Sunday, December 21, 2008

Oil price…

Oil price went up.. the world complained and rallied against the high price...

Now the oil price is going down and the world complains even more for the falling prices..

And we still expect God to listen to our prayers.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Elite

Elite (also spelled Élite) is taken originally from the Latin, eligere, "to elect". In sociology as in general usage, the élite is a relatively small dominant group within a large society, which enjoys a privileged status envied by individuals of lower social status.

The position of an elite at the top of the social strata almost invariably puts it in a position of leadership and often subjects the holders of elite status to pressure to maintain their position as part of the elite. However, in spite of the pressures, the existence of the elite social stratum is usually unchanged.

I have been reading much after the Mumbai tragedy; and have sensed the helplessness felt by a common Indian like me (the common Indian is not elite I presume). I have always felt that unless the sensibility of the rich and the powerful in our country is awakened, nothing positive can happen. In a sense it was woken by the Mumbai tragedy since they were more shaken than the rest. Nothing they relied upon was able to save them from the onslaught. One can continue blaming Pakistan, Islamic militant etc. but deep down we all know (but continue to deny) that the problem is not just that, but much more. It is also time that for those who can make a change, realized that protecting themselves is not going to solve the problem if they want an India free from hatred and fear.

I am not going to waste my time in writing eulogy on the elite, who are present across the country; and in every religion, but somehow the article in, "Death of a salesman and other elite ironies" by Tarun J Tejpal, editor-in-chief, Tehelka magazine, who calls himself an elite appealed much to me. I have copied some excerpts.

For me there is a deep irony in his death. He was killed by what he set very little store by. In his every meeting with us, he was bemused and baffled by Tehelka's obsessive engagement with politics. He was quite sure no one of his class -- our class -- was interested in the subject. Politics happened elsewhere, a regrettable business carried out by unsavoury characters

It is time each one of us understood that at the heart of every society is its politics. If the politics is third-rate, the condition of the society will be no better. For too many decades now, the elite of India has washed its hands off the country's politics. Entire generations have grown up viewing it as a distasteful activity. In an astonishing perversion, the finest imaginative act of the last thousand years on the subcontinent, the creation and flowering of the idea of modern India through mass politics, has for the last 40 years been rendered infra dig, dclasse, uncool. Let us blame our parents, and let our children blame us, for not bequeathing onwards the sheer beauty of a collective vision, collective will, and collective action. In a word, politics: which, at its best, created the wonder of a liberal and democratic idea, and at its worst threatens to tear it down.

And let no one tell us we need more laws. We need men to implement those that we have. Today, all our institutions and processes are failing us. We have compromised each of them on their values, their robustness, their vision and their sense of fair play. Now, at every crucial juncture we depend on random acts of individual excellence and courage to save the day. Great systems, triumphant societies, are veined with ladders of inspiration. Electrified by those above them, men strive to do their very best. Look around. How many constables, head constables, sub-inspectors would risk their lives for the dishonest, weak men they serve, who in turn serve even more compromised masters?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

ID Holidays

We had 10 days of ID holidays and coming back to work was like the first day of school after vacation. I am sure the kids enjoyed our reluctance to get ready for work. Finally their feelings are being acknowleged!

Went to the Scientific Center with another family on the first day of ID.

Looks like nothing excites the present generation. The children felt it was much better watching Animal Planet, although some of the inmates did invite their curiosity. We planned BBq's and picnics but it all had to be shelved since son got sick. Must be the recent change in weather. But then being at home was relaxing too. Watched movies and did some cooking. Could put up the Xmas tree too.

A lone cat soaking in the sun at the entrance of the center. It looked quiet tame; maybe its owner is jogging somewhere nearby.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Back in business

Sadly we are back into business in the shortest time.

I thought the issue with the “dog’ would die within the mallu world, but no, even the national mainstream newspapers seem to have forgotten the horrible days the country just left behind. I am not providing any links to the news papers since none has been fair. Keralites are not new to their CM and their own colloquial language. In my opinion the ‘dog’ word is the mildest word that the mallu uses in his day-to-day dealings. But like me there are many who respect the CM even for his quirks. Everyone accepts the Father’s feelings too and if the media is to be believed, he had no issues with the CM during the telephone talks. The same media and citizens who shouted foul when Major Unnikrishnan was identified as a Malayalee, in the same tone whined when there was no ministerial representation, except for the political secretary from the Kerala ministry.

We tolerated the electronic media during those dark moments with utmost patience although it was not easy at times, but I believe it is time the media stopped short and did a self study. We lost brave men and there is nothing the country can give their family in return except gratitude. Nothing will suffice since only those who have lost their loved ones can understand the feelings. But for the sake of their utmost sacrifice for the country, this not the time to lose focus on the main issue. This is not the time to aid the parties to take political mileage and knowing well our politicians, it is up to the citizens and the media to get them into running the nation. Sadly we need them all at this moment to govern the country and not to fill the roads with “protestors” for insignificant issues.

For once, India is not alone in her pursuit of terrorism. Pakistan, though reluctantly is ready to cooperate. War is not the answer for any issue and we have all learnt our lessons. We do not want history to give us a repeat. Even in the battle of Kurukshetra in Mahabharata, diplomacy was given a chance until the end even when there were mighty warriors ready to give up their lives. We need every resources and the help of the citizens to root out the menace the nation is facing. If the media is to be believed there were more terrorists and they might be still in the country aided by our own worthless citizens. These terrorists did not work alone and cannot work alone in the future. There needs to be meaningful discussions in the main stream media on this issue. So far I have seen none.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Is it over?

It has been very depressing the last 3 days and I could not control the way the events affected me. Maybe I should have just stopped watching the news.

Let me take my frustrations on my blog.

The media has been comparing the Mumbai blasts to the Sept 11 attack. But for the Americans, their anger and frustration were quickly directed to the military assaults that Bush began. They had a vent for their feelings. It might not have been difficult for them to watch their planes bombard a far of land which most of them had never heard before.

But for us Indians the frustration has only begun. For a few hours, we thought Pakistan was serious when they agreed to sent the ISI chief over to India to help with the investigations. But, it was just another one of their feeble attempt in bravado; the ISI and many other elements are not under the control of the government. Pakistan continues to be a failed state. As for an assault, it will only take the life of the innocents. But then I remember that Obama wanted to take on Pakistan, for reasons I am sure he had plenty.

The Indian media was kind during the last 3 days I should say, by keeping the appearance of the politicians to the barest minimum. How can one watch the arrogant faces of those who had a say over the security aspects? As for the Home Minister, I had only a morbid interest on his suits and he has not let the viewers down on that aspect. I am also tired of watching our PM being ushered in by Sonia. Does he still not know his way around? Our politicians, including Modi will only continue their games.

But as citizens, it is time we raised our voice for our heroes. When the nation is ready to spend millions for the economy in 'deals', can’t they not equip our soldiers and task forces with proper gears? If there is no security, is there are an economy?

As for the ideology of the cowards, it is from the devil himself. One need not give a second thought on that. They shoot indiscriminately on a helpless crowd and then ask for specific Passport holders.

I pray that this event unites our nation and we learn valuable lessons. These events should not repeat and those precious lives that were lost should not be in vain.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Black Day

Why oh Why?

How many more black days do we have to see before we see an end? Or is this only the beginning?

Where are our leaders? What other issues are occupying their times?

It is time you stepped down from your seats since you have all failed.

You sent brave men to take bullets in their hearts and in spite of repeated warnings there was no preparation.

You have let innocent people die without a cause. If our main cities cannot be protected from these cowards called terrorists who hide behind black masks and guns, then what are you governing?

Words fail me.. let me shed silent tears for my bleeding nation.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sister Abhaya

Been too busy at work and more than I miss writing, I miss reading all my favourite blogs but then I have to pen something today....

Can Sister Abahya’s parents have some peace of mind now?

Of course they are the first ones who matters but I think this case matters to many of us too.

