Tuesday, December 11

Shooting inside Gurgaon school

Please we don't want this one from the US!

I don't know how or what to react. After the Virginia Tech shooting incident I had heaved a sigh of relief that school shooting and stuff don't happen in India. At least not to my knowledge. And now this. I surprise myself, but I guess the immediate reaction I have (and something I have never said or used before) is ..... WTF!

Sunday, December 9

Sunday irony

I have been having increasing instances of difficulty with falling asleep. And after a really bad instance last night, I chance upon this story in today's TOI. "Educated women sleep better than men. Ironic? Or rather balach!

Friday, December 7

The energy story

I recently attended a talk on the 'Future of India's Energy Security', and came out with a distinct impression that the Indo-US nuclear deal would not revolutionize the energy sector, and could be a high cost to pay for the proliferation regime. Though the speaker Parmit Pal Chaudhuri, Washington, DC correspondent for Hindustan Times did not say so explicitly, the facts and figures he quoted pointed in that direction.

Today India’s economy is growing at nine percent, whereas energy production has increased at only 5% over the last couple of years. To sustain its economic growth, energy production would have to increase five to seven fold over the next 25 years. According to Chaudhuri a transformation of market forces in the energy sector would be crucial for this. He touched upon the four major energy sectors, laying out the shortcomings in each and the areas that demand change. With the poorest track record and the biggest potential, the coal sector seemed to define the critical condition of the energy sector.

This sector is the most important sector contributing to more than half of India’s energy requirements, and the biggest contender for reform. Unless there is significant reform in the coal sector, other energy reforms would be meaningless. The coal sector is highly inefficient, overstaffed, with poor cost effectiveness and is referred to as the coal mafia in the prime coal producing states of Bihar and Jharkhand. Almost 40% of the coal mined is stolen in transit between the mine and the consumer. In spite of having the fourth largest coal reserves in the world, India is one of the net coal importers due to the inefficiency of the coal industry, and lack of new exploration efforts. There is an urgent need for large efforts at explorations and overall reforms in the culture of the coal industries.

Next in line is Oil. India imports 70% of its oil and it is expected to grow to almost 90% in the next 20 years. The biggest irony of the sector is that it is taxed at very stage and finally subsidized for the consumer. The subsidy burden is estimated to be around $10 billion. However, the huge import bills are partially offset by the export of processed petroleum products, particularly to Iran. Overseas equity purchases in oil are poor, as the nationalized oil companies cannot afford them after running losses due to the tax and subsidy policies.

A silver lining to this sorry state of affairs is the gas sector. It has the highest potential to change the energy profile of India. It is estimated to supply almost 20-25% of the energy in the next 20 years. The sector is witnessing the biggest market reforms, with a large number of private companies participating. It also has the least number of mass based interest groups involved that could dampen the reforms. 96% of India’s gas comes from Qatar alone. It is imported through the sea route, which would continue to be the main transport route as ships get bigger and the shipping costs decrease.

The growth in the nuclear sector is subject to increased fuel and capital inflow. The Indo-US nuclear deal would be instrumental in lifting restrictions on the fuel aspect. While the amendments to the Atomic Energy Act would allow private firms to enter the nuclear power industry and reducing the capital problem. However, Chaudhuri does not think that it would be a prominent contributor to the energy requirements in the near future. Through my readings so far I had gathered that the Indo-US nuclear deal, if successful, would considerably help the generation of electricity. Though I was not expecting any dramatic changes or a sudden reduction in dependence on oil, the strategic benefits of the treaty gave it a different appeal. The proliferation concerns seemed to take a backseat. However, listening once again to how the nuclear energy sector would not transform the energy sector brought me back to the reality of the proliferation risks it would pose. But that is a matter for another post.

Coming back to the talk, Chaudhuri emphasized the success of the wind power sector as a promising sign for renewable energy. Wind power is one of the largest renewable energy sectors in India, but has to depend upon subsidies for efficiency. It has shown the greatest potential so far with private players being active in the field. On the other hand the solar energy sector has a lot of potential but cannot be harnessed efficiently unless there is a technological breakthrough to reduce costs. Chaudhuri believes that biofuel as an option would end in a few years, due to its direct association with increasing food prices worldwide.

