Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What an Indian Banker might be feeling right now

Was it my fault?

- That I was not born in the United States of America
- That I did not even study there, despite all the options - the GREs , GMATs & the TOEFLs ?
- That I did not even try for the H1B ?

So that, I could have, maybe, joined that large American Bank

- And, maybe, I could have been taking decisions worth Millions and Billions of $$$
- Impacting the lives of millions of people
- And taking all the risks my conservative Indian Bank cannot
- Which the stupid Indian Government does not allow me to
- Taking all the risks and the thrill of moving all that money

Why, oh why, did not I go there when I could have?


- What if I had lost my job?
Ah, but I would have got my golden handshake.

- And what if my Bank had crashed because of my risk taking?
Ah, the US Government would take care of that.

The US government’s commitments to contain the financial crisis now approach $7 trillion.

And what if the US Government had not offered the bailout?

Hey, $7 trillion is still big money - I would still have got $25000 (per U.S. resident)!!

No, you say? Why? What would have happened to the $7 trillion then, I ask?

- Oh, you say the money does not actually exist, huh?
- So where is it coming from? I mean, whose money is it actually?
- Oh, they just print the money, and that causes inflation?
- And China keeps buying the US debt so the $ doesn't get devalued and they can keep selling them more stuff?

Hey, what do I care, as long as I can keep my job, my house, my bonuses, and my vacations!

And, here I am, driving (stuck, actually) in the mad Mumbai traffic, trying to keep my job, and not knowing whether it is wise to go on a vacation in these bad times...

So, why am I mad?
Because, damn it all, I did not even get to have any fun, yet I am the one in the mess!!!

(Disclaimer: The author's understanding of the economy, the meltdown crisis and its reasons, and the bailout plan is extremely limited. As is, I suspect, that of most Bankers!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Does music affect your mood

It affects mine big time.

Here are 2 songs I have been listening to, today (thank you, Youtube!)

The videos in both are hardly anything to talk about, but I just love her voice.

Ye Kisne Jadoo Kiyaa

Umbre Ubhi

Monday, November 24, 2008

Iss Route Ki Sabhi Line-ein Vyast Hai ..

Thankfully not - atleast as far as my phone lines are concerned - though there have been more-than-normal instances of Call Dropping due to congestion on my cellphone network.


It has more to do with one's mind, congested with thoughts and (self) doubts.

And yes, it is not just about vanity.

It is about fundamental doubts about blogging, why at all. Is it just about keeping on speaking, opening up, and therefore, in a way, sharing a part of oneself?

And trying to convince the world of opinions, which, obviously need not always be accepted, or at times, even tolerated as valid opinions.

And similarly, the ability of oneself to accept/ assimilate/ understand other points of views, at times diametrically opposite one's own. Maybe this ability just does not exist within me.

Which then, raises a question on the futility of the entire exercise.

Unable to convince others; & unable to change one's own views either.

So why write (& read)? Why waste your own and others' time?

I do not have the answer. I do need to contemplate, and to find an answer (if and) before I write again.

Maybe I will have some answers.

Or maybe I will not?!

(This is probably my last post - I do not know. To all visitors who have frequented this blog, a heartfelt Thank You! It was immensely gratifying having you on my blog, & commenting - reference my post Vanity!

Ah, I do need to stop now- before I start delivering my Oscar acceptance speech)


Friday, November 21, 2008

What Democracy!

You must read this article here, by Ramesh Ramanathan.

A disturbing encounter

This is what a 'common man', the 'man on the street' actually aspires for, but does not get.

And this, probably, is what we as a society need to demand and get from our leaders and administrators.



When India won the World Cup.

When ABBA broke up.

And when The Police topped the music charts.

So, is it about Love or is it about Stalking?

Take it whichever way, but can you stop humming it after you hear it ??!!

I can't.

Every Breath You Take

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Nation of Symbols

This post started with Indian Home Maker's post on Modi and comments there after.

IHM insists that Modi must apologise or demonstrate regret for post-Godhra riots, and also believes that words are a must, and action would therefore follow later.

To me, an expression of regret by Modi for the violence and suffering in the riots, is desirable, yes. It did not happen in his interview with Karan Thapar, and one reason could be Thapar's negative style of interviewing. It is debatable whether another (decent) interviewer would have got a different response out of Modi.

Having said that, does one apology by Rahul Gandhi make any difference today? The crimes happened when Rajiv Gandhi was in power, not Rahul. Most of the criminals have got away scot-free. Cynically , this apology may be yet another of our political gimmickery, with the Delhi elections round the corner.