If one asks why, there are no specific answers. It is not as though this is the only murder case which has been languishing in the court rooms, but it is a case which tugged the conscience of many. A nun who had taken solemn vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience was murdered and denied justice while the institution that was supposed to have come to her rescue remained passive. But not passive to thwart justice at every juncture of this 16 years long case. And now a nun who took the same solemn vows has been arrested along with her fellow priests. All of them, I understand were heading educational institutions. As for the claims from some quarters that they are innocent surprises many. Those arrested did undergo narco analysis and polygraph tests and the ex-CBI officer did have his doubts on Sister Sephy during his short role in this case. As for CBI arresting only on the grounds of Sanju P. Mathew’s disclosure seems silly, or maybe I am being too hopeful.

Anyway, let us wait for some more dramas since as usual the case has been politicized.

Then as told, it is not the CBI who needs to be applauded but the High Court since the CBI succumbed to pressures all along. And this is way the judiciary needs to act. I pray we see this commitment in every case.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I have earlier lamented on my blog on the Iraq War; its futility and horror. The world listened to the death toll and the happenings in Iraq for a while but then it became a routine. Yesterday by chance I came upon a blog said to be written by an Iraqi girl. The last entry on her blog is dated October 22, 2007 when she fled with her family to Syria as a refugee. She has not written again and there are many who wonder what could have happened to that vivacious, freedom loving spirit that was in her.

Movies have made me cry but not blogs. But yesterday her words struck my heart. Why has the world forgotten Iraq? The war was wrong but isn’t there anything the world can do to correct this crime against humanity? I am not hoping for a changed US after the recent elections but I do pray that Obama is given a chance to keep his word and take the US out of Iraq and possibly take the curse that is upon those who sided with this war. Even if another Saddam may rise up, let it be, maybe this is the only way Iraq will have peace and prosperity. Let the Iraqis manage their country in their way.

She ends the last entry on her blog thus:

The first evening we arrived, exhausted, dragging suitcases behind us, morale a little bit bruised, the Kurdish family sent over their representative – a 9 year old boy missing two front teeth, holding a lopsided cake, “We’re Abu Mohammed’s house- across from you- mama says if you need anything, just ask- this is our number. Abu Dalia’s family live upstairs, this is their number. We’re all Iraqi too... Welcome to the building.”

I cried that night because for the first time in a long time, so far away from home, I felt the unity that had been stolen from us in 2003.

This is another entry:

Friday, December 29, 2006

End of Another Year...

You know your country is in trouble when:
1. The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI.
2. Abovementioned branch cannot be run from your country.
3. The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders.
4. The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation.
5. An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country's 'Golden Years'.
6. Your country is purportedly 'selling' 2 million barrels of oil a day, but you are standing in line for 4 hours for black market gasoline for the generator.
7. For every 5 hours of no electricity, you get one hour of public electricity and then the government announces it's going to cut back on providing that hour.
8. Politicians who supported the war spend tv time debating whether it is 'sectarian bloodshed' or 'civil war'.
9. People consider themselves lucky if they can actually identify the corpse of the relative that's been missing for two weeks.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Great Wall of Segregation...

I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.

It also brings a hard truth; religion can be used in a brutal manner by anyone to achieve their ends. It can be used by those in your own country or by those who are outside. It can shatter peace and change the mindset of even a peace loving individual. It only needs constant feeding of fear and mistrust.

and now....

A former Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan has called on U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to deal quickly with the issues of Kashmir and Afghanistan.

India has resisted U.S. mediation on Kashmir in the past, but the growing U.S.-India strategic relationship may now make American involvement possible, The News quoted Meghan O’Sullivan, as saying in an article for a foreign newspaper.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Black or White.. does it really matter?

I could’nt understand the media’s penchant to use ‘black President’ every time Obama’s name was mentioned. It was indeed irritating. Democracy worked beautifully in America and that should be it.

Not because I have anything against either the blacks or the white. But if Obama was elected, then the votes just did not come from the blacks alone. I believe whites make up 80% of the American population. In this case, there has to be a good number of whites who voted Obama to power. Still why does the media love calling him 'black'? If his Father was white and his mother black, would they have called him ‘white’? Mothers yet again remain worthless.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Aravind Adiga rides atop his Tiger

Aravind Adiga’s tiger brought mixed reaction from the Indian populace. Some say this is the true India while some are shocked and feel insulted.

How dare an Indian demean the 'ready to shine in a few years' India thus? Won’t the rest of the world (whom Indians look up to!) have more reasons to continue looking down?

I have not read the book as yet and I don’t look forward to reading it either. With the media beaming out similar stories daily and the rest left to our wildest (yet true?) imaginations, who needs a book to shed light?

Maybe mine is a pessimistic outlook and I should be joining the rest and give Aravind a good bashing on my blog at least! But I shall not.. the tone maybe crude as they say but we Indians need waking up.

Looking at the way most crimes get away and the nexus between criminals (including the police) and the politicians, should we expect anything better just because we haven’t experienced it ourselves?

Look at God’s Own Country when it discovered that the terrorists killed in Kashmir were Malayalees. We are now told (by the media) that they existed since 15 years! Every other day, we hear of mass swindling and the political connections. We wait hopelessly to see at least one behind the bars but the media soon replaces one swindler with another and the show continues. We heard of Human God’s and the amount of wealth they accumulated (source maybe foreign or domestic) but they still continue to reign as Gods. There is one Sister Abhaya still haunting the court premises.

Well… being Diwali I shouldn’t be a spoil sport but my pessimistic mind fell into the trap and here are some articles which can further shed light.

Indian judges must clean up their courts

Justice R. Basant of the Kerala High Court, in his speech to the concluding session of the annual conference of the Kerala Criminal Judicial Staff Association, said, “The judiciary is the last ray of hope for Indians. The failure of the judiciary will have devastating results.”

This observation by Justice Basant carries considerable weight, as he knows, inside and out, the legal and illegal procedures commonly adopted by the courts.

For example, in order to file an application for bail in a criminal case, a person needs to pay a stamp duty of 2 rupees (US 4 cents). But by the time the application reaches the magistrate for a hearing, a client will usually have paid 700 to 1,000 rupees (US$14-$21) in bribes. Most of it is demanded and paid within the registry of the court where the application is filed.

40 lakh cases before HCs and 40 K cases before SC are pending

Over 40 K Cases Pending in Supreme Court of India (March 02 , 2007 - PIB Release)

OVER 40 THOUSAND CASES PENDING IN SUPREME COURT AND ABOUT 40 LAKH CASES IN HIGH COURTS - A total of 40,243 cases (including civil and criminal matters) are reported to be pending in the Supreme Court of India as on 31st January, 2007. In 21 High Courts in the country 39,91,251 cases were pending as on December 31, 2006. These include 32,87,037 civil cases and 7,04,214 criminal cases.

The corrective measures being taken for speedy disposal of court cases are:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Elections round the corner..

Election is round the corner for the two of the largest democracy in the world....

The words of Condoleezza Rice after the great deal (as they say) was signed may have thrilled a few Indians.

"The world's largest democracy and the world's oldest democracy joined together by our shared values and increasingly by many shared interests now stand as equals closer together than ever before,"

But then in what ways are we equal?

Do the Indian citizens have any idea who they will be voting to power in India?

Looking at the main parties and their leaders, can anyone say if they will ever be put up as candidates?

As for me, being an NRI, I have no voting powers, hence I am not forced to select any party or its leaders. And looking at the current scenario, it will be a tough choice too.

So, I think it is better if the impending divorce is settled.

Let the Congress (who will get a chance to gain its lost credibility) be backed by the communists who will keep on shouting ‘foul’. I think this balance would be fine. An unbridled Congress is a danger to the country and it needs the Communists (whatever their motives be) to shout ‘foul’ so that at least the citizens are kept abreast of the happenings.

They say that the Harward/Oxford educated intellectuals would have taken our country to a worse spot if they had not been bridled. For now, at least the Indian economy can rise up from a better position, thanks to the measures that were put in place. We never gave into mass privatisation and our banks are still accountable.

