Wednesday, February 27


Many of my friends and acquaintances have been getting married lately. Nothing surprising as most of them are in their mid- or late-twenties, and it is their "age" to get married. What is surprising though is how many of those girls are changing their names. The most recent one being a friend from college who changed her entire name, first, middle and last! I am no bra-burning feminist, but I cannot seem to empathize or even understand why someone would do that today.

In earlier days the reasons were simple, it is tradition to change the bride's name and you do it. No questions asked. Then when you did ask questions there were other reasons to do it - you did not want to hurt anyone's feelings, family pressure, you hated your name and could not wait to change it, romantic notions of submerging your identity with the husband's, not really caring what your name was etc. However, in today's situation I see no reason or incentive for anyone to change their entire identity. If you really hate your name that much, I shall make an exception.

Most of the girls I know and am talking of are independent, educated and working, with established identities. With marriage nothing of that changes, you still (majority of the times) continue to work, have your opinions etc. To me changing my name is giving up my identity. When my sister got married I was worried if they would want to change her name. No matter how 'modern' in outlook they were, or how unique my sister's name is. I was concerned. But not once did I assume that my sister would voluntarily want to change her entire name. She took up her husband's name but her first name is still the same.

The whole point of this rant is trying to figure out what the incentive is to change their entire name. Changing the last name does not bother me as much, as I know there are too many social issues, pressures and tradition that exists even today. It is changing the first name that really bothers me. I have been thinking about it for long enough and I am at my wits end. Expect for hating your own name, and coercion I cannot think of anything. And in the cases that I know of coercion is definitely not the reason. And the former is also doubtful. So why? Why do girls chose to change their entire name after marriage even today?

Violation or failure?

The choice of words can make a huge difference. This was reiterated again this morning when I was reading a paper on Iran. The author stressed that Iran's non-disclosure of certain nuclear reactors was a "failure" and not a "violation" of IAEA guidelines. By interpreting it as a "violation" gives the situation a different meaning (i.e. the US interpretation), when it is a "failure" on Iran's part. The distinction being made was important because so far all my readings on Iran have always conveyed a "violation" thereby affecting my interpretation and views about the issue. I agree that there is a minor distinction between the two terms, but the connotational distinction makes a big difference to the conclusion. A "violation" seems to justify sanctions, whereas "failure" makes it sound disproportional to the offense.

Saturday, February 23

An undeserving candidate

Sri Lanka's return to war pains me immensely. I do not believe that any people deserve as prolonged a struggle as the Sri Lankan people have been subject to. From what I have seen and experienced of Sri Lanka, I think that they are a normal hardworking population that can achieve great heights if given the opportunity. It is a shame to let a country as beautiful as that to be left to be destroyed by some leaders who cannot patch-up their differences.

I have some extremely fond memories of the place and people, and hope that the fighting ends soon and for good.

(A backwater lagoon in Sri Lanka)

(A beautiful stream along an everyday road.)

(A taste of Sri Lankan cuisine.)

(A view of the Indian Ocean.)

(A beach in Sri Lanka; they all are breathtakingly beautiful.)


Considering that I was not particularly excited about Five Point Someone, I am really surprised at the amount of traffic it generates for my blog. Every week I have at least two people visit my blog looking for an online version of the book. And these people are spread all over the place, the most recent one being Spain.

On a different note, a referral that surprised and brought a smile was this.

Friday, February 22

"Movies that lulled you to sleep"

Today IBNLive carries a slide-show of ten most boring movies of all times. And I am surprised by some of the names on the list viz. The English Patient (10th), Remains of the Day (7th), A Beautiful Mind (5th), and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (3rd). I have not seen the remaining six and cannot comment upon them. But these four films could easily make to my favorite films list.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind according to me is a beautifully made film with an original storyline that is engrossing. I could have never imagined Jim Carrey doing what he did in this one. I have seen it twice and not once did it bore me. The English Patient I watched late at night, and still did not fall asleep. Ralph Fiennes is amazing in the film. (I can see why he could have been chosen to play Voldemort in Harry Potter.) Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson make Remains of the Day a truly wonderful experience. As for A Beautiful Mind, I really don't understand. What surprises me the most is that half of these are award winning films! Agreed that not all nominations and awards are deserving, but about these four I have no doubt. It really makes me wonder who, and how many people vote at these polls that churn out top tens.

