is the final stage that was completed 3500 years ago! The first Stonehenge was a large earthwork or Henge, comprising of a ditch and the Aubrey holes. Excavations have shown that the holes contain remains of human bones – though it was for some religious ceremony and this is conjecture as we do not have any proof around the same.

The stones themselves were brought from the Preseli Mountains in Wales, some of them weighing as much as 4 tons and are thought to have been moved using rollers. It is amazing to know that the stones traveled around 200 miles to reach its final destination! They were arranged in an incomplete double circles. The next stage was the arrival of the Sarsen stones, most likely from Avebury some of them weighing around 50 tons! How these stones were moved is simply too difficult to imagine considering the people of the time did not have too many instruments! These were then arranged in outer circle.

The last stage was when the blue stones were arranged in the horseshoe shape, the remains of which we can see today.

The place evokes a sense of magic, and I wonder why it was built, what was it used for, why had people across almost 1000 years expended so much energy, money to build it? The magic for me is the fact that it was built, though we don’t know why and I guess it is this mystery that keeps the magic alive!



Went back to Salisbury and then on to Bath Spa – Will be the next blog!

One place that I can check off my must-see-in-my-life list!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wanderlust takes me to Wimbledon - Day 2

Day 2 and I had tons of places to see, but another high priority place which I absolutely had to see was the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, better known to the rest of the world as the Mecca of tennis – the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon.

It was a glorious Sunday, with the weather being absolutely perfect for Wimbledon. I traveled all the way from Slough Station, changed at London Paddington into the district line and got to Southfields. From the Southfields station, it is a good 20 minute walk to the courts of Wimbledon.

Reached Wimbledon and I had 20 minutes before the tour started and so I decided to visit the Museum. You get see relics from a past age about how Tennis actually developed into the sport we now know.


There is an absolute brilliant must-see film about the science in Tennis that was made using a special 200° camera with 5 separate lenses with Maria Sharapova playing someone I don't know. The film talks about the technology infrastructure in Wimbledon, the technology in the clothes that players wear, the science in the shoes they wear, the racquets and the balls used, the science behind the hand-eye coordination required to play tennis. It is filmed in "The Matrix" style and the 8-minute film is awesome!

We were finished with the movie and people started pouring for the tour - There were Americas, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, British and me, the lone Indian in the group of around 25 people. We had a very knowledgeable guide who was passionate about the sport and took us all around the place telling us history of the place and funny stories about the players - My favourites were the ones about Andy Roddick and Boris Becker.

Wimbledon is a private club and one needs to be a member to play there - The easiest way they say, to become a member is to win a singles title! Non-members cannot use the changing area and it is only open to non-members during the Championship. Andy Roddick refuses to use the members area until he has won the championship and has become a member! I felt for Andy Roddick - I mean, with the kind of form that Roger Federer has been in during the last 4 years, it looks very difficult for anyone, not just Andy to lift the Wimbledon title!

During the Championship, since central London is a distance away from Wimbledon, players prefer to stay in the village, rather than spend time in traffic - So in the 2 weeks of the Championship, the rates around Wimbledon ranges from £500 - £5000 per week! Players such as Stefan Edberg and Martina Navratilova, both past champions, have bought property around Wimbledon so that they can use the facility whenever they fancy! During one such Championship, Becker saw this property that he really liked which the owner refused to let out at any price, and Becker came up with this incredible offer - For the duration of the 2 weeks when the Championship is played - he offered for the property owner to exchange his apartment in Monte Carlo and they would be even - and that was an offer that the owner could not refuse and that is how Becker stayed in Wimbledon!

The guide walked us around the Henman Hill (named after the then number one and the joke was that it could soon be named Murray Mountain - now that Andy Murray is the new British number 1), through the courts and then, to Court Number 1 and as we entered, I could not help myself but smile - This was something that I had seen so many times on TV - To see the place was a high! I am a non-player and I felt so fortunate to be there!However, what Pete Sampras said captured it the best showing us what most Tennis players think about the CHampionship, though I am sure Ivan Lendl will not subscribe to this train of thought!
While I did other things that day, it will be in another post - Wimbledon deserves its own special place!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wanderlust takes me to London - Day 1

I had decided to see London even before I had landed and that is what I proceeded to do – whatever I could in 2 days which was the weekend! So after researching a lot on the net – I decided that the best option is to buy the LondonPass!

Now the LondonPass is available from 1-6 days – It gives you options and free entry into a lot of places though I will tell you what it does not give you:

Ø Entry into Madame Tussaud’s
Ø Entry into Victoria and Albert’s Museum
Ø Entry to the Natural History Museum

This only means that if you are so inclined, you need to pay to get into any of them! It also does not provide you entry into the National Gallery, but the entry is free there! So as far as I am concerned, the LondonPass is value for money!