He was also very critical of the electricity distribution system and said that on an average an Indian company has to pay almost 80% more than what any company in China pays for electricity. Distribution is a politically sensitive issue and reforms are slow to come. Electricity theft is probably the single largest issue and needs to be addressed for any real reforms in the area. He also talked of how big hydroelectricity projects have taken a backseat after the Narmada project fiasco. Though smaller local projects mostly in Uttaranchal, Sikkim and other hilly areas continue to harness the hydroelectric potential. Private firms are entering the sector and have struck deals for projects in Nepal.

On the Carbon emission debate Chaudhuri was of the view that so long as carbon emissions and economic development are a zero sum game, developing countries cannot be expected to agree to reduce carbon emissions. It is also a politically infeasible option for them. In India the use of biomass as fuel is one of the important contributors to emissions. With poverty levels decreasing, the switch to LPG as a primary domestic fuel would decrease the emissions.

Overall the energy story came out looking rather dismal, and in urgent need of path breaking reforms to sustain India’s economic growth.

Mobiles and tumors

I thought this correlation was rubbished years ago. The study says that the "risk of developing a parotid gland tumour is nearly 50% higher for frequent mobile phone users -- more than 22 hours a month." Though such tumors are non-cancerous and only lead to an increase in size of the gland, some could be cancerous.

I am sure most of us spend more than a day a month talking on the cell. And then we just started a few years back. How about the next generations who use the cell right from high school? Those whose livelihood depends upon these cellphones? A 50% higher risk could translate into a real big number. So are my days numbered?

Monday, December 3

Ahmedinejad vindicated

Now the US intelligence agencies believe that Iran is "not likely to have enough highly enriched uranium to build a bomb until 2010-2015." The program apparently ran into technical problems after making significant headway in 2007 by installing gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium. The same report mentions that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003 due to "international pressure." And yet the US National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley thinks that the reports findings confirm that "the US was right to be worried about Iran's nuclear ambitions."

For all the good that this finding might do, it puts the ball in Ahmedinejad's court. He has been asserting that Iran is not making a bomb, this reports simply vindicates him. There is nothing stopping him from saying "I told you so!" It makes Ahmedinejad look like the 'truthful' one. It can lead one to believe that his anger against the US is well-placed, justified.

I think I just pity Bush? Not only are his ratings abysmal, it is getting increasingly difficult to tell when he is lying and not.

Update: Iran's reaction - "Iranian state TV hailed the report as a "victory". It said Iran was "honest" and had been "vindicated", while it said the report demonstrated flaws in US intelligence."

Wednesday, November 28

The 'nuclear plot'

I think this would be a good story to look out for. With so much concern over the possibility of nuclear material being sold to terrorists, it would interesting to see how the media picks up on the alleged attempt at sale of nuclear material. Where did they get it from? Who were their potential buyers? Or probably it is just a hoax and the concluding piece is as small as this one.

Update: The Nuclear Threat Initiative gives a list of trafficking incidents so far.

Wednesday, November 21

Wednesday, November 7

On Pakistan

There has been a lot of criticism of Musharraf’s recent imposition of emergency. Or as I prefer a self-coup following in the tracks of men like Napoleon and Alberto Fujimori. Many have raised concerns over the increased activity in Pakistan’s eastern province, the possibility of increased terrorist activity through Pakistan affecting the war on terror, and a fear of instability in a nuclear-weapon state with a poor non-proliferation record. We have had columnists writing about Musharraf’s defiance of the US, and Bush’s inability to control him. They talked of looking at the reality of Pakistan and reviewing the arms aid ascending since 9/11.