And we as citizens, lap it up. And assume that things have changed for the better. What if he does not mean a word of what he says, it is just plain acting?

A comment on the post by another blogger, which I found extremely immature: "I had hoped he (Modi) would be voted out but the Gujratis really let everyone down!"

This is an extremely naive viewpoint, assuming everything would be fine if the Congress had been voted back. It also forgets the divisive and communal politics played by Congress Governments over the years in Gujarat. An example - the KHAM (Kshtriya-Harijan-Adivasi-Muslim) theory defined & implemented by Madhavsinh Solanki of the Congress.

And my view is, rather than get enamoured by speeches made by Rahul Gandhi, we need to evaluate them by their work, and actions taken to restore communal peace (if any).

Versus the Godhra blot of Modi, there is also the work he has done for the female girl child, including education & improving the sex ratio. Kutch, and Anjar, completely rebuilt after the earthquake - I have not seen any Congress government acting efficiently, and without most of the money going to politicians and/or contractors. He is building the GIFT City (maybe the only way the massive problems Mumbai faces due to congestion, might get solved!). The Tata Nano and Bombardier Metro plants are some of the successful projects that are improving the economy. There is no talk of his brothers/ sons/ uncles getting important posts in his govt or administration. There is also no allegation of corruption against him, and I am sure the media would not have spared him even if there were a whiff of a scandal. Is all of this completely irrelevant because of one blot of post-Godhra?

How many politicians in India today can claim to be efficient AND not corrupt? Yes, his track record on the communal agenda needs improvement, but it is also a fact that there have been lesser Hindu-Muslim riots during Modi's regime than during previous Congress Govts in the state.

Which brings me to my main point:

- Are we right in merely looking for symbolic gestures like those of Rahul, combined with inefficiency, lip service to the masses, and corruption. AND, on top of it, pushing a communal or divisive agenda at the same time, but claiming not to do so.

- Or, should we prefer someone like Modi, abrasive, but delivering on some of his promises, and good governance.

I prefer good governance, minus his communal stance. A regret, expressed publicly, would be good, ideal.

But I would, still, rather have good governance from a tainted politician, rather than, lousy governance from a Wolf-in-a-Sheep's clothing (who claim to be unisive, but practise divisive politics instead).

What would you have?

(Oh, and by the way, I have, up until now, not voted for the BJP ever my life - it has always been for the Congress/ its Allies. Of course, it is another matter that the BJP/Allies in other part of the country are probably exactly like the Congress - and no good symbolic speeches, on top of it)


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Violence of All Kinds - the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

While generally not of violent disposition, this news item on the BBC did warm my heart.
India sinks Somali pirate ship

So also did the following news item, which I suppose is the second apology from the Congress, coming after Manmohan Singh's. Admirable & courageous statement, condemning the violence, coming as it does after his father made the outrageous "large tree" comment.
Operation Bluestar, a tragedy: Rahul Gandhi

The last piece of news is, but of course, the "Ugly".
Gloss off Indian economy at top corporate forum
Where is the Violence here: why else would they call it a bloodbath?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The ECB, ICC and BCCI - Breaking News!


The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has lodged an official complaint against the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) with the International Cricket Council (ICC) today.

Apparently the BCCI has come out with a notification making it compulsory for any team that wishes to tour India to play cricket matches to have atleast 80% of the team with local origin players only. This implies that in the current team of England, they will need to discard atleast 2 out of 4 of their current players - K Pietersen, O Shah, S Patel, R Bopara - being of South African and Indian origin.

ECB has tried arguing with the BCCI that these folks are contributing equally and better than the 'original' British inhabitants - in fact they are better. ECB has also indicated that if there are future natives that perform better than these current players, they will definitely be selected - since the selection system is based on pure cricketing merit. They have also complained to the ICC that by doing this, BCCI is deliberately weakening their team, and the ECB team will no longer remain competitive in the world cricket arena.

But the BCCI is having nothing of it. Also, because of its clout in the cricket arena, the ICC is quite unlikely to have the strength to stand upto the BCCI. The cricketing world is fearing that this might mean the end of merit in the cricket world.

PS - Aha, this was just a joke. Nothing like this has happened, rest assured!

Something like this just happened in the political world, though.

Maharashtra reserves 80% jobs for locals.

And Mr Deshmukh (and the Congress) join ranks with the MNS & the BJP in the brand of (divisive) politics they believe in.

This joke, too, is on us.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I have been tagged by Indian Home Maker for my views on Feminism.

A difficult question, and tough to articulate. First thought, and the obvious one, is equality.