Now I had to travel from Slough, where I was staying, to London! I did some research onto what was the best way to travel and what I did was to get myself into a Hoppa – a service that the National Express provides from Heathrow and hotels close to the airport and the Marriott that I was staying at was one of them! For £4 I could travel from Heathrow to the hotel one way. I headed toward Heathrow, having a hearty breakfast and went to the London Underground also affectionately known as the Tube. The London Underground consists of many lines and each line travels in a different direction. Only one of these line, the Piccadilly line runs to Heathrow. So I took the Piccadilly line and got off at, where else, Piccadilly Circus! From Piccadilly Circus, the office of the Britain and London Visitor Center is just a stone’s throw away and the address is No.1 Regent Street, London, W1. The office is where you can pick up the Pass, though they will mail it to your address also, if you book in advance.

So I bought myself one and it cost me £42 for 2 days of sightseeing. Now, one of the places I absolutely had to see was the Tower of London and with the LondonPass, the entry is free!
The Tower of London had been built around a thousand years ago and has been the seat of the government and has been used as a prison to house royal traitors of Britain.

The tower took about 20 years t
o build and in places had walls 15 feet thick!


This link is extremely useful if you are a history buff:
http://www.twingroves.district96.k12.il.us/RenAissance/TowerofLondon/TowerLondon.html

From the Tower of London, I walked to the Tower pier and had taken some photographs of the London Bridge. I then had an ice-cream a really nice one, while I waited for my cruise ride on the river Thames, which is also part fo the LondonPass. The cruise takes you through the Thames from the Tower Pier via the Westminister pier to Embankment Pier.

I got off Embankment pier and then walked my way on the Victoria Embankment to Parliament square where you will see the magnificent architecture of the Parilament Houses and Big Ben. The sight is just spectacular!

From here on, walked again on Whitehall, where you will pass Downing Street – unfortunately the street was cordoned off and then I walked ahead towards the Monument raised for the Women in the wars, then towards Horse Guards, Admiralty Arch and onwards to Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square is simply beautiful. It has fountains and statues and lots and lots of people sitting all over the place – you see children skating, evangelists pontificating, couples romancing, lots of people just sitting and eating ice creams and a few others contemplating! You will definitely see a lot of tourists – it is a huge draw.




Just ahead is also the National Gallery – the entrance is mostly free unless you would want to see Renoir landscapes and a collection names as Dutch portraits and the collection in the museum is simply awesome. Personally, my favourite was Samson and Delilah by Rubens and the Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci. It also has a prints of a few works and my favourite there was a Monet – The Gare St. Lazare, which was simply superb!


Please remember, to see London – prepare yourself to walk and walk a lot – This time of the year, the weather was glorious and it is easy – I would recommend you to wear easy shoes – preferably sneakers to be comfortable!

This is how I ended my day one – took the tube and train back to my hotel and fell blissfully asleep!





Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Carole Middleton: Is being ambitious a sin?

So while I am in the UK, the big news right now, is the fact that Prince William has broken up with Kate Middleton because of her “middle-class” upbringing.

This is indeed sad.

Most royal analysts are placing the blame squarely on Kate’s mother Carole Middleton. She is said to have willingly pushed Kate into joining St. Andrews where William had enrolled, though statistics have shown that the number of women joining St. Andrews did actually go up once Prince William had announced that he would be studying there. So along with other girls Kate also joined.

Carole is also being vilified for being a social climber because she made Kate join St. Andrews. We know this now, because Kate did actually see Prince William, but do we for how many other girls, this is true? We never will know, will we?

What I truly do not understand why is someone getting crucified for having an ambition? Can you name one person on this planet who does not want to rise above his station? Can you name one person who does not have a burning ambition to do something with their life – some want to become doctors, others want to become rich, and some want to become philanthropists and others want to climb the social ladder. So what is wrong with that? Carole tried and failed – Give her that much – she tried – most of us would not even try and give up and that, as far as I am concerned, is a much bigger sin than having an ambition! In any case, Princess Diana's father had said that he and his family was ostracized after she married Prince Charles, so Carole would not even have benefited as far as climbing the social ladder is concerned!

Remember, Carole actually did it for her child – parents generally want to do something for their offspring and Carole was no different! If a parent donates a kidney to his child to save his life, becomes a hero and a parent wanting a better life for her daughter becomes a vamp? Is there no consistency while judging parents?

My take on this: Leave them alone – Kate is still very young – she has a long life ahead and she can yet make a huge success out of it. As far as Carole is concerned – my kudos to you – you did what you had to do!