C. Raja Mohan also asked India to take the opportunity to help Pakistan and improve relations. Though he makes a sound argument and I agree that it would be a prudent think to do, I do have some doubts. I am skeptical of the maturity of our relations. What happened with Indira Gandhi’s offer then could happen now. We might want to help, but is Pakistan ready to take it? Will they interpret it as help, or unnecessary interference with intentions of destabilizing or capturing Pakistan? In an ideal world our help would result in better relations with Pakistan, but there is nothing ideal when it comes to Indo-Pak relations. As much as I would love things to improve, I doubt if this is the right time and the right man to do it.

On a different note, T. R. Andhyarujina talks of how this coup is to check the courts. I agree with him. So how do we interpret this; a possibility of democracy in Pakistan due to an activist judiciary? Or another coup, only this time by the judiciary?

Tuesday, November 6


Today's TOI carries a headline, "US arms aid review to Pak relief for India." It took me quite some time to figure out what it meant. Not untill I had read the first paragraph of the story did I read it right. It is supposed to convey 'Review of US arms aid to Pak a relief for India.' I understand the constraints of a sub-editor, but it surely does not justify this!

Tuesday, October 30

The Haitian

I find it very disturbing that a single person from Haiti could be instrumental in bringing the AIDS pandemic to the US. The BBC reports:

"With this data, they recreated a family tree for the virus, which they believe shows conclusively that the strain came to the US via Haiti - probably via a single person - in around 1969."

It raises questions about the sexual behavior of the US society. Rather about humans in general. If the general acceptance of monogamy, disdain of cheating is as widespread as it appears to be, a single person should have infected only a few dozen at the most. Even considering that his children passed it on and so forth, the person in question is believed to have entered US only in 1969. I am exaggerating no doubt, but is it really possible for a single person, or a few others from Haiti that came after him to have caused a pandemic?

I also fear if this would be used by some spiteful anti-immigration proponent to back his stance. I hope not!

Is it time up for ElBaradei?

The US has once again chosen to dismiss Mr ElBaradei's findings that there is no evidence that Iran is making a bomb. In fact it is years away from making a bomb. But the US thinks that the fact that Iran chose to enrich its own uranium instead of importing it, proves that it wants weapons.

There is no doubt that Iran, with its belligerent President Ahmadinejad is a risk to world security. We need to be vigilant of what it does with its nuclear capabilities. The recent resignation of Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Mr Larijani is disturbing as he believed in negotiating with the West to settle the issue, while Ahmadinejad considers the case closed. However, does that justify rubbishing the IAEA's findings? If ElBaradei's reports, his intelligence is fit only to be dismissed repeatedly, I see no reason why the position should exist. The IAEA could be scrapped of its duties as the nuclear watchdog of the world, and Bush appointed in its place. His intelligence is always so much more accurate!

I really fear that Bush might want to go to war with Iran. There is a lot of opposition from all possible quarters, ample evidence to prove how difficult it will be for Bush to go to war. But his Iran rhetoric is disturbing. He dismissed ElBaradei's report about Iraq, and now he doing it for Iran. I desperately want to be an optimist, but can't help fearing the worst.

Thursday, October 25

Tehelka does it again

The recent Tehelka sting operation that caught Narendra Modi’s conspiracy on tape is as appalling as it could get. The vivid descriptions of how the massacres were committed, without any remorse but instead pride make you wonder what these men are made of.

I had a talk with one of my friends about it. He was angry at the guts of those men, their inhumane killings, and the probability that the BJP would be voted to power again in Gujarat.

And then he committed the fallacy every one of us does. Castigate Islam as a religion when a suicide bomber attacks. Castigate Hinduism for what those men did. As appalled as I was by those heinous acts, I have lived my 24 years knowing Hinduism to be nothing but good. I have known about the atrocities committed by the Hindus during the riots in Mumbai, in Gujarat, the riots at the time of independence. I hated those who did it as much as I respected my religion. And when he attacked that faith my first reaction was to defend it. I asked him to not extrapolate about either Hinduism or Hindus. Because by doing so I felt like perpetrator of the crime.

