Monday, December 29, 2008

Kaurav Kunda

Click on any picture to reach Picasa album.

It is difficult to imagine that such a nice place exists so close to Bangalore. Barely 75 km from the garden city, stands Kaurav Kunda. We started one Saturday afternoon in JD's car with some groceries for dinner at the peak and breakfast next morning. After reaching Chikkabalapur, we finished our lunch and moved on to a village, Hariharpura, near Kaurav Kunda where we parked the car and proceeded towards the peak. It took around 1 hour to make it to the peak and the sun was just about to set.

On the windy peak, it took pretty long to cook rice and sambar and we killed time trying to roast potato properly and eat. It was dark and there was little wood nearby for us to make a bonfire. There was no water source and we had to manage with the little water we had, just enough for evening soup, dinner, and morning tea and we had to wipe our hands and utensils with grass and tissue paper.

It was quite cold and misty that night and our sleeping bags were wet by next morning. In the morning, we found ourselves surrounded by sea of clouds and the sun giving colors to it. It was something that I have never experienced before. Everything around was submerged in milky white clouds with streaks of orange and blue.

Once sun stopped its color show and the photography session ended, it was time for tea without sugar (which we forgot to get). Then we packed our bags and moved downhill to our next destination, Jarmagadu falls. We were climbing down from the opposite side (relative to where from we climbed up) and there it was tricky due to big boulders, drenches, and shrubs. We were stopped at a place where there was nearly 90-degree steep gorge and had to change direction. It took an hour and half to make it to the base.

There was a small pond with thick layer of mosses and bacteria from where we drank water (of green color) and cooked noodles. We asked for direction to Jarmagadu falls and proceeded (left on the trail), but unfortunately we were misguided to Jakkalmagadu gorge. It was strange that most of the local villagers had no idea about Jarmagadu falls. After walking endlessly for 2-1/2 hours and finding no clue of waterfalls, we decide to retrace our path, get to the car, and then go to the falls (can be reached by vehicle till Jangamarappanahalli en route to Ketenahalli village and then 2-km walk). All the while we kept on guessing about the location of the falls based on the pictures of Kaurav Kunda in JD's camera taken from Jarmagadu. Later on, we came to know from a villager that we had to take a right turn after crossing coconut plantation (we were misguided to take left turn) for Jarmagadu.

While getting back to the village, we saw relentless quarrying going on around the base of Kaurav Kunda and probably in a decade, there won't be any sign of this hill. By the time we reached the car, it was 4:30 pm and there wasn't enough time for us to reach and enjoy Jarmagadu even though it was at a distance of just 1 km by car and 2 km walk. Hence, we decided to head back to Bangalore. Hopefully, next time we will make it to the falls.

Second Attempt: We decide to pay a visit to this place again in the third weekend of Jan before the season of clouds was over and to seach the falls from Kaurav Kunda. It was pretty late by the we reached Hariharpura and hence by the time we could make to the peak, sun had already disappeared. All the way, I had been carrying dry twigs for camp fire, but since that was not sufficient, we thought of going down to get some more and hence I, Vivek, Ranjan, and Jagadish proceeded down while others, Mayur, Abhishek, and Ramesh were preparing tea (which took 1 hour to cook because of the wind). We were back with some more dry wood. We started making fire at a place which was covered by stones and was less windy, but it turned nightmare as the dry grass caught fire and the fire started spreading at a speed unimaginable. It was paniky and we had to use already scarce water to extinguish this.

Pitching the tent was difficult because of winds and we had doubts whether it will stand there or not. Though it was worth because of the warmth it gave.

Next morning, we were expecting the same drama of clouds and sunrise, but to our dissapointment the sky around us was clear and I went back to my sleeping bag for few more hours of sleep until irritating JD woke us up. We had Upma and then proceeded downhill. After we reached the narrow mud road, we proceeded towards the falls (turned left). As soon as we crossed coconut plantation, we turned right. Later we got 2 bifurcations and kept to our right. At the third bifurcation which was like a "T" turn with a hill at our front blocking road, we turned right. After this, there was no proper route and it was just JD's instinct to guide us to the falls. We got a gorge and some remains of a dry stream which we followed to reach the falls. Dissapointment again. The falls had turned into something comparable to a peeing kid, literally. We came to know later from women working in fields that post moonson this falls is frequented by huge crowds.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Word Feeding

On the auspicious occation of fathering a baby, a colleague of mine posted a picture of the newborn on his orkut album. No harm in that. And afterall every father has constitutional right to post his baby's pic on orkut. Doesn't he? I too, under the spell of human curiosity, clicked to have a look on the pic and it was pretty much normal, a-day-old infant clad in pink Mikey mouse printed suit (too young to know who's Mikey), wrapped in sky blue towel.

It was not the picture but what caught my attention were the comments that followed. One of the response was "Cho chweeeeet....cute baby." Thats a pretty standard response, you do not need to think or even see the infant properly to find appreciable features or things to say about. Just "sweet" and "cute" along with its variations, chweeeeeeeeet, tute, tweet, etc., are good enough, why stress the brain.

Another response was "Mubarak ho dost, the infant resembles u...." Now, this is hilarious. I know the owner of the comment had good intentions (if he had any) and could not read his words as I can. At first, the world "resemble" caught my attention. A 1-day-old newborn resembles to a 30-year-old adult! One can find the resemblence when kids grow up a little, but how is it possible to find similarity when one of the concerned party is a-day-old baby with red swollen cheeks and lips and closed eyes. One cannot even match the eye color. And that too from a two-dimentional poor quality picture!

