Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The vintage rally called India!

An uncle of mine was telling me an anecdote the other day. He was the Chairman of the Fund Raising Committee, constituted to raise money for a free school for children of Construction laborers in South Bangalore. The land was to be donated by the Church for free occupancy. After getting the required funds, he approached a Malayalee ex minister in Bangalore for help with the required permissions to start the school, after encountering red tapism, demand for bribes and other delays you would encounter if you took the straight and narrow path.

The minister did get him the permissions but asked him for a tidy sum as his commission. Uncle was aghast! The sum asked by the minister was more than half of what he had collected for the school. But the minister was adamant. Finally after many negotiations, he agreed to a more reasonable amount.

I am now working weekends for a Non Profit organization. Before this organization entered India, they were advised to grease palms if they wanted to fulfill their goal of making a difference in the lives of the poor. An American lawyer attached to this organization had this anecdote to tell us the other day! After the organization had identified a cluster of villages to be adopted for their work, they were asked to meet the local MLA. When the group visited him, he told them rather pleasantly that they if hoped to work in the villages under his jurisdiction, they would have to pay him one crore. The lawyer expressed his inability to pay such a huge amount as the organization was a non-profit unit and survived on grants. The MLA without batting an eyelid told the lawyer to shell out the money from his pocket as he was a high profile lawyer in New York!!! The work came to a stand still and they adopted another village were the MLA was “cheaper". The village flourishes, while the other languishes and now has barely any residents left.

All the people I have talked to, specially those working for NGO's and non profit organizations, express their frustration at the ancient walls of outdated rules and regulations erected between them and their beneficiaries that only serves as a loop hole for opportunists like the above two men to make money or stall work. Apparently there are millions of dollars of unspent funds lying in various banks, grants that were released for upliftment of the rural poor that will never reach them due to red tapism and corruption. Most NGO’s and non profit organizations in India function because they have realized that it is no use fighting against the system and grease palms to carry on their work.

Two interviews by central ministers, one on the Jaipur blasts and one on the fertilizer crisis in Karnataka, opened my eyes to another startling fact. Most States don’t even know what their powers are. They blame the centre for everything and then central ministers have to point out as the Home Minster put it so succinctly in an interview “Read the laws” The Rajasthan CM didn’t even know that she could have taken several security measures to prevent such an incident because the State had the power to do so.

The above incident only brings to fore the fact that, elected representatives in the States are not even aware of their constitutional rights as a State of the Indian union. Nor do they make an effort to do so. People get elected, attend the legislative assembly if they don’t get a cabinet berth and if they do, then attend office and dance to the whims and fancies of the bureaucrats and occasionally take some populist measures.

India today is like a vinatge vehicle in a Formula One race! A very old vehicle with outdated parts, some new parts that had to be replaced because they were so worn out, trying to keep up with the world that is using the latest technology in its engines. Unless we clean the accumulate dirt in our engines and change what is outdated, we cannot keep pace with the world.

Plastic can now be decomposed!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oops! Did I step on your self esteem?

The real Aishwarya Rai. Thanks to Philip for the link!

Have you ever watched an Aishwarya Rai interview? It is perhaps the single most tiring thing to watch on TV after the saas bahu serials. After the interviewer finishes his question, you turn to her expectantly for the reply and what do you get? A lot of umm errr hmmm ahem before and after each word in the sentence till you realize that it will take a long time for her to reply and when she does, in between all those umm errr hmmm ahem the reply shocks you with its inanity. Most of the questions posed to her are more intelligent than the answers and the poor interviewer continues with his questioning for the sake of the program whether the reply makes sense of not!

Unlike other beauty contestants, Ms Rai still lives in the beauty pageant. There is very little of her that comes through in an interview. Every word she says is carefully and calculatingly delivered for maximum impact. You can see some furious thinking going on as she talks pausing before each word as though weighing it, leading to a very protracted and labored replies to questions. Her pose i.e the chin up as soon as the camera turns on her, also reeks of Miss India training.

Now she is married to a man who is not only eloquent but knows what he is talking about. The decimation of Ms Rai has begun.

I was watching a CNN IBN program the other day. The program played host to the entire Sarkar Raj Bachchan clan i.e Aishwarya, Abhishek and Amitabh with Ramgopal Verma. While Abhishek handled the questions with aplomb, Aishwarya came off as an air head with her err umm hmm routine. In fact she did not manage to say a single sentence and hubby had to intervene to save her face and airtime. And intervene he did with a grim face and none of the newly wed infatuation he displayed not too long ago. The charm of Ms Rai seems to be wearing off.

There was a moment in the interview when the interviewer turned to Abhishek and asked “How does it feel being the son of one of the best actor in the world and being married to the most beautiful mom in the world.” The “mom” was a slip of the tongue. Aishwarya corrected him immediately, and then realizing that she may have insulted the MIL turned to hubby and said ingratiatingly “Of course he has the most beautiful Mom in the whole world.” The decimation of Aishwarya Rai, the person was complete.

Whether at a Awards function or film premier, Aishwarya stands behind the Bachchan men and hubby even replies to questions thrown at her as she characteristically wastes time on the umm errr hmmm ahem routine.

The fact that she was now a Bachchan was delivered rather bluntly by hubby when he said “My father is the center of my universe”. I gasped and looked at Ms Rai, she sat like a dumb blond without batting an eyelid.

R.I.P Miss Aishwarya Rai. Long live Mrs Airwarya Bachchan.

