Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mumbai Meri Jaan!

LOL This is funny title. I haven't lived in Mumbai, not yet. I haven't spent much time here. In fact, I desperately wanted to explore the city. That's why I am here. This time. :)

I keep hearing people say 'Mumbai Meri Jaan'. So, I couldn't think of better title.
[I titled as Mumbai. One can call it Bombay as well. Let's be fair, and call it Mumbay :D]

Things are going good so far. It's quite hot here, and was surprised that there is nothing like winter here. This is just first day, still lots of places to visit. Meanwhile, I am reading The Maximum City by Suketu Mehta about the city, Bombay to Mumbai to Mumbay. This book is interesting and  just finished first few chapters which cover 90s Hindu-Muslim riots.

I am exploring this great/not so great city on foot and also through book. The book explains Bombay to great degree of reality, just like this.

On Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, Sunil (Shiv Sena local leader and cable operator) broadcasts a pornographic film on his cable network. The requests for porn often come from his female subscribers.
While exploring city, I plan to pen down here on my blog. I hope I will get some time to seat aside and pause for the city where millions of people live, struggle, fulfill dreams and watch pornography. 

(Note: Promise broken. I wanted to blog so many things about Mumbai. I was busy enjoying there. Seems like it been almost a month since then.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Learn English. Get Married!

Yesterday, I was talking on skype with a friend half away around the world. He has a good paying job. After High School he left the college and opted for employment. He has been lucky to be employed. He is still not satisfied. He wants to learn English and complete his college.

I liked what he is trying to do. Not that he is returning to college, but fact that he wants to learn something. Learning is life long process and most of people stop learning after school. That's what he is trying to avoid. He wanted some help/suggestion from me since we came from similar background.

We went to Government/Public School. I used to be considered as brightest student in school (Don't believe me :P). But fact was that I was barely able to read even English newspaper. That was worse than imagined. I felt defeated. Then, my only mission at that time was to improve English. Later, I became member of a public library, and within six months I was able to read National Geographic, Charles Dickens and Isaac Asimov and actually made sense out of those great writings.

Enough. I am not going to write my whole biography. Let's move ahead.

So, why should we learn English?
  1. To get married (very useful).
  2. To put bread on your mouth every evening you come home (quite useful). None denies this fact. English is universal language. Internet and mobile devices will make it more popular, since translation and localization is still pain on ass. The use of English is only going to increase. And the local language you currently use will probably die within few decades. This is neither bad nor good. It's evolution. And if you ask me, evolution is good.

    Only politicians are against English language. Those are all parasites who have never learned to live on their own. They never understand the value of things that matters to people. One day they might say; not English, learn native language.
    Tell them: Fuck Off.

Well, you might be thinking that I made a joke on first point: one should learn English just to get married. It's not joke at all. It's reality. It's quiet reality in India. People in North speak Hindi, Tamil in South, Marathi and Gujarati in West, Nepali/Bengali in West. Heck, what if someone from New Delhi wants to marry and only matched partner he/she finds on SimplyMarry.com is from Chennai? Nothing works here, but English. The only way to say 'Will you marry me?' is in English. I don't know how to say it in Bengali, Gujarati and hundreds of other local shits languages.

Power of English, now we are quite aware. I gave following suggestions to my friend. This might be helpful to anyone who wants to improve English. And if someone comes to me and again asks how to learn English, I will just point to this post :) Don't think I wrote it for you, it's for me :P Here are my suggestions.
  1. Watch English Movies/TV Channels/Documentaries/Music Videos. If you want to learn Hinglish, never miss Bollywood.
  2. Listen to English songs. Try to understand the lyrics. That's real fun thing.
  3. Read simple books first. Then, again read books. And again read read books.
  4. Use facebook/twitter/Google. Turn off your local language support.
  5. Speak. Make people laugh. And again make them laugh. When you make more mistakes, you learn more. There is no other way to improve speaking, just speak.
  6. Only associate with people who speak English. All of your life, you were with people who never tried to break the comfort zone, now you break it. Follow people whose skills you want to steal.
  7. Use Internet. I find resources on almost all the subjects/topics I am interested. This is brand new world created by technology. Google about the word, pronunciation, usage and everything.
  8. Read blogs. Read all of the posts here :) Regularly visit the blogs of your interest. Write your own blog. Share with me. Share with others. That's another fun thing.
Are these points (mis)-useful? You are on your own risk!

Friday, September 23, 2011

India's Dream of Californication!

Last week, Pune's Hard Rock Cafe at East Main Road was playing loud Red Hot Chilli Papers. I like that song. Not exactly the theme but music. In fact I like the twisted meaning of Californication.

