Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Fanaa controversy

I am no fan of Aamir Khan (I do like many of his movies, though), and I thought that his intervention in the NBA agitation was rather poorly scripted. Still, I can't help but condemn the BJP government's attitude towards Fanaa. Whatever Aamir Khan said was well within his rights as a citizen. And if someone had a problem with it, he has every right to: a) boycott Aamir Khan movies (b) promote his point-of-view non-violently, and (c) go to court. No one though, has the right to enforce a ban on the movie. No one has the right to prevent its screening, and for gods' sake, no one has the right to threaten theatres against screening the movie.

But what we saw was the occurrence of all three. And there are in fact people who went on national television calling Aamir names - "enemy of Gujarat", for example.

I was discussing this issue with a friend - someone I respect greatly - and his point was that Aamir should have exercised restraint in whatever he did or said. And that what was happening was essentially his (Aamir's) fault.

In my opinion, it is this attitude that has allowed governments, hooligans (read Rajkumar 'fans'), and plain sickos (read VHP/Bajrang Dal/Muslim Personal Law Board/Christian 'activists') to get away with denying us one of the most fundamental human right - the right to speech and expression.

What is your take?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Nanny State, Police brutality, and other issues

Did you have a nanny when you were young? I had one - infact, my school had one, and she used to walk a bunch of us home from school on some days. Simply put, she was a terror. She dragged us as she wanted, cursed us when we fell back, hit some of us on occasions, and was simply using us to vent her frustrations. Ofcourse, she would be on her best behaviour when any of the parents were around: her true self revealed only when they left.

Why am I talking about this? Well, the recent reservation debates have demonstrated the 'nanny' nature of the Indian state. First, you have a hidden agenda, that comes out only in the last minute. Then, you have the mandatory round of police brutality - non-violent protesters being beaten mercilessly. Finally, you have the denials - the Commisoner of Mumbai Police denying that there was any lathi-charge at all. In fact, Star News did something real cool for once. They broadcast his denial and shots of people being beaten up on a split screen simultaneously. Still, the shameless state did nothing.

Consider this - the brightest, young minds of the country are protesting against an injustice. How does the government treat them? No one listens to them at first, then, the police beat them up, and even after that, no minister had the courtesy to apologize or at least visit the injured students. Contrast this with the treatment given to VIP protesters like Vandana Shiva, Arun'dirty' Roy and Medha Patkar. These worthies are feted, cajoled, and even the tall and mighty Indian state falls at their feet.

I could go on and on about why this is so - but I'll defer it to an other post.

Friday, May 26, 2006


A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

"I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up."

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

"Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

Came across this in the book "Eats, shoots and leaves" by Lynne Truss.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Drinking and Alcoholism

Yesterday, NDTV carried a debate about youngsters coming under the influence of alcohol on its "Big Fight" programme. The participants were Vijay Mallya of UB, Jaya Jaitley of the Samata Party and some other 'social activist'.

Needless to say, Vijay Mallya was pilloried by everyone, including the audience, the other debators and the compere. And to add to it, my Mom. Somehow the words "alcohol" raises the temperature of any room it is uttered in, particularly when women are around. Some assumptions are immediately made:
  • Only men drink
  • Only men drink irresponsibly
  • Men drink and they come back and beat their wives/mothers/sisters/daughters
  • One drink is enough to convert a man from a normal human being into a raving psychopath/rapist/criminal.
  • Anyone who drinks once instantly becomes a slave to the drink and can't live without it
  • Every man who drinks is depriving his family of essentials to pay for his habit
  • And importantly, any one who tries to introduce some sanity into the debate (poor souls like me) are either drunkards themselves, or they want to become one.

The best part is that all these comments come from those who have *never* had the misfortune of actually consuming alcohol. And you know where they get these ideas from? Depending on your preference, B(T)(K)ollywood. Every villian, particularly in the old Hindi movies would conduct his 'business' over a peg of whiskey. Every vamp would tempt the unsuspecting hero by giving him alcohol. Every heroine or hero's sister would be led astray by first filling her up with alcohol. And mind you, everytime, after one peg, there is no stopping these victims! After one peg of whiskey, the normally sedate hero would starting uttering gibberish, attempt to molest the heroine, drive like a man possessed, and simply make a fool of himself, until the heroine or the mother intervened with a bucket of ice-cold water after which he immediately returns to sanity. Geez!

I know I am going to get spammed like hell, particularly if some people read this. But seriously, grow up, folks!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

C++ and Movie dialogues

I am one who believes that there is a single thread running through all facets of life - be it music, art, movies, sports, or technology. See my "Technology and Art" post for a hashed attempt at explaining its logic.

Recently, I got an opportunity to talk about C++ to a few colleagues at the place I work (yeah, yet again!), and then a few movie/comicbook dialogues popped up in my mind as I was explaining C++ concepts. Thought it'll be interesting to share them with you.

