- Do you have any idea of the implications of such a massive arms-drop on a nation's security?
- Had someone (say, a “third-worlder”) been caught doing the same in US airspace or the airspace of one of your own so-called “developed” countries, would you have been taking up his case so strongly?
- Is protecting one's own country and punishing proven foreign criminals the prerogative of only the rich countries?
- Saina Nehwal broke into the top 5 of world badminton rankings. She became the first Indian woman to do so. She was also a semi-finalist at the Badminton Asia championship held in India.
- Pankaj Advani created history by becoming the first cueist ever to score a hat-trick of Asian billiard titles when he won the title for the third time at Singapore.
- Then, there was a group of archers from a backward region in Gujarat, who attended the National archery championships in Guwahati. Yes, this is an achievement considering they had to sell off their ancestral properties in order to pay the airfare.
Well, I think I need to stop here. Because, as far as I can tell, these achievements and news items are irrelevant. People couldn't care less. We, as a great sporting nation, have more pressing matters at hand. Sania getting married to Shoaib. And, then, the question about who funded what team in IPL and where the money came from.
- Respect the local culture
- Do not do anything which makes the locals feel threatened.
- A well-dressed professional from Mumbai, who is used to travelling in overcrowded trains, is likely to wonder what the fuss is all about when he comes to Bangalore and hears people say they travel by car because buses are crowded.
- If a resident of, say, Kerala travels to Mizoram, he is sure to be bewildered by the early rising and setting of the sun there.
- A Bangalorean, accustomed to the ubiquitous autorickshaw, would be in for a struggle to find public transport if he travels to some of the “interior” sectors of Noida or Gurgaon.
- Majority of urban Indians, always cribbing about parking space, would re-think their complaint if they ever visit Shimla and notice the precarious parking positions there.
- Most Indians would have no idea about factoring in snowfall and landslides into their day-to-day plans and would have a hard time if posted in J&K or Sikkim.
- As a bonafide Goan, I like individual “foreigners” who tour Goa every year – but I detest them collectively since they descend in hordes and spoil the beauty of the state, are responsible for obscene price spikes during the tourist season; and in the recent past, are projecting the state into the limelight for all the wrong reasons. There have been reports of foreigners being involved in the land mafia in the state and I feel threatened that Goa might be taken over by them. The individual tourist does not look at it all from my angle and is hence sure to be put off by my hostility towards them (real or perceived).
- What is the percentage of Kannada speakers in Bangalore? That of local ethnic Tibetans in Lhasa, especially since the opening of the trans-Tibetan railway?Are the locals justified in feeling threatened that they might be reduced to a minority in their own homeland?
- I had once shared a taxi in Kuala Lumpur with another Indian. There was some light local music playing on the radio. My fellow passenger said in a rude way that he was getting a headache and he asked the driver to switch off the radio. So, is the taxi driver justified in feeling threatened by all Indians?
As the name implies, 55-ers are posts which contain 55 words or less. There are some more rules for 55-word fiction according to wikipedia which I am reproducing below; but I do not think it is necessary to judge each 55-er based on all of these rules.
A literary work will be considered 55 Fiction if it has:
Fifty-five words or less (A non-negotiable rule)
One or more characters,
Some conflict, and
A resolution. (Not limited to moral of the story)
The title of the story is not part of the overall word count, but it still can’t exceed seven words.
I find 55-ers to be a pretty interesting way to express your opinion – you need to be concise but clear (something I don't consider myself to be very good at). It is amazing how much can be expressed in 55 words. Check out Shail's Nest, and IndianPundit for a dose of excellent 55-ers.
This is my first attempt at 55-er.
His bike kissed her car's bumper. Both drivers were at fault.
Out she came screaming. He removed his helmet to say sorry. She slapped him hard, his genuine apologies drowning when palm met cheek.
“Maybe she's justified”, he thought. “Men often misbehave”.
“Maybe I can get away with this”, she thought. “After all I'm female”.
This is not entirely fictional. I witnessed something similar in New Delhi over a decade back.
Finally, 4 years after I started blogging, I have won an award! I have won the Best Book Review at AvantGarde Bloggies Awards for my review of Bitter Chocolate. First and foremost a BIG thanks to Poonam and her team of judges and designers for organizing this award. If any of you out there think that running an online awards is a simple matter, you really need to read this post about the process that was followed – from nomination phase right up to the polls phase. Hats off to the team!
The next round of thanks goes out to those of you who voted for me since you are the ones who made me winner :)
Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up. But more importantly – congrats to all those who made the final shortlist. Remember – being shortlisted is in itself an achievement since your post would have undergone scrutiny from some of India's topmost bloggers. The polls were merely a measure of one's popularity/network than of the quality of the post itself.
Don't agree with that last sentence? Check the percentages of votes that each post polled in the Best Book Review category. You will see that 3 out of the 6 did not get any votes at all. I suppose this is either because the authors were unaware they had been nominated; or that they simply did not publicise it. I, on the other hand, put up the link on twitter, facebook, my blog, gtalk status requesting people to vote. Further, although I did persuade my readers to read the various entries before voting, I do not know how many actually did that. In fact, I am pretty sure there were several who voted for me without even reading my post!
Bottom-line: All the shortlisted posts were winners in their own rights. Congratulations to each and every one of those bloggers.
It goes without saying that this award spurs me to do better and to improve the quality of my blog. Let's hope that this motivation is translated into the real thing on the blog :)
What's it about?