US is wonderful country. California is state of fame, in different ways. Normal folks think it is all about Hollywood. Others think it is place where fortunes are made with nothing but ideas backed by all the madness. Many think Washington DC rules the world. I have big doubt. It is small town named Silicon Valley in California that actually rules this world. Thus, word Californication!

Now my own meaning of Californication is clear. Let's come to title. Is India dreaming? To be specific, of Californication? Yes. Big big Yes. In fact some say Bangalore is Silicon Vally in East. Some are so proud of Infosys. High tech service industry is all done here. That's great. There are some discussion going on Quora that this country is having start-ups Renascence. I agree lot's of things are going on. Check any particular weekend for tech related events, you won't be able to attend all of them (Apart from big corporate hangouts). Visit some colleges, I am quiet sure that you will see banners ads which says 'Join us and get your ass kicked!'


OK then, is there any Indian city head to head with Silicon Valley? I think it is not fair to compare any Eastern cities with Silicon Vally. In fact, it is totally unfair (at least for now). Everything differs between these two places. But I would have loved to call any cities here 'Innovation Hub', or 'Geeks Playground' along with 'Meditation Center' or 'Tourist Paradise'.

May be that's not just Fantasy.      

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Even Gods in India are Chinese

Yes, all Gods in India are in fact Chinese. You will quickly protest here. Don't do. Hindus have more Gods then we can ever count. And you know what, it's good. More Gods, more profits to crazy guys in China.

China has some interesting features which not a single country in World seems to snatch. They build cheap, sell cheap and earn big. Why? Though their products are cheap, they have big market; the whole world, thus big profit.

Recent most interesting trend is 'what's happening in India's Godsville'. While Pune and Mumbai is celebrating their biggest annual event Ganesh Festival, other cities also seems to have similar festivities going on. During these festivals, each family needs a God idol [An idol for each person if possible. Sounds like personal councilor :P]. That means Indians literally need hundreds of millions of Idols if not billions. They used to use idols of clay before Chinese knew about Indian Gods. Now news report says almost everyone uses Idols imported from China. The bigger demand, the bigger smile on those Chinese faces. They don't get tired. They are happy. They were always happy since 1980s. After all, they are creators of the Gods.

This is pretty interesting. Folks, now what I request to you is don't say you are saviour of your culture. Don't shout out loud about Hindutva. Don't even bother about 'Sodesi'. Don't believe on Mahatma Gandhi [wait a minute; at least on his economic principles. Everyone knows what hunger is and father exactly taught how not to be productive to be hungry]. If anyone still says Indian culture is such a static thing that never changes, you are fucked up. Yes...by those crazy Chinese.

Nothing to worry about though. India runs the machine around the World with it's software right? May be the banks where those Chinese keep their big chunk of profits is powered by your small tricky software. Even though Gods are now Chinese, blessing doesn't only belong to them. :) 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dump Windows. Use Linux (Ubuntu)

It feels great. Exactly same time two weeks ago, I was writing my post on Microsoft Windows. I dumped it. Now, I am writing on Linux (Ubuntu 11.04).

Why I switched? Well, various reasons. First, it is concept of freedom that Linux carries. Second, I am fed up with windows especially pirated software (I had licensed Windows though. But we hesitate to pay Office Suite/Anti-Virus etc. $***** right?). Third is to support Open Source-FOSS movement [Yes, I mean open here not free] and to get source code myself.

With the help of my Software Developer cum philosopher friend, Linux mission finally completed with installation of Ubuntu 11.04 on my machine. To my surprise, it is beyond my expectation. Most people believe Linux is for geeks, they are simply wrong. General users can use it if they can use Windows. (Ubuntu distro obviously)

LibreOffice does everything MS Office can do. I am writing this post on LibreOffice Word and No I don't miss MS Word. Word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawing, using formula all piece of cake.

For video and audio needs, there is VLC Media player that plays almost every formats we see there. Firefox is default browser. Tomboy do all the note taking jobs. Evolution handles E-mail, calender and To-Dos.

Most useful feature is that you don't have to install drivers for USB Data travellers and Mobile phones. No drivers required as in windows. Even no installation required. Simply plug-in and play. You can connect to USB Netconnect and Mobile Broadband/GPRS without any installation, which is if you ask me...Super COOL.

And you know another coolest thing? You don't get viruses on Linux. If you have suffered from virus attacks (I am sure, you are), format it. Reinstall. Not Windows. (Imagine you don't need to pay for regular medical check-up. Healthy forever.)

In addition to all these features that really well compete with Windows, I find it faster than Windows. It starts faster, it's better and Ubuntu 11.04 Unity feature looks sexy. So, why not switch to Linux?

