Category: Social


An Inconvenient Truth

I happened to catch up on the widely acclaimed movie by Al Gore, a couple of days back. I have been quite sensitive about environmental issues since my college days & have been an active Greenpeace India member for the last 5 years. But then, this is something I had definitely not bargained for….if this is how we keep on abusing our fragile planet, Doomsday is not very far off!!

Former Vice-President of the US, Al Gore brilliantly portrays the damage we human beings have already done & are continuing to do to the environment. What is even more unnerving is the absolute lack of political will across countries to do something about it!! To start off with, here are a few pointers as to how we can try & bring about some change to mitigate the impact. Remember, the old adage, “Charity begins at home!”

#1 Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb – CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

#2 Clean or replace filters on your air conditioner – Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

#3 Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket – You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple action. You can save another 550 pounds per year by setting the thermostat no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

#4 Turn off electronic devices you’re not using – Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo, and computer when you’re not using them will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

#5 Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them – Even when turned off, things like hairdryers, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy. In fact, the energy used to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption and spews 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year!

#6 Plant a tree – A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15%.

#7 Avoid heavily packaged products – You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.

#8 Keep your car tuned up – Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.

#9 Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated – Proper inflation can improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Since every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, every increase in fuel efficiency makes a difference!

#10 When it is time for a new car, choose a more fuel efficient vehicle – You can save 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year if your new car gets only 3 miles per gallon more than your current one. You can get up to 60 miles per gallon with a hybrid!

Developing countries like India are & will continue to be the worst affected by the impact of global warming. It’s high time, we responsible citizens do something about this. For starters, I would suggest people to watch the movie & be better informed about the catastrophe that is gradually unwinding itself.

For people addicted to the internet, here is something what you can do. Check out www.climateprediction.net . This is  the world’s largest climate forecasting experiment wherein the power of the internet is most effectively harnessed. In layman’s terms – you get to donate some amount of your computer processor time & resource to help simulate the climatic models & experiments that are being conducted by the Oxford University’s Department of Atmospheric Physics. Once a person is registered with them, you get to install a software & based on your computer configuration some amount of work is assigned to your machine. You do not have to do anything, while your computer is in use the simulation is being carried out in the back end. At the end of a stipulated period of time, the work done on your computer is uploaded on the servers at their end & you get to earn credit points. Not that it matters much tangibly, but then you get to do your own small bit for this gargantuan endeavor. I was quite appalled to see only 171 users from India who have signed up for this. In a country of a billion people & where internet penetration is quite high in the urban areas, I am sure we can do better than this.

Let’s all give it our best shot before it’s too little, too late! Adios!!

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Salaam Major!

Ever since the terror carnage in Mumbai last week, I had an inkling of something on these lines. Major saab (as I call him) had been incommunicando all this while, quite understandably so. Today’s morning call confirmed my “suspicion” – the voice at the other end was all too familiar – “Hey, Writs Ki khobor….”
Well done, Major…as always you have been leading from the front & doing us proud! Nihil Ultra!

A Bong & his Bitchings…

Many of the readers out here have pointed out my apparent proclivity to comment on the Bong & his idiosyncracies…I am not refuting that, but then their idiosyncracies have a strange way of getting at me. I am not complaining either…as long as they warrant a blog action.

     The Bong & his inquisitiveness towards a colleague’s pay-check & material wealth is not new to many of us.  Well, on these lines, the most recent that I have been party to, also happens to be (quite annoyingly) one where I have been at the receiving end.

    A colleague-friend of mine, a die-hard Bong (one who swears & lives by his umbrella on any given day of the year) happens to be amongst those one-in-a-zillion mortals who gave up a fully funded post-grad course abroad & came back coz he was missing his room & home ambience out here in Kolkata. I remember gaping at this individual when he first told me of his trysts out there. You wouldn’t miss him in a crowd….a smooth talker, one who quite literally has the gift of the gab & quite a pleasing personality..well, not always!
 

      At work it so often happens that batchmates & peers do have a significant salary differential…I guess it’s nothing untoward in this age where compensation is quite directly proportional to performance. Now, it happened to be that we are not at par vis-a-vis our official remuneration! This friend of mine quite jittery at the fact & having felt let down…decides to vent his ire on me. Now, the term ire in this context should not be taken literatim. For quite some time now, I am having to put up with ridiculous queries as to how much I am saving & why I should not be saving so much by doing this(read ENJOYING LIFE)..that & GOD knows what! My dear friend even thinks that I am on the verge of a geriatric breakdown – something which according to him octogenarians experience! Get a life, dude! And to add to that, there are quite a few of his tribe who have added to my misery!! I keep wondering what is it that they want….is this the Bong’s way of expressing envy or going green with jealousy?
   Wish I knew….the old & time-proven adage of “A Bengali is one who thinks he is the smartest & poorest at the same time” just couldn’t be more apt…talk of a regressive society that is thriving in the “cultural capital” of India.

