28 Jun 2005

Oxy Rich !

Breakthrough in fusion reaction research – The EU is expected to build the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter; also a Latin word meaning "the way") at Cadarache in southern France. The EU would be expected to cover 50% of the construction and operational costs of the reactor, with the other five partners - Japan, China, South Korea, the US and Russia - contributing 10% each. It will be the largest fusion demonstration on Earth and will see the first sustained reactions required to generate useable power

Technologists are hard at work across the world to build robots, some of the newest creations were displayed at the Prototype Robot Exposition. But how about a robot that can act bhai ? We beat the world hands down, we have Sanjay Dutt ! Walking, talking, cavorting and generally doing “dadagiri”. He’s made of “Elegant”-brand steel. i'm not joking, watch the TV commercial, he confesses ! Move over, C3PO, Sanjay is here ! He also asks what i’m made of… i’m skin n bones, O Mighty One, a mere mortal.

And what about drinking oxygen ? More oxygen = More energy = More endurance = Long-distance running champs… Watch our rickety runners pummel the challenge from the rest of the world.

We don’t need a regimen of hormones (they’ve made it illegal, anyway), we have our daily 5 litres of Mankinchand Oxyrich - with no less than 300% extra oxygen! Note “The oxygen O2 (diatomic) in Oxyrich has been developed by a natural process that doesn't use chemicals or their salts, meaning the oxygen is not bound up as Sodium Chlorite (NaClO2)...”. Energy shots to the brain… i’m reeling…
Cousin collapses from an asthma attack… give her Oxyrich (no desperate runs for oxygen cylinders at odd hours… keep a few bottles of Oxyrich handy at home !). Use a bottle of Oxyrich for the oxy-acetylene cutter. Ah, all those oxygen bars in Japan serving flavoured-oxygen… make them all drink mango and lichi squashes, prepared with Oxyrich, of course! An Oxyrich shower, for that hit straight to the grey cells. The options are endless… The creative agency take note.

24 Jun 2005

Night Song - I

A new singer (screecher ?) had moved into my flat yesterday, unnoticed and uninvited.
It’s not often that i have guests coming to stay at home, and uninvited, never. But here was the singer and his music for free - already in my flat. Must have moved in when i was not around and now i could do precious little to change the situation.

It would have taken him quite an effort to reach my flat. i live a bit up in the sky. Or did he just hitch a free ride in the lift ? A stowaway, maybe ? Snuggling in the inviting comfort of the hay packing, in a crate of ripe and juicy mangoes ? A successful purchase by our fifth-floor resident from his friendly fruit-seller.

And when the lights went out at night, he would have crawled out of his cozy corner, onto the slippery ceramic tiles of the kitchen floor - exploring inquisitively, hungrily. Tentative initially and later, boldly. Attracted by the strip of fluoroscent landing light shining through the bottom of the door, he would have crawled out, right on to the landing. He would probably have tripped over the edge and dropped down the first stair, taken by surprise. A few more tumbles and his primordial brain would have slowly adapted to this new method of locomotion - twenty-three steps followed by a leap, down to the next stair.

Traversing a long flight of stairs, he reached another strip of floor, blazing with light but which appearing flat all around – no more tumbles. Still exploring, he crawled straight into the inviting darkness under my neighbour's, on the fourth floor. An intruder was noiselessly breaching locked doors that night, while the residents lived their beautiful dreams !
He would have crept into a cool corner. Behind a shoe rack ?  
And then, the genetic programming of a million years taking over, he would have started his rasping call. Not the low mating song, but his signature tune - announcing his arrival into the flat and the world at large. His shrill call pierced the silence of the night. Through the haze of deep sleep it was distant and disturbing in the beginning, but steadily became proximal, persistent and irritating. A rude awakening for the little kid and his parents.

They would have come out of bed in their crumpled night-dresses, irritated. Armed with a flashlight and brooms, the entire family would have initiated a “seek and evict” mission, searching all the dark recesses of the flat. Millions of years of medullar evolution and the coordination of three human brains would have quickly located him behind the shoe rack. He would have felt the vibrations come nearer, and stopped his call in alarm. But by then, it would have been too late. He would have cowered in his corner under this sudden spot of bright light, exposed and frightened.

