31 December 2008

Thank You and Welcome

A sense of gratitude envelopes me as I say Thank You to all those who visited this blog.
Thank You to all those who left their traces. All of them are greatly appreciated.

13 December 2008


I am not a big fan of writing tags, but when you read each others blogs, it is human enough that readers know who the writer is. And obviously so when some bloggers lift your spirits when writing a comment or sending an email. Don't you think ? So when I checked the blog Hidden in France written by corine yesterday I was surprised to find my name and was wondering about the million dollar question " should i or shouldn't i play tag ".Because one does talk about oneself quite a bit.
Let me cut to the chase -

w.r.to pt no. 4 - i assume many may not have an ear for classical music, but the man has studied music theory for 3 years and plays violin ( hindustani classical style ).

03 December 2008

aay mere vatan ke logo...

A friend in bombay writes : " the same dishoom dishoom goes on".. everything is back to normal."
Another writes: "i have work piled up. 2 days of not going to work has ONLY added more work".
This is the issue with Bombay. The common man bounces back even before you have winked your eyes. Business is back. children have started playing, "terrorist and the commando "instead of "chor police". Though anger is depicted in the Indian media the majority of the population have a job to go to and vacation days cannot be lost by sitting at home in fright. They also have bills to pay. The people who take the train to VT is alert, as usual. Every day they take the same local, at the same time. They discuss about terrorism with terror in trains with their "train friends."
Bombay can never be buckled down ! Ah! the resilient fighters of Bombay, otherwise how would it have become the financial capital of the country? And role model for the rest of the others in the country !! Will my dear bombayites realize what a great power they have and they can do anything ONLY if they set their mind to it - buckle down the politicians too.
Light your candles but pick up your swords (Read: Ask your politicians! to send our Forces.Don'take no for an answer). Otherwise the next generation will be raised under the fear of a "bomb" and the conditioning of 'fear'. There will be "kashmir" from kashmir to kanyakumari. Children learn what they see you do more than what you say. Gandhi did whatever it takes to kick the british - Cutting the long story short - "gandhisim is rebellion".
Sitting back and saying "Peace,when bullets are being sprayed on to you is an act of cowardice and non-confidence.
I rest my case.
(Edited later)

02 December 2008

VT station (CST ) and a letter to the Indian politicians.

That night as usual the ticket Collector just stepped out from his office at VT station (long distance) to put the updated charts on the notice board and fell to one of the random bullets sprayed by the terror makers. When I switched on the television and saw the news flashed on the screen “Terror in Mumbai” I called up my friend in Bombay without calculating the time that it was already 1.00 am there.

I was relieved to hear his voice at the other end, knowing very well that he stays very late at work and takes the local from VT. Another friend who generally takes the 10.45p.m Kasara local ( what NYorkers call subways, bombayites call it local ) that day left early to escape the routine “why are you late everyday” greetings of his wife.

Many of whom I knew escaped the jaws of death but many others died. But a million other lives are emotionally shattered by the sound of the bullets that the terror created at VT station – where people embark on a train – either for long distance travel, or work, study or go home. Everyday same time, same local except on weekends.

My brother said that the double fast local had left some time ago otherwise the casualties would have been higher because those who know VT too well only know that the station is tightly packed. Another undying spirited bombayite went to work the 2nd day, but hearing the sound of the shootings near VT took the next train back home.

As I heard about the shootings at VT station my usual calm self slowly started fuming and started reading the many blogs and the comments who gave a better picture than the media. I could see the crowds waiting on the VT concourse for long distance trains and a blood bath at an unearthly hour.

Having worked with the police for an year and having toured the dadar jurisdiction with the Rapid Action Force of Mumbai, I shuddered to think what it would have been for the police to be hijacked of their van. The havaldars and the station police are mere batons in the hands of the police authorities (IPS officers) and the politicians. They are nothing beyond servants in uniform. They do what they are told. They take what they are given.

At this point of time I remembered, the millions of people whom I saw everyday, but still did not see because I was hurrying to be at school in time or to be at work. The long decorated arches of VT station, the pillars, the high ceilings, the sun light passing through the glass bricks, the carvings at the station, the colored window panes and the giant clock are still so fresh.

They were my everyday sights and when I came out of the platform and crossed the road I would turn back to marvel at this structure (the first picture ) that beckoned the call of every tourist to visit and that coveted the awe of every traveler that took the train into VT.

When the bullets pierced into the surroundings and the people, my mind aches to think that it could be some one whom I knew and was taking the long distance train that day. The bullet marks on the walls of VT, the running of people into the narrow doors is something that can enact in my minds eye because I knew all of VT station and the adjacent lanes well (still do).

I have always seen VT crowded (except some days at the wee hours in the morning) so now when I saw the pictures of the concourse empty in the media I found it very hard to digest. Where millions of resilient bombayites fight to survive the poverty of their villages and find home in a crowded city and its suburbs, I light a candle for their strength to call the government to act NOW or another such incident is only waiting to happen in another corner of the station.

My letter to the politicians who has resigned and is contemplating it .

Why do you have to resign now when it is time to put your heads together and come up with an action plan? Don’t you feel capable to engage in your responsibilities? Have your heads stopped plotting and scheming now that the scheme is upon you and in your backyard? The Americans ridicule George Bush because in the past 8 years he has created more anarchy than any president, but as an Indian at this hour I salute the guy because he did not run away from his oval office nor did he resign from the seat that he was elected to when the terrorists attacked pentagon and the world trade centre in NY. He accepted responsibility.

George Bush along with Dick Cheney and his people tracked the roots of terrorism and went after the terror creators – both the root and the shoot. He created a system that the world heard loud and clear, “Don’t mess with us” Or We will come after you. He launched a war (against the protest of many) that strikes terror in the heart of the very people that created terror in the hearts of the citizens. And since 9/11 there was only one incident of terror in NY city - a black out but no man died. George Bush has kept his promise to protect his citizens. Why is your media not screaming, “Where is the George Bush of our country?” (few days ago they were shouting who is the obama of india)

United States seized power for itself. Nobody gave it to them on a platter. They are bullies when it comes to security for themselves and doing well for their country. Their politicians are as distorted like you but they are sadistic about their unity in keeping their home away from terror. They also pretend to help other countries. You do not have to extend welcome to every visitor who invites themselves. So when Madam Secretary is on her way to Delhi to pour water on the fire have the guts to stand up and tell her, “Go back Simon".

We all know too well that when your bureaucrats go for their initial training at the Lal Bahadur shastri institute of academy , US and UK universities/consulting firms get the contract to train them (last year i think it was Syracuse university NY among others) Your bureaucrats also go to be trained in institutions abroad paid by the tax payers. Have their grey cells freezed ?

Strategy, Vision, Mission Goals, Actions plans, tasks, deadlines... or do we have to hire somebody else to do the work? Or Are we going to outsource this work now? Dare you - if you outsource to any consulting company in any other country, (you have the dirty habit to do this) because if you do you will be removing the very armor from under your chair. Americans drink at every occasion they get ( to clear their head, i guess ) and their head doesn’t get light when they are at work…You always look UP to America? Learn the good things from this country not the bad ones.