       “If the radiance of a ten thousand suns

        were to burst into the sky

        that would perhaps be like

        the splendour of the Mighty One. “

On July 16 1945, when the first atom bomb was experimentally exploded in the desert of Alamogordo, New Mexico & as the stupendous conflagration lit up the entire sky, Robert Julius Oppenheimer, standing ten thousand yards away, began to hum spontaneously, the above lines from the Bhagavad Gita.

       Cutting down to the present day in the Indian context – the Left are out to prove a point with their ideology against “US Imperialism” with regards to the Indo-US nuke deal. I sometimes wonder what it is it that they are after? Is it a knee-jerk reaction that they are experiencing, especially since the US is involved or is it genuine concern for India’s sovereignity? Well, if its the latter I think they are trying to hoodwink the average Indian – what with one of their prominent comrades openly proclaiming support & apparent justification for China’s attack on India’s borders during the Indo-China war of 1962.

       They really need & could do with “The Mighty One”  someone who can show them the way out of the mess of ideologies that they have woven themselves into.

      I happened to catch up with a recent episode on Devil’s Advocate – a primetime show on CNN IBN, hosted by Karan Thapar. Couldn’t have asked for anything better! Check it out!

Well, am back after a pretty long hiatus….the mind has not really got to wander of late & therefore a paucity of quality intellections, I guess!!

          Had been to NJ out of compulsion…but then am not here to regret it! It was here, in NJ that I got to experience my first interaction with a Pakistani – a Khan from Lahore, one evening!! Thought of penning down the excerpts of my conversation with him at his place in Lawrenceville, NJ.

Khan: “Good Evening, where you from?”

Me: “Evening, am from Kolkata , India…out here on work!”

Khan: “Oh I see, you are a bangali babu, is it? Kolkata…was that part of Bangladesh(East Pakistan) earlier?”

Me: “(wtf)!! Yes, I am a Bengali…oh no, Kolkata was never a part of Bangladesh!!”

Khan: “I see…so where do you work?”

Me: “Am working for Dow Jones out here…as an employee of Cognizant!”

Khan:” Ok…Software guy…eh!?! So, you must be watching Bollywood movies…?”

Me: “Yes, I do..but am not a regular at it!”

Khan:”You must have seen Rajesh Khanna in…Anand…Babu Moshai…(smiles)!!”

Me:”Yes, but not the whole movie..!”

Khan:” How about Pakeezah….don’t tell me you have not watched it!!…Man, Pakeezah was brilliant…Meena Kumari, Raj Kumar….Inshallah! When will we get to see another like that? Meena Kumari…she was what passion was all about!!”

Me:”I plead ignorance, Mr. Khan but have just heard of the movie…!”

Khan:” Hmmm….so are you a fan of SRK?”

Me:”(cursing him under my breath)…Oh not much…I would prefer Amir Khan, I guess..!!”

Khan:”(smiles)”

.

.

.

Khan:”Its getting late…hope you liked the brownie..?”

Me:”It was awesome…wouldn’t mind dropping in for more!!”

Khan:”You are most welcome, my boy!! Good Night…Allah Hafeez..!”

Me:”Good night…Allah Hafeez!”

     Well, talk of confidence-building-measures (CBMs) between the two countries & all the parleys between our governments..!! That I guess, speaks volumes about the present scenario between the two countries..what with Kolkata being at one time a part of Bangladesh-which reflects the average Pakistani’s utter disregard for the territorial integrity of India…& his passion for Bollywood icons & their films. 

 

 

 

The Dynamics of Life

Mark Twain once remarked, ” There are three things that men can do with women-love them, suffer for them or turn them into literature!” If you look a bit deeper, history provides us with a fourth alternative – that of man having changed destinies of whole civilisations because of women! The most remarkable few that I can think of right now are: Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Nur Jahan who in their own subtle ways changed the whole course of history.

        One pertinent question(& yes, please do not mistake me for being a sexist or an MCP) that I feel like asking is: “Are women really so very powerful or is it that man has & still is succumbing to the twists of nature & the flow of hormones?” It really makes one wonder that behind almost every human endeavour lies the inherent, subconscious desire of getting to indulge in procreation with the best possible member of the oppposite sex.

