Monday, November 28, 2005

The Bill Collector

I somehow fell into this strange habit of collecting bills; when I buy some stuff, I get the bills and file them – just as souvenirs, nothing else. So, when the photo studio guy said he was not issuing any bills for the Rs 215 that I had spent in his shop, I had to choose a different option.

In fact, I tried to cajole him into issuing a bill. In turn, he gave me a couple of choices – “You either go without a bill or you pay the ‘tax’ of 12% of the amount (Rs 25.80) in excess of the ‘billed’ amount and get the bill for Rs 215”. Since I couldn’t really see why I should pay Rs 240.80 to get a bill for Rs 215 and because we couldn’t reach an agreement in the course of our discussion, I decided, as a customer, to leave my vendor satisfied and chose Option Number 1 that he proffered: To go without bill. However, I was kind enough to tell him that it might not be a well accepted gesture to point fingers to his customers whom he spoke with. He said something in return which I thought would be wise to ignore – I was in no mood to try my hand at martial arts on a Sunday morning!

However, I did choose Option number 3, without informing him - I was, after all, addicted to collecting souvenirs! As I left the studio, I clicked my camera and saved the memories associated with the studio to my system. For interested readers who are always in search of context, all this happened at “Maria Colours Lab, 4-C, Balaji Mansion, Opp. Junction Bus Stand, Madurai Road, Tirunelveli Junction, Tamil Nadu, India. Tel: +91 462 2323230" (a nice number that!). The Photo of the studio can be found here.

Now, let me clarify: The whole post is just a recount of an incident that turned me from a “Bill Collector” to a “Photo Collector”. I do not expect any public servant or social enthusiast among readers to get carried away and report it to the concerned department or any of the Tax Authorities to conduct stealth or surprise inspections at the shop to check if they really behave this way – after all, I expect readers to believe what I say here and cross checking may not necessarily be necessary. This is merely a blog and will remain one for the foreseeable future. However, I must confess, I definitely intend to visit the shop again, some day.

PS. Readers who are in a similar habit of ‘snapping’ up ‘customer-centred’ shops that are not too keen on billing the customer are welcome to drop a note to me, here. I like collecting well taken pictures, you see!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Floods? Here? You must be kidding!

It took me a moment to come to terms with what the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu was talking of, when briefing press people about the flood situations in the State, in DD News Channel (at 9:20 PM). Though I can’t recall the exact words used by her, it went something to this effect: The positive effect of the rains is that the lakes are full, the dams are full and ground water levels have risen. Within a few days, things will be back to normal.

If only the response to devastating floods from the Chief of a State can be as simple as that! The damage to crop, the property losses, the roads torn apart, the cancelled trains and the resultant hardships faced by passengers, the rail tracks that remain twisted, the eroded bridges, the buses washed off the roads, the travelers injured, the scores of them carried along the rivers, the bodies recovered and lost – they all seem to have been discounted to arrive at a net profit scenario! Yes, things will be back to normal in a matter of days. The short to medium term reality might be a better ground water situation in the state. But, is this all that a Chief has got to say about, when it’s still misery all around? It is either a dismal effort to project the Government as one which is so optimistic even in the face of such wide spread damage, a ploy to play down the severity of the situation, or it is a blatant display of utter ignorance (if not arrogance) about the scenario on the ground. In any case, it underscores the scant regard that people in power have towards the sufferings and sentiments of the affected people.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Rains wreak havoc: Tamil Nadu

Unprecedented rains continue to flood Tamil Nadu and cost lives. Cuddalore seems to be the worst hit, with many more districts suffering heavily from the deluge.

Roads have been eroded and rail tracks have been mangled. Landslides have added to the damage to train traffic, with most train services to Southern Tamil Nadu suspended. Lakes threaten to give way to mounting pressures. Villages are submerged; a couple of buses are reported to have been washed away. Amidst heavy damage to property, more rains are forecast for at least two more days to come.

Water hasn’t been the source of misery on such a large scale in India in the recent past. No amount of planning could possibly have prepared the country for this fury of nature.

Drop Sachin!

Sachin has to be dropped. Yes, that’s right. He needs to be told in plain terms that he is being dropped because he doesn’t perform these days.