It could be BJP too, if only their motives were true. Their actions show only ‘RED’. I respected Vajpayee and would have loved to see him in power if his health would have permitted him. And as for ‘Hinduvata’, I have tried understanding this concept, but the action does not replicate what is being advocated. I see the same intolerance that is seen in the Muslim/Christian fanatics.



Chandrayaan-I was launched successfully early this morning.

Kudos to all those who worked tirelessly.

It was indeed happy moments to see the smiling faces of our scientists and to share their joy and relief. If everything goes as per plan we shall see the tri-flag also fluttering on the moon.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Will the smokers face extinction?

Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has come out with yet another wonder, the ban on smoking in public.

As soon as the law came into effect, we saw the media well prepared to handle this fun with lines like,

Smoking ban goes up in smoke…..

The smokers puffing the law away .. etc etc.

I heard much explicit comments myself since I live with a smoker and knew in my heart that there is no way these smokers are going to be deterred.

Hubby never smokes inside the house or car and he always tries his best not to smoke in confined spaces too. And if his parents/brother or in-laws are around then it is very hard to find him or the place he chooses to smoke away. (The troubles these poor smokers have!) So in his case, the choice of a private place is very limited. It is not as though all smokers love their habit especially since they are now being treated as social outcasts in most workplaces too.

So like my children, I have just this question to ask. Instead of banning smoking when will the government ban the cigarette companies?

If the government continue to let the companies sell these cigarettes in public places since they need their taxes badly then this ban is only to laugh away. The smokers will try their best not to pay the fine, but they will continue to smoke. As for private and public places, does the government have any rules on those?

So I guess it is best to leave the veteran smokers alone. And since the government will not ban the cigarette companies, can they at least have stricter laws to deter the young smokers?

Can they have more awareness programmes to educate the younger generation (before they reach their teens) on the dangers in smoking?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

ID Mubarak..

Id Mubarak to one and all...

May there be peace all around the world..

Monday, September 29, 2008

Live within your means...

Live within your means and save for the rainy day.. used to be the Indian Maxim...

..until Credit Cards arrived with rosy promises

..until one found installments facilities for every product that was beyond your purse

..until self made financial gurus harped on spending rather that saving..

and all this was to bolster the economy and who was the hero to be looked up?

It was the American economy.

But then we saw the same gurus with crestfallen faces looking up to see if the sustainers of the great economy (a minority actually, and one can find some of them in the Forbes List)will be allowed to maintain their status quo.

The world saw Mr. President begging to let the bail-out pass through.

We also saw the US treasury secretary Henry Paulson begging Nancy Pelosi, Democratic speaker of the House.

Will this save the average American? I personally don’t think so and I feel it is not fair to have used the public money thus. Those hardworking ones who refused to speculate but spent what they rightly owned will continue to feel the pain.

But when it has been done Barrack Obama takes credit too...

Obama also took credit for proposals by fellow Democrats that added protection for families in danger of losing their homes and limited pay packages for Wall Street executives to the plan.

Whatever this bail out will do, the next President has got a lot of problems in his hands. His headaches have already started.

But for now, we better sit tight and hold on to our purses and listen to our elders. (I better listen to my Father’s advice!)

Check out Plan

Just came across an innovative site to help Bihar Flood victims. Shows how one can contribute without actually spending anything or being physically present by spending 60 seconds of one's time. Just have to answer simple questions, and sponsors will pay to the NGO on your behalf. Kindly spread the word. ( Please visit www.helpbihar. in and answer 4 simple questions.

: Plan

Thursday, September 25, 2008

International Day of the Girl Child

Yesterday, September 24th was celeberated as the International Day of the Girl Child without much fanfare..

Unlike other “International days”, there is nothing much in this day for creating any fanfare.

No cards nor gifts to gift anyone and hence none to sell them.

Many of those girl children who survived in this world still live a life with not much recognition.

But then there are many who never saw the light only because she was meant to be born as a girl.

We let a caring sister, wife, mother, grandmother die a premature death.

The world saw in 2005 through the eyes of Dr. Hoa Phuong Tran(one among many) the below:

A study in India of seven hundred pregnant women undergoing a genetic amniocentesis test revealed that less than one in twenty of the women who were informed they were carrying a daughter actually continued with thepregnancy3. Female foeticide is a direct result of deep-rooted discriminatory attitudes and women’s perceived low worth. When I first went to India some years ago, I was shocked to discover that even though the Government had banned the payment of dowry, in poor areas, the practice still dominates the life and the mindset of virtually all poor families. Hence the belief that girls are a burden of little worth.

An excerpt from Gender - The view from below*
Prepared by
Dr. Hoa Phuong Tran

And we continue to see it not only among the poor but also among the affluent and from one city to another it is spreading like cancer.

Report says girl child not wanted in Bangalore

24 Sep 2008 02:51:00 PM IST

BANGALORE: As the world observed International Day of the Girl Child Wednesday, India's IT hub presented a poor picture of itself with a Karnataka government report indicating declining child sex ratio.

The ratio in Karnataka has fallen drastically from 960 to 946 between 1991 and 2001, when the last census was conducted.

The ratio stood at 954 in rural areas and 939 in urban areas. Bangalore has a ratio of 941, much lower than some poorer districts like Kolar, in its neighbourhood and Bidar in north Kanataka. The national average is 927/1000, according to 2001 Census.

Is it not time to wake up?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Religion, thy name is strife.....

Started writing on the Delhi blast the same day but was instead lost in a few blogs &newspapers.

Roop in her post has expressed her anguish well and has raised valid questions too. The comments on her blogs should be read with openness. I had already read Nimmy’s post along with many other blogs and newspapers trying to seek answers. I have also been reading blogs and sites upholding “Hinduvata” and did feel that something is indeed simmering in our country. The Delhi blasts painfully reminded me that a stage has reached where even the Indian Muslims have succumbed. Earlier it was easy to blame it on Pakistan or Bangladesh.

Violence is never the answer for anything. No one has the right to hurt anyone for any cause, especially since we claim to live in a democratic country. Sadly the police and the governments that order them fail to bring justice. Those lives are lost just because they chose to be at those spots and will never ever be an answer to any cause.

I read what lallopolo has commented on Roop’s post and he has raised a valid point. This is not the time to isolate any community. I being from another minority community (I am now forced to call myself this name I so abhor) can understand it very well, especially upon seeing the growing animosity towards Christians in the name of “conversion”. While I do agree that there are name sake Christians who have lost all good sense, I will not accept if the entire Christian community is blamed. I have read blogs where videos of Christian conversions and senseless acts by preachers have been posted and I myself squirm on my seat helplessly. In a state like Kerala where Christians have existed for almost 2000 years (if history should be believed), one never felt the pangs of being a minority and hence never gave that word a second thought. I am a proud Indian and I never chose my friends on the basis of religion and still have friends from all religions.

So if there are those among the minorities and the majority who wants to forget what India really is and give it up all for their religion it is up to the law of the land to take immediate measures instead of resorting to cheap politics. It is also up to each of us to pass this message within our own community and to point out those who err.

I also liked what Siddusaaeb wrote…

What could we, Indians, do?

1. Remain vigilant and report suspicious objects/persons at once.

2. Use tools like the Right to Information (RTI) Act to find out about the measures being taken by the administration to improve security, besides publicising security lapses when we come across any.

3. Stop voting for parties that incite, promote and/or actually organise communal violence in the form of riots, so that there is no incentive for these parties to organise such violence in the future. That can, in turn, prevent terrorists from getting local support in the name of extracting ‘revenge’ for the communal riots.

4. Campaign for the perpetrators of communal riots/bomb-blasts to be brought to justice at the earliest possible, so that, once again, the number of local recruits available to terrorist organizations can be reduced.