Thursday, February 21

A reason to test

The US has finally shot down its disabled spy satellite.

Over the last few days there has been a lot of discussion about the real motive behind the decision to shoot it down. Many, including Russia argued that shooting down the spy satellite was a pretext for the US to test its anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities. While this was consistently denied by Washington, there is enough reason to believe otherwise. Nukes of Hazard had two interesting and indept posts (here and here) discussing why shooting the satellite was not a good policy decision, and how US history belies its claims of innocent intentions. The Arms Control Wonk also carried some number crunching by Tim Gulden of the risk from the debris of the satellite.

Robert Gates' reaction to the shooting down does not leave a very good taste for me either. While what he says is true and it would be good to see China and US cooperate, Bush's missile defense policy continues to make me uncomfortable. China and Russia recently proposed a pact limiting anti-satellite weapons which the Bush government is opposed to. The concern over space debris is also not to be overlooked. When China shot down its aging weather satellite last year the international community criticized it for creating space debris and also testing ASAT capabilities. Now China is doing the same in reacting to the US. With these two countries laying the foundations, no country with capability need pay heed to any criticism and go searching for pretexts to test.

Wednesday, February 20

Now that's something!

An amazing 'pati' popped out of an obscure photograph today,

"Amhi 1by 2 karat nahi, vicharu naye."

Tuesday, February 19

Lessons in deterrence

I don't believe I am saying this, but a 'mangalsutra' actually has deterrence value!? Over the last six months of wearing one I have sensed how the previous 'gazes' abruptly stop at the neck. But what made me write this is when someone not only stopped at the neck, but also put on an extremely guilty face and walked away almost ashamed! All this makes no sense given the fact that back home a 'mangalsutra' does not stop people from ogling. So what's different here?

Monday, February 18


Very interesting.

Not another review

A lot of time and space has already been devoted to the review and discussion of Jodha Akbar, and there is nothing different for me to add to it. Overall my verdict of the film is the same as most others, its too long and slow; you should watch it to see Hrithik and Rai look beautiful, and admire the jewelry. With that I shall spare you another account of the film and simply make a few observations and comments.

I am not a Hrithik or Rai fan, and so the entire purpose of watching the film was reassuring myself that Ashutosh Gowarikar is not turning into a Sanjay Leela Bhansali. And though for a large part he has not, there are scenes where I was disappointed. SLB is a good filmmaker and I did like his Khamoshi and Black, but he does things which I did not want the maker of Lagan and Swades to do. And yet in one particular scene I couldn't help say aloud that he is doing a SLB. The shot where Hrithik and Rai are sword fighting and yards of beautiful red material fall upon her and she struggles with was just like that part in Devdas when she fights a bug or thing in her bed as SRK watches from the sides. You don't do such things after Swades and Lagan.

The film is about Jodha Abkar and should have been restricted to it. However, AG is tempted to say a lot of things, preach, and the final product is more an 'Akbar' than a 'Jodha Akbar'. He would have done much better limiting himself to the love story. All the wooing, coochie-kooing would have seemed better then. Currently it seems more like AG was not satisfied with Hrithik playing a lovestruck king, and wanted to show him off in all other ways possible. And of course the foreplay song where you can sense the temptation to show a kiss being restrained. It did not leave a good taste, and neither did it do justice to the song.

Another thing that AG could have avoided was the Amitabh voice-over. It was too predictable and overdone. He could have used a fresh voice, Om Puri would have been good. Or even Raza Murad. Maybe it is all the media, but Amitabh did seem to be around watching and waiting to pounce on Hrithik and Rai. Atleast a different voice would have spared us that feeling.

I guess the overall film is ok and I would not discourage you from feasting your eyes on the lavish sets and costumes, and the beautiful Jodha Akbar. But go in with a lot of popcorn and soda, you will need it to keep yourself seated.