Monday, December 24, 2012

A thousand words..

Some scenes from the Delhi Protests:


























And my personal favorite



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Trekking wishlist

Having been to the Himalayas more times than I care to remember, I have become a closet fanatic. If I were asked for one wish by some weird skinned Genie, giving me enough money and time for these trips would be it.

1. Golan Heights, Israel/Syria



2. Utsukushigahara Highlands, Japan




3. Carpathians, Romania



4. Yunnan, China



5. Rockies



6. Kanchenjungha and Nandadevi



7. Mount Elbrus, Greater Caucasus, Russia



Disclaimer: All images have, of course, been shamelessly plagiarized, myself never having been to any of these places. To the original owners: I apologize. My point of putting up these images was to highlight the beauty of these places, and your photos did it better than any I have come across.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A troll post on James B(l)ond

Found somewhere (mostly, tumblr, I think) on the internet. HAD to post it. The name is,



“James Blond in Casino L’Oreal”
“James Blond 007 in Live and Let Dye”
“James Blond 007 in Tomorrow Never Dyes”
“James Blond 007 in The Wig is not Enough”
“James Blond 007 in A Hue to a Kill”
“James Blond 007 in Dyed Manes are Forever”
“Q, get the shampoo ready. Somebody’s gonna dye tonight”
“James Blond in Dyefall”
“James Blond in From Russia with Dove”
"James Blond in Dye Another Day"
"James Blond in You Only Dye Twice"
"James Blond in On Her Majesty's Salon Service"
"James Blond in The Man With The Golden Hair"
"James Blond in For Your Dyes Only"
"James Blond in GoldenDye"
"James Blond in Licensed To Shave"
"James Blond in Hairfall"
“Straightened, not curled.”
“Dr. Nope”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

50 reasons why I love Bombay

Yes, I know they call it Mumbai these days. Or maximum city. Or Shanghai. Or whatever. I don't give a damn what they call it. When I was born there, it was called Bombay. When that kind stranger whom I now call Nani first offered me a Polo mint, it was still called Bombay, and when I was in the sleeper compartment of some non-AC train with my mother, anticipating eagerly what I knew would be the best two months of any given year, it was still called Bombay. (I remember the non-AC part because the peculiar smell emanating from the iron rods of the window grills, the food bits on the floor and behind the seats and the drink/pan stains on the window metal has never quite left my nostrils.) It was Flora Fountain that my mother took me to, and it was at VT that we had my first cola drink at, so Bombay it is for me, no disrespect to the dead.

Everybody who has spent any amount of time in Bombay has enough reasons to hate it, and I am no exception. God knows I have reasons to hate it. But by the same token, anyone who has spent any amount of time in Bombay also has enough reasons to love it. Even here, I am no exception. Here are some of mine, probably in chronological order (in the order that I encountered them in my life):

1. Nani-Nana: the best grandparents anyone can ask for, period.

2. Maru General Stores, Kandivali West: G.I.Joe and He Man action figurines. This is where I built my action figure empire from.

3. The relief/happiness/ecstasy/liberation I felt (and still do) every time my train from Surat crossed Vasai. I knew I was in for an awesome time.

4. Tomato Eggs, Puran Poli, Dahi Pakoras: Nani, I love you.

5. Nana bringing in HUGE crates of ice cream from his factory on every fourth day of my stay.

6. Unlimited color TV (My place at Surat did not have a good TV for the first 12 years of my life.)

7. Introduction to Super Mario, Tanks, Gelga, Tetris and more. Enough said.

8. Crossword. It used to have some class in those days.

9. The first real set of friends I had.

10. Card games and cheating at them.

11. The English assignments given to me by mom, and me convincing her after 2 months why I had done absolutely nothing.

12. Shopper's Stop, Andheri: in those days it had only one branch. And clothes shopping there was an annual ritual involving my nani, my mother, me, a lot of histrionics and fighting, an ice cream cone, a pop corn tub and  probably a slap or two (maybe more) on my face.

