December 20, 2005

2006 : A New Beginning?

Tsunami is history
forgotten the earthquake in Pakistan
Katrina has ceased to matter
faded the London Bombings

Osama's a disappearing dot in oblivion
Saddam but a ranting shadow.
Darfur, could as well be an exotic cuisine
Banda Aceh, a greeting from some nameless culture.

A drug cocktail's contained HIV
Cancer deaths have dropped.
The Asian Flu will not reach us
Stents'll prevent all future heart attacks.

Hunger and poverty are UN concerns
Global Warming's been taken care of by the Kyoto Protocol.
Nuclear arms proliferation curtailed by the CTBT
Geneva Convention's followed while dealing with POWs.

Fortunate, aren't we?
Self delusional is what I'd call it.
Blessed with a short lived memory
and a nomadic mind to match it.
One that never gathers moss
from things that are past.
Will move to new pastures
until faced with some adventure.
And when that excitement wanes
it'll seek another plane.

This shallow, flippant mind
feels compelled to wander
lest it go assunder.
With all the suffering that's around
can't afford to get bogged down.
Cannot fall prey to compassion
that's a feeling not in fashion.
Novelty's what it has to seek
lest it delve into matters too deep.
Embarked on a perpetual journey.
Rootless by choice with dire fear of destination.

Are we stringing yet another new beginning
like the countless older ones?
Those wailing in purgatory, completely off tune
while searching for their ends that never seem to come.

December 14, 2005

A Failing School System

There are some obvious loop holes that prevent the US school system from being at par with other school systems around the world. The biggest loophole being that we Americans do not accept responsibility for this failure, and instead look for a stop-gap solutions for the problem. The “No Child Left Behind ‘is one such off-the-cuff solution, that now is doing more harm than good to the already ailing system. Change is not an overnight-fix; it has to be brought about methodically and gradually if it has to be all inclusive. If indeed it were done so, then there would be ‘no child left behind’!

The United States should consider having a national core curriculum, like it exists in countries like Japan, China, England, and India, that would mandate a certain level of academic competency across the states. This could be one definitive way of gradually increasing academic standards across the nation. A shared curriculum across state boundaries will also facilitate the build up of shared data bases for tests, projects, teaching strategies, teaching materials, and teacher resources. This in turn will give depth and scope to our education programs, and consequently the quality of the end products, in this case our students, will improve.

A national core curriculum will bring about a consistency in our teacher education programs as well, that have been under fire for the longest time. Having mentored several student teachers from various colleges and universities, I know to what degree education programs differ from college to college. Needless to say that none of these programs really prepare the student teacher for taking over a real classroom. A nationwide curriculum for schools will lend structure and balance to all teacher education programs. There will be a commonality of goals regardless of the college you attend. Furthermore when the novice teacher enters into a real world classroom she’ll find anchor in the national core curriculum, a document she’s already familiar with.

We do not have to become ‘second rate’ at anything if we can take responsibility for what is ours. Right now, it is our failing schools, our teachers, and our students that we need to call ours. Having done that, the next step is to strategize a gradual change in our educational system, and then what follows may not be the best, but it will definitely be something very close to the best.

December 09, 2005

Seasons Greeting

Snowed in!

A whiteboard beckons
to start afresh
write a new piece.

A fresh beginning
old blemishes disappear
no rips, no tears.

A white blanket sheaths
it wipes, it covers, it invites
and offers a world apart.

A cold bear hug...
...yet it warms the heart.

December 02, 2005

Death Penalty Executed in Singapore

"Van Nguyen's death penalty is executed!" A news item that has been bothering me all day! It must have been a long and tortuous wait for the 25 year old Australian who was arrested in 2002 for possession of cocaine in Singapore; a place that has very low tolerance for crime and takes strict action against any violations that occur in its jurisdiction, regardless of the nationality of the wrongdoer. It isn't a surprise then that Singapore is deemed one of the safest and cleanest cities in the world.

The Nguyen incident is reminiscent of the caning of Michael Fay, an American teen, in Singapore during the mid nineties. Graffitti was the charge against Fay who had spray painted some cars in a parking lot. Though we in the west perceived the sentence as harsh, the popular local verdict was that vandalism was a 'crime' by Singapore law, and the flogging of Fay would serve as a deterrant for other youths with similar agendas.

I find it difficult to rationalize what happened to Nguyen, yet aren't we told to 'do in Rome as Romans do', and that ignorance of the law isn't an excuse. I think there are two separate issues at loggerheads in this case; one of the individual's rights and the other that of national sovereignty. That is perhaps why my decision making is clouded by questions such as: Is Singapore law justifiable? Would a different geographic location have changed Van Nguyen's fate? What is the prime objective of punishment; to punish the wrongdoer, to make him aware of his wrong, to serve as an example for prospective wrongdoers?

December 01, 2005

World AIDS Day

"And The Band Played On"

An interesting film based on Randy Shilt's novel. A film made in the early 90s that has raised AIDS awareness for the past decade or so. It's a true to life version about the emergence of AIDS in America, its spread, the frantic search to find its cure, and the dread, both founded and unfounded, that it has created in the minds of ordinary people.

Raising AIDS awareness is the least we can do for those who sufferred and succumbed to this deadly virus for no fault of their own, and also for those who will fall prey to this epidemic if we don't do our bit today.

Do watch this film.

November 19, 2005


No blurry eyed goodbyes or soul searching gaze
No extended hand holding either
Just a catch in my throat
the only giveaway
as the mute blue faded away to its haven.
It didn't beckon or cry
No hapless pleas of wanting to stay
or promises of an early return.
A clean break and a deep void.
A scooping out of memories good and bad
of challenges overcome
and times shared that tested mettle.
What a metal it was!
My blue Camry.

November 14, 2005

Memoirs of a Geisha

Arthur Golden's first novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, is definitely captivating in terms of its story telling and its setting. Japan, in the late 1930s, as seen through the grey blue eyes of a geisha has the reader asking for more.

