Category: General

2 Sep 2006

Blind Alley

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:10am

One of the stronger reasons why stupid laws/rules exist, and continue to do so, is that there are always a good number of takers for these. From the recent times, I remember two - helmet rule and seat-belt rule. Wearing a helmet and fastening seat belt are mandatory in some countries and in some states in India. When the same was adopted in Hyderabad, there was huge support from media. Government presented it as an act of concern and it worked. A sizeable section of population believed it and hailed the same as a great decision.

Helmets and seat belts are safety utilities meant for individuals. It should be an individual's discretion whether to use them or not. I don't see any good reason for interference by state about this. If anybody is concerned about a person's safety, it's the person himself. It's absolute bullshit to entertain the belief that state cares more. Sadly, this is how the whole point was presented.

There are a few important points to consider:
1.Accidents happen (besides so many other factors) not because of those chaps who do away with helmets or seat belts, but those who don't know how to (or don't care to) guide their vehicles through non-interfering trajectories (of course, you need to have excellent roads and low-density traffic for this to be possible).

2.Safety utlities are meant to save you when an accident happens. They do not, in any way, help cut the rate of accidents.

3.Driving is connected to behavior. It's absurd to believe that a chap would become a better driver by simply having a helmet or seat belt on. A chap drives best when he feels comfortable. As regards taking safety measures, it depends on the confidence and attitude of the chap. Hence, it's ridiculous to enforce a code on this.

Gavaskar and Richards never wore a helmet, but they were not any less dangerous batsmen than Sachin or Ponting.

4.There's something called 'risk compensation'. In general, people tend to take more risks when their safety is better assured. While a good driver would still be good with the seat belt on, a bad, arrogant driver would tend to be more so. It happens at a subconscious level, so it cannot be dismissed just because the effects are not obvious. Try batting with and without a safety gear and map it with the risks taken in each case, and one can notice the difference. 

5.Fastening seat belts makes sense when the vehicle hits top speeds. So, it's more necessary on highways and in cities that have speed-lane system. You don't need seat belts in cities like Hyderabad or Bangalore where your vehicle tops 60 for just a few seconds - or minutes, at best - in a one-hour drive.

Interestingly, cops keep a check on this only on city roads. Hit the highway and no cop charges you for not having your seat belt fastened or not wearing a helmet.

6.Children don't consent, and they need to be cared for. For this reason, it's fine to have seat belts for them. Adults can consent, and understand the importance of their safety. They should better be left to make decisions for themselves.

7.If you break a signal, you affect the traffic on the other side and endanger others' safety. In this case, it's quite logical if you are mandated to follow signals. But if you don't wear a helmet, you put your own safety at risk. It's none of state's or anybody's business to force you to do otherwise. It amounts to unwarranted intrusion.

8.The reason why government enforces such rules is not because of your safety or any such good shit. It's a simple equation - setting up a deal with helmet manufacturers, tenders for dealers, penalties when you fail to wear. It's all about money. If the reason, as they cite, is your safety, then why don't they ban manufacture of cigarettes? Smoking kills more people per year than accidents do. So, why not close down all cigarette manufacturing shops? They don't, for it directly translates to loss in millions. In this case, they play safe by stopping at the statutory warning. So, why don't they do the same with the helmet and seat-belt rules? Why not just stop at advertisements about advantages of helmets and seat belts?

9.The one benefit, technically, that comes of enforcing these rules is a good cut in hospitalisation and insurance costs. Since these are linked to the tax that people pay, it benefits the majority, after all. However, it can be considered a benefit only if it reduces the tax burden on the majority. But this never happens. So, although theoretically there's a benefit, actually there's no benefit at all.

If the state is really concerned about people's safety on roads, they should pay more attention to regulating the traffic better. Plan the traffic movement better, make the roads better, have a bribe-free licensing system in place, come up with a system to record driving history of drivers, make the penalty process more sensible, and, most importantly, educate cops. The focus should be on regulating the traffic better, not on enforcing silly rules and filling up pockets with money collected by way of penalties. Stupid rules encourage conscienceless cops to abuse.

But then, I believe things don't become better as long as there is this group of takers for irrational ideas. Unless these people get some sense, it won't be surprising if after five years the state decides to depute a cop in every bedroom to enforce rules of safe sex and it's praised by media and these people alike as a great move to control AIDS!

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

25 Aug 2006

Unsound Rules, Sound Results

Posted by Oblivion in General | 11:12am

Electoral System, framed by the Election Commission of India, mentions in its section Who can vote?:

"Those who are deemed unsound of mind, and people convicted of certain criminal offences are not allowed to vote."

Strangely, there's no mention of any such criteria in the section Who can stand for election!