He was appalled that at such a time when he was expressing his anger at the genocidal nature of those crimes, all I could think of was defend my religion. I did not jump the wagon and go Hindu bashing with him. I did not express with as much passion the anger I felt at those men. So why did I not? You might think I am being inhumane too. But do you not jump to defend if a part of your identity is attacked. The impact of the tapes, the anger my friend felt and expressed, the shame I felt that the crimes were being committed in the name of the religion I identify with, the sudden flash of similar atrocities during riots, they all attacked my sense of identity that I derived from being a Hindu. They were trying to take away an identity I did not want to give up. Most of my ideals, beliefs, actions, and ethics come from this identity. I was born and brought up in a family that believed in it with all its heart. That voted for the Janata Party and the BJP. Because of the severity of the crimes of those men, when he attacked Hinduism I wanted to protect it even more. In that one moment he had not only attacked my identity as a Hindu, but also my upbringing, my parents. It was like pointing fingers at all of us. At all those people I consider to be some of the most gentle and humane.

Probably I am taking it too far. Trying to rationalize my appalling reaction to his attack on Hinduism. But that is where the reaction came from. I would have reacted the same way if I were a Muslim and he had attacked Islam. It is not the religion that is in the wrong, it is the men who did the act. This is probably one of the easiest escapes to it all. But it is the truth. That is why it is easy for fundamentalists to gather support. They play upon the fear of possible loss of identity that people feel when their religion is attacked. It is a fact of life that most people identify themselves with some religion and put a lot of faith in it. It is no wonder that when you ask someone who they are they answer as being a Muslim, a Hindu, a Christian. They react the sharpest when that identity is attacked. It is no wonder that during riots, in spite of ample evidence of what their fellow men are doing, the Hindus back the Hindus and the Muslims back the Muslims.

If you think about any conflict situations you have been in, you will find that every time you react with anger, or get defensive it is because the other person is threatening one of your identities. Your identity as a good manager, a good wife, a righteous person… anything that you hold dear. Every time you succeed in dealing with a difficult person it is because you have someway taken away the threat to his identity. That is why almost all arguments will have someone saying things like “why are you taking it so personally?”

The Tahelka has done a good job at unmasking Narendra Modi and the BJP. They will suffer if there are midterm elections. But as my friend pointed out Modi might win again in Gujarat, due to the support for his economic policies. The perpetrators will go scot-free, even more confident that they can get as brutal as possible, as no one can touch them. Questions will be raised about India’s democracy. Where the country is heading politically and morally. How it will affect our international image. Weather we will be able to keep the Islamic fundamentalists from wanting revenge. And thanks to our short term memory, everything will be forgotten until someone again threatens our sense of identity.

Wednesday, September 26

A peek at the nuclear threat

Today's Washington Post opinion page is interesting not only for those interested in nuclear issues, but also others who would like to update themselves on the nuclear threats in general.

Monday, September 24

Scoring at ground zero

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is currently in the US where he will not only address the UN, but also speak at the Columbia University. His visit has kicked of debates and protests about what he should do, what he should visit, where he should speak, what he should speak…. While people are protesting his talk at the Columbia University, the Dean of the said University has promised to grill him about issues of human rights, holocaust, nuclear program etc.

As part of the protests, he is being banned from visiting the World Trade Center site. The reason, it would amount to violation of the scared site. Why ground zero should be considered a scared site violable by the presence of a Middle Eastern leader is not really obvious to me. For one most religious institutions and places of worship, generally considered sacred are open to everyone. Ahmadinejad has no direct proven connection with the 9/11 attacks, that could probably have helped rationalize the ban. And all he would be doing is pay his respects to the victims. This should be considered a positive sign. I have been to the site, and I would say that if anything, he should be encouraged to visit it. Before the visit I was not as empathetic to the incident or the victims as now. The visual impact of the site is huge. Probably letting Ahmadinejad experience it might help deal with Iran. It surely is a long shot, but worth it. By banning him for no apparent reason, the US is scoring no points with Iran sympathizers. If the US desires to talk sense into Ahmadinejad about abandoning Iran’s nuclear program, this action is not creating any goodwill. And goodwill is crucial at this point of time, when both US and Iran are stubborn, and the US cannot afford another war. Any option/opening that can help it score a brownie point should be grabbed by the US. At least in case of an attack, it can be used as evidence of having tried everything 'peaceful'.

