This story is about two people who stays near my house in Kolkata. Both of them were known to me as family acquaintances.

The first, Subhash uncle, was a fan of my father's football, and later became his friend. The son of a well known Professor, he was an engineering graduate from a premier engineering college in Kolkata. He ran a small printing press from his home. However his main passion in life was politics and social welfare service. He is a member of a minor local party. As long as I have known him, I have always seen his tall lean frame riding an old Hercules bicycle.

The second, Piyush da, much younger, was also from an average middle class family. The only distinguishing factor about him I remembered was his less than average height. But then, on an election day, he was seen running through the streets brandishing a pistol. Only then did we came to know that he was a cadre of a ruling party. This was in 1998.

Cut to 2008:

Nothing much to report on Subhash uncle. He has an email address now and has grayed a bit. Otherwise, everything else, including his Hercules bicycle remains the same. Maybe he is now involved in a few more community welfare projects.

Piyush da now has a construction "consultancy" business and takes care of bottlenecks for building developers or promoters as they are known here. He drives a bike and three cars, including a Mahindra Scorpio SUV. His wife is the local councillor, and he is known to have "powers". He is now a well respected man.

Special Disclaimer: This is a work of true fiction. None of the characters depicted in this post are real and any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely consequential ... blah blah blah...

Boon or Bane?

The Ford model T - the first mega successful production car was produced in 1908. Since then, in the last hundred years, we have built millions of cars, each more powerful than the other. Cars provide the means for man to reach faraway places that took far greater time before. That also means greater de-forestation, as people now needs roads to reach those places. As distance is not a problem, more forest lands are reclaimed for urbanization. More petroleum is needed every year to meet the global demands of automobiles pushing oil prices to an all time high. Since all other commodities' price, including food, is directly linked with petroleum price, there is a global inflation. Cars also produce active pollutants, which directly affects people - more people have asthma and other breathing problems than ever before.

So, is it a boon or a bane? Or like many other scientific things (remember atomic energy and atomic bomb?), we have managed to turn a boon in to a bane?


Just look about 30 degree right, or 1 o'clock if you prefer, and you will find my virtual pet Baghemian also known as Bagha.

Thanks to Butterfly and her pet Muskaan for the idea! Now a little bit more about Baghemian:

Baghemian is a three year old Bengal Tiger (Panthera Tigris Tigris) from Sunderbans, West Bengal. His favorite food is deer steak (rare). He likes walking and swimming. His favorite song is "Eye of the tiger" by Survivor. His favorite movie is Two Brothers. His favorite cartoon character is Hobbes.

If you have any more questions for him, please let me know.

The king is dead...

Long live the King!

Rahul Gandhi is often called the "Prince" - a reference to him being the heir "prince" of the Gandhi "empire". Rahul Gandhi recently objected to that, saying it is demeaning. One can understand why. After all, we all want our own identity! However, to understand why he is called the Prince, one needs to look at the Indian psyche.

Decades after India's independence and subsequent abolition of Rajas, Nizams and Zamindars, we still have a fascination for all things Royal. And not just the poor village man, not just the uneducated laborer, it's still existent among educated, rich, corporates.

Point in case, the IPL team names:

Chennai Super Kings
Bangalore Royal Challengers
Mumbai Indians
Deccan Chargers
Rajasthan Royals
Kolkata Knight Riders
Delhi Daredevils
Kings XI Punjab

Quod Erat Demonstrandum!

IPL - at last!

My first IPL post when half the tournament is over! And one would think that everything that was to be written about IPL had been written. But no! Here I come with a criticism of IPL schedule!

We are familiar to the home-away league concept, thanks to English Premier League (now Barclays Premier League) and football leagues around the world. The league there is played over several months, and teams normally play one match every week. Only the elite teams playing European (and World) tournaments play twice in a week a few times. Also note that England and other european countries are much smaller. Traveling to another city to play one match every two weeks on an average is not so difficult.

Even in NBA, teams play in a home-away style. Again, the championship there happens over several months, effectively making it one game per week for most weeks (except play offs and championship weeks). The schedule is also such that teams nearer home play more matches between them than far off teams - more intra division matches, fewer inter division matches and still fewer inter conference matches. It's a bit complicated, but the idea is to have sufficient rest period for the teams.

Here in IPL, each team plays 14 matches within 40 days! Effectively a match every third day. With all the traveling involved, I doubt whether even "home" is really a home. The players and entourage are constantly on the move. Seems to me that the schedule was made keeping in mind the viewers and not the players or teams.

If IPL plans on continuing this tournament yearly, I think they should re-look at their scheduling strategy.

Letter to the Health Minister

Dr. A. Ramadoss
Honorable Cabinet Minister
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
Government of India.

