Being published

I feel happy to share with you that the last two issues of Friday Gurgaon, a weekly newspaper in Gurgaon, have featured my articles. Here are the links to the two articles in the online version of the paper:

http://www.fridaygurgaon.com/news/5808-Licence-to-Learn.html

http://www.fridaygurgaon.com/news/5792-lies-damned-lies-and-elections.html

Regular readers of this blog will recognise these two as modified (and edited) versions of articles published on the blog.

Friday Gurgaon is also open to continue assessing future submissions for publishing :-)

Another article was published in Unhinged, an online satire magazine, a few days back. Here is the link:

http://unhingedmagazine.com/2015/02/the-good-that-men-do/

An interesting thing I have noted is that both Friday Gurgaon and Unhinged have embellished the article/s with images. My articles are always only prose, except, where the article is about an image of some sort, like traffic signs. Perhaps time to consider including suitable images, though I think addition of images limits imagination. Not sure if that last sentence made any sense. Will welcome views on inclusion of images with articles.

Lies, damn lies, and elections

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of resorting to funding through illegal means…who has accused the BJP of irresponsible behaviour by taking credit for events they had nothing to do with, like reduction in fuel prices…who has accused the AAP of behaving irresponsibly while in government…who has accused Congress of failing to protect the honour and dignity of women when in power…who has accused BJP of inadequate political strength in the state as they had to parachute a Chief Ministerial (CM) candidate from outside the party…who has accused AAP of diversionary tactics as they have no substance…who has accused BJP that black money has not come back despite it being a national election promise made by them last year…who has accused AAP and the entire sub-caste to which the CM candidate belongs as being anarchists…who has accused BJP of unfairly tarnishing the image of a peacable and industrious community…who has accused AAP of making false promises and misleading people…who has accused BJP of tampering with voting machines that will be used in the elections…who has accused Congress of mismanagement of local affairs in their long reign…who has accused the BJP leader, also the country’s Prime Minister, of wearing expensive foreign clothes made in UK despite their “Make in India” call to the nation and the world…who has accused them right back of wearing expensive foreign clothes themselves and, to add insult to injury, expensive shoes as well…who has accused BJP of treating the Northeastern people as immigrants and, further, not being able to distinguish between Nagaland and Mizoram…who has accused AAP of trying to stay in the limelight through dubious means, and misleading and being negative as per old habit…who has accused BJP’s CM candidate of sourcing funds from abroad for her NGO without revealing the source…who has accused Congress of taking the people for granted during their years in power…who has accused BJP of portraying Mahapurush (Great Man) Anna Hazare as deceased…who has accused AAP of immaturity by politicising a routine political insult and failing to understand the metaphor…who has accused BJP of being in cahoots with industrialists, particularly the ones whose surname end with “ni”…who has accused Congress of being anti-development…who has accused AAP of forming a united front with BJP to wipe out their ideology…who has accused BJP of hiding the reasons why their CM candidate was removed as DIG (Deputy Inspector General) of Mizoram, Goa and Chandigarh…who has accused AAP of wasting public money by not joining forces without pre-conditions with BJP after the last elections leading to re-elections within a year…who has accused BJP of being inconsistent and issuing an advertisement that does not mock AAP…who has accused independent survey agencies being motivated by narrow commercial interests, especially if their results predict a loss for BJP…

Phew! I don’t know if this will qualify as the longest sentence written. It is certainly the longest written by me. Politics does this to you. Enables you to overcome your self-defined limits and reach beyond. Boldly go where you have not been before.

I hope by now you are pretty clear what each party stands for and what their strengths are.

At any rate, I am sure we are all clear what the other parties stand for and what their weaknesses are.

Delhi state elections are scheduled for the 7th. Results will be declared on the 10th. Campaigning gets over on the 5th (today). I will need something strong tomorrow to replace this excitement.

Get the picture?

My teenage son, who has just been through with the Student Body elections in his school, and watching news channels on TV with me cover the elections , seems to have an unasked question on his lips, “But why does our school tell us that we cannot malign other candidates?”

FAMOUS LAST WORDS. This post originally 4/12/13. Let’s have fun today and add yours. Interactive smiling day

Ankur Mithal:

Deviating from the cartoons he usually posts, here is a delightful collection of “Famous Last Words” from one of my oldest blogging friends that I enjoyed reading and that, I think, my readers might also like. I must add, though, that I could not place a few of the “famous” people.

Originally posted on I Know I Made You Smile:

Napoleon Napoleon

Socrates Socrates

3 words4 words

View original

Con-science

Do you want more evidence?

The words were spoken calmly. Each syllable clearly standing out, much like the character of Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies enunciating his lines, speaking to a young, disbelieving Harry. The voice was soft, barely audible. But they had the effect of a thunderclap on the listener.

A hush descended over the audience.