But I guess the ban will continue, and so will the protests. It is time to see how Ahmadinejad does.

Tuesday, September 18

Nose stud and the works

A woman employee at the Heathrow airport was recently fired for wearing a nose stud! It is said to be a case of religious discrimination. After being outside of India for more than a year now, I realize that wearing a nose stud is more a fashion among the goras than the Indian girls I see around. Not just hippie looking undergrads, but even grown up working women. If I were the woman fired in this case, I would have loved to believe that the nose stud is now more a matter of fashion, than a matter of religion. Guess Britain is still as racially discriminating as this report suggests? Wonder why?

Thursday, June 21

Bollywood Dhamaka!

With the summer vacation in full swing, I have been on a movie-watching spree. Right from EkChalis Ki Last Local to Red Swatik, I watched them all. (Online, of course!).

So after the two consecutive disappointments, I was really hoping for some good entertainment, and Ek Chalis Ki Last Local does do that. It entertains. It is a stupid film, that you don't need to take your brains to. But like all those Govinda-David Dhawan films, it does entertain. In fact I also like Abhay Deol in it. I sincerely think that Abhay Deol is bearable just because I haven't seen him dance yet, and because he is not the regular Deol 'he-man'. But yes, he does look extremely dumb. On the contrary Neha Dhupia looks the 'he-man' here (rather always!) The remainder of the cast, music, etc is good enough and I wouldn't mind recommending it to someone who really wants to laze around, and give his brains a well deserved rest.

But if you don't want to do that, then you should watch Provoked time only! Provoked is a must watch. Its been done beautifully, with all the actors fitting perfectly into their character. Except for Ms . It has everything, right from a cause to Aishwarya Rai! Being based on a real-life story, it evokes a lot of sympathy and anger. Domestic violence is an issue that needs serious thought and remedy. It needs us to raise our kids to respect women. But foremost it also needs some stringent measures to deter the perpetrators, to provide relief and voice to the victims. However, more of it later. Now its Bollywood time! Provoked is a must watch! Its been done beautifully, with all the actors fitting perfectly into their character. Except for Ms Rai. Of course she has done a brilliant job, and for a change she is not her usual Miss World self, but a woman victimised. I would think this is one of her best performances so far. But then, she being herself, it is difficult for a viewer to not look at her as Ms Rai. Her presence makes the film seem a little unreal. A lesser know actress might have made a difference. Or for that matter Nandita Das would have been wonderful in it too. But then one needs to sell the film, attract the crowds, without which the message, the story would be better untold. And that, Ms Rai does well. With due credit to her performance, it is her stardom that overshadows, that makes you want to see the film. I knew the story, I saw it to see why Ms Rai is in it!

And then I decided to see her dad-in-law. In Cheeni Kum. The film is simple and sweet, though it did get a little irritating whenever the 'sexy' kid came up, or when Paresh Rawal went on a Satyagraha. I thought that Satyagraha business was a bit to far fetched, and did not add anything to the film. Instead a nicely thought out debate between Amitabh and Paresh Rawal would have been much better. When Amitabh does his final speech, and enumerates the reasons why the dad wouldn't want his daughter to marry him, the whole issue gets frivolous. The movie till then had raised my expectations much higher than that. Of course the part till then is good. The witty dialogues between Tabu and Amitabh are really well written, and both play them out as if second nature. The screenplay deserves kudos. It builds the two characters beautifully, who I doubt would have been as strong without it. Tabu looks very elegant, and fits the role to the T. Their chemistry is also good, and one can feel it increasing in tandem with the increased attraction between the two in the film. Overall, a sweet film that put a smile on my face.

And because I don't want that smile to go away, I shall not tell you a word about Red Swastik. Or rather, I should well tell you three words about it , Don't watch it!!!

Tuesday, May 29

kaphi kafi nahi

I don't think I can get myself to drink that coffee!