Dear Sir,

I am a humble citizen of this country run by you and your esteemed colleagues. I quit smoking a few years ago, as I am mildly asthmatic. I drink alcohol socially.

Sir, I have noticed your often-made statements in media asking filmstars and cricketers to stop smoking on screen / appear in surrogate alcohol ads. Your logic for that is a star influences common people, and more importantly youngsters. I appreciate your concern for the health of citizens of India.

However, Sir, I doubt the will of your department and the government to rid us of the evils of smoking and drinking. If you so wanted people to stop drinking and smoking, why not ban the products itself? After all if there is no cigarette / no liquor manufactured, no one can buy them legally! Isn't there a ban on marijuana? Or cocaine? So, ban all tobacco companies! Ban all liquor companies! Can you do that Sir? It is impossible, is it, Sir? Is it because these tobacco and liquor companies are the biggest tax payers and hence biggest contributors to the budget? Your government need these companies to thrive. So on one hand, your government happily banks the money from these evils, and on the other hand, a part of the same government (read you) makes occasional brouhaha over these evils. This is hypocrisy!

If your intentions are right, then why not implement (and not just provide lip service) a ban on smoking in public at least? I have been fortunate to visit Singapore, where cigarette consumption in public is unthinkable, thanks to the strict laws and more importantly strict implementation of the laws. We all want a healthier India, please take small but definite steps towards that, we are with you. And please stop this sensationalism of playing to the media.

Yours very sincerely

A health concerned citizen of India

The Toilet Brush

As promised! Don't expect anything gross (although in a way it is)!

In several of my previous posts, I have mentioned how passionate I am about my national flag. I am a fan of Naveen Jindal just because he took it up and made it possible for all Indians to flaunt the tri-color proudly, of course with respect!

Now, the other day, my mom went to the market and bought many things from the market for the new house, which included a couple of toilet brushes! The bristles of one of them happen to be in tri-color! No mistaking it! It is saffron, white, and green - in perfect order. That, to me, is disgusting!

I want to see something happen about this and similar issues, however, don't know how! Any idea?

The bear

wakes from his slumber, hungry for some food. My fingers have been itching to type for a few days now. With so much happening around, it was a pity that I was not updating this site.

Personally, I have moved on. Quite literally, since we moved to a new apartment. Also figuratively, since a lot of priority changes (and change of plans) happened. Maybe I will write about some of it someday.

I feel some of the most interesting topics to write on arrived in the last few months. I could have written five posts on IPL alone with a couple more about IPL team owners (read Shah Rukh Khan) and their antics! Of course, a post about Maharashtra and a bunch of jokers playing "politics, politics" there would have been scathing. Then there was (and still is) inflation! And, reality shows - oooh, I am drooling! Surely, one topic would have been "The Gill War" - I can almost see myself writing "The fight is on between the two Gills (M.S. Gill and K. P. S. Gill), when clearly the need of the day is fresh oxygen". And one topic I HAVE to write about is a toilet brush!! No friends, I haven't lost it, I promise to write about it sometime later! Not today!

Today, I would like to add my five cents (inflation, dear!) to a topic some people seem to be very passionate about - A dog! Not just any dog - it's the pug from the Vodafone ad. For the uninitiated, Vodafone released a series of ads in India, continuing from the "wherever you go, our network follows" theme from Hutch. All the ads feature a pug following it's owner. In the controversial ad, the pug is seen running after it's owner's school bus. Animal activists and rights groups are livid about the conditions under which the pug was made to run after a bus! Thanks to them, I now know that the pug is prone to breathing problems due to some abnormality. If you need the details, check out today's newspaper - it's complete with all the technical terms and expert comments from a psychiatrist too (or was it some other article?). Yes, I am concerned that the pug was made to run! But there are more things that concern me from the series of ads. I am also concerned that the pug was made to lick several stamps - was the stamp glue tested for dog hygiene? I am concerned that the pug had to carry socks in it's mouth! But the thing that concerns me most is the girl in the ads. She gets ready all alone, leaves the house unattended (but for the dog, of course), plays alone and also sends letters without any adult supervision! The pug might die soon due to breathlessness, but I am sure this girl would grow up and kill others! What happened to the child rights / girl child groups?

Am I being too sarcastic and mean here? I am so sorry! I should appreciate the fact that this story, along with another involving Mallika Sherawat, made me laugh heartily early in the morning! In case you missed it, someone filed a petition against Mallika Sherawat for sitting cross legged while wearing a short skirt in front of the chief minister of Tamil Nadu! The report did not clarify if the objection was against the short skirt or sitting cross legged!

Coming soon: The toilet brush!