Thank You

Image Credits and more pictures at:

01 December 2008

"kashmir across india".Can you hear now ?

In the middle of the night in a house in Kashmir.
“Knock, knock, knock,” open the door. The elderly gentleman who had fought in the kargil war against Pakistan answered the door. A man sprayed bullets into him. Next he killed his wife. The sleepy children ran to escape but the men ran behind and killed another daughter.

They assaulted and bruised another younger son and daughter - leaving one with a trauma that she is still recovering from. And left the boy partially deaf because there was a damage in the ear drum. This is just another case that has been filed into the archives of the Police file. The family that was afflicted was my friends. This happened in 2002.

My friend still trembles when she recalls this. Bomb blasts and living with fear, and not leaving the house after dark was how she was raised. Some relatives who stayed as far as Punjab had been asking them to leave the place for years. But they couldn’t. This was their home – they were born and raised right in the kashmir valley. Their father was in the Border security force . They did not want to leave their home where their father was raised in. They didn’t want to be away from their uncles and aunts, cousins and nieces, some who also worked with the Border security force. The assault on Kashmir is an old story which will not stimulate the nerve of any lawmakers, policy makers or get votes in the vote bank.

The valleys of Kashmir that heard the ooh and the aah of the tourists, and where shepherds tended their flock on the foot steps of these majestic mountains had become a ground for hide and seek for the Pakistani soldiers and people of the Islamic movement.The government of India in Delhi took heed in the beginning. But they gradually grew numb of the thousands of cases and the numbers of death that piled up in the archives. They had stopped counting. They had become immune to the situation and left Jammu and Kashmir in the hands of the wild – a case of international terror. The government stepped far and slowly grew accustomed looking at the situation with a foreigner's eye.

After all the people who were dying in Kashmir were the common folk and they were countless. The people who died were people who drank their tea sitting on the floor. Their diet was not pasta or caviar. They did not attract media attention and were seldom attracted to the glitterati of Bombay. They were interested in having basic amenities in their house, infrastructure of the town, decent schools for their children, health care, employment and food on the table. And many of their deaths had stopped to attract National Media.

Journalists and reporters could not get ahead in their career reporting such cases. And rating on major national stations would decrease because it was felt that it was some far flung place up north and the media and the people of the main land was tired listening about it. Kashmiri deaths were now reported on the 5th pages of the news papers or rarely reported. It was not a news item anymore. The political candidates did not even go out to meet them during elections. The citizens of Kashmir would hear the name of the candidates from a van on a loudspeaker and from the many posters and banners that were stuck on the walls at public places

This is the nth time that India shook under terror and bombay having had its fair share.

Not far from where it happened yesterday there was a bomb blast in Masjid (around 7 miles ) around 2 years ago and on the local trains towards kandivili and Kalyan (around 25 miles away from where it happened yesterday). But none of these ever reached the ears of the government that made them sit up and listen and take concrete steps.

They were dismissed as regional terrorism. The logic was simple- as long as the revenue of the city is not affected, as long as the places of the rich were safe from the bombs, as long as the people who died were poor and faceless and as long it happened in some far suburb in Bombay (we are talking about 25 miles max here) or some 3rd tier city like jaipur (in Rajasthan) and as long as the white men (American,Canadian and British tourists) were safe the politicians refused to be proactive until it affected their fate in the next election. Callousness slowly pervaded the minds of the media and the politicians towards such nefarious activities and now ingrains in them all so perfectly. The common man was reduced to the plight of braving and escaping such incidents.

But what happened in the last 3 days was like a deafening noise to the politicians and those in power because it happened in their backyard. The noise was sharp and long, that it could penetrate the most stone hearted of governments i assume but may also prompt them to do something (I pray that they get their acts together otherwise the people will slowly harness power to revolt against them)

Terror struck along the many lanes that the rich and powerful live, and where they host their shows and attend art galleries, sing and dance and make merry at two of the finest hotels in India – the Taj and Oberoi. We think that the people who created terror have a socially destructive disorder. Sure they do, but more so are the politicians and their band of bureaurcrats who have created policies, laws, processess and systems that do not empower the organizations. They also reign as exclusives who live in a closed cordon of like minded people and separate themselves from the real issues under the din and the lights of the chandeliers of the Taj and the Oberoi. Were the chords of governance finally struck or are they still dilly dallying to make a decision? Or are they just going to heighten personal security for themselves and their assets and spend the defense budget to get more bullet proof cars or send their personal security guards to get trained in the US or UK.

30 November 2008

How will we avenge the Jalianwala Bagh that lasted for 3 days

They were dedicated, skilled and trained. They mapped their trail and were coordinated. They planned every single step. Their logistics was perfect . They belonged to an Islamic movement who believed in fulfilling their vision of Jihad. They took advantage of the many pot holes that our political, social and economic fabric inhabited. They also sought cooperation from those who believed in their vision. They were the unemployed youths who were on a mission. Their youthful instinct of becoming famous and terror makers were stimulated. They came to plunge, murder and kill. Above all they believed in themselves that they could DO. They took support from their allies. They spent time and energy and used their gray skills to accomplish a mission that they believed in steadfastly. They were sharp shooters in every sense of the word. That was what was unleashed for 3 days.

That is what the world saw - A dozen human beings accomplishing their dream of striking terror in the hearts of India and choosing Bombay as their middle ground. For 3 days they held fort and removed every obstacle that came in their way. They were successful in striking terror in a city where the spirit never dies. For the past 16 years starting from the March of 1993 bombs were planted in many cities in historical buildings, railway stations, bus stations and local trains. Every time after the bomb blast the city was cleaned, a few political briefings, media discussions and finger pointing characterized the aftermath.

And the next morning the bombayites took the train to study and work. I was one of them. We spoke about it for 2-3 days , but we put a brave face of resilience and moved on with life. We never touched an object or a box that was lying in a railway station or a bus. We never left our bag out of sight and we were alert in public places. Days passed by and we forgot what happened. We wanted to be bold and courageous and reminded ourselves that a small bomb cannot deter us from living our life. We were The bombayites ! the famous bombayites who had a bold and bindas attitude and are the role models for the rest of India. Ah ! the famous spirit – the undying spirit.During these last years the torch of resilience of a bombayite did not die Or we did not let it die.

And this torch flickered in the last 3 days. And some of my dear friends still had the audacity to take the train to VT (CST) and report to work on the 27th! Such boldness is not what we want anymore. We have the courage to protest against what happened for last 3 days. We have the strength to stand up and fight and demand from our leaders an action plan. We will be the Subhash Chandra Bose who will create an army and seek cooperation from those who believe in our vision of freedom from terror and fright.

We need to shake up from the conditioning of fear of the very leaders that we have elected who does not seem to be of much use when we need them. We should start succession planning in decision making and not keep waiting for time infinity to take orders from above or we will reach above ! We need to shake up from - what if ?, if then ?, but?, how can?, can we? We need to STOP tolerating atrocities on us. We need to be ANGRY enough to elicit an action from the governance. We are not forgiving or forgetting this time.

