Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dialogue that defines the movie - Serendipity

This is a beautiful piece of writing, one that completely defines the tone of the movie. You need to actually watch the movie to understand its context, but inspite of that, I guess you can still gather the inherent philosophy, that is presented in a comical yet so strangely a poignant and serious note.

"Jonathan Trager, prominent television producer for ESPN, died last night from complications of losing his soul mate and his fiance. He was 35 years old. Softspoken and obsessive, Trager never looked the part of a hopeless romantic. But in the final days of his life he revealed an unknown side of psyche. This quasi-jungian persona surfaced during the Agatha Christie like pursuit for his long reputed soul mate, the woman he only spent the few precious hours with. Sadly, the protracted search ended late Saturday night in complete and utter failure. Yet even in certain defeat, the courageous Trager secretly comes to the belief that life is not merely a series of meaningless accidents or coincidences, ahah, but rather it's a tapestry of events that culminate in an exquisite sublime plan. Asked about the loss of his dear friend, Dean Kansky, the Pulitzer Prize winning author and executive editor of New York Times, described Jonathan as a changed man in the last days of his life. Things were clear for him, Kansky noted. Ultimately Jonathan concluded that if we are to live life in harmony with the universe, we must all possess a powerful faith in what the ancients call fate or what we currently refer to as destiny."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"How can you heal if you can't even feel time?" - Memento.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Guy Perace, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Writers: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Another one of Christopher Nolan's finely narrated thrillers, Memento, with its backward narration style is by no means a movie meant for those who just want to watch and enjoy a no-brainer. Your brain will be gnawing at your skull at all points trying to figure out what just happened. It's suspense filled till the climax, not until then, do you figure out what really happened, and only then will you be able to grasp the movie in its entirety. At the end of it there will be a distinct feeling of satisfaction,a feeling that you were challenged intellectually and you came out on top.

Well, that's how i felt while watching the movie, inspite of having watched the Tamil Blockbuster Ghajini, which is an Indian adaptation of Memento. So knowing the story meant that well, Memento was not as suspense packed to me as it should have been, but i liked it all the same, particularly because of its reverse narration style. Memento is about a person who suffers from short term memory loss trying to find the killer of his wife and the culprit for his condition, John G. So every now and then the protagonist is shaken up, not remembering what he was doing, not remembering what he is supposed to do next. Because of Nolan's narration style at no point do we really know more than what the protagonist knows or remembers from the notes he makes to supersede his failing memory. And by backward narration style this is what I mean - the beginning of the movie shows the protagonist killing John G and the climax shows how he got to finding this John G. Morever it ends with the movie open to interpretation. Either the protagonist himself could be the killer of his wife and he is trying to get over his remorse with the creation of a fictitious killer or maybe the person he finds as John G is the real killer.

This aspect of making your brain work is to a certain extent absent in Ghajini. I wouldn't call Ghajini a no-brainer but well the forward narration style that is followed takes off the sheen a little bit. There's also more masala introduced into the script, unrealistic stunts, unnecessary dance numbers, all of which click with the Indian audience, oh well, I guess this is what an adaptation means. The movie shouldn't bomb. There should be elements introduced into it to make it succeed with even the frill loving audience. That's a different school of thought, a different movie industry. So no point comparing Ghajini and Memento.

All the same Memento is a must watch if you are in a mood to think; otherwise, i would suggest, keep it for later.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Lake House

It's hypothetical, conceptual and completely unrealistic but nice all the same. Maybe it's the lack of that extra dose of reality that makes the movie so good to watch. There's actually not a moment in the movie "The Lake House" that makes you feel bored, not a moment that makes you feel enough is enough, unlike those so many movies bordered beyond the scope of reality.

But not this one. You know for sure that it is impossible, but you tend to romanticize, what if? You pretty much get the gist of what's going on half way through the movie and if you have watched many movies, you will also get a hint of the climax, but I can bet you will complete the movie, if not for the story, atleast for the serene music.

The music!!! That's one thing. So peaceful, so soothing. You tend to float with the melodious sound waves from the beginning of the movie to the end. The music caresses you through. Takes you to the end and even if the climax is just as you expected, you will like it all the same.

The movie's about a conversation through letters written between Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) living in 2004 and Kate Forrester (Sandra Bullock) living in 2006. Feels crazy, just writing that. Mind you - it's a "conversation" not a narration. They gradually fall in love and their desire to meet each other unfortunately results in the death of one. Though of course, knowledge of the future can be used to save lives, especially if you can talk to the past. That's expected and that's exactly how the movie ends when they both finally meet up, after a four year wait for Alex Wyler and a two year one for Dr. Forrester, on Valentine's Day 2008.

But ya, there's one paradox in the climax that the Director may have just ignored. Its actually the sight of a then unknown Alex Wyler's death in front of Dr. Forrester that made her go back to her happy old home, the lakehouse, and it was then that the beatiful converstaion got kicked off. But of course, if she saves Wyler from that death, then she wouldn't go back to the lake house, the conversation would never have happened and the love story couldn't exist in the first place. So they just can't be together at the end of the movie. But well time travel and its corresponding paradoxes is a whole lot of mumbo jumbo. Nothing ever seems to fit. So all the same, I am ready to ignore this paradox, for in the remaining 90 minutes I had a really good time.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I need to clarify this at least now!!!