  1. Only thing I miss is OneNote. (No. I don't mean Windows. But Office OneNote was one application that was very very useful and alternative is not yet developed for Linux.)
  2. I use Linux 99.99% of my total computer use. I do have Windows along with Linux, but I no more use it. No more viruses please.
  3. Ubuntu disro is most famous Linux. Latest version 11.04 [They named it Natty Narwhal]

Ubuntu Software Center makes installing applications easier than on Windows. Simply search and click install. All done. Net connection required. But, if you are voracious machine user and do lots of tweaks, then all the software needed might not be available there. Downloading form other sites and installing seems quiet time consuming.
You read this post? Really? Then Dump Windows, Use Linux.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Don't Fu**ing Care About the 'Caste'

Two of the deeply rooted caste based societies are South Asia (Some parts of greater Asia too) and Africa. Being a South Asian, I have learned how to survive in the fragmented society.

In my childhood, I was not supposed to eat with other friends who came from lower caste. Over the time I have tried to forget all things related to 'caste'. Nowadays, I don't even care about it. Recently, I met one of my close school friend. He is pursuing undergraduate course at a famous college. We talked about our old school days, the fun we used to have and plan for the future. Later he told me that he hasn’t revealed his caste/last name to his college mates.

Why? I used to think that thing called 'caste' is slowly fading away. I still do. My conversation with that friend rather showed gloomy picture. He says that there are still mental harassment. And that’s too among young people. A WTF moment of my life!

Looking on history pages, it is clear that most of southern/eastern caste system was created for interdependence. Certain task was assigned to certain group. This sounds great. But later, same economic system became base of our fragile society. Those who were assigned high profile knowledge based jobs became Brahmins. Skilled workers and army men came after them. Rest poor, minority and uncategorized got tagged as 'untouchable'.

New India's liberal leaders fought against this system and made 'untouchability' illegal. But story doesn't end here. India is one of the notorious countries for caste based harassment.  (Note: I still do wonder and praise this nation for communal harmony though)

Apart from social issues, I have another reason to hate the system. Our caste based system prohibits creativity and innovation. When job of Brahmin is only to read bhajans and of Shudra is to supply labor, nowhere can we think of innovation. Creativity is beautiful thing, and often hard to find. When knowledge of various fields is combined with day to day work/experiment (Or call it labor/work/skills), there we can expect continuous improvement and innovation. Knowledge + Skills = Innovation. Western society is built on this foundation. Our society is fragmented, thus no innovation.

Rise of caste based politics is worst thing we can expect in 21st century. One of the worst example of caste politics is Nepal.  When Maoist were fighting against powerful state, the purely used caste on their advantage. They declared separate state for each and every caste out there, and persuaded to bomb the Kingdom. Interestingly, they somewhat succeeded. When warriors became rulers, they started to feel the pain. Now, the party and the whole country is fragile. And what Maoist can see further is their own graveyard. They have two choices, either to reincarnate or vanish. Their guru Mao hasn't got incarnation, so I don't expect them too. They might probably vanish.

New economic order demands greater interdependence. Only a fool can give/demand his identity based on 'caste'. An individual can truly feel safe and be happy in a casteless society.  In fact, that is true freedom. Same recipe that makes individual happy, makes country powerful.

Yet odds are all around. I met another friend in a café. While talking, I came to know she is soon to be married. She also told me her family fully supports the plan. Why? "Because he comes from Brahmin family". Laughing my ass off. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lavasa: Future of the Future City

Last Sunday, I went to Lavasa for short summer ride. It is only 42 Kms far from Pune and almost 200 Kms from Mumbai. We were group of six people with three motor bikes on the road. We crossed the Pune-Mumbai Expressway bypass road and our trip kicked off in the morning.

Soon after about 10 Kms, it started to rain. It was heavy rain, so we took first break (I). There was a small tea shop. We were excited, tea didn't taste good, but we were loving it. Cool weather raining outside, good company and green views were all that mattered.

After almost 35 Kms, we stopped for second break (II). We took some photos. Then got grilled corns on roadside. We liked that, demanded more. There were so many people selling vegetables, fruits and corns all locally grown. Whole members of family were selling.

Finally we reached Lavasa (III) :) It was lunch time. First of all, we went for lunch.

This was the third time I visited the hill city. Last year in August, I went there for the first time. It was work in progress. Again I went there in January. Construction was stopped. It is still stopped 'work in progress'. Some court orders!

The newly planned Independent India's first hill city is facing some of the toughest setbacks. Issues like environmental clearance, land acquisition and corruption. Bombay High court had ordered to stop construction. The future city faces mainly two controversies.

First obviously is Environmental Damage: I think very few people agree with this one. I suggest anyone to visit Lavasa and observe it. The project has made it greener if it has done anything wrong at all. And you know who is Jairam Ramesh.