13. Watching India vs. South Africa from Pavilion, Wankhede, 1996. India: 267/6. SA reached something like 225.

14. Dynasty Chinese: the best Chinese restaurant I've ever been to. In your face, Mainland China.

15. Long walks on marine drive and Juhu beach with mom (and if I was lucky, dad)

16. Taraporewala Aquarium: It was in excellent condition back then.

17.Standing on the Queen's Necklace at sunset with parents, hands heavy with Crossword/Strand/Bombay Store shopping, and watching the beautiful diamond necklace light up, while sharing a kulfi with dad.

18. Taking a ferry to the Essel World or a drive to FantasyLand.

19. Rains that could read your thoughts about you not wanting them to stop.

20. Falling asleep in auto-rickshaws while going to places as "far-away" as Andheri East or IIT.

21. Juhu. The area. Includes every single thing.

22. Hitting a boundary in under-arm cricket

23. Taking two consecutive wickets and then bowling 18 consecutive wides in the under-15 Presi Tournament.

24. The Christianity of Orlem. My first real experience with multiculturalism and boy did I love it.

25. Lokhandwala, Andheri and Alfa Store: only a true Bombayite would know what I am talking about.

26. The New Zealand Dairy in the Aarey Colony. I always wondered why New Zealand was so poor it had to sell milk in India. Or maybe it was such a small country it did not have enough space to open a dairy there.

27. Receiving my Harvard-MIT cousin or his parents at the airport. I found the international airport so charming I wanted to stay there for one whole night. (A wish I unfortunately saw fulfilled many years down the line. Brought me back to Earth, that one.)

28. Eros and Regal cinemas. I think I saw Dragonheart and Flubber there.

29. Fantasy Chocolates.

30. The seashore. I have forgotten which one. I could see an island or something from the shore, and I would try to convince everyone that it was Africa.

31. TIFR: quite possibly the most beautiful place I have been to in Bombay. The lunch was sumptuous.

32. BARC: Another amazing place, memories I wish were more than memories.

33. Bhaidas Theatre: I was never bored for a single moment there.

34. Amar Pav Bhaji, the grilled sandwich outside Mithibai.

35. Haji Ali, Haji Ali juice centre, Amar Sons, Prem Sons, the guy who sells (to this day) Kala Khatta and Watermelon Slush and grilled sandwiches there.

36. Nehru Planetarium and J J Raval: A man I respect unabashedly. The first of the many giants I have had the good fortune to meet.

37. Crawford Market (I will call it nothing other than that, call me deshdrohi colonial British swine if you want to.)

38. Holding my mother's hand and feeling an inexplicable sense of security amidst a crowd of hundreds. (This entry should have come a lot earlier.)

39. IIT and Krav Maga: Hell, yeah.

40. The pink-orange-purple sky at sunset from my hostel room, the Renaissance Hotel in the evening, and the light on the Powai Lake boulevard.

41. Hiranandani: made a lazy pig out of me.

42. Hard Rock Cafe, Lower Parel: a favorite band, a loving girlfriend, the company of close friends and a recent victory can make anyone pretty heady.

43. Jehangir Art Gallery, Samovar Cafe and the Prince of Wales Museum

44. Colaba Causeway

45. Leopold's, Piccadilly's (especially the Pita Bread with sauce/mayonnaise) and the Iranian Khana I had those unforgettable muska-buns at.

46. Siddhivinayak.

47. Falling in and out of love, learning important lessons along the way.

48. The transformation of a 23-year old boy into a 23-year old man: through death, struggle and tears.

49. Watching Naseeruddin Shah's theatre group perform George Bernard Shaw plays at Prithvi. Feeling myself to be a part of that pseudo-elite club.

50. Leaving Bombay for one final time, knowing I would never spend as much time there again as I already had, painfully aware of the gaping hole in my heart that leaving this city has made, knowing I would unsuccessfully try and fill it with other things for a long time to come.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The hill swallowed the cave, the cave swallowed the ant

The title is actually a line from a Kannada folk song, Kodagana Koli Nungitta. It was performed in IIT by Raghu Dixit during Mood Indigo, and I totally fell in love with the song once he explained to us the meaning of it. But that's the big surprise for this post.