England: Here I come!

So, I have had to visit the UK for work for 2 and half weeks and had decided to make the best use of the trip! Who knows what happens tomorrow, might as well live it up today was the motto and I started with great gusto!

I have been shacked up at the Slough/Windsor Marriott for the duration which is pretty nice place – You actually have enough space to walk around in the room and people tell me that it is a luxury in itself. The company I have come to work with has a deal with the Marriott groups and is offering rooms at £105 and I understand that it is good rate which includes breakfast also. The breakfast is great with good choice, but the food otherwise leaves a lot to be desired! If you are vegetarian – then it you barely have any choice!

Now, I had landed in Heathrow Monday last, because it was a holiday here because of Easter. Started work with gusto, with the thought of me wanting to see the place at the back of my mind.

Do wait for my next article on London and what I did see during the weekend!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Do we Indians need moral policing?

First it was Valentines Day, with the moral police up north in India taking it up as a slur on their souls, then we had the Mumbai police clamping down on couples holding hands in public! Now we have channels (AXN first and now FTV) going off the air because they are showing content that displeases the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting! I mean – how the hell is it possible to do a show on lingerie or bikini show without showing either beats me!

Why are we Indians not given the right to choose in these matters? Why do the powers that-be think that we Indians cannot decide what is good for us or not?

If they are worried about corrupting young minds – it is time they take a look at Bollywood, which is really a mode for titillating and vicarious entertainment!

Are we yet living in a democracy? Do we have a right to make choices?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Traveller: John Twelve Hawks

The latest book I have read is The Traveller by John Twelve Hawks. It is very obvious that it is a pseudonym and what a weird one at that!

It seemed to be a broad cross of The Matrix (with Keanu Reeves), where everything is an illusion and The One (with Jet Li) where there are multiple parallel universes (Realms as per JTH)!

The book was interesting in parts and extremely inane in others… The characters are not well developed though the only character I really liked was Maya because of her human frailty – if you will! Maya was an interesting name to choose considering that she is half Indian (her mother is Sikh) and Maya in Sanskrit/Hindi means illusion – which is what the author was propounding – what we see all around is nothing but an illusion, which is something that Hindu mythology has been saying for centuries!

The theme of the movie was Governments controlling the general population through Fear and this is such a beaten theme – I thought Michael Crichton did a far better job in “The State of Fear” and of course “1984” written way back in 1949 by George Orwell.

There are way too many organizations such as the Harlequins, Tabula, Brethren and none of them have been properly introduced – In a way, JTH is been a complete anti-thesis to Arthur Hailey who I have always felt, loses the plot because of the way he introduces his characters – he gets so detailed that you need to go back to figure out where you are in the story!

All in all – a very average book.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Kathy Sierra and misuse of the Democracy on the Internet

I am new to blogging and have begun to enjoy it a lot! It is indeed a whole new experience and the sheer freedom it lets us enjoy is huge!

It is indeed extremely sad commentary that Kathy Sierra is getting targeted for being a woman blogger and for expressing her personal views. Internet was supposed to be the new frontier for true democracy without the policing!

While the freedom is absolutely awesome, there needs to be personal policing – everyone has the right to air their comments – after all it is a free space – but there has to be some restraint to what they are saying. Agree that we cannot, as humans, like everybody or agree with their opinions, but death threats, cyber stalking against them should be stopped. This is misusing the freedom that we bloggers have.

I am against policing this wonderful medium called internet which gives us the right to rant – but this is going too far. Free blogs such as Blogger, Wordpress et cetera should not condone this kind of stuff and pull their websites off the internet as soon as they receive some complaint against a few bloggers. While the rest of the more experienced people who have their own blog websites – the servers hosting them should ask them to go take a hike!

It is against the law to post death threats – the medium of posting should not matter – whether it is the web or the phone – it is against the law.

I feel for Kathy and while a witch hunt is not going to stop this, and while I accept that censorship is not the right way, is there any other way of stopping this?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Mediocrity and Indians

So we Indians did not qualify for the Super Eight stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup!

At the risk of committing sacrilege, we are a bunch of people who thrive on mediocrity. How else can we explain the fact that for a billion people, we do not excel in any thing? We do not have a single product for the size of our country – Look at South Korea – you have the LGs, Samsungs, Hyundais and even Finland has a Nokia! What product do we have – Nothing, nada, zilch!

The country has some great institutes, IITs, IIMs etc – Everyone who studies at these elite institutes are looking at options outside the country! Yes, in recent times, we have seen some people return, this is not happening because of the policies, but in spite of them!