We need to believe that terrorism can be nuked. We need to accept that we don’t know many things and get help . We need to believe that this city is worth protecting and our country is worth protecting. We need to accept that what happened and what has been happening (innumerable deaths in Kashmir ) is UNACCEPTABLE. We need coordination and cooperation. We need better planners and strategic ones. WE need to step up. We need to climb up. We need to do it today. We need to be proactive not reactive. We also need to respond for what happened in the last 3 days and in the last few years.

We need to have value in spending money for equipping our law enforcement and security agencies with the best. Police stations should be retrained and conditioned NOT to be waiting for orders that paralyzes them. Technology should be updated and USED to bring about efficiency. Our police officers need to be protected to carry out their duty so that they shoot on sight than run away because they have outdated weapons and get scared when they sight suspicion. Conflict management should be moved out of the ivory towers to the very people on the line of duty. Above all as citizens of a country we need to have a sense of self respect and self worth of ourselves and demand accountability from the political bearers in office. All this has to be done ASAP, for if we WAIT on the sidelines there will be no ground to walk.

notes: jalianwala bagh massacre - "soldiers under the command of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer opened fire on an unarmed gathering of men, women and children" at jalianwala bagh in 1919

13 November 2008

call it by any other name but it is still called office politics

While the national politics and economics has been on the charts and has kept every blogger and every news channel buzzing i am instigated to write more local more near ... about office politics.

With so many institutions being "bought " and "sold " and many lay offs and firings that has been happening over the last 22 months and will continue to happen in the current quarter and the next , it is the people who have been able to win at office politics that has managed to stay in even at its breaking point.
Everybody knows that nobody is indispensable.You might be yesterdays great salesman but if you cannot deliver the goods today and more importantly if you are not the boss's right hand man, you will be asked to leave the office saying that there are budget cuts. Even when you are the best and the brightest you are logged out.
If you do not suck it up and generate revenue, you are shown the door. Are you hesitant to keep up with the technology in your field, the boss will consider you a liability.
If you are not adding value to your boss's promotion and the bonus or these days if you cannot do 3 peoples job you are shown the door.
At presentations to major clients, the person who is close to the boss's head (heart and.. ) is asked to present if you are leading the poll in office politics.

When your opinion is counted even if you are lower at the corporate rung, you are leading the polls at office politics.
when you are invited to lunch with the departmental head and higher ups evenwhen you 'really' should not be there you are ahead at office politics.
when you are asked to chair the meeting even when you should not be doing it you have a lead at the political game at the office.
Now the ultimate clincher - say if they are two identical departments during a buy in, the guy who heads the department and is the beer buddy to the final decision maker he will be asked to continue to lead and the other guy will be asked to pack up along with his workforce.

it is some kind of power that we all want to have. Call it by any other name - influence, PR, rapport, recognition, isn't that what we ultimately need to succeed at office politics. play the game and you will reign.

dear readers, take it away.

07 November 2008

Obama, World, India and Wings of fire.

I was posting a comment on Indian home makers post " why am I jealous of americans" and realised that the comment was becoming too long and hence this post.

The world is euphoric over the election of Barack Obama, presidential elect. As Vinod Sharma puts it "he is no messiah", but he is a bridge of hope. A face of reconciliation in the face of oil drinking politicians of America who ruled the world with their communist principles and violated their own constitution and came up with a book about the constitution. Just a day before Mayor Bloomberg of NY city amended the NY state constitution to run again for the third term while some citizens stood up to say that it is a bad idea while some others said it is good. However a student ( looked like she is from high school )stood before a large audience and said that the mayor is “cheating” by amending the election rules, to serve his own selfish interest.

Across the blogworld I read people from many countries honeymooning over the fact that Obama became President and wants one for their own country. Equally elated as I am for this election result I am dead sure that their was an Obaman moment and time in every country's history.

if you are from India or from Spain or France or South Africa we should know that you have your Obamas in your land. That is why you had a revolution and a renaissance in your history and freed yourself from apartheid. You marched against churches and against kings . You threw out queens who oppressed your people. But you forgot the momentous occasions and chugged on living a life and taking everything for granted and became lazy to stand up and fight in times of injustice put up by the very own government you elected. The same happened to America 8 years ago and sometimes in between. Tired, Intimidated and wounded American’s chose their Gandhi in Obama who was willing to stand up when nobody knew him.

We do not have to be envious of what America has chosen.In India we have had our Tilaks who brought the community together, Our Bhagat Singh who did not hesitate to kill the unjust, Our Bose, who thought differently from Gandhi’s methods and went out and created his own army and fought for what he believed in. Our Raja Ram Mohan Roy had the guts to marry a widow under stiff opposition from his landlord family breaking societal and cultural norms and Dr. Ambedkar who emancipated the scheduled castes and wrote the constitution. With time we forgot our moments of jubiliation.

Power corrupted British educated Nehru led and built the foundations of the Indian raj.People like Vallabhai Patel were reduced to no-nothing-phenomenon in the Indian parliament because Nehru and his croonies were scared of what he could do. Finally the dagger was put into the socialistic phenomenon of the Indian Raj and its ways by Narsimha Rao along with Manmohan Singh who finally emerged from the Nehru / Indira Gandhian pallu by liberalizing the indian economy.

India does not have to look for its Obama elsewhere. He was just there in power 2 years ago - Our 12th of President of India Dr. Abdul Kalam. He is “Our kalam”, a phenomena, like the nuclear test he and his team conducted in 1997 right in front of the eyes of the world.I first saw President Kalam and heard him in August 1996 at a convocation ceremony and realized that I was seeing one of the greatest men in the world at that very moment. In his 5 years of presidency he had a vision of and for INDIA –INDIA 2020. He is our today’s Gandhi. He is greater than Barack Obama, because he saw a vision for the largest democracy in the world to become the most powerful democracy.

President Kalam showed again that India has power and we can use it fearlessly and courageously. He stole the thunder under the feet of everybody he met and heard. I told proudly to my fellow class mates, the person who masterminded the nuclear test in India and held the world 's attention in 1997 is my president. { And if you must know the response of some of my Washingtonian classmates ( all navy, military and air force ) was, it is one of India’s most intelligent moment.}

Fearless and ruthless about possibilities President Kalam lived the phenomena in the face of contrary. As American’s rallied around their Obama, I wonder why we did not amend the constitution to extend one more term for Abdul Kalam, a scientist who studied among the portals of India's own educational institutions and became its 12th president.They say when we loose our faith we look back and when we worry we look around. India has what it needs to be the most powerful nation of the world. We failed to realize our power for many years and may be we were scared of unleashing the power when our very own nehruvian government oppressed us. And those who have realized the power are being killed, thwarted, ridiculed and put under house arrest. The country that carries the weight of intelligence and power among the millions who rallied around Gandhi in the non-cooperation moment is still the India (only better) who needs to recognize the voice and existence of President Kalam who lives among them.

