Friday, November 23, 2007

God Vs Gowda

In recent weeks, Shining India has been splattered from all sides by pigs who revel in the muck of old days. They are so comfortable romping in their swamp that it is not possible for anyone to pass them by and still stay clean.

There's the Dumbledore Vs Ministry of Magic type fantasy being played out between the AIIMS Director and Ambumani Ramadoss. Horror of horrors, unlike the children's book, the obviously egomaniac Minister will actually succeed in running AIIMS like his personal fiefdom, with the gracious support of the Official Termites of India-- Communist Parties.

Then, of course, there's the carnage in Kolkata and Nandigram led by the Termites themselves. Gnawing away at the foundations of India's most cultural and erudite State, they merrily kill and claw at ghosts of the past.
On the other hand, looking at Congress' record at using riots as a political weapon in the past, I am inclined to believe conspiracy theorists who suspect that spontaneous burning of Kolkata that caught many school-children in the crossfire was organised by Congress to avenge their humiliation by the CPM at the Centre. Hmmmm...

In the middle, there was the tiny story of Shiv Sena rioting outside SRK's house to protest against the spoof on Manoj Kumar in "Om Shanti Om (2007)". Only in India can a spoof be expected to not make fun of anyone or anything!

Finally, there is Deve Gowda and Son playing she-loves-me, she-loves-me-not with the horny as hell Yeddiurappa of the BJP. For more than 10 weeks now, the threesome have let Bangalore burn while they indulge themselves in some Power Orgy. Yeddy will bend in any direction as long as he gets to be CM-- if even for a week!!! Gowda and Son will state anything and behave anyway they want, because ultimately they only need to state their Caste and all is forgiven.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are shying away from Bangalore, the roads and power gets more dodgy by the day, there is no one to ponder over long-term solutions to new Airport access or illegal hacking of trees. The grand-old men of the city have decided the city needs a facelift to look like something out of a B-Grade Kurt Russel movie (read: Escape from LA).

The funniest part is that come elections, Gowda will defeat God and everyone who believes in his justice to emerge as a majority party in Karnataka (remember Mayawati's betrayal of BJP?). Ramadoss will go on to become Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. CPM will go on to rule another 25 years in West Bengal.

And Manoj Kumar will play the lead (with Dev Anand playing Pappu) in OSO-- The Sequel.

Airtel Narrow Minds

This is an amusing anecdote.

With all my BSNL troubles, I applied for an Airtel broadband connection in the meanwhile. This was, like, a month and a half ago. Two weeks back, an executive calls me and asks if I need DSL at a certain address. I said, no, that is my office address. I need DSL at my home address. He said, oh, I will ask the executive of that area to call you back.

Yesterday, another executive called back. He asked if I needed DSL at a certain address. I said, no, that is my office address. I have applied for DSL at home which-- despite what companies would wish-- is still not the same location as office. He said that area has no feasibility. I said, I know. That was the case 3 years ago as well. I just took a chance that in 3 years, Airtel would have attempted at penetrating more of the city rather than merely squeezing more out of existing customers. After all, isn't that the reason the government is wary of letting private sector rule the roost? That they will merely focus on a minority that is profitable and lose sight of rural-obligation or wide penetration.

He said, yeah whatever. Then he added, but sir, if you want at the certain address I can come and fill the forms now!

With morons like these representing the best Indian firms, I wonder how far the Indian success story will last?

On a related note, I have been so disappointed with India's answer to Fry's and Circuit City. Everytime I go to eZone, the electronics super store by Big Bazaar guys, I leave without buying anything. Yes, they stock well and cost less-- which is what will make them successful in India. But they staff so poorly that the "fun" of discussing technology with an expert before buying some high-tech gadget is lost. They do nothing more than point to the items, after reading the labels as if its the first time they've been to the shop!

In the race to be low-cost and high-profits, we are losing out on developing a professional, smart bunch of workers. In the long run, what our large population needs are motivated, driven people and not merely zombies manning McJobs.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Daddy Day Care

Our son is now Three Months Three Weeks Old

It is almost a year since the cold winter day my wife jumped onto the bed and sang, "Samjho ho hi gaya... waah waah waah..." to the tune of Lage Raho Munnabhai. She was referring to the positive home-pregnancy test and I was waiting groggily for my morning coffee. Half a day later, the doctor confirmed it. Half a week later, it sunk in. Golly Gee Whiz! I am gonna be a DADDY!!!