Sayuri is the geisha of the blue eyes fame, who rises out of poverty and annonymity to bedazzle the province of Gion and become the most sought after woman among the rich and powerful. An oft used rags to riches storyline, but one that is spun with a newness because it touches two disparate chords in the readers mind simultaneously. The bone chilling undressing of the 15 year old Sayuri by the Baron is both repulsive and exciting; the jealous Hatsumomo being upstaged by the humble and deserving Sayuri who is now to inherit the Okiya (the Geisha dwelling) spells redemption and fear at the same time; Pumpkin's (Sayuri's good friend) revengeful act, though shocking also lends real life credibility to her; pangs of anxiety are hidden amid throes of excitement when the Baron, who is Mameha's lover, makes advances toward Sayuri who has been adopted by Mameha as her 'little sister'. It is this constant duplicity of emotion experienced by the reader that keeps him on edge. The reader, without realizing, becomes both an empathizer of, and a voyuer to Sayuri's predicament, experiencing a plethora of emotions that culminate in a cathartic release when the novel ends

Golden in one of his interviews said that while writing this novel he was confronted with, "three cultural divides--man to woman, American to Japanese, and present to past. Actually, I see a fourth divide as well, because geisha dwell in a sub-culture'. Whatever the divides may have been, his efforts at bridging them have paid off because Memoirs of a Geisha is most certainly a page turner.

November 11, 2005

Spelling's not that important

See if you can read and make sense of what's written below:

"I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.
The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."

The zero that your teacher gave you on the dictation should not worry you or the teacher anymore!

November 07, 2005

Women's fashion

I recently read about a special event "Interpreting Hot Trends for Veiled and Conservative Women," hosted by Nordstrom, a leading apparel designer brand, in McLean, Virginia. This event was indeed unique because it showcased the latest trends in 'hijabs' and 'scarves', and was perhaps the first high-fashion 'hijab' event sponsored by corporate America. It targeted the moneyed Muslim women living in the suburbs of Northern Virginia, where mansions and mosques are home to an affluent immigrant population. Obviously, the event generated a multitude of response, mostly critical, regarding its religious appropriateness and also because of it's low profitability at the end of the day.

However, it wasn't the vagaries of the show's religious appropriateness or its financial blundering that was bothering me. There was another chain of thought that was gathering momentum and sizzling in my mind. How come women's fashion seems to be driven by a predominantly male definition of what looks beautiful on the female form? Or else why would high fashion in a woman's world entail revealing a belly button, showing of leg, or flashing of cleavage. Why did female voluptousness in the '90s suddenly become unattractive, and bolemia induced emaciatedness become a benchmark to achieve.

Over the years the female body has had to endure extremes of makeover in order to be fashionable, to live up to every changed expectation of the male mind. This is no generalization; in fact a harsh truth, hard to palate and difficult to accept. An endurance test is what it is for the female of the species; pulling out body hair with hot wax to give a smooth appearance, adopting a 500 calorie diet to keep that girlish figure, injecting cortizone to defy the aging process, getting breast implants to generate oomph, and the list goes on. A list far more torturesome for the woman than donning a 'hijab', the mere mention of which generates feelings of outrage.

A thought: How much simpler it would be for a woman to live on her own terms!

October 28, 2005

'Harbor' - Lorraine Adams

'Water never warms in American harbors'
This opening line in Lorraine Adams's first novel 'Harbor' captures the essence of the story; that of an illegal Algerian immigrant trying to make America his safe harbor after fleeing the harsh reality of a civil war that is consuming his native country.

Aziz, a soft spoken, educated, and honest human being rides through a series of horror coasters while trying to lose himself in the Boston suburbia trying to evade the FBI. He and his relatively harmless compatriots are constantly hounded by the fear of getting captured. It is within this terrifyingly opaque and stifling environment that Aziz finds himself longing for "a person speaking to him, and ..someone's eyes meeting his own".

Adams empathetic portrayal of an illegal Islamic immigrant community trying to eek out an existence in a foreign land under the threat of underinformed, narrow minded, and prejudiced Intelligence and Surveillance Forces, is a very thought provoking novel. Though the setting of the story is pre 9/11, the profiling and the discrimination that is meted out to this small community of Algerians is reminiscent of the post 9/11 scenario.

Yet, the novel is not about terrorists or terrorism. This starkly naked tale of ordinary human beings, uprooted from their native land and in desperation trying to make this new land their home, is both terrifying and heart rending. It forces any rational minded individual to reflect on his prejudices; especially those pertaining to religion. Does a person's religion make him less human or less deserving of human kindness? Will our religious differences prevent us from communicating with each other as human beings? Will our religious affiliations divide us irrevocably such that there will be no bridges left that would let the milk of human kindness to flow? Will humanitarianism in this country be forever drowned in a deluge of post 9/11 suspicion and hatred?

Finally, can Aziz's story have a different middle and end?

October 26, 2005

It's never too late.

How do I thank someone who has always been my benefactor, but unacknowledged to date? A one man cheer leading squad who didn't tire applauding my meanest achievement; be it my first step as a one year old, getting a driving license at seventeen, or then reaching an academic milestone along the way. One who kept giving at his end, regardless of my response; kept forgiving me my selfish and callous acts while rendering unconditional love and support. My all-time security net that took the brunt of my rash doings. Pulled, ripped,and beaten, yet always resilient, despite its wear and tear, to bounce me back one more time to put me back on track.

Unfortunately, this net is mortal and it's this reality that has shocked me out of my complacency that now makes me want to say,'Thank you for being there for me'.

This person celebrates his eightieth birthday this week.

October 17, 2005

Manhattan by night; a heightened view

A treat alright!
in flagrance of darkness
blatant, buoyant, and bright
breathtakingly beautiful
a voyeurs delight

toweringly tall
amidst it all
benignly billowing
the wispy whites
that churlishly curled
extending their flight

close to touch
yet so afar
a game 'twas
playing hookey
with the moon'n all

Myriad metal, in monotonous motion
ruby white necklace bordering the ocean
an endless stream of stars
that threatened to hypnotize
a harmony, that description defies

October 13, 2005

Voices in the rain; NY and Muzaffarabad

Will school be out tomorrow due to all this flooding?
Did the earthquake bring down my school or is it still standing?

Rain; my plans are in trouble!
Aaah water to parched lips; trickling through the rubble

Mom, soccer game's cancelled due to rain.
Only ten some miles to walk so don't complain.