This post is a humble dedication to Professor Date, whom I mentioned in an earlier post. He taught us a lot of things, including compassion, humility and also the pleasantly surprising fact that honesty and intelligence are not, and should not be, mutually exclusive. He completed his PhD from the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London ( where he also played Cricket for London Univ and the Indian Gymkhana. He had the opportunity to play against many first-class cricketers including a one-day match between the 1973 touring West Indies team captained by Clive Lloyd and the Gymkhana at Osterly - a suburb of London. He opened the bowling for Indian Gymkahana and got two wickets - Steve Comacho and Roy Fredricks ) and returned to India to join IIT Bombay as an asst-professor in 1973. He witnessed, with his own eyes, the terrible effects of the drought of 1972 in Maharashtra. From what we know of him, he roamed the entire state with a bunch of his students, saw the plight of the people and could not take it beyond a point. He returned to IIT and decided to dedicate his major time in the application of technology to solve the problems of rural India.



This was the beginning of first, the Appropriate Technology Unit ( ATU ) in 1973 and later, in 1985, the Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural  Areas, or CTARA, in IIT Bombay. But Date sir's true legacy is not CTARA, or even the invaluable insight we gained from him. It is his philosophy. His philosophy of true empowerment of people, combined with local self-sufficiency, has been heavily influenced by Gandhi and Schumacher, and has, in turn, influenced about 3 decades of CTARA students: Project Assistants as well as degree students. Analyzed deeply, it is the ONLY workable philosophy for sustainable rural development, and it seems to provide solutions to most rural problems that I apply it to.

The philosophy essentially is very simple: don't force your rule on people, don't force a large scale bureaucratic system on villages. Let villages handle their own problems, and help them in the process of doing so. They know the problems, and they more often than not have the solutions. Your task is limited to helping them connect the two and doing it in a sustainable way so that after you go away, the villages can do it on their own. And the smaller the scale of the problem/solution, the more effective it will be. Which means, always identify a large problem and divide it into smaller portions, and try to solve these portions separately, while not losing sight of the bigger puzzle. A simple application of this philosophy would be setting up bio-gas plants in a village with good cattle population but no toilets/sanitation system and heavy reliance on firewood. The health hazards due to open dung and defecation can be easily overcome by channeling all that excreta into a biogas plant, and supply the villagers with the resultant gas, which can be used for cooking, resulting in lesser exploitation of forest resources for the same.

Professor Date is nearing retirement now, and has won, as mentioned earlier, the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award that IIT B gives to its best faculty members. I owe a profound debt of gratitude to him for completely changing the way I look at this world. It is he and the other professors of my department who are my motivation today.

And this is where the title of the post comes in. The line in the original song goes this way: 

"Gudda gaviyannu nungi, Gavi iruveya nungi, Govinda guruvina pada nannanu nungitta thangi"

Meaning, the hill swallowed the cave, and the cave swallowed the ant in it. So just as the hill swallowed the ant, my guru's feet swallowed me.

Pretty much sums up what I feel about Date Sir.

If anyone's interested in the song itself, here it is:



Friday, December 7, 2012

Some more pictures from my brotherhood

Why am I putting up these pictures? I don't know. I don't think any of my ex-classmates even know I keep a blog, let alone read it. On similar lines, I don't expect any of my few readers to understand what we were up to on all these hikes/field trips. I suppose I am just sharing something that is very close to my heart, something which I feel should be preserved in this digital time capsule of my emotions, something I feel I can come back to when I am down. Essentially, something that can actually conjure a patronus charm for me. A happy memory.



In a meeting, on the first night of our MP village stay. Notice the bottle in my hands? That 2-month stay completely destroyed the sturdy metal thing.




5 AM, in a village, is a beautiful time.




The little tyke wanted me to run all the way down the slope like this.




One of our countless weekend trips. I'm the one with the bag and the bottle, to my left is Prof. Anil Date, our HoD and the most awesome teacher I have had in my life. He was a faculty member during my uncle's days at IIT-B, he taught my project guide, and he taught me. His students are today IAS officers, planning commission sub-group members, MDs, CEOs, Chief Ministers, Union Ministers and more. I am honored to have been taught by him.




