Friday, December 29, 2006

Hari Ke Samose!

You've got to eat these to believe a word of this story.
Original was prinited here.

Bishwadeep Moitra
Triangle River Tango
The aloo-less samosa of Hari Ki Namkeen is one of Loknath Gali's many splendours

You take the aloo out of the samosa, you take the heart out of the body. But you put the heart back in with a special mix of spices, and you have 'samosa for the soul'. That's what Mitthulal, a financier-broker gone bust, did about a century ago in Allahabad. And thus was born a mouth-watering marvel—the masala samosa. The great and good of the Indian National Congress, stalwarts of Hindi literature, professors and students, high court judges and local goondas—all had a special place in their hearts and mouths for this triangular treat.

Along with the food, Loknath Gali thrived on juicy gossip. The taller your tale, the more sought after you were.

And visiting dignitaries, having savoured Mitthulal's speciality, would pack some to take away in the shop's distinctive woven-leaf containers.

Winding up his failing finance business in Agra and cashing in on his acquaintance with Motilal Nehru—a flourishing
lawyer in Allahabad then—Mitthulal shifted base to set up his namkeen shop in Loknath Gali, a stone's throw from the senior Nehru's house in the city's Meerganj locality. Jawaharlal was born in this Meerganj house and the Nehrus continued to live here until they moved to the sprawling Anand Bhawan (much later, Meerganj would become Allahabad's red-light district). But to come back to Mitthulal and his aloo-less samosa story—he named the shop after his son Hari, and Hari Ki Namkeen in Loknath Gali soon became a local legend, catering at grand parties and weddings, including those of Vijayalakshmi Pandit and Indira Gandhi.

Towards the end of nineteenth century, the British had begun to develop Allahabad as a modern city on western lines. Until then it had been a sleepy, largely agrarian settlement that only came to life during the Kumbh Mela. Now, grand colonial structures began to come up—Allahabad University, Muir Hall, Public Library, Stone Church (aka paththar girja) and Alfred Park. The high court and the university attracted the upper-class gentry and educated professionals to the city, from whose ranks emerged literary luminaries, high court judges, celebrated lawyers, intellectuals and administrators. And since the Nehrus lived here, Allahabad also became the nerve-centre of the freedom movement.

The new Allahabad of the early 1900s was lined with wide avenues, sprawling bungalows and smart shops—this was the Civil Lines. But Chowk remained the traditional bazaar, with its crowded, lively and narrow lanes, and Loknath Gali was its heart as well as its stomach—it served as what would today be called a food court, for traders and shoppers. Here, the chatterati of Allahabad would congregate, to gossip and eat. A typical Loknath Gali evening would follow this course: you started from the northern end of the street—the city side—and sauntered to the end of the gali at the Baba Loknath Temple (the area was called Sarai Meer Khan before the temple was built), sampling the fare on offer along the way. The first course would be an assortment of chaat, followed by dahi jalebi or kulfi faluda. If you were counted among the shaukeens, you would stop by for bhang kulfi or bhang thandai. And as you waited for the kimam-khushbu paan at the end of the stroll, you ordered Hari namkeen's masala samosa to be packed for home.

The time one spent at Loknath Gali depended on one's tale-telling skills. If your masala-of-the-day was gossip involving a city celebrity, you not only had a captive audience, you ensured brisk sales at the eateries around your durbar. Loknath Gali still resounds with echoes of old scandals. One goes like this: one day Firaq Gorakpuri, the famous Urdu poet, pronounced that only two and a half people knew proper English in India. The first of course was Firaq himself. The second was Dr S. Radhakrishnan. And a certain Jawaharlal Nehru was the half in the august list.

But Firaq's detractors—and they were many—sneered at him for including Nehru at all. Dismissing Nehru's Harrow-and-Oxford education, they said that what got him onto Firaq's list was simply that the poet had a great weakness for pretty boys.

The other tale you hear is about a certain Sikh damsel who studied at the Allahabad University's English department in the late 30s. The beautiful young woman's name hadn't got suffixed with a Bachchan yet. At the campus, she was known as something of a rebel. Allahabad University prided itself as a place for the liberal-minded and welcomed people with radical ideas and lifestyles. Yet custodians of liberty at the university had to stretch their moral fabric a wee bit more to accommodate our lady's rights of expression. By wearing lipstick and a sleeveless blouse in the classroom, she set the moral police on her hunt. Her English professor—a venerable university stalwart—objected to this attire, and even threatened to resign. But the lady refused to budge and stood her ground. Such was her charm and aura, or so the legends of Loknath Gali maintain, that the vice-chancellor of the university intervened on her behalf and the poor professor had to back down.