What, another detour! I'm already late.
Wading through the water coz the bridge's swept away.

Couldn't call you hon, telephone lines are down
Can just someone hold my hand,... anyone?

Tires skidding, got to go slow
Why don't I feel my feet anymore?

Relief! Rain at last; my lawn'll grow.
Death toll'll rise and relief'll come slow

Visibilty is low so the plane won't land
What's this I feel, a leg or a hand?

Lazy rainy weather, just right for a slumber
Faint cries for help, there from down under

Cookies with a hot cuppa cocoa, and a blanket for my feet
orphaned corpses; no one to bury them; a scavenger's treat.

All's right with the world, good will's reigning
All's wrong with the world, there's nothing remaining.

October 11, 2005

Oil Crisis

A perspective on the recent oil crisis that hit the USA. This letter, written by a 14 year old, got published in a local newspaper.

Gas prices soar, hopes of driving sink
Home News Tribune Online 10/11/05
Only a few days ago, while gazing out the window of the family car, I saw something so incredible that it actually held my interest for more than 30 seconds. Gas was selling at $3.18 a gallon!

As a teenager, looking at gas prices at the $3 mark made my future as a driver rather bleak. Only a couple of years away from getting a drivers license, the thought of not being able to have my own car because of the soaring gas prices is depressing to say the least. I may never be a car-driving senior in high school. At the current rate of events one can only imagine what will become of cars, people who drive them, and of course those already over-pumped oil wells of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia does have the most petroleum reserves in the world; with 260 billion barrels, about 24 percent of the world's total. It also ranks as the largest exporter of oil, mostly to the U.S.

The leaders of the Saudi Kingdom are claiming that there is no lack of oil and that they have enough oil to last a "very long time." However, if this is true, that there is such abundance of oil, why are the gas prices still escalating?

Saudi Arabia may not be lying, they really may have enough oil to last a while, but will not be enough for everyone.

Given the present consumption rate of oil around the world, and given that the Saudi oil wells may not be able to produce at the same capacity for very long, we have to face the reality which stares us right in the eye; no longer will there be enough oil for everyone to share. That is the start of the post-oil age.

At present, the world needs 84 million barrels a day, and this necessity is barely being met. With the recent rise in prices, and the predictions for little improvement on the current conditions, there is every reason for gasoline prices to exceed $5 a gallon or even more. Peter Maass, ajournalist in the New York Times Magazine makes you think about how close this post-oil age is, "The start of the post-oil age does not begin when the last drop of oil is sucked from under the Arabian desert. It begins when producers are unable to continue increasing their output to meet rising demand. Crunch time comes long before the last drop."

That crunch time is what we are facing right now.

October 10, 2005

Columbus Day. A celebration?

Am I 'celebrating' Columbus Day? The American holiday that honors the mariner-discoverer Columbus who came to this land some 600 odd years ago in quest of a passage to India, and opened up the route for all future immigrants to this rich and beautiful land.

The dictionary defines him as an "Italian explorer in the service of Spain who determined that the earth was round and attempted to reach Asia by sailing west from Europe, thereby discovering America (1492). He made three subsequent voyages to the Caribbean in his quest for a sea route to China".

Undoubtedly, Cristopher Columbus epitomized the spirit of adventure, the ability to take risks, and also the ability to persevere in the face of all odds. He deserves to be commemorated as a hero. However, as is always, there is a flip side to this; the colonization of the Americas that happened thereafter. Columbus's successful endeavor initiated an exodus that displaced and brought immense sufferring to the indigenous population of 'the new world' that he had discovered. The native americans, who so far were living in peaceful coexistence with nature in this land of plenty were now expected to share their land with peoples who had no intention of ever returning to their own lands. In today's terms it was a 'forced occupation' which eventually took away the controls from the indigenous population of the occupied country.

History in a new perspective can be unforgiving. Columbus's quest, and his accomplishment of it, made way for Spain to conquer the Americas, which in a present day context is not viewed favorably. Thus, the 'Day of Discovery' in Venezuela was renamed the "Day of Indegenous Resistance' last year, and a 100 year old statue of Columbus was toppled and then dragged through downtown Caracas by a mob. Even in the USA there are groups that protest the Columbus Day holiday and the sentiment is gathering momentum despite the existence of the much loved large Italian American population that inhabits this country.

As for me, I celebrate Columbus the entrepreneur, the adventurer who went 'where no man has gone before'. However, I choose to dissociate him from the events that he became a harbinger to, or else I'd also have to denounce Einstein for being a harbinger to the tragedy that was Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

October 04, 2005

'Blogaholic'- Are you?


Definition: One who is addicted to blogging and reading other blogs

You know you're addicted to blogging when:
- You become frustrated because you can not think of anything good to blog about
- You have to take a break from blogging
- Something interesting happens, your partner tells you, " you should blog about that!"
- You check your blog for comments several times a day
- You check your blog for comments before you read your e-mail
- You have drafts saved for future know, so you don't forget those interesting stories
- Your family catches up with what's going on in your life via your blog
- You add your blog as a source of reference on your resume
- You are concerned about your online friend because they have not updated their blog

Blogaholics are also those who read other people’s blogs with an unhealthy interest.

Copyright © 2005 Times Internet Limited.

September 30, 2005

'Latino' in New Jersey.

Perhaps I'm Mexican...
Honduran, Cuban, maybe Dominican?
A pitcher, a batter, a mid fielder, a goalie
Those are my goals ever so truly.
Ronaldo and Sosa are my heroes eternal.
Baseball and soccer, none other that's certain.
Bachata, Merengue, Salsa, and Punta
Anything 'll do as long as its fiesta.
Mira! Snazzy wheels, blaring Spanish tunes!
Pronto, those lovely Latinas do croon.
Seldom we shop at a Stop & Shop,
Bodegas are the more likely stops.
Eternally enrolled in college, one course at a time.
Finishing school'n four years; now that'd be a crime.
Skimpy tank tops on hour glass figures
Low waister jeans that couldn't possibly go lower;
Hair streaked and dyed, a brunnette turns blonde
blue grey or green, eye contacts as add ons.
A teeny meeny stiletto with pretty white toes
Catches attention as clip-clop it goes.
Oscar De La Renta or Dolce Gabbana
Fragrance that'd carry from here to Havana.
Bodies so lithe with a grace so natural
Easy on the eye could do damage collateral.
Charmingly laid back, yet with an air to please
Fashionably dressed, carry their crease with ease.
The ever so endearing kiss on the cheek
If you had it your way their lips you'd seek.
Latino hearts in NJ are the warmest I'm told
If ever you find one, well there's your pot of gold!