At the age of 66, Professor Date works 12 hour days and actually accompanies students on hikes that are grueling, to say the least. Is it any wonder that he won the very prestigious lifetime achievement award, given only to the most amazing professors of IIT-B?




Brotherhood. Miss you, guys.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

International Trade - a failed engine of growth for India and Africa

This is a question that was asked in a competitive exam here in India, and I am attempting the answer in 5 minutes flat. So do pardon analytical/grammatical inconsistencies.

International trade, as it exists today, can be said to have failed in acting as a so called engine of growth in countries like India or the African nations i.e. third world countries. This is because:

1. These countries are rich in natural resources. Thus their exports largely consists of minerals, metals and raw material. In turn their imports consist of technological goods, capital goods and machinery. This induces a technological dependence on developed nations, thus hampering the growth of a knowledge intensive economy in these countries.

2. The manufacturing technology these countries possess is no match for the technical advances of OECD or the developed nations.In the era of free trade, this situation thus puts these countries at an inherent disadvantage and makes it harder for their firms and manufacturing units to survive in the international arena.

3. Post-WTO, it is not even possible for such countries to protect state or domestic industries for fear of being branded a protectionist and subsequent boycott.

4. These countries, many a times, have to take loans from international financial institutions to meet trade related obligations, whose conditions are stringent and places further economic burden on these nations.

5. Many of these countries are agrarian in nature with very less manufacturing capacity. This means their trade balance is generally negative, resulting in large accumulated deficit over years, putting them at a disadvantage in terms of development.

6. Finally, development and economic growth depend largely on changing progressive societal values in these countries. Free trade and globalization have not resulted in social mobilization in many countries. Until such mobilization takes place, no growth can be truly achieved.

Thus, it can be said that International trade, as it exists, has not really acted as an engine of growth in these countries.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Skyfall - the most relevant Bond movie made

I saw Skyfall. And I fell in love with it. Having been indoctrinated into the Bond fandom by my father before I was 10, I have had a very emotional attachment to the character and the series. And like many others, I hated Daniel Craig as the new Bond initially. But after 3 films, and especially after Skyfall, I stand corrected. He is the most realistic Bond I have seen (and I have seen ALL of them, mostly twice), and Skyfall the most relevant Bond film. 

But this post is NOT a review of Skyfall. People better than me have attempted it already. This is my take on why Skyfall may be the most relevant Bond film yet.

Back to Craig. He has changed the character of Bond entirely, and for the better. In fact, he and any other Bond actor can be compared to Christian Bale and say, Michael Keaton of the Batman franchise. Just like Bale, Craig brings an intensity to the character hitherto unseen. 

Yes, we all know who the REAL joker of Batman franchise is :P

And I believe this is way way more significant in the current scenario, with the changing nature of espionage and the role/relevance of British intelligence. The days when British spies were portrayed by Eton educated upper class twits saying "sorry, old boy!" as they shoot some hapless Soviet diplomat while getting into an Aston Martin are history. (Ref: David Ignatius) Britain faces not the Soviet dragon, but a multi-headed hydra today, in the form of information dissemination (read Julian Assange, on whom the ideology of  the villain of Skyfall seems to have been vaguely modelled), cyber warriors and terrorists who prefer not get out of their caves and yet be able to kill thousands. 

The kind of spies required for these threats is very different from the aforementioned Etonian twits, who would be too costly for the former empire to maintain. No. The spies needed today are rugged, rough, raw ex-SAS sergeants who made their bones in the street fights of London or on dockyards, hauling fish and smuggling cigarettes in their teens; listen to Styx and Megadeth; drive Harley Davidsons and not Bentleys and are ready to kick ass for Queen and Country. And Craig brings exactly that attitude to the table. Sam Mendes actually recognizes this fact when his awesome Q says that exploding pens are a thing of the past. (Plus, Q is shown as a young computer whiz kid as opposed to the old gramps in Brosnan movies - another indicator)

SAS - Special Air Service in action, Afghanistan. The bearded guy will be the new real-life Bond.