Was it feminism on display when my mother resumed work a couple of years after my birth? In those days and times, it would have been close to revolutionary. Especially since I realise she was probably the only lady amongst our social & family circle, who was a working wife (forget working mother). Would it not have been tough, juggling family and work, both? It sure was. And was she happy about it? Overall, yes, because she had the ability to decide to work if she wanted, and also because her professional qualifications were actually put to use where it mattered - not just in the home & kitchen. More than that, there is a sense of happiness driven by having contributed - and not in equal measure, but a lot more - within the home and outside.

What else is feminism? I think it is the ability of making your own Choice: the choices of education, higher studies, choice of vocation & career, the choice to love, to marry who she wants, the choice to have a child or not (though I think this one is a joint decision), the choice to work/ not to work after having a child, and making all the important choices that would go into bringing up the child/ children.

Feminism is not about whether the woman is allowed to either stay at home, or work *and* take care of the home. It is about a situation where the man & woman together decide who will earn the dough and if & whether someone needs to stay & care of the home - and if so, who.

It is also about equality, and therefore, it is NOT feminism when you see a trophy wife sitting at home vegetating - even if it is her choice. It is not feminism when the only contribution to the home is trips to the shopping mall, because it is degrading not only to her but to the rest of womanhood - and even if it is her choice alone.

Which therefore brings me to Independence. Feminism is also about being independent as well as contributing. A woman, to be an equal partner, has to contribute in some manner to the relationship - either in monetary terms and/or the home. The moment the woman is not bringing something to the relationship - except sex - she loses her power, her bargaining capability, and may I be controversial, her respect. Because one can demand equal rights only when one is equal in other terms too - otherwise any demand met is merely charity.

The day the woman depends on someone (anyone - her father/ brother/ husband/ children) more than the man in the family does, that is when talk of feminism becomes hollow.

Feminism also takes me to another view point, and that is about traditional pressures put on women by society, about looking good - Beauty. It is acceptable for a man to be ugly, bald, unfit, uncouth or loud, but not for a woman to be any of these. And the woman needs to be fit, maintain herself, look good, remove unwanted body hair, and generally keep herself pretty for masculine consumption. To me, feminism is also about women being able to (which they are not, today) be 'themselves', just as it is acceptable for men to 'be themselves'. The day equality happens will be when a woman can carry a paunch to a party and her husband is complimented for great cooking. And all of this, without any sarcasm or condescending behaviour.

Feminism is just a way of thinking. And its not just women, but men, who also could be feminists.

I think feminism is only a fancy word - for equality, for being fair, for being humane & human.

And, like earlier, I am not tagging anyone, but since you are reading this, would love to have you pick up this Tag - if not already done!

(If feminism is about choice, so should be 'Tag'-gism ;-) )

Friday, November 14, 2008

Now what is this?

And just when one thought one understood the man and what he stood for, comes this piece of news.

80 temples demolished

So what does he really stand for?

Hindutva or Development?

How often does one see a politician willing to take these decisions?

And regrettably I do not see most politicians today having the conviction to follow the rules, if the decision has (even a remotely) religious angle to it. Not even our secular parties.

Man of Contradicitions?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Someone got swindled

Situation: You and your siblings own a property - a posh, most wanted property - at the most fashionable and high profile streets of Mumbai (Delhi / New York/ London - take your pick). In 2001 the property sold for Rs. 10 Million, but you know how the demand has increased over the years. This year beginning, you gave a power of attorney to one of your siblings to make a deal on your behalf and sell it off.

S/he sold it for Rs. 10 Million, and has given you your part of the share. But somehow you feel it is not the right approach - should it not have got you a little more than what it fetched in 2001? But, your sibling tells your that it is the only way, since the last deal was in 2001, and it did confirm what the going rate was. Why did s/he not get new price bids for the same --- oh no, the regulatory body says it is not fair to keep on checking what the rate is. Okay, you said.

But then, you find out that the buyer of the property has sold it off to another buyer for Rs. 75 Million, meaning you lost Rs 65 Million totally on the deal !

Why, you ask? How could it be?
> Did the buyer refurbish the property? No, the property is exactly the same. No changes/ additions made.
> Was there a market slump between your sale date and the resale date? To the contrary - it was a boom time when you sold the property, but a slump has started when the resale happened.

So, what exactly happened?

Was your sibling the culprit? Did s/he take an under-the-table 'black' component from the property buyer in lieu of the low official property price? Or was s/he plain stupid - but in that case, s/he would not have been given the task of selling the property at all.

So what do we do now? Should we just take him/her off the task of selling any more family properties? Or should we also find out more about The Mystery of the Missing Money?

Oh yes, it seems our Govt is not keen to do either of the above.
You do not believe me? Read on.