September 27, 2005

Blogger etiquette

Is there anything such as 'Blogger etiquette'? I often wonder what would happen if a petulant,irate, irrational person decided to blog. Would he last? Would anyone lend him an ear after the first time? Bloggers are often very selective and discretionary of what they choose to read, and more so of that which they choose to comment on. A comment has to be deserved for a blogger to put it there. You may rave and rant or then shed oceans of tears on that blog, but to no avail if there's no audience; so when do people listen? The answer to that would probably outline 'blogger etiquette'; the implied code, which if recognized and followed, invariably brings readers back to a blog.

The community of bloggers is now probably in the millions but not all of them have a reader following. Not following 'blogger ettiquette', is that the reason?

September 21, 2005


Mr. Levitt’s (freak)conomics is not all math and numbers (which he admits he is bad at anyway). It has a tragic-comic human side to it which lends it levity. As a result, the reader, even if he’s mathematically challenged, willingly goes along with the data to find answers to many questions that he’s always wondered about..

The book brings closure to many known but unproven thoughts that all of us have, or have had about a wide array of topics. Right from the get-go the reader is hooked; rather unusual for a non-fiction. But then this is no ordinary work of non-fiction; it is freaky in that it is a number cruncher, a data spewer, but it tickles, and just doesn’t let the reader go.. The topics chosen for scrutiny are to be blamed for that; ‘Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Mothers?’, 'What do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers have in Common?'! How outlandish are those, and yet Mr. Levitt expounds extensively on the same, and the chuckling reader can’t wait to know the data based conclusion of that analysis!

Mr. Dubner, a journalist with The New York Times and the co-author of the book, holds the perfect pen to put Mr. Levitt’s thoughts on paper. His writing is simple and lucid and compliments Mr. Levitt’s easy to understand Economics. After much coercing, when a high schooler finally began reading this book, he didn’t budge till he had turned that last page! Now if we had more such Levitt and Dubner works “NO child (would indeed be) left behind.”

Freakonomics would surely freak you out by its readability.

September 20, 2005

To be American

Americans by definition have to be tolerant and all-encompassing given that all of us chose to settle in a land of immigrants. 'Differences' are what this country is all about, and living in peace despite those differences, though oftentimes a challenge, is what it means to be American. We've had our share of upheavals; it's Islam today, it was Communism yesterday, and who knows what it will be tomorrow; these separatist agendas will always be there, and Americans are cognizant of that. Over the years, with the diversity that surrounds us, we've become tremendously accomodating and resilient. As a result, reactionary movements and divisive propaganda seldom affect us. Post 9/11 America is proof of that.
There's also another reason for our steadfastness; our capitalistic pursuits that have us hypnotized; and this dollar trance is unbreakable.

September 12, 2005

A One Sided US Open Final

The good against the old; Federer versus Agassi. Now that was a very easy win for the maestro, Federer. You'd even wonder how Andre made it this far and conclude that luck must have been one big factor. Not to say that Agassi is a bad player; in fact he is one of the best, but it was a long shot to imagine him in the finals!

At 35 Agassi is really pushing his physical capabilities; he is a legend alright, but like all legends before him, his time has come and in fairness to the game, he has to accept that. It is time for him to retire while he is still ranked 8th.. I sincerely hope that he does not see his US Open Finalist qualification as a reason to continue competing. If only he were to look at the players he was up against in the qualifying rounds, none were seeded very high, and despite which Agassi needed to play them all 5 sets in order to win. Now that's a reality check; one, if taken, will ensure high quality tennis in future Grand Slams such as the US Final. Admittedly, the outcome of this years US Open Final was but obvious. Agassi's tenacity on court, though admirable, was no match for Federer's speed and his magical artistry with the ball. With due respect to Agassi's legendary status, the game has to go on, and it must maintain the fervor which will produce the Federers, Samprases, and Agassis of tomorrow.

To all those tennis fans, on a positive note, this is just the beginning for Roger Federer, a player par excellence who seems to improve with every winner that he scores, and I hope that this is also the glorious end to the tennis legend Andre Agassi.

Writing incognito

Blogging incognito may appear spineless and even reprehensible to some, but in fact it's quite an achievement. When the blogger's identity is unknown, his/her writing is appreciated for what it is worth, its subject matter and its style. A major portion of the reader bias is removed because now the reader has no clue whether the writer is a male, a capriconian with dimples, a twenty year old, an Egyptian , a handsome hunk (as an accompanying picture may proove) so on and so forth. Blogging, I believe, is literature if all the accompanying riffraff were removed. It's a dynamic medium of written expression that is far reaching yet immediate, and one which is for the most part non restrictive. Given access to such an awesome tool, why would a reasonably good writer need to post his picture or his resume.

The above is merely a defense of my status as an 'undefined' blogger. It's merely an opinion, and could therefore be verily disregarded, or else argued and commented upon.

September 08, 2005

from the mouth of search engines

Google for 'failure' and guess what the first search result is -
'The Biography of George W. Bush'.

August 31, 2005

American athletes lose fan following in 'US Open'

Humility is a forgotten trait amongst us Americans. This becomes more obvious and annoying in the field of sports when commentators trash the non American newcomer athletes. For instance, yesterday when Andy Roddick the US tennis sensation was to play agaist Muller, a German youngster from Luxembourg, the commentators had a field day making fun of this young player and his game profile. It was embarrassing for me, an american to listen to those supercilious comments made by McEnroe and the other commentator. It's one thing to praise ones own, but it's definitely pompous and in poor taste to disclaim a competitor without giving him a chance to prove himself. Ironically, this nobody from Luxembourg was responsible for the biggest upset at the US Open when he defeated the American favorite Andy Roddick in a most convincing three set match. The commentators looked sheepish at the end and were speechless after what had happened. Pride doth have a fall...especially when it's misplaced and unfounded.