I am among the ardent fans of the Master and I joined the country in welcoming him back to the side, after a six-month holiday. He announced his return in style. And that’s all that I could remember of his batting in this series and the one past. For those who think a series or two may not be good enough to judge a player, that argument doesn’t hold good for Sachin. He is not among those who would take their time to find their nick. He is the most gifted of the lot in the present age and it is criminal on his part not to apply his skills. And for someone who has become larger than life, the team should be able to bank on him as a rock. Sachin has failed to deliver the goods.

Blame it on his stardom and the resultant high expectations on him, if you please – but that’s the way it is. Because even stars are human beings, and it may sometimes take a rap or even a slap to shake things up for them. Drop him now; or, if you feel he would bounce back at Mumbai, wait for one more encounter and then, drop him.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Die for it!

Time and again, this has happened. The thugs find it all too easy to eliminate the honest rather than mend their ways. Manju Nathan is the latest victim.

But, we announce that his end is not a victory for the vile. Muffling a few voices will not buy the criminals, the license to commit atrocities and get away with them. People are no longer wary of being victimized by chance – they are willing to die for their cause; and their numbers will only rise in giant waves, till the rotting filth gets drowned and is washed away!

So, to every Disciple of Truth: You are born and are destined to die one day - Die for your cause!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A Forgotten 'Cause': IIPM Revisited

To the best of my knowledge, nothing has happened when it comes to the Bloggers Vs IIPM tussle. At worst, it has been negative publicity for IIPM, limited only to the few pairs of eyes that browse through web logs.

Let’s deduct from those, the ones who happened to nonchalantly read through the posts featuring the institute, very much passively. Then, there must have been among the readers, those who are in no way related to management education, belonging to a different academic field, perhaps. Of those who joined in the protests, some seemed to have already completed their Masters in Business from other Institutes; of course, they wouldn’t consider pursuing another degree at IIPM. The Mainstream Media displayed a lukewarm response, reporting the news lethargically as if forced into action by some long-suppressed voice of conscience, to do some justice to what they owe to the society they belong to. So, the antagonist of IIPM virtually bank on “Word-of-mouth” and hope better sense would prevail among the hordes of graduates who are in a frenzy to get an MBA after their names.

I must confess I haven’t been able to spend much time of late on the blogs that were involved deep in the IIPM controversy. So, correct me if I’m wrong: Now that it well seems nothing has really been effected after all the hue and cry raised about the full page advertisements by the Institute, the whole episode merely seems to have been the result of reactions from a few IIM graduates who were obviously irked when their Institute’s name was drawn in the Ads by IIPM; and it definitely doesn’t seem a crusade, as it has come to be portrayed as, against some unscrupulous propaganda unleashed by a vicious organization, to rope in aspiring kids to pay for its courses. For, if it had really been in the cause of public good, the defenders of morality wouldn’t have stopped in their tracks of hunting the villain down, but would have walked the full lengths in bringing him to his knees.

IIPM may claim the credits for taking the sting out of the attack from blogs, initially by deploying its troops to malign the crusaders, then putting bloggers on the defensive by serving them ‘legal’ notices, and carrying on with its way of life, bothering the least about the noise around. And, it counters blogs, continuing to wield its Advertising might. All the wrong news that a prospective student would find through search engines about IIPM would be a few distorted sounds through a bunch of posts from a weird new-economy syndrome called blogs!

Did we ever have a match at all?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sania + Sex = Sensation

"Sania, Karthikeyan talk about sex!"

He: Jeez! Really? But how did you know they did?
Me: Well, they talked about it in public.
He: In public? That's dare devil. But they merely talked about sex, isn't it?
Me: How can they merely talk and do nothing about it?
He: You mean to say they talked and they did too?
Me: Of course yes. That was what the summit was for!
He: A summit? I never knew they hold summits about these stuff!
Me: Why? What's wrong with it?
He: I mean, did they just talk or do it in the summit as well?
Me: Well, they talked and asked people to practise.
He: You mean to say they preached what they practised?
Me: No, I said they preached because they are good at practising what they do.
He: Just the same. So, they have made it all official?
Me: Yes. How then would the world know of it?
He: But why should the world know that they do it?
Me: Why? The whole world already knows that they are fantastic in their stuff!
He: The world already knew that, even before the summit?
Me: Of course! They are the best and they relish what they do!
He: But that's debatable! How can you say they are the best in it?
Me: I didn't say that. The whole Nation says so!
He: Good God! But how can you compare it with the performance of the others?
Me: Simple! They rank higher than anyone else in the country!
He: WHAT? Is this being ranked as well?
Me: Of course it is! And they both top the rankings. Hey, are you leaving?
He: Yes. Let me check my ranks. I can beat them in it!