Was it really worth it? I mean marrying into the so called “First Family” of Bollywood for the sake of the title Mrs Bachchan! Or was this an enormous endorsement campaign? Perhaps the Bachchans and the Rais laugh their way to their separate banks. Nothing else can explain this marriage.

p.s Ms Rai Bachchan, your neck shows your age. Time for a neck lift!

p.p.s I neither like nor dislike Abhishek or Aishwarya. But I am a huge fan of Amitabh’s older movies.

Read this hilarious post about a guy getting his first massage from an aashaan! :))

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I’m Reading, Listening, Thinking, Watching...

I have been tagged by Philip one of the best writers to emerge in recent times. If I were to describe his blog in one word, it would be "Refreshing".

Reading: Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People by Mark Gobe (A gift from the boss, who else!)

The World is Flat (Thomas L. Friedman)

Finished reading: The Bridges of Madison County (Robert James Waller)

Listening: To Rise Up. I love the energy in the song. Reminds me of school days when I used to be an expert in some of the skipping moves shown here. ( This song was plagiarized for the AHA advertisements if you recall :p) The next song on the playlist is Tempted to touch!

Wearing: An attitude!

Watching: The punju girl in the next cubicle sobbing quietly into the phone, pleading with her ex BF to take her back. He ditched her after three years of going steady on the pretext that she will not gel with his uber rich family. He gets engaged err he got engaged to someone else on Sunday! Every time she cries I swear I will join the convent! :(

Thinking: And worrying about gals like that Punju gal and how gullible they are and guys like her BF who think nothing of promising the Sun, Moon and Stars to gals just to get them to be their GF till mommy finds them the ideal wife! I am seeing too many cases like this amongst my Northie colleagues. It’s really worrying!

Loving: The intermittent rains. Mangoes. The brisk breeze, the leaves as they fall from the trees and the stars in the sky that become visible when there is a power outage!

Hating: The fact that I saw so many banned wildlife in a pet shop in Bangalore when I went to buy some fish for my aquarium. There were jungle wild fowls, Munias and African Parrots…real bad tempered fellows they were too, the Parrots i.e!!

Missing: A good ghee roast from MTR! It’s been ages since I ate one!

Hoping: To work in the non profit sector soon!

Craving: To witness again the monsoon fury in Kerala.

And now, I tag: No one ;)

Comments turned off. The busy period continues. So apologies for not replying to comments. Blogs updations will also be delayed for sometime *sob*

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The choice is out there!

“Will you marry me?” His question caught me by surprise! I hardly knew this guy. He used to drop in home from time to time whenever he was down from the US on holidays as his sister lives in Bangalore. He is a year junior to my eldest bro and his junior at college too. He, lets call him AS, is six foot tall, good looking but an extremely quite gentleman. So why did I say "no"? Because I am a chatterbox and someone like AS would drive me to suicidal depression. All he can talk about is technology, when he talks and that’s occasionally. I may not be spoilt for choice, but neither am I so desperate to say "yes" to the first guy who proposes. Besides...I am firmly committed to single hood till marriage, which will happen in a couple of years only! Period! Unless of course Mr Right walks into my life. But then such things happen only in movies. And I am a realist. I am no more the head in the cloud gal of high school. College beat the stuffing out any romantic notions I had about romance as I learned some eye opener of lessons from watching classmates and friends in relationships.

There are two ways to go about life if you are an Indian gal.

1)You learn from the mistakes your friends make.

2) You don’t learn your friends make and make the mistakes your friends made and wonder why life is so unfair.

I chose the former route long time ago. And hence the resolution to stay single until Mr Right walks by or get married on the appointed day at the appointed time to the appointed guy, mommy dearest fixes. I am sure she will do what’s best for me in her opinion! :p Let me not pretend that my wedding will be some dreamy Bollywood sequence. It will be as ordinary as anybodies.

Coming back to Mr AS. I looked at him and asked in absolute wonderment why “he” of all people on this Earth would have problem finding a gal with his credentials. AS like the Malayalee Christian men I mentioned here, wanted more than just a wife in the girl they marry. He is facing the same dilemma. That’s when I said something that surprised even me!!! “Why are you only scanning the resumes of girls whose parents have you promised you a good dowry? Why not girls whose parents cannot afford such a dowry?” He was taken aback. Clearly the thought had not occurred to him like many highly sought after grooms!

I refuse to believe that there is a dearth of well read and bright young Malayalee women out there. If there is a dearth, then it is of bright young Malayalee women whose folks cannot afford a big dowry. Mr AS was dumb struck at my query. I persisted. I told him that if he really wanted, he could get the best of the best gals if he could only give up the idea of a huge dowry. It is difficult to get both i.e a good dowry and the perfect girl!

AS didn’t say anything. I don’t know what he will do. But this conversation opened my eyes to something that was so obvious but unnoticed. As an addendum to my last post on the subject, I have to add that guys who grumble about stereotypical Malayalee gals are the types that have unconsciously narrowed their field of choice. They never thought of the other option i.e the millions of gals out there who may be the perfect fit, but whose pops cannot afford the big dowry they want.

And I also realized why so many Malayalee couples who have had love marriages are so happy. And that’s because they were not constricted by the considerations that govern an arranged marriage and hence gave themselves the best gift of all….the gift of choice!

You cannot have the best of the world. So quit grumbling all you eligible mallu Christian men who want that bright, intelligent, scintillating conversationalist etc lady! You do have a choice. Now let us see you taking it!

p.s On a lighter note...all you people who make fun of mallu names eat dirt!!! That includes me too, I just realized! *gulp* Congratulations Mr err Kanth! You just made us mallus, I mean all of us proud! Thanks Karthik for this gem!