Now, read the sentence again "the infant resembles u." Such a good friend is he who wants to assure the father that the baby indeed is his, nobody else's, at least not of the good friend's for sure. Even though I am feeling sorry about the father (if he happens to read and understand the comments), I could hardly stop myself double over with laugh.

You might think, it is too much of me to describe all this nonsense. Indeed, nonsense it is, not to dig deep in thinking, but to speak and write words which are not thought, words which are just taken out of shelf. The society seems to have fed the words in our mouth and coded the incidences, where which phrases should come out. We do not bother to think before we appreciate, we just fullfil our social duty using the preformed template. What an unintillegent species the majority of humans are!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shingani Gudda Trek

Click on any photo in slideshow to reach Picasa album.

The team for this trek consisted of me, Guna, and Jagadish (sometimes three people do make a team). We boarded the bus towards Dharmasthala from Bangalore and got down at Kokkada, 15 km before Dharmasthala. Kashinath, owner of Stream of Joy Homestay (ph08251-268225) was to meet us at Kokkada and there he was with his jeep ready for a ride to his homestay.

Stream of Joy Homestay is a nice place to spend time (though somewhat costly), just on the bank of river Kapila (included in the pics) which is at most knee deep with crystal-clear water.

Kashinath introduced us to our guide, Ananda. Shingani Gudda is basically 1-day trek, but we decided to camp on the peak. So, we were at our leisurely pace and started pretty late (partly to digest the huge mude, kind of idle, we had consumed) , around 11 a.m. and asked Ananda to take a long route.

The route is not very difficult except a stretch of two kilometers or so where it becomes troublesome to climb on loose soil and rock covered with thick foliage. But otherwise, it is a pleasant walk through thick forest. Even though it was dry season, four leeches had the fortune of tasting my blood. King-size mosquitos were there to serve us as most leeches were on leave. It seemed as though it would be very difficult to trek in monsoon or post monsoon because of leeches and many parts of the route becoming water streams and moreover Kapila would become turbulent too which we had to cross.

We reached the peak by 5 p.m. and were a little disappointed because of sun being behind clouds and not offering a nice sunset. But soon we witnessed the amazing drama of clouds, seemed as if they were being colored in pink, orange and thrown in pieces by sun, crowded near the sun and fading as the distance increased. The peak being small, we could see all other peaks in that region.

That night we had to sustain on chapatis and MTR curry which we were tired of. There is hardly place to pitch single tent at the peak and we did without the tent, just sleeping bags. Next morning, after a spectacular sunrise and cup noodles, we headed towards the homestay as no one was in a mood to have chapatis again. Thankfully, we were greeted by a lunch the taste of which is unforgettable, with more varieties of food than we could manage. We were left with 4 hours to laze in the waters of Kapila and enjoy the man-made waterfalls. Finally, we boarded the bus to Dharmasthala and from there to Bangalore.

Friday, December 5, 2008

News of Reality OR Reality of News

I curiously peeped into news papers from Pakistan to see how the scenario around Mumbai attack is being showcased there. And it was really funny. See this piece of article from The Frontier Post.
Mumbai terror attacks Further evidence of the Anglo-American-Mossad-RSS nexus - Amaresh Misra

...terrorists looked like Anglo-American covert operatives and that the entire Mumbai operation was an attempt by Anglo-American forces to destabilize India and push it further into the Israel-US orbit....

...Clearly, the attackers would not have come from the sea route without some kind of a connivance of Gujarat and Maharashtra Governments with the terrorists, and the connivance of RSS type Hindutva elements...

...One Police officer who encountered the gunmen as they entered the Jewish Center (Nariman House) said the attackers were white. "I went into the building late last night" he said. "I got a shock because they were white. I was expecting them to look like us."...
...Anonymous sources in the Police have revealed that Karkare was taken there, by a joint team of anti-Karkare, pro-Hindutva Mumbai Police officers, and Chota Rajan men....
Want to read the whole article? Here is it.

Here is another wonder article.
Maharashtrian suicide squad on Pakistan mission - Tooba Afridi
Indian newsweekly ‘Outlook’ has disclosed that one of its loyalists had raised a “suicide commando squad” of “dedicated Maharashtrian youth to be covertly deployed inside Pakistan."
Full article.

Haven't read Outlook yet, check it out in The Frontier Post.

If the news that Pakistanis get can be twisted in this way, the news that we digest every morning is probably similarly twisted and turned. News delivered by our so called free media is equally frothy and tarnished as that of other side of the border. The problem lies in human mind which needs anchors, wants to know causes of everything even if there are none, and the media exploits this "want for cause" by making up causes which appeal to the largest population (which turns into largest sale). So, you need to fight not the media but your own mind and console it that not every event has a cause and not all cause (as showcased by media) is the reality.

Another news of interest: TRP rating of "Malegaon blast investigation" has dropped significantly and hence news related to this has been taken off air.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Double Trouble with Gandhism

Courtesy: Tribune India
M K Gandhi was an immeasurably popular figure when he was alive and he is still so, in the textbook of class 1 to 10 compulsorily and beyond optionally, on money (only Rs 10 and above), and in bollywood. Every now and then whenever required (such as on October 2nd, independence, republic day, election rallies, or in need to pacify rioting public), we pull Mr Gandhi out of the closet and refer to his ideologies and how much we follow and respect those ideologies. But do Indian gornament indeed follow and respect his ideologies? How relevant Gandhi's ideologies are in today's context? Here are two such inconsistencies which looks pretty okay on the surface but common-sense analysis reveals otherwise.