Mistaken identity

It pains to read stuff like this. Reading all this I wonder why the Nazi association continues to be so strong.

Having grown up in a normal Indian Hindu family, associating the swastik with something negative is so difficult. It is one of the basic symbols of everything mangal. A primary rangoli design, so easy and meaningful. I remembers hundreds of instances where my mom would have said, "don't bother with an elaborate design now, even a swastik is enough." All those advertisements for real estate, insurance, paints, banking, tourism... deriving maximum mileage from the meaning that the swastik conveys.

The swastik has so much more life and history other than the brief infatuation by the Nazis. I really hope this misuse ends!

Friday, May 25


Till a few days back I was almost chocking with ideas to write about. But there was hardly any time. And now, I have all the time in the world, and there's vacuum!

Monday, May 21

Just another disappointment

And while we are at making illogical films, I have a few questions about TaRaRumPum.

1. What were they thinking when they styled Rani Mukherjee in the first half?
2. Who in the world gets away speeding on NYC lanes at that!!! speed, without getting killed, or even a ticket!?!
3. How much does an F1 champion, reigning king earn? Just enough to go bankrupt in a year!?
4. What was Rani doing while Saif was recuperating? A zero bank balance!!!
5. Why did Rani (intellectual as her father claims she is) not complete her degree?
6. If Saif is spending away money, what is she as his wife, the miserly-rich-kid-future-planner doing?
7. Why are kids in films always so stupid?

If anyone can answer these reasonably well, I might actually say that the film is OK.

28 weeks later

Pretty much as per tradition, I went out for a movie to celebrate semester end. With a friend from India down here for a while, it was intended to be even more exciting. I was intending to see Spidy 3, but as he had seen it already, we went in for '28 Weeks Later.' And for the first time in my life I left a theater half way through the film.

The film in short, is disgusting. There is nothing but a lot of blood, screaming, loud music, and stupid irrational behavior. The film shows a part of Britain infected with a 'rage virus' that makes people go around mad with rage, killing each other in some of the most gruesome ways possible. The film begins with a few people in a darkened house, hiding from the infected people. But somehow the infected manage to get into the house, and then a rampage, after which the kind of lead guy escapes. Then you have Britain being quarantined, and NATO forces coming in and doing the disaster management/reconstruction and rehabilitation. After that people are gradually brought back in small numbers. 28 weeks later, a couple of kids of that escaped man arrive. They find out their mother is dead, and so steal away to their old home beyond the restricted area, to get her picture. They manage to break through the security, which is elaborate with cameras, men atop buildings with guns, helicopters, barbed wires et al. They actually find a two-wheeler with petrol in it that can run! And they do reach home and there they find their mother! Alive even after being attacked and infected! How she survived for 28 weeks is a mystery. Thankfully they are caught and taken to the restricted area, the mother tested, and quarantined. But the father, has access cards for the building and manages to reach his wife. And then like a grown up man who's seen the 'rage', been luckily saved from the out-to-lynch-crowd, knows that the virus transmits through blood and saliva, readily kisses his wife!!! At this point for the first time at a film here, I actually heard a disappointed unanimous "come-on-man" from the audience. For me the director had lost it at that point.

After that as you would expect he gets the virus and runs around killing people, first his wife of course, as gruesomely as possible. I don't know much ahead because we left. I was totally disgusted, and nauseous. Unless you can stand goriness and blood, and enjoy irrational behavior just for the sake of inducing more goriness, go ahead and watch the film. Its made for you.

Wednesday, April 25

What if?

The Iraq war seems to have turned into a never ending story. What was meant to be a quick-fix-and-out-:), has become a quick-fix-and-out-?? I can imagine myself during my journalism days, of days when you just don't seem to see any story anywhere. With Iraq there would never have been a dearth of stories...experts' interviews, first hand experiences, Indian perspectives, changes in discussions in political science classrooms, probable changes in the international affairs/foreign policy syllabus to make Iraq and the war on terror a permanent feature of it, Iraq quizes for supplements, astrological advise for Iraq, Bush etc etc.