We have sports facilities that are completely out of sync with the rest of the world! When I talk to friends about this dismal state of affairs – all everyone has to say is that we are not physically built for sports such as Football! This is but a bunch of horse manure! Look at Hockey – once upon a time we were the world champions but we have faltered in the last 20 years! The main problem is the fact that there is so much money in sports, despite what people say, is that politicians look at getting into the sports as administrators and eat the money! When politicians get into sports – what else do you expect?

Let me give you a simple example – In Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley, there is a bridge being built in front of out offices – The bridge is built, however not tarred – The contractor says that the total cost of building it is 2.5 crores and he has got a payment of only 1.5 crores with the politicians eating the rest! The result – the bridge is half done with no hope of ever completing it!

We are a country where mediocrity is so acceptable that it has become a way of life! The only area where we have actually excelled is in the IT industry.

Sanjaya Malakar and the increasing influence of Indians in America

Sanjaya typifies the influence of Indians or people of Indian descent in America! What can I say – there have been people who can sing better than him who are already out of the show and the Sanjaya juggernaut continues unabated!

Whether this is because of Howard Stein or because of the influence of the Indian American community can be debated! We Indians tend to live within a community – whether that is dominated by language, caste or religion, when in India and when abroad as Indians – pure and simple. It goes on to show that Indians are really well connected never mind Howard Steins mission of sabotaging the American Idol show. The premise of the show is that people vote for who they perceive as the best – if that is the case, whether Simon Howell likes it or not, Sanjaya will be in, until voters are sick of him and/or his singing!

This has been so much fun – unlike a similar reality show in the UK, Celebrity Big Brother, which got derailed because of racial undertones! As far as I can see there are no racial undertones, but because voters are unwilling to vote Sanjaya off the show, he continues to thrive!

Live on and rock on Sanjaya!

Monday, March 19, 2007

300 - Just a movie!

I haven’t yet seen the movie – so it is going to be premature to respond to the all the hoopla surrounding it.

What is the issue with 300?

The one issue that the Iranians see currently is that it is historically wrong – well, Warner Brothers has already issued a statement that it is work of fiction. So if it does not show the right historical facts – Chill guys!

Secondly – they claim that it has a hidden agenda – well, what can I say? I agree that the Americans have been reckless with the fact that they are the sole super power and they are pushing their agenda everywhere in the world – but come on – I don’t think they are sending out any messages through a movie for God’s sake! I know and accept the fact that America is mostly run by Jews (and I don’t mean this in a derogatory manner at all – matter of fact!) – Wall Street and Hollywood are both dominated by them, all said and done they are really good business people – Frankly I really do NOT think that the Americans have enough in them to open up another front with Iran (considering the fact that Iraq is open and Afghanistan is open and of course the whole shebang with Osama Bin Laden) in a battle ground – if they do – they are not only stupid, but they will have failed to learn the lessons of history – remember what happened with Hitler in Russia (erstwhile USSR) – not enough resources and it was plain stupid! Also remember, the whole world will turn against them if they do and they already have too much going against them!

So my suggestion is enjoy the whole movie and its special effects and let life move on – we have too many things to worry in life and a movie should be the least of our priorities!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Work - Life Balance in India: A Chimera

With the opening up of the economy circa 1991, I have been privileged to be a part of a generation that has seen many firsts!

During the first Gulf War, we were privileged to see CNN for the first time and what a boom it led to! Today we in India have so many channels – though when you really sit down to watch some TV, you don’t see anything interesting, but at least we have the choice!

Cars – I remember the time we Indians only had the Ambassador, the Premier Padmini and Maruti! Today – Bentleys sell in India! The Japanese and Koreans auto makes are vying with each other to make inroads in the market. We have BMW and Audi showrooms in our cities. You would be surprised to see quite a few Ferraris and Porsches on pot-holed Indian roads!

Shops – There was barely any choice in India – Now with the retail sector opening up – We will soon see the Walmarts, the Carrefours and the Tescos of the world trying to tempt the great Indian middle class.

What drove this great Indian Middle class revolution?

Opening the Economy and the IT and the BPO/ITeS boom

Once the economy opened up, it was just a matter of time that corporates across the world began to discover the college educated English speaking droves that passed out our colleges every year!

Thanks to the Y2K issue – the IT boom really hit India – So many Indians were recruited in India and flown to the US to help Americans get ready for the doomsday scenario that never really materialized! That was when the floodgates opened with the BPO boom – What the IT boom did to Engineers in India, BPO did that to the rest of the country! BAs (Bachelors of Arts) who had no scope of jobs earlier – suddenly woke up to jobs that were paying Rs. 8000 ($ 177) – Rs. 10000 ($ 222)! So suddenly every kid who passed out of college had money to spend! MNCs woke up to this disposable income and started to vigorously target these kids with products never before seen in India!