Nonviolence: The very existence of army and various war that India has fought along with numerous other usage of violence through the history of independent India proves the fact that India and specifically its government does not accept the very idea of nonviolence. One would argue that the world we live in, with our neighbors being capable of attacking and conquering our territory, makes it impossible to follow the footsteps of Gandhi which would take us towards no army, no war type of society. The argument is correct to great extent but only partially. Probably, it is quite a herculean task to build a local society based on nonviolence and tolerance. Otherwise, if a society is armless and another is armed, the latter will obviously use its muscle power whenever there is a conflict of interest. I believe, such a society is only possible at a global level when all the countries fuse to form a border less, war free world. However, the point of discussion is that if it is not possible to follow Gandhian principles by the nation itself, then why preach the same to the masses, why put this poor chap on every currency note, why name streets on every city on his name, why describe his principles in each and every textbook?

Alcoholism: Second anomaly in India with respect to Gandhi lies in Gujarat. Gujarat is declared a dry state, i.e., liquor is not sold here (just officially though) in respect of Gandhi, Gujarat being his birth state, who opposed consumption of alcohol. Good enough. But wasn't India Gandhi's birth country and on the same ground as Gujarat is declared dry, the whole country must also be alcohol free. Does the rest of the country except Gujarat disrespect Gandhi and his ideas? What explanation does other states and central government have? Will they say, "we do respect Mahatma Gandhi, but alcohol revenue is just too much to ignore." Why this question is not the topic of any hot discussion shows in news channels? And why not Gujarat bans milk and meat too. After all Gandhi gave up milk after learning about the ill-treatment of milk producing animals and thought that milk was for calves, not for human consumption.

Personally, I take it to be violation of an individual's basic right of freedom of thought and action. The nation should have no business in deciding whether or not the citizens want to follow the footsteps of Gandhi, Jinnah, or Bose or they wish to adhere to their own independent thinking. Certainly, it doesn't have the right to force feed one or other ideology that it feels suitable for whatsoever reasons. One cannot be free unless one is free to make choices and think for self. One cannot call it a free country wthen the political Brahmins decide the lifestyle of its citizens.

Related Post: Let's Get Drunk

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Eco-Friendly Funeral


You may choose to be cremated or buried when you die,
but here is a better option you gotta try,
for your friends and family to get rid of your body and say you bye bye.

In Dead Earnest - Lee Hays (sung by Pete Seeger)
If I should die before I wake,
All my bone and sinew take.
Put me in the compost pile,
To decompose me for a while.
Worms, water, sun will have their way,
Returning me to common clay.
All that I am will feed the trees,
And little fishes in the seas.
When radishes and corn you munch,
You may be having me for lunch,
And then excrete me with a grin,
Chortling, "There goes Lee again."
'Twill be my happiest destiny,
To die and live eternally.

Marathi Manoos, Hindustani, or Just a Human on Earth

I stumbled upon an article in which apparently is month old and the issue has cooled down now, but anyway it excellently serves my purpose. Here is the article in original form:

"".... Yes, we all should support Raj Thackeray and take his initiative ahead by doing more...

  1. We should teach our kids that if he is second in class, he shouldn't study harder, just beat up the student coming first and throw him out of the school.
  2. Parliament should have only Delhiites as it is located in Delhi.
  3. Prime Minister, President and all other leaders should only be from Delhi.
  4. No Hindi movie should be made in Mumbai. Only Marathi movies must be made there.
  5. Buses, trains, flights should be stopped at every state border and staff should be changed to local men.
  6. All Maharashtrians working abroad or in other states should be sent back as they are 'snatching' employment from locals.
  7. Lord Shiva, Ganesha and Parvati should not be worshiped in our state as they belong to north (Himalayas).
  8. Visits to Taj Mahal should be restricted to people from Uttar Pradesh (UP) only.
  9. Relief for farmers in Maharashtra should not come from Centre because that is the money collected as tax from whole of India, so why should it be given to someone in Maharashtra?
  10. Let us support Kashmiri militants because they are right in killing and injuring innocent people for the benefit of their state and community.
  11. Let us throw all MNCs out of Maharashtra. Why should they earn from us? We will open our own Maharashtra Microsoft, MH Pepsi and MH Marutis of the world.
  12. Let us stop using cellphones, emails, TV, foreign Movies and dramas. James Bond should also speak Marathi.
  13. We should be ready to die hungry or buy food at 10-times higher price, but should not accept imports from other states.
  14. We should not allow any industry to be set up in Maharashtra because all machinery comes from outside.
  15. We should stop using local trains as trains are not manufactured by Marathi manoos and the Railway Minister is also from Bihar.
  16. Ensure that all our children are born, grow, live and die without ever stepping out of Maharasthra, then they will become true Marathis.
We need to make it clear once and for all, we are Indian first. Mumbai is Mumbai because it is a part of India......""


By this time, you must have been thinking what a great write up it is defining the soul of Indian integrity and that a state is meaningless without the country. True. Indeed it is a great article not just because it provides insight into Raj Thackeray's so-called hate politics or divide and rule politics (doesn't politics itself mean divide and rule). This article also serves as a template to understand another important phenomenon. Now do a small exercise. Re-read the above article again, but whenever you encounter words related to the concept of "Maharashtra," replace it with "India" and replace the concept of "India" with "world." Then, the last line would read as follows:
We need to make it clear once and for all, we are world citizen first. India is India because it is a part of the world.
You may replace India with United States, Pakistan, France, or Somalia. Yet the results are same. But we have never been taught that neither in school nor by the media. Why? Because this kind of thought is called ANTI-NATIONAL. Unfortunately, the common sense is also not that common for us to have our own opinion on such issues. The government of different nations have been doing the same thing what Raj intends to do, divide and rule, but it is given a different name, patriotism. If it is in the best interest of a state to be united with the country, then I believe IT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF A COUNTRY TO BE UNITED WITH THE WORLD, ONE WORLD. I know patriotism and nationalism are touchy issues and many questions remain to be answered, but I cannot make this post endlessly long. I welcome questions, comments, and criticism. More information about the concept of one world can be found in