But then again succumbing to cynicism, are our governments capable of doing so? Although a major section of Indians trusted this government on the nuclear deal, I don’t find the same trust when it comes to resolving this issue.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Onam

A very Happy Onam to one and all…

Since Onam has come on a weekend for us here in Gulf, one can celebrate at ease. But it is also in the midst of Ramadhan and all the hotels are closed during the day. I do hear that food can be ordered but it will surely be at an exorbitant price to make up for the loss in business.

Have not decided as yet if I should attempt to test my culinary talents or succumb to the packed sadhya. To think that a Sadhya used to have 64 mandatory dishes makes my head reel. In the present times they say one can be pardoned with just 11 items but it is still not a consolation for people like me. The only item that I can guarantee right now is the “Upperis” (fried bananas) that we bought from Calicut and which I managed to hold on. Wish I could just close my eyes and ask Mahabali to fill the table with all that 64 items.. yummy...that would be a tasty sadhya indeed.

Thankfully we are invited for dinner so a real Sadhya can be had then.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

At Eravikulam National Park - Munnar

Having grown up in the high ranges amidst tea estates, I was not that eager to see Munnar. Call it being snotty or maybe I just couldn’t bear to let anything replace the beautiful memories of the place I grew up – Peerumade.

But I have to admit that Munnar is beautiful and we were lucky to have visited it during the off season. The monsoon this year being sparse did not in any way hamper our trips.

(But as I write this the Monsoon has finally gained strength in Kerala. There are mudslides on the roads that we travelled.. and the dams are being filled finally)

The visit to Eravikulam National Park to was too good. Only the State run buses are allowed to ply inside and one is left to climb a kilometer of the mountain.

On your way one is sure to meet the Niligir Thar as we did.

We also got to see a few late bloomers of the “Neela Kurinji”.

This only blooms once every 12 years and should cover the mountains again in year 2018.

We saw the majestic Anamudi, small streams, clouds.....

I had the time of my life since it reminded me so much of those walks we used to have as kids.

Let the pictures talk….

P.S. More pictures are posted here

The show continues....

Sadly most debates on the Nuclear Deal always ended the same way; those who opposed it were branded either a leftist or a BJP. And for those of us who were neither, started doubting if we really had joined the communists or the BJP! (I am not saying that the Communists or the BJP are any worse than the Congress)

Yesterday’s revelation did not come as a surprise since throughout the entire drama, even the Congress at one did admit that it was a commercial deal and not a deal which will miraculously do away with our current energy crisis. As for a commercial deal, anyone with common sense can decipher that it would be the US who would benefit more than the Indians. And as for the Indians, we all know where the wealth is going.

But then the Congress managed by hooks or crook to stay in power irrespective of the fact that there were more pressing issues at home. But if this said letter had been revealed earlier or if our PM was not so naïve (I don’t want to call him a liar as yet), the Congress Party would have been taught a much needed lesson.

The answers were considered so sensitive, particularly because the debate over the agreement in India could have toppled the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the State Department requested they remain secret even though they were not classified,” according to the Washington Post which quoted a spokesman for Berman as saying he had made the answers public because the US Congress must have “relevant information”.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Year 2012

Why in the world am I stuck with year 2012?

It all started when I accidently switched channels (infringing on the exclusive rights of dear Hubby) and landed on the History Channel. I found that I was in the midst of a documentary on Year 2012 (December 21st to be precise), the Mayan Calender, I Ching, The book of Revelation etc etc. and was stuck.

For some, this year predicts the end of civilization and for others the occurrence of some extraordinary events that will change the lives of the entire human civilization.

Here's what is known: The ancient Mayan long-count calendar — a calendar that spans more than 5,000 years — comes to an end on Dec. 21, 2012. This coincides with a galactic alignment in which the sun will align with the center of the Milky Way galaxy, an event that occurs once every 26,000 years, which could have potentially catastrophic consequences. The galactic alignment has the potential to create a shift in the Earth's poles, which would cause disastrous environmental events.

On googling I realized that this Year 2012 concept was not something new and that it has been going on since many years.

They say curiosity kills the cat and it has killed a lot of my time!

I stumbled upon many other unknown realities of life and realized that ignorance is certainly bliss.

Are we for instance aware that a group of scientists are planning (or have they already done it?) to block the sun?

Political inaction on global warming has become so dire that nations must now consider extreme technical solutions - such as blocking out the sun - to address catastrophic temperature rises, scientists from around the world warn today.

For further reading ..

Coming back to Year 2012, I would like to believe in one of the concept, that there will be a great spiritual awakening over time and its culmination will be in Year 2012.

I guess it is easy to be spiritual these days with so many catastrophes already happening and waiting to happen all around the world.

But then being spiritual doesn’t mean going the VHP or the Jihadi or the fanatic Christian way. (ah.. now I come out clean since this is what is really bothering me these days…)

When will we raise our voice against pseudo-secularism which looks at only the vote banks and not the Human Beings?

As for Orissa, it is shameful to note that the Central Government will do nothing to stop the violence.

Does any means justify the end? Like for instance pairing with crooks to get the nuclear deal (still in confusion) through...

As for the communists, they are busy flaunting their wealth by the recent opening of a water theme park in Kerala. Even if they use rain water, is the fee of Rs. 300 affordable to the working class family?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Meeting the Elephants

Meeting the elephants was the one of those cherished moments.

We got to meet them twice at Thekkady; during the trip with my brother and family we rode them and when we went there again with our friends I was contend to just watch the mighty royals.

Just like how we still look up in the sky in all wonder and eagerness like a child, just to catch a glimpse of the mighty machines flying nimbly, so is watching the mighty elephants at close quarters.

Maddy as usual has given a detailed and informative post on elephants.

In Thekkady, they have many places where the tourist can take the elephant rides. Most of them will have more than 2 elephants and the ride of half an hour will be through spice farms. During the ride one gets to see coffee, cardamom, betel trees entwined with pepper vines and other spices and you can even pluck a few peppers, still green. They also arrange elephant baths where one can bathe the elephants and get drenched in turn, when the beasts shower water upon you with their trunks. We did see one couple opt for it even in the cold weather. Ours friends were also lucky in getting a few elephant hairs.

Quenching the thirst after a ride.....

On our first trip we got to see Akbar whom the Mahout claimed is the third tallest elephant in Kerala. It was a huge one! Unfortunately he had gone for log picking on our second trip. These elephants are normally on heavier duties and these rides I guess are the lighter ones.

Then there was Shantha whom we rode. Upon calling her name during the ride she used to lift her trunk and acknowledge. Son was riding Akbar with my brother and family and was all excited. Then there was Unnikrishanan and Lakshmi who was 21 months pregnant (they carry for 22 months and she should have delivered by now). Lakshmi was exempted from rides and hence one could watch her at ease. She is being taken care of well and I was told that a Vet visits her frequently, although the Mahouts are not that impressed with the Vets. They say one need to work closely with the elephants to know them and take care of them and no “book knowledge” can replace this experience.

These elephants are trained to “bless” the tourists and they in turn can gift them cash. On our second trip our guide Thomas advised Hubby to buy bananas and both of them managed to get a big bunch of it which we happily fed the elephants and the Mahouts. (The Mahouts asked to be fed first!) Though the bananas may have satisfied the Mahouts, for the elephants it was nothing, but the joy of placing the tiny bananas on the trunks of the elephants and watching them deftly shift it to their mouths was great. We even got to place the bananas directly into their mouths. While gazing at their tender eyes one cannot be blamed if one feels their magnanimity directed at the puny humans. But the mahouts do have to be firm with them and admitted that they have to occasionally use their sticks.

We did not have much hope in seeing the wild elephant during the boat rides in Thekkady but we did see them at Munnar near the Mattupatty dam. During the rainy season in Thekkady, wild animals seldom venture out into the open since water will be available inside the forests itself, but we did see a few deer’s, bison’s, boars, tortoises and plenty of birds.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to Kuwait

Had a hectic vacation with a whirlwind of activities; 3 weddings included!