A quick swish of the broom would have sent him sliding, rolling helplessly across the smooth floor and under the door, crashing headlong onto the wall of the landing. He lay there for moments, hurt and dazed. He eventually rolled upright, stretched his wings and legs, brushed his antennae and wiped his eyes - confirming that he had come through yet another encounter, still in one piece !

To be concluded...

23 Jun 2005

Made in India, Best in the World

A U-2 spy plane crashes while returning from a surveillance mission in Afghanistan, killing the the pilot. Remember Gary Powers and his U-2 which was downed in Russia in 1960, at the height of the Cold War ?

The Business section in Rediff.com proclaims - Tata Steel is world's best steel producer. This “news” appears to be a straight take on the information made available at the Tata Steel website. While i am none to deny the venerable Tata Steel its due credit, this "news" appears to be a careful compilation of data, presented to create a marketing and promotional “coup”.

This is a more of a press release by Tata Steel, crafted into headline “news” by some Great Indian Couch Journalist. Of course, i'm looking forward to many more respectable journalists to report the same in our esteemed news media, glorifying yet another desi-turned-“World’s Best” !

A little research (also conducted comfortably seated !) indicates that the World Steel Dynamics (WSD) is a leading steel information service. To quote the WSD website, “The WSD regularly analyzes and publishes reports on - Steel Prices, Steelmakers' Costs, Steel Supply/Demand and Steel Finances. WSD also undertakes customized steel research assignments - Specialized In-depth Studies, Private Consulting Studies and Financial Valuations”. The WSD DOES NOT crown the “World’s Best Steel Producer“! Grow up, Honey, earn the money…!

Truth prevails when there are flag-bearers

Would we (dare to) do a Bugsy ? Hilarious stuff here !

Liked this post-script in the book. ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Hunter S Thompson is the author of Hells’ Angels, The Great Shark Hunt… Generation of Swine and other major statements of our time. Fear and Loathing in LAS VEGAS – A SAVAGE JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE AMERICAN DREAM was written in 1971.

After the mayhem of “Fear and Loathing…”, i have started reading Richard Preston’s non-fiction “Hot Zone”. The unnerving account of the Ebola (and Marburg) virus. “Ebola is a simple virus – as simple as a firestorm. It kills humans with a swift efficiency and with a devastating range of effects…Ebola does in ten days what it takes AIDS ten years to accomplish”. Refer my earlier posts
Bugsy and here.
Feels like my gooey brain will be poured from the blender onto a roaring fire…

Richard Preston’s “The Demon in the Freezer” and “Hot Zone” are suggested reading.
On an entirely different flavour, i strongly recommend Waiter Rant.

21 Jun 2005

dip of my hat...

To Dilip for his moving story - No Run Outs Please, We're Indian


Oxfam pays $1m duty - British charity Oxfam paid the Sri Lankan government $1m in duty for importing Indian-manufactured vehicles to be used in tsunami reconstruction work.

Niger court frees slave activists - A Niger court has freed on bail two anti-slavery campaigners who had been held for six weeks on charges of fraud. The appeals court in the capital, Niamey, said there were insufficient grounds to continuing holding the men. N
ote that Niger officially banned slavery quite sometime ago… well…. May 2003, to be precise ! The Niger government apparently says that there is a caste system in the country and members of lower castes have been often mistaken for slaves. A brilliant whitewash, say what ?

Amardeep’s blog on Parineeta and Vidya Balasubramanian’s “very traditional Indian looks”, has an interesting Sidenote : An interesting article on the 'Devdas phenomenon' is
at the University of Iowa. And Poonam Arora has written a serious, scholarly article on "Devdas, India's Emasculated Hero: Sadomasochism and Colonialism". Have started reading Poonam Arora’s article, no comments as yet.

Also read Amardeep’s thoughts on 'Glocalization' and hybridity - MTV Desi

Turbocharge your ego - Is your name on the Stardust microchips ?

Just completed “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S Thompson.