We need to realize and recognize. Realization of who we are, what we are capable of and whom to choose in the government and Stand up. For five minutes in a day when we stand up to be a Gandhi and for another five minutes a day stand up to become a Bhagat Singh and for yet another five minutes a day to become Vivekananda we will have begun to create a phenomenon and recognize these phenomenon in others. And for 1 hour a day stand up and become a Abdul Kalam . If Gandhi became a “Mahatma” to the world for his Non-Violence and inspired Obama to STAND UP, President Kalam gave us ‘Wings of fire" in OUR times. The Obama that we are looking for is right here standing among our midst.

Notes: Mahatma Gandhi and Indira gandhi are not related to each other.And they are millions of miles apart of what they thought, talked and practised.

05 November 2008

notes of an historic moment

“While we breathe we hope" said Barrack Obama, the presidential elect.

Last night as the citizens and tourists were waiting in public squares and parks to hear the outcomes of an election many African Americans chimed , “We cannot believe it" after The black American had ran and fought so hard and long to oust the female blonde white democratic candidate to become the presidential nominee several months ago and now won to become the 44th president of america.(O ye of little faith). As I was flipping channels, Dianne Sawyer, a senior female blonde news anchor asked her colleagues, “how would Hillary be feeling right now?”. Screw you Ms Swayer, at one of the most defining moments when history was taking a turn and the stone was being etched, “my dreams have come true” this news anchor had the shameless nerve to even bring up such a conversation.

Freedom is never given, it is always taken. Independence and liberty to be snatched. Yesterday’s slave, today‘s president. From riding at the back of the bus to the highest office in the land to becoming the leader of the free world. For me, it was the epic point - the picture of courage of taking the responsibility of achieving ones dreams. of a promise of belief and faith in oneself. From an unknown senator 3 years ago, who could walk at the O’Hare international airport in Chicago without being recognized to the most recognizable face in the whole world. Citizens, majority of whom are whites turned out in large numbers (91% turn out in Connecticut) to vote, to remove the line of absurdity and vote rigging if the race was close. But the cows in the south just mooed as they always did. Finally last night the doors of the white house were kicked open to the voice of many who changed the color at the oval office. On the hallowed portals of the white house should be engraved, “I have a dream” (if it is not already done so) and “I believe in our dreams” by the president elect.

The effectiveness of a promise, the power of breath that is what we saw last night.

on a lighter note - have a cupcake.

02 November 2008

Nothing in particular and Why do I blog

Blogs was a happenstance to me in 2005. first was apartment therapy, when i searched for the word "apartment furniture" and from there i jumped towards reading many more blogs. some i left a comment and some i did not because i was plain lazy. with everyblog posting i walked away with something. why do i blog ? simple. so that my friends and family and neigbours do not have to hear my opinion on everything i think.

almost 4 years ago a person who met me for 3 days wrote to me that i should be putting my thoughts on paper. combing through websites, journals, databases both online and offline one walks through an overload of information that until and unless one sits down and thinks about it, a person seems to carry an unnecssary baggage of opinion, thoughts and perspectives and feels cluttered. i don't know about you, but that is how it has been for me. in also writing i found that it is a great way to analyze a pleothara of thoughts, the jumblings and the musings and walk away with something more clearer and something more solid. idealistic, uthopian, possibilities or plain old crazy wierd ideas if one were to do a brainstorming.

for someone who is always asked, how do you know this and is perplexed to answer to that question the blog seems to be the perfect answer. many a times i write impulsively behind an online name to write as true to my gut-opinions on the topic. right or wrong, extrememly pessimistic or optimistic does not matter to me. it is my way to jot down my thoughts somewhere which people can feel free to comment - agree, disagree or just do not comment. my blog is an attempt for me to clear my web of thoughts and move on to the next topic.

i have conquered fears, and anxities, gained confidence and able to assert, agree to disagree and formed new opinions. in the course people have asked me questions and sent emails even the long forwarding ones. but since my blog email is only for my blog it does not matter it just lies there in my inbox.

like everything ---blog --basically logging your thoughts online has the best or worst of both worlds. when i started surfing through the oldest browser"lynx" on a black and white monitor on a 486 i thought it was earth shaking. back then in 1995 i marvelled at colored monitors and would go to watch them because it was not available in my side of the campus. email was the clincher because we wrote emails to our friends in the universities and chatted using talk@username, we have come a long way now.

now we talk and write to people whom we think we know, but we don't. we exchange hellos and write to some bloggers when we have missed reading their posts. for some we see a face and many others we don't but we still chug on. communication has become instanteous and the social fabric of human beings to be connected is not being lost. Online or offline we want to be heard ..the nerve that makes us just human.

Having a blog as early as 2001 was a fashion till it suddenly became the rage in 2005 and now just like having many email accounts blog is just another phenomenon. Now what next after we have lost the charm. However it is amazing that how human beings will do anything to reach out and be reached..communication. Only if this kind of passion will exist to have some common sense to reach out to protect what is left of this earth. So let's subscribe to common sense, shall we?

And on a note..that is a much too familiar noise these days..

Most countries have national elections.if i am not mistaken canada's was just over ( i think ) and the world remains in bated breath to hear who will have finally emerged the winner in the US in two days. Most wait in fear that the elections will be rigged or votes will be fudged. There will be long lines at election booths, continued jibberings on the media and online ( the blogs will be fun to read at what really happened at the booths ) and many more voters will be turning out to cast their ballot to decide who will get the final job offer for becoming the US President. Finally just 2 applicants for the one of the most coveted job in the world, while many residents in this country and other parts of the world cannot get employment. Halloween was just over 2 days ago and holding that realm of thought i begin to wonder who is going to trick or treat us - obama or mc cain. But Hope is what makes a human being get out of bed next morning for a better future isn't it?

23 October 2008

the world around

..made a few changes to the collage

21 October 2008

chapter 11

**if you think that the country is in financial bankruptcy, it is much worse, the country is morally bankrupt. Neel Kashkari is heading the$700 bail out company, "Kash and kari" ltd.

**it does not matter who wins the election. Mc Cain or Obama. the tax structure will be higher. residents will be paying more for basic necessites - groceries, gas, healthcare, clothes and decent education but the Wal-mart culture of the american psyche will definitely change.

**if the financial pot has melted so be it, can the earth be saved? it is october here and i go out without a jacket. nothing is as grave as an issue than climate change, which will bankrupt generation after generation.

**How soon power outs, water cuts will become a norm only time will tell.

**5 people for the same job. Educated unemployment is on the rise.

**1 out of 10 people do not have health insurance. And if you do have health insurance the hospitals and the doctors clinics wring you as much as possible. Never ending line of tests and suddenly you are sick forever ! Anybody's savings are deposited at the Doctors cash counter.

**The bust cycle is the only one constant in the country. Starting with dot com bust, followed by Enron and the MCI scandal, housing bubble and so on and so forth...

** when race and ethnicity becomes the deciding factor in Universities, schools, corporates and Power, the cerebrum is working at the lowest point. Insecurity dominates the policy maker and the decision makers.