Loknath Gali has not changed much since those days. You still hear the tallest tales there. If it was drizzling when you entered the gali, by the time you reach the Baba Loknath temple you would hear people talking about the hailstorm that has just lashed the town. The past exists in easy harmony with the present. In one of the many narrow lanes someone will point out a building that is falling apart—the Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, set up by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, and still functioning.

This neighbourhood doesn't look like it will succumb to Allahabad's new builders, who are tearing down the fabulous bungalows to make group housing flats. A local wag avers the lanes here are too narrow for the builder to move in his bulldozers, so they are safe for now. And safe too is the statue of Pandit Kalyan Chand Mohiley, which stands stately at the Loknath Gali entrance. Mohiley who? you would ask. And why him in a city that has given India four PMs and a refusing-to-retire superstar? Well, Mohiley was four-time MLA from the area. That's attitude, Loknath Gali-style, for you. That deep-rooted self-assurance and unabashed local pride ensure that a Big Mac or even a dosa will never threaten the supremacy of Hari's samosas.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Turn up the volume and enjoy!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mumbai immigration deports NRI children

Another sad story..
Mumbai Airport immigration officials deported seven-year-old Viraj Shriwardhankar and his three-and-a-half-year-old brother Vrishabh two hours after they landed in India last week.
Their parents' plea for a transit or temporary visa was summarily denied.
The officials granted a two-day transit visa to a French national at the same time, their father Vijay Shriwardhankar wrote in an e-mail. 'The French national has white skin while Viraj and Vrishabh have brown skin.'
Vijay and his wife Vaishali Prabhu, both natives of Mumbai who have worked as IT professionals for nine years in Boston, said they 'cried' when they described their experience at Mumbai airport. Both Vijay and Vaishali are Indian citizens and have a Green Card. Their sons are born in the US and hence, American citizens.
The family left Boston on December 11 for a four-week vacation in India by Air France flight 337. 'The Air France agent verified our Green Cards along with our passports but did not ask about the Indian visa for our children who have US passports. At Paris the officials never verified our sons' visa but verified our Green Cards,' Shriwardhankar said.
When the family arrived in Mumbai they realised they had not brought the visas for the children with them.
Their elder son has a ten-year Indian visa in an old passport which the family did not carry with them. The younger son has a Person of Indian Origin card. That too the family did not have with them.
The family requested an immigration official for temporary or transit visas for the children.
They also told the official they could get the documents faxed from Boston.
'The official would not even look at us, let alone hear our pleas,' Vaishali said. 'I have never seen such inhuman behaviour.'
No one was bothered that the children had already traveled for about 24 hours. 'There was absolutely no humanity shown by the ACP (Assistant Commissioner of Police) Immigration or Air France officials,' Vijay said.
The official would grant the family only 45 minutes for the documents to be faxed to Mumbai. 'We requested a little more time. But he would not heed us,' Vaishali said.
'I requested my friend in Boston to go to my house and fax the visa papers immediately. She was already on her way to get those papers. I was begging the Immigration ACP and Air France officials to allow us to wait at the airport until officials received the fax but they didn't want to do anything about it and forced us to take the flight at 2:40,' Vijay said.
The officials received the fax 10 minutes after the flight departed, the couple discovered later.
'We asked to see a higher official, but it was not allowed saying the boss had already left. How can an airport function without a senior officer?' Vaishali asked.
After the stipulated 45 minutes, an official, Deepak Grover, gave the children a Notice of Refused to Land.
Two hours after their arrival in India, the family left Mumbai.
'I absolutely accept my big mistake of forgetting the visa. I am a human being and can make mistakes. I was trying to see an alternative so my kids did not have to travel 22 hours again,' Vijay said.
'I am sure the guys got a peaceful sleep that night. I have not met such cold persons in my life who don't understand or feel the sorrow of the kids. We left with my kids crying and my family members outside in a state of shock,' Vijay said.
'The worst part was that there was a Frenchman from the same flight sitting in the immigration office who forgot to even apply for an Indian visa. The immigration official gave him a two-day transit visa.'
'The immigration official said he would have sent us back even if I had a two-month-old baby. But for white skin laws will be different,' Vijay noted.
'The children are very upset. The elder son questions the behaviour of people in India,' Vaishali said.
The family plans to leave for India in a few days. 'I feel ashamed of being an Indian. The Frenchman told me, "I am surprised how immigration personnel are treating you even after you being an Indian." What kind of world are we living in? The officials could have checked the computer for details since the children had visited India many times earlier,' Vijay said.
'India is the only democratic country that doesn't allow a transit visa to any foreign national,' he said. 'Yet our politicians want to improve tourism in India.'
'I am writing this with great pain that my family had a terrible experience with the Mumbai immigration department and Air France. I would like to share that with you to see if anything can be done so that such things would not occur in the future,' Vijay wrote.
'I know no one can reimburse for the suffering and torture we went through. I would be highly obliged if action is taken in this matter.'