I haven't been blogging for quite some time now. I was busy with my MS applications. Something has been building up inside me for a few days now and I just had to write it down. I did that today afternoon and thus this post. Probably after this post I may once again go into blog hibernation, at least till mid January. Anyways, enjoy reading and post your comments.

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People have asked me, many times over, why am I a fan of Australia? They have asked me, when India plays Australia, who do I support? My answer, "Australia at times; India at times", stumps many and there are people who have called me unpatriotic. But honestly, I don't think so.

More than the fact that they win matches and have been a champion team for so long, the reason I like Australia is their sports system, not just cricket but any sport you want to play. Being a sportsman is not looked at as a silly ambition for a kid and the administration handling sporting talent is to a reasonable extent dedicated to that cause. Too much politics does not come into the picture. People like Gill (in Indian Hockey) are nowhere to be seen. And it is that trust in the sporting system that makes me support the nation's sporting endeavours, even outside cricket.

Coming to cricket, since the topic is hot now, given Gilly's contoversial autobiography and the current India Australia series, I don't expect Australia to win every series, every World Cup. I actually want Australia to lose the Nagpur Test and be humiliated in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008 with a 2-nil drubbing.

Because, now is a transition phase of Australian cricket. After a string of retirements, every team is unsettled and unbalanced and has to go for a phase of exprimentation for a couple of years or more, to regain that same composed and confident outlook in their team composition. What was happening for the last two series or so was that even with second string (compared to the erstwhile Oz outfit), experimental outfits they were winning matches, just because the opposition had an inherent fear of Australia and not completely on their on merit. Such a situation would lead to a complacent nature where-in you tend to believe you can win without working too hard, and Oz were in danger of tipping over. Well, till now anyway. Now there's India to humiliate them, to make them realise they need to keep experimenting.

It was such experimentation that gave them Geoff Marsh, Mark Taylor, Glenn Mc Grath, the Waugh brothers and the list goes on. To find champions you have to be bold enough to take risks. And you don't do that if there is no team out there challenging your supremacy. Every team has to go through such experimentation at some stage or another and many have succeeded. The only thing is that in the Australian system of sporting there is a greater guarantee that this phase of trial and error will not last forever.

It may not be the perfect system. They might not be able to get out of the current rut. But there is still a greater probability that things will work out just fine compared to the other alternative sports system, the one rooted in romanticism and though it has been successful in bringing out a few exceptional greats, plenty of heartbreaks have also gone unnoticed.

Yes, I am talking about India. India, the land of stories. We Indians love drama and when sportsmen rise from obscurity, challenging the environment around them, we adore them. Where was Dhoni five years back and where is he now? That's the most recent example of India's success in producing champions in a manner that Shakespeare would love to indulge upon. The only problem is that for a youngster dreaming of something other than cricket, heartbreak is what he more often sees. And for even those who dream about cricket, sometimes, societal pressure (and the insistence on an engineering education and IT jobs) tend to flush these dreams down the drain.

The method may keep succeeding, for it is rooted in human emotion and not rules and bylaws. This gives the people an uncanny power to dream, challenge all odds and when they come out successful, they will be people who can handle any kind of pressure that professional sport puts on them. Well, those who are baby fed tend to become whiners. But, I still think any youngster, hoping to make it big, would love to be groomed in Australia, for, hard work though it may be, societal pressure is one thing they wouldn't have to worry about. That is why I want the sports administration in India to develop into a suitable mix of the two systems and when it does, when it retains its charm but still becomes more dependable, then there's no team I would cheer for, irrespective of sport, but INDIA. So strictly speaking as of now, I want Australia to win at times, sometimes even against India, so that I can retain the belief that their system is successful, and I want India to win at times, so that I can enjoy the charm the rise of a sportstar here offers. How can that dream be unpatriotic?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Communism and the Bird's Nest Generation

The following are the excerpts from an NY Times Column on 31st August 2008 by Thomas Friedman. Enjoy reading but more importantly think where the Indian political parties (all parties including the communist parties) stand with regard to dynamism and their willingness to adapt.

"The problem for the ruling Communist Party is this: China can’t have a greener society without empowering citizens to become watchdogs and allowing them to sue local businesses and governments that pollute, and it can’t have a more knowledge-intensive innovation society without a freer flow of information and experimentation, for this requires bottom up control measures while power in China is top down as of now.

What surprised me is how much the party is thinking about all this. I actually came here at the invitation of Wang Yang, the Communist Party secretary, i.e. the boss of Guangdong Province. He had read one of my books on globalization in Chinese.

Wang is also a member of the Politburo in Beijing and is considered one of the most innovative thinkers in China’s leadership today. He has been given room to experiment and has begun advocating something he calls “mind liberation” — primarily an effort to change the culture of his bureaucracy and open it up to new ways of thinking. Right now he is focused on trying to shift dirty, low-wage manufacturing out of Guangzhou to the countryside, where jobs are still scarce. And he is trying to attract clean industries and services to the city. His goal, he said, was a more “low-carbon economy.”

