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

Myself

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


tidBits:
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.

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