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sad Story..

James Kim died of exposure and hypothermia while looking for help for his family that was stranded in the middle of an un-traveled road.
I am sure you have heard or read about it. If not, the sfchronical (and here) does a good job to describe what happened.

It reminds me of the beautiful, but obviously treacherous mountains and roads of the Southern Oregon/ Northern California forests.
We were in the same area in Oct 2004, though took a somewhat different route – drove down from Portland, OR, took 18 West to the 101 going south. The day was wet and dark.

We drove on the scenic 101 from Otis to Florence. By the time we reached Florence, it was pretty dark, and we did not find it practical or prudent to keep driving on the 101. We looked up the maps, saw this road cutting back to I-5 meeting it in Eugene (126 East) . Lucky for us, it was a state highway and not some forest route. The Kims took a chance and tried cutting it to the coast to Gold Beach from I-5 from Grants Pass. They took the Bear Camp Road. The Gold Beach Maps and Travel info site has this about the Bear Camp Road:

“Regarding Bear Camp Road (also known as Merlin-Galice Road, Forest Service Road 33); This is NOT a highway and is not a maintained thoroughfare! Although on some maps it may appear to be a more direct route to Gold Beach, it's not a highway in any sense. It's a forest service road, closed in winter, and is mostly one-lane with no fog lines, no guard rails, no shoulder, and plenty of wash-outs, mudslides and potholes. Cell phones don't work in much of that area and after you pass the Agness turnoff, there is nothing but wilderness until you get to the other side of the mountain range at I-5.”

We, on the other hand, drove to Eugene, found the I-5 and kept driving south. Our destination was Mount Shasta in North California. So it was still quiet a bit of drive from Eugene. The night was wild – to put it mildly. The rains lashed at the car mercilessly. When we reached up the mountains – I thought that it hailed as well. It was the most scary drive of my life. While on the highway, the 18 whealers flashed their headlights at us – I still could never figure out why!!

We reached our hotel at about 2 in the morning. It was probably the longest day for me on the road – and air (we flew into Portland from Raleigh – an 8-9 hours trip!!) The road trip was about another 7-8 hours.
Through dense forest that probably didn’t see sunlight in years, through rain, and fog, through hail and most probably through snow, we kept driving towards our destination.

The next was the most beautiful, sunny day I have ever seen. Even though the weather services predicted another soggy day, the sun shone at the top of its glory!!
Everybody we met that day had a smil on their face. They were all happy we made it to Mount Shasta safely.

James made the ultimate sacrifice for his family! I am sure that anyone of us will do exactly what he did. It was just a bad decision, one mistake. On his day he would have shrugged it off the next morning, but not that day.
R.I.P James.

The beautiful Oregon Coast. Oct, 2004.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Somini Sengupta asking the wrong questions.... again.


You are at it again.

You are no better than the Congress Party, or the Samajwadi Party or the BJP etc. Sensationalizing a story is an art you are good at. While “Whether India can deliver the fruits of economic progress to the many Muslims at the bottom of the ladder remains a crucial question” is a decent enough question to ask, the bigger question is, obviously, “Whether India can deliver the fruits of economic progress to the millions of INDIANS at the bottom of the ladder remains a crucial question”. You talk about roughly 8 to 10 percent of the population, while the bigger problem covers 60 - 70 percent. When people like you stop distinguishing INDIANS between Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs and Christians – only then can we move away from the dirty politics of vote and start the long process of nation building in the true sense.

When you write a news memo in the New York Times with the title “Report Shows Muslims Near Bottom of Social Ladder” (also available here), it is bound to be read by at least 5 people who will have policy making power in India and guess what they will think .. they will see this as nothing but an opportunity of getting votes.. they will rise up tomorrow morning and throw the idea of making reservations based on religion, a devastating idea that will further divide an already fractured country.

I hope you will make better use of your time and write about more important things – about how politicians use religion and caste as tools to woo voters. About how minority appeasement is so common in the country, about how the appeasement does not end up benefiting the involved minorities, but instead break India’s ethos and wreck any chance of any advancement of any religion or minority in any part of the country. Or start at something simple – how about how caste and religion plays an important part in the Great Indian Democracy. Come election time – the common man hears phrases like ‘ Vote your Caste’ or ‘He is of that releigion/caste’ etc.