A numbing tornado of Tequila, Cadillac “whale”, sweat, hangover, Acid, floral shirts, screaming tape-recorder, mescaline, Las Vegas, .332, TV on “snow” channels, f-words, rum and ice, the Great Red Shark, a Samoan attorney, Budweiser, abuse, Rolling Stone, lizards, coke, reckless driving, felony, casinos… as if my brain was put in a blender and the lid flipped open while the blades whirred…For the uninitiated, i strongly recommend his “Hells Angels

"The Edge... There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others - the living - are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later.But the edge is still Out there. Or maybe it's in. The association of motorcycles with LSD is no accident of publicity. They are both a means to an end, to the place of definitions." - HST 1965. The Edge that i refer in the footer…

Even his death was some wild abandonment - "On February 20, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson took his life with a gunshot to the head at his fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colorado", said a statement issued by Thompson's son, Juan Thompson, to the Aspen Daily News.

15 Jun 2005

The Rain

Wasn’t the usual steel-blue dawn in Pantone #290. It was grey and overcast, more like a drop of Parker Quink Royal Blue in five drops of Nestles pasteurized ready to drink.

And here was this puny transparent spider, goose-stepping across page #37 of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Dada salaam!). Its sticky safety-line a silky curve fluttering in the breeze of the ceiling fan. Right there, in front of my nose. i rivalled Garfield, the Great Spider Hunter, as i boosted Mistah Spyder on a trajectory landing him on the glowing bulb of the reading lamp. Death comes easy to a spider before its time. Man is the true tyrant. But, if Pat can riddle bucks, i’m a lesser sinner frying an arachnidian commando. But oh, i can not boast any life-threatening ailments, not as yet !

Remembered a recent BBC-TV documentary on everyday life in landmine-infested Cambodia. Men savouring a local delicacy at the roadside food stall, the juicy abdomens and crunchy legs of stir-fried black spiders - “pluck out the fangs while eating, they can hurt the tongue”.

And subsequent recurrent feelings of the crawlies creeping up my leg, as i lay in a stupor in the summer heat. In Cambodia you can dip your hand in the small paper sack, to pick and choose the wriggling crawlies that you want fried. You have hands, but you often have one or both legs missing. i must have arachnophobia.

Somewhere near a kingfisher trilled, voicing its agitation. Indicas throbbed by in top-gear on the road below, while a kite patrolled the sky above shrilly calling its mate. Stroking my chin i felt the roughness of my fingertips. i remembered reading somewhere that Snow White had been legally proclaimed unblemished. Did he use peroxide ?

A sparrow skipped along the television cables strung five-stories high across the road. A couple of bee-eaters swooped down gracefully and glided back in a loop, to perch on cables further in the distance, now barely visible against the brightening sky. A remarkable stunt on a tightrope strung even higher up, across the roofs of tall apartment towers. Twittering amongst themselves in excitement all the while.

The road was moist and darkened, the air cool and heavy. The overwhelming aroma, of the first rainfall on a land scorched by the summer sun. The throaty gurgles of a pigeon serenading his love on a window-sill, accentuated by the steady whine of an auto-rickshaw engine hitting the high forties in the scant early morning traffic.

This wasn’t the beginning of another ordinary day, this was the monsoon hitting Pune.

14 Jun 2005

paay laagu dagdar saab...

Advertisement in the Times Of India, Pune on 11 June 2005, appearing under Classified - Studies Abroad :

MBBS China - 2005 (complete with pagoda-style roofing! )

Southern Medical University- Indian Syllabus
- English Medium
- W.H.O Enlisted
- 5 ½ yrs course in just Rs.10 lakhs including living expenses
- Highly sophisticated hospitals
- 77 students already in China through us

For details contact :
Col. Ashok Madan
Star Education Consultants, Pune
Tel : 2613 9312, 5601 9550, 93700 13579

a) The WHO - World Directory of Medical Schools does not list a Southern Medical University in China (or is the name a transliteration ?)

b) Also checked here
- There is no “Southern Medical University” in China. As a sanity check, reviewed the same site on India - the data appears fairly exhaustive

c) How does a Chinese medical university teach an Indian syllabus ? What is the validity of the certificate from such a institution ?

