Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Tag: india

Rare pictures of Trivandrum

Some of these pictures are from an album titled “Album of South Indian Views”. The pictures were taken by the Government photographer Zacharias D’Cruz. For some of these pictures, the photographer is unknown. Most of these pictures were taken in the late 1800’s and 1900’s. I originally got these pictures from Manu Prasad Revindran’s Facebook album.

Glenn Beck is an asshole

…within the span of a few minutes, Beck implied that there are no quality medical schools in India; implied that medical care in India is a shoddy imitation of real health care; implied that the entire nation is an undeveloped backwater without even so much as indoor plumbing; and compared the Ganges River, a holy body of water for one of the world’s oldest and largest religions, to a disease…

I guess the only reason Glenn Beck is popular is because there is apparently a marketable-segment of idiots in America. You know, the morons that watch Fox News and actually believe what they hear. Glenn Beck, you are an asshole. You are an ignorant bigot and a douchebag. There are a few people that I know, that oppose the health reform. But the strange thing is that they have rather valid arguments, and even though I may not agree with them, I find them rather intelligent and well thought-out. I mean, Mr. Beck. I realize that by being an ignorant douchebag it’s beyond you to form coherent arguments but seriously… do you have to stoop to the level of offending an entire nation? Or what about the entire community of Indian-Americans?

Usually when people make arguments or counter-arguments about a topic, they usually know what they’re talking about because they’ve researched the topic thoroughly. Oh wait. That’s only if they have a proper show that actually discusses political topics with valid arguments instead of gleefully bending over for the lunatic far-right and being their sockpuppet. Hell, I probably shouldn’t blame you. You are making money after all, even if you have to sell your soul for it. No, your show is a circus and your arguments are bullshit. Even still, I find it appalling that you would denigrate an entire nation and community. You may not think much about Indian doctors, but they seem to be a successful and well-respected bunch in India, with a large number of satisfied customers. In one fell swoop you’ve insulted the cultural and