So there you go– I hope you will ponder on these ideas and your next story will not stink of an agenda to wreak India.

You have the power of the pen – use it constructively.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Democracy or Sham?

While its good to see that the authors of paint India with the same color as they have painted the ‘free’ world with, the truth is that there are many more colors than just the 3 shown here.

I also got a shock when I read that the economist rates India as a ‘flawed democracy’ hoping that it will give the giant democracy some credit for keeping itself a democracy for much of its time after freedom from the British.

And then I got hit with one news after another on the state of affairs in India’s democracy – a few of those are chronicled here..

So here is the latest news from the world of Indian Democracy.

For lack of motivation to connect the dots and make a paragraph using these stories, I am simply putting the headlines as they are. You can make what you want out of the stories. You can, laugh, cry, detest, dismiss, decry….. call your congressman, resign from citizenship …..debate, create, salivate, procrastinate or just ….deflate..

1) CPM finally cedes Arunachal to India or here.

Where else could this happen – but India. A national mainstream political party hesitating to call a part of India to be just that, a part of India. There is no cry of unpatriotic, irresponsible behavior, just dismissive nonchalance.

2) Birthday bash on the wrong tracks or here.

Till shameless leaders and there followers do such things, till there are enough and more people who stand and watch the other direction when such things are taking place, there could never be hope for the common man in the world of India and its politics.

So you see – World Audit and The Economist are not entirely off the mark – in fact they are pretty lenient – don’t you think so?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

One from the ages!

Stumbled upon this photo in an old zip disk of mine. This photo of The Sydney Harbour Bridge was taken in August of 1999. Yes - that long ago. Taken from a ferry hauling me from Circular Quay. Where it was taking me - I dont remember. It was one of the last sight-seing trip of Sydney before embarking on a long flight to Washington DC. This photo was taken by an SLR camera - an analog one, I should mention. Canon Rebel XT to be precise.
This article in the NYT prompted me to go back and look at some of my own photos. But for the photos, and an occaissional email/phone from my friends and co-workers - that era is all a distant dream for me.
Sometimes I just wish I can go back again and see all the things that I saw in those 4 years of my life. Walk all those miles I walked to go do groceries at Franklins, catch the trains from Kingswood to the City, take the bus to North Ryde and back. Who knows - that chicken man might still be serving the most delicious chips and gravy. Who knows - I might bump into someone who recognize me there. Who knows ..
Sometimes when someone asks me my zip code - I, unconciously, blurt away - 2747. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Drink more wine

Researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging report that a natural substance found in red wine, known as resveratrol, offsets the bad effects of a high-calorie diet in mice and significantly extends their lifespan.

Read here or


So – eat more curry and drink more wine. Great!!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Eat more curry

Curry Ingredient May Help Fight Alzheimer's

October 27, 2006 08:42:38 PM PST
By Angela Pirisi
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Curcumin, a component of curry and turmeric, seems to help the immune system get rid of amyloid beta -- the protein that builds up to form damaging plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

The findings build on previous research linking curry consumption to reduced Alzheimer's risk, including one study that found that only 1 percent of elderly Indians developed the disease -- a quarter of the rate seen in the United States.

Now, preliminary findings from the University of California, Los Angeles, suggest that curcumin comes to the aid of immune system cells called macrophages to clear away amyloid beta.

"We know that macrophages aren't working properly in Alzheimer's patients, since they seem to be defective in cleaning amyloid-beta from brain slices", explained lead researcher Dr. Milan Fiala, a researcher with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System.

"We have found that curcumin can help some macrophages to function properly in a test tube," Fiala said. He said more work is needed to see if the spice works similarly in the human brain, however.

Curcumin is already known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Earlier research by another UCLA team found that curcumin-fed mice with Alzheimer's plaques experienced a decrease in inflammation and reduced plaque formation.

The new findings are in current issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

In the study, the UCLA researchers obtained blood samples from six Alzheimer's patients and three healthy controls. They next isolated macrophages and treated them with a curcumin solution for 24 hours, then added amyloid beta.

Macrophages from three of the Alzheimer's patients were observed to start ingesting the plaque-forming proteins.

Over the past five years, Fiala's team has studied the immune function of over 100 Alzheimer's patients. Last June, the team helped establish the immune system's key role in Alzheimer's disease.