Terror Attack, Reactions, and Questions on Reactions

Mumbai struck by terrorists, 150 dead, army flushing out terrorists, media busy covering the events, politicians busy calculating which punch lines would turn in most votes, whole Indian population hooked to their television sets (many thanks to TN govt which distributed many of those sets), some of them SMS-ing TV channels (at Rs 2 per SMS a big part of which goes to the channel itself) things like "we stand united against the terrorists , we are not afraid, etc.," and you are reading this. Thats it pretty much. I could not stop myself from looking for updates ever now and then neither could most TV-watching/internet-surfing Indians could. In such a scenario, various questions are popping up and I thought it might be a prudent idea to key them down for public review. Questions to the authority/government/politicians: Our politicians have such a strong network of intelligence that they could find out within minutes who is behind such terrorizing acts even though intelligence inputs never come before the catastrophe and it takes half a day to deploy experts in handling such situation (here NSG). The question is if the government has known, with confidence, who is behind the miseries of Indians for 2 decades now, then why no action has been taken? Are we sort of brave army men or money to carry out actions to ensure security of our countrymen? Or it is that we are so tolerant and peaceful that we prefer our citizen being killed rather than retaliate? BJP says "its India's 9/11" as if it is graceful to have an 9/11. Congress jumps to compete and says "Its an attack on India" and we are incapable of doing anything. Questions to the media: The media, especially television, has been covering this bloody affair ferociously, 24/7. This news seems to be of such great importance to them that they feel nothing else requires to be told to the viewers. But doesn't 100 people dead by drawning in Tamil Nadu make news? How about hundreds more who will die due to water born diseases since medicines hardly costing Rs 10 is not available in govt hospitals, due to unavailability of drinking water, due to cold since they have lost their homes, or due to hunger since there is no work in fields. Oh! I just missed the point about TRP ratings. Questions to the masses: Lot of people are SMS-ing to TV channels, blogging, etc., their views. Few such views and my questions to the owners of those views are as follows: View: Enough is enough. My Question: What are you going to do, sit in front of the TV, blow few hot opinions in smoke of cigarette with colleagues, send a few forwarded SMS and emails, or at the most burn a few candles benefiting candle manufacturers (don't forget to remind the environmentalist how much pollution so many candles would cause). V: Lets stand united against terrorism. We are not afraid of this terrorist act. We will teach them a lesson and fight till finish them. I salute those brave soldiers those who sacrificed their lives for the country. MQ: Are you ready to join anti-terrorism squad and fight those terrorists or prefer the safety of air-conditioned office and endless keyboarding with no risk of getting even a scratch. V: We should not show any mercy towards the terrorists and they should be punished through fast track court and capital punishment should be given to them so that they should think 100 times before doing such acts. MQ: What made you think that terrorists will be afraid of death or capital punishment? Isn't their act anything less than suicide? V: Indian govt should make more stringent laws. MQ: Does the present laws allow terrorism? And by the way, do you really follow all the laws of the land? The only sensible comment I could see was "Find root cause. Why they are attacking? Reason of their dissatisfaction.." These idiotic comments equally from masses and authorities seem more terrorizing to the mind than the terrorist act itself. Please someone stop them from misusing their freedom of expression.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Megani Trek and Maravanthe Beach

Click on any photo in slideshow to reach Picasa album. This trek was organized by YHAI Udupi unit near Kollur, Udupi Dist, Karnataka in November 2008. The trek route is as follows: Day 1: Mavinkar>Bavudi>Thearthabare Falls>Bavudi>Megani (base camp). (15 km) Day 2: Megani>Galigudda>Haddubare>Devakunda>Megani. (10 km) Day 3: Megani>Hullukudike (6 km) Mavinkar is 5 km from Kollur bus stand from where the trek started. The whole trek was made easy by the fact that the trek route was through thick forest and hence devoid of harsh sun rays and also abundance of water. Some part of Bavudi to Megani route on day 1 was little steep, but manageable. Not only the selection of trek route was excellent but also management of arrangement was simply superb by YHAI. These jungles seemed to be fairly untouched by commercial activities or even by trekkers, but later on we came to know that though tree felling was not a concern here (probably trees were of poor commercial value), but poaching was rampant. One needs to get permission for trek in this region by Kundapur forest department which is not everybody's "glass of coffee" because of supposed Naxal menace. After Valedictory function on day 3, we left towards Kundapur where from we had to board bus for Bangalore, but en route we got down at Maravanthe beach and could witness the magnificent drama of sun and clouds unfold. The experience could not be captured in pictures nor it could be described in words.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Charmadi Ghat Trek

Click on any photo in slideshow to reach Picasa album. Charmadi Ghat trek was organized by YHAI Mangalore branch in October 2008. In this 3-day trek, we covered the following hills: Kumbhakallu, Minchukallu, Kodekallu, Baalebetta, Jenukallu, Bidirutala village, and Yerikallu (Hulidana Bande).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Indians Now Want Caucasian Babies