**Lies and Misinformation are the hall marks of the News Agency.

**University education is equivalent to buying gold and the ROI is skeptical.

Who will bail out now?

05 October 2008


You are invited to join me for the celebration party on the 200th floor of The Wall Street Building.

Date: October 6, 2008

Can't believe it took us so long to come out of this. Boy, were we worried ! Surely we all have worked hard, making those assets, building up those bank balances. How could everything just about disappear ? The bailout was essential, not only for the US economy but also for us! Come on, how can the Wall Street run without us?

So finally, it is time for champagne and caviar again (smirk). You will also meet the people who made all this happen! The night will be young. The bold and the beautiful will be joining us.Wish to see you at the party... don't miss it for the world.

[Wall street Executive]

Image credits:Edmond B

03 October 2008

My life vest is under your seat, says Rwanda.

Just like you
I am.

But, I am cut
I am beaten
And broken.

In pain.

Tears flow
And Blood.

This is all I remember


Maryam who is now in Rwanda says it again.
Corine is doing what needs to be done

Image by jsdart

22 September 2008

advertising slogans tongue in cheek.

I was leafing through the June issue of the economist , the topic of the cover being on energy and every major oil company had advertised. With the many casualties on Wall street, I pulled up the advertisements of the banks/financial agencies which were dead and some still trying to stay afloat. The slogans are in RED. This is what I came up with :

Location: Emergency room of the US Treasury.

The scene : loud noises, yelling and screaming for help, voices of despair filled the room, confusion in the air, running helter skelter, but no place to run !
The Securities and Exchange commission and the US Treasury was just back from the funeral of Bear Stearns.
The bruises of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were being attended to by the other members of the staff. Many parts were already in cast.

Among the rising voices we heard

Charles Schwab saying
:"it's not just money, it's people's money.” trying to be self righteous !

"True" said Lehman Brothers.
We are ranked #1" Most admired securities firm" by Fortune in 2007.
We also rank #1 in the Barron's 500 annual survey of corporate performance for the largest companies in the U.S. and Canada. - advertised on their website

Barclays answered, "How did it come to this? You have so much money you stopped caring about it?!" (Barclays bought many chunks of lehman brothers)

Merrill Lynch said,
“ We are bullish on the future. We have a tradition of trust”.

I don’t think so. Said Bank of America. We are buying you out and flashed the card
“ opportunity knocks”. Bank of America has acquired Merrill Lynch.

AIG blew its horns,
“Live longer, retire stronger. Never outlive your money. Ask Your financial advisor about AIG. We have the strength to be there.” Still trying to look strong AIG had started taking orders from the US Treasury.
The many financial agencies who took cover under AIG looked at each other helpless.

Credit Suisse
looked at Lehman Brothers with a scorn and said,
"Some think high-flyer ! We think successful business. We are thinking new perspectives".

The doors opened and in came more casualties.

Wachovia said
,"We are absolutely obsessed with satisfying our customers”

Washington Mutual,
"Thanks to our flexible bending rules. We do not nickel and dime you. We have the power to say yes. Whoo hoo!

Now the US Treasury was feeling the heat. Some members fell to the floor. Some were trying to keep standing on their feet and some others trying to look strong....

18 September 2008


12 years ago I went to school to hone my skills
I wrote an exam to get in
Took more exams to get out.

Companies stood in line
They courted me, wooed me and hired me.
They re-trained me at the bank.
A work day would sometimes turn into work night
I enjoyed what I did.
Analyzed, Modeled and Programmed .
Series 7 and then Series 63.

Most often the problem had to be solved..NOW
They called me after midnight
I logged in, opened the windows and went to work. I made calls.
I solved one more problem in the wee hours of the morning
Millions of dollars were earned and another million saved.
I worked Sundays and weekdays more than 10 hours a day

One day the boss called me to his office
He asked me to leave work..Right NOW
a hurried thank You.
I came back to my desk to take a print out of my address book
The computer locked me out.
They couriered my belongings, some paper and the shoes that I left behind.
That was the last day at the bank.
7 years and 4 months had passed by.

- From the notes of an analyst at a bank. He still continues to work in another bank !

17 September 2008

Because he was a boy !

She asked us to pray. He should be a boy. And he should be good looking, pink hands and feet and skin all white.. and he should look perfect, that is all what mattered to her. And so we prayed, every day, till the day he was born – all so perfect. A boy.

I never understood then why they wanted a boy, and why we needed a brother. Traditionally, they wanted a son – somebody who will carry forward their name and somebody who will take care of them in their golden years.

He was the apple of the mother’s eye. She primped and pampered him and gave him the best of things. He got an extra chocolate, a bigger pencil. Special food was cooked for him. The mother asked us to pick up his plate, because a boy is not supposed to pick up after himself. He should not be cleaning the dining table because “it does not look nice”. And it is not appropriate for a boy to pick up the broom to sweep nor should he wash his own clothes…

They believed him more . He got away with big lies and small ones and was forgiven because 'He was a boy ! He lied to his teeth. When he tore my book, they did not question him. They said – “you deserved it.”

- From "the diary of Indian girls"

image credits maxi millipede

11 September 2008

Interesting Conversation with a Pakistani Gentleman.

It is not everyday that I get to meet a Pakistani gentleman and talk about politics. Last evening while waiting at the bus stop he stood behind me in line and after we had whined about the frequency of late bus arrivals we asked each other, “ where are you from”, a common question asked in New York.

It has been a long time since he was going home this early, He said. And it was 9:30 pm at night. “My children would be already asleep because they have to leave to school early”.

They go to Woodrow Wilsons, He said.

"Isn’t it a school for the gifted,".I asked.

“Yes, it makes me feel very happy when somebody ask me that.” The pride and the beaming father said with a joy, as if he had the whole world in his palms “It can never happen back home !

I was wondering at the cultural scene in Pakistan and the opportunities for women there.

“I am glad to be in this country – a place where my daughters can study and choose professions of their own choice some day. where else can my girls enjoy more freedom ?" He continued.

“ I do not want to see my daughters overpowered by the thoughts of the society back home.”

“Hillary standing for presidential election has made a lot of difference for the women in this country. But back home when
Benazir Bhutto became prime minister, nothing changed for the women in Pakistan.”

Benazir Bhutto, like the Indira Gandhi of India had grown up in the political limelight of her father Zia-ul Haq. Oxford and Harvard educated Benazir almost had no similarities to the millions of Pakistani women who are subjugated inside the cultural fabric.

“ My wife is an envy for living in freedom by her own siblings who live in Pakistan". He quipped.

"I am happy to be here despite the many hardships after 9/11 hoping for a better future for my daughters"

Such men may be numbered, I thought.

Conversation moved on to politics in Pakistan.I asked him what he thought about the new pakistani president Asif Zardari.

"Zardari is a “lutera “and a “Khatil” (in urdu) which translated would mean rob and kill.

“You would be surprised if I tell you Zardari has killed Bhutto,!People of Pakistan had anticipated this a long while ago and it was only time Zardari made it happen. “

When I reached home I goggled and this is what the link said:

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080221042931AAd2taa, which I have cut and pasted here: -

“How far is it true that Benazir Bhutto was Asif Zardari's second wife, she was divorced& he plotted to kill ?

