Friday, 29 July 2005

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways - naan, pizza, idli, paneer...

Almost exactly two hours back, I was having an SMS conversation with a colleague (I can say that now! Woohoo!) called Sushmitaa (Yes 2 As, and don't ask questions you already know the answer to..) and talk veered, as is inevitably does when you're talking to me, to food.

It then struck me that I should really put up a blog post here explaining what I feel about food. Yes, that's right, you read right what I wrote. (hehehe, I'm attempting A.C-style stuff here). I have feelings about food. As in, I love it.

No no, I don't just love eating food - I actually love food. When I'm having a meal, which is really often, like 5 times a day, and I encounter some thingy that I don't particularly like, I eat it anyway. Why?

Well, my theory is that food also has feelings. The scientists of the world are all morons with twisted priorities. My salutations to all the IIT people who end up doing Food Technology. I'd happily trade degrees with you!

Anyways, coming back to my point, I basically theorized that food has feelings. Therefore, it must feel bad when we reject it after putting it on our plates. You don't raise hopes like that, and then recklessly dash them to the ground. NO, that's just not done, okay? So I do my bit towards the emancipation of not-so-good food that's already been selected, and eat everything on my plate. Hell, I practically wash my plate. Waste not, want not :)

I'm actually going to draw an analogy from my own life. Only *I* [no, actually, a few others too] know how it felt when a company tells you, "hey pal, come on board, enjoy yourself" and then just when you're about to set foot on the drawbridge, they yank it up and go "Neener neener". I just don't want anybody else, human or otherwise, going through that in their lifetimes in whatever form. [Actually, there's another analogy from my own life, but I'll be damned if I'm going to bring *that* one up :-p]

So you see people, I love food. Sometimes people love people, I love food. And what makes this better is that even food that you've been having for a long time never loses its zing. Food doesn't make fun of your paunch. Food doesn't pester you to go on a diet. Food doesn't stand you up. Food doesn't put nakhra. You don't have to wonder what a particular foodstuff tastes like, or what aftertaste it leaves, you can delve right into action and sample it. And pass judgement without feeling guilty. Food doesn't BSOD on you. Food doesn't segfault. Food doesn't crash. Needs no drivers. Very few, if any, dependency issues. Food doesn't deride you for being a klutz with it. You can be with food for a really long time, say nothing, and still turn out totally satisfied. Food can't break up with you, it can't ditch you, dump you, break your heart, screw with your head. Food can't pee on your legs. Food doesn't leave hair on the sofa. Food doesn't leave the toilet seat up, neither does it forget to flush.

And most importantly, food doesn't eat up your time by writing long, meandering blog posts about human beings.

Update: I forgot to mention that I'm writing a book about my love for food! Hurry up and book your copy today!

Sunday, bloody sunday

December 6th, 1992 was a Sunday.

Why this topic, now? I was browsing around and found this. Echoes my sentiments exactly.

Even today, when I think of the sight of the kar sevaks dancing and celebrating at the site at that moment, I feel sick to the stomach. No really. Physically nauseated.

Although I was only 9 or so then, I can distinctly remember the time. It came on the news. Oman T.V. No satellite channels then in Muscat, except for the filthily rich. The significance was so starkly visible that my folks promptly popped in a V.H.S tape into the cassette recorder and preserved those images on magnetic media.

A few days later, I couldn't take it any more. I didn't get the 'religious' hoo-haa around it, but it still sickened me that people could get so happy by destroying something. We children were taught to only bring up, not topple.

A few more days later, the inevitable. Backlash. In Bombay. Following the news of which my mom quietly and quickly recorded M*A*S*H over it.

Even now, I like to believe it was more out of loathing to keep in our home such a reprehensible chapter of India.

And just as Anand puts it, that was the first time - keep in mind I was living in Muscat, Oman since 1989 - I was aware that I'm Hindu, and my friends are Muslims. But I suppose it wasn't as bad as it would have been in India at that point. There wasn't any real tension in the air, just some sort of a *are* you different? More importantly, *why* should you be considered different? Looking back, we were pretty smart children, eh? Never let faith, or its lack thereof, interfere with our cricket in vacant lots...