“Nnnno”, came the feeble reply, as soon as he came to. But for the audience the matter had already been settled.

The speaker of “Nnnno” was a renowned scientist. In a panel discussion on the existence and usage of an Access Control System superior to the ones used today, he had dared to question the veracity of claims made by a prominent leader of a political party, who had produced arguments in favour of the fact. The fact, as the leader had knowledgeably articulated, was that there were, indeed, Access Control Systems superior to the ones used today, that were commonly used. 

After some light debate, while patronising the lack of knowledge of the scientist and hoping he would back off and avoid a public embarrassment, the political leader had finally got irked and, rising to his full height, said, “have you not heard of the ‘Laxman Rekha’?” which had produced a stunned silence in the hall, to break which he had calmly queried, “do you want more evidence?”

Now who has not heard of the ‘Laxman Rekha’, the magical access control system practiced by Laxman who, while going away to look for his brother Ram in the jungle, had drawn a line around Ram’s wife Seeta’s dwelling to ensure nobody could cross that line and harm her? What was it if not access control? Created, not be maniacal data-punching into a computer and issuing plastic cards, but simply by drawing a line with the tip of one of the arrows in his quiver. Activated neither by proximity nor by insertion of the issued card, but by the mere presence of an individual in the vicinity, hence based on advanced bio-technology.

The scientist, clearly, had not researched his facts.

The Prime Minister had set the ball rolling immediately after winning the election and forming a new government, by informing an incredulous crowd at a rally that plastic surgery was commonly practiced in the country in ancient times.

His claim was met with a stony silence. The PM had paused, expecting a thunderous ovation. But he had reckoned without the rationality of the gathered crowd. Sensing the mood, which he was so good at, having only recently become PM, he weighed his options. Based on a long and old tradition, evidence was looked down upon, particularly when one had to provide it. But this was not your usual situation. The credibility of the PM, and of the new government, was at stake. He reluctantly asked, “How do you think Lord Ganesh got the head of an elephant?”

It was a rhetorical question, and the crowd erupted in response. The smoking gun, with fresh fingerprints, had been produced. No other evidence was required.

Soon after, in another rally, the Home Minister informed the gathered crowd that genetic sciences were commonly practiced during the time of the Mahabharat.

The crowd was taken aback. They had heard about the plastic surgery capability that had been revealed to a crowd at another place by the PM, but were not, it appears, ready for another blow to their dearly held beliefs. Displaying traits of an informed, logical crowd, they met the claim with a stony silence.

It was the Home Minister’s turn to be taken aback. After the tough time the PM had faced in convincing a crowd of the nation’s ancient plastic surgery capability, he had expected this disclosure to be met with less resistance. But he had reckoned without the rationality of crowds attending political rallies.

Faced with a similar dilemma as the PM a few days back, he asked, “how do you think Karn was born outside his mother’s womb?”

Once again, it was a rhetorical question, and once again, as only a logical crowd would, it erupted in response. Could this be real? Was it possible to produce two solid pieces of evidence in such quick succession? Who had not watched the serialisation of the Mahabharat on TV only a few years back? How had they missed this crucial part? But they were a generous crowd. They recognised greatness when they saw it. They acknowledged that the Home Minister had been able to rise to his exalted position only because of such powers of observation which he was now sharing with them. They had missed the part as they are ordinary mortals. With these happy thoughts, the rally ended.

The ruling party has been on a roll ever since. Skeletons have been tumbling out of cupboards all over the country.

We now know that we discovered Pythagoras’ theorem, even though we did not even have anyone named Pythagoras in any of our myths. Having had to make a choice between installing Pythagoras amid our pantheon of Gods and Goddesses and lending the discovery to someone else where the name would be more likely to appear in myths, we apparently lent it to the Greeks.

Flying was common. In aircraft alongwith other people, as well as solo. Who has not heard of Raavan flying off with Seeta in the ‘Pushpak Vimaan’? Who dare question that Hanuman flew off to ‘Doonagiri Parbat’ in the Himalayas to get the ‘Sanjeevni Booti’, a medicine, for Laxman, when he was struck by an arrow? Would Laxman not be dead if Hanuman had not flown solo? Even though not required, sketches have emerged of huge rectangular boxes which do not adhere to any of the laws of flying discovered by the modern world. If ancients could make those boxes fly, they could make anything fly.

And can anyone question the availability of nuclear missiles? Who can forget Ram and Laxman, in the televised version of Ramayan, touching an arrow to their forehead, saying a silent prayer, and unleashing terrible death and destruction with the missile? They even propagated the concept of the nuclear switch that has been adopted by modern rulers. Only the top two, Ram and Laxman respectively, had access to launching those missiles.