Second one is Land Acquisition. Well, this is controversial everywhere in developing countries except in China. This would not be so even if it was in State of Gujarat. Some NGOs are working hard to make on news headlines. I never came to understand what NGO/INGOs are meant for.

It's obvious, tremendous benefit will go to locals. Come back to my initial point. Locals are selling tea/coffee(I). They are getting money out of everything that can be produced in the area. (II) This is almost impossible if there was no Lavasa. We spent almost triple on that trip than we normally do in our city life (III) It directly went to local people's pocket. 

Interestingly, a recent Marathi movie was shoot in Lavasa. In the scene, I hear that a local girl meets super rich NRI and marries. Who is there to object? Events like this can happen. Billions of investment in a particular place is a big deal. Lavasa has built highway, offered employment to thousands of people contributing significant amount of GDP to Maharashtra.

This is very ambitious project; building entire new community out of nothing. They say even Oxford University is planning to set up India campus there. Infosys plans to develop it's own development center. These are just few examples. This is going to be place where 'global' will reach 'local'. Now, come up and tell to Mr. Ramesh that this is not his father's hard earned property.

PS. It is one of the best places for short summer ride from Pune and Mumbai. It drizzles daily. Greenery everywhere. You will love it. Plan your weekend! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Quote: A new university?

"If I were founding a university I would found first a smoking room; then when I had a little more money in hand I would found a dormitory; then after that, or more probably with it, a decent reading room and a library. After that, if I still had more money that I couldn't use, I would hire a professor and get some textbooks." - Stephen Leacock
Here is link to original article: Learning on the battlefield.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Curious shortage of Girls at Googleville

Google+ seems very exciting. Techeople are loving it. I am loving it.

Initially, it wasn't much fun. I joined and didn't logged in for two days. Facebook and Twitter habit.

Over the time, it's getting better and better. It has all the features to socialite, same as in real life. Circles can do good job to manage people on one's network. Sparks is just great to explore contents. Google is yet to introduce groups and pages/interests. Hangout is for real life experience.

Since few days, I am using Google+ daily. Today, I just checked my circles. Then I found, all of my friends are male.

'Girls where the hell are you?'

It has better secrecy over one's contents. At the same time, It has greater openness then any other social networks. Many people are claiming it is the backbone of social web. It might be the future.

'Now, come on! Don't be left behind. Google+ is exclusively for all of us.' Join me :)


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Date a Girl Who Reads

Announcement of the initial publication of Uly...Image via Wikipedia
"Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilightseries.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes."


(Reblogging is integral part of Tumblr. I read few blogs written on that platform and one of them is The Monica Bird.  I happily borrowed/reposted this article from the blog. I would love to date a girl who reads :P)
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Monday, July 18, 2011

Traveling through the Dark

I read this poem by William E. Stafford during my high school days. The message it tries to give is so profound and inspiring. Often in life, we have to struggle with choice between heart and mind. And I always try to go with mind. May be rational mind is the way to go. But Hey, this is just me.

Traveling through the Dark


Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.

By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car   
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;   
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.

My fingers touching her side brought me the reason—
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,   
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.

The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;   
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;   
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.

I thought hard for us all—my only swerving—,   
then pushed her over the edge into the river.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A cup of tea with 'Hindu Terrorist'

It rains daily in Pune(summer days). I love it. I need a cup of coffee to enjoy it. Yesterday, I was outside. It started to rain. Found a small café and went in. I ended up with tea. Not bad!

The tea shop owner was very frank. He talked about so many things. He also told me about different places in India where he had previously visited. He talked about North East, especially Darjeeling and Sikkim. I asked him why he went there?

'I am Hindu terrorist' he told and laughed like in hell.
Later he elaborated that he went there with bunch of Shiv Sena to attend a Ram Temple. I didn't ask more questions, because it really didn't matter to me. I paid for tea and left.

Later I could not forget his laughter for a while.  One thing remained in my mind;
Shiv Sena = Hindu Terrorists ?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Policy: World's highest drinking age and how to deal with it

Maharashtra Government recently introduced new policy  on drinking age. Well, it was 21 as minimum age for drinking. Now they have raised age bar to 25, which is world's highest. Most of countries worldwide has policies in between 18-21.

I have been wondering about it for few days. I didn't understand what caused someone to introduce this policy. I am damn sure that the policy will make things worse, if it does anything at all. Anyone can make sense out of it. 