I had every intention of rooting for Andy Roddick when I switched on the TV yesterday. However, within the first ten minutes of listening to the commentators eulogize Andy Roddick and his serve, I became a die hard fan of Muller, the underdog, who was being mocked and written off even as the two players were warming up for the game. I suddenly found myself hating Andy Roddick for no real reason! I think the commentators and their irresponsible talk may end up in many American athletes losing fans (like me) across the world. We need some lessons in humility from the likes of Federer and Muller who were all but praise for their opponents and also the American crowds. More importantly, our commentators, besides curtailing the amount they talk during the game, need to listen to the British commentators during the Wimbledon and the Cricket world cup. in order to learn what it entails to be a professional commentator.

Competing is healthy and also enjoyable when both sides are given a fair chance to prove themselves. Besides, you cannot always win; and the times when you lose, you have to be able to "stand by the side of the road and cheer as the winner goes by"!

August 26, 2005

The Constant Gardner

This novel of John Le Carre starts really well. It has the reader hooked, wanting to race to the hundreth page to find out what happens. The first half of the novel is very gripping and racy at the same time. The characters in their social interplay arouse reader curiosity and have the reader guessing their next move; the guess usually being incorrect. Africa, mostly Kenya is the setting that comes dangerously alive as a shocked and bereaved British diplomat tries to make sense of a violent crime involving his wife and a black doctor.

The theme is especially interesting because it delves into the ethics of the pharmaceutical world, a current hot topic. The plot revolves around the validity of clinical trials that have become the sole launching pads for new drugs. However, if clinical trials go awry, as in the novel, then " Who shall complain? Third world doctors and medical workers who are making money from the trials? The distributor who is making money from marketing the drug.............. How about the patients? Most of the patients are in undemocratic countries with very corrupt systems.........their signatures are on the consent forms even if they cannot read what they have signed...........also they are afraid...........their children will receive no more medicines from America and their men will go to prison."

This novel though first published in 2001, foresaw the turbulence that was to rock the pharma world shortly! Definitely worth reading; if possible, before watching the movie.

August 22, 2005

A Renaissance in Advertising

The world of advertising has to find new ways of reaching out to the public in order to find new victims /users. No one wants to be bothered by those faceless telemarketing calls anymore. All you have to do is sign up to remove your name from the telemarketer list and you're saved. The advertisers having lost ground on that one, then targeted the internet users and you had those irritating and random pop ups that show up relentlessly! Over a period of time the web surfers learned how to evade those too. Now where does that leave the persevering die hard marketeers? Will they target the blogs next? That is if they haven't done it already! Are we on the brink of a renaissance in advertising?

August 20, 2005

Afro Asia Cup - 'Cricket-sans-borders'

The Afro Asian Cricket Cup hosted in South Africa is doing what even a United Nations initiative couldn't. It has brought age-old arch rivals India and Pakistan together to play as the Asian team along with Sri Lanka against the African team comprising of nations such as Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. It is a feat of no small measure to see the flags of India and Pakistan hoisted together to cheer for every run that was scored by the Asian team. Pre-partition brotherhood prevails as a Shoaib Akhtar exchanges bowling strategies with a Nehra, all the while with an arm flung around his team mates shoulder. Who needs a UN when there's cricket around!

Cricket, a sport introduced in the Indian sub continent by the British during the colonial era, is literally the pulse beat of both Pakistan and India. Ironically, it is this legacy of the British colonists, who were responsible for the India Pakistan partition in 1947, that is today creating new bonds between the two warring nations that not long ago were on the brink of a nuclear war.

What is happening in South Africa this week is a globalizers dream come true. I am watching a cricket match between Asia and Africa being played in Durban, live and for free, on a regular TV channel in the USA, where the majority of the population recognize cricket only as an insect! Cadillac, an American company, is the local US network sponsor for the event, and Standard Chartered Bank, a British multinational is the chief sponsor in S. Africa. The African team is sporting the Sahara logo. Sahara which is an Indian conglomerate that usually sponsors the Indian national team!

Just recently, I remember reading in a US newspaper that at least three of the suspects in the terrorist bombings in London were avid cricket players. As a result many Americans recognize cricket as the sport associated with those bombing suspects. So I was pleasantly surprised today, while watching the 2nd cricket match being played at Durban, how the same game was now forging old ties and making new bonds that defied both, national boundaries and age old political differences! Cricket has great potential for soothing freyed feathers and tempering raging infernos.

Kofi Annan may want to borrow a page from the Afro Asian Cup model in order to forge ties between countries at war. For a start organize a soccer match where USA and Iraq play as one team pitched against the rest of the world! After that we may not need a Rice or a Rumsfeld to strategize the US pull out from Iraq.

Cricket-sans-borders could indeed become a model, at least in the cricket loving world, of what a globalized world would look like; a world without boundaries.

August 08, 2005

'Grokking' - Heinlein revisited

Reread Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, a Science Fiction classic from the sixties. Liked it even more as an adult than I did when I first read it in high school. This time round the novel got me thinking about what had happened in Waco Texas where David Koresh and his Dravidian Cult brought a fiery death to many in February of 1993. Many such cults emerged since the writing of this novel and that makes me a little wary of Smith and the messiah like figure that he becomes at the end of the novel. Talking of messiahs, Richard Bach of the Jonathan Livingston Seagull fame may have borrowed to quite some extent from the Heinleinian philosophy, especially for his work The Messiah's Handbook.

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Smith, the alien from Mars with the body of a man, is the chief protagonist of the novel. The novel deals with his acclimatization to planet earth where he battles with social isues and institutions such as religion, marriage, sex, and love.

Here are some interesting qotes from the novel which may pique you enough get you to read the book:

"You can analyze a culture from its language."

" A present should show that you considered that person's tastes; something he would enjoy but probably would not buy."

" By choice, spirit grows.....At this point the being sprung from human genes and shaped by Martian thought, who could never be either, completed one stage of his growth....The solitary loneliness of predestined free will was then his ......Here was 'ownership' beyond sale....owner and owned grokked inseparable. He eternally WAS the action he had taken at cusp."

" If God hated flesh, why did HE make so much of it?"