The Earth is round – this has apparently been stated by modern man a few centuries back. We have always known it. Don’t we know that Lord Vishnu’s Varaha avatar (incarnation as a boar) lifted it out of water to save it from deluge and destruction. Recently illustrated versions of the myth depict Varaha with the Earth on its nose. And since the Earth is round in these illustrations, it proves that we knew the Earth was round even in those times. Even though the story had not been illustrated with a round Earth in the times it had been told.

We are on the lookout for creating more such scientific and undisputable data. These discoveries are even more significant because nobody else believes them. There is a lot that remains to be done. We have to find reasons for claiming that we built submarines in ancient times. We need to find reasons for having discovered remedies to threatening ailments like Cancer that either did not exist in those times or had not been discovered. With the vast array of mythological treasure trove at our disposal, no peak appears too high.

Several noteworthy initiatives are already underway. A path-breaking research has been undertaken at a prestigious institution to prove that the chemical composition of water in the Nile, H2O, is the same as that of water in the Ganga. Does it not prove that Ganga is the font of all rivers in the world?

I am humbled by all these revelations and the ones still to be made. Nay, not humbled, ashamed. I have taken pride in our history and traditions without even knowing the facts. How am I any better than the unthinking masses who I often mock? I need to make amends.

As a first step, I consider it a humble duty to take forward this rich legacy; this rich legacy of writing great stories that have no fundamental logic underlying magical events. So that a millennia later, should some likeness of the magical events be translated into reality thanks to technological advances in the interim, our centuries-old technological prowess can continue to be proven without anyone else believing it.

And, I believe my generation is infinitely better placed than the sages of the past who penned most of our mythological literature, to do so. We have a purpose in mind; of continuing our great tradition of laying claims to technological advances that nobody else believes.

The old sages, in comparison, had no such vision. They did not have such political leaders to blaze the way for them. They were merely writing great stories of which, the two that I am most familiar with, ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’, remain the most relevant, riveting and compelling stories ever told. Cannot but feel pity for the poor sages.

Season’s Greetings

Workready greetings

Wishing all my e-friends a Merry Christmas (belated) and a Happy New Year (in advance).

My “work” has rarely found a mention on this blog. This greeting is one instance of a crossover. I made this greeting with the help of my wife and son for business connections and…OK, OK, my wife and son made the greeting and I , well, thanked them. I thought it turned out very well and decided to use it for the blog as well.

Workready Knowledge Solutions Pvt. Ltd. is the name of the company for which this greeting was made.

Grand Venice

If they can’t have bread let them eat cake – possibly said by Marie Antoinette, circa 18th century AD

If they can’t have cake I will give them bread and tell them it is Grand Cake – interpretation of statements certainly made by Akhilesh Yadav, Chief Minsiter of Uttar Pradesh, December 2014

The Chief Minister (CM) of Uttar Pradesh (UP) has set a new benchmark in meeting the basic needs of his constituents, residents of one of the poorer and most populous states in the country, by inaugurating the Grand Venice tourist destination in Greater Noida. If you cannot give them food, employment and electricity, at least give them a mall, appears to be the irrefutable logic that the CM is working with.

And no ordinary mall it promises to be. The Grand Venice promises to recreate the magic of Italian living which, as all of us in India now know, must be superior to our Indian living which has no magic. It will have all the essence of the city of Venice. No Rome. No Florence. No Tuscany. No Naples. Pure, unadulterated Venice, with the same style of architecture used where one can find light towers, attractive gondola boat rides on water canals built inside the mall. What’s more, instead of gliding along exposed-brick walls unchanged for hundreds of years, these gondolas will glide along glass and concrete walls for an even more authentic experience. And, for an immersive (pun unintended) Venetian experience, a Leaning Tower of Pisa, a Colosseum of Rome and the ruins of Pompeii will be thrown in. Beat that.

Demonstrating a high degree of respect for the intellectual capacity of the constituents of his state and their discerning tastes, he expressed happiness that “They can have a feel of Venice in Greater Noida”, leaving “and they will not know the difference”, unsaid, as only a person with his ear to the ground could. In a voice choked with emotion, which is normally the case with politicians when there is big money at stake, he added “The Grand Venice tourist destination has given an opportunity to those who could not fly abroad,” Mr. Yadav said while inaugurating the project from his residence here through video conferencing, and promising all support to people investing in it. The innermost desires of the poor, often debated by intellectuals, are now out in the open, thanks to the CM. We now know that their innermost desire and greatest need is to experience the magical Italian living of Venice.

We know it is an absolutely innovative concept since only a few hundred malls around the world are based on the Venetian theme.

“As this destination lies in the route of Taj Mahal, I think people will also visit there,” he added, referring to a little known monument often counted as one of the wonders of the world, and how the new mall promised to change the fortunes of that neglected piece of architecture, where police action to control milling crowds is a regular feature.