"Our research has helped to identify why the brain isn't being cleared of amyloid beta in Alzheimer's disease patients," Fiala said. "The immune system can attack and remove amyloid-beta from the brain, but the job is not done properly in Alzheimer's patients."

Fiala said macrophages may be as important for Alzheimer's disease as insulin is for diabetes. "If we can improve the immune system, we can help the body's natural ability to clear damaging plaques," he said.

"In terms of treatment implications, it's very interesting that curcumin seems to help the brain clear away beta amyloid," noted Dr. Sam Gandy, chair of the medical and scientific advisory council at the Alzheimer's Association.

"The study also shows an additional mechanism [besides curcumin's anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties] that looks at the actual clean-up of plaques," said Gandy, who is also director of the Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Fiala believes his team's research into the role of macrophages in Alzheimer's disease patients may one day point to new approaches for diagnosing -- and even treating -- the illness.

Testing immune-cell response may also offer other researchers a novel way to assess the effectiveness of drugs in clearing amyloid beta from the brain. It might also help doctors individualize treatment, Fiala said.

Curcumin appears to have few side effects, if any, he added. "We can only say what we see in test tubes, but we don't see any toxic effects with curcumin, even administered in high doses," Fiala said.

Curcumin's health benefits may extend beyond Alzheimer's disease. One recent six-month study, carried out by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, found that daily doses of the spice were associated with a nearly 60 percent lower risk for colon polyps, a known precursor to colon cancer.

So, experts say, while it may be too early to recommend a dish of curry to help stave off cancer or Alzheimer's, it nonetheless appears healthy -- and tasty -- to add curry powder to your spice rack.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Arizona 3

Here is the complete album of our trip to Arizona. Use the slide show button to get the best result.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Arizona 2

A night shot of the cacti in our hotel campus with the beautiful night sky as the backdrop. Click on the photo to enlarge. (No - that's not a spec of dirt on your monitor - it's a star!) Posted by Picasa


Beautiful blue skies, warm soothing fall, open countryside, neat roads, elegant mountains, un-imaginable cacti, nice people, cool red rocks, Grand Canyon. That, in a few words is Arizona. We happen to spend a few days in Scottsdale Az and we really liked it there. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 09, 2006

Washington Post profiles India/Indians in the DC area

“While noting that their affection for India has never flagged, some Indians say they now feel more proud of their heritage. More immigrants who planned to stay in the United States for good are reconsidering. And as India sprouts Western-style shopping malls and gleaming outposts of U.S. companies, a small but growing number of Indians -- particularly affluent male technology workers and retiring baby boomers --- are leading dual lives in the countries.”

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Daily Show: What Exactly Is President Bush's Job?

This has got to be the most hilarious of Jon Stewart's show.

About myself

For those who don’t know me. I am a graduate student – pursuing a PhD. My PhD is in the area of Computer Engineering and when people ask me what I do or what my future work would be like – I ask them first if they know what a chip is – depending on their answer – I go a further. If they say that the only chip they know are the potato kind – I tell them I help their cell phones work well or I help digital signals go from point A to point B without getting lost or get degraded.

There is neat little snippet of a signal integrity (SI) engineer’s business card and the questions he asks during his ‘therapy’ sessions floating around in the SI discussion forums.

-"Arthur Fraser Transmission Line Therapist"

It always conjured up what the Therapist would be asking the signal:

"How long have you had these paranoid feelings that you will be


"Have you always felt there are aggressors out to get you?"

"Have you always coupled with your neighbors?"

"And could you describe in more detail all this ringing your

experiencing - is it like church bells?

"And you say that no matter where you go, you always experience a delay

in your travel?"

"This ground bounce you mention, is this related to a seismic event?

"As your therapist I am concerned you always refer to yourself as a

victim, do you always see yourself as a victim?"

"And you say you feel you are just meandering through life?"

Friday, October 06, 2006

On Pluto

For several days now – I wanted to write about this planet – more like an apology that we owe to it. Here’s my declaration to the astronomical, physical, aeronautical, or any other fancy scientific body that concerns itself with Pluto. In the common law legal system, there is this wonderful thing called ‘The Statute of Limitation’. Do you guys have anything like that? It’s been what – three quarters of a century since you classified Pluto a planet – and suddenly you yank the title from it? C’ mon – even the IRS has more heart!