In the concluding section of my past post Indian Fascination About Foreign, I was trying to figure out the various ways this fascination culminates into, i.e., we predominantly prefer foreign language and wear foreign clothings, etc. And, I found some more fascinating stuff. Today, I came across this article in outlook This Sperm Counts. This article enumerates the mindset of childless Indian couples opting for IVF (in-vitro fertilization) and details how foreigners visiting India become sperm/ova donors to various sperm/ova banks in India who in turn use those sperms/ova to fertilize infertile Indian couples. But why foreign sperms/ova? The answer lies in what type of babies Indian couples want to BUY from fertility clinics. Here is what Indian couples want:
These are the characteristics couples coming to fertility clinics ask for, fuelling the trend for foreign sperm: * Fair skin * Lighter hair * Blue/green or light eyes * High IQ levels
Now, observe, 3 out of 4 desired characteristics in a baby are the common characteristics of Caucasians, that is Indian couples are increasingly willing for their babies to look like someone whom they consider better and superior. Doesn't the above fact reflect a clear preference/fascination for foreigners? Indians have still not liberated themselves from ghost of foreign rule and it seems most of them feel comfortable in this bondage. A bit of imagination: Now, suppose that IVF becomes so cheap that anybody including the daily-wage laborer earning Rs 50 a day could afford it and Indian law allows even the fertile couples to have IVF and to be able to choose various physical features of babies. Given the Indian adoration of Caucasian race, every couple will be more than eager to have and raise babies of foreigners (since sperms and ova would come from foreigners) rather than propagate their own genes. Soon, in a few generations, the whole country will be populated by Caucasians and not East Indians. And in this way, we Indian will finally reach our goal of looking the most like foreigners, from trying to ape them to completely genetically becoming one of them. But then, who will be the foreigner when we too are foreigners in our own land!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Kolli Hills Trek-October 2008

This 2-day trek was organized by Chennai Trekking Club in October 2008. We climbed the Kolli Hills, got into our cab to reach Kollimalai Falls (the most amazing one I have ever seen, neither a photograph of which can be taken nor a photograph can describe the experience), and then 9 of us (including me) out of the group of 40 set on to explore the cave the route of which starts from the falls. We could not find the cave but this deviation from routine plan turned out to be another amazing trek with river crossing and following a route which seemed more puzzling the more we explored it. And of course, we gave some headache to the rest of the group which finally started the search drill for 9 missing souls.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is Freewill a Misnomer?

Is there a way that a computer programs would know they have been programed and their actions are predetermined and controlled to large extent by humans. It doesn't seem as though they know. Similarly, most humans too do not know that they have been programmed or primed to perform actions which would be beneficial to those who programmed them. For example, the ruler of a state primes its citizen so as to act in ways to serve the purpose of the ruler, to let the ruler live a lavish life and histories be written praising the ruler. Another prominent example of this is religion which has become such a complex entity that it is difficult to point out who is the programmer since the programmer himself seems to be programed at first hand. On closer examination, it seems that even though the religious leaders are programmed themselves, they tend to do lot of fine-tuning in religious processes and beliefs so as to derive benefit from masses. Almost everywhere in this world, someone seems to prime someone else or group of individuals. But the general rule is that the number of programmers are far less than those being programmed and hence the harvest thus derived is concentrated among a few. Under so many influences on our mind, the concept of freewill, the ability of an individual to decide, seems to be a misnomer, something that gives the illusion of being in self control. Our so-called freewill seems to be rather limited to choosing between McDonald's and KFC, Pepsi and Coke. Someone called Jane Roberts wrote:
Your beliefs can be like fences that surround you. You must first see them or you will not even realize that you are not free, simply because you will not see beyond the fences. They will represent the boundaries of your experience.
True, our beliefs often become boundaries of our freewill. And how to gain more freewill? I suppose, we can do so by: 1. Questioning everything that we have been taught and that are being taught especially those that we have been told to believe in and not to question. 2. Doubting all including self wisdom. 3. Not treating your believes, ideas, and opinions as your belongings but rather discarding the old and accepting the new ones as and when more evidence become available. 4. Finally, always keeping your fingers crossed since you know not the truth but the perception of it, the shadow of it, which would change as the direction of light changes.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Old Ain't Really Gold

I'm really sick of this silly idea, "old is gold." I don't understand why people keep on saying that they like old stuff, that the old songs/movies were far better than present ones, the food was good in old times, and the nonsense continues.

If old things are really better than new ones, then is there any reason to invent new stuffs and moreover the whole human race would seem to be going through retrograde progression, from good to bad, constantly and endlessly. And if old is gold, why do people sell their old gold for new ones and why do most old stuff depreciate in price.

One reason I can find: Out of hundreds of items (say songs), what remains in people's psyche are a handful of best ones and then people compare those THE BEST ONES with all sort of average, good, worse contemporary ones. Obviously, the best old one will be better than the average current items and then people interpret it as the old stuff are better than present ones which actually should mean the best old items are better than average current items.

The problem seems to be in the limited memory of our brain, there isn't just enough disk space to save all the crap of yesteryears.

If you still have problem visualizing the situation, consider experiencing life as it was just 25 years back if not 100 or 200 years. Give up your high-paying IT job that makes you sit in an air conditioned cabin and take up a job in some manufacturing factory, railway, or some government office; drop your mobile phone and rely solely on neighborhood STD booth for calls; get a used scooter to replace your car and intend to use it forever; no computer or cable TV; do not avail any medical techniques that were developed within the last 25 years; and take other similar measures to transport yourself in good old time. I hope just by imagining these, you would like to reconsider your idea of "old is gold."

Indian Fascination About Foreign


While traveling back from Hampi, I encountered something that is much talked about and is already known, the Indians' fascination about foreigners. I found few Indian co-passengers dying to talk to few foreigners who were sitting next. The Indian guy was desperate to help and guide those 2 German ladies even without their intention to ask for any advice. This transported me to thinking mode asking why Indians are so fascinated about foreigners, foreign goods/brands, people living abroad, and almost everything foreign as if their shit smell better than ours.