Veteran journalist Altaf Hasan Quraishi wrote in his digest in Urdu informations furnished by his another journalist friend of Karachi(which he says he disagrees2) that Benazir was divorced by his husband when he was released after passing 81/2 years in jail(for heavy corruption charges) & b coz of long separation. That's why both were living in separate countries. She had huge land in Larkana(in which a fast train takes one hour to cover up) & other properties at many places in the world & a joint account in swiss bank too with huge amount of money. He further adds that he didn't accompany her when she returned & election campaign she did alone. after her death, when he came back, his face didn't show any sign of tension & at the time of her burial his face showed as if he is convinced of happenings. Also, the suicide bombers & gunmen were his men. He was accused of killing her brother Murtaza too earlier. She was his second wife & he got killed his cousin Fateen too. Is it all true?
• 6 months ago

Additional Details
6 months ago

Asif Ali Zardari was head of Public Account Committee during Benazir's first term as PM. He was being called Mr 10 % b coz he was getting that much kickbacks in all govt projects. His musclemen once tied a remote controlled bomb to a leg of then top industrialist Bukhari of Al Bukhari Group(after his kidnapping) to give Rs. 100 crores to him or his leg'd be blown off & got money too. Similar things were done to others. He was grabbing lands for his building projects at throw away prices after kidnapping of owners. At two sides of his Bilawal House in posh Clifton area of Karachi, facing the sea, two 30 feet high iron gates were erected to block the whole road from public use. He tried to grab a bigger house nearby of a big businessman similarly to be named as Bakhtawar House but Takbeer weekly bared story & blew up the plan. He was earlier engaged to his beautiful cousin Fateen Zardari but later she refused & so, was murdered by his plan in a car accident near Clifton. He is a bad man.

6 months ago

While in jail for 8 1/2 years, he had set up a court system of which he himself was a judge & his judgements were biding. He was using his grouping & mucle flexing in the jail by ordering beating of any culprit by bamboo bars heavily. All possible sorts of hooliganism & goondaism he was doing in the jail too with full support of staff members who were afraid of him that after release he will eliminate them. He was like a king in jail. This he told to Shafi Naqi Jaameii on BBC Radio after release. If rumours are to be believed, he was coming out of jail too for amany days , unrecorded(obviously) as it is shown on many Indian TV serials of Balaji Telefilms by making jail staff 'crorepatis'(multi millionares). Now he is going to be power broker in his country.”

Once upon a time married to one of the politically powerful elite Benazir Bhutto, several corruption charges, a prison sentence and a society where justice is only for the rich and the powerful and husband of the murdered wife,things favored Asif Zardari to become the new president of Pakistan who was once a feudal lord. For those who are not familiar with Pakistan -the society is constantly engulfed in tribal feud always brewing somewhere, said the CIA analysts, a talk which I had attended at Wisconsin this summer.

Culturally Pakistan a tribal nation, pretended to turn democratic with the partition and independence on august 14, 1947. Overpowered by fanaticism, and people highly charged and emotional in nature, with a place only for orthodox conservative logic and fatalism the country is staggering under such pillars with no restitution in sight.

“It is only time that the country will break up into 3 parts”, the gentleman had said.

When I recently watched Asif zardari on BBC news sporting a sheepishly cunning smile my rational logic told me that there was more to the story of Zardari becoming the president and not the prime minister, which his wife, Benazir Bhutto had contested and which the gentleman had only confirmed.

A president in Pakistan comes to power elected by the parliament and not by contesting elections. Zardari had it easy. He assumed the supreme power with an understanding with the "Long hand" and the current Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif and tomorrow can dissolve the parliament if he wanted to.

In a culture dominated by men, Benazir Bhutto campaigned along with the party workers, while Zardari stayed in a foreign land. He had always accompanied her on earlier campaigns. But this time, he was away.

Politics is the craft and art of using power, becoming powerful and sustaining power, is what I concluded.

And as for the Pakistani gentleman and his family my thoughts will always be “As-salaamu Alaikum” which means peace be upon you.

09 September 2008

lights of new york

image credits: mikeO nj
fireworks are an ongoing feature. the July 4th takes the cake, but we occassionally see them through out the year.

image credits : sister 72
Every year since September 9th 2001 two additional Lights are seen on the NY skyline.Last night, the lights came up again.

image credits:Global Jet
Among the many lights in the city, the Empire state building changes colors every day

When the lights are switched off after midnight the migratory birds are thankful, since the powerful lights blind the flying birds as they make their way across the sky and many of them hit against the tall buildings on the NJ side.
New Yorkers call us the bridge and the tunnel people. They boast about their skyline, which we enjoy.
when you come to NY city next time take a path to Hoboken or to Pavonia New Port in Jersey city. Follow the river walk , you can see the NY skyline till you hit the tolls near George Washington Bridge on the Jersey side. The lights are its best when the sky is clear. it is quite a stretch to walk, may be 7-8 miles. You can enjoy guessing the many buildings in the city across and the bridges you can see far beyond. When you get tired, take the ferry and you can get back to manhattan.

The photographs that is put up on the site are those that can be seen through my window and who happen to have taken from my neighborhood. But there are so many more on Flicker. Once again thanks to the many photographers who are willing to share.
(this is the first post in the series - lights of new york.)

08 September 2008

Anjali's Kitchen

when i am trying to make a decent cup of chai Anjali is up every sunday morning dishing out indian cuisine with much fervour and passion that we rarely see these days especially with all the shelf products and frozen vegtables found in every grocery store. go to her house around 11 'o clock and her kitchen counter top looks like the insides of the restaurant kitchen. dices of green chillies, chopped tomatoes, cilantro /curry leaves plucked and cleaned, onions cut in many sizes, garlic and ginger minced, vegetables and dals to be cooked and the masala dhaba arranged at her arms length so that all the spices is at her beck and call.

The pressure cooker was already on the stove top with the moong dal bubbling in the steam bath. On the next stove top a kadai was already heated up with a table spoon of oil. "So what's up today ?"I asked. she motioned with her hand indicating, "wait" and continued to cook. the mustard seeds, the cumin, curry leaves, the onion, the minced ginger-garlic, green chilies, asafoetida and turmeric all went in. it s-i-z-z-led. The hot curry leaves sauted in the oil permeated the air . with a spatula she was stirring the kadai so that the contents cook evenly."cooking as usual", she said as her hand slowed down. she tightened the clips that held her hair and she was already on to the next vegetable. at the same time her eyes were on the stove tops.
The cooker was now opened and the sound of the creamy moong dal that seemed to enjoy its thickness boiled over, just in time to be stopped by the expert eyes of the cook in action by switching off the stove. she poured the contents from the kadai into the cooker. The melted tomatoes mingled with the spices now played with the moong dal. Flavorful and Aromatic the dal tantalized my expectant taste buds. I inspected the contents of the cooker, couldn't hold back myself and turned into pavlov's dog.