I went to recall some statistical fact. In Pune alone, there are around 80 millions people living. In India, more than 60% of population is under 25. That comes close to 48 millions who are under 25 in Pune alone. I think most of people start to drink from the age of 15. So, the total number of drinkers between age 15-25 is 19.2 millions (almost 20 millions). This figure must be just double in Mumbai. Now, total 15-25 aged drinkers is about 60 millions. About same numbers of youths must be living in rest of Maharashtra. Hello 100 millions bright young drinkers!

Now let's talk some of things related. Policy by default, is introduced to make things better (At least this is what policymakers think) But good intention is vague term. This policy will fail badly because it is not applicable. Drinking is rooted in human civilization. In fact it is one of thing which evolved with time. People drink simply because drinking is need as well as want.  Many scholars have done research about it and most of them agree that drinking is good for health. (Over addicted is obviously not good). Basic human needs evolve over the time. In stone age, human used stones to hunt and make fire to keep them warm. They didn't have other materials. Things changed. Now we have so many things that are essential. We can't live without them. I need vehicle to move, internet and mobile to communicate, verities of foods to eat and fancy apartment to live. None of our forefathers enjoyed the life I have. Same as that. Human used fruit juice as drink. Later they learned to make different drinks out of it. Now we have hundreds of drinks branded within our reach. This has been our need.  Let's put it this way; it has been our basic human need.  And it is basic want/need of 15-25 aged. This is most active age group, thus highest needs and wants. Simple as that.

So Government is trying to make our basic need illegal. I am damn sure that making it illegal won't stop men/women from their need/wants. Making brothels illegal had never stopped gentlemen to visit again and again. This hadn't happened in human history. They will drink. They will have fun same way they used to. But problem here will be that all of us are going to be forced 'criminal'. The policy will not stop ill things, but make it worse and we 'bright young'  will be dark criminal. Some officers must be silently partying somewhere. A new regulation means, a new way of milking money out of people. Even cops in street must be cheering. They had to check driving license, now they will just see someone's face and start to show 'Mahadev ka tin netra'.

There is another irony. People are given voting right at the age of 18. Basic assumption is that they are mature enough and they can take their own decision. The same person whom those 18+ voted, now thinks that 18+s can't decide on drinking. If that is true, 18+s didn't know who is the good, the bad and the idiot. The voted for last one.

I used word 'criminal' here. Don't worry. There is way out of it. 100 million 'bright young' can rule the world.  Here are some ways we can keep having fun, legally.

  1. Drink at home. Freeze it, drink like hell. This will be no fun if you live with family. Otherwise, this is the best way to keep having fun. Most of people live off the family in this age I think or you can find a friend's house as well as company. That's your right to do whatever you want inside home right?
  2. Want to visit bars? Make some ID cards which states your age above 25. Don't know applicability, but this can be tricky.
  3. Avoid bar zones. Those places where there are so many bars and pubs. You know cops might be around. Instead, you can visit less popular places. If you happen to be in those bar zones, leave earlier than closing time.
  4. Drive down to Goa/Karnataka. I have heard that Goa offers excellent drinking culture. Obviously this is not what Goa is recognized for,  but this can be most exciting thing to do. Karnataka is also no too far way.
  5. Visit some Concan beaches, pack some drinks and enjoy! There are some of the best beaches, some are completely out of crowd. Best place to spend weekend. And it's not far from both Pune and Mumbai.

What else? Shoot out on comment section. Share if you have any other ideas? May be we will make things better over the time :)

PS:  I think if the country is young, it should believe on youths. India has badly realized that restrictions and regulations can do no good. In fact it makes things worse. This is single lesson the country learned since Independence to 1991. After that, India was freed partially, and it flew in the sky. Freedom is good thing, and it starts with an individual.

( I recommend an excellent article on Tehelka Magazine: Man Can't handle drink, at any age)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Graduate school for unemployed college students

(This is best article from my favorite Seth Godin's blog. Reposted.)

Fewer college grads have jobs than at any other time in recent memory—a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers annual student survey said that 20 percent of 2009 college graduates who applied for a job actually have one. So, what should the unfortunate 80% do?

How about a post-graduate year doing some combination of the following (not just one, how about all):
  • Spend twenty hours a week running a project for a non-profit.
  • Teach yourself Java, HTML, Flash, PHP and SQL. Not a little, but mastery. [Clarification: I know you can't become a master programmer of all these in a year. I used the word mastery to distinguish it from 'familiarity' which is what you get from one of those Dummies type books. I would hope you could write code that solves problems, works and is reasonably clear, not that you can program well enough to work for Joel Spolsky. Sorry if I ruffled feathers.]
  • Volunteer to coach or assistant coach a kids sports team.
  • Start, run and grow an online community.
  • Give a speech a week to local organizations.
  • Write a regular newsletter or blog about an industry you care about.
  • Learn a foreign language fluently.
  • Write three detailed business plans for projects in the industry you care about.
  • Self-publish a book.
  • Run a marathon.