Meeting Leon head-on, hopefully ;)

Before I start off, I'd like to make references to this, this and this. And this too. Now, one at a time :)

"Yes, CBSE is great(I studied in CBSE too) but it still offers far fewer choices to students than American school education does and opens up far fewer opportunities."

Choices? You don't need choices till the 10th. Learn the fundamentals of everything possible. At that point, you decide what you want to pursue, and you take up that branch going into 11th. Before you're even 16, if you're given the 'choice' to choose subjects in school, it's almost a guarantee that one will pick krapo stuff because it's easy, scoring, whatever. Hell, that already happens in the State levels with students taking up French and Sanskrit, not to learn the language, but to score more. Choice is good, but only when you're equipped to make it properly.

"What would you say about your undergrad education? best?"

Why not? As Indians who take advantage of our system to 0wn Maths and inflate our SAT/GRE scores, we look at American institutes almost exclusively from the point of return on investment. So we tend to overlook the so many community colleges all over that country, which might offer just as good an educational experience as the biggies, their only fault being that they're *not* a biggie. For all its affiliation horrors, I must say I had a most wonderful undergrad experience, and if I had to do it all over again, all I'd change is that I'd probably study harder ;)

"Admittedly the IIMs are great institutions but I would think Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and Sloan are not far behind..."

Accessibility is the key. It is the endeavour of all IIMs that no student be denied opportunity to pursue the Post-Graduate Programme in Management for want of adequate financial resources. While you might find some way later to make money, USA schools ask you for proof of financial solidity. Just how easy would it be for the IIMs to say, "Hey, you're going to be raking in the moolah by the truckloads after you graduate anyways, so suck it up and scratch along." You got a tuition waiver, I know, but gazillions don't :-p Asking you to furnish financial details is really way out man. If you can't, then what? You're stymied at the first hurdle. And I'm going to pre-empt all arguments about 'consultancies'. They charge a fairly hefty fee for their services. So looking at ROI again here, the IIMs come out trumps.

the Indian education system at almost all levels, is designed to make well oiled human machines that perform reliably over a long period of time. It is not designed to produce thinkers and innovators."

Was designed, not is! And what's wrong with reliability over long periods of time? Better that than burnt-out at 30. One more point here - the education system doesn't stifle anything, it's our society, which too often likes to fall back on our "culture" for anything and everything...Scene from 'Swades', anyone?

"...And that is ALL the reason you need to not choose to live in the US." -- :-)

"...You say you've lived abroad for 7 years. Why not study in the US for 2 years and then go back to that "American telco" back home?"

Eh? The point being? What's my studying abroad for 7 years got to do with anything? I studied C.B.S.E International Syllabus. I don't understand the connection between those sentences of yours...

"I'm sure your job back home would ensure you visit a lot of exotic locations. And it would take only 10 years!!!"

Eh? The point being? Once again, I don't get the connection between those sentences...are you implying that the money would be inadequate? Yeah it probably would, if I looked to fly executive-class on premium airlines, and live only the Savoys, the Carltons and the Sheratons. Dude, that's not travel, that's the high life. I like to TRAVEL, not be ferried around...

I want to wind up with one more disclaimer. I'm no great fan of the Indian education system myself, but all I'm saying is that the American system probably is equally bad, if not worse. At least here the government tries to care for education. Capitalism creeping into education is just as bad communism into business ;)

Monday, 25 July 2005

Why not U.S?

Leon waxing profundity never fails to inspire a blog post ;)

But it did get me thinking. About turning down an opportunity to study in the US of A. Why did I do it? Never wanted to study abroad. With all its pitfalls, the Indian education system is still one of the best in the world. Okay, I'm probably generalizing here, so I'll be more specific.

Till the 12th standard (grade, for you Yanks), if you study the C.B.S.E syllabus, you're guaranteed to have fun learning. I did it till the 10th, and loved every moment of it. And I still regret not continuing in it till 12th, but that's another post.

College is where it gets iffy. Undergrad is probably best in India, what with all its heavy subsidies and all, and ultra cool 'insti's. A technical grad school is probably best abroad, because of the better returns for that extra effort. [M.Tech from IIT earning only about Rs.60k per annum more than me is slightly sad...], but for B-schools, India would be it. So why'd I choose to stay here? Mostly because - I love India. It may sound corny, but I really do. For all its shortcomings and rough edges and poverty and grubbiness, it's still amazing. Best place in the world to live in. Why? Because it's home. Essentially the same reason I prefer Bombay over Chennai. Home. Beat that, U.S.A.