Just leave it like it is – who cares if you want to call Pluto a planet or a dwarf planet – or a Macaca planet – does it make a difference? Like some astronomical body in Andromeda is going to say – hmmm – the idiots on Earth have deemed Pluto to be a non-planet – so now we cannot plan an attack on it. Leave it as it is – and move on – do something that changes the way we live and use your brains to try and improve global warming or glacial erosion and Ozone depletion.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The book

So the book is released. In some way it’s very much an eye opener. From now on the general cannot claim that he is ideologically on the same side as the rest of the world is concerned in this war on terror (WOT). He became allies with the US/sane world because, in his own word, “if we do not join them, can we confront them and withstand the onslaught? The answer was no”. As a matter of fact, he “war-gamed the United States as an adversary”. Then he/they figured out that it was like committing suicide. It would have been a very interesting scenario if the war games would have resulted in any other outcome. For example, if, say his country would have had .. maybe .. a 25% chance of coming around and defeating the mighty armies of the world – what would have he chosen then? Maybe then there would never have been an unwilling ally in this WOT and maybe his country would never had to answer all the hard question – like ‘why don’t you capture OBL’ or ‘why do you have thousands of terrorists camps’ or ‘why do you let militants cross over to your territory’ and ‘why do you have thousands of madrasas teaching hatred for others’ AND it would have been much easier for the rest of the world as well – they would not be hard pressed to think which side, truly, is he on?

So the next time you say that you are not on the side of the terrorists and fighting with the world as allies in this unconventional war, watch out – we know whose side are you really on and why you are sitting on the same table as us.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

My decision was based on the wellbeing of my people and the best interests of my country — Pakistan always comes first. I war-gamed the United States as an adversary. There would be a violent and angry reaction if we didn’t support the United States. Thus the question was: if we do not join them, can we confront them and withstand the onslaught? The answer was no, we could not, on three counts.

First was our military weakness as compared with the strength of the United States. Second was our economic weakness. We had no oil, and we did not have the capacity to sustain our economy in the face of an attack. Third, and worst of all, was our social weakness. We lack the homogeneity to galvanise the entire nation into an active confrontation. We could not endure a military confrontation with the United States from any point of view. The ultimate question that confronted me was whether it was in our national interest to destroy ourselves for the Taleban. Were they worth committing suicide over? The answer was a resounding no.

In some ways I think he does not even know what he is writing - and for whom – for surely – there are 2 very distinct groups of people who will read this book. One at home and the other outside. Instead of doing the book tour in the US, he should have done it in his hometown – and if I were him – I would have done something, anything that would have prevented anybody else getting a hand on the book. This book is purely meant to be for local consumption – to bolster his image, to improve the image of his country in his own people’s eyes – a lot to do with self esteem – really.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fact Check

So.. let’s get a fact check here.

A military general who takes over a country’s administration in a coup writes a book about how he did it all.

- About how he planned and launched an attack and then retreated (due to foreign pressure, after obtaining his objective) on a neighboring country – and then brags about it in the book.

- Calls secessionist movement in his own country 'terrorism' and the same in his neighbor’s country ‘freedom struggle’

- Blames the neighboring country’s Prime Minister (PM) ‘squarely’ for any failure of peace talks.

- Says that the power of the current PM of the neighboring country has ‘diminished’as a result of the country's establishment.

- Bashes all the other previous rulers of his own country.

- Justifies why he overthrew the previous, elected ruler.

- Advertises about his book with the President of US standing next to him.

- Creates media hype by declaring that a high up in the State Department threatened to bomb his country ‘back to the stone age’ – three days before his book is due out.

So – he goes and writes a book about all these characters. He, never himself elected to any office in the government – collects cool million dollars for this book.

All the other people he talks about – could never get their grey cells together to write a line about their own experiences with the dictator amongst other things.

Cheers general – you are the man.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Is Lalu changing the Railways?

Seems like he has found his niche – after all.

He has started from the top – where it should have been started.

The ministers, a plethora of them, their family, their friends – everybody should be given a quick fact check on who they are – not who they think they are. Ok now I am sounding like Rumsfeld.

Soren's wife, son caught without ticket, fined


Wednesday September 20, 12:47 AM

Following the directives of Railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav to initiate action against all the ticketless travelers, including politicians, bureaucrats and others, Railway staff at Kanpur detained three members of Cabinet Minister Shibu Soren's family and fined them.

According to reports, Railway staff detained Soren's wife, son and a relative, who were traveling on New Delhi-Howrah bound Rajdhani Express (2302) on Railway passes of the minister and MP S Marandi late on Monday night.

Railway staff at Kanpur got information about three passengers traveling on the passes issued to MPs. Under the leadership of Assistant Commercial Manager (ACM) Rajesh Kumar Srivastava, ticket checking squad gheraoed the first AC coach of Rajdhani Express on platform number 6. Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Railway Police Force (RPF) were also deployed at the platform in order to prevent any untoward incident.