Beats law school.

If you wake up every morning at 6, give up TV and treat this list like a job, you'll have no trouble accomplishing everything on it. Everything! When you do, what happens to your job prospects?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wanted: Manipuri/Nepali/North Eastern spa girl!

Always I write because I think I know something that people might like or get interested even if they dislike what I have to say. This is the first time I am posting because I don't know.

Somehow  I don't understand why people want Manipuri/North Eastern/Nepali girl in spas. Do they have clean sexy hand that is too touchy and people are happy to pay the money they demand? Or is it just that they are readily available? If spa is in Pune, why not recruit whole bunch of girls from Pune as well as girls form outside? Why not recruit very diverse spa girls so that guests can get whoever they want? In Delhi, why not recruit all of above as well as girls from Punjab? You know they are beautiful.

I am asking these questions because I got phone call from a friend this morning. He needs a spa girl for medical purpose and he is looking for Manipuri/Nepali/North Eastern girl for the job. He desperately need to fill that vacancy, but he is not going to recruit anyone who doesn't belong to above tags. (Great news for those who belong , you have comparative advantage over others who don't belong to place where you belong.) I asked him why doesn't he get someone from Pune?  'No, we don't want them'  is what he said.

Later I talked with a friend about it. He said, because girls who belong to those tags are more liberal than others. But being liberal is damned thing in most of South Asia. This reminded me of IPL cheerleaders. Girls cheering on those 'cash rich' games were white South Africans. They must have made lots of money. More papers to spend on lipsticks or may be some French wines.

Well, the world today is very complex. It's becoming more liberal day by day. It has to be. I need to eat some Chinese food, wear Thailand made denims, and use US invented machines daily. I have to respect them, everyone of them just because I am also one of them.  Or let me put it this way; I can't live without Chinese food. Who will go out of home without Thai denims? Man, this US made laptop is so great.
Moral? Simple, I can't exist without all these things. Voluntary exchange and mutual interest is deeply interwoven.

To you Manipuri/North Eastern/Nepali girls; I respect you as much as I respect Chinese Chef/American inventor/Thai designer. May be someday spa will be integral part of my lifestyle and I won't be able to live without you. And you know you are ahead of so many South Asians. You are global citizen!

P.S. If you are interested, don't forget to contact me before the vacancy gets filled. You might actually get the job! :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Arindham Chaudhary and the IT Act

I usually don't watch TV. Or better put it this way; I don't spend much time on TV shows. Recently, while I was in Shimla on summer vacation, I was checking facilities provided by our hotel.  I checked plugs, bed sheets, ashtrays, bathroom and everything. Then I turned on TV just to check it out whether it was working or not.

It was working. There was a man on the screen: Arindham Chaudhary.

I don't know much about this man. But, I have taken him granted  as one of youth icons in India. He or his family runs one of the most famous education franchise; IIPM. I know they do lots of advertisement,  because of that, I doubt their quality. I have heard he has written some books too. Once I found him spending lots of cash to ask people to follow him on twitter. Few people do so, and I don't think an icon should.

Most unbearable was the time when I saw him on TV. That was not some speech or talks in a program. Rather it was advertisement, a showcase of Mr. Chaudhary himself. He whole heartedly supported/shouted recently passed Indian IT Act. Almost all the youths and aware public are against it, (obviously including internet entrepreneurs and geeks) the icon comes on 21 inch flat screen and says 'It must be enforced.' (I think you have seen his self proclaimed promo)

Well, numerous articles/essays are written against the Act. I think I don't need to write one. See some of the links you can refer if you are unaware of it.


Rules that allow anybody to simply tell a website or blog to take down any content that is in your eyes “grossly harmful, hateful, invasive of others’ privacy, blasphemous, threatens friendly relations with foreign States or threatens the unity of India” among a milelong list of potential no-nos.
I’m certain any odd person can find the Shruti Haasan article “invasive of privacy”, the SKS Microfinance news “grossly harmful” to the company’s prospects, the CPM news “dangerous to State unity” and the government’s own anti- Pak claims as “threatening to friendly relations with foreign states”. And if you happen to be one of those who decides that your sentiments are hurt, all you need to do is to send a signed letter to the publisher and bingo, they are rule-bound to take it down. No legal authority to decide whether your claim is right or not but hey, the content goes down right away.

And he gives some ways to fight back.