I remember boarding Jet Airways and landing in Cochin and then it was all out of my hands until we boarded the same plane back to Kuwait. I guess all holidays are meant to be such.

The kids enjoyed the most added to the fact that I did not have time to bother them! They also got to see a few more places this time including “Kumarakom”, a place very near to us but where we never bothered to visit earlier.

As for Kerala, one needs only to travel from the Cochin Airport to Alapuzha, to realize how complacent the State machinery has been over the years. The roads almost everywhere remain the same. The flyovers intended to reduce the traffic still remain unfinished (a scene which we have been seeing since past years) and added to this was the regular police checking due to the recent terrorist activities. Like every year, we avoided getting into Cochin (Kochi) City and today I read the following news:

Kochi to be spruced up for Volvo race

Staff Reporter

KOCHI: Kochi has been directed to deck up for the Volvo ocean race, which will bring international media attention to the city.
The city needs to be showcased as a vibrant tourist centre as the race is expected to have at least 1.8 billion TV viewers globally, said a circular issued by the State Tourism department to the civic body. The ocean racing teams are expected to be in Kochi from October 3 to 13 as part of the event. It would be from the southern tip of South Africa that the ocean racing teams will be coming to Kochi. From here, they will leave for Singapore.

I think it is time it happened.

Hope next time I will be struck with wonder; like the Chinese Olympics?

Will be posting the pictures of all those beautiful places that we visited in spite of the terrible roads leading to it.

P.S. It is not that I did not want to post photos or a note earlier on my blog but the Reliance Netconnect which we had taken did not work the way it should have. We did get to talk to a lot of fellows sitting in Chennai and also listen to a lot of music while waiting to be connected.

The Reliance franchises are there only to sell their products (to cheat the customers) and after that the customer is on their own.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Monsoon here we come...

Been very busy lately and finally we should soon be preparing to greet the monsoon and the hartals!

For those of us who wait eagerly to board the flight, our main concern should be hartals and nothing else. There are even websites giving schedule of the hartals and until this hour the coast seems clear for us to land.

As for the monsoon, this year it was playing truant with Kerala. It was supposed to drench the thirsty State on May 29th but it showed up briefly and left.. again to reappear mildly. And now it is back in full force. Makes me wonder if it was indeed waiting for us!

But what is Kerala without its monsoon?

This month’s Readers Digest too had an article on the Indian monsoon.

So here I go in great anticipation, to capture some beautiful memories once again….

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The deal.....

Meanwhile...... did we applaud our scientists enough?

or have we lost our faith in them?

India’s thorium success
The Financial Express
Posted online: IST

Tuesday , May 13, 2008 at 2233 hrs

Homi Jehangir Bhabha, the Indian physicist, had stayed in Europe before World War II, and made important discoveries about cosmic rays. Upon his return to India, he campaigned for Indian research institutions devoted to physics and nuclear energy. Shortly after Indian independence in 1947, Bhabha was assigned the task of establishing the India’s Atomic Energy Commission, and developing a nuclear research programme.

During the first UN Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (1955), Bhabha argued that India lacked energy resources, and for the Indian people to have a Western standard of living, Indian electricity must be generated by nuclear means. He once remarked that, “No energy is costlier than no energy.” In the 1950s, with American and Canadian help, India began to make its first reactor, the heavywater Cirus.

[For fuel self-sufficiency], Bhabha believed that the Indian nuclear research must be directed toward the development of the thorium fuel cycle—via a three-stage programme. In the first stage, heavywater reactors using unenriched uranium derived from India’s limited uranium reserve, would be constructed. The use of heavywater reactors meant that India did not need expensive uranium enrichment facilities. During the second stage, India was to construct fast breeder reactors, which burned plutonium reprocessed from the spent fuel of the heavywater reactors as well as their depleted uranium. During the third stage, thorium was to be bred, and U-233 would fuel Indian power reactors.

Indians have been faithful to Bhabha’s vision. They have found a highly fuel efficient technology by ingeniously mastering and organising relatively old nuclear technologies, and leveraging them into a fuel efficient system. India is on the brink of a significant accomplishment.

A breakthrough for India – Thorium reactor makes civilian nuke deal with America unnecessary
Shova pundit
Jul. 2, 2007

Strategically India needs the nuke deal with America. But technologically, India achieved a solid breakthrough that will make the nuclear deal with American unnecessary. A team of scientists at a premier Indian nuclear facility has designed an innovative reactor that can run on thorium - available in abundance in the country - and will eventually do away with the need for uranium.

That is a fitting reply to the Australians that sold Uranium to China in abundance and refused India any Uranium. It is also a fitting reply to America trying to control Indian nuclear independence.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Deal

Here I am from Kuwait, in the comforts of an air conditioner, trying to figure out the only issue our country seems to be facing at the moment: The nuclear deal

But do I have any right to speak when those back in my country must be facing daily power cuts, strikes, rise in price of daily commodities and so many other related problems?

It is not as though we in Kuwait are free from troubles but a power cut is yet to be implemented (imminent even though the temperature outside can rise up to 60 degrees) and oil is the only commodity that has not faced a price increase. Those working outside will give anything to be back in India with the strikers if they could.

Yet, this is the only issue our usual experts have not come to a proper conclusion. You have the leftists and the rightists and even experts talking with authority but most of them with certain reservations. And as a result the democratic setup of our country has responded: there is no majority for the deal (at least until yesterday!)

But even in this set up I fail to understand what is prompting our Prime Minister to go ahead with the deal. Is a deal that was discussed with US at time when it is under the most unpopular President worth all these hungama? One cannot forget that when US ventured into Iraq ,those who cited the reason as oil were all clobbered but now the same is being universally accepted. Ok, let me chuck out my prejudices and try to think...

They say once this nuclear deal has come through, our country will be saved from all the energy issues.

I read our ex-President Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam's speech on 59th independence day August 2005 once again; just for an assurance. I am sure this speech was well rehearsed & researched and I do want to doubt the sincerity, honesty and above all the sanity of its contents.

Let me quote a few excerpts from his speech while the full speech can be read here:

Fortunately for us, 89% of energy used for power generation today is indigeneous, from coal (56%), hydroelectricity (25%), nuclear power (3%) and Renewable (5%). Solar energy segment contributes just 0.2% of our energy production.

Changing Structure of Energy Sources:
The strategic goals for Energy Independence by 2030 would thus call for a shift in the structure of energy sources. Firstly, fossil fuel imports need to be minimized and secure access to be ensured. Maximum hydro and nuclear power potential should be tapped. The most significant aspect, however would be that the power generated through renewable energy technologies may target 20 to 25% against the present 5%. It would be evident that for true Energy Independence, a major shift in the structure of energy sources from fossil to renewable energy sources is mandated.

Solar farms
(the last para) We thus need to embark on a major national programme in solar energy systems and technologies, for both large, centralized applications as well as small, decentralized requirements concurrently, for applications in both rural and urban areas.

Nuclear Energy
Nuclear power generation has been given a thrust by the use of uranium based fuel. However there would be a requirement for a ten fold increase in nuclear power generation even to attain a reasonable degree of energy self sufficiency for our country. Therefore it is essential to pursue the development of nuclear power using Thorium, reserves of which are higher in the country. Technology development has to be accelerated for Thorium based reactors since the raw material for Thorium is abundantly available in our country. Also, Nuclear Fusion research needs to be progressed with international cooperation to keep that option for meeting the large power requirement, at a time when fossil fuels get depleted.

Power through Municipal Waste

Power System Loss Reduction:

Transportation Sector

Use of biofuels

Even now the experts say that the nuclear deal will only cover 7% of our energy requirements by Year 2020 but with considerable costs and related security issues.

Now that we have an option with Iran for Gas, what is stopping us from pursuing the same? Knowing Pakistan, isn’t it better to take a risk with them rather than with this nuclear deal?

Have we really exhausted all our options?

Is it only the energy crisis that is making Congress change its stance of last 40 years?

Is it?

Is it?