“Please put it in your column that Party Secretary Wang Yang welcomes [Western] clean energy technology companies to come to Guangdong Province and use it as a laboratory to develop their products,” he told me. “We will be most willing to participate in the innovation and provide the services they need.”

So my postcard from Guangzhou would read like this: “Dear Mom and Dad, this place is so much more interesting than it looks from abroad. I met wind and solar companies eager for Western investment and Chinese college students who were organizing a boycott of an Indonesian paper company for despoiling their forest. An ‘Institute of Civil Society’ has quietly opened at the local Sun Yat-sen University. The Communist Party is trying to break the old mold without breaking its hold. It’s quite a drama. Can’t wait to come back next summer and see how they’re doing ...”"

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Critics!!!

"I am sometimes disillusioned with the critics of any literary work. Sometimes it seems they lack an inherent taste and are incapable of recognising beauty. Criticism is mostly surrounded around writing styles and formats and a good piece of writing according to this school, is expected to be a testament to the style that traditionalists endorse.

But shouldn't writing be all about freedom, freedom to nonchalantly express our deepest thoughts, in a tempest of emotions, in the seemingly unnoticeable corner of our hearts? Thus, it is only when the writer exudes the confidence to break the shackles that tradition adorns one with, can true beauty be associated with the literary work, a work that is coruscating with the resplendence of a timeless classic, for history shows that as far time is concerned there is nothing more fickle than tradition."

I felt so while reading a few reviews of Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. There were even comments like through the book he has tried to convert a thesaurus into a literary piece. But come on give the guy a break. He wrote this book from prison. This was his way to experience freedom while being all locked up. So why care if he has used many rare English words, why care if the book has more melodrama making it novel-ish, contrary to claims that it is a real life story? Understand the context in which he is writing the book and you must be one heck of a perfectionist to claim that Shantaram is not a nice read.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

India Special!!!

It happens only in India. It took a foreigner answering by the name of Gregory David Roberts to teach me this lesson, this lesson about the India I was too blind not to see.

I used to believe that Indians are fickle minded. The unnecessary hype surrounding every cricket match, the furore raised after every loss, the euphoria after each victory, used to give me a headache each time I think about India and its sports. Yes, when it comes to finance and the like, we Indians play safe. We tend to secure our life with a steady income job rather than taking risks in a high paying business gamble. But when it comes to matters of the heart, we are fickle.

I used to hope it was the other way round, but now I realise, though we should change our financial habits to better adapt to the dynamic globalised world, when it comes to the heart and the soul, we rule. India is the only place where you can be God one moment and the devil incarnate the next. It is this fickle nature of our minds that makes us special. Every joy, every sorrow, has an explanation by the Indian heart. It is only here that even seemingly unrelated events are given an indelible connection. India thus becomes the land of stories, stories that seem so wierd yet so true. That makes India special and finally, I can say this, I am proud to be an Indian.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

India 61

If you ask me to write about my vision for India, for an India around ten years from now, the truth is there is plenty to write. That's good from the point of view that I really do get to write something, but what is poignant to note is that even after 61 years I still have many reservations, many points where I think things can be handled differently.

For starters the main problem with India as far as any form of development is concerned is the regressive, protective mindset of the vast populi. As I have written earlier, we are averse to risk, the vast majority prefer to be comfortable within the security of their own homes, or within that of a secured pay. Yes, that is changing slightly, with the rise of an affluent middle class after internet and globalisation came into the picture, but that change is registering only with the people whose technical capabilities and professional mindset have been allowed to evolve, have been tuned to take advantage of the changing world. What about the remaining? Recently, India ranked 126th in human development terms. Seriously, it hurts to be poor in India, worse so because, chances for the poor to rise are still slim. Those who manage to break free from the shackle and join the middle class bandwagon are those lucky few who manage to get themselves educated, educated atleast to the level of having a dream, chasing it with passion and then reveling in its fulfillment.

So only way forward is for the poor to rise, for that a mindset change is required, people have to be empowered to the level of atleast having a dream, and that is possible only by imparting education, a quality education. And by that I don't mean starting more engineering colleges or other professional training institutes, for that would be like constructing the 30th floor in a building where the foundation was designed only for say 20. If we are thinking about a vision, we need to think about the future, and so we need to plan for that generation which would beome the vibrant youth in the future, in essence, our focus now should be on that part of the population that's under the age of 15. So what we need to ask now, is what fraction of that population will have the right skills and literacy to meet the demands of 2020 and beyond? If we fail to do so, any achievement we see today in terms of development would become just a false dawn. Thus, focus must be on the primary education sector.

For that focus to yield results, everyone must be involved in that endeavour. Every professional, every business establishment should see primary education as an investment for the future and thus play an increasing role in developing this vital area, rather than putting all the onus and the blame on the government alone. If the purpose of education is to empower all to dream big, then those who have succeeded in doing so certainly are those best placed in inspiring more.