d) Would a Chinese medical institution teach in English (then provide an interpreter on-the-house during internship, for the esteemed doctor to discern whether patient Han’s stomach or elsewhere was paining) ?! Who taught the Chinese teachers to speak English (our very own training major ? which teaches computers and sales in India and English in China!) ? Or is it staffed (doubtfully) by the floatsam and ejects of the Great Indian Medical circus ?

e) By their boast, they appear to have already bagged 77 suckers, many more are certainly in the pipeline! The honorable Colonel is surely laughing his way to the bank! Way to go!

f) Mailing this to the Times Of India for a responsible response - miracles do happen, right ?

g) Waiting to be slammed legalaize confirming that the TOI is not responsible for the authenticity of the advertisements it carries !


The good Dr Jayant Patel appears to be on the run
As a patriotic Indian, allow me to welcome him back to Mother India folds :
a) Our country (specially, the countryside) needs lots and lots of medical practitioners,

b) Ours is too large a country, you can live an entire life incognito,

c) Greasing palms comes cheap,

d) The world is too busy with terrorists, nobody will apply for your extradition,

e) Even if they do (and assuming you have the misfortune of being exposed), file for a stay / anticipatory bail - live your life in style while the lawsuits attempt to traverse the Indian Legal Ocean,

f) We are a land of plenty, you will make it rich (you’ll definitely outshine the local quack),

g) In this land of plenty, a couple of thousand dead patients (out of 100 crores) are statistically invisible,

h) Nobody bothers with credentials here (70 crores can’t even read !),

i) Humour the local bhai as your protector, to handle exigencies,

j) Anyway, nobody sues a doc here and wins…

Gordon Brown - the British Chancellor to the Treasury - has announced a deal reached by the G8 nations to help the world's poorest countries. Under the deal, the World Bank, the IMF and the African Development Fund will write off 100% of the money owed to them by selected nations.

But, is debt relief the answer for Africa? It is probably the beginning in the right direction. The essence of success, however, lies in democratic and economic reforms and good governance. All of which are long-term issues contradicting most vested interests !

10 Jun 2005

black is pink...

Continuing on shark fin soup and conservation - Disneyland at Hong Kong has retirement planning

Dr Jayant Patel continues the glorious confidence-building exercise highlighting the competence of our educational system. < ready for the howls >
Securing the future - innovative retirement planning

The Surreal Son - in the land of black is white, nuts have fans.
Legal Eagles, here’s a business opportunity - petition the Supreme Court to make oxygen tents and prosthetics support standard features in US prisons.
i wonder how many millions of the taxpayers’ dollars are supporting this sad circus. Bushchacha could have spared me a few. i could retire, read roadsigns, watch birds and the nightsky. i would have even written some nice blogs!
Appearing rosy-lipped and in the pink of health in all photographs, poor Snow White reportedly doesn’t earn enough to support his lifestyle. It must terrifying to be parasite-infested and friendless in Neverland. Doesn’t that name shout for a shrink ?

Newest weapon in the war against malaria - fungal infection for mosquitoes !

Mayawati... the chameleon

Alien Abductions - interesting reading

Bombing elephants - plans to install tripwire warnings and chilli smoke bombs to scare away wild elephants raiding villages in Assam. Continuing human intrusion into the elephants’ habitat.

Saw this Breaking News just before leaving for work :

The Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, whose political baseline has been the cause (!) of Dalits (?!), is now pledging to safeguard the interests of Brahmins if she returns to power in Uttar Pradesh. A pointer to her declining popularity amongst her kin ?

9 Jun 2005

History, short

'Vice Ring Madam' (80), arrested - senility, inhalers and a walking-frame are no deterrents for a successful business venture…

Author Bill Bryson plans to send a free copy of his best-selling science book - A Short History of Nearly Everything - to every secondary school in Britain. The book has now sold around two million copies in the UK alone. i picked up the hardcover edition of this immensely readable book last winter, from the bargains section at the Crossword bookstore !

Last Sunday, there was suddenly a glut of movies worth watching on the idiot box - Good Will Hunting, Kill Bill (Part I) and Back to the Future

Weekend watch : A Few Good Men (re-run)

btw, did i share that i picked up the best mangoes this season from the Sunday market ?