It was found that Ruby Soren, wife of Shibu Soren, his son Swajit Soren and a relative Mini were occupying seats in cabin 'A'. When the squad enquired about their status and asked them to deboard the train, they got annoyed and warned the railway staff of dire consequences. Later, they accepted that they were traveling without ticket but were refused to pay the penalty.

Ruby Soren also allegedly misbehaved with the Railway staff and warned them of dire consequences.

Srivastava, then, directed the female staff and GRP constables to forcibly bring Ruby and Swajit down. Realising that there was no escape, they paid the penalty of Rs 14,260, after which they were allowed to continue their journey. Talking to Indian Express, Srivastava said that the passengers were traveling on MPs' identity card numbers 159 and 303. "They were considered ticket-less and therefore railway realized fine from them," he added.

Meanwhile, Ruby Soren said that her husband had to come along but could not travel due to some engagement. She also said that Railway staff misbehaved with her and co-passengers. However, the train got delayed by 20 minutes due to scene created by ticket-less passengers.

In another incident, two ticket-less persons were caught traveling in first AC coach with BSP MP from Eastern UP Kailash Yadav in Delhi-bound Shiv Ganga Express late on Monday night. When the railway staff detained them, they warned the staff of complaining to railway minister Lalu Yadav. However, when the railway squad directed the GRP to put both ticketless persons in jail, they paid Rs 16,335 as penalty.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sad Day

Today I woke up to read about the sad demise of Steve Irwin – who died doing what he loved – and killed by one who he liked. I was a huge fan of him and truly and greatly admired his free will and contagious enthusiasm for life and all things living. His confidence was legendary as was evident by his dress – khaki shorts and shirts – which he discarded for no one – not even for heads of state.

We will miss you Crocodile Hunter.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ustad Bismillah Khan

“Build me my ghats, the river, the life as I know it, in the backyard and may be I will stay back”

-Ustad Bismillah Khan (1916 – 2006) - turning down an offer of an American connoisseur to stay in the US

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wazzup Macaca

Following American politics is so .. how should I say it .. educating – or entertaining – or both.

Day before yesterday – I never knew that Macaca existed.

Today I know that Macaca is not just a word that means a genus of monkeys in Africa – but is also a word made up by My + Caca.

My is my, Caca is kuku, you know, yes that.

So Sidhart, you have become the caca of Allen. Hmm .. but you have caused the downfall of a young/bright/racist senator. But then again – maybe not. Can’t trust the voters here.

What’s with the haircut anyway?

BTW Maybe Senator Allen is a Mallika fan!

After all – Mallika --> Mallaka --> Makaka.

I think he is getting targeted unfairly. And maybe he should stop apologizing.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Heat Wave!

As the eastern seaboard is getting baked, here are some tips on how to remain safe and enjoy the ‘sunny’ weather.

  • Do not leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even for just a few minutes. Car interiors can quickly heat up and cause serious injury or death.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water but avoid alcohol and large amounts of sugar. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink.
  • Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body. If you exercise or work outside, drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage may replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. However, if you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Protect yourself from the sun and keep cool by wearing a wide-brimmed hat along with sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going outside.
  • Stay indoors and if at all possible, in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, try to find a neighbor, relative or public place that does. Just a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
  • Take a cool shower or bath.
  • Avoid, as much as possible, using your stove and oven. This will help keep cooler temperatures in your home.
  • If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know someone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.
  • If you must be outdoors, try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. When working in the heat, have plenty of water available and monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Manoj Night Shyamalan

Its fascinating to watch and observe the fights critics and fans/moviegoers are having over the latest movie (Lady in the Water) from Manoj. Sounds a wee bit weird to start off with Manoj and not with Night or M. Night or just Shyamalan. Who knows why he doesn’t prefer to be called what he was supposed to be called.

Well – what’s in a name – as long as you are good at what you do.

There are distinctively 2 camps of people – he would say – in this world. Those who can see dead people and those who cannot – just kidding

Rather – those who like him and those who despise him – and I don’t mean like – ‘hey I don’t like the movies he make’ over a cup of tea kinda hate – but like ‘hey I’ll suck his blood dry’ hate. I don’t know – I like his movies – though I haven’t seen Signs – but the other 3 were nice and watchable films. People don’t usually have any problem with Sixth Sense – so let’s leave that out – but Unbreakable and The Village were not completely trash and were actually, quite enjoyable. His way of story telling is kind of weird and, I must say, unique – which might be a reason critics absolutely love to hate him. After Sixth Sense, they all compared him to the next Spielberg – so he did have the bars raised pretty high for him. I must say, though, that he is one of the very few in the industry today who has had 4 movies in a row that had some ripple or the other.