Theres nothing utopian about this. There's nothing we can't achieve when we work together. What the government and the NGOs find difficult to implement, either due to want of resources, or due to beauracratic hassles, the businesses and MNCs and even individuals can offer in terms of money, time, expertise or any combination of these to bring about a change. Now, some may see bringing businesses into the picture as privatisation but I see this as positive collaboration for a grander socialistic development. This is my first vision for India - to see a greater collaboration between all facets of society for strengthening the primary education sector in order to empower the nation from bottom up.

My next vision holds valid based on the success of implementing the first. I, at this stage, seriously hope that the higher level technical institues in the country like the IITs did a little more than just churn out quality engineers. Its been 50 years, but does India in the post independence era have atleast one Nobel Prize laureate for science? Do the technical institutes in the country bring out quality research developments, some quality initiatives that can positively impact the country in a profound manner. I am not saying there are none, but certainly there are not enough. The way I see it, what lacks here is a dream. The youth (I am saying in general and not about everyone) in these high end professional institutions seems to have settled into a state of impasse, a desire to go through the motions, get a job and be happy with their lives. I don't blame the youth for that. The only way to have a dream, rather to believe in the power of dreams is to come out into the real world with a strong foundation built from the primary education sector.

Now, in the future lies a world where a developed nation is judged based on how fast it can continue economic growth with no damage caused to the environment whatsoever. Thus, it is our choice now, whether to build a developed and powerful economy dependent on today's technology and today's resources, the same tools that have made US powerful, or to go for a clean energy initiative, where the development may initially seem slower, but would certainly be more sustainable. So my third vision would be that of a clean energy initiative, the success of which again depends on the constructive imagination of the whole population, and that again takes us back to square one. We need to start at the grass roots.

India's future lies in the hands of the coming generation. It is thus the duty of the current generation of decision makers to mould the up and coming generation into a vital force, a united strong entity that will carry forward every little accomplishment we have had in the last 61 years on a much larger scale with a more profound effect.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Do comment

I am basically a silent person. There have been several situations, several conversations where I would like to chip in with something I want to say, but more often than not, my voice gets drowned in my own indecision. That is what this blog is about. Whatever I miss out saying, no matter what the reason, here I wish to write and express my deepest thoughts, not that I think too much.

All in all, whatever I have written is supposed to be a part of different conversations and like all conversations something will be said to me in return too. I want to hear that, at least as the indicator that I am being heard. So guys, please comment, no matter what it is that you write.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A life can change in a couple of minutes!!!

For five days now, I have been sad, for reasons I could not even understand. I came up with a lot of possible explanations to make myself feel better, the result, my two earlier blogs, but personally, I didn't feel any shit better.

And it took only a couple of minutes of a seemingly trifle conversation with a good friend of mine to give me a facelift. This whole semester I was behaving just the way, I didn't want to. I didn't see what I was becoming. Maybe I was blind. I was cutting myself off from the friends I have in NITC, behaving as though I was some high funda intellectual, not really maintaining contact with the people around. My earlier profile picture summarised this attitude of mine with an uncharacteristic smirk. I didn't like being like that and thus my mind started sending distress signals, yet I didn't notice.

I was turning into a wannabe, a person who I am not, just based on baseless assumptions and desires on being different. I don't want to be different. I don't want to be an enigma. Inherently I am a simple person, looking to have fun in simple ways with other simple friends. I need to cut the crap, just be who I am, smile and not smirk, and once again seriously feel I belong here.

Quotes by Gregory David Roberts

The book Shantaram was a seriously nice read, really long though, actually I still have around 200 pages to go. He sure knows how to write in a nice, drawling, philosophical kinda way. But the words he uses!!! I was reading more of the dictionary than the book (helped me with my GRE preps though). Anyways there were a few things about the book that struck me, stuff that we all seem to know, but never able to put in words. Here are a few.
  • The contours of all our virtues are shaped by adversity.
  • We live on because we can love, and we love because we can forgive.
  • Happiness would have been no more than just another facet of our lives had it not been for suffering. One craves for happiness not just because of the joy it can bring, but because it is special. Suffering makes happiness special. If suffering was as good as history and happiness common place, then no one would even give happiness a second thought.
There were actually quite a lot more. Nothing striking me as of now. It's been almost 2 months since i have been stagnant on page 700. I'll have to start reading it again to remember all of his nice quotes. Till then, see you!!!

Michael Fred Phelps

With an unprecedented 13 Olympics Gold Medals, the tag - the greatest Olympian of all time, irrespective of sport - will not be a misfit on the Baltimore Bullet. Maybe technology has its say, maybe Speedo is the undisputed king in making record breaking swimsuits, maybe a scientific training regime has its benefits, but in Beijing 2008 with 7/7 Golds, 6/7 World Records and an Olympic Record in the 100m butterfly ( and yet this statistics might still change after the relay on Sunday), the question of human ability and endurance certainly has to be raised.