"The culture known as 'America' had a split personality....Its laws were puritanical; its covert behavior tended to be Rabelaisian; its major religions were Apollonian; its revivals were almost Dionysian."

" Abstract design is all right - for wallpaper and linoleum. But art is the process of evoking pity and terror. What modern artists do is pseudo-intellectual masturbation. Creative art is intercourse, in which the artist renders emotional his audience."

" Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."

"The 'code' says ' Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife.' The result? Reluctant chastity, adultery, jealousy, bitterness, blows, and sometimes murder...Any male virile enough to sire a child has coveted many women, whether he acts or not."

"Age does not bring wisdom, but it does give perspective...and the saddest sight of all is to see, ...temptations you've resisted."

And of course this is the book that gave the fan community the word "grok," introduced the concept of the waterbed, and caused the founding of the pan-pagan Church of All Worlds. -- Tasha

August 07, 2005


Human life is not precious anymore! The mass graves of innocent soldiers along with the ordinary Iraqis in a war torn Iraq are evidence of this. As were the 54 Londoners who became the victims of bomb blasts in central London this past month. Then the seven man crew of the Russian submarine who came so close to meeting a watery grave this weekend. Not to forget the crew on board the NASA spacecraft who are, at this very moment, anxiously wondering if they will make it back to earth.

Unfortunately, in all of these scenarios there was a precedent; one from which the respective agencies should have learned their lesson. For example, both the submarine and the spacecraft belong to a previous era of engineering, and were known to have some flaws in their design, in spite of which they were the chosen carriers for a human crew! Doesn't that say something... we are willing to put human life at stake to fight foreign wars as also for scientific research!

August 05, 2005

'Beatles' Jacksonized

Michael Jackson holds publishing rights to almost all the Beatles songs! He outbid Sir Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono at an auction in Tokyo in 1985 for the publishing rights to a catalogue of almost all the Beatles songs.

An unhappy Sir Paul McCartney, who, while 'longing for yesterday', can't 'just write that ' song and make it better' anymore!.

And of course, Michael didn't really have to work his creative genius since then, thanks to the everlasting popularity of the Beatles! . Instead, he focused on children's issues on his Neverland ranch.

Beatles fans, what sayest thou?

July 27, 2005

Rape of a nation

A friend's poem.
The classical title often misleads, yet cannot be ignored.
The subject of the poem is the U.S.A; the american dream.
It took me more than a year, and some fifty odd readings to appreciate this piece.
This poem may just as well not be read. You are better off skipping it, but if you do decide to take it up, you'll be glad you stopped to wonder, coz it's bound to become your ' bliss of solitude'.

Leda / Nemesis

She was within reach

Now she beckoned

A fantasy comes alive

Tantalizing me to explore

Which I did, with gusto

Every nook and crevice

Sipping nectar amid abundance

She was mine to keep

Then seduction no more

Penetrated, marauded rammed and thrust

Yet lovingly suppliant

Can’t have enough of her

But she seeks my heart

That rests fondly on the shores of 'home'

Where I’ll return one day

Until then the rape goes on, unabated

Wonder what’ll come

Helen or Clytemnestra

July 25, 2005

London bombing - the 56th victim

When a handful of plain clothes police officers pump five bullets into a man confirmed unarmed, already overpowered, and on the ground, what does it suggest? A dastardly act born out of fear mixed with rage, and in all probability vengeful. Unfortunately, this time it killed an innocent Brazilian who probably fit the bill of being brown skinned and wearing a weather inappropriate attire. This incident is bone chilling because of its implications. God help you if you are a brown skinned male living in London, wearing a jacket in seventy plus degree temperatures, and worst of all if you happen to be carrying a backpack!

July 13, 2005

Outsourcing to India

I just read an Op/Ed titled " A Passage to India' in The NewYork Times. The author, Suketu Mehta, of Indian origin, expresses concern about the possibility of a reverse exodus among Indian immigrants in the USA. With the economic boom in India and a slump in the job market within the USA, many Americans of Indian origin may have to relocate back to the land of their forefathers for job related reasons.

Outsourcing has finally hit home! If it's going to be hard for Indian Americans to relocate to a land from where they originally came, one can only imagine how uphill it would be for other Americans to have to relocate for similar reasons.

Outsourcing has cost many Americans their livelihoods; the Indian American community is only one among the many; also one with the distinct advantage of relocating to a country which is not quite unfamiliar!

July 05, 2005

Freedom - in different colors

Driving down the Verrazano Bridge and into the heart of NewYork City

Skies over Brooklyn were a sight to see
A painter gone crazy with a palette full of colors
slashing and twirling with a brush in hand
Saucy little candles drawing streaks of light
As they ran assunder
with no end in sight
4th of July splendour to honor freedom
dear as it was

Driving through the streets of Brooklyn, an immigrant meltpot
Hesidic Jews, Latinos, Pakistanis, Arabs and all
Necks craned upward, lined up against a wall
Rich and poor; old and new
All entranced and affixed, yet nothing to express
Glued to a spot, speechless and breathless
by the overhead show that was!

Then the sirens, and a flashing ambulance rushes past
Following at its heel an array of police cars
The spell is broken; the show is over
People disperse
some coverse
whispering and complaining wanting to return
to the splendour that was

Baghdad 2003
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Questions of/for the conscience

Why is the unattainable attractive? Is it attractive because it cannot be had? Would it have been as attractive if it could be had? Would its degree of attractiveness change the moment one had it?

Is it healthy to have regrets? Why do we have regrets? Afterall they were our once-upon-a-time decisions.

Why do friends /lovers grow apart? Is it because they tire each other out, or is it because they've figured each other out?

Why are people attracted to each other? Is it because they are worlds apart, or is it because they take the same part ?

When is it okay to walk away? When not doing so would have catastrophic consequences, or when doing so snips an exchange that may ground you for life?

Where do people hide? Behind someone who's not them, or in actions that may take a lifetime to complete?

What is it to be a friend? Is it to be a silent conscience keeper, or is it to be the vocal mirror holder?