I would look at her and wonder, the baby is going to come out in 9 months. Who the hell waits THAT long for something great to happen? How do people ever manage to live through NINE whole months of waiting? How can something we are happy today for, happen actually 40 weeks from today?!

And then, I was waiting in the Doctor's lobby while he rushed in to manage the labor. It took him 15 minutes and still no news. How do people survive that one hour (or two? or ten?) from labor to delivery? It was 20 minutes and I panicked so much. At 25, I sms'd my mom to please pray. At 30, I made all sorts of deals with God if only he made sure everything went smooth. 45 minutes later, all deals forgotten, I was staring unspeaking, unemotional and unsurely at a wrinkled bundle of flesh that the nurse claimed: "Baba zhaala aahe".
This is it? This is what I am expected to love for the rest of my life?

Then he blessed us with a smile. Bouncing, kicking and occassionally crying. Gripping a finger tightly in all his fingers. Drooling away to glory. Revelling in the wet bed sheets. Poking us with those bright beaming eyes. And smiling suddenly. At Three Months Three Weeks, one year from the day he was "announced" by Circuit (the Singing Mom), Kabir has become the "bundle of joy" and "miracle of birth" that we were told to expect. The joy of beholding him far exceeds anything I could have imagined-- both good and bad. I am so glad his mom took advantage of me, that rainy anniversary night.


Yesterday, his day-care nanny started work.

This is like the biggest milestone yet. This is the lady who will be his world for the next, hopefully, year or so. This is the lady who will love him like we do, care for him and teach him so much! It is a scary thought. And yet, it is inevitable. On one hand, we are glad he will learn to become independant and strong from an early age. On the other, we fear like all parents do-- is this the right thing to do? Will she manage fine? Will he be safe?

Will he be happy?

I think so. After all, he is a chip off the ol' mom. She has the uncanny talent to stay happy and make others feel happy. He's got it made!!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Vote Bank of India

I happened to watch one of these toxic "reality TV" shows at my parents' house recently. This one was a national talent hunt. In the last couple of years, the hunt for raw-talent has suddenly turned into a "Survivor" type elimination battle! Now the best singer is someone who can use the right gimmicks and emotions to win SMS votes from the audience, not necessarily someone validated by the panel of judges on technical parameters of sur and taal.

I don't care what they do on the show, really. What amused me was that we keep criticising politicians for playing dirty vote bank politics all the time. They appeal to the caste, religion, region or even language of their constituency to win elections despite record of visiting the village only once in 5 years and having no development projects to their credit. We blame all of India's problems on their "greed" for votes and apathy towards the "big picture".

Armchair democrats found it easy to ask politicians to win votes based on "pure merit". We all claimed that had it been in our hands, we'd think about national interest and not self-promotion. Vote patterns in these shows tell a different story. This is not even subtle-- the contestants openly appeal to their region/caste to "bhaari sankhya mein support deejiye"!

Every week, Amritsar doesn't care if the singer is off-key, as long as he is a Sardar. Nasik doesn't care if the voice grates, as long as she comes from Maharashtra. People will organise collection drives in remote villages of Bengal, to bulk-sms votes for their "needy" singer. The Lingayats don't care if total development stops in Bangalore and governance becomes a joke--- as long the CM is not a Vokkaliga. Where's the difference?

The minute the common man of India has the opportunity to earn a vote, he goes all out to win them on the basis of caste, religion, region, language and even "meri maa bahut beemar hai, agar mujhe votes nahi mile toh woh mar jaayegi" type sympathy-waves! What is worse, it works and people do vote on these lines! Everyone happily calls this Patriotism.

The stakes are much lower on a TV show, but do we prove ourselves any better to "Lead India"?

Thanks to Alka Yagnik & Co., I am beginning to believe the adage I debated viciously earlier: People get the Government they Deserve...