Oh the questions are numerous and I shall keep looking for the answers..

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Air Powered Cars?

There are many options: if only we would adapt...

The world being obsessed with oil and its dictates, it is only natural that some of us are attracted (and obsessed?) to news like these. It landed in my inbox and upon googling, I find that it is a stale one which I missed.

“Air Powered Cars” developed by Motor Development International (MDI), a French car Company (family owned business) is to be marketed in India (Year 2009) by none other than TATA MOTORS.

The MDI GROUP is pleased to announce that an accord has been signed with TATA MOTORS of India. This accord will assign and grant licenses to TATA MOTORS for the exclusive implementation of MDI technologies in India.
MDI GROUP will continue to develop their Business Modal throughout the rest of the world by selling the licenses and turnkey factories for the production and marketing of all the MDI products.

It has speed starting from 110 and has zero emission.

After all the gripes and adulations received by NANO, let us see how this one fares.

Time reported it as a TAIL PIPE DREAM...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Water Powered Car

At this hour of ever increasing oil price and every major problem of this world blamed on this particular commodity one cannot but watch in wonder, eagerness and even a little misgiving this very important news...

Yes.. it is another Japanese delight. And if they go into mass production as they say, I cannot imagine its implications. Can you?

Water-fuel car unveiled in Japan
(01:21) Reuter Report
Jun. 13 - Japanese company Genepax presents its eco-friendly car that runs on nothing but water.
The car has an energy generator that extracts hydrogen from water that is poured into the car's tank. The generator then releases electrons that produce electric power to run the car. Genepax, the company that invented the technology, aims to collaborate with Japanese manufacturers to mass produce it.

A few links to think positively and negatively.... do find time to check the comments too..

Monday, June 9, 2008

High Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)

"According to Bloom's Taxonomy, education has four pillars — knowledge, understand-ing, skill and application. Our education system faulters at the last one and HOTS is an attempt to work on application skills of students. The aim is that students should be able to construct knowledge and that is what HOTS is all about," added Singh.

Looks all good on the paper. And the concept is most welcome too. Though our education system increases the number of brilliant students each year, when it comes to absorbing them in the current job market, the complaint is that they don’t have the application skills.

But again, what is the use if the CBSE Board keeps introducing “fixes” like these without proper planning? The board cannot be like Microsoft Corp., who loves sending “fixes” and “updates” as soon as a new product or a new version of an existing product is launched. We can live without Microsoft, if it gets unbearable, but not so the educational board which is supposed to be “fixing” the future of Indian students.

Who is this Bloom whom the Board has unearthed?

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. Bloom found that over 95 % of the test questions students encounter require them to think only at the lowest possible level...the recall of information.

Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which is classified as evaluation.

The first concern is: are the teachers trained to think along these lines? At present, when I look through the questions and answers, some of the answers are not to the point. The children are asked to memorize a full paragraph from the text itself. Even while reading it over and over, I still cannot get any clue; so imagine the plight of a student. And I wouldn’t have known this, if our lazy son had not come to me, asking me to explain the answer and reduce the number of sentences. Some teachers still love giving essays instead of concise answers. And some answers just” beat around the bush”.

The second concern: Was this new concept given enough time before it was introduced into the Board exams or were the students caught by surprise?

HOTS, as the name suggests, focuses on thinking skills and tries to move beyond rote learning. The focus of the question paper this year was to measure students' abilities to reason, justify, analyse, process and evaluate information. It was introduced only this year in class X and XII board examinations for mathematics, science and social science, the weightage being 20%.

If I heard right, most of the students were caught off guard. After all, were’t they being trained all these years just to answer the Board Exams?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Back to studies?

Yet again, one more term of studies have gone and I am now in the self evaluation mode.

Before we wonder if I have joined a course or am in some distance education program, let me tell you that it is neither. I am just an ordinary mother trying to figure out the marks that my ordinary kids have earned in their first terminal exams (only two months of studies before their Summer holidays). Every term begins with a resolution to take my kids through their lessons daily and before I even try to begin they are already into their Unit Tests and then the Term Exams and so they have reached 6th and 7th standards.

Do we really have to slog so hard with them? Is it necessary for them to score high marks in each subjects? Here in Gulf( I am sure elsewhere too), it is not only the weak that go for tuitions but also the brightest students. The marks that they score in their Board Exams as each year progress is mind boggling. I believe this can be achieved only if one focuses completely on one’s studies (if one is not a genius). This would also mean that the kid will have time for no other activities and so also the parents. In most houses the TV will be either banned totally or switched on sparely. And come exam time in most homes, no visitors shall be allowed into your homes and you will not get out of yours too.

Our daughter is consistent and she does her best, although I am sure she can score much better marks if either I or a tuition teacher cajole her. But on talking to my son’s class teacher I understood that he is not the “studying” kind since he is not scoring good marks for all the subjects. But since I am his teacher at home (as time permits), I think he is not a total dumbo but grasps concepts quiet easily. But then boys will be boys they say and he is happier to play with his cars or the computer.

And then comes the villain (mine) – tuitions. The Class Teacher did hint that she takes tuitions when I went for the Parent – Teacher meeting. Should I give up my stubbornness and sent them? Will our kids benefit from spending some more hours studying concepts which should have been taught in school? While I try to weigh the pros and cons, I am still convinced that they ought to study at their own pace and that we as parents better be satisfied with what they bring home. Looking at their marks, I understand that I never did any better during my school days when the syllabus was much easier. But then the competition was not that high too. And when the teachers talks about those kids who score good marks etc, I do want mine to score those marks which they were scoring in lower classes. But now the sylabus is tougher and the teachers go full speed with the lessons.

And only today I read what Roop has written so well in her blog . She quotes from an article in Indian Express where the author laments in not finding the right candidate during the interview for the top B-schools, although the candidates have passed one of the toughest examination in the country.

Of course I may be wrong since my kids are not highly intelligent and they may be in need of extra help. But for now I am just going to renew my resolution and give a part of my time, while the kids will continue to indulge in their favourite TV shows, amidst my constant reminders to sit and study (over the phone at work and while I am doing things other than teaching them while at home).

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Thanks to blogging

This time cricket was not number one priority for my Hubby and hence we did not get to watch the IPL. But suddenly with the children gone to their grandparents to enjoy their Summer Holidays, we were left with too much time in our hands and we remembered the finals that were being played that day. It was easier earlier to from an allegiance with a team, but this time especially since I was not following the game I just couldn’t decide. I wanted both the team to win! The predicament ended when I got a long distance call from my long lost friend. I have to thank blogging and especially my blogger friend (who also happens to be my friend’s sister) for having made this happen. The last time I saw my friend was during my wedding and that too briefly. We tried to catch up with all those years in 20 minutes. While recalling our college mates and those moments that we spent together, we also discovered that much change had occurred in all these years in ourselves and our friends.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The last say........

Let me have the last say on this topic of fake healers and pastors since this is my blog.

Frankly speaking, I never expected such aggressiveness from some of the readers. But I let them rant and rave to the point of throwing insults (from people who claim to have come closer to God) to expose the so called “Believers” who seems to have discovered “something” which the rest of us have do not have. These are the followers of the so called “Healers” and “Pastors” who are on a direct mission from God. The comments made one our friends say that it has made him hate the so called “born agains” even more, while others (specially my Hubby) thought that I was too mild in answering them or some felt that I should not have published the comments at all. While I thank each for their concern, I feel I had to do what I did.

I believe faith starts from home and I am thankful that my parents handed over to me solid faith to carry me through this life. While I don’t deny completely the role of the traditional churches in this, on landing in Gulf soon after my marriage I had only my Hubby to lean upon and on facing many difficulties and hurdles, I did not have to run to anyone but God. The prayers of mine and of those who loved me carried me on. The support system of family, friends and church doesn’t work here in Gulf for most of us and we are left on our own during the initial years. But God was there at every difficult moment of my life. And yes, I faced many difficulties since I had left a “comfort zone” for a life that was completely different. I can call some of them "miracles" too. But I still have a long way to go and I am still learning but I am thankful that God has given me the intelligence to discern.

