Why I Love Fireworks During Diwali


It makes driving on Bangalore's roads exciting:

I'm pretty bored with the mundane driving experience in Bangalore (dodging cows, people, autos, sweepers, what-have-you) everyday. Diwali gives me an opportunity to test my driving skills; which begins with spotting the cracker bang in the middle of the road. I get the chance to test my alertness levels; scanning the footpaths (well – whatever is left of them) for any sign of a person holding an incense stick or a matchbox. These are pointers to crackers on the road. And the fun that I have avoiding these crackers and driving on! Boy-oh-boy!!!


Weeding out the sick and elderly from our population:

Our population is bloating. And there are many who are sick, who have asthma. Bangalore is polluted enough even without the fireworks. Now we have a chance to choke them even further. Then, there are people who have heart problems. It gives me sadistic pleasure to sometimes drive very close to them and then honk loudly. The look on their faces! Heaven. And in spite of all this, such people want to stay on in the city. How dare they? I am glad that God gave us Diwali which is an excuse to weed out such people from amongst us healthier, more responsible citizens. Now I can burst these fireworks right in their faces so they either collapse because of the pollution; or get an attack because of the sudden explosion of the fireworks!


Opportunity to take revenge on my neighbours:

I vividly remember the time when my next door neighbor parked his horse in front of my gate. The mutt! Now, what better time than Diwali to get back at him? I can fire those rockets at will – in whatever direction I wish. Yesterday I fired 2 into his balcony, one into his bathroom; and one under his car. Serves him right – the wretched fellow. But oh! This is Deepavali. I should not be having such negative thoughts. But anyways .. what is done is done. God bless him.



And this list is just the top three reasons! Now, let those “Please-have-a-fireworks-free-Diwali” types better THAT! Ha!

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Update [20th October '09]:

In case you are wondering what the other reasons I love fireworks might be, well here are some


When I Interviewed Ambika Soni in My Dreams!

Abhi pointed me to this transcript of the Devil's Advocate episode where Karan Thapar interviewed I&B Minister Ambika Soni. Watch out for the number of times she uses phrases such as “debate”, “mechanisms in place” etc.


I guffawed so hard at the stupidity of it all that I fell down from my chair, hit my head against the floor; and fell unconscious. But even then the ghost of this interview did not leave me. I actually dreamt that I was interviewing Ambika Soni. And here's how the dream went:


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Me (Interviewer): Hello and welcome to [Insert-the-name-of-any-interview-show-here]. This is Kiran Rao; and we have as our guest today, I&B Minster of India, Ms. Ambika Soni. Ministerji, let's start with the question of censorship. What makes you think your ministry qualifies to tell people what they should be seeing?

Ambika Soni (AS): Well, I don't think that's true. I think we should have a public debate. I have committed myself on the floor of the house. I have an absolutely open mind.

Me: Ministerji, your ministry recently disallowed screening of one of the episodes of my interview show because it had a scene showing me kissing my wife. Are you implying that I was doing something immoral?

AS: No. I am not saying that. But there are mechanisms in place to deal with such cases. It is not my creation.

Me: Ok. So you accept, then, that that episode had nothing shameful?

AS: Kiran, I am not going to table my personal opinion on the matter. It is just that there has been a mechanism in place for this. I am ready to have a public debate.

Me: Ms Soni, lets lighten the mood a little. Let's switch topics. Who is your favorite cricketer?

AS: As I said, I have an open mind and I am prepared to have a public debate to resolve the issue and reach a conclusion.

Me: Huh? Ok. Let's try this. Would you like to tell us about yourself? Your history? Family background?

AS: Well – I committed myself on the floor of the house .. I have an open mind ... ..

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At that moment, I felt some cold water running down my cheeks and woke up :D I gave a good scolding to the friend who had woken me up. I so wanted to know where the interview was heading!


Can this be a Dilbert Comic?

Really .. does it qualify to be a Dilbert comic?


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Scene 1:

Dilbert: Boss, in order to complete this project, we will need to Zapperize the Customerator; and follow it up with a Clamorification of the Vendorola; and all this while we also need to ensure that our company's Exploiterazi process is followed.

Pointy-Haired Boss (PHB): [Irritated; “I wish I had the remotest idea of what this fella is blabbering”]: Oh well, Dilbert, that sounds interesting. Could you give a date by which you can complete this?

Dilbert: @#$%


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Scene 2:

Dilbert: Boss, we are very close to delivering this milestone; now all we need is to lay our hands on a gadget which is somewhat of a cross between a Bugatti Veyron and an Apple iPhone. But, as you know – we do not have control over the plans of Bugatti or Apple. So, we ...

PHB: [Cutting Dilbert short; and in complete awe of him]: Woww... thats awesssome ... Err .. could you just estimate a date by which the milestone will be delivered?