Is Phelps physically superior to any of his challengers? Well, according to Spitz, another legend of his own time, there is nothing about Phelps in his physique that sets him apart from his competitors. Yes, he has a frame ideal for swimming, but so do many others. What makes him special is his single minded, dogged determination. Considering he had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder when he was kid, the discipline which he has been able to train himself into is commendable and by discipline I mean the mental one. In front of the pool, in his mind, he knows he rules, he knows to what extent he should push himself and more importantly, he knows how to win even before leaping into the pool. Have you seen the composure on his face before any race, the calmness, the sense of detachment? Even the sight of such confidence is enough to force all opponents into an unconditional surrender.

Prior to Beijing 2008, I had a list of three people who's determination and performance in sports had made a significant impact on how I see myself - Adam Gilchrist, Lance Armstrong and Brett Lee, all for different reasons. Now Phelps has demonstrated to me the actual power of mind over matter.

Kudos to Phelps, Congrats to Bindra, Chinese determination - simply awesome and as a feast of technology and human performance, Beijing 2008 scores over the rest.

Spirit's Down!!!

No longer do I have any idea what I am doing here. There was a time when I felt on top, when I felt I could be anyone I wanted here. I thought I had finally broken the shell that had been suffocating me for around three years before coming here. But I guess I was wrong. That ill fated question, "Keeshayo?" has made me so scared of trying out something, that once again I am descending into the gloom and darkness within the shroud I had thought I had shed.

Pai casually, a bit drunk, made a comment to me that if he was God, he would take the world back to the Stone Age. #*@% technology. Well that's all he said. And ya he was right. If we have to realise the value of being here on this earth, we will have to be constantly reminded of how difficult progress has been from the moment man set foot on earth to today. What better way to do that than compelling mankind to keep repeating that process over and over again.

And then my mind took over. I started connecting every nuance of that comment to my life in general and that made me sad but at the same time offered me a greater insight into the person inside me.

I am a person for whom a new setting is akin to a breath of fresh air. If I stay within any setting I tend to eventually become the stereotype that the society within that setting makes me out to be. Though initially, it is all fun and nice, for I would then only be defining myself in that new phase of life and I can be anyone I choose to be; with time, the definition I give myself in the setting starts suffocating me to such an extent that only a change would make me better. I need to constantly rejuvenate and redefine myself, else all purpose, all ambition, all dreams just start fading away. What's wrong with that? I like to change; change is a good thing right? well then, why am I feeling all lost and sad?

That's when it struck, you know. Till now I have been living in time constrained settings. I live there for around two to three years happily defining myself, till other peoples' perception of me takes my life into a constancy. Now, ideally in such a situation, I would like to call it quits, change the setting, leave when I am on top keeping only happy memories of that setting in my mind. But no. Till now in every phase of life (I have gone through three) my presence in that setting is already predetermined by other factors. For instance, I have to stay four years in NITC to get my BTech degree. So even after the stagnation point of that phase of life has been reached, I have to continue living there being sad that I can't do anything definitive, anything that would make me fit in that setting. The longer I have to live with this frame of my mind, the more I start to hate that place and eventually when I get out, the only memories of that place would be the sad ones over the last few years which would clearly overshadow the happier moments I had before.

Actually, I kind of like this place. I don't want to go out next year nursing only the bad memories accumulated over the coming year, for now, I have started feeling the stagnancy in this setting.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mr. Karat, when will you guys learn?

"Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat on Saturday said that the Left parties were facing three major challenges - the impact of globalisation and neo-liberal policies; increasing collaboration of the ruling classes with imperialism that poses threat to sovereignity and independent foreign policy; and communal designs that threaten the social fabric.", read the special correspondent report in The Hindu on 10th August.

How can people be so parochial in the 21st century? The communal part, he got right; but the remaining two challenges, I don't think so. You can't look at 21st century changes with a 19th century eye. That's what the left parties are doing. They fail to evolve their ideologies based on the time and place.

Globalisation and liberal policies are good from the economic point of view, come on, they were the two factors that led to the ascend of a dominant middle class in India. Yes, it is true that some, unable to make use of the advantage of the latest technologies enabling high level of international collaboration, have been left in the lurch. But for that it is not globalisation that one has to blame. It is the mindset of India's society. We revel in mediocrity and are averse to change. We prefer to be comfortable within the security of our own homes, or within that of a secured pay. Risk is as foreign to an average Indian as a Pope would be in Saudi Arabia.

Attack that mindset, imbibe in the people a dynamic nature, a competitive spirit and create an environment where the risk takers are not frowned upon. Come on, nature bred us with the concept of Survival of the Fittest. Every human born has the capacity to challenge all odds and come out victorious, or at least has the capacity to learn in the process. Why doubt that potential? Why create non-vibrant citizens who have a secured income rendering them with a lackadaisical spirit, with no desire to compete and challenge, with no desire to satiate their own free spirit? Yes, that was the pre-1990 India. Maybe that was because the priorities were different then, but now they certainly don't fit into the scheme of things.

I thought the left parties would have learnt that lesson after their computer debacle in West Bengal. They vociferously opposed computerization citing loss of jobs and even banned computerization in West Bengal. The consequences in Bengal and the advantages that computers have brought to us is for all to see. I guess, old habits die hard.