For Lady in the water, it’s a pretty much split decision. IMDB, where reviews are by readers have a much higher rating than Rotten Tomatoes – which tracks the professional movie critics – so early indications are that there is a huge divide b/w the critics and the end user – well - numbers will tell who’s right – as for me – I would be going to see it soon – and will write about what I saw.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Here's more proof of global patronage

Here's more proof of global patronage for terrorists wreaking havoc in India and South Asia.,20867,19825601-2703,00.html

Sunday, July 16, 2006

NYTIMES gets it wrong...

There was a time when I read the New York Times with some awe and much respect. Then they hired Somini Sengupta. There are reporters who report an incident and quote people and do such reporter like stuff - and then there are reporters who feign as being reporters – but really think that they are some analysts who should put a spin on straight forward things so readers can take their hats off, slide their hands on their bald heads and go – rreeeeeeallllyyyyyyyy – now I get it!

She, unfortunately, falls into the second category.

Just look at her analysis in her article “India’s Prime Minister Scolds Pakistan”,

She says

"Despite the parallels of the Mumbai blasts to the London and Madrid bombings, there is widespread agreement in this country that the roots of India’s recent experience with terrorism are local, not global."

Really? Lets look at what we know:

There is irrefutable (or at least strong) proof that the Lashkar e Taiba (LET) and the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) are involved. She says so herself here. The world knows that LET has bases in Pakistan and SIMI gets help from them and extremist organization in Bangladesh. Hence if the bombers in the London train bombings get training from terror camps in Pakistan and go back to London – that’s global terrorism – but if Indian born SIMI activists get LET’s and other terror organization’s help with financial help from Riyadh and Kuwait in pulling of bombings of this magnitude in Mumbai – its local terrorism.

So is it India’s fault that the world’s sole wholesale supplier of terrorism is in its backyard?

Another case in point is in her introductory piece about the bombings ”Series of Bombs Explode on 7 Trains in India, Killing Scores”, she mentions:

"It would not be the first time that Kashmiri militant outfits, which India says enjoy the support of rival Pakistan, have struck on Indian soil. The most serious of them, an attack on the Indian Parliament in the capital, New Delhi, in December 2001, prompted a military standoff between the nuclear-armed neighbors. India blamed the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba."
If she did her research before writing, she would find that 99% terrorist acts have a Pakistani connection as proven by the Akshardham attacks.

While this attitude by the mainstream media in the US is not completely new or born with Mr. Sengupta and has followed what the official US position was till only a few years ago (more precisely before 9/11), it must be pointed out that the US has changed its policies – and has included any acts of terror by any organization as terrorism as pointed out by Wider War on Terror.

"One indication was the nature of the immediate statement of support for India from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She not only condemned the bombings and expressed sympathy for victims but said: "The US stands with India in the war on terror." This is significant because the US has previously not been inclined to include terrorist attacks in India, Israel or Russia as part of the overall war on terror."

Unfortunately, Ms. Sengupta has missed that memo. When asked, she would only express sympathy for the victims.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Who did it?

All pointers point to SIMI (Student Islamic Movement of India)

Don’t know them?

Read about them here:,0015002500030000.htm


and here is a story which say that Mulayam Singh Yadav is fighting to release all SIMI operatives that his state has arrested!

How patriotic can he get? But then again – you don’t have to be patriotic to get the votes in India – you just grab them whichever way you can - to hell with the country.

And read this – SIMI is more than just active in UP. It’s even planning an attack close to August 15.

God save us all.

Carnage in Mumbai

Once again the ugly side of humanity has prevailed. India needs to be ready for things like these in the future and not just hope that these wont happen to us.

Terrorism is the bane of our times – I read somewhere – so come to terms with it – put CCTV in every public nook and corner where there is any possibility of any nuisance. Check every bag that comes in a crowded place. Train and equip law enforcement personnel with the latest – not just a stick and a cap.

The world is slowly waking up to terrorism in India and the international media is quite awake and realizes that India is not any different to London and Madrid and NY.

Here are some you MUST read.,,542-2265849,00.html Outrage in Bombay India’s Indestructible Heart How Much Will India Endure?,0,4492414.story?coll=la-news-comment-editorials India: Bombed but Unbowed India Bombings: Same lessons,20867,19770035-28737,00.html#

Wider war on terror