“The mall also has a centralized weather management system to give the same comfort of European weather” a newspaper report added. “It will be maintained in the same natural way by efficiently sucking up gazillions of units of electricity and diesel and spewing out toxic fumes.”

Our country has foul living conditions. Aren’t you ashamed? We give you the magic of Italian living. Not the magic of Japanese living, neither that of French living, nor that of Australian or Canadian living. But Italian living.

Our country has foul weather. Aren’t you ashamed? We give you European weather. Not American weather, neither Iranian weather, nor Argentinian weather. But pure European weather.

Inside the mall.

Please vote for us in the next elections.

It is clear that no stone is being left unturned by the private company developing the project that has been endorsed by the CM. Every little detail is being attended to, as is evident from the name, Grand Venezia. With a name like that, can it be anything but authentic? No compromises. Naysayers, like me, are sniggering at the inclusion of Grand in the name. We have heard this English word, and some of us may even have an understanding of its meaning. With a little foresight could it not have been Grande, even allowing for the fact that that would make it French. But with the intellectual prowess already attributed to the constituents by the CM, would anyone have noticed? Would the usage of an English word not mar the Italian experience? But naysayers will be naysayers. Off with their heads.

City councillors in Venice are a worried lot. They thought they only had the rising ocean to worry about. Now they are faced with an even more depressing prospect; of dwindling tourist arrivals as people rush to Noida to get a feel of the real Venice. But they have some fight left in them. They have commissioned an advertising campaign to showcase Venice as an authentic Grand Venezia of Noida experience. That is their only hope.

The state government has tasted blood. There is no stopping them now. Plans are afoot to construct another mall for an authentic Masai Mara Game Reserve experience and another one for an authentic Amazon jungle experience. All recordings played back will be based on real animal sounds and movements. Images of flora and fauna used will be life-size.

Sign Post

The last post, Did I read that sign “write”?, was a copy/paste from an email I received from my friend Jagatjit Singh. It seems to have uncovered hidden wounds and brought back painful memories. People have voluntarily come forward and shared their own traumatic experiences which I have collected together and shared in this post.

From my friend Suprio Sengupta:
Actual roadsign I saw in Mauritius – Humped Passenger Crossing Ahead.

From another friend Satya Dayanand:
Saw one pic somewhere of a bar in Mauritius if I remember right with the sign: Notice: This bar is presently not open because it is closed- Manager. Could not find fault with the logic even when sober…

(Author’s Note: If you have a yen for such signs, Mauritius should be your destination)

From blogging friend Dilip Naidu:
Here’s one from the golf course: A golfer who says he never cheats is also a liar!

From friend Jagatjit Singh, from whose email, which I referred to earlier, I omitted this one:
Here’s another one from a golf course…
1.BACK STRAIGHT, KNEES BENT
2..FEET SHOULDER WIDTH APART.
3.FORM A LOOSE GRIP
4.KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN!
5.STAY OUT OF THE WATER.
6. TRY NOT TO HIT ANYONE.
7.IF YOU ARE TAKING TOO LONG,
LET OTHERS GO AHEAD OF YOU
8.DON’T STAND DIRECTLY
IN FRONT OF OTHERS.
9.QUIET PLEASE…WHILE OTHERS
ARE PREPARING.
10.DON’T TAKE EXTRA STROKES.
WELL DONE.. NOW, FLUSH THE URINAL,
GO OUTSIDE, AND TEE OFF.

(Author’s note: The person who put-up the above sign was perhaps confused between “Tee off” and “Pee off”)

From Carl D’Agostino, one of my earliest blogging friends:
1.The Association Minister unveiled the church’s new fund raising campaign slogan last Sunday: “I upped my pledge – up yours”
2.Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
3 The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
4. Pot-luck supper Sunday at 5 PM- prayer and medication to follow.
5. This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the church. Bring a blanket and become prepared to sin.
6. Don’t let worry kill you off – let the church help.
7. For those of you that have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
8. Miss Charlene Mason sang “I Will Not Pass this Way Again” giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
9. A bean supper will be held in the church hall on Tuesday. Music will follow.
10. Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
11. The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
12. Bring you old cast off items for the church who will deliver them to the shelter. Bring your husbands too.
13. At the evening service tonight the topic is “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to the choir practice.
14. Low self esteem support group will meet Thursday at 6:30 PM. Please use the back door.

And lastly, a couple from my own memory. I confess that I did not actually see these signs. I read about them somewhere and, like a painful memory, they have stayed hidden in the dark corners of the subconscious:
1. At a hotel in Tokyo, sometime in the seventies – All the water in this hotel has been personally passed by the Manager.
2. Outside a doctor’s clinic in a street of Rome – Doctor for women and other diseases.

If you are still troubled by more such memories and recollections, share away in the Comments section at the bottom, and exorcise your demons…