Now, we need to ask ourselves only one question to decide whether globalisation is good or bad. Should we develop fast, but ya, with a few missing the bandwagon initially; or slow and steady, helping everyone on and then finally when we reach the next step, to see that other countries have climbed a further ten? Globalisation is a fast way. Trust the initial tortoises to catch up. They will catch up, for no man can be kept down for long.

So in the long run development and respect from other nations can be created by globalisation. Being seen as more open, more receptive to change, more dynamic, all these which management principles characterise as essential traits for a good leader, will only propel India to become a leader.

Look at it from this angle and then how can greater international collaboration be an imperialistic conspiracy?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hollywood vs. Rajni

Just watched "Wanted" yesterday night. Slick movie that. Some really nice action sequences. If you choose to watch it as a no-brainer, not questioning your own knowledge in Physics, the movie actually is worth watching. It is entertaining all the way, with crisp dialogues and a well sorted script. Irrespective of the fact that when I saw James Mc Avoy's physique and the genre of the movie, I thought he was horribly miscast, he has done a reasonably good job. He has portrayed the ascend of a vulnerable man with a sense of reality. We tend to get the feeling that a transition like that is really possible in real life.

Well now, thinking about the reality aspect of the movie's action sequences, I realised why Hollywood is able to pull it off and not Rajni (outside Tamil Nadu, that is).

Even in a no-brainer, slick action movie some sense of reality should be there. There should at least be more than one person who can do all the nice tricks with guns, bullets and cigars. If there is some sense of super natural behaviour in the protagonists, an explanation, however vague, should be given for their abnormal talents. For instance, in "Wanted" the members of the fraternity are said to have an abnormally fast heart beat rate under duress, which pumps copious amounts of adrenaline into their brains making them see things slower and able to make decisions faster. Moreover, all the thrills and frills should fit the script and the scene and not be there just for a melodrama.

I just hope Indian movies learn this from Hollywood. We would then at least be able watch all the indigenous movies without thinking - "What the hell?".

Life ain't so good!!!

For a long time I was plagued with an inferiority complex, which to a certain extent I still have. That bred in a me a kind of "stereotypism" that makes me hate or rather fear the question - "Keeshayo?" (For those who know me as Kiran, in NITC I am Keesha). I wouldn't say I lack discipline, but there were so many things that I wanted to do, which I was unable to. Initially I thought I was not disciplined enough. But, now I realize, the fear of that inevitable question, unconsciously rendered me into a state of inaction, where everything I did was what OTHERS expected me to do, not what I wanted to do. What happened to the football I used to play? What happened to my determination to play Badminton daily? What happened to my persistence to become physically fit?

So don't again ask me who I am or say that you don't know much about me even after working or studying together for a few years, for even I have no idea who I am. I am an enigma. People don't know me, or rather I don't let people to get to know me.

In all essence I am inherently vulnerable. But, with people not knowing me, a sense of legend is spawned around me. People tend to believe, after a period of time, that I have some capability to make some difference in this world. The seriously far-fetched over-estimations of my abilities gives me an intoxicating sense of power, a sense that I am different, an escape from the complexes that riddle me.

But the one thing I have been unconsciously developing over a long period of time, one attribute I am proud of having, is the power of silence. Silence is golden, and that pays off in the sense that whenever I choose to speak now, I make a difference, I am heard, my voice is not lost in all the other blabbering around me.

All in all, I want to be different. I don't want to trudge the same path everyone one else is trundling along. But whether I am truly able to make a difference, or whether I end up as just another wierdo, only time will tell.

Please, Mr Obama!!!

Philip Bobbitt, what can I say, is all set to make Barack Obama the next Bush. Though being a Democrat, through his book "Terror and Consent: the Wars for the Twenty First century" he has proved what kind of a partisan chauvinist he is. I haven't read his book but simply reading what it contains makes me sick in the stomach.

He has challenged some of the well accepted notions of terrorism and its origins, and has laid out a new way for tackling modern day terror. Forget about what his notions of terrorism are. Everyone has his/her own views. What is more poignant is the solution he has presented in his thesis.

He suggests a broad "US - led" global alliance of what he calls the "states of consent" which would develop a new set of international principles under which, force can legitimately be used against another state to pre-empt a terrorist strike or to destroy WMD. This new set of laws would then override existing international conventions such as the United Nations Charter. Other conclusions you can gather from such a proposition, I leave it to you guys.

In all this, Bobbitt forgets that irrespective of how brutal the terror strike may be, how difficult the struggle against terrorism might be, the concept of human rights is universal and independent of the space time continuum. That cannot become anachronistic. You can't say that considering the ubiquitous nature of terrorism in the 21st century and the vulnerability of civilians to terror attacks, it is justifiable to take blood for blood. A drop of blood spawned in the endeavor of fighting terrorism is only going to give birth to a new insurgent.

What we need thus is a more viable solution, a break from all the parochial anachronistic ideas promulgated in the name of the War Against Terrorism. Creating more Guantanamo Bays, more Iraqs, can never be seen as a solution worth considering irrespective of how bad the state of affairs of international relations go.

