31 Aug 2005

hard talk

Back from another short hiatus…

An extremely interesting episode of HardTalk on BBC TV on 23rd August, Stephen Sackur speaking with Qazi Hussain Ahmad of the Jamat-e-Islami party of Pakistan. Often at a loss of words when pushed into a corner during the discussion, the Qazi nevertheless held his position on the right to self-determination of all righteous and freedom-loving people around the world. He spoke of supporting all peaceful opposition to the occupational forces in occupied Kashmir, while also professing that his party supported all means of defeating the occupational forces in occupied Kashmir !

Whether it is the beloved General or any of his spokesmen, i cannot but admire their eloquence, aggression and their media-savviness. Isn’t it time for all our government office-holders (their eminences the IASs et al) to undergo mandatory grooming on facing the media ? Or would that pave the path for just another scam ?

Another interesting interview on HardTalk the following day, Mr Sackur spoke with the fiery Asma Jehangir, lawyer and human rights activist from Pakistan

The fascinating story of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bio-Acoustics team’s search for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker which was recently rediscovered in the woods of Arkansas.

Now reading - No god but God by Reza Aslan

btw, i seem to be drawing the ire of the good Colonel Madan and his ilk...

12 Aug 2005

still looking around...

Anything in the name of democracy and politics - The All Naga Students’ Association of Manipur, which has been holding the state to ransom since midnight on June 19 - do i read that correctly, 19 June ?
Blocking a highway which serves as a lifeline for a whole state, for almost two months ? Did this make the news headlines ? It takes the powers-that-be two months to wake up to any action? Does anyone care ? And we sing and dance glorifying our democracy! It's time for “Kalkito make an appearance ?

Supply Chain Management – The Time of India continues it’s glorious tradition of being party to deception and fraud. “Study In Russia. MBBS, MD, MS, MDS No Donation and Entrance Exam…” screams the header of the display advertisement from Smegavision Educational Consultancy.
Ah, just add a “S” to a well-worn “megavision” and you made an advertising coup ! Smegavision sounds - oh so Russiki (a-la Smolensk)! Trust Mrs. Meghana Kulkarni, she could definitely look at launching an advertising thoughtshop as an alternative business opportunity !
Sounds sort of familiar ? To refresh my memory, she is the famous “Former Reg. Manager, A.J. Trust”.
The “Rusi-Hindi bhai-bhai” style advertisements beckon the hapless to throng Russian medical universities, with dreams of minting millions on returning home.
Interestingly, the same TOI, Pune ran a feature on 05 July 2005, on the virtues of Chinese and Russian medical schools “…Teachers, websites and even brochures - are all managed by these agents. “There are no ads in the papers for these faculty. Most of them are people who haven’t been able to clear the MCI screening test after an MBBS from Russia”, said an educational ”, said an educational consultant….”. Note the anonymous comment to the blog !
Both our Good Samaritans - Smegavision and our dear Colonel Madan advertise in the TOI classifieds, unrestrained.

The suave General is presented a new cracker on his birthday !

5 Aug 2005

Monsoon Magic

Well, i am around, just been quiet for sometime. Didn’t get washed away by the flood waters… not yet !My flat has a long window facing the south-east. The window has horizontal bars and three panes. To keep out insects, it is covered on the inside with nylon mesh. i generally do not open the pane nearer my bed - the curtain also remain drawn - but the other two remain open throughout the year.

A month after i moved into the flat last year, a pair of Spotted (Scaly-breasted) Munias (Lonchura punctulata) discovered a safe haven between the closed windowpane and the mesh. For many days they laboured, flying in with fluttering strips of green vegetation, twigs and what i thought were the soft green tips of plant stems. The nesting material kept piling up as scrappy stuffing behind the mesh. And i had begun to wonder whether human encroachment and urbanization of the environment, had made the birds lose their nesting skills.

Realizing that i had not seen the birds flying-in for a few days, i parted the curtains and was amazed to find the unruly pile transformed into a beautiful circular chambered nest !

The pair reared a clutch of noisy nestlings, but one day, just as suddenly as the birds had appeared, the female vanished with her brood. For a few days i heard the male bird flying-in to the nest and plaintively calling out to his family inside the nest. But there was only silence in response... And then, he too flew away.

One day during the winter, i peeled away the mesh on the window and removed the birds’ nest. It had turned brown and dry and crumbled into shreds as i cleaned it out.

A pair of Spotted Munias again discovered the cozy nook in the window early in June this year. They quickly flew-in some twigs into the gap. i have not seen them collect any more nesting material. Neither do they spend the nights on the window. But lying in my bed, i hear the pair fly-in every morning, and spend long hours in the nook - whistling and singing while fluttering between the window bars. Two hearts in love, serenading in courtship in their favourite hideout !

i wonder if this is the same pair that nested during the monsoon last year. Do even little Munias have such good memories ?

ps - Mr Clean squeaked and
i was reminded of our dear own Lallu hosing the tonsured on the streets of Patna, not so long ago. A dip of my hat to the General, he is getting his F-16s anyway !