Saturday, October 23, 2004

Wild Cat

Once upon a time, there was a wildlife photographer who used to travel around the world to shoot ferocious wild animals with his camera. It was a dangerous profession. His work took him to work all over the plains of Africa, the dense and thick jungles of India, and the rainforests of South America. It was a life filled with perils.

One day, he did not return home from one such hunt in Africa. They found his body lying in a field with a terrified look fixated on his face, like he has seen something terrible, or horrifying, or both. His cold hands closely gripped his camera with a steely grip. They took it home and developed the photo. They were all horrified by the last photo the wild cat hunter had shot - a ferocious wild cat pouncing on him.

This is what they found...

*big grin*

Google Toolbar?

Google has come up with its new desktop search tool, and some of my friends have installed. It is an interesting tool from Google. Google says it is a very efficient and useful tool But I am not sure about the safety of my privacy in this case. How will I know that Google or anyone else will not know about what I have in my comp? With almost a third of Google's employees being ex-employees of American government institutions like NSA, among others, is Google just another facade for the American spying agencies? And what the hell does this found in a Google job ad mean? - 'Must have current government top security clearance (TS/SI).'

Google's privacy policy states that 'Google collects limited non-personally identifying information your browser makes available whenever you visit a website. This log information includes your internet protocol address, browser type, browser language, the date and time of your query and one or more cookies that may uniquely identify your browser. We use this information to operate, develop and improve our services.' but, these are the only information that are needed to identify me and all my details. From my IP address and the date and time, you can trace me back to my ISP, and from there, to my house, through my account number or whatever. Given the recent incident when some servers in Europe where confiscated by the American detective agency, it won't be difficult for them to get the info from my ISP in India if some idiot there thinks I am against the American government or someone else!

As I said, Google might be just a facade for the American spies, who trick the users into divulging their surfing patterns voluntarily instead of the government mining the information directly. Just like SETI@home pools together the desktop computers to do some computations, the netizens are pooled together and donate their net usage habits and patterns to the government directly.

Google defines spyware as 'spyware is software that reports on your activities or gathers personal information about you and sends it via the internet to third parties without your knowledge or consent.' but we must keep in mind that it is not exactly spying if it is done by the government or by the American government in this case. In this case it is called intelligence and is essential for such crap as safety, sovereignty etc. One of my friends in USA is so paranoid about government eavesdropping on people, especially aliens and the new patriot act that he now refuses to discuss online anything that might be misconstrued as subversive activities or that might be held against him. Another one of my friend’s colleagues (or friends, or acquaintances) was held for a long time by the immigration people in America, just for being a Muslim in New York. It doesn't matter if he is a highly qualified medicine man who would be worshipped back in Pakistan.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Fluffy, Destroyer of Worlds

This undeniably is one of my top ten favourite photos. If I ever have a dog, it will be like this.

Ethnic Tamils

Contrary to what you see on Hindi movies like 'Padosan', or what White-skinned tourists' testimonials are, Tamils as a collective are neither meek nor friendly. Tamils are possessive, feudal, clannish and arrogant, though not as much as another South Indian group, which I am afraid to name here. They also have a well-developed martial tradition, which waned during the British occupation. Still, Tamils and other South Indian collectives were preferred to be shipped over to other places for their manual labour skills.

This might be true to some extent, usually during peacetime. But it is an altogether different story otherwise. A few centuries ago, they were seen as one of the most brutal and ruthless tribes to have ever encountered. The Pallavas, and later the Cholas, often invaded their neighbours at the drop of a hat. The Cholas went as far as building a belligerent Navy, the first in India. The spread of Hinduism in South East Asian countries is mainly due to the conquest of the Chola Navy.

It is said that 'the ruthless Chola conquest was apparently no different from the conduct of Mahmud of Ghazni at Somnath. The Kulavamsa says that the capital Anuradhapura, which sported many Buddhist viharas, was 'utterly destroyed in every way by the Chola army.' Not only were the viharas decimated, but the holy stupas in them were torn apart in search of treasure. Historians say that the imperial Cholas have left their mark not only on the coronation rituals of the Royal house of Thailand but that the fear of their military power has been inscribed in the etymology of the word Tamin in the Thai language. (the word 'Tamin' in Thai denotes both violence and the Tamil ethnic group). Modern day Tamils? LTTE, Veerappan, 'Auto' Shankar, the gangsters and the policemen of Tamil Nadu But, I am digressing.

Unless you belong to the ingroup, your life will not be easy. In short, Tamils are not the meek and sweet guys as seen by others. The modern times have taken some sting out of them, and the law of the land has blunted the barbs to some extent.

Why am I writing this? I have to encounter them and deal with them on a regular basis, in the form of bus drivers and conductors, auto drivers, shopkeepers, et al. If you are considered an 'outsider', expect to be ridiculed, threatened, and god forbid, expect further. Since autodrivers and friends are the only contact with foreigners and other state guys when they come to Chennai, they see the friendly friend and his family, and the obnoxious autodriver, and conclude this is limited to the autodrivers.