Increasingly, online is the medium that is scaring authority everywhere, from Tunis to Tripoli to 10, Janpath. And the new rules are just that — a ham-handed approach to muzzling what’s said online. And it’s high time we did something to stop this embarrassing stupidity from being part of our canon of laws.
The first thing to do is to put this in perspective. Online is now the mainstream medium and ‘they’ know it. They are doing this because digital is now bigger than traditional media. There are already about 108 million Internet users and only about 103 million households have access to cable and satellite television.
Second, use a loophole. If you are scared about what you might say online, do so on a website that has no office in India — our laws can’t touch them.
Third, popularise the controversial content. Spread it around to friends. ‘Like’ it or retweet it.
Fourth, use it against the government. Put a thousand complaints against the government’s own websites. Start with India.gov.in and congress.org.in
Fifth, fight it. I do wait for the right case and civil society lawyers who can help stop this silly piece of legislation from changing the way we live and share information online. The Internet, as our babus will soon understand, cannot be controlled.
  

Pune, 'Oxford of the East'? Think Again!

Pune is known for 'Oxford of the East' and 'Education city of India'. While University of Pune is sole body that administers almost all the colleges in Pune which are affiliated to it, there are numerous others. Well, I think it is 'Education City of India' but I am cautious enough to say 'Oxford of the East'.

Why Education City of India?

Simply because what it is. There are thousands of students who come to Pune for a single purpose i.e. education. While other larger metros drive folks not only for education but other things job prospects, family and friends, distance etc., Pune differs here. During some annual events, I have heard that education culture is bit old. Look at Fergusson College which celebrated it's 100th anniversary last year.  It's one of classic example.

One of the main reason it makes favorite among students is cool climate. You don't feel too hot in May/June. You don’t even think about it if you have already lived in cities like New Delhi or Kolkata.  Summer starts in June till September. Light rain, cloudy everyday. Everyone loves summer. Then winter comes in Pune. It's not cold. It's cool. You don't need to carry heavy jacket or sweeter. One of the best time to be around.

Another reason many students are attracted to it is size. Bigger metros don't provide the quietness and calm environment that Pune offers. Life is not as fast as Mumbai. People are simple. I think students like that. And yeah you get good flat/room/hostel to live in, cheaper than bigger metros. Some of the famous colleges of India are in Pune. Look at some rankings, Pune don't fall far behind. It is ahead of many bigger cities. Colleges attract students themselves.

I think these things make it 'Education City of India'. You are free to debate on it.

If so, why not 'Oxford of the East'?

Again, simply because it is not Oxford. Or let me put it this way;  it's not fair to compare with Oxford. Here number of colleges doesn't count. Weather that attracts students also doesn't count. Saying that here are so many top colleges is just showcase. Top doesn't mean great. Top means better than others. It means better than other colleges in India (Mostly on undergraduate level), not the world.  I think research is one of the integral part of university life. I find not much inspiring here. University of Pune has monopoly over colleges. It is everywhere in India that almost all colleges are affiliated to a big university. Government funds these mega-trusts. They are giving return as most of Government corporations do;  negative in proportion to resources employed.

Pune is not 'Oxford of the East' simply because it has no great college/university as Oxford. It has so many colleges all average that it has forgot to make some great one. Still, I think there are some very fine colleges than in other cities. Pune deserves a good deal of education share, but not the tag people use. That is too misleading.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Create, Break Some Rules, Build! Creativity can not be Killed

I am just back from my travel to Himachal. On the way is the city of Chandigarh. 
Chandigarh is city I always wanted to travel. I had heard a lot about the city. A planned, highest per capita income and well managed city traffic. To my astonishment, the city was better on almost all my expectations. One of them was Rock Garden!
 
Frankly, I hadn't heard of it before I went there. Rock Garden? My guide was saying that it is some famous garden and one must not miss it if he/she happens to be in Chandigarh. So we went in. I was surprised to see art  and sculpture shown there. It was hand crafted, most of materials used seemed liked recycled one. And one has to stay in queue just to enter inside. Big crowd! (See a picture below)

  I could not wait to know more about the great creativity that touches mind and souls of thousands of visitors daily. After talking a while with my guide, knew about it's origination and existence.

The Rock Garden of Chandigarh was started by Nek Chand. In 1957 he began to clear a little patch of jungle to make himself a small garden area. He set stones around the little clearing and before long had sculpted a few figures recycled from materials he found at hand. Gradually Nek Chand's creation developed and grew; before long it covered several acres and comprised of hundreds of sculptures set in a series of interlinking courtyards. After his normal working day Chand worked at night, in total secrecy for fear of being discovered. 

When people did discover the garden, local government officials were thrown into turmoil. The creation was completely illegal - a development in a forbidden area. It was too great to demolish. However, rather than demolishing the garden, they decided to give Nek Chand a salary so that he could concentrate full-time on his work, plus a workforce of fifty laborers. That's what stand 'Rock Garden' in Chandigarh. Daily thousands of people visit the place to witness the creativity and to search soul on it.