It's not really patriotism. Hell, I work for an American telco. I've stayed abroad for 7-something years, and realised that home rox. What you can do here, you can't do anywhere else. Simple analogy: when you visit someone's house, do you be yourself, or be the guest?

Apart from all that, there's some X factor, really. Why do I want to stay here? it's home. Why DON'T I want to study there? Dunno. And till now, that's the best reason I could come up with. Dunno, I just don't...beat that, U.S.A :)

Disclaimer: I love travelling, and wouldn't mind visiting any place on Earth. But to live? India it is, with distinct leanings towards Bombay ;)

Hindi Chennai Bhai Bhai

After [very belatedly] following up a discussion flamefest initiated here, riposted here and again here, with another related post here, I decided to put up my own two cents. Now people who know me may dispute this, accusing me of being stingier than Scrooge McWasp, but we will ignore them.

I feel qualified to talk about this, because, one, it's my blog :-p and two, I've lived in both Bombay and Chennai for fairly long periods (10 and 4 years).

Both of them are pretty amazing places to be in, to live in. But, Bombayite at heart that I am, Bombay still rox.

Why? It's fast. Imagine yourself hovering in the air above V.T, and above Chennai Central. Okay make that Mambalam station, which hugs Ranganathan Street [R.S] . At rush hour, the size of the crowds at R.S and V.T are similar, but the R.S crowd is almost glacial in comparison to V.T.

Other points of comparison are fairly moot. Booze doesn't matter to a teetotaller, and squalor is a fundamental right of all Indian cities, as are grubby commuters/vendors. The Hindi squabble is best left alone - personally, I think all Indians should compulsorily learn Hindi up to 10th. The "deal with it" attitude isn't going to win any friends...And to be fair to Karnataka and A.P, whenver I've been there, the amount of Hindi spoken by the populace has always impressed me. OTOH, the amount of Hindi here [in Chennai] is bordering on the microscopic.

Travel then. The public transport system in Bombay is any day better than Chennai, where you're pretty much stranded on a remote island if caught out past 10 p.m without private transport. And yeah, the auto drivers here completely empty your pockets. *EVEN* if you're a local. Rs.30 here for a Rs.15 distance in Bombay. And it's actually a poor reflection on the State Government that it doesn't step in to do something...[where something == enforce the meter system] The buses here though, what can I say? Chennai buses rock! Literally and metaphorically. The green, monstrous khataras do compare with cycles without rubber tires, but you also have the 'luxury' buses that charge double, and do actually offer a pretty fast, smooth ride. And the bus network is amazingly widespread, with service to even some hidden corners.

All in all, I think the general public in Bombay are infinitely better than the weirdos in Chennai, who really tend to spoil the public transport experience here. [rant alert] I mean, live with it, if it's crowded for you, it's crowded for everyone else. Don't grumble, or blow your top 'cause someone elbowed you. For all of Bombay's famed peak-hour train mobs, it's quite easy to get in, stay there, and get out in a totally composed manner... [/rant alert]

Real estate costs in Chennai are way lower than Bombay, which explains why people get the illusion that everything's easily accessible here. In Bombay, only the very early movers and now the upper middle class and above get to live in the heart of the city, and its innards. In Chennai, I can fairly easily get a house in Mylapore, or Ashok Nagar, or some such other 'city' place. Both my Bombay and Chennai houses are outside city limits, so I have a fair idea of what I'm talking about. Commute times are pretty much the same. About 75 minutes from Chromepet to Tidel Park. About 75 minutes from Thane to Churchgate. End to end, average times.

I'm pretty much on the fence on this issue, with a very distinct tilt towards Bombay [the pace, man, you have to experience it to believe it, it gives you purpose in life], I'd say that whether you're an ardent Bombayite or a fanatic Chennai-ite, as long as you keep an open mind when going from one city to the other, I promise you, you'll absolutely LOVE the experience!

Friday, 1 July 2005

Acta est fabula, plaudite!

The most significant ever year of my life has ended. And an equally, if not more, significant year has begun. And well too. Spoke to all the people in the world that I absolutely love, and couldn't do without. All of you, my pillars of strength - you define my world, my life.