I realised this whole ingroup-outgroup thing even among my close friends this summer. Usually Tamil friends send some insulting text messages between themselves. For the summer, I had a different mobile number. When I sent one such message to a family friend back home (the message was a mosquito bite compared to the messages that are usually sent), I got a very rude set of words in reply , words that would make a sailor blush. I realised, I had not given my new number to this guy . I identified myself and I was back in the game . This also works in government offices and other places. You have a friend there, the bribes are reduced, and the works speed up.

More about those bloody autodrivers later.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Teaching with movies

Engineering was all about classrooms and seminars. MBA is a little different. We are more different. Our insti is among the few where movies are used as a teaching aid. Before I came here, a movie was just time-pass, to be watched with friends, etc, etc. You can learn theory and history through books. If it is made in the form of a move, it is better. Subtract a little bit of reality and add some spice there, it is even better. I watched a few movies for the Business Ethics class, and I just watched the movie Wall Street, recommended by a finance prof. I did not take that class, still that did not stop me from watching it and trying to learn from it.

The words of the successful man:
The point is ladies and gentlemen that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of it's forms - greed for life, for money, knowledge - has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed - you mark my words - will not only save Teldar Paper but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you (Gordon Gecko)

The words of a man not so successful:
Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss. (Lou Mannheim)

The words of a honest hardworking man who wears the same old jacket everywhere:
I don't go to bed with no whore, and I don't wake up with no whore. That's how I live with myself. What about you? (Carl Fox)

What you choose depends on what you are.

More to think about, from the mouth of Gordon Gecko:

Ever wonder why fund managers can't beat the S&P 500? 'Cause they're sheep, and sheep get slaughtered.
Not bad for a City College boy. I bought my way in, now all these Ivy league schmucks are sucking my kneecaps.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


When I got my first month's stipend/salary this summer, I went with my friends to Planet Yumm on 13th Main Road. There is a small number of huts just behind it. Whenever I go that way, I see the glass walls of the building, the fancy cars parked by it, and the naked kids from the huts playing by the cars. I see the same in Mumbai, near my father's house. Whenever I go to McD or Pizza Hut, I see the same kids peering through the windows inside where the rich kids indulge themselves with all kinds of goodies, getting a happy meal with a toy to add to their already huge collection of toys. Everytime I feel the same way, bad about myself. Looking at them, and looking at myself, spending way too much than I would need. This time, I was only spending what I righteously earned with my hardwork. What if I spend it on myself? I should not feel guilty, right? Why should I feel guilty for these kids? The same thoughts occur when I am playing with my cousin's toddler. I see him playing with his toys, I see the iron wallah's son outside playing with a plastic toy discarded by someone like my nephew. The same sickening feeling. Should I even worry at all? I am confused. What's worrying is, I can't lamely convince myself about it like I do for children working in my insti mess.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Random Thoughts 1

Kicking dogs may be fun, but it's exhausting and I've got a life to get on with.

Good News

Two good news yesterday; one from my homestate and one from my hometown. The first news: Veerappan killed. That slippery rat was killed atlast by the TN police. He was caught as early as 1986 but was let out after bribing the police and/or the local politicians. The impact of letting him out was not realised at that time. In the next 18 years, he went on to kill many more, innocents, honest police officers, anyone trying be on the right side of the law. Will the ghosts of the dead officers and people forgive those who were responsible? He is so famous that one of the 6 pages of India in is about Veerappan.

The second news is that it rained heavily in Chennai. The cricket test was washed out that day. This was a disappointment to many but not for the residents. It has been a tradition that whenever there is a test match there, it should rain. Maybe, conduct a whole series there every year and we would have less of water troubles.

Monday, October 18, 2004

India rennt

"The game lasts 90 minutes. That's a fact. Everything else is just theory." - Run Lola Run (1999). What if we were colonialised by the French, Danish, Portugese or Dutch instead of the British?

Had the French succeeded,
»India wouldn't have been as big, the states would be independent, like Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
»Even if we were like today, Pondicherry would be the capital of L'Inde
»French would be the lingua franca
»Uprising against the French occupation would have brought the USA to save us from Communism, à la Vietnam

Had the Danish been the rulers,
»Tranquebar would've been the capital. Hard to say, they were poor colonizers.

Had the Dutch conquered us
»We would be called the Indische and Travancore our capital city
»We would be speaking a mutant of Dutch and Malayalam
»Apartheid, enough said

»Quarter of the men would be named Jésus
»Bombay the capital
»We would be falar portugese
»Outsiders would think Hispanics are the native population while the native population would be decimated by ¾ths and the rest relegated to the ghettos like in the Latin American countries

The only advantage in all these? No Pakistan to fight with us.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

I Luv Garfield

If I were a cat, I would look like Garfield.

Why Al Qaeda is not from India

1. We are always late, we would have missed all 4 flights.
2. Pretty girls on the plane would distract us.
3. We would talk loudly and bring attention to ourselves.
4. With food and drinks on the plane, we would forget why we're there.
5. We talk with our hands, therefore we would have to put our weapons down.
6. We would ALL want to fly the plane.
7. We would argue and start a fight in the plane.
8. We can't keep a secret, we would have told everyone a week before doing it.
9. We would have put our country's flag on the windshield.
10. We would all have fallen over each other to be in the photograph being taken by one of the hostages.