This was her sunday morning routine. cooking for the week or better said cooking for the many friends she knew. A big bowl of what she made would go to every house hold for dear friends. Never understood why she did that. Yesterday, a big bowl of Anjali's moongdal, soya-methi potatoes, chana, marinated fish all was delivered by anjali herself to my kitchen, which will now be re-heated and enjoyed... Yum..O Yum..
I manage to cook to save myself from hunger, but when it comes to north indian cuisine, i have yet to find another expert chef. All her neighbors are floored by her many skills..
Thank You Anjali, may your cult increase.

Image credits : Teban

07 September 2008

Corporate Chicken

Ask an 8 year old kid raised in the United states of America - where has he seen a chicken? “You mean chicken nuggets”, pat comes the reply. In an over industrialized and prosperous country where every successful cookie recipe, restaurant, coffee shop , grocery store , office supplies, is in a hurry to get franchised, the chicken has also not been left behind. The Kentucky fried chicken boasts in their several servings of ONLY chicken, McDonalds and Wendys in their famous chicken nuggets at a bargain price. Just transfer the scenes of the movie Fast food nation, a documentary depicting the beef industry to the two legged feathered bird.

The words Hen and cock are almost foreign to many young minds and a 6 year old brain can mostly conceive chicken as the heavily breaded rolls of pressed chicken in the form of nuggets, chicken wings during a superbowl, a roasted chicken from the Boston market or the supermarket deli shop. Any packet that is marked “Purdue” or “ Tyson” brings chicken to adult minds and babies get their first feed of chicken in a bottle produced by Gerber. Ultra huge warehouse stores like BJ’s and Costo sell everything for "Bigger deals for better values" just the answer for overworked parents who are raising kids and trying to keep their jobs.

Visualize a chicken factory - A counter top where the hens are cut and all the parts separated into thighs only or breasts only or legs only moving along on the conveyor belt, workers standing just like in an assembly line and the rest of the poultry tits bits compressed as nuggets. On food TV shows Chefs in designer aprons teach how to cook chicken using “the ONLY “ parts mantra for a delicious moist meat. These kind of recipes promote the way grocery stores market the poultry and vice versa. How many times have TV shown what a a chicken looks like before they come on the plate, considering that an average American kid spends atleast one hour in front of the TV every day after school. What will happen to young minds if they show how a chicken be killed on TV is the first question that comes to the producers mind and how will it be perceived. In all good intentions parents do not want their children to see how a hen is cut and how it becomes ‘meat’ on their plate. Will their young feeble minds be scared and be traumatized?

Children are kept hidden from the reality that their chicken on the plate are raised in containers that are as tightly packed as sardines and fed on hormones and antibiotics that would bulk the chicken up, a pleasure for the eyes and the gratification of a huge size portions on the plate. Free roaming chickens raised on normal food such as whole grains is almost alien, with some kind of awareness popping up in the last few years in this country.

I grew up watching chickens being killed for meat, when we went to the poultry market to buy them and turned out to be a perfectly normal individual. School lessons enforced the concepts of food chain and adults kept us under reality check! When young minds are presented facts in ways that help them learn and understand the reality of things they turn out to be ungluttonous meat eaters. A habit is instilled into a child by the values that adults teach and the perceptions that children are presented with. Good and bad attitudes are formed by the culture and the environment that they are raised. Raised in oblivion of the environment children DEMAND. A feeble young mind soaks up information with curiosity . Good eating habits begins at home.

When a teenager goes to a poultry farm ( in other words hens raised only for meat ) as part of their school trip, they are shell shocked and numbed that for the last 15 years they ate a ‘cute’ feathered bird 7 days a week, two times a day in some form and overwhelmed with guilt at the thought of consumption of the number of chicken wings and drums sticks they have gobbled up heartlessly !

Chicken finds a way at every table. The impression that “ No meat” on the tables means poor should be fact checked and attitudes such as these needs to be corrected.
How the Perdues and the Tysons, have overtaken dinner table are seldom thought consciously because this is what babies are fed, children raised in and adults feel comfortable with, and the brain ingrained for 21 plus growing up years. Teach a old horse new tricks, and you will rather stand upside down with head on the floor and feet in the air. This is what has happened to average meal times . But comforting news is around the corner for those who try to look sideways . A handful has risen to the occasion. Thanks to a few food movements and documentaries and books on agribusiness. the average meal is slowly changing and may be in another 30 years this country will see a healthy eating pattern and well established one at that.

The customer is always KING.

31 August 2008


I walk away from you
I run.
I have no desire for you
And you are not listed in my plans.

You stare at me
I look right back at you.
You walk down the road
I wipe away the dust.
You knock at my door
I close them on you.

I bolt my windows too.

I bake bread
And drink water from the well
I collect wood and kindle fire
I build a home.

You try to haunt me,
Many atime you called me
But I turned a deaf ear.

I caught you peeping in the mirror
I turned around
But you ran terrified

The sun rose
And my spirits lifted higher
I picked up the flowers and the leaves
I collected opportunities
And I brought home happiness

I walk to work
With a spring in my step.
I hear whispers of joy.

Now you shy away from me,
And from the light.
Into the darkness you disappear.

28 August 2008

Race and Sex Overwhelmed !

Adjectives were heaped left , right and center as the case was being made again and again for Barack Obama at the democratic convention. Generally a normal routine at every convention this roll call turned into a historic moment when Hillary Clinton, a white woman acclaimed Barack Obama, a black man as the democratic presidential nominee. America watched as Hillary made her speech at the convention and though the presidential nominee was Barack Obama, all eyes and ears were on the Clintons and every nuance of their body language was scrutinized with great intensity. Hillary managed to sound right but her body language and her facial expressions betrayed her.

When Indira Gandhi (no connection to Mahatma Gandhi )became the prime minister of india, becoming the leader of the largest democracy she did not crack the glass ceilings but when Hillary ran for the presidential nominee she made "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" (borrowed expression). I couldn't identify with Ms. Gandhi because of her silver spoon upbringing and her seat of power came in easily because of her father's name and the family's clout and she had walked this ramp ever since she grew in the limelight of political bigwigs. Indira Nehru Gandhi was not an ordinary indian, but a British bred indian citizen. But I could identify with Hillary because she was raced in an ordinary family and she worked her way up.
When Indira Gandhi became the prime minister of India, I couldn't dream that I could become the prime minister of india, but when Hillary cracked the glass ceiling a million times, I can instill confidence in my daughter that they can become the leader of the free world!

American electorates have a short memory. it is wonderful for elections and second chances. Hillary fired key people in her campaign at the peak of the race. Perplexed but unshaken her supporters clung to her as a baby would cling to a mother ! hispanics, the swing voters exalts Hillary. They tout her as Mother Mary whom they think will release them from their woes !

An american psyche once so unwilling to get a woman into the white house, has embraced Hillary and want her orders to release them from the emotional clutch that they still hold on to their democratic presidential nominee in Hillary.
Still angry and embittered Hillary made the case for her opponent , in true political style. She clenched her fist and bit her tongue but she said it ! – true support for Obama ! In some ways Hillary reminded me of a Martha stewart coming across with similar traits. Promises such as tax gas cuts seemed like white lies. But just like Martha stewart she will bounce back , and make a glorious U turn. And time will tell.