Impact on family life

What impact did all this money have on Indian family life? Children started earning salaries that their parents barely heard of! Children began to move away from parents, workplace romances began to bloom because of the weird hours these people began to put in (Call Centers actually work American or European timings, which is night time in India). Kids suddenly had credit cards at their disposal and started splurging without either understanding the impact of the usage of the cards or the payment schedule! Debts of each household began to increase!

Impact on marriages

At around the same time, workplace romances began to bloom, a lot of people got married to their colleagues. This increasingly led to marriages on the rocks because of the pressures of the job, bad timings, and last but certainly not the least, competition with the spouse at work, which spilled over at home! Marriage counselors suddenly are in huge demand in a country where a divorce is still looked down upon! Offices began to employ counselors where employees can go and get things resolved!

Materialism

Materialism has now become all pervasive and to satiate the urge of shopping, both spouses started working, started to delay having children – even led to an acronym (DINKS – Double Income No Kids)! A lot of couples started working American timings or one of the pair worked in the complete opposite shift – it was as if one of the couple was in India and the other in the US! With both the spouses working, children are increasingly being taken care by either parents or nannies! This is leading to the parents having to spoil children by giving them stuff, to satisfy the guilt of not having the time to spend with their own children, makes me question the whole concept of having children!

What disposable income?

While salaries went up, most of these people don’t realize that the effective disposable income remained the same because they are paying for the child's needs, the child’s education, mortgage on the house, the car and then their whole lifestyle, what they earn is already accounted for! By the time the 20th of a month arrives, the couple begins to tighten their belts, and wait for the salary to get credited into their account and the vicious circle continues…

Chimera: Work - Life Balance

I am 30 now and if I want to retire by the time I am 45, I conservatively estimate that I will need to have a nest egg of, at the very least, Rs. 3-5 crores ($666,666 - $1,111,111) for me to continue to have the lifestyle that I would have gotten used to by the time I am 45! A salaried person or couple will never make that kind of money in India – They will need to supplement the salaries with an additional source of income that is far more lucrative than a job! My parents will, in all probability, pop a few blood vessels when they read this!

So I have given up the thought of work-life balance – I want too many things in life for me to stop now!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Human Rights

US – Custodians of Human Rights or a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

Someone please explain Guantanamo Bay to me where people are held without any charges for years? Or maybe you can try to explain CIA’s rendition flights across the European Union (EU), which the EU countries also seem to be condoning!

As per the US Department of State’s website, which states:

Because the promotion of human rights is an important national interest, the United States seeks to:

  • Hold governments accountable to their obligations under universal human rights norms and international human rights instruments;
  • Promote greater respect for human rights, including freedom from torture, freedom of expression, press freedom, women's rights, children's rights, and the protection of minorities;
  • Promote the rule of law, seek accountability, and change cultures of impunity;
  • Assist efforts to reform and strengthen the institutional capacity of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Commission on Human Rights; and
  • Coordinate human rights activities with important allies, including the EU, and regional organizations.

Aren’t Guantanamo Bay and CIA’s rendition flights a violation of the same policy stated above?

Haven’t they become a culture of impunity by their own definition?

Then, there was this piece in the newspapers the other day:

Woman raped and sentenced to 8 months

A woman raped in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 8 months in the Kingdom! Why? The judge has said the woman is responsible because she went out her way to meet a man, who was NOT her father or brother! Added to this her brother also beat her up!
In this age, of woman’s emancipation, isn’t this stunning?

The US does not say anything to the Saudi’s, do they? They need oil and cheap oil at that – and can therefore turn a blind eye to Saudi’s misadventures such as the above!

The US has given a new definition to hypocrisy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

News or what?

First and foremost, let me apologize to the Western media for taking a swipe at them recently in one my earlier posts: American Media, Trivializing News and too internally Focussed?

Our Indian channels are just as pathetic. Yesterday, when the main news stories were that of an earthquake in Sumatra killing at least 60 people and a lot of folks still trapped in debris, the other news story being that if at least 100 people being killed by suicide bombers in Iraq, guess what was a half hour special on one of the news channels!

A special on the wedding of Liz Hurley and Arun Nayyar! How has the value of human life fallen? Channels will do anything to sell to get more and more eyeballs and in a country like India which has such a huge population, so many people dying is hardly news! Some other channel will cover the tragedies of human life – We however need our profits to survive! This is really so sad!