Dilbert: @#$%


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Scene 3:

Dilbert: Boss, our Water-Molecule Detector is ready. However, the only way we can test it is to fly out to Mars and see if we can find anything there (there are too many interfering water molecules on the Earth for the test result to be meaningful).

PHB: [Sympathetically]: Well, Dilbert, I understand you are facing some minor hiccups in releasing this product to the public. Now, could you just put a Completion Date against this task of testing the product?

Dilbert: @#$%

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And I can imagine the various facial expressions of Dilbert and PHB in these three scenes.

Scott Adams, are you reading this?


Minor Victims in Open Courts

Finally, the judiciary has taken note of the harassment that child victims go through when they are produced in open courts for trials. Taking exception to the cases where the minor victims of rape are produced in courts, the Delhi HC has ruled that


The child victim (of rape) shall not be separated from her parents/guardians on the ground of ascertaining the voluntary nature of statement. No court shall detain a child in an institution meant for the adults”


The good news is that judiciary is becoming sensitized towards the trauma that a child has to go through in courts; often having to describe the complete incident to total strangers, fielding uncomfortable questions (“where did he touch you?”, “Did you resist?”). The least we can do is spare the little soul who has been abused from this additional form of abuse!


The bad news is that, although there already are “guidelines” put in place regarding rape trials where a minor is involved; it appears that courts are simply ignoring these guidelines left, right and center. What is needed is to turn these guidelines into stringent laws – that's the first step. Making the trial process child-friendly is the next. (More about this in Pinki Virani's Book “Bitter Chocolate: Child Sexual Abuse in India” - my review here)


If only, laws and guidelines as they are on paper were to be implemented! Looking forward to an India where the law treats the children as children and not as commodities!



Flood Relief, Statues and More

The current flood situation in Andhra Pradesh, the worst in over a century, have caused damage to the tune of Rs. 12 Thousand Crore; according to the Andhra Pradesh government (news link here). The state government has sought immediate assistance of Rs. 6 thousand crore from the centre.


Meanwhile, elsewhere in India, Mayawati intends to spend a whopping Rs. 2600 crore on statues and other structures in honor of various leaders in UP. And then, while reading another article, I came to know that there are plans to build a statue of Shivaji in Mumbai at a cost of Rs. 350 crore.


There – I have already provided the source for 50% of the flood relief budget – and we're just done with statues and just two states. Need I say anything more?


Oh yes – I do. What would Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar or Chhatrapati Shivaji themselves prefer in such a situation? That some lunatics build their statues when lakhs of people are homeless? Or divert the funds to help the needy?


Any answers, honorable politicians of my country?


Wake Up Sid: Movie Review and some Introspection

Just watched “Wake Up Sid” today. Really liked the movie. I'll keep the review short in order to concentrate on the introspection (rather, interpretation).


The Movie

Wake Up Sid” is about two people who appear to be poles apart. Sid (Ranbir Kapoor) is the son of a rich businessman in Mumbai. In the beginning he seems to be a happy-go-lucky guy, but you soon realize that this is at a much higher level – he's completely irresponsible, is a failure at college, and cannot even stick to the job his dad offers him at their business for more than a week. Aisha (Konkona Sen), on the other hand, is a mature, independent-minded lady who has come to Mumbai from Kolkata with a goal in mind.


The movie is about the friendship between these two; but does it eventually turn into love? Let me leave the story at that to avoid spoilers .. uh . .am I too late? :)


What I liked

... about the movie is the fresh approach to a not-so-different story. The story and the main characters have been handled in a way that made me identify with them. I kept comparing myself with Sid first and with Aisha next (c'mon .. comparison is inevitable), trying to decide in what way I am better than each; and what I would like to learn from each. Acting is good; and I fell in love with Konkona all over again(*blush*) :D To top it all, there's no unnecessary kissing scenes and the sex quotient of the movie is like zero (Just for the record: I'm not against kissing or love-making scenes in movies .. just that now-a-days there's overkill and these are used even when not relevant thus diluting the main theme of the movies!)


Interpretation

When I was watching the first half, I spent the entire time just enjoying the movie. The college life, the small moments of comedy. Only during the second half did I realize that the movie is trying to put across a point. Although the contrast between the characters is brought out very well, I felt that each character had some elements of the other. For example, I felt in some scenes that Sid demonstrated remarkable maturity. Aisha, on the other hand, sometimes acted like the very baby that she accused Sid of being.


And near the end of the film, it suddenly occurred to me that this film is not really a love story! I actually concluded what exactly the film is trying to impress on me; and I concur with it too. To put it in short, the “Wake Up Sid” is telling me “Everyone needs to change and become mature as time goes by, everyone needs to have a goal in life and all that; but one also needs to slow down every now and then to take in the simple pleasures of life, to become an irresponsible and care-free baby again!” Cheers to that thought.