All these readings and discussions about Iraq got me wondering what if instead of sending in troops and actually invading Iraq, the US had conducted one of its covert operations in regime change? What if with their superior intelligence capacities, their secret agents and stuff they had tried to get rid of (read secretly killed) Saddam and his aides? What if they had managed a traditional coup? What if they had negotiated and flexed some muscles to contain Saddam's 'intentions'? I think I should just assume that after considering the various options, the better experienced and knowledgable US policymakers thought that direct intervention is their best bet. In fulfilling their duties towards their people and the world at large, they did their best. I wonder if anyone of them said, "War! karma majha!"

Tuesday, April 10

What next?

March 24: UN Security Council passes resolution on stricter sanctions on Iran to back off its nuclear intentions.

March 25: Iran captures 15 British soldiers for ‘illegally entering Iranian waters.’ Criticizes the West for sending ‘mothers with toddlers’ in the combat zone to be captured by the enemy.

April 5: All 15 soldiers released as ‘Easter gift.’

April 9: Iran celebrates Day of Nuclear Technology. Announces plans to produce nuclear fuel on ‘industrial scale’

However, there have hardly been any drastic announcements of punishing Iran after it announced it nuclear intentions. Did the hostage drama really have such an impact in convincing the West to mind its own business? Or is it the silence before the storm?

Tuesday, April 3

In a free world.......

.....beware! if you have TB, you might land up in jail.

Wednesday, March 28


The Saudi King Abdullah has been a long friend of the US and specifically the Bush family. However, recent events seem to indicate a decline in relations. He not only canceled a dinner with Bush scheduled for mid-April, but also slammed the US occupation of Iraq as illegal. Coming from an ally in the Middle East, it surely isn't good news for Bush, who is said to have been isolated.The Iraq war is also under increasing criticism, and the tune has changed from 'going-in-was-right-was-messed-up-later' to 'going-in-was-a-mistake-in-itself'.

Uparwala deta hai to chappar fadke deta hai!

Sunday, March 25

Never knew we had one

This article came as a surprise. I had no clue we had a war manual. And never expected it to be lying there non updated for 15 years!

Thursday, March 1

Clarification needed

Can someone please explain what exactly does this mean?

In the first part it says that India proposed the inclusion of 'descent'. And later on it says that the UN is charging India with racism. What???

Tuesday, February 27

My first ...like ...rambling

Apart from the general irritation and torture of sitting through Dhoom 2, one of the things that had irritated me, and quite a few others was Ashiwarya Rai going about saying 'like'! "Suhani like.....", this like and that like, like they where paying her by the word. In all my naivety I had exclaimed, "Who in the world talks like that?!"

Now after six months in the US, amidst students of all size and variety I have the answer. And if Aditya Chopra has been here for a month or more at a stretch, I wouldn’t blame him for what he has written. (Poor soul, God bless him!) People here actually use those many likes in their sentences!!! Like for example, today in the bus for all the 40minutes that it takes, two American guys were blabbering away to glory with like being used at least 40 times! And early morning when you were really hoping to sleep more, this can get on your nerves. It did on mine. I have been trying to overlook and not be irritated by this ‘like’ mania, but I have my thresholds. Everyday, more than half of the English sentences I hear have a like in it. And more than half of the times it is totally uncalled for. I don’t understand how that like helps the sentence. On any given day I listen to stuff like “You know like (pause) I got a like call from her…….and she was like so excited…and I was like what…….!”

Language influences in terms of developing an accent are not new. Though I seriously think that if you don’t want to get one, its difficult to get an accent. For me developing an accent was never a concern. Now I do worry though that by the time I go home in summer, I am going to like start talking like these people here. And end up irritating myself, and also like those around me especially my brother, who needs no reason to like pull my leg, and C, about whom the less said the better.

Thursday, February 22

Celestial bonding

What happens when a dark and handsome someone enters a girl's life? And make it smart, fast, easy to get along with, and totally dedicated towards your needs and expectations! Seems too good to be true, does it? Well, but it is true. This someone has recently become a part of my life. And suddenly things seem so much more better and livelier. Not that I had a dull or boring life before. But then "jadoo hai nasha hai..."