Fittingly, the results are obvious -
1.Sensible (~ sound of mind) people who can't take anymore of this shit back out from voting.
2.Insensible (~ unsound of mind) ones cast their vote and believe they are the most responsible people on the planet.
3.Goons (~ unsound of mind + a strong criminal record) exploit this situation and continue to rule the nation.

I don't know how this is working! Let me connect:
1.One cannot contest elections if he is not registered as a voter.
2.One cannot register as a voter if he is not eligible to vote.
3.One is not eligible to vote if he is unsound of mind or convicted of certain criminal offences.

Going by the three aforementioned statements, even a ninth-standard kid would, by simple logic, deduce that a goon cannot even vote, forget about contesting elections. Still, what we have for rulers is a bunch of goons! What's the loophole? My guess is - the words "unsound" (a vague word, open to manipulation) and "convicted" (a well-defined word, but open to manipulation in practice).

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

17 Aug 2006

Queer Fate

Posted by Oblivion in General | 10:02pm

We exploit the environment and it effects in a quake or tsunami or tornado.
We let our neurosis prevail and inflict war and strife.
Millions die.

And then we refer to fate/destiny/God's wrath! Question it further and we resort to clever reasoning that we are, in the first place, destined to take actions that result in disasters. We somehow believe that we should be able to do whatever we like to, but it should not result in anything bad.

We are a queer species indeed! 

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

29 Jul 2006


Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:01pm

It didn't matter anymore, but Meursault noticed he felt expansiveness and disgust at the same time. At that faint moment, when a thick veil of vaguness fell between him and all ambition, reason and aimless gaiety, he wanted to offer everyone a hug, then lock himself up in his unkempt room and pull the trigger, aiming the mouth of the gun right at his temple.

Presently he looked into the distance and the ceaseless, undulating waters of the sea, shimmering in the light of the unrelenting sun, appeared at once strikingly beautiful and banally ugly.

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

29 Jul 2006


Posted by Oblivion in General | 7:29pm

A series of blind dates, good and bad
That ends when you meet the beloved - Death

An unscripted comedy while it lasts
Enriched by the intensity of a drama
Tinged with the uncertainty of a thriller
Its denouement is always a tragedy
That leaves behind only tears and mystery

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

20 Jul 2006


Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:58pm

Too much information is forced on one these days. Before you finish contemplating an issue, the next one demands your attention. An ad has to be flashed more number of times to make a good impress. Whether this is good or bad has been a vital issue among experts from various fields. My concern is rather a trivial one - how to preserve favorites in memory amid such exposure to plethora of information. I don't have an answer. But it occurred to me that one can copy and paste the list of favorites to a secondary memory.

My favorites (the ones I remember) from the recent past:

1."Elangaathu Veesudhae..." number by Ilaiyaraja (movie Pithamagan)
2."Do Pal..." by Madan Mohan for the movie Veer Zaara
3.Hutch ad campaign (specially the ad for Group Talk feature)
4.Airtel signature tune by Rahman
5.Munich by Spielberg
6.Youth by Coetzee
7.Tata Safari Dicor ad and tune
8.AIDS ad campaign (print) by JWT
9.My Country, My Country (Iraq documentary) by Laura Poitras
10.The Economist ad campaign by O&M 

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

17 Jul 2006

Morals of Selling

Posted by Oblivion in General | 11:01pm

Last week, it was on the idiot box. Not for the first time. A few models, alleged to have indulged in 'flesh trade', were taken into police custody. While it appears for most as a responsible action by the police, it appears, to me, as interference by the men in khaki. That apart, it prompted me to look at few interesting comparisons.

- A chap needs sex, and has money. The girl sells herself. It happens with mutual consent. The chap gets what he wants, and the girl gets what she wants. It's a win-win game.

- A company needs manpower, and has money. I sell myself. It happens with mutual consent. The company gets what it wants, and I get what I want. It's a win-win game.

Now, there isn't, technically, any difference between what she does and what I do. So, why is her way of selling illegal and mine is not? Do we have - as John ponders in Youth - gradations in selling? If she was selling drugs or guns, the equation would've been different.

How is it different from what actors do for movies? How is it, for that matter, different from the act between a married couple? All these are incentive-driven actions. Only, the incentives are intangible if it's with a spouse or girl/boyfriend. They are commonly referred to as companionship and love (whatever fuck that means). But, grand as they sound, they are incentives nonetheless. I fail to see how incentives become respectable because of some silly exercise called marriage.

For actors, however, the incentive is money - the same as that for a girl taking to one-night stands. But actors are rewarded with awards and become role-models too while this girl is considered a taboo for society! The world considers it loyalty if a chap sleeps, albeit compulsively, only with his spouse who also does it just for the sake of it. Let the chap do it with a girl (who offers the service for money) outside marriage, and the world slaps on him, even if he and the girl immensely enjoyed it. It beats me.