Meanwhile on another channel – there was a special on the upcoming Cricket World Cup, where one of the fathers of Indian news analysis (at least as far as I am concerned), Prannoy Roy, was asking a panel of retired cricketers who is the best looking of them all? Imran Khan who was on the panel said that it does not matter how they look, but what is more important is how they play, but again is it really a topic of discussion – How low can channels stoop for profits is stunning! What also disturbed me was Prannoy Roy, was hosting this! I was truly amazed at how inane the whole program was!

Is this what news channels are to propagate? There is absolutely no sense in all this!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Business of Education

A friend of mine wanted admission in MDS (Master of Dental Sciences), in Bangalore, India and had to write the entrance exam COMED-K. She had to get at least 50% in the exam to get a seat and rank in the top 50 to get a government seat. The fee for a government seat is around Rs. 2 lakhs per annum (translates to around $4652). The fees for a management seat is an unbelievable 20 lakhs for the entire course plus the yearly fees (works out to be around $50000)!

Now, please help me understand, which middle class Indian family can afford this kind of money? Suddenly, education has become the prerogative of the rich Indian and the Non-Resident Indian (NRI)! India, needs educated people especially doctors, with our health services being among the worst in the world! Apart from which, a lot of these doctors pay this indecent amount of money and go abroad and our health services continues to be backward!

What can the government do? The government can increase spending on Education to make it accessible to the ordinary Indian and ensure that students that join premier and world renown Indian institutes such as the Indian Institute of Technologys (IITs), Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and other such premier institutes funded by the government of India, they stay and give something back to the country first – at least for a period of 5 years to ensure that the country gets what it has invested in them! I know that this sounds very jingoistic, but this is surely one of the ways to guarantee that the country gets back!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Male Bonding

I had a very interesting conversation with a close friend and somehow came to conclusion that women do not bond with other women as much as men do with men.

Why does this happen?

If you look at human kind’s entire evolutionary journey – you will find that men traditionally went hunting with other men, while the women stayed at home, protected the home while the man was away and gave birth and raised their children.

So while the men went hunting together, they spent time, made friends, depended on each other for safety and eventually bonded! The conjecture is that this has somehow gotten into the gene pool, which seems to have been replicated over multiple generations, which is why we see men bonding, even to date!

Women on the other hand, spent most of their time in their home, taking care of their offspring and thus did not either have the time or the patience (remember even at that point in time, it was survival of the fittest) to bond with other women! Therefore, we don’t hear as much about women bonding!

My apologies to feminists – this is just a theory and I thought it was too good a subject to blog about!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Why can’t we Indians follow rules while driving?

There are 5 main reasons for this, as I see it:

  • Sheer size of our population
  • Size of our country
  • Cultural and language differences
  • Education
  • Impatience

How do the above influence our driving skills (or the lack of it)?

Size of our population

We are around a billion people and counting. Although 80% of our population
lives in the rural areas, economic factors are beginning to drive more and more people to the cities in search of a better life. This is increasing the population in cities where existing infrastructure, more often than not, is creaking under the burden of additional population. To put this in perspective, apparently Bangalore attracts around 3000 migrants everyday and adds 5000 vehicles everyday! The more the population, the more vehicles on small roads and therefore more chaos!

Size of our country

India has an area of 3,287,590 square KM or 1,229,737 square Miles, with a billion people. To get some perspective around this number, the US has an area of 9,631,420 square KM or 5,984,685 square miles with 300 million people, which is around 3 times the area of India with a third of our population! So obviously the density of people per square mile or KM is very high in India.

Pause, to think of the consequences!

Cultural and Language Differences

India has 23 scheduled languages and various dialects as recognized by our constitution! So assuming that a truck driver from North India has to drive to the South or vice versa, the chances of the driver speaking in any language apart from the native language he speaks is infinitesimally small! Most of the signage in India is in the local language of the state the driver is in or in English! Chances that a driver would have got a license by paying out bribes are pretty high! Pray, tell me how will anyone understand the signage?

Education

India has a literacy rate of 65.38%, so again think of the truck driver – chances that he being educated is small, chances that he knows a language different from his native tongue, tends towards zero.

Impatience

Anyone who has lived in this great country of ours or anyone who has visited here will attest to the fact that everyone is always in a hurry! In the morning, yes there could be an office emergency, call or a meeting – in fact I was talking to a friend of mine and he has a very interesting theory around this – He opines that the urge to “get there” (read as being successful) and “get there” first is so overwhelming, simply because there at least a million other people who also want to “get there”. This I can accept and live with!

How in the world can you explain the peak hour chaos in the evening? More often than not, most people are getting home after a hard days work – why can't people chill out, listen to music or do anything to relax – Nope, everyone is yet a hurry!