Another issue of relevance is with Bond, as an agent himself. The movie poses this very poignant question, debated by academics for years: how relevant is the man on the ground in the era of satellite pictures, hacking, drone attacks and Stuxnet/FLAME? Is espionage now limited to tapping phones/e-mails and taking pictures from the sky? Why spend a million dollars on training a man who'll work for max 20-30 years, when you can have a satellite that will work for 50 and produce more valuable  intel than the man? Have human spies lost their edge to technology?

The answer, in the words of the inimitable le Carre, may go something like this: Espionage technology can do a lot. It can calculate the number of Russian tanks entering Grozny by counting tyre tracks, and the direction of these tanks by photographing migrating herds of reindeer. It can pick up the sound of a Chinese general belching in his sleep and the websites that Islamic terrorists surf for porn. It can tell you that a group of Maoists/tribals are about to attack a CRPF camp, armed with nothing more than country made pistols, stones and sticks. But it cannot tell you what is in the heart of a marginal farmer whose daughters have been raped by the Salwa Judum, whose sons have joined that Maoist group as way of family insurance and whose lands have been forcibly taken over by some mining conglomerate he has never heard of. Espionage technology cannot calculate the strength of an army that has no radios, and can survive on barks and roots for days on end. It cannot calculate the valor of men who will fight machine guns, napalm and Agent Orange, armed with nothing more potent than bows and arrows. (Ref: le Carre)

But, as is clear from Skyfall, Bond can. And this is why, Bond is far from irrelevant. He would be if he did not change, but change he did, so he is still the best spy in the world.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Some pictures from my brotherhood

In a village, somewhere in Maharashtra

Hike, summer

Hike, summer

Hike summer

Checking out water resources of an area

Siddhagadh fort climbing, in monsoon. I'm the guy whose back faces you and has a black bagpack

Brotherhood

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Food Security Bill, India - 2011

This here is a good analysis by the PRS legislative group.

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B55JELv8ewP2NXZCMGpJY0hLUEk

Gentlemen Rankers

Here is one of my favorite poems of all time, by Kipling:

To the legion of the lost ones, to the cohort of the damned,
To my brethren in their sorrow overseas,
Sings a gentleman of England cleanly bred, machinely crammed,
And a trooper of the Empress, if you please.
Yea, a trooper of the forces who has run his own six horses,
And faith he went the pace and went it blind,
And the world was more than kin while he held the ready tin,
But to-day the Sergeant's something less than kind.
We're poor little lambs who've lost our way,
Baa! Baa! Baa!
We're little black sheep who've gone astray,
Baa--aa--aa!
Gentlemen-rankers out on the spree,
Damned from here to Eternity,
God ha' mercy on such as we,
Baa! Yah! Bah!

Oh, it's sweet to sweat through stables, sweet to empty kitchen slops,
And it's sweet to hear the tales the troopers tell,
To dance with blowzy housemaids at the regimental hops
And thrash the cad who says you waltz too well.
Yes, it makes you cock-a-hoop to be "Rider" to your troop,
And branded with a blasted worsted spur,
When you envy, O how keenly, one poor Tommy being cleanly
Who blacks your boots and sometimes calls you "Sir".

If the home we never write to, and the oaths we never keep,
And all we know most distant and most dear,
Across the snoring barrack-room return to break our sleep,
Can you blame us if we soak ourselves in beer?
When the drunken comrade mutters and the great guard-lantern gutters
And the horror of our fall is written plain,
Every secret, self-revealing on the aching white-washed ceiling,
Do you wonder that we drug ourselves from pain?

We are done with Hope and Honour, we are lost to Love and Truth,
We are dropping down the ladder rung by rung,
And the measure of our torment is the measure of our youth.
God help us, for we knew the worst too young!
Our shame is clean repentance for the crime that brought the sentence,
Our pride it is to know no spur of pride,
And the Curse of Reuben holds us till an alien turf enfolds us
And we die, and none can tell Them where we died.
We're poor little lambs who've lost our way,
Baa! Baa! Baa!
We're little black sheep who've gone astray,
Baa--aa--aa!
Gentlemen-rankers out on the spree,
Damned from here to Eternity,
God ha' mercy on such as we,
Baa! Yah! Bah!