Selling is a big game in the world. Smart chaps spend two precious years at premier institutes to understand and, possibly, master the art. Millions of bucks go into selling of products. Senior management persuade the juniors to sell themselves more effectively. Any marketing expert would agree that "if you don't sell yourself, you are not smart". The more an employee sells himself, the faster he moves up the corporate ladder. Then why is a girl who sells herself condemned and looked down upon? Is she killing someone? Is she intruding someone's space? Is she propagating anti-social policies?

The only answer they come up with is, "it is immoral". And I, for one, never understand this goddamn concept of morality. To hell with theories that she is a threat to the moral fabric of society and the institution of marriage. They are totally devoid of any understanding of man and are wholly illogical. Not that I justify what she does. Just that I find the world's classification of selling ridiculous.

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

13 Jul 2006

Terror, my foot!

Posted by Oblivion in General | 7:50pm

Today's Mid-Day edit begins by saying that you don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that the chain of events starting from the Bhiwandi riots to the desecration of Meenatai's statue and what happened as an aftermath, to the serial blasts on the trains yesterday, means somebody somewhere wants Mumbaikar's to spill out on the streets and grab each other by the throats.

Incidentally, these same somebody-- the faceless outcasts that they still are-- have at least succeeded in one part of their plan. Mumbaikars have actually spilled out on to the streets.

The catch here is that they have failed to succeed in the second and most important part of their plan: that of getting Mumbaikars to grab each other by the throats. Mumbaikars spilled onto the streets-- in a collective show of the middle finger to those who proposed otherwise.

I know very well that you are already aware of how Mumbai stormed onto the streets to help the injured, the stranded and soothe the injuries that were still gaping along its life line.

There were capsules and capsules of streaming video that showed them offering water and refreshments to people stranded on SV Road and the Eastern and Western Express Highways.

There were captures of students of Sydenham and SNDT college, who camped at Churchgate station with the sole purpose of offering a bed to those stranded at the starting node of the life line.

And there was also that memorable grab of people standing patiently in front of KEM Hospital-- all in a serpentine queue, to donate blood. A result of which has been a no-shortage syndrome, when it comes to blood at all the hospitals where the injured are being treated or are recuperating.

But this is not about all that. And yet, it is about all that and more. It is about the sights I saw and the people I met with, while travelling along the Western Express Highway to Kandivali yesterday, between 7 in the evening and one in the morning.

It is about that little kid and his grandfather near Dadar, who, perhaps in the absence of anybody else in the household, took to the streets with bottles of water and packets of biscuits to contribute in whatever way possible in managing the crisis. "Uncle, you must be thirsty," the kid told me while offering the bottle. A parched me drank gratefully. And I saw in those eyes no fear. So what did those terrorists think while planting the bomb? That was at least the silent way of making one statement-- "Terror, my foot.!"

It is also about those housewives in front of a housing society near Santa Cruz, who were standing with pots of piping tea, water and God only knows what else to help those passing by. And they had this board beside them which read "Beyond Borivli, Can Stay'. I was lucky to get a cab, but there were people who were trying to make it on foot. And they needed succor. Rest. Shelter. It was raining.

It is about the autorickshaw driver, who finally reached me home in the interiors of Kandivali at 1 in the morning. And refused to take the night fare, despite being legally empowered to charge extra. "Nehi saab, aaj ki baat alag hai. Aap thik thak ghar pohuj gaye, yeh hi kafi hai," he bade me goodbye at my doorstep.

It is also about the dabbawala who provides me with my dinner everyday. His shop is near the Borivli station, where there was one of the biggest blasts at 6:34 in the evening. Yet, at one o clock in the morning, the dabba was there waiting at my doorstp to be picked up. It didn't need a note. The piping hot food at such an unearthly hour said it all.

The terrorists succeeded in synchronising a series of blasts that stopped the Mumbai lifeline for somewhere around seven hours. That was all that they achieved on 7/11. The trains were back on track by 1:30 in the morning and they plied all through the night. I wonder if the masterminds will consider this before planning their next attack. I would urge them to-- if this reaches any one of them-- to rethink. After all, what did a year of planning, six months of smuggling dangerous explosives, extensive netwroking and crores achieve at the end-- arond 200 lives and just seven hours of disruption? Bus! I won't budge for that. In the deal they united more than they dreamt to rip apart.

And by the way, I did not spot any member of the celebrated Readers' Digest survey team yesterday on the roads. Or perhaps they were there-- reconsidering their statement.

- Sudip Ghosh, Deputy Editor, Medianet, The Times of India, Mumbai

Cheers to Mumbai! Cheers, Sudip da!