On discussion, one of my friend suggested "it is because we give too much importance to fair skin color." In media or marriage, fair skin color is preferred and probably this is what explains Indians' fascination. But I say, this may be not be the complete truth and limited to females, because I've never seen any excessively fair local guy being treated like outsiders, not even to slightest extent. Moreover, in media and in marriages, many a times tall, dark, and handsome is the way to go.

Another friend suggested, since most Indians won't be able to visit other countries and hence, by talking and being friendly with foreigners, they want to get a feel of the land beyond seas. If this is true, then Indians must be as inquisitive to people of African origin as they are to Caucasians. Unfortunately, that does not hold.

Finally, a third friend suggested that "the persons who had willingly worked under British domination, had tried to ape them so much that they passed on the habit to their offspring." This seems to hold some truth but does not justify the fact that this phenomenon involves the whole India diaspora not just those who worked under British.

Another more general conclusion, "foreigners pay triple than an India and they don't bargain." That may be true for most foreigners and explains much of the hotels' and business owners' preference for customers with a Visa. But what I'm referring here is more generalized "thrill" associated with foreign in Indian psyche.

My conclusion: In Indian subcontinent, there exists cast system which has been hereditary for the past hundreds of years if not thousands. Hence, membership of a particular jati is by birth and what a member of that jati does for living is pretty much predefined. The Kshatriyas were kings and warriors, the Brahmins were teachers, scholars and priests, the Vaishyas were traders, and Shudras were agriculturists, service providers, and some artisan groups. This hierarchy was and is not just for division of work but also for defining social status, the facilities available to a cast, and to what extent a person was oppressed by members of higher casts. Also, Mughals too became part of this hierarchy after their invasion. Under such conditions, it is pretty much clear that proximity to higher cast had obvious advantages.

Even if social conditions were not at all bad for lower casts, getting closer to people who are considered superior is certainly advantageous and this behavior is somehow embedded in human psyche. Sometime there are direct benefits of this association, like if you know a film star, you may get a break in movies. More often, there are indirect benefits, like if you know a film star, you get better treatment by your friends and neighbors. Now, what would you do when you find a film star sitting next to you? Start a conversation as soon as possible!!! Isn't it? At least that's what our subconscious directs us to do. This explains why would people in somewhat egalitarian societies would still want to get associated with outsiders who give the appearance of superiority.

In India, Caucasian foreigners dominated for some 200 years and had the physical features similar to or even better than Aryans, the probable ancestors of Kshatriyas and the characters of ancient scriptures/epic, e.g. Ram, Arjun, etc. The physical features and dominance over Indian soil gave an impression that Caucasians belong to the higher end of the cast hierarchy. So, the point is Caucasian foreigners were and are considered elite, noble. And hence, the obvious follows, Indians jump to get associated with them since that is what their subconscious tells, "get closer to higher cast."

The aftermath: Now, we Indians have accepted the fact consciously or unconsciously that there are loads of benefits of being associated with higher class and/or giving the feel of association by way of imitating their mannerism which among other things heightens the status in society.

And the consequence:
1. Many Indians have abandoned their native language and speak English which has also become unofficially official language of independent India (which could not free itself from the foreign language) to be used in parliament.
2. Indians have abandoned their attire (I have never wore a dhoti) .
3. Indians often like to be called by an foreign-sounding name instead of their original names, such as Viky instead of Vikram, Sandy instead of Saundarya.
4. Indians read far more books in English than in other regional languages which is reflected by the meagre number of books published in regional languages and their skimpy price compared to English ones demonstrate that no one is ready to pay more for them.
5. Also, if you notice you will find that foreignm movies are rated much higher than similar regional movies by the newspapers/magazines.

There are numerous such examples which show our preference for foreign and we still take pride in so called Indian culture. Boy! We look so much like Kshatriyas now.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Why Do Questions Arise?

While wasting time on orkut "ask friend" section, I encountered this question: why do questions arise? And I could not stop myself double out laughing. The unkempt, smiling, enthusiastic pic of the owner of the question made this laugh double over again. But the question is so basic in nature that it seems to be the reason why should any question be answered at first place. It seems to underlie all the questions that have been, that are being, or that will be asked. Why cannot we live and exercise our life just as it is without poking our nose or other parts in QUESTIONS of different sort. This seems to be the differentiating factor among humans and other living beings. Other living beings seem to inquire only to the extent that has to do something with their existence and other fundamental needs. Even not all humans have the habit of asking questions, otherwise our would not have been full of irrational things which would fade away if people start asking common sensical questions. That is not the case. Most people accept things as they have been told by leaders of different sort and ancestors and often story books (read religious scriptures). But there exists a small minority who do ask questions, especially children. Does this human trait of inquiry loses its vigor as the child grows into an adult becoming more and more bored, monotonous, robotic.? Another question that arises here is whether THIS IS (curiosity, questioning) the genetic difference between humans and other living beings that has culminated into vast differences in biological and social evolution.? Finally, another heartful of laugh for me. I searched "why do questions arise" on google and it returned Bible, Luke Chapter 24-38, another blind alley of unreason. Moral: Internet search engines do not understand philosophy.