Whenever I read this, I think of the life I have chosen for myself, and I feel I have walked through some kind of looking glass, just like Alice, without knowing what lies on the other side and how I am going to get out again. I can't explain why I feel like this, I just do.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Heartache: Pure and Beautiful

Three of the best songs I have ever heard, and perhaps I ever will. For me, the definition of a best song is if it can move me to tears, no matter what the reason. Maybe a memory of someone or something special, maybe the lyrics, maybe the music that haunts my very soul, maybe even the melancholy generated by the time of the day and the place where I first heard the song. I know not, and I care not. Whenever I listen to any of these three, they fill me with something so heavy I can barely speak, memories rush from the corners of myself I forgot existed, and all I seem to want is more of the same music that makes me feel so.


That was the first. Now the second.


And finally, the third and the most powerful one.



I know, call me a wuss, wimp or pussy. But I will not lie about the power that these three have over me. I just won't.

FDI in Retail: Advantages

This post will simply enumerate the advantages of having FDI up to 51% in multi-brand retail. Mark the choice of words. I am not touching power exchanges or single brand retail or aviation, just the multi brand retail notification and its positive implications. Yes, I may be mistaken in one or many of my opinions, but nevertheless, here they are:

1. A major problem with Indian agricultural sector is the lack of logistics and infrastructure such as cold storage or more efficient market access system. This problem will probably be solved to a large extent with the entry of multibillionaire giants who can afford to invest in such infrastructure for long term gains. Apparently, at least 50% of the FDI is to be invested in back-end infrastructure within three years of market-entry, and the minimum FDI acceptable is 100 million USD.

2. While it will definitely not kick out the small kirana wallahs because of their traditional bond with the Indian society, this move will at least force them to innovate in terms of reaching out to customers through say, Facebook or sms.

3. Such FDI will bring with it strong backward linkages: more orders for, say, trolleys; more revenue from electricity; more jobs in the transportation sector and so on.

4. If Wal-mart or Carrefour decide to register themselves with the BSE or NSE, it may even bring about greater FII in the long run.

5. The states have been given autonomy in the implementation for the same, which means that if a capitalism oriented state like Gujarat or Karnataka allows FDI in retail, and such pilot projects taste success, then slowly the opposition against the same will disappear from other states and who knows? This may pave the way for further reforms.

6. Employment generation is too obvious an advantage for me to write anything on.

7. According to the Economic Times, about 40% of India's foodgrain production rots away in warehouses. This contributes to a large extent to food inflation. (largest factor is of course petrol/diesel prices) Would it be too optimistic to hope that if this wastage of 40% comes down to 20 or 10%, with greater food availability, the artificially created food inflation will go down?

8. If we observe the Amul or Sumul model, we can see that these co-operatives identify milk-shed villages for themselves, i.e. villages with good cattle population that can provide them with an assured milk supply. Over the years, these companies have undertaken excellent developmental activities in these villages in the form of CSR, such as building schools, operating captive bio-gas plants in villages and so on. If the bigger brands can similarly identify "grain-shed" villages for themselves, it may also result in development of these villages in time. Too optimistic, I know, but I feel it has a chance.

9. Finally, the consumer. We'll finally be able to buy Figaro Olives, Pringles or even plain old taters all in the same place. Meaning, the quantity and quality of available goods will improve.

10. Oh, and how can one forget the farmer? While one may argue that the provision saying 30% of the goods are only supposed to be bought preferably from locals, and not mandatorily neutralizes any advantage to the Indian farmer; the fact remains that if I can get potatoes both from Maharashtra and Texas, for my shop in Mumbai, I will obviously prefer those from Maharashtra. Thus, with more customers vying for his goods and the elimination of middlemen who add no value to the goods, the Indian farmer stands at an advantage, vague wording of the notification regardless.

11. A brief look at the Chinese experiment in the same sector tells us of a fantastic sectoral growth story. If India can see the same spurt in sectoral growth, it may subsequently contribute to overall economic growth, including a greater agricultural growth rate. See figure for Chinese growth story in retail sector. Although this is too long a shot, as 97% of Indian retail sector is unorganized.