So it is going to be implausible that the population of the country suddenly tapers off, the size of the country suddenly expanding, the cultural and language differences disappearing, the education levels suddenly skyrocketing and certainly impossible for the impatience to dissipate and replaced by patience. Ergo, we as country will continue to remain as we are!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Digg, Technorati

Why do so many people want to be Dugg or Technoratted?

More often than not, if
Digg figures out that you have written about them, the blog somehow makes it to the most read! The case seems to be the same with Technorati! This is something, that I did not come up with, but is actually an article – My apologies, but am unable to find the article again, otherwise would have certainly linked to it!

I have gone through a lot of articles on “How do I popularize my Blog?” or a variation of the same title and I have not got anything which is remotely useful.

Agree, content is king – but I have realized that blogging is now done based on the current hot topic is! What if, I do not want to write about a current hot topic because there are 10000 other sites which have already written about it, some 20000 news channels which have already talked about it – I would be just another! I thought that was pretty counter intuitive (Just because you have written what is being talked about by everyone else and therefore no one visits your site!)– Apparently not – If you want to be read, write about the same hot button issue!

Secondly, add comments on other sites – Hell I have, but don’t see any results!

Submit to
Google and Yahoo – Did this at least my page now comes up!

So the choice is yours – Do you want to whore your blog? Or are you writing for the sake of the pleasure writing gives you?

Based on the answer (You need to be honest!) decide what you want to do!

I have done this so that, hopefully, writing this will get some traffic to my site!

American Foreign Policy: A Deadly sin?

Greed based foreign policy

The American foreign policy has been mainly greed based. How different is from any invading country in the centuries gone by is anybody’s guess!

US has so many interests in the Middle East is because of the oil that they have – had they not got any oil, would they have been so interfering? We all already know that the Al Qaeda has its roots from American funding! Today, it has come back to haunt them!

North Korea – they are interested again, because of its proximity to China. China increasingly is becoming powerful and with so many American businesses entrenched in the Chinese landscape; they do not have enough bases close enough to China. The closest bases that they have are in Japan, the Philippines, to an extent in Afghanistan which, however, is distracted by the Al Qaeda chase! They do have bases in Pakistan but that again is busy with Bin Laden! Therefore bases in North Korea and Taiwan will be strategically important options, which explain their enduring interest!

With regards to Iran, it boils down to oil as usual. The Americans are by far the largest consumers of oil and they will need options. Whether they will attack Iran or not, is yet to be seen especially with the tough stance that Iran is taking with respect to its nuclear enrichment program!

The Civil war in Iraq

The senate, which in 2003, gave their blessing to Bush on the War on Iraq, is now talking about withdrawing the same support – yes, the setup of the senate has considerable changed since then, but do they have an option of getting out of Iraq anytime soon? Personally, I don’t think it is possible, considering the fact that Iraq is now embroiled in one of its worst civil wars in a long time, with the paranoia that the Americans have (could be well placed) about the Iranians and its designs in Iraq.

The Presidents swear that they will “Preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States”! How they are doing this by waging war in Iraq, well, your guess is as good as mine!

If the Americans do leave without stability in Iraq, history will not be kind to them!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Celebrity Big Brother: All about the money, honey!

So I am writing about the Celebrity Big Brother one month after the hoopla dies down because:

  • I did not have a blog back when it actually happened!
  • I wanted the hoopla to die down!


So was it racism or bullying?

Racism as defined in a dictionary is: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and those racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Bullying is defined in a dictionary as: to affect by means of force or coercion.

So what was it?

My view on it was, at the point in time, that it was case of plain bullying. Anybody who has gone to school can vouch for this! How many times, when you were a child at school, did you get imitated about the way you walk or talk or anything that you do on a regular basis? How many times did you get verbally abused? I am sure it has happened and will happen in the future – Another form of this is ragging, which at least all students from India, who have had the opportunity to attend college, had to go through! So did Shilpa Shetty go through anything different from this? No!

So what really happened?

I was at the time, when Celebrity Big Brother was on TV, in the UK and I had no idea that Shilpa Shetty was a part of it and I am sure, millions in India also did not know! So when I saw Shilpa’s name all over BBC and other news media, I heard about it and got sucked into watching the show! At the point in time, apart from Shilpa and her travails, the only other news worthy item was about David Beckham’s move to the LA Galaxy from Real Madrid.