Now for those who know me, this does not mean that C is out. How can he? after all he introduced me to this someone. And he likes this one too. They exist cordially. They might not be the best of friends, but my ever-so-generous C has graciously accepted not just the presence, but also the significance of this one in my life. And why will he not, when this one keeps me amused, entertained, engrossed especially during C's office hours. Infact as someone who refuses to put up any personal pictures on the web, C's agreed to let me put up mine with this one!

So before C gets any second thoughts I better be off for that special photo shoot with him, Toshiba Satellite!

Tuesday, February 20

Alas in wonderland......

Recent discussions of global warming and the “warmest summer ever” had started to bore me. There was nothing else anyone would talk about, not even my parents. I was desperately hoping for a serious change of weather talk, when last week the University closed down for one and a half days due to inclement weather! Since then I have been listening to stories of those two days. And I have one of my own too.

On the second day of the closure, my roommates and I decided to make productive use of the holiday and went out shopping. Being our first experience of real snow and bad weather, I don’t think we were particularly prepared for what came next. And even the one who has been here longer, and knows what might happen found the idea too tempting to think otherwise. So dressed in our Eskimowears we stepped out.

The first stop was supposed to be our beloved and then the parking. Five minutes in the cold and we decided it was better to change course and visit the parking first. We managed to locate the car, only because she had dared to bare partially. But then forcing her to let go off her brand new snow-white overcoat was a tad too difficult. After around an hour of scrapping, shoveling, pushing, and even kickboxing the snow, we managed to get on road. By that time it had started getting dark and we made a quick visit to the lake. It was awesome. Almost completely frozen, it looked magnificent! Two of us dared to get closer, while the other two stayed backed to shout caution. After what seemed like ages in Antarctica, we finally plodded back to the car.

The shopping was as eventful as grocery shopping could be. Once again content that we had shopped wisely, saved money and spent only an hour, we smugly started back home.

Now we don’t really have a parking permit. She parks in the visitors’ parking regularly. But that day we decided to risk it and were looking for parking places in the regular parking area. After all, why would anyone tow you away in such weather. A couple of empty spots raised our hopes, but we soon learned why they were empty. And learned the hard way. Trying to park at one spot, we got ourselves stuck. The car would move neither forward, not backwards. She tried doing all that she could sitting in the car, but to no effect. The only option was to get out and clear the snow to allow passage.

And so began the struggle of three 'strong' girls to move a car sticking deeper in snow. We once again scraped, shoveled and kicked the snow, add pushing and at a point even partially rocking and lifting the car. Thankfully a helpful neighbor, either concerned or completely irritated by the noise of skidding tyres, came down to help us. He gave us tips and tacts to make it move. Finally even he gave up and decided that the best thing to do is pick and push it out. So now we were four girls and one man struggling. (Its funny how attractive struggles are to men!) At the end of the one hour ordeal, we were four girls and five men pushing the car. Finally we did manage to get the car out and running , parked it at a safer location and labored our way back through the snow with loads on numb hands and minds.

Tuesday, January 23

Charmed !

With everyone complaining of an expectionaly warm winter, I had lost all hopes of experiencing my first snow this winter. But this Sunday Snow-white descended in all her glory into my little warm world. At around two in the afternoon, tiny snowflakes started drizzling and began a day full of fun. It was the first snow for my friends too and we decided to make the most of it. In about two hours the intensity of the snow and our excitement had escalated. Dressed in Eskimo-wear we trotted towards the lake. We felt, clasped, threw, and ate snow. It was one of the most beautiful sights ever. The soft sparkling white path, canopy of bare trees, tinges of brown peeping out, a mild grey-blue sky, a rippled lake as if shivering in the cold, ducks with snow on their backs wading peacefully through the ice cold water.............gorgeous!

(Pix: Divya & Bala)

The path to the lake

The first glimpse of the lake

The ugly ducklings transforming?