There will be a post will examine the disadvantages of the same.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sayeret Matkal

I generally keep my political opinions to myself. Even in the case of Israel and Palestine, I am not going to take sides, in spite of having strong opinions. So please, do not mistake this as a post on the middle east political scenario. No, this is just a post celebrating the sheer strength of the human spirit and its ability to command the mind and the body NEVER to give in.

There cannot be a better example of the power of the human spirit than the exploits of Sayeret Matkal. For the uninitiated, it is the name of the Israeli special force. The soldiers of this unit tend to be, on an average, 21 or so years old, and yet happen to be the toughest and the most contented fighters in the world. Two examples of why they're REAL MEN.

1. When, in 1976, Palestinian terrorists had hijacked an Israeli civilian plane and taken it to Uganda, this unit went ALL THE WAY to Uganda from Israel, rescued the hostages, killed the terrorists, killed Ugandan soldiers and CAME BACK TO ISRAEL. For your information: 

Fact no. 1: the distance between Uganda and Israel is over 4000 Km. 
Fact no. 2: At least 3 countries between Uganda and Israel were hostile to Israel back then.
Fact no. 3: 1 Israeli commando was killed, the leader of the raid, Colonel Jonathan Netanyahu. 52 Ugandan soldiers and terrorists were killed and 11 Ugandan planes destroyed.
Fact no. 4: The unit had only 1 week to plan the ENTIRE mission.

2. As part of the retaliation killings to the Munich massacre, a Sayeret Matkal team went to Lebanon, DEEP INSIDE PLO TERRITORY, disguised themselves as tourists, KILLED PLO TERRORISTS IN THEIR OWN HOMES, AND CAME BACK TO ISRAEL.

Fact no. 1: 2 Sayeret commandos were killed, while about a hundred PLO terrorists died.
Fact no. 2: Many commandos were actually dressed as GIRLS, to fool the terrorists.
Fact no. 3: This put the fear of God in the hearts of terrorists, knowing that Israelis had the capacity to strike them RIGHT IN THEIR BEDS.

These are just two of the countless missions undertaken by this unit. What I learn from Sayeret Matkal is that ANYTHING is possible. Anything. Willpower is the ultimate source of ALL other powers. If you disagree, read this post once again and oppose me. Go on, I challenge you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

50 things I will miss about IIT

1. The institute

2. The flora

3. The dogs who never fail to recognize me from 50 feet away

4. My very close friend, the twin of my soul

5. JK's bangle-charts

6. JK's bull milking

7. The ghost of Archimedes

8. Sanskrit-Pandit

9. Bulls

10. The lake, especially at sunset, has a very beautiful melancholy to it. I have never seen it anywhere. Ever. The nearest I came to it was sunset at Umargaon beach or any Goan beach.

11. The professors. I have come to respect every single one of them.

12. Dramatics

13. Calling up mom every morning.

14. Sunrise from my room

15. Strong breeze on the 7th floor in evenings

16. The evening lights in the ballroom of the Renaissance, visible from my balcony. Again, a source of melancholy

17. Kodagana Kodi Nungitha: Raghu Dixit

18. PG Cult

19. The workload: intellectually demanding and you feel satisfied once you're done with it.

20. Hiranandani

21. Weeder's den

22. T shirts that say IITB

23. The relaxed, cool attitude

24. The swagger in our walk when we know others are impressed by us being IITB-ians

25. AHP: one of the best topics I learnt, ever

26. Hawks and kites flying outside my room

27. Atanu, Pinaki and their cobras

28. Atanu's eagle

29. tum tum

30. Going to nani's in AC buses

31. Mumbai: the maximum city

32. Central and Harbor line railway stations with cool names like Masjid Bunder, Dockyard Road, Reay Road, Currey Road and Sandhurst Road

33. The female voice in local trains: Ghatkopar, Sion, Kurla, Vidyavihar, Vikhroli, CST

34. Field trips, even though I hated them when they were a part of my life

35. Writing such blogposts

36. Intellectual challenges and freedom

37. My room

38. DC++

39. 500 MBPS internet

40. The pride in the eyes of my parents when they tell anyone I study at IIT

41. The bittersweet heartache I feel at leaving this place, knowing I am leaving a part of myself here, in the hallowed corridors of the academic area

42. H8 canteen

43. Lakeside

44. 8K per month for doing nothing

45. Playing "Garaj Baras" in evenings, watching lights and traffic along the lake boulevard

46. Gulmohar food

47. Souvenir shop

48. Non-working ATM of H6

49. South Indian movies and songs I have SO come to admire

50. My department

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Baba black sheep, do you think we're fools?