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

5 Jul 2006


Posted by Oblivion in General | 7:03pm

...I am back to blogging. For the past few months, discussion groups overtook blog on the list. Interestingly, it also happened with a few friends whose blogs I regularly follow. While I add more junk to my blog, it's a matter of interest to note how the crest-and-trough pattern works with those blogs.

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

4 Jul 2006

Disappointing But Casual

Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:58pm

Dirty But Clean Pierre disappoints with his second novel Ludmila's Broken English. I was damn impressed with Vernon God Little, touted, fittingly, as one of the most remarkable novels of the past decade, and I didn't think twice to buy when I chanced upon Ludmila's Broken English. I believed it would make my weekend. Few pages into it, it was clear that this isn't quite up there where Vernon God Little belongs.

When you make it to the Man Booker prize with your first work, it's quite a task to even match up to it with your second work. But Pierre showed that promise. Only, it didn't work out quite. He cannot be dismissed on that account nonetheless. Liz Jensen puts it good - "For fans of Pierre's first novel, and I am one of them, the result cannot be anything but dismaying. Perhaps this failure was pre-programmed: the second novel is a notoriously difficult beast. How much more so it must be for a writer who has hit the jackpot of the Man Booker on his first attempt."

When I finish with Ludmila's Broken English, I think I'll put it up on eBay.

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

30 Jun 2006

Bestselling Ideas

Posted by Oblivion in General | 9:46pm

Ideas have a significant role in shaping the world. World runs on ideas. Great ideas helped mankind, insane ideas killed millions, mediocre ideas preserved mediocrity, and dumb ideas made for good experiments. There's another category of ideas - bestsellers. These can be either one or a combination of insane, mediocre and dumb ideas (of course, there are some bestselling ideas that are great too, but they are very very few). They are effective in their appeal and can be presented in attractive packages. They gratify various needs of a population and foist a semblance of harmony, thus helping the ideas to sustain.

I'm sure there are many such ideas, but four of them, to my mind, stand out (not necessarily in the following order):
4.Income tax

These have been on the bestsellers list for centuries. Each of these is associated with shallow, but loaded, words - responsibility, morality, duty, salvation, etc. If you don't vote, you are an irresponsible citizen. Pay your taxes and file your returns and you are an 'honest' gentleman, an example for others. Question the logic of customs and virtues and you are damned. Dump God and you are banished in heaven. Marriage and morality - well, there's at least one book and a hundred articles published on this crap every week.

I find it tough to understand how these ideas have prevailed. These have worked for centuries, acorss cultures, across generations. It has worked for billions of people. But I fail to fathom the secret. It confounds me. The way I look at them, they are not good for anything except to make people neurotic. And the state of the world reflects this very obviously. However, bestsellers are amazingly shrewd - they lay the trap, they kill you slowly and they rarely fail. You feel it's a pleasant sail, because they hypnotize you to feel so. This is made easier by your preference for security. When you wake up, if at all, it's time for the grave.  

Fueled by these ideas, the world seems to have only one message for you - "be responsible, be moral, be morally responsible, be responsibly moral, get screwed for a lifetime, and be a repudiated martyr".

I wish there were a separate country for people who give up on the bestselling ideas!

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

29 Jun 2006

Hands Up

Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:48pm

Outlook goes a step further. Someone else's letter, my name, wrong format. Well!

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

20 Jun 2006

Yet Again!

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:44am

I've gotten used to seeing my name spelt wrong or in a skewed format. I thought the university chaps tried all the formats in my marksheets. Thankfully, the chaps weren't smart to mess up the formats further with some guesswork. Outlook chaps are not as dumb (if guesswork implies being smart, that is). Names are definite data, not vague. There are no right names and wrong names. Names are names, just one of the many attributes that define an identity. And I fail to understand the tendency to twist these data. This has happened 16 times out of 19! This time, I tried the shortest version possible of my name. Yet, they messed it up! If they mess up with names so much, I doubt how careful they are with their stories.

On the other hand, maybe they really are careful with stories. Maybe there are some names that are prone to 'mindhandling'. And maybe my name is among those. Whatever be, it appeals to curiosity.

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

15 Jun 2006

Innova and Me

Posted by Oblivion in General | 7:07pm

India-hater. Reader.
Loving brother. Lazy man.
Late-starter. Human.
Non-seer. Regular son.
Stroller. Crank.

So what role are you playing today?

Everyday. Many roles. No car.

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

10 Jun 2006

Solitary Bird

Posted by Oblivion in General | 4:30pm

The conditions of a solitary bird are five:
The first, that it flies to the highest point;
the second, that it does not suffer for company,
not even of its own kind;
the third, that it aims its beak to the skies;
the fourth, that it does not have a definite color
the fifth, that it sings very softly.

- San Juan de la Cruz

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: Ilaiyaraja hits
<   1    2    3    4    5    6   7    8    9    10    11    12    13    14   Next>>