8 Jun 2005

the apple

The Chinese appetite for soyabean (in step with the country’s seemingly unsatiable hunger of almost everything - coal, gasoline, steel, cement…) is triggering an imminent ecological disaster in far away South America.

In strife-torn Africa, warlords become Cabinet Ministers, in India we (are coerced to ?) elect our bhais and goons to become Ministers - the empowerment, in either case, legitimizes plunder. Democracy only greys the shade of darkness. Darkness prevails, darkness rules…

On Sundays, i often visit a small weekly village market to buy vegetables. This trip provides me a window to peek at the changes suburban India is undergoing. And last Sunday the fruitseller’s handcart had shiny, crimson apples with little stickers proclaiming “Chiquita” / “Chile”! Selling at Rs. 100/= a kilo.

i’m not an economist by training. But, if those apples were really from Chile (that thin strip along the left margin of the South American continent!!), i marvel at the magic of globalization.
i wonder how i (as the consumer) and our fruit farmers benefit from these imports. i am certain the importers and the middlemen traders make a killing - maybe also killing-off our apple farmers in Himachal (and elsewhere) in the process.
i’ve heard stories of apples rotting on the ground in Himachal, for want of cold-storage and fruit-preservation facilities. i have also eaten the delicious, juicy Golden Apples from Himachal. How is it economically sustainable to bleed foreign exchange while not supporting our own farmers with a fair price for their produce? If the “Chiquita” can have buyers here at Rs. 100/=, i’m certain so can the Golden and other varieties of apples grown in the country. i presume we might even get better quality at a lesser price. Only another set of middlemen would be lining their pockets !
Are we exporting, say, our superior Golden Apples and importing the “Chiquita” and their ilk ? If so, why ? Would that be a position of economic strength in today’s global economy ? If i remember our national tax regime correctly, we incentivise exports by allowing duty-free (or reduced duty) imports to the exporter. Do we really benefit long-term by killing indigenous production capabilities - whether in farm products or in industrial manufacturing ? My powers of comprehension and protest are puny… compared to the lawmakers’ might and the dream-merchants’ magic !

But let me share this, the Golden Apples i had eaten, were far superior to the “Chiquita” i had today evening ! (Yeah, i had picked up some, curiosity got the better of me !)

6 Jun 2005

only one earth...

World Environment Day - the care and maintenance of a small planet

One Planet Many People: Atlas of Our Changing Environment - An atlas of environmental change compiled by the United Nations reveals some of the dramatic transformations that are occurring to our planet

'The huge growth of greenhouses in southern Spain, the rapid rise of shrimp farming in Asia and Latin America and the emergence of a giant, shadow puppet-shaped peninsula at the mouth of the Yellow River are among a string of curious and surprising changes seen from space.

They sit beside the more conventional, but no less dramatic images of rain forest deforestation in Paraguay and Brazil, rapid oil and gas development in Wyoming, United States, forest fires across sub-Saharan Africa and the retreat of glaciers and ice in polar and mountain areas" - Excerpts from the UNEP Atlas

4 Jun 2005

lookin' around...

Saudis are outraged over a proposal to allow women to drive. That would expose women to eye-contacts with strangers - male policemen and car mechanics!
Incidentally, under the Sharia (the code of Islamic laws… and their convenient interpretations) women rape victims can be put to death - for having slept with strangers. Mass rape carried out as ethnic cleansing in Sudan’s stricken Darfur region has largely gone unreported. Victims are afraid to testify and face the wrath of Sudan’s strict Shariat laws.

Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare has won the inaugural Man Booker International Prize, beating British authors Muriel Spark, Doris Lessing and Ian McEwan. Excerpts.

My heart bleeds for all the industrious souls of the clandestine gun-making Small Scale Industry in the badlands of North and East India (and elsewhere). i refer to the kind-hearted hardware-suppliers, keeping our bhais, sundry terrorists, brigands and the foot-soldiers of political extremities profitably in the business. In Bushland they could have just put up a NRA certificate and thrive !

i always loved the curves !

Arun called from Toronto today, spoke to him after almost a year. We went to school together in Cal. He's migrated and is doing well, as an IT security specialist.