Printing of Cost of Production and Maximum Retail Price bill

In India, Mandatory Printing of Cost of Production and Maximum Retail Price bill was presented in April 2006 but it was not passed and hence is non-functional. The bill said: It is generally seen that the prices of consumer goods sold in the markets are determined arbitrarily by the manufacturers. In this process, the manufacturers gain huge profits as the actual manufacturing cost is very low. The consumers’ interests are compromised and they are compelled to buy goods at much higher prices in comparison to actual manufacturing cost of goods. Thus, consumers are subjected to economic exploitation. No manufacturer wants to print the cost of production which in reality is way low than maximum retail price. The government committee formed to recommend ways to avoid exploitation of consumers (August 2008) was very much in favor of printing cost of production, but it faced huge protest from industry. This in a way shows how the government is controlled by the interest of industrialists rather than masses.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Finding a Perfect Digital Camera

Deciding on something is a difficult task for me since I want that "something" to be perfect for my needs. Though I like difficult tasks of searching for THE PERFECT stuff on and on, days out and days in, weeks over weeks, EVEN IF IT IS A SIMPLE STUPID PAIR OF SANDALS. So, now you can just imaging how much research I would do to get a digital camera!!!!

On a philosophical note, the reality is that there ain't anything which is PERFECT and it actually is a big illusion, still we strive for it. Moreover, what I learned from my past experiences of searching for perfection is that I learn nothing from past.

Coming to the business, I was searching for a digital camera for past few days and I just want to list out the resources here for future reference.

STEP 1: Use any of the 4 sites mentioned below and shortlist the cameras which meets your requirement.

This site allows you to describe various features you need in the camera, price range, brand, etc., and what are important. Based on the input provided, this gives a very nice list of desirable cameras.

One may explore the "find the best camera for you" (this is same as #1), "compare models", "Dave's picks", and "digital camera review" sections on the left side of the website. In Dave's picks section, use Dave's picks index to select the appropriate category for you and find out which are the best cameras in that category. Also, the reviews posted are excellent.

This one is similar to the "find the best camera for you" option of imaging-resources, but with some style, not very technical though.

This site offers search camera based on technical details (most of which I could not understand). Reviews too are very brief and not of much help.

STEP 2: Read the reviews of different cameras you have shortlisted in sites 1 through 4. Compare the features that are more important to you, e.g., image quality, zoom, ease of handling, responsiveness, etc., and remove the camera from your list which is below your expectations.

Though their search feature is very basic, but their reviews are awesome.

Another digital camera review site that offers good reviews.

STEP 3: Most probably, by this time you will be left with only one camera. But if still in dilemma, use the site 5 and pick the camera which has received highest ratings among your shortlisted ones.

Here one can see the averages of ratings and tests done by various websites for different models of camera. Use the search feature to find the camera model you are searching for since at times, it is not listed under the brand category.

This is another website where users can compare 2 camera models side by side; however, the comparison is very basic, e.g., zoom, f stops, weight, price, etc. It does not account for picture quality, usability, and other subjective factors. No provision for user rating too.

Finally, I was able to make up my mind on Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ28, but unfortunately its not available in India yet... :(

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Union Budget and Economy

The union budget 2008-2009 is out and the newspapers have got ample fodder to keep the nation (and some parts of world concerned with India's economy) busy over the next couple of days. They will be examining each and every word of finance minister's speech from different angles and come out with vastly different conclusions trying to predict the future course of the country. At least one out of these many predictions will turn out to be true which they will call their ability to predict accurately. If at 10 a.m., I predict that it will rain tomorrow and then at 10:10 a.m., I predict it won't rain tomorrow. Now, day after tomorrow, I will tell you "see how good I'm at predicting the behavior of clouds" (note I made both predictions, either of which is bound to be true) and I know you won't ask me questions about the prediction which didn't turn true (do you ask your newspapers). So, the media have been debating whether the FM has pushed India backwards with increased fiscal deficit (how much is again a matter of debate) or ushered into a new era of reduced tax but still higher revenue collection and growth. And this mindless debate will continue as long as there are mindless viewers trying to find out a conclusion and as long as there are advertisers. I haven't gone into the nitty-grity of the bill, but to me one thing is clear that finance minister has tried to achieved three things by doing three things. Three things he tried to achieve: 1. Keep inflation under control. 2. Keep GDP growth intact. 3. Enhance vote bank for the next election. Three things he did: 1. Reduced excise duty (tax levied on locally manufactured goods). 2. Reduced direct income tax. 3. Donated generously Rs 60,000 Cr to garib kisan. The first thing, reduction in excise duty in myriad of manufactured/packaged goods is aimed at keeping inflation in check. This in conjunction with recent decrease in rail freight rates may have some effect on prices of manufactured/packaged goods, but major contributes of inflation are commodities which are on fire due to (may be) huge money moving from equities to commodities. Moreover, it is the agricultural commodities and perishable food items prices of which affect the public in general and prices rise of which are shown on TV, hence affecting the vote bank. I'm uncertain about how far the duty cuts will influence the prices of these sensitive goods. Secondly, the reduction in income tax rates has left anything between Rs 5000 to Rs 45000 in the pockets of Indian middle class, the informed voter. It will have two ramifications: 1. To save Rs X of income tax, on average one has to invest Rs 3X in tax saving instruments. A significant part of this money that the nation invests to save tax will now be available for consumption. So, enforced investment (enforced by the need to save tax) which is probably the only investment most people in India make will be reduced to great extent. Bad time for tax-saving mutual funds, ULIPs, et al. 2. Local consumption will increase hugely. People will spend not only the amount saved in taxes but also which was supposed to be used for investment. Thirdly, the Rs 60,000 Cr. Most analysts and media didn't quite like this since they feel this is unnecessary waste of funds and will make rural borrowers "addicted" to this kind of generosities in the future. I'm assured that most analysts have no connection with the farmers and media is published from urban areas only and hence, they have little insight if any about farmers' plight. Unlike other government generosities, the chances of money being lost in transit is less likely. This is because of the fact that money has already been spent and government is paying back the credit to the financial institutions, who, I suppose, will perform far better in extracting dough from the ministry in comparison to unorganized masses, like tsunami victims, etc. I know lot many borrowers will still be required to pay the loan themselves and many who have paid back partially will be shown on papers as if they didn't. But more or less, farmers will now have renewed ability to borrow and to go farming. Basically, Finance Minister has virtually given gift coupons worth Rs 60,000 Cr to farmers as well as to all those involved in the process of distributing loan wavers, people in the ministry, babus in the bank, the middleman who reads the deed to the borrower, etc. And of course, they are going to buy stuff with these gift coupons hence increasing local consumption. With no credit to pay back, the garib kisan will have a lot more funds (as new credit though) to be deployed in fields in the form of farm input, i.e., fertilizers, seeds, pesticides, tractor. Results. Increased sale of farm inputs (local consumption) leading to better harvest leading to increase in GDP growth rate and stabilization of farm product prices (decrease in inflation). Also, don't forget that it will strengthen the vote bank too. So, the bottom line is that reduction in excise duty and income tax along with the gift to rural janta will ensure that economy gets a boost with hugely increased local consumption but at the cost of decreased savings and investments (are we becoming more like Americans). I'll be expecting better quarterly numbers from the companies serving the local economy in the third and fourth quarters of 2008-2009 since these are months when most of the investment is made and now that amount will now be diverted to mobiles, jeans, shoes, jewelry, and of course, chicken as well as better harvest. Now, you would say what about stock market; since the money is diverted from investment to consumption, stocks must take a dip. No. Investment for tax saving is a very small amount when compared to total domestic investment and tiny if you compare with FII numbers. On the other hand, investors (domestic or foreign) will be more interested in buying stocks with better earnings. Indian growth story (as they say in the media) continues....