Moral of story : Think out of box, break some rules, create, build. Regulations in developing countries like India are not on our favour. In fact they are not even in developed countries. Break some rules, create, build; because creativity can not be killed!  

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Deal Maker : Only Book Youths in India Ever Need!

Do you have courage to become most prosperous in the world? Do you want to wipe poverty out of this land? Do you badly hate corruption? Do you want to solve Kashmir issues? If your answer is ‘YES’ read ahead. I am not going to show some magic tricks here but after 20/30 years, things may seem magical.

 If your answer to above questions is ‘YES’ then read a book titled ‘The Deal Maker’. Seriously, I am not making fun of you. The Deal Maker is story of a village boy near Delhi – Sudesh Kumar.  It is journey from a village boy to the Prime Minister of India. Story unfolds in between.  Here is official introduction of the book.

Witness the dream of millions of Indians come true. Witness the crown of prosperity adorning the head of India. The road to opulence kick starts with the earnest actions and sharp intellect of a village boy Sudesh. From the poverty of a village to the highest political office of India, this epic of Sudesh’s journey is woven beautifully with the epic of a rising India. It is a miraculous yet believable, a struggling yet zealous, an overwhelming yet humble account of how one man takes India to undreamt of wealth.

Let me put few points I admire about the book

   1. It’s about future. The novel starts from the year 1989. But wait, it goes till 2024 and beyond. Few past years seem exactly as our past. Birth, education and growth. However, future seems very fascinating. A village boy grows in a small village, fortunately travels to New York and finally makes to highest political office. His journey is challenging, fascinating and heart wrenching.

2.       Places are familiar. Last time I was in Kathmandu at the time of book launch. Speaker at the event Anil Chitrakar said “The places on the novel are familiar, that makes me feel like it’s my story”. The events are interwoven in urban as well as rural farms that you will actually feel like you are Sudesh yourself.

3.       Each time you read, story gets more real. There is a police officer fighting hard to control crimes rate, a family struggling hard for living, a girl who goes in brothels for money to send her brother school, a tech-geek turned millionaire entrepreneur, and boy obsessed with cricket. They all make story whole. Its novel, still feels like its real.
4.       You learn how economics works in real life.  Wadhwa teaches great economic lessons while telling engaging story. Why everyone in US have royal like lifestyle, and so many in India still starve? What went wrong with India? What motivates human being? Why AirIndia makes millions of losses? These questions will be answered. You don’t need to worry, story does teach everything.

5.       Free Economic Zones. Brilliant idea.  Here Wadhwa propose to create Free Economic Zones which are geographically part of India, but are free from any kind of administrative regulations. Low tax rate, no trade unions, free from political intererance as key features. This makes great sense. Our bureaucratic system badly needs these kinds of creative ideas. This region in the world map is one of the most hardworking and it can be productive too provided that they are set free.

6.       Liberty and Prosperity. Sudesh establishes a new party. I have heard that a section on Indian constitution is added and only socialist can register a political party. But, don’t worry. The author is law graduate and he must have figured it out legally. He hasn’t told much on the book but it gives enough inspiration to those who are looking something fresh and new in age old socialist democracy.

7.       Prime Minister is nailed. Later Sudesh is caught on a mistake he had made earlier. He is happy here and accepts rule of law. He thinks none can be above the law of the land. Every one of us accepts it right?
8.       Kashmir issue is solved. Everyone knows how hard it is to deal between India and Pakistan and primary issue is Kashmir. Sudesh has solved it using trade between two as means. Many readers will be skeptical of Wadhwa’s idea. I think new creative ideas need to be generated and tested. Nothing is working in what these two countries are on. The great new world needs different ways.

9.       India becomes largest and most prosperous country in the world.  Many economists are also predicting same. Unlike economists and data, Wadhwa gives complete details about what it takes to make on the top in the form of story.

Finally what I admire about book is its author. He says this book was conceived 25 years ago by himself. After those odd years he has given a precious gift. He has earlier written another book titled ‘India, 3rd World Why?’ in which he had advocated that ‘India can become larger than US’. He was right at that time. In 1991 liberalization started and India took off. Many people are saying same now.

So question here is ‘Are you gonna be real Sudesh Kumar?’ Make this book your guide and you should get enough inspiration to move ahead. If you love to read, there are plenty of other resources too.

[Mr. Wadhwa is Executive Director of Everest Hotel in Kathmandu. He regularly writes in leading international dailies and the book was published by Rupa. You can find in stores or order online in India. If you are in Pune I can gift it out. Email me] Here is official website The Deal Maker See interview with author about the book

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Road Not Taken



Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;












Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.



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