On the fact that while C++ gives you near total control on how your clients can create and use your objects, you have to take care of many details to make it work properly:
"With great power comes great responsibility" [Original: Dave Parker, Spiderman's uncle.]

On the fact that even when an exception is thrown (not to the runtime), objects that have been created will be destroyed:
"Everything that has a beginning has an end." [Original: Matrix I]

I'll update this post as I find more. And no, I am *not* offering this as proof of my theory about the single thread running through all facets of life. That proof will take some time to materialize.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sitcom stuff.

As some of you already know, my favourite tele-series of all time is Frasier. With the series being re-telecast on Star World now, I am getting an opportunity to re-live some of the fun times I had watching this series (and a few others) when I was in NCSU.

Here are some dialogues I kind of remember from the series:

Roz telling Frasier after yet another unsuccessful date: "You are sweet, you're smart, you're nice - you are exactly what women should be looking for".
Frasier (with a sad voice): "Yeah, I am the Brocolli of dating!"

Another one:
This is the first episode, and Martin has just moved into Frasier's apartment. Frasier asks his opinion of how he has setup his living room and Martin cribs "But nothing matches".
Frasier: "Yes Dad. It is _eclectic_"
Now two workers come in carrying Martin's chair. The look on Frasier's face is one of sheer horror. He doesn't want that chair in his living room at _any_ cost.
Frasier: "Dad, but that...that chair doesn't go with anything in the room!"
Martin (with dripping sarcasm): "I know! It is _eclectic_".

Here is another one:
Daphne has become real fat after she and Niles start dating - but no one wants to point it out to her. One day however, she slips and falls. Niles first rushes to lift her up, but he can't. Martin joins in, and they still can't move her. Finally, Frasier arrives and the three lift her up. So, here's what Martin says:
"Daphne, I just thought of somethin' funny: It took three Cranes to lift you!?" [Frasier/Martin/Niles's surname is Crane]

There are so many more...too bad I can't remember all of them! :(

Anyway, here is one from Friends:
Monica and Chandler are dating and they think no one knows. But Rachel and Phoebe know, and Monica and Chandler know that Rachel and Phoebe know. Phoebe and Rachel are coming up with a plan to oust them (Monica and Chandler) and here is what Phoebe says:
"But they don't know that we know that they know we know!"

If you haven't had an opportunity to watch Frasier - do watch it now. Considering the kind of junk that passes for comedy these days (what with Paapa Pandu and the like), you'll definitely find this series refreshing.

Monday, May 08, 2006

How do I feel, driving my new car in town?

Well, too many people have asked this question, so I thought I'll put the answer down on my blog.

You guys know the 'Friends' title song? Well, for the uninitiated, here it is:

"So no one told you life was gonna be this way
[Your job's a joke,
you're broke,
your love life's D.O.A. ]
It's like you're always stuck in second gear
When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year " ...

Well, the part of the song enclosed in [] was true of my life for a long time, and now with the car, the next line has come true as well!!!

But anyway, on a serious note, driving in Bangalore isn't as bad as it seems. There are still roads on which you can reach 4th gear. Seriously! :)

Friday, May 05, 2006

More role modeling

Seeing the enthusiastic response I got to my first blog on role models, I think I should write more about the subject. I now realize that 'role model' might have been a very strong term, so I'll qualify it as 'influencer' meaning a person or persons who influenced me a great deal.

Obviously, after my parents, my brother has been a big influence on me. He was my first maths and science tutor, my first cricket coach, my first 'how to tackle bullies' instructor, and being fourteen years older than me was my guru for practically everything (except maybe languages, social studies and music). He introduced me to the world of English literature, (read novels) and Old Hindi film music. He gave me my initial goals in life - first to be a participant in many activities, then to enter SJIHS, and then to prepare for the IITs. Ofcourse, not all of those goals materialized and for that no one is to blame but me. The biggest lesson I learnt from him though is that raw talent is nothing without the effort to back it up. That has been the most important lesson in life. Just a pity that I learnt it very late.

The next person I want to credit is my sister-in-law. For a single 1/2 hour session where she taught me the intricacies of C pointers. That lesson is with me even today - and was the single thing that helped me learn pointers - her lesson helped me more than many reads of Kanetkar's "Pointers in C", giving me such a strong basis in pointers that I lost all fear of it :)

Whew! Looks like I wrote quite a bit. And the smell of my mom's cooking is wafting through the air, restricting my vocabulary to food-related words. So, I'll stop here. Do cook up (oops! send in) your comments.

I'll write about my other role models (influences) in the next posts. _That_ should be interesting...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Goodbye, Mr. Mahajan.

In the death of Pramod Mahajan, not just the BJP, but the entire country has lost an accomplished politician and administrator. Mahajan, who came from a village in Maharashtra, typefied why many people of my generation were attracted to the BJP. He was suave, sophisticated, was a great communicator, and unlike the other politicians did not hide his good fortune.

Another young, able son of India stolen away in 'youth'.

May his soul rest in peace. Am unable to say anything else.