1.
"Babaji, Ghar mein mandir hain, Shivji, Ram aur Hanuman teenon ki photo lagaai hain, phir bhi kripa nahin ho rahi.."

"Shivji ki photo akele rakho ya Parvati ke saath rakho, Kripa aani shuru ho jaayegi. Shivji ki photo akele nahin hain isi liye kripa nahin ho rahi."

2.
"Babaji, koti koti pranaam. Main 15 saal se telecom field mein hoon, phir bhi tarakki nahin hui hain."

"Kaun sa phone istemaal karte ho?"

"Babaji, nokia ka..."

"Samsung ka kyun nahin karte? Samsung ka phone istemaal karo, aur 10 rupees ke naye notes ka bundle cupboard mein rakho, tarakki ho jaayegi."

3.
"Babaji, aapne jaise bola, 10 rupees ke notes ka bundle rakha hain, phir bhi kripa nahin aa rahi."

"Kitni baar dekhte ho us bundle ko?"

"Roz ek baar babaji..."

"Roz nahin, har 15 din mein ek baar dekha karo, kripa aani shuru ho jaayegi."

4.
"Babaji, ghar mein aarthik tangi chal rahi hain..."

"Yeh bataaiye, aap sui mein dhaaga daalti hain, toh munh se todti hain?"

"Ji babaji.."

"Munh se mat todo, do-chaar din mein fark dikhna shuru ho jaayega."

5.
"Babaji, aapne bola tha do fal chadhaane ko, do fal chadhaaye phir bhi bimaari door nahin hui..."

"Kaun se do phal chadhaaye?"

"Do kele chadhaaye the..."

"Isi liye kripa nahin hui. Donon phal alag alag tarah ke hone chahiye. Kripa ho jaayegi."

6.
"Babaji, kripa nahin ho rahi.."

"Shirdi gayi thi aap?"

"Ji Babaji..abhi 15 din pehle hi.."

"Wahaan Abdul ji ki majaar pe kitne paise chadhaaye?"

"Ji 10 rupaye, babaji.."

"100 rupaye chadhaaiye, warna kripa nahin hogi."

These are real conversations taken from a religious/spiritual TV show called "Nirmal Darbar". The so-called enlightened guru who ran the show was arrested for fraud a month or so ago. People have been constantly berating him and making spoof videos of the show since then. But I think the guy is a genius and has slapped the Indian public in face very hard. OK, he's a fraud. That's not a difficult conclusion to reach. He knows it, I'm sure, as does everyone remotely involved with organizing the show. The guy has shows on AXN and 39 other channels, for god's sake. You don't get that kind of coverage without having A. serious money or B. mega audience. Whichever, he has perfected the art of conning people in a way that would make Bonnie and Clyde proud. But I am not angry at him.

You see, it is not about the guy or the fact that he conned people. There are literally millions of conmen and this guy is no different. The real deal here is the fact that we, the Great Indian Public, let him do it. It is sickening to realize that collectively, we have the IQ of a dead goldfish. I have not come across such a display of collective idiocy in a very long time.

This guy came on TV and effectively said "OK, I'm going to make a royal fool out of you. I am going to suggest remedies and solutions that not even a retarded witch doctor of Africa would dare to. And I am going to charge so much money for it I will strip you naked before you can say the word "fraud". What are you going to do about it?" He asked us this, and we answered it by letting him run that show for three years and letting him acquire over 100,000 followers on facebook and twitter. Agreed, many of these followers were paid actors but that still doesn't change the fact that this worthless scumbag asked us, the people of India, that he was going to con us and whether we would be able to do anything about it. And, we let him.