June 27, 2005


I can very safely say I’m LIFEBROKEN-
I can laugh with a friend who once was
Miss a bus and patiently wait for the next
Pay a goodwill visit to someone I hate
Make a promise I never meant to keep
Compliment someone and laugh at his back
Look at something and wish it were mine
Hire a lawyer to do the pre nuptial agreement
Buy five black dresses to wear one for a funeral
Overlook another’s pain with no guilt…..
And this is only the beginning of the list!

Feel free to add your own.

June 23, 2005


Farewell! Why does that always bring a catch in my throat? Is it because I see it as an end, when in fact it is a precursor to moving on to someplace else; to new opportunities; into new relationships; in fact it is the dawn of a whole new story. Stories, that I love very much! Yet, the birth of a new one causes so much pain.

Farewell parties, farewell speeches, farewell dinners...we make such a big deal of them. However, the very word 'farewell' may never have existed if time were perceived the way it really is; as a continuum, where the past, the present, and the future have no clear boundaries; they simply merge into one. In which case, the past would not be 'just a goodbye'(CSNY), and neither would 'every new beginning..(be)another beginnings end'(Greenday)!

"Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past"(T.S.Eliot)

So where's the need for farewells!

June 15, 2005

Laleh Seddigh's Iran

They protest for equal rights, if only to be included in the category of 'human' when 'human rights'are being considered! Women in Iran may have finally achieved the distinct status of 'Reading Lolita in Tehran'! Iranian women are making news by speaking up against some tenets in the 'Shariyah'. By western standards these demands are but a pittance; to have equal rights to inherited property, to travel outside of the country by ones own volition and not having to seek permission from a husband or the male in charge! Their very asking for these seems prepostrous and archaic!

Yet, it is Iran we are talking about, and an Iran that's changed considerably, and is still changing since the time of the Ayatollah regime. The fact that these women could protest, and that the protest was covered by the world media, is proof of that change; a far cry from the Iran of the eighties. No wonder we have the very first female race car driver in Iran, Laleh Seddigh, who though blanked out by the national media, was allowed to participate in all the events; so far an exclusively male perogative. She is now a popular icon of female emancipation in Iran who believes, "I have to move whatever is movable in the world". Kudos to Laleh Seddigh!

June 14, 2005

Mukhtaran Bibi, a gangrape victor

Not far from Iran, where womens emancipation is gaining momentum, in the 'moderate' Islamic country of Pakistan there is a woman who after being gang raped, a sentencing by a tribal council for the infraction committed by her brother, is now battling for her rights, with little hope of success. Mukhtaran Bibi, an amazingly brave and determined woman who was forced to walk home naked after sufferring the humiliating and excruciatingly traumatic experience of being gang raped, fought back as no rape victim has ever done in the past. She protested her ordeal by challenging her persecutors in court and getting compensation for what had been done to her. She didn't stop there ; she used that money to start two schools in her village so as to promote literacy within her community which she believes is the only measure that'll prevent heinous crimes such as gang rapes in the future. Her work and her words have caught attention worldwide and she has become an icon of female fortitude in adversity. Besides the funding that she brought in for starting womens shelters and schools in the tribal areas of Pakistan, she also became a much sought after speaker for womens rights, unfortunately only outside of Pakistan. However, just last week, a few days before she was to visit the U.S. to speak at a womens forum, she disappeared; apparently taken to an undisclosed location by those in power. Asma Jahangir, a Human Rights lawyer based in Pakistan said that the Government is behind this because Mukhtaran's words may expose the reality of women in Pakistan and would thus tarnish the image of that country as a 'moderate' Islamic state; a distinction that has qualified it to be a friend and ally of the U.S.

Mukhtaran Bibi's track record tells us she is not one to give up. Gagged her, they may have, but her spirit has permeated into the consciousness of Muslim women world wide who are watching this drama unfold; and they may not choose to be silent observers. Afterall Mukhtaran is not asking much, "I want to live like a free citizen, I should be allowed to move freely and my name should be taken out of the ECL (Exit Control List),".

June 08, 2005

Shakespeare's long haul

How does Shakespeare's appeal hold for so long? How many years has it been; close to four hundred years since he wrote and yet a rendition of Julius Caesar on Broadway runs to packed houses, as does an amateur high school presentation of As You Like It in a sheep rearing county of New Zealand. There's a Stephen Beresford, who relocates Shakespeare's romantic comedy "Twelfth Night" from the island of Illyria to the state of Kerala, in southern India! Drama clubs in universities and colleges never tire of presenting Shakespeare plays and have artists vying to be a part of that production. A recent Bollywood (film industry in India) film sold itself by an introductory credit saying the film was based on Shakespeare's Macbeth! Marlon Brando* will forever be remembered 'the best Hamlet ever', just as audiences in New York can't wait to see Denzel Washington as the very first black Brutus, a Broadway show that has already grossed a million dollars in profit upto this point.

I still remember memorizing entire soliloquies, some of which I can still recite, at the behest of my english teacher who I think was madly in love with many of these Shakespearan characters. Her readings are vivid in my mind even today, and that may be partly because that kind of passion is contagious because I fell in love; with Shakespeare! I wonder if it would have been this way had I had another teacher. In which case all those folks who are spending a hundred odd dollars or more to buy a ticket for that Broadway show must have all had similar teachers as mine! Hard to imagine, but a possibility nevertheless.

How often have these lines recited themselves back to me at crucial junctures in my quite so very ordinary love life:
"But love is blind, and lovers cannot see", "Love sought is good, but giv'n unsought is better", "The course of true love never did run smooth".
Just as I have found solace and inspiration during trying times by reflecting on these:
"Neither a borrower nor a lender be", "Brevity is the soul of wit", "Et tu, Brute!", "Now is the winter of our discontent".
Shakespeare rocks because he has it all! He sure as hell 'shakes the sphere' and it's not just the 'The Globe' we are talking about.
* It's Lawrence Oliviere not Marlon Brando (thanks 'starkindler2')

June 07, 2005


It's a pity we don't have this show anymore! See the re runs if you haven't seen the original. It's a show that'll have you in splits, with no breaks in between; never a dull moment! It's not like there is anything meaningful about the show, in fact quite the contrary; it's a show about nothing. Yet, the situations lend themselves to the most spontaneous peels of laughter. Nonsense couldn't get any better, and neither could such alarmingly maladjusted beings be so ideally brought together as in each of the Seinfeld episodes. The characters wreck havoc in any situation, even the most serious, but never in any conscious or obvious way. They spell disfunctionality by their very presence and land themselves in the most appaling and absurd of situations. They take the tragic, the normal, the serious, and then with such finess and elan transform it into the comical which soon verges on the hilarious until it reaches the point of the absurd. Undoubtedly, they've transformed disfunctionality into an art. So much so that viewers like me feel elevated when we find ourselves behaving like an Elaine or a George. The Seinfeld crew have transcended viewer judgement; they're in a league of their own!