Let the Government,the Traditional Churches and the public do what they should do....

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In Denial Mode...

Just like Santhosh Madhavan and other’s even Thanku Brother is in the denial mode at present. As for his followers like Thomas, they are either too shocked to digest the news or they knew all along. Was amused to see that none of the major print and TV media picked up the news earlier, specially the ones popular among the Christians. They had to wait until the youth wing of the BJP marched to the “Heavenly” premises.

Never knew that Thanku had gone a step ahead and recruited even a District Medical Officer. A raid is going on today to unearth further evidence.

Miracles do happen and God works through people. A doctor is an instrument in God’s hands. Your prayer can lead you to the right doctor and the right medicines. But I was shocked to watch this DMO say on TV that there is no need of any medicines. This brought to my mind about the death of a boy who was my younger sister’s class mate in school. Though he was a bright student he was often sick since he was suffering from a heart disease. The problem was that the parents refused to continue medicines since they became a part of a Christian sect who believed that God alone will cure him without any medical treatments. His death in class 9th affected his classmates a lot. When they went to the funeral they were even more shocked to see the Pastor busy preaching while the Parents seemed to not mind about the death.

People like Thomas feels that moving away from the traditional churches solves all their problems without realizing that they would be at the mercy of the so called Pastors and Gurus. Even the Church cannot solve your problems until you yourself have faith.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Our faith is so fickle; it requires tickling...

And finally the day has dawn......

The last 2 weeks we were forced to switch from one channel to the other (Kerala has almost 14 regional channels!) hoping to catch the latest update on the various “kalla” Swamis. The scenes were better than any reality shows with a gun wielding swami shooting rampantly and then even screaming with pain. Of course, one will never know the political connections behind them since both the major parties are involved.

All along, Hubby and I were wondering when more religious “gurus” will be unearthed. It is common knowledge that world over, religion is now the most commercialised and every religious text and its leaders has been sold many times over. And being a Christian myself, I am not aware of the Hindu Swamis but am aware of many Christian spiritual gurus. We have Malayalam channels dedicated exclusively for these “gurus” and each episode of 30 minutes or more can cost IRS 8000 to IRS 35,000 or even more. Besides the daily appearance in these channels, these “gurus” find precious time to visit other countries too. As everyone knows, visiting US would yield dollars and visiting Kuwait yields dinars.

Now today, we have heard the news that we were waiting to hear since some time. A raid is being conducted at the place of the famed “Thanku Pastor” of the “Heavenly Feast Church”. He seems to have no answer to the source of his income.

Kuwait was "blessed" to have Thanku Pastor not once but many times. Today while checking his website I came upon an interesting “miracle”. It is under the section “Sow your seeds and pick your gift” where audio and video messages are given away.

By the way, it is not sold like in others and their FAQ section cleverly says so...

Q: “How can I get the resources (media releases) of Heavenly Feast?

A: There are no products from Heavenly Feast. But for those who support us in the missions will be given a ACD,VCD or DVD as per request. LOL!

Now for the miracle!

This is one of the latest releases from Heavenly Feast Media Ministry which features the testimony of our dear Grandma Ammini who died on her way to new york,went to heaven,met Jesus and returned back to life.
Watch this amazing video!

This poor Ammachi must be now wishing she had never boarded that plane to New York, if she ever did!

And while in Kuwait, I was told that people witnessed much healing and miracles. (one poor supporter did die on stage and the healer could do nothing since he had to board the plane to the next destination - Singapore)

I asked one of my friends, a staunch supporter of Thanku to give me the phone number of these witnesses so that I can have a chat. Alas.. no phone numbers! I was also told that he raised many to life in his home town Kottayam! Are the Kottayam residents sleeping? I mean, isn’t it time they demolished those hospitals and gave that beautiful town some breathing space? And at the rate these miracle healing and healing minsters are multiplying, we should soon have the profession of doctors scrapped away.

To think that there are educated people from all Christian denominations and other religions who flock to such gatherings!

I am in no way saying that miracles do not happen. It can happen depending upon ones faith and we already have it in the Bible. “If one has faith as small as a mustard seed, one can ask the mountain to move away and it will”. If each one of us had even a miniscule of this faith in us, we wouldn’t be flocking to these so called healers and preachers. We would have prayed for it to happen and then watched the result. And that is what keeps these “Fake” gurus ticking. Our faith is so fickle that it requires tickling.

And they are not just ticking, they are growing by leaps and bounds. Reliable sources said earlier and now being confirmed that he has built a mansion costing 2 crore in his home town of Kottayam. Like a smart businessman he has also diversified his business. I believe those working closely with him benefits greatly from him while the money keeps pouring from the thousands of believers spread across the globe. Even a penny from the listening believers can add to the coffers. He could also have other source of income which the police should unearth.

He has a shady background which is well known but unfortunately even this has added to his popularity! He used his past to “witness” on his spiritual enlightenment. Ahh.. the tricks of the trade! Who wouldn’t want to sympathise and relate with the lost sheep now come home to the Shepherd. Earlier the text of his “witnessing” was to be seen on his website but now I cannot find it.

Hubby was always greeted with stern faces if he ever mentioned about these so called “Healers” and priests who gathered income beyond their means. The common line being “We have no right to judge others but only God can judge”. Trick no 2.

The coming days are going to be exciting. We will soon see many “gurus” going into hiding. I only hope the public will cooperate and show restraint. I also hope that those who are honestly serving the poor and needy are spared.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The lure of money

CHENNAI: For the third consecutive day on Tuesday, people came in large numbers to the office of the Commissioner of Police in Egmore and lodged criminal complaints against the Gold Quest and its directors.

Additional police personnel were deployed at the entrance of the Commissionerate to regulate the crowd.Thorough examination Commissioner of Police G. Nanchil Kumaran told The Hindu that the police would thoroughly examine all petitions and take stern action against the accused, if they were found to have cheated the public.

So far, they had received about 900 complaints, the Commissioner said.
Last week, the police had sealed the company’s premises near the Chetpet police station.

Agents and some staff of the company who had information about the functioning of the company are being investigated.

When will we ever learn that making money is not easy? One cannot make hard money by quick means and expect it to be legal too.

Don’t we all see this bare truth around us: among our friends, our colleagues, those who work in high or low positions and even in business? Unless of course he gets a lottery.

The recent scam.. or the age old scam is the “Gold Quest” or re-christened Quest International (QI) pyramid style chain business.

Even me and hubby were approached as early as 1998 to take part in this scheme and kept on receiving further invitations’. One of Hubby’s friend and colleague came home and gave a presentation stating the merits of the scheme. The bottom line was making extra bucks during the free time. All one had to do was give around 175 KD (almost 30,000 IRS), whereby one gets either a “unique” wrist watch or a NUMISMATIC gold coin and then lure others to join the scheme. If your “Left” and “Right” prospers so do you! But Hubby was dead against such schemes, reminding me of the various schemes that had left many cheated and few rich. Thankfully I was too busy trying to bring up the little ones to bother about the "left" and "right". I did wonder how this scheme can work since the purchase is made only once and there was no other means of income. People who lose money in scams like Goldquest are encouraged to blame themselves for that. They are told that they did not work hard enough. And they have a disclaimer at their website that beats them all..

And upon reading more about “Gold Quest”, I came to know that this company was already facing ban from Nepal as early as 2003 and in Srilanka, Philipines and Iran in year 2004-7 And there were arrests in Chennai in year 2003 where the company’s Indian head quarters is located. They say Mrs. Chidambaram was appointed as the legal advisor to this company. I think people still refuses to believe that the company is cheating since many high ranking politicians and cine stars are its patron. The company has also ventured into other business using the money collected from millions.