In the overbearing of the historic moment of race transition, the media lost out in mentioning that that the democratic convention roll show was steered by an all women ship -The person who called upon individual roll call was a woman, the secretary of state was a woman and the person who acclaimed the roll call was a woman. 88 years ago women of America fought for voting rights. In the year of 8/8/2008 the Chinese auspicious number proved lucky for American women. Women spearheaded the historic moment at the democratic convention - both race and sex submerged into ONE moment. It took 210 years after American independence to arrive at this moment ! But only 45 years after a man who dared to declare his dream to the world.

And so this is my prayer -

Let every child, men and women be taught to dream

Write your hopes in black, white and in color

Learn and Unlearn

For Thoughts and Faith are powerful

Ask Questions, Seek answers.

Raise your voice against injustice and inequality,

Plough with Unconventional wisdom

For to you and only you, your world belongs

27 August 2008

how is Power?

Audacity in dreams,

Silence and Words,
Actions, not rhetoric,
Decisions, not ambivalence,
Hope not fear,
Wisdom and Intellect,
Is Power as powerful can be.

14 August 2008

when Spies talk

The democratic membership meeting at door county in Wisconsin meet to discuss on issues and learn on issues of common interest by guest speakers. At this meeting the guest speaker were ex- CIA analysts .
These analysts, a husband and wife team went on to explain that as CIA agents they conducted covert operations in over 30 countries. They worked as undercover reporters bonding with the local community and key personnel in their governments and businesses and bought home information that would help to understand the motivations and the thought process of the people of foreign countries their local and national leaders, and drafted reports that would help the American government to draft foreign policy and create strategy for defense, economics et.al.

One of the analysts who worked as an inspector in the UN party in the investigation of Iraq said that the present government had turned a deaf ear to the information provided by them that Iraq had no nuclear weapons. A role reversal had taken place where in the present vice president had ordered for certain information, which is not how the CIA usually functions where their task is to supply information. A very unhappy analysts mentioned the bureaucracy, high handedness, shortage of staff, contracting work to private contractors, and low wages characterized the current CIA. Normal friendships and family is not part of working at the CIA.

With election at hand, the electorates present raised questions of how best they can understand the contesting candidates view on foreign policy, defense though it does not make a direct impact on residents of a local town where school reforms, infrastructure, local economy are of most important issues as a community. They questioned the paradoxical candidature of the electoral candidates that they were casting their vote for.

ON a personal note my thought processes ran as follows..
Several political leaders have been categorized and analyzed. business leaders churn economies and create new markets and politically powerful leaders walk the red carpets of many national functions, I leaned to think why do we accept them as leaders ? Why do we elect these men and women as leaders when we do not know what kind of perspectives they have on bigger issues that affects a country or an image of a country. And they would reevaluate them again and change them once elected !

Though contesting candidates have their website and a podcast and have debates and come for town hall and have written documents on health care and foreign policy on their web site, aren’t we giving them the benefit of doubt and human hope that they will do good for the country but would let us down when they have received the title as senator or vice president or president.

Don’t we make impressions on the widely cast public image of the candidates who are mentored by political image consultants who are paid an enormous sum to propagate an image ?

Don’t we depend on the cameramen that depict our leaders as they show them in different angles on different channels ?

We hear them amidst crowds giving speeches written by a speech writer and advisors who brief them about community issues and strong advise of how it will ultimately impact the vote bank and their legacy.

So Isn’t a gut feeling or charismatic image of the contesting candidate score a great deal in the deciding factor in casting them as the future elected leader of the country. Aren’t human emotions a dominating factor of the masses with little facts (!) throw in between, a deciding factor in creating his-story?
That is history. It is. what do you think?

13 August 2008

Wisconsin- Impressions

little did we realize when we told our friends and colleagues that we were going to wisconsin on a vacation that we would get a response, "What are you guys going to do there ?". honestly we didn’t know what we were going to do. With tickets to Chicago, an atlas and a book “ off beat path to Wisconsin”, we were on our way.

Wisconsin famous for its Scandinavian, german and swiss settlers, a logo for its touristic visitors is as ambivalent as it can be. In the last 200 years only impressions of them have been left behind in the form of gift shops with some swedish goods, Danish furniture, german flags, and swiss cheese. And Wisconsin has become famous for its cheese made with pasteurized milk and enzymes! and rolling hills (not so much ) in Monroe, the cheese capital. However the huge farms of corn and more green along the roadside with cows, and horses , sheeps looked really charming to an urban dweller.

For me driving along the lake enroute to another town is always a pleasure. So we first picked up the famous kringle ( a danish pastry) from a pretend(!) scandinavian shop at Racine and drove up along the lake Michigan. For me a vacation is meeting the locals, going to the farmers markets to observe the interactions of the locals, the buying and the selling , sitting at places where I can watch passer bys without being spotted while curiously watching them as they go about their way. I like to feel the city where people get on with their lives.
On the eastern side and north eastern side of wisconsin where we were mostly traveling it is dotted with the usual fare- American super stores and farmers markets where they had a sign for sale mostly in their yards mostly because it is summer and the berry season and Wisconsin has an agrarian economy. Except for Milwaukee and Madison which are the cities others are smaller towns and have mild traces of scandinavian countries, with scandinavian flags on smaller boards at Wal-Mart! Though SUV ‘s and pick up trucks formed the major transportation it was equally surprising to see two wheelers on the road, people walking and jogging in the evenings and even cycling which I did not expect of the rural American folk. And there are many antique stores with plenty of Scandinavian finds, a real treasure I must say. And one will not miss anything if they do not have the famous fish boil in green bay. A tourist attraction where they will boil the water and drop the fresh catch of the day in the pot and everybody who makes a reservation at the restaurant gets to see the spectacle!
My expectations to see the native Indian folk and their settling were dashed when the local community center said that such things does not exist except for a museum. I expected a huge one but it was a small cottage with about 1500 sq. feet in all. It was dotted with mannequins dressed in Indian clothes and ornaments encased in glass boxes. model of an Indian house, few paintings, some Indian dolls, Indian jewellery and few postcard with Indian paintings and we saw all of it in less than 10 minutes. Isn't this a pity considering the fact that the first settlers are the tribes and they loved the hearth and tended the earth. I didn’t encounter any native Indians even on the Indian reservation ! Instead I found a crystal café in the Indian reservation with contemporary décor and women playing cards in the afternoon and a casino.

The museum was staffed by a woman of Scandinavian descent. It was quite a pity and also reflects the inhuman attitude at alarge of the colonizers who plundered the land and left nothing. The ex-CIA analysts whom we later met at a democratic membership meeting at door county in Wisconsin said, the best insurgency done by the government so far in its history is against the Indians.

Attending the democratic membership meeting was a highlight of our visit to Wisconsin where we met the locals and heard their questions and concerns as residents of the town they were living in and were citizens at large... ( to be contd.,)

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