Watch the reruns whenever you can, or buy the DVDs that have the first four seasons of the show.

Check out this veteran blogger writing out of India. Has some catchy stuff in there, especially for those of you who want a peek into exotic India.

June 05, 2005

The fruitfly scare

Scientist tweaked the master sex gene in a hitherto female fruit fly and activated the dormant male in it; the female fruit fly instantly started courting another female fruit fly that was ovulating!

This recent scientific discovery might throw a new light on certain dearly held beliefs of ours; that sexual preference is a socially aquired behaviour; that an alternate lifestyle is not a biological necessity; that people who adopt an alternate lifestyle are immoral. Afterall, it may all be in the gene, as the fruit fly experiment proved. It may be only a matter of time before the moralists among us have to retract their harsh words against those who dared to be different.

The fruit fly experiment also brings another rather depressing thought to mind; will this finding spell the end of romance between the male and the female of a species; a write off for that charmingly arbitrary act of falling in love. If the mere tweaking of a sex gene in the fruit fly changes its courting pattern, then the male female distinction in a species may be becoming redundant and would thus be a shortlived reality. Courtship, wooing, affairs, and the likes will be happenings of the past. Sex may forever be dissociated from pleasure, and it may end up being purely functional; for procreational purposes only.

May the findings of the experiment be applicable to fruit flies alone!

June 02, 2005

A parent by definition....

By definition a parent is one who has part ownership of begetting a child biologically. But that is just the tip of the iceberg,there is so much more to parenting than producing an offspring; the outtcome of the union of the sperm and the ovum. Yet it is this one criteria which is focused upon when parents with children decide to separate, and the matter is taken to court. Till everything is okay between the two partners who beget a child, there is no problem. Both, mother and father, do everything right by the book; drive the child for soccer, for piano classes, for buying sprees at the mall; they keep vaccination schedules, send their children to prestigious schools, and many more things.

Unfortunately, it's when things go sour in a marriage that the test of parenthood begins. How does a parent do right by his child when it means so much pain for the parent: eating humble pie at various times, giving up a major part of your earning toward child support, letting go of your child for its benefit, being reasonable with an exspouse, taking on the ire of your current partner, not overindulging your child and spoiling him simply to win brownie points, and the list goes on. How does a parent do justice by his child in the face of all these odds?

Going by the very basic principles of Darwinism, a parent is responsible for the well being of its offspring till such time that the offspring is capable of looking after itself. Parents provide a safety net for the offspring while it feels out its way into the world. The parent birds not only feed their young, they also teach them to fly, and keep them safe from predators. Not very different from what a human parent is expected to do. Except that a human offspring has a developing brain which needs as much nurturing as does its body. In fact, in countries like the United States and other developed nations, the physical need of an offspring have become secondary since they can well be taken care of by the state if the parent is absent or is unable to provide for some reason.

It is the mental well being of the child which is jeopardized when marriages fall apart. A broken home cannot provide the offspring the much needed and unconditional security net which is so vital for a childs growth. It is this intangible net of security which cajoles an infant to take that first independent step on his own, to board the bus on his first day of school, to stand up for what he believes in even when he has few supporters, to take calculated risks for betterment in life, to make experimental conjectures in scientific fields which he may or may not be able to prove. It is this ability to take risks, 'to go where no man has gone before', that is developed by the parental security net.

What happens when this net is ripped apart due to differences between the two parents? The child is plunged into inaction because he's scared of falling since he feels there'd be no one to break the fall. In this mental frame the child avoids decision making or conscious action of any sort; donning a mantle of inertia, which if left untouched over a period of time becomes the child's adult personality; one that is defensive and introverted. As an adult he becomes distrustful of people and relationships and thus perpetrates the same wrong that was done to him. A picture so marred by its own creator; whose reason for being was to produce and protect that creation.

Does that mean that parenting in the human world will soon become a dying art? That cannot be so long as the forces of procreation run strong; and that they will, thanks to the Viagras of the world. Produce we will, but whether we'll be able to function as parents thereafter remains to be seen.

May 23, 2005


What's special about a birthday? A sure way of getting attention, especially for those who lack it. What IS there to celebrate? Your entry into this world; an entry over which you had no control, and in which you had no say. An entry into a setting that was preset to someone else's specification; a setting to which you'll be forced to adapt to feel one with it; a setting that's inhabited by people you did not choose to be with. That's a reason too many NOT to celebrate a birthday! Yet we DO. We celebrate, annually, the taming of a mind that was born free.

May 20, 2005


I wonder why rain makes one slow down. Well maybe not everybody; rain rejuvenated Hemingway, and it foreshadowed new beginnings in his novels as a result. Just the physical inconvenience of carrying an umbrella or a raincoat is a slowing down of sorts. Rain makes you reflect on things which you've pushed into the backwaters of your brain. It forces you to recognize the existence of the grey in life. Alas, all is not bright and beautiful about you! April showers may not mean May flowers necessarily. There is a pervasive sluggishness in the surrounding; almost as if everything around was in a slow FF mode. The earth has pulled up at a rain station and the occupants on earth simply watch in respectful silence as the earthmobile quenches its thirst.

May 17, 2005

Why blog?

Everyones carries a story and wants to share it. But how public is he willing to go? That's the deciding question for a prospective blogger. Some of us are born narcicissts and a blog serves as an ideal medium; a one sided perspective; a unilateral presentation; feedbacks only if you so wish. Then there are those who believe they are untapped, usually unpublished, (not for lack of trying though) writers and see blogging as balm for shattered epistolary aspirations. Finally there are those of us whose loneliness has gotten to them and the blog becomes their outpouring.

I'm still trying to figure my reasons for blogging.