The Great Telecom Scam of Only Rs. 51000 crore
The King (Raja) Refuses to Accept any Mistake or Wrongdoing

And surprisingly, his response - prove that I am guilty, and I am *willing* to resign. So gracious and magnanimous - damn it, if you are guilty, you should Hang!

What is our only hope, you ask - the Courts.
Oh yes, they are.

Let us forget finding our Obama. If we can just prosecute the criminals in the system, ensure they are prosecuted, and teach a lesson to our criminal (and/or inept) politicians so that history does not keep repeating itself.

Sukh Ram Telecom Scam
Pramod Mahajan & Reliance

Oh, and by the way, it WAS you (and me) that got swindled here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Can you not do your job instead?

Yes Sir.

The writer's bug has struck you, & I do, do understand.

But, the city & the state badly need good governance, Sir.

And, you need to control the divisive forces threatening our city, you need to manage the mad Mumbai traffic, you need to create good roads, you need to prevent flooding, you need to generate more electricity, you need to reduce poverty levels, you need to control the builder lobby, you need to ensure affordable housing, you need to generate more jobs, you need to manage the inflation & recession, you need to manage communalism, you need to reduce corruption, and, you need to do everything else I have forgotten to list down.

Doing all this, at the same time, you will also continue to attend all the film award ceremonies and song-and-dance functions, with a smile - as you always do.

So, could you please postpone your writing up until then, Sir?.

Can you please do your job, Sir?


Bombay Builders, Australian Cricketers

The builders are finding it tough going. The real estate market is in a slump, no one is buying any more. The inventory is building up, and there is a severe liquidity crisis. (Developers in a bind) They are unable to raise fresh funds from the stock market ; the bankers are refusing to lend to them, and the stock prices have crashed like crazy. Builders are having to borrow money from money-sharks at upto 35% interest rates.

And yet, is it not odd that I do NOT feel sorry for them, not one bit.

Just like I have no sad feelings for the Aussie Cricketers, reeling from a 2-0 loss in the Test series against India - the highest margin after losing to the West Indies in the '80s.

To the contrary, I am gloating - waiting for some more bad news, & more trouble for both of them. I would not mind seeing them go down in the dumps.

Yes, maybe I am evil.

But, just maybe, will the Bombay Builders & Aussie Cricketers stop and think whether this reaction has anything to do with some of their acts over the years:

- Builders have been flouting the law of the land, many times influencing politicians to change the law for their greed. (Builders-Politicians lobby for CRZ restrictions removal)
- That the Builders and Politicians have choked up Mumbai to such a great extent that it caused the floods that wreaked so much havoc on its citizens. (Why Mumbai Choked)
- That Builders even took over the last remaining open spaces of the city, somehow even 'managed' to get the Supreme Court around to their point of view. (Builders to take over Mill Lands, Win in Supreme Court).
- Realty Prices have been manipulated to only keep increasing, and prevented from coming down, due to Builders forming a lobby (with very deep pockets). (Property fair, but the prices are unfair)

The Australian cricketers, on the other hands have been extremely arrogant. They have been rude, ill mannered, extremely cruel (remember asking Graham Thorpe going through a tough time with his personal life, who his wife was sleeping with that night) and generally arrogant a***holes. The team invented the terms 'Mind-Games' & 'Sledging'. When the mighty West Indians went down, one felt sorry for the gentlemen. But, not for these folks, No Way!

Will these jerks ever introspect why, in their times of difficulties, there are fewer people commiserating with them, & more people enjoying their troubles.

And hoping for more.

Enjoy, folks.
It is not all dull and gloom in these economic meltdown days..

Monday, November 10, 2008

Change, I had rather live without

So, the Obamania is at its crescent, and the world is celebrating along with America, its new Hero. And it is great for the US society to have a president that comes from a disadvantaged race.

And yet, the sounds emanating from the President-elect in the first few days after the election, and even some time before, have been disconcerting. Atleast from an India perspective.

Some of these noises:

- Revive a peace dialogue between India & Pakistan on Kashmir, but WITH the USA acting as a key intermediary. This is something India has always resisted, and Bush & Clinton administrations have also agreed the way to resolve the issue has to be only bilateral. After the possible cold response from India, I read in today's papers that they have not raised the K issue in recent interactions.

- The Big O after being elected calls up 20 Heads of State in his first couple of days, including countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but omits South Korea, China, India. Symbolism maybe, but for someone who got elected & got a majority of his support on the very notion of symbolism, I think it is important.