Please Mr. Obama, Keep Bobbitt away from your circle of advisors, else you will lose all the trust you have gathered from the international community.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

In a Personal Dilemma!!!

It just so happens that i am not a loquacious speaker. More often than not when i suddenly meet an old acquaintance, words get stuck in my throat, for what to speak does not come naturally to me. I need to plan in advance before talking to anyone and that is why when people tell me that in an interview speak as in any natural conversation with a friend, i tend to ask what is a natural conversation like?

A few more quotes!!!

Violence is a wasteful expedient that expedites further violence.

Excellence is the only pursuit worth the effort.

The only force more ruthless and cynical than the business of big politics is the politics of big business.

Civilization is defined by what we forbid more than what we permit.

A fanatic is one who won't change his mind and can't change the subject... Winston Churchill.

The contours of all our virtues are shaped by adversity.

Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.

Have the courage to believe in the system society has reposed faith upon.

No one can claim to be the masters of all of nature’s mysteries. What one knows is nothing more than a microcosm in a bigger scheme.

In an Ideology Crisis??

I recently called my brother an ignorant, impetuous, anti-American communist, when he vociferously opposed my MS ambitions abroad. Forget the first three, but what do I have against the communists? Actually, I have nothing against them. It is just that I believe having an ideology and then basing one’s decisions on that is no longer the best way to go about in this new world. (Please understand. Communist ideology is just one example of many ideologies floating in this world now. I have nothing against the communist ideology. I am only writing against the concept of ideology.)

An ideology is now an archaic concept in this world of globalisation 3.0. The world is now more dynamic. Thus one has to look at the problem at hand and then solve the issue based on the circumstance, more or so like 20-20 cricket, as opposed to test match cricket.

In a test match one has the freedom to plan for different scenarios and then execute them based on the predefined and orthodox method, but in 20-20, the situation will mostly demand improvisation, one has to be able to think on one’s feet, more or so like in the fast pace of today’s globalised world. Sorry, test cricket and T-20 was the only metaphor I could come up with for the old world and the new one.

An ideology creates a modus operandi for our thinking and working. But it is not applicable in a dynamic society today because once people start following an ideology their mindset develops an inertia resisting change. The ability to adapt is stifled. This does not augur well for the world.

Thus what society needs now is not an educational system, where ideologies are fed into the fresh brains, but one which inculcates an attitude to adapt to any scenario to promptly take advantage of the world that is highly non linear and dynamic.

The Halcyon Days of Nature are over or is it?

Reaching the consummate state of the evolution process initiated by nature, the humans amidst all the intelligence that they possess seem to display an eerie lack of common sense and an invidious dose of vanity. We forget that we are fortunate to be alive. The development of life on earth, though having a minimalistic probability, is a testament to how ideal conditions can collaborate at the right place and at the right time to create a planet and the nearby universe in a manner so that we now exist to ponder over the very reason of our existence.

That’s what makes the concept of life so special – as in not our life, but LIFE in general. Every creature trudging the rocks on earth has a reason to believe they are special. We have to respect that. Being the only creature on this planet which has a faculty of thought and which can churn out great innovations from imagination, does in no way make us superior to all of nature’s other experimentation. We are just plain lucky.

We seem to have forgotten this, and with the supreme brain nature has endowed upon us, we crave to now be nature's master. All its other creations are now seen as our slaves. Based on our whims and fancies we kill, poach, eat and destroy nature's other successes. It is true that the survival of the fittest is the law of the jungle where the denizens live on instinct, where life has no purpose more than to survive and to sustain itself. But with the state of evolution having reached us, a rational human being, who bases his life on thoughtful action, we no longer live in the jungle.

Yes, we are out of the jungle, but common sense seems to have been left in the lurch. Our brains have conjured up great technological advancement and some fine philosophical work too, but our mind is yet to accept the rule of law over the law of the jungle. We are then still, not the benevolent king but the ruthless conquistador.

How else can we explain the extinction of animal species ever since humans became a force to reckon with? How else do you explain global warming and its consequences on nature? How else can the fact that we have developed the heart to see all this yet be just a passive spectator, be explained?

Now in the state where nature can do no more to physically evolve humans to create an innate common sense – for evolution takes time and by the time humans realise their folly nature herself might cease to exist – the one thing we must be prepared to do is evolve through our minds.

Thoughts give birth to revelations, revelations yield wisdom, wisdom adorns one with common sense, and the lack of it is the reason for the despicable state we find ourselves in.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Australian Cricket

Irrespective of how much flak the Australian Cricket team has drawn from the self proposed enforcers of cricketing spirit and passionate supporters of sides finishing a close second, the fact still remains that Australia has been a champion side. This is a fact that no one can deny. After all, records can’t lie.

