Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Sunday, November 29, 2009

double estranged

the math is obvious.
bal thackeray has 2 sons - jaidev and uddhav.
jaidev married smita thackeray but they got a divorce. but she retained her place in the thackeray family, while jaidev was evicted. so jaidev is estranged from the thackeray family.............(1)

smita continued to increase her presence and power till bal thackeray was completely controlling the shiv sena. once uddhav took over, she has been relegated to the household activities.

but she makes it back in the news, announcing her intentions of joining the congress.
so that would mean she would be evicted. hence she will be estranged from the thackeray family...(2)

concluding from (1) and (2), there is a clear case of double estrangement.QED

Friday, November 27, 2009

new interesting blogs...

...are easy to locate at the indibloggies awards.
the 2008 awards nominations are out and am going to spend some time looking up the nominees.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2012 is watchable

am generally ok with doomsday scenarios as i believe that our depredations of the earth will, at some stage, come back to doom us.

2012 deals with such a scenario, albeit with a strong dash of mythology rather than aforementioned depredations.
i loved the SFX and the general scientific drift of the story, but could not stand the hero/family drama that linked the series of events.
somehow i could lose them in the overall plot just staring at the background where nature is going berserk.
and jimi mistry as the indian astro-physicist is quite appalling.

overall, i would recommend this movie as watchable.

Friday, November 20, 2009

must watch and must read

must watch pranav mistry - scientist at MIT
this awesome TED video had me hooked.

must read devdutt pattanaik - mythologist,.
his articles about indian folklore/mahapuranas are just a fantastic insight into our history and civilisational make-up.
he also spoke at TED India.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

PC vs Kishenji

the Union Home Minister vs the Naxal chief.
their interviews are the cover stories in this week's tehelka.

PC is (as usual), extremely articulate and lucid and is saying a lot of things which are positive indicators. such as:
1. There is no Operation Green Hunt. Name me an officer who has said this and I will take action.
I am totally opposed to staged encounters. It’s possible that in a gun battle between the police and those who take to the gun, people could get killed, but that’s unfortunately a battle. But if you arrest a person, he must be produced before a magistrate.
If any civil rights group or tribal representative will organise it, I am ready to come (to the affected areas).
I am prepared to request the Prime Minister to freeze all these MOUs and order a comprehensive review of all the MOUs that have been signed in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and South Bihar, and then decide which MOU should be implemented, with or without modification. I am prepared to request the PM to do that.
but he continually draws a line between centre and state, which i found jarring and a deliberate 'washing off hands' tactic.
also his response to the conflict on interests issues (he represent several mining companies as a lawyer) is quite tepid.

kishenji's interview in comparison is aggressive, unyielding, self-deluding and loaded with ungrounded idealism.
1. The PM should apologise to the tribals and withdraw all the troops deployed in these areas.
2. (long term vision is to)...
is to gain political power, to establish new democracy, socialism and then communism.
3. (on fund raising)...
There are no extortions. We collect taxes from the corporates and big bourgeoisie, but it’s not any different from the corporate sector funding the political parties.
guess that after one spends over 30 years fighting, one gets caught up in distrust and animosity.

parallely, arundhati roy is scathing in her last outlook cover story - Mr Chidambaram's War.

praying that these tentative feelers get stronger in the coming months and we see a full scale de-escalation of violence.

Monday, November 16, 2009

gems of names

my general interest in names is well known to the avid readers of this blog.
from name change ads, WTF is in a name and luke ronchi., i have ranted on suchlike topics.

from today's india-srilanka match, we have a gem...
UWMBCA Welegedara aka Uda Walawwe Mahim Bandaralage Chanaka Asanga Welegedara.
he is a good replacement of the recently retired Chaminda Vaas aka WPUJC Vaas.

of course, i am extremely impressed by welegedara's Mumbai connection (almost like he was born while his mom was between bandra to mahim).

those (like me who have been raised in the tempestuous days of Tn politics of the 80s), will of course remember the inimitably named KKSSR Ramachandran.

tum mile mein kilometer

tum mile (तुम मिले) is a recently released hindi movie.
while google's transliterate cleverly and correctly make mile into मिले, it just makes me exceedingly curious on why would one want to write hindi titles/words with the same unphonetic structure that is english.

Friday, November 13, 2009

holy snakes

lounging around an afternoon at my in-laws place in velachery - madras.
this place borders the sprawling (almost contiguous) jungles of IIT Madras and Guindy National Park and the Raj Bhavan (Governor's Bungalow).

wife exclaims - "look, snake!"
and lo behold, there was this nasty one, just at the door, facing away, but looking over into the house.
it was a rat snake (saara paambu in tamil), not poisonous. looked like this.

what was interesting was the reactions.
my in-laws were totally cool, and so was my wife (living for over 15 years on the IIT campus).
my dad was completely taken aback that such critters existed in the vicinity and was advising several precautionary measures to his totally un-flabbergasted samamdhi, who in turn was telling him about what the snake was and how non-venomous it was, etc.

back to our beauty (around 8 ft long and dark grey in colour) - seeing this mass of humanity surge towards him, he bolts and what speed!! just awesome. the difference between watching it on discovery channel and seeing it live is in magnitudes of googolplex.

after rushing back and forth, trying to scale the walls to reach his sanctuary, he finally gets a boost from a bush in the backyard and made good his escape.

for those who came in late, csm = crazy snake man, an appellation derived from a rant by matthew perry in a friends episode.
just to reinforce that i am very good with snakes:-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

cyclooney city

that is mumbai - which gets an average of 2500 mm of rain in the 3 monsoon months.
totally freaky weather over the last 2 days. raining since 10th Nov around noon time (IST).
today was cyclone alert day.
phyan was supposed to hit in and around the city. and some marginal rain happened today.