Flood Rescue and the Language Card

Union Minister M K Alagiri came to the aid of 18 Tamilian tourists from Pallipalayam who were stuck in the floods in Andhra Pradesh, says this article in ToI.


I suppose contacting the minister was an act of desperation by the unfortunate tourists who, I'm sure, would want to shake off the entire episode as a bad dream. Imagine being caught in the middle of one of the worst flood in South India in recent times!


But, as you might have guessed, the flood situation is not the topic of this post. Then what is?


If some Indians are in a soup in a foreign land (for example, have lost their passports etc); then it is the duty of our embassy there, and of our Government here; to ensure the safety of those Indians.


If some Indians are being harassed or mistreated in a foreign land, then it is the responsibility of the embassy and the Government, to demand the safety of the Indians from the government of that foreign country.


Going one step further, if a person from State A within India is in State B; and is being harassed there on the basis of his origin – Yes – then maybe the state governments need to step in.


But, playing the language card when there is a natural calamity? M K Alagiri may have done the right thing by expediting the rescue of those eighteen Tamilian tourists; but what about the lakhs of others (especially people from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka) who have been the victims of nature's fury during the past few days? Another way of asking this question: Should I show my humane side only when the person in trouble is my lingual sibling? If the Union minister had the resources at his disposal to be able to rescue people trapped in the floods, why use this power only to rescue people of his own state? You belong to a country, remember? It's named India. There are 28 states in this country in addition to your own. And we aren't even talking about Union Territories yet!!!


And oh, replace “language” or “state” in the rant above with any of the following; and my question still holds:

  • Religion

  • Caste

  • Creed

  • Nationality

  • .... and the list goes on and on ..

Looking forward to a country where our nationality and our Indian-ness is our primary identity (err .. am I hoping for too much?)


Bajaj Discover Ad: Discover the Truth

Watch the recent Bajaj Discover bike commercial if you haven't. It appears to be oh-so-interesting what with a village where people speak only Sanskrit being just a one-liter drive from Mangalore. (Link from Bajaj site here and youtube link here – neither of which might be permanent!)



Dear Bajaj Auto, don't you think your ad companies could do with just a little fact-checking before releasing this factually flawed ad to the public? For,

  • The ad claims that Mattur is 100 kms from Mangalore. Err, Mattur is actually 6 kms from the district headquarter city of Shimoga; which in turn is about 200 kms from Mangalore and 280 kms from Bangalore. What's that? You want proof? Go drive from Mangalore to Shimoga – you'll get ample proof. I could post links to google maps or other distance calculators here, but I won't. It is your job to have verified it first.

  • I have been to Mattur village. And although it is true that villagers speak Sanskrit, they use the language to converse among themselves. I spent a couple of hours at the village conversing only in Kannada. For gods' sake, you expect the public to believe that the villagers will start speaking in Sanskrit with every tourist or visitor who comes there? Get outta here!


It is understandable that the ad industry is cut-throat and they need to just exaggerate a bit. But claiming that the distance between two cities is half of what it actually is – that's taking it a bit too far. It only serves to diminish the credibility of the companies involved. What's next? Will Bajaj claim that Shimla is less than a one-liter drive from Delhi?


Taking advantage

Specimen A: A bully who takes undue advantage of his muscle to get his way.

Specimen B: A woman who takes undue advantage of her feminine charm in order to get her way (at work where she works her charm on the boss; in queues where the guy who's manning it considers it “good manners” to allow the girl to break the queue; at the signal she just broke where she “convinces” the cop to let her go with a milder fine; and just about everywhere).


We all detest Specimen A; without exception. But how is Specimen B different from Specimen A? At the end of the day, both are being manipulative and using what they consider their most valuable asset (or effective weapon depending, on how you look at it) to get what they want.


Well?


Internet Freedom and Regulation: The Skype Case

According to a news item in today's ToI; Skype has refused to co-operate with Indian authorities in a matter relating to the nation's internal security. Apparently, Skype has refused to share the encryption code which it uses to encrypt the data communicated over the VoIP service it provides. This encryption code will help the Indian Intelligence agencies to intercept communications and could be an important tool in the fight against terror.


This refusal on the part of Skype has prompted Indian Intelligence authorities to consider banning Skype – which again, as the article points out, is easier said than done since Skype hosts its servers outside of India.


Now, I am not a believer in internet censorship – since it is a free medium after all. But, this is a serious matter and has a direct bearing on the internal security scene in India. Further, the report says that Skype has already shared the encryption code with Governments of countries like US and China. Then why not with India? The article does not mention why Skype has refused to share the information.


I think it is in the best interests of everyone involved if Skype co-operates with India in this case. Failing which, India should consider banning the service; the possibility of by-passing the ban notwithstanding, considering the fact that China has succeeded in strictly monitoring each and every aspect of internet use in the country!



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