Here in Kuwait many of my ex-colleagues and friends are a part of this scheme. One left his job and started an office in India to continue the business. I am not sure how many of them made money and I am not even sure if they are all aware that this company is cheating. Our neighbour is still busy recruiting fresh candidates from company camps. These unsuspecting candidates must have given all what they saved from their meagre salary. I am sure some have made money on the expense of others.

GoldQuest International – 2000

About Us
• GoldQuest is a company retailing gold products.
• GoldQuest finds its customers through word-of-mouth advertising otherwise known as interactive marketing.
• GoldQuest pays commissions to its customers for introducing other customers, who purchase products from GoldQuest..
• GoldQuest utilizes the strength of the best network structure available today for the distribution of its commissions.

Company Background

GoldQuest International Ltd. was formed by diverse but formidable entities: an investment group from the EU and Asean as well as an Asian team of industry leaders with extensive networking experience called the V-TEAM. This powerful fusion of corporate and networking expertise has laid a strong foundation for the stable existence of the company that is dedicated to building opportunities not just for itself but for all of its customers.

GoldQuest is led by the honorable corporate chairman, Mr. Aulis Juhana Makitalo, who worked for many years with internationally respected agencies such as the United Nations Development Fund and the Asian Development Bank. Assisting him are various international directors whose special fields of expertise propel the company into a new millennium of dynamic expansion and growth.

And to top it Dato’ Vijay was invited by the Indian government to speak at Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas.. now we just have to wait for the government to give him a Padma Shri

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gender.. cont

Let me continue my previous post on Gender Equality since KK thinks I have been unfair in my opinion. But before that let me state that I am not an FCP and I do enjoy being a mother, a wife and whatever role this world has bestowed upon the female population. It is just that sometimes it is a thankless job and then where else but my blog can I rumble.

As for the mention of religion, your observation is correct but I was under the impression that at least Hinduism with numerous female Goddesses is not thus. But upon reading about Female Foeticide and exploring further: thanks to links provided by and gathered through my blog friends, every religion including Hinduism does play a role in gender discrimination. Now I have no idea about the Hindu scriptures although I did try to read Bhagawad Gita but couldn’t continue for some reasons. I personally have not taken my religion very seriously and hate to be tied down to religious orders and rituals. I may do so just to appease those whom I care for. But I do hope I will be given a fair chance to work this one out with the Almighty when I meet him (?) personally!

The Indian Homemaker writes thus under Simple Patriarchy or Religion in Unchaahi. I love reading her since she makes every subject interesting.

Our dislike of daughters is deep rooted. It's in our culture. Next time you attend a traditional kua poojana (ceremony on birth of a baby boy); see someone fasting for their son's long life; next time you see a woman being blessed to 'doodho nahao, pooto phalo';..Next time you read/watch in our popular epics, how all powerful women are mothers' of sons (anywhere from one to about a hundred sons); next time you read/hear bhajans of baby hood of our popular male gods ask yourself; when did we ever, EVER want daughters? It's in our roots. Women in India had just one purpose, to give birth to sons! Many of them think they still have just that one use.

Check this article out on Female Foeticide in India

Our society is a complex of thousands of years of religious, cultural and circumstantial history. The freedom and respect for women in the vedic and post vedic periods has been eroded by successive waves of invasion and occupation, when victors treated the women of India as spoils of victory. The reaction was to put women behind ‘purdah’ by creating social norms which took away their freedom, rights and liberties, thus putting them at the mercy of men. Their visibility as intellectuals, artists, leaders and fighters disappeared. Thus, while Hindu men continued with their Devi or Goddess worship, the living devi was buried deep by these very same men.

Then here is a link provided by my blog friend Maddy:

Religion, Literacy, and the Female-to-Male Ratio in India
Vani K. Borooah and Sriya Iyer*

Against this background, the purpose of this paper is to propose a new idea: to show that, far from being independent of each other, the sex ratio and family size by
religion are highly related. At its plainest, girls in India may be least at risk with Muslim parents and most at risk with parents who are caste Hindus.

We can brush all these ideas away but as Maddy commented, gender bias is here to stay for a long time and we can continue analysing the reasons for the same. It could be because of various cultural invasions or religious orders and we cannot blame a particular religion for what is happening within that religion too.

Oh.. it is a very complex subject but we need a change.

The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.

Charles Kettering

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's day and Gender unpacked

The other day our daughter studying in Class 7, asked me the following question. “Traditionally a girl child is preferred over a boy”. She was answering the True or False questions at the end of her Social Studies Lesson and she did not know the answer. She also may have been shocked to know that such issues existed in her world.

I was curious to know more about the lesson and the way it was taught. It is called “Unpacking Gender – Social Aspects” and there are two chapters devoted to this subject. This book approved by the NCERT Syllabus 2005 is one from “Milestones” which is a series of Social Studies text books for Classes 6, 7 & 8 It is by an author named Joyita Chakrabharti, Social Science Coordinator, Delhi Public School – Noida.

So finally we do have a mention of Gender inequality in our text books. At least there are attempts to bring this issue to light and create awareness. It also talks about female foeticide.

The following are some excerpts:

It concludes by saying that there is a solution with the following text:

The Indian Constitution guarantees equal rights to men and women. The Direct Principles of State Policies are aiming in ensuring equal pay for men as well as women for equal work. The new Inheritance law ensures that sons, daughters and their mother get an equal share in the property. The right to Education ensures education for every boy and girl below the age of 14 years. Government is making efforts to promote education among girls so that they are aware of their rights and are given equal opportunities for progress.

I asked my daughter how this lesson was taught and she said that the male teacher just read it through and his explanation for that was that it is a general subject! Of course it is a tricky subject to be taught by a male from a male oriented society that is in India. He sure must be thinking like the rest of his counter parts:
What is wrong if women are treated second to the men? Haven’t we done it since ages? Doesn’t our religion teach us to do so? He must be also remembering his female colleagues who are teaching alongside him and wondering why they should be complaining. I think for most this subject is totally out of context and doesn’t need to be given much thought. Mainly because he is not seeing the effects personally. The same holds for a part of the female population too.

This also reminds me that today is Mother’s day and I read this article from “The Times of India” that India is a bad place to be a mum.

According to a global survey that looked at where mothers fare best and where they face the greatest hardships, India is ranked a dismal 66th among 71 "less developed countries" — only slightly better than countries like Swaziland, Papua New Guinea and Nigeria.

Is this really true or is it another of those reports to be brushed away?

And a reader comments thus: Madhavi , U.S.A , says: Indian mother is the epitome of love and sacrifice! No mother anywhere in the world can beat the love of an Indian mother. She gives and gives and expects nothing in return. She will forgo food to feed her young. She will go to any length to educate her child even if she is an illiterate. LONG LIVE INDIAN MOTHER!

Isnt this true and isnt this what the majority of Indian mothers are doing. Although I do believe Mother’s all around the globe are no different. They do a lot of sacrifice in these difficult times.

Talking about Indian mothers, she may be educated or uneducated, she may be working or not working, but she has always given the first priority to her family.

With priority comes a sacrifice too. And for working women, it becomes even more difficult since she is expected to work inside her house too. Compared to the mothers working from home (even if she is doing housework she is working since if you had hired a maid you would be paying her), those working outside may have more freedom since she is also earning. But the burden each carries is the same. I can speak for the working since I am working too. Cooking and caring for the children is expected of the mothers since most men don’t know it otherwise. Every women does it, so it why is one person complaining and getting a good maid to help around is not easy for all. But when this burden becomes too high it can lead to serious problems within the family for some.

I am not implying that all men are cruel and offer no help. There are Fathers especially in the Gulf who shares equal or more burden with the mother if the working hours of the wife are erratic. But generally speaking, I would like to agree with the Times of India report.

I guess it would take a while to get things in the right track and for a mother to be truly appreciated in this mad world of ours.

And to end this, I am sure there are many like our own son, who while reading with me the topic on Gender equality, commented thus “Umph – I think the girls are treated better than the boys in the classes” and he gave me examples too. So I should say that things are changing for the better!

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