Morals of the story:
1. Anyone can wield words and leave people imagining things.
2. Never choose a heading that is misleading!

Monday, November 14, 2005

You do have a choice: Naxal Attacks

The armed forces paint a pathetic picture, of being meek and weak and of no match to the Naxalites who have pulled off a stunning success in their operation in Jehanabad!
A thousand people, committed to their causes, working in tandem in a well planned and effective attack to release their leaders is, sorry to say, amazing! It was a top-notch mission that has caught the police forces with all their pants down - the reinforcement forces seem to have got to the place of action to collect all the evidences, so that they could put together the pieces to make out what hit them! The extent to which the naxals have gone to save their leaders deserves mention!
The official machinery has always been good at condemning acts of crime and terrorism - and beating up the press! The fact is that the bad guys have just been better in their planning and execution. And there are a good number of those bad guys willing to die for their causes. So, here is your choice: Take an injection of conscience, conviction and commitment and act before it's late; or, go home, close your doors and take a nap - the naxals may eliminate you if they find you on the streets!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Tributes to Mr K. R. Narayanan

Former President K. R. Narayanan passed away on 9 November 2005. The soft spoken Diplomat's career description at the Indian Embassy website is a statement of his achievements, of how active he has been in social life.
The Hindu has paid tribute to the great man in its article, "President who defied stereotype". It was good to read of a President who assumed an active role in what is normally seen as having a limited scope for action in the political arena of the country. The most striking feature of his life was his having risen to such great heights from the humblest of backgrounds - that of a rural kid, born in a class that is socially perceived as backward, and grown up in poverty and subjected to injustices. It is typical of most places of rural India even today, that which is the untapped strength of the nation. It was only natural that such a person has come to be called a President who defied stereotype!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A personal note to my readers

I'm having to go slow on my posts; blame the circumstances. When I started this blog, I intended to keep pouring my thoughts into this space on a regular basis. And, to be honest, I did not expect this many comments from readers. The comments have been positive feedbacks, the ones that would keep bloggers going - they supported my views, questioned them, countered them and corrected me. Thank you readers, for your explicit and silent support!
On the other hand, comments have made me realise that my posts were indeed being read - and scrutinised. In effect, I was being held accountable for what I said, contrary to what I believed initially - that bloggers were accountable to none, unlike the mainstream media. And posts do create expectations - of contents, style and their frequency of being published.
So, having been enlightened with this realisation, I inform my readers that my posts might not be coming at the same intervals that they used to be - for a few days (Of late, I haven't even been reading my favourite blogs regularly). I definitely wouldn't be able to keep up with the average of more than a post a day (for those who are statistically inclined). However, I would earnestly try to being back to my original self, in as short a span as possible.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Party first, Country next!

The Congress seems to be in a hurry in packing Mr Natwar Singh off, temporarily. The ploy is simple: If it turns out that Mr Singh was indeed guilty, the party would have saved face by having acted responsibly. If Mr singh emerges innocent, no love lost, and it would take credits for having acted "due to the larger morality issue involved", to quote Ambika Soni!
Had it waited for the reports to be made available by the UN and then saw Mr Singh off on the basis of some prima facie evidence, the party might have been able to boast of having what it takes. The government appointed fact-finding team is yet to start "collecting relevant material", according to NDTV. The party's rushing into the act smacks of opportunism.
"Conviction" may be starting with "C"; not every word that starts with "C" means the same!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

External Affairs Sinister?

Paul Volcker has stolen the lime light this week. He’s been at the centre stage at the expense of big shots the world over. The most prominent of Indians among those feeling the heat is the External Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar Singh, and with him in the grill is the Congress Party!