    Primitive man was differentiated by his prowess in hunting skills & his physicality. For women the best man who could father her offspring were those endowed with a good physique which was a direct correlation with the man’s physical prowess. For men an attractive female was & probably still is someone who is endowed with exquisite attributes of the female anatomy.  Cut to the present day – what we have now is nothing but an abstraction of those primitive instincts very much prevalent within our subconscious minds…..well, to verify my claim, check out the matrimonial listings of any newspaper! And what is it that we have here? To quote literatim, here is an excerpt I came across sometime back:” Wanted bride for an energetic young man(IIT-Ivy League university, well settled in the USA, NRI from Delhi. The bride should be of good height & health, sensible,having respect for Indian culture, vegetarian….get more details about the boy on http://www.<website>.com!!”

      Which brings me back to the question..is this world fundamentally what it is because of the flow of hormones somwhere deep inside the human brain? Well, as of now it looks as if it is…& boy, inspite of all our ramblings we are not much different from the dog & bitch out there in the street…you know what I mean!! 

Farewell Sir…

  Words are hopelessly inadequate to describe you, Sir & the impact you have had on this country ever since you became its first citizen way back in 2002. Your charming simplicity coupled with your erudition bowled over people from all walks of life…finally they had a reason to live, somebody to look up to & proudly emulate!

    You were a torch-bearer for the beleaguered youth of this country…for the millions oppressed in the name of democracy! You proved to be a spanner in the dirty wheel of Indian politics in your own subtle way….never mising out on the smile on your face. They have finally extracted their “pound of flesh”, but then am sure you are above their petty ways.  You strode the hearts of your countrymen like a Colossus, something which I doubt any Indian President has ever done or will ever be able to do. My humble tribute to you, ” Life is a long drawn battle, some fight as mere soldiers. May you always be the General leading from the front & showing us the way!”

            Behold Him, for when comes another!!

P.S.- Dr. Kalam’s website: http://www.abdulkalam.com/ 

Decadence or Liberalisation

Was walking down Park Street a couple of weeks back when I came across this quite attractive girl with the statement “Sex is like air, its not important until you are not getting any!” embossed across her upper torso. Made me wonder…is this women’s liberalisation at long last or the decadence of values in the land of the Kama sutra? Food for thought, fodder for debate, I guess!

For the uninitiated, here’s ways of identifying & steering clear of Bongs…

Observation #1 – While in Kolkata ask anybody where Rabindra Sadan is, if you are looked upon with that contemptuous gaze, Voila!! there’s your man!!  An average Bong almost swears by the bard who incidentally happens to be Asia’s first Nobel Laureate!!

Observation #2 – Take a random sampling of teenagers across the city. Do you see a lissome lass & you are gearing up for an impromptu intro (The Bong’s beauty is stuff of legends)? Hold it, does she have one of those colourful amulets wrapped around her upper Humerus, left exposed by virtue of that seductive sleeveless top? Beware, my friend change your bearings immediately, chances are her mother is trailing her & is about to pounce on you.

 Observation #3 – Do you happen to see people deep in concentration playing chess amid traffic chaos…..well, you don’t need any more confirmation!!

Observation #4 – Talk Cricket…does every alternate word sound like “D-A-D-A”?…take guard & be careful of the statistics that you mention henceforth! The average Bong may not be having his elementary education but he is sure to belt out esoteric stuff which to most ordinary mortals least interested in the game will sound like hieroglyphics.

Observation #5 – Never ever make the unpardonable mistake of discussing football with a Bong…chances are he is ready to draw blood over the slightest difference in opinion. Have heard of incidents where people have gone directly to Yuva Bharati Krirangan–(yes, that’s the Bong’s Estadio Azteca) after performing the last rites of their father!!!

Observation #6 –  This sign on a hoarding says it all.

                                     Fish – Rs. 400/month.

                                     Mobile Charges – Rs. 99/month.

Observation #7Talk Politics…but be prudent enough to be on the Right(Left) side of the fence.

     Well, I guess that’s not bad for a start….am in the observing & learning process myself! The idiosyncracies of the Bong keep changing with each passing day…!!

John D. Rockefeller, the famous American philanthropist had probably captured the true essence of Capitalism when he said, “The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets.”  He couldn’t have been more correct.

      Was going through the ET a couple of days back when I came across this article on “Death Bonds” which the industry quite innocuously refers to as “Life-settlement-backed security.” Whatever the name its as macabre a concept as Wall Street has ever come up with. Its estimated that approximately 90 million Americans own life insurance, but many of them find the premiums too expensive to pay. On the other hand there are others, eager to cash in early & herein lies the game. According to Wall Street, “Life Settlement” are arrangements that allow people the scope to sell off their policies to investors who are ready to pay the premium until the original holder of the policy is dead which is when the investors move in for the “kill” (collecting the payouts)!! For the investors its a perfect example of a ghoulish actuarial gamble- The quicker the death, the greater the profit reaped.

   I am sure that’s enough to make Marx & Engels turn in their graves!!