“Its Not About The Bike” is the story of World Champion in cycling Lance Armstrong's fight against cancer – testicular cancer. To put things into perspective, Lance won the Tour de France – the crowning glory for any cyclist - after he had recovered from cancer; and he did it twice back-to-back. That's how inspiring his story is.
The book traces the life history of Lance Armstrong, his childhood in Texas being raised by a single mother, how he started riding the cycle and how he was a winner right from college days.
By the time he reached his early twenties, Lance was a world champion already. Just as his career was shaping up, cancer struck. Lance describes how he ignored some ominous signs and wrote them off as effects of intense cycling. In fact, he even rode the 1996 Olympics and did not return a good result. He did not know it at that time but he had competed in the Olympics with cancer in his body.
1996 was the year when Lance was told the three dreaded words “You have cancer”. So, here he was, at the turning point of his career, already a champion, starting to make money, beginning to train big time to conquer the Tour de France and at that opportune moment, he is diagnosed with cancer.
The book then follows the story of how Lance fought the cancer – against all odds. His cancer was at a very advanced stage already. It had spread to his chest and even brain. He was given very low chances of survival. Lance describes the struggles that he went through – surgery, catheter, chemotherapy (which he says is worse than the disease itself). There were a lot many other challenges:
When he was diagnosed with cancer, Lance was moving from one team to another – so he did not have insurance!
He knew he would become sterile eventually (remember it was testicular cancer he suffered from), so he froze sperm with the hope that he would someday be still able to conceive a baby.
One of his sponsors, Cofidis, pulled the rug from under him – essentially they gave up on him.
There was no dearth of de motivation from all quarters.
But in spite of all this, Lance fought – he fought and survived the cancer. His key allies in the fight were:
Knowledge – as soon as Lance was diagnosed, he started reading up on the topic and armed himself with as much knowledge as possible. He took second and third opinions from doctors
His mother's unflinching devotion.
Friends and family's support.
Doctors, nurses and medicinal science.
Above all – spirit.
Each and every one of these factors played a crucial role in Lance's recovery and the absence of even one of these might have spelled doom.
But surviving cancer was only the first part of the story. After recovery came yet another struggle – what to do with the rest of his life? When Lance had been sick, he had just wanted to live – even if it meant he'd never had to mount a bicycle again in his life. During the “survivorship” phase, he had all but given up on cycling. To add to it, he had to undergo tests every month for one year to ensure that cancer had not reared its ugly head again.
He was a mental wreck. He was to understand later that this is called “survivorship” and it is an extremely difficult phase to go through. He had put everything he had into fighting the disease and surviving and now that he had done it – he was spent. There was a hollow sensation and he didn't know what to do with the rest of his life.
As if putting the pieces of his life together was not difficult enough, Lance had to deal with de-motivating comments from lot of people too.
But Lance returned. He mounted the bike and when he did – he was a changed man. Before his disease, he had been a rash young man who dint think much about strategy. He used to just mount the bike and use brute force to win.
Now he was a more calculating, team-player and after a few months of riding, he know he had it in him to become a professional again. He met with tremendous de-motivation, some people just dismissed him. But he fought this battle too.
In 1999, against every possible odd, Lance won Tour de France. By now, he had married and he and his wife had also initiated the process of IVF. They wanted to have a baby.
Even this victory was not free of sour grapes. The French media accused Lance of drug abuse. Lance had to prove is innocence too. Further, many people dismissed his victory as a fluke.
And then Lance won the Tour de France again in 2000. That shut is detractors up.
“It's Not About the Bike” is as inspiring as a real life story can ever get. Lance maintains that cancer changed him – his life. He says cancer made him a better person and changed his perspective of life. However, I think this holds for any disease, or acute adversity that a person faces. Determination, awareness, will to fight and human spirit are indispensable to overcome any major problem in life.
I rate “It's Not About The Bike” at 4.5 stars out of 5 and I think it is a must-read for what it teaches you about life.
I'm a little late in posting about this – a village labourer from Andhra Pradesh, Narasimha Rao, has secured the 453rd rank in the IIT Entrance exams. Watch this video to know more (original youtube link here)
This is yet another instance of students from the Indian hinterland beating all odds to prove themselves in one of the toughest technical exams ever. Last year, I had written about a college which made IITians out of cattle-grazers. And now this.
Goes to show two things:
One: How much talent and determination rural India bundles.
Two: How important it is to encourage such people and revamp the education system such that mindless “coaching” and “tuition” culture makes way for more sensible and practical approaches.
The video says that Narasimha's battle is only half-won. He still needs money to even travel to the counseling, and needs to supplement the family income.
All I can hope for is that such talent doesn't go waste and that Narasimha makes it to IIT and proceeds to serve the country in his chosen field. We all need such examples of hope and inspiration every now and then to prove what difference determination can make.
Pramod Muthalik and Kannada litterateur M Chidananda Murthy have opposed the recent SC verdict on pre-marital sex. Their contention is, and I quote this from the article in ToI:
“It can happen only in foreign countries, where almost 33% of 13-year-old girls get pregnant because of such liberal laws. If the same is allowed here, we would face similar consequences,”
Err, gentlemen, I have two innocuous questions for you:
Have either of you ever hear of the term “age of consent” and do you understand how it relates to the matter at hand?
Do you have even the remotest idea how many teenage pregnancies there are in India and what role child marriages play in this statistic?
Looking forward to some enlightenment from your esteemed selves.