The opposition is at its best, enjoying the warmth radiating from the heat. One wonders if the Constitution has framed standard responses to any such situation by whoever is in the opposition – an unequivocal call for resignation of those facing probes. Why else would we hear those voices that we can almost certainly expect whenever someone is being named in any report! For its part, the Congress has been busy with its blunders: announcing of its impending legal notices to the UN! Legal Notices? Are they planning to fight it out in Court? That was a knee jerk reaction, fodder for the opposition to keep chewing.

The UN ordered enquiry into allegations of foul play in Iraq whose latest in a series of reports has just arrived. Is the report conclusive? Does it indict those named? Volcker says he wasn’t aware who Mr Natwar Singh was, till a couple of days back! How then, does he claim to have communicated with all those involved, seeking clarifications on their roles? Does the UN back the report yet and give it its stamp of authenticity? At a bigger level, the UNO itself is under fire for its conception and execution of the Oil-for-Food Programme!

Questions abound; Rediff says Government is considering a probe. Issues need to be clarified from the UN before fresh probes are ordered; after all, that’s what Paul Volcker has been doing all these days!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Watch your step: Virtual Philandering

It was good to read (through Desipundit) the blow dealt to a blogger by Sonia Faleiro. It was a seemingly harmless and innocent query by a reader about Sonia’s looks; well, seemingly so! But the e-mail has offended the lady and she has hit back - in an admirably nice language.

The post has inspired a few comments (and this post) – some have backed Sonia, some have damned her. The “Damn You” group says the post was unwarranted! After all, the e-mail just asks: “. . . What do you look like?” What’s the fuss about it? It’s just curiosity and a compliment of her works! Someone cites the blogger’s works about call girls (and leaves me wondering what the context was!); someone else says the post is just the result of her blog’s success having gone to her head! Is it really just that? Is it mere curiosity and nothing else at all? Does the entire fault lie with the girl’s perception?

Yes, if I were hare-brained, I would believe so. No harassment starts with rape. Does any adult in his/ her right senses expect a courtship to begin with questions of a girl’s statistics? Of course, it has to be in polished forms such as comparisons between writings and looks – “You words are good – so has to be your looks!” That’s just what the pursuer has done. And that could just be the beginning. It looks like people would like to see offenses develop to the full proportions before they raise their voices. Harassments are never apparent but for the parties involved. The real world is a mess with perverts and voyeurs. The blog space seems lot more peaceful, with women being able to be what they want to be. Sonia has sent a strong message to everyone out here waiting for philandering opportunities – in style!
PS. I loved Sonia's photograph and tried to upload it here; wasn't successful due to some technical error. I urge readers to enjoy the photograph!
Disclaimer: Please refer to the 'Comments' section.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

India brushes Lanka aside!

India has prevailed over Sri Lanka, winning the series 4 - 0. But this win is different - it is more than a mere series win; the victory show cases the multi-dimensional performance of the team!

The four matches have seen excellence from different quarters, the rise of new stars and advances in co-ordination among the parts of the whole. In a long time, the series has not revolved around a few super stars. It’s been a dash of all colours with the flavours of a piece of art! The series marks the come back of Sachin, triumph of the new captain Dravid, the arrival at the arena of the super-charged Dhoni, the value of the patient Raina and Agarkar, commitment in the field, a lot of maturity in the batting order and the elusive key word in Indian Cricket – Consistency! If these are to be built on the existing strengths of the team, we have the ingredients of a perfect winning machine!

The Indians have just begun to taste success and relish in its fervor – the rest of the world needs to take note and brace itself for some vehement onslaught!

The Potential of Journalism

NDTV has done a good job in exposing the police. That those who are supposed to protect the vulnerable and fight for their cause can stoop so low to do something as despicable as this, needs to be carried in the front pages of news sites.

Investigations are high-risk operations in journalism here. Organizations that made sensations out of peeling the masks off people had to pay heavily later. This is a land that sees Members of Legislative Assemblies roam proudly in vehicles filled with thugs and ammunitions, in curfew-imposed territories. The powerful deem themselves accountable to none and politics is being looked upon as dirty business, with more and more of the good and the capable choosing to remain out of it.

This is just the perfect ground for journalism to rise up from run-of-the-mill operations and take on more social responsibility within its ambit. Villains of democracy must be made to feel the heat of their own deeds. Journalism is not just business – it is accountability for the corrupt, hope for the weak and a beacon for the country.