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Biased Logic

Q1: Do you think that there is a chance that life (living beings) exists in any of the stars that you see in the sky every night? If you say yes> Go to Q2. If you say no> Go to conclusion. Q2: Do you think life exists on sun? If you say yes > Go to conclusion. If you say no > Go to Q3. Q3: Do you think life doesn't exist on sun because its hot and boiling. If you say yes > Go to Q4. If you say no due to some other reason > Still go to Q4. Q4: Isn't sun a star itself and hence if life can exist on star, it can exist on sun also? Conclusion: If you said "no" to the first question and reached here, you probably thought a bit before answering. My point is to demonstrate our logical bias that makes us think stars to be inhabitable since they look similar to moon and earth, cooler in appearance. If you said "yes" to Q1 and Q2 and reached here, then probably you think like me. Science says sun is too hot for life to exist. But I think scientific knowledge is limited whereas reality is not. If science is not able to prove the existence of something, it does not mean non-existence of that particular thing. Its like saying that life does not exist in water since humans and other terrestrial animals cannot live in water before seeing aquatic life.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Rishi Shivi's Valentine


Here is a page of rishi Shivi's diary that he left with me before going to jal samadhi...

14th Feb 1999, 2:30 PM

Today is Valentine's Day. I am 16. I am in college. Now days the wind blows my hair softly, giving my face a smooth silky touch. I like a girl and she likes me (I guess). And I am reading general methods of preparation for alkanes. That's a bit odd (yeah, says who?). Who says you have to be with a girl on Valentine's Day, having candle light dinner, giving gifts. Hey! It's my life. I prefer studying general methods of preparation for alkanes. You may think I am a looser, making excuses. No, that is not true at all. After all the whole thing is about feeling fine and tell you what, I feel great. Valentine's Day is just like any other day for me full of fun, joy, happiness, and a soft, mushy, crunchy, crispy, delicious feeling. I am in love with the world and she (the world) is in love with me and we don't need any Valentine's Day. Any way, the great thinker and planner that I am, I am thing about what will be happening 30 years later. I will be 46, married, but with no children (a sacrifice I will probably make for the sake of preventing a population blast). On that day being a little romantic, I will confess my love for her, she will ask me a question, “Am I your first love.” I will say “No, I have been in love before.” Tears will roll down her eyes and then I will explain by a poem.

I have been in love before
I was in love when I danced in the rain,
I was in love when I smiled in the pain.
I was in love when I learned to tie shoe laces,
I was in love when in front of mirror I tried making faces.
It was love when I kicked the globe,
It was love when I ran like crazy down the slope.
The story is long and I will cut it short,
I have given you my soul, given my heart.
Here is the truth as nothing can change the fact,
I have been in love many times before,
And that is not abstract.
Even if it is, I don't care.
Love is a feeling which you have to share,
With everything around far and near.
Don't worry, you are my only wife.
The love I am talking about is love with life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Getting Rid Of It

Sometimes, one extra step is all it takes to prevent yourself from caving to temptation. If you have a bad habit, alter the situation so that it takes you at least one extra step before you can easily take part in it. If you watch too much TV, unplug it and put the TV high up in the closet. If you tend to snack on too much junk food, carry around some baby carrots to munch on. If you always hit the snooze button on your alarm clock, set your alarm clock away from arm's length and far enough that you have to get out of bed and walk several steps to get to it. One or more extra steps standing in the way between you and your bad habits might very well be all that it takes to stop it, simply because it gives you that "pause", that moment to really think, rather than have the opportunity to indulge in it without hesitation right then and there.
Source: Or if you want to quit smoking, buy one stick at a time to smoke rather than buying the whole pack.