Unless of course, it is lamented that, complaints of irresponsible on field and off field behaviour are dusted under the carpet, and never really brought into public scrutiny. This argument hardly counts because professional sportsmen are after all human and mistakes are inevitable. The argument of a sportsman being morally irresponsible should never be mixed with any sporting debates, because organised sport is essentially a device to tame man’s wild and violent impulses to initiate and indoctrinate the spectators and the players into the complex web of obligations that live at the heart of the rule of law, taking from the words of Bartlett Giamatti. Thus, one shouldn’t expect a cricketer to be the perfect citizen, the perfect role model. That does not go on to say that cricketers should not try incorporating perfection into their behaviour too.

Once a match starts, the only thing running through a professional cricketer’s mind would be to deliver his best and to help his side win the game. He also has to have a sportsman spirit that acknowledges that the other side also wishes to win. Basically he should play hard but fair - an argument put forth explaining Australia’s some what rude and un-sportsman-like behaviour at times. This does not justify their actions but what one has to understand is that the human memory has a tendency to be short lived.

Take a champion side that has been winning consistently, without losing for a few months or so continuously, so much that winning has become a habit. Losing a habit is difficult and even the most grown up person tends to become childish. Sometimes they tend to do anything to protect the habit. Yes, winning does sometimes make you “high”.

It is because of this tendency that people have a tendency to label a champion as an arrogant brat. This does not justify the champion’s actions but the labelling and criticism is over the board. It would be easy to label the Australian cricketers as arrogant but it would also be unfair saying that they lack a sportsman spirit and can’t handle defeat. The current side has displayed impeccable resilience and a great spirit even in the face of defeat. There have been times when they rise to the top, become arrogant slightly, then lose, initially finding it hard to accept and then be like a bear with a sore head.

But it is in this situation, when the chips are down, when there is an understanding that there are people who dislike you that the Australian side has planned well, focussed hard and come out on top. And the cycle continues. It is not the fact that the win consistently, that makes Australia a champion side, it is the ability they have shown to win in hard situations that have given them the label. One should respect them for this and appreciate the fact that other teams are inspired to play harder at least to revel in the moment of victory over the Australian side. Setting all behavioural debate aside, the hard hitting batsmen, resilient defence, and spitfire bowling have only added to the beauty of the game.

Discipline

Discipline is the key to a happy and successful life, people say. But what defines success? After all it is just a matter of perception. What one may consider success, to another it is failure. But again, the wise will only consider failure as a stepping stone to success, nothing more than a temporary setback. So let us put it this way, success is the consequence of chasing one's dreams and then defining his life by the dreams.


Next question, how does being successful make you happy? If you define success as money and prosperity in life, then happiness will exist only in dreams. But as per my earlier definition of success, trudging the path that you long for, chasing your dream, will be reconciling to your innate desires and then you will be happy not just at the end of the road but all along the way as well.


Now, what has discipline got to do with all this? Nothing much. Just that it is human nature to relinquish dreams after a few setbacks. Think that they are wasting their time and should live their life as per the norm, safe without taking risks. To avoid this, to keep going along the tough but desired path, without discipline, you better not set out in the first place.

Meet Joe Black

It certainly is an exceptional movie, one that is worth watching. In plain words, the movie is sweet and simple. The theme portrayed in the movie is different, different in the sense of looking at death and life from a different perspective, the new perspective being that of death itself. The movie does not border around the clich├ęd ideas of a failed life, realising its mistakes in the face of death. Nor does it portray the grim side of death. Rather it does not portray death at all. The movie is all about how death comes to realise what life is all about, about how leading a wonderful and honourable life, leading life to its fullest is its true beauty. The movie centres on death himself learning how to live from an experienced and successful life of an honourable man. Without even a reference to death in the whole movie, the message is clear. Nothing in this life is as certain as death and taxes, fear neither you should.

The thoughts that came to me while watching “Meet Joe Black”.

  • I shouldn't act because other people do so in a particular way. Principles, I should have and, insight and foresight should be the basis of my life. Action ought to have reason and the reason must be honourable. Rude and arrogant, I should not be, for wherever I reach; always remember I should, that I started at zero.
  • The more you chase after it, the more you long for it. The more you long for it, the harder it is for you to let go. The harder it is for you to let go, it slips away all the more easily. That is life.
  • If you haven't tried, you haven't lived.

A Realisation

  • Be careful not to fall prey to adulations soothing your ego.
  • Stop pretending to be who you are not and start playing to your strengths.
  • Don't make promises you are not sure you can keep.
  • The simplest way to solve a problem is to be sure that there is somebody to help you.
  • Life is full of choices, this life is yours and thus the choices are yours too.

Random Quotes

  • Are we human because we gaze at stars or do we gaze at stars because we are human?
  • What one says will soon be forgotten, but what one does will live on for thousands of years.
  • The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing-- Edmund Burke.
  • Some times in life when you feel let down, don't lose heart, because if that too is gone, then there is no hope.
  • A word can inspire millions, a word can spurn revolutions, a word can bring forth great innovations; an action can speak a thousand words.
  • All work and no play is progressive suicide.
  • Only the strong can admit to mistakes with their heads held high; the weak nervously shuffle away with shifty glances.
  • A man's character is determined by his judgement.
  • The best price that life offers is the chance to work hard and to do work that's worth doing... Theodore Roosevelt