So the media really blew it up and why? Indians in the UK are a minority. That is when the media in India took it up and started a domino effect! One thing lead to another and at the point poor Gordon Brown was in India and all the poor man, slated to become the next PM, (if Tony Blair does decide to step down) was asked about were his views on the show! He is a politician and he will have to pander to the minority community in the UK and so he did! That led to the Indian Prime Minister making comments and then Tony Blair! When these kinds of people make comments on anything – it becomes news, whether we like it not (Come on, Britney Spears shaving her head became news!)

But what was the show about? It was about a group of people asked to live under the same roof for a period of time and their activities are shown live (Just like Jim Carey’s life in the movie “The Truman Show”) and the most un-popular person is voted out by the watching public! It was truly one of the most inane and boring show I had seen! So the ratings of the show went through the roof when the media started calling the show, the producers and Jade Goody and her friends racists. It did just what the producers wanted and did not get! Voila – Jade Goody and everyone else are out and Shipa Shetty wins a ton of money! For the same ton of money that everyone was competing for! How is it any different from most office promotions – most people would be back stabbing other folks covertly who are competing for the same one promotion! I would like to see the popularity of a show where people are closeted together where everyone has to be nice to each other! Who are you kidding?

Stirring up a hornet’s nest

We Indians are a bunch of hypocrites!
In my opinion we Indians are so racist, we even have a caste system like none other in the rest of the world! Brahmins are, even to this day, considered the purest of everyone, hell, my mom will not even let me cook eggs at home! She will not go to a restaurant which serves non-vegetarian food, at least while she is India! The country’s politicians will exploit the very caste system during elections! The same people who whipped up passions during the time Celebrity Big Brother was on air saying that Britain is racist.

So if Jade Goody wanted to win, and if she has to resort to bullying, who can fault her – there was a ton of money at stake!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wanderlust: Palolem, Benaulim - Goa!

Meera and me needed a break and our close friends Harish and Payal joined us to head to the sun soaked beaches of Goa in December 2006.

We drove from Bangalore to Goa, a good 12 hour drive.

We reached Palolem (South Goa) at 5PM in the evening and Palolem was simply breathtaking in the evening. It is an idyllic, crescent shaped beach of white sand (surprisingly!) where the waves are just as lazy as the people who were on the beach and you would inevitable become after just a night! The startling thing about the beach is that it has very few Indians staying at the beach (Goa has more popular beach for the masses – Baga, Calangut, Anjuna et al!). This beach is mostly frequented by Europeans, Americans and Israelis some staying over for as long as 3 months!

We did not have a place to shack up at and so the boys went to look for a joint where we could stay and the women decided to do – well what else – but window shop!


We finally found a place called Fernandes where we got beach shacks for Rs.1500 per night per couple after haggling (and you need to). The entrance to the shack was a restaurant, walk through the restaurant and there were 9 shacks all with attached bathrooms. Each shack had a bed with a mosquito net, a fan, a closet. Very basic but clean. The most amazing thing about the shacks and is the same for any one of them – is that the sea is actually not more than 20 steps away from the restaurant!

The place was run by Sanjay – who was so helpful with all of our needs and
we had a few! Sanjay was simply amazing – he would get up at 8 AM everyday, get himself his morning cuppa and begin to work on his Sudoku skills. He had a whole book of Sudoku puzzles!

So we would get up everyday at around 8AM, have a very leisurely breakfast and head straight to the sea! Came back for lunch and well, what can I say – a place like Palolem deserves a siesta! Wake up in the evening and get a beer/cuppa depending on whichever way our throats wandered!
We did this (which was NOTHING!) for 2 days and then decided to go to Butterfly beach, look for a few dolphins (is an amazing sight!) on day 3 and on day 4 did nothing again!

We then moved to the Royal Goan Beach Club at Benaulim, which is about 35 KM from Palolem. This was a typical 3 star resort with some fantastic facilities, but is mostly for folks who cannot rough it!


We then decided to see a few places around Benaulim so went to see an old heritage mansion, built in the nineteenth century. It is one of the magnificent legacies of Portugese architecture. It had Italian patterned tiles, china wares and vases, very intricately painted, stained glass windows made of mother of pearl shells! It still has some of the old furniture, prominent among these is a lovely Lovers seat, where the women could not resist but take a snap! It houses Goa’s first private library and the sheer number of books boggles the mind!


The next day we drove to the Basilica of Bom Jesus and what a cathedral it was! It holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. The casket housing the body of St. Francis is made of silver. It is considered as one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in India. The Basilica was built in the 17th century.

The next day, we decided to indulge in some water sport and we headed to the beach. We were excited to do para sailing – unfortunately the wind was not blowing in the right direction, but we did jet ski and it was exhilarating!
The time came for us to say goodbye with heavy hearts and return to the usual grind! Needless to say, the trip was dedicated to Bacchus!