the moment the alert sounded, almost as if to cook a snook, it cleared up.
nothing, nada, zip, zero since 2 PM today (11th Nov).
schools, offices all shutdown.
bloody waste of time and stuff.

this is not maximum city, post 26/7/2005, this is 'i-want-my-mum" city.

clarification - the looneys are not the civic admin (in this case), but the general junta and media. with whatever available info, the govt called it correctly putting safety first.
but the aam-junta, fuelled my media frenzy, has just lost their marbles.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

public confessions

andre agassi has made life rosy for the media and other retired tennis players/commentators.
with his autobiographical (titled "Open") confession on drug use etc, he has put the australians among the indians.
he has been berated by a lot of people for:
1. the drug abuse and here.
2. the sensationalisation to enable marketing his autobiography.

but i beg to differ.
i am completely in favour of public confessions.
gandhi set a lovely trend over 80 years ago with My Experiments With Truth.

we should all do it.
go agassi.
i forgive the wig.
you beat sampras often enough for me to like you...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

king long

warped minds will warp their minds over this title.
king long is a famous name in mumbai as they have invaded the city over the last 2 years like no one.

ok, ok...
the fleet of the new AC buses used by BEST (as part of the Bus Rapid Transit System-BRTS) and of late by MSRTC (mumbai pune route) is king long buses. (on the mumbai-pune AC bus route aka Volvo, the king longs are improving their market share)

pic courtesy: Sharmeen Sahibole

these chinese-make buses are an attempt to woo the car-based travellers from the suburbs to the town-side. and from the initial looks of it, they are making an attempt.
currently BEST operates 10 routes.
we have taken 2 of them.
they are obviously very comfortable and all that. and tickets are in the range of Rs 15 (min) - 100 (max). pretty reasonable.

but if you are in a taxi/auto/2-wheeler and are behind the king longs, the heat/noise from the AC and engine is quite unbearable.

take it the next time you are in the city.

Friday, November 06, 2009

sustsainable living in cities - the remarkable dervaes

a medium sized home in pasadena, california houses the incredible Dervaes' family.
growing nearly 3000 kgs of fruits and vegetables in around 4000 sq ft of urban space is just mind-blowing.

their experiments with simple and sustainable urban living is now an award winning documentary - Homegrown Revolution.

met them at an interactive session in mumbai last evening.
a truly amazing experience to hear their experiences and the underlying philosophies.
almost a modern day fukuoka.
one thing that strongly resonated is their strong anti-monsanto slant :-)

please check their other website, Path to freedom.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

me vs the cola giants

regular readers will be familiar with my slant against MNCs, globalisation, privatisation, etc.

it is a good time to share the seeds of this slant.
Date: Dec 2003
Location: Chennai
Event: Asha Annual conference

my first exposure to development organisations (NGOs) and chances to meet 'like-minded' (much abused phrase) junta.
of all the people i met at chennai, nandlal master was the one who stamped his imprint.
simply, he became a friend.
nandlal, from varanasi, a simple weaver turned teacher turned leader.
a master-class story. an inspiration for me.

in the fight against the mehdiganj coca cola factory, nandlal played and is playing a lead role.
he and his brothers bore the brunt of police brutality against their agitation in 2004.

he wrote to me (and perhaps all his contacts) asking us to boycott all coke and pepsi products (for over-exploiting ground water).
without even getting to the reasons and allowing 'due process', i signed on the petition.....just because nandlal had asked me. that was how much he meant to me!

since that time, i have had a sip of aquafina once. that was a mistake of sorts. but have been utterly faithful to nandlal and that petition i signed.
also have been directly and indirectly pushing people of their cola mania/addiction.

have heard some rumours and stories about nandlal since then from his local peers. many were derogatory/defamatory. maybe true.
but i know/knew of a nandlal that i loved. and thats not likely to change soon.

good luck masterji. काके को उजड़ने की योजना में हम आपके साथ हैं. (i am with you in your anti-coke struggle).

kannamwar nagar

eastern express highway starts from sion and snakes its way through the central suburbs of mumbai till thane where it morphs into NH 3.
for its entire stretch post ghatkopar, it runs past some of the greenest parts of mumbai, namely the mangroves on the eastern seafront.
there is just one exception to this unbroken vista.
and that small township is kannamwar nagar, vikhroli east.
after seeing its name on several BEST buses over the last many years, i got a chance to visit this place to attend a wedding.
while it does not look any different than any other place, if one changes the viewing perspective, kannamwar nagar is a special place.
here is a bird's view from a long way up. the yellow line is the EEH and the small triangle on its right in the center of the image is kannamwar nagar.

coming in closer, the triangle takes on a defined form.

"what's so special?", you may ask.
the layout of this township is now visible below in a closer zoom and "doesn't it look pretty?". almost like a fluid flowing around a circular object.

so, on my last flight, i looked out while landing and could identify this beautiful location. it is a million times more beautiful than the above images.

Monday, November 02, 2009

last flight

i think i have taken my last flight of my life.
i do not see why and how i shall be able to take one again knowing its carbon footprint and also that i shall be mostly a drive away from family emergencies.

i shall miss looking at the cities and all sundry views from the top.
i will be happy to pass the claustrophobia, awful food, high pressure ramming you ears, etc.

the indian airports (can speak for mumbai and chennai) are nothing like how they were when i used to frequent them 7 years ago.
they are all sparkling and shiny all over the place.

we did something, which we reckon, that must rank as unique. from the airport exit, we took BEST to reach home. this is a stellar feature of the mumbai airport which allows public transport into the main airport exit area. all other cities fail miserably on this count.