(Updated: The latest news do seem to suggest he did try to contact the PM)

- His key transition team includes the Indian origin Ms Shah, whose family has been associated with the VHP for years. Narendra Modi apparently stayed with them on his last visits a few years ago to the US. While this should not take away from the merit of the lady, it also reflects on the Obamadministration - either they have taken a rightwinger knowingly, or their multi-billion dollars were unable to screen such a key fact that Indian press could in a day. Either way, not too flaterring. Especially since Ms Palin was panned all around for her right wing thoughts.

(Updated: Ms Shah denies any links with the VHP & the Sangh Parivar)

- The India Moon mission, achieved successfully on a shoestring budget, evoked a response from the man that was neither gracious nor appreciative. The first reaction: I will increase our spendings on our space mission so we can retain our superiority over countries like India and China. Thoughts of a world leader or a petty politician ?

- Though I have not paid much attention, nor am interested, about his comments on seances, I understand he poked fun at Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton there. The victor making fun of past rivals?

- The noises he has made about Indian outsourcing and punishing US companies that perform outsourcing are quite well known. Again, this is sheer local popular politicking at work. Not an inclusive world leader he is being made out to be.

- And from an economic perspective, he espouses some of the worst possible policies. My previous post, here.

- And he did give a great speech, yes. All about inclusion, the challenges, and that he is going to save the Americas, and the planet. Yes, but did he even write the speech - Hillary might have done an equally good/ better job delivering the same speech, probably.

Yes, he is a great symbol. And I think it is important to recognise that, currently, that is all he is. Like people wanted change from Bush Sr., and got Clinton, they wanted respite from W and got him.

A symbol like our very own Rajiv Gandhi, a symbol of change and everything new.

I am not putting too much hope on him, No.

Am only wishing he does not have his own Monicagate or Boforsgate scandals, and if he manages only that, he will be a success as far as I am concerned.


Friday, November 7, 2008

My (only) good act of the week

Ah, so I too am a good citizen of the blog world. So here are some tips from a research of some of the Top Blogs around, to improve the blogging experience.

The research article is here.

And one of the suggestions in the article is to keep the web page size down, & reduce the number & size of images.

Well, for this post atleast, I am taking their advice.

Have a nice weekend.

Family Honour

We still live in medieval times, and upholding family honour is considered the 'right' thing by so many.

In 2008, here is a story of 2 girls being murdered by their cousin because they had gone on an outing without informing their family, and not telling who they had gone out with. (TOI article)

The accused obviously has grown up in an environment where it has been ingrained into him that:
> women are subservient,
> do not have the right to lead their own life
> they exist only like other living things (example, cattle)
> they are the property of the family
> Honour is about keeping your women 'pure' and 'unviolated'

And it is up to the men to ensure and protect the family honour.

While this misguided one will face the law of the land, is he the real criminal?

Or his entire family and his social circle that has given him these messages all these years?

And will they be ever punished - by law or atleast by society?

Or, will their social circle actually make a martyr out of him & his family..

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My City

Isn't it lovely

Worth fighting over

Worth living for

And killing for

Worth branding with -
my religion,
my caste,
my language,
my colour,
my sex,
my authority

So that, to the next generation, I can hand over my Legacy..

My politics of division
My ability to classify every human as one or the other type
My hatred
My jealousy
My statues
And Roads, named after me, my father, my family, my dog
My ability to turn a group into a mob
To stop people thinking
To control their minds.

My legacy of vote-banks,
Mastering how to milk them
This generation
And my children will do it, the next.

Oh is not this city lovely
That it lets me be free
Free to do what I want
And pass on my legacy



Dear God,

I confess I have not been a believer, not till yesterday. But now, I am, and beg for Your forgiveness.

Take me into Your fold, and grant me Your blessings.

I agree, I am doing this for a selfish motive. But then, You are the all-powerful, omniscient authority, and I know You will forgive me my trespasses.

As You would also know, I have been trying, and trying hard, to get rid of my pimples. But the expensive creams, the exotic treatments, the exclusive skin clinics, have all failed me.

And I want to get married.

So God, in order to let me have a happy married life, please, please get rid of these pimples for me.

Because, God, the Courts of India have decided - it is not allowed to be pimply and married, all at once.

Oh, when, You ask? Just yesterday, God, just yesterday.

I know, its not a decision you made. But the Courts of India have made it. And now, there is nothing even You can do about it.

At best, God, you may decide if the Court judgement applies only to women, or also to men.

Help me!

Yours sincerely,

Edited for Disclaimer:!

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction.

Posting this post does not imply that I have pimples, am unmarried, wish to/ do not wish to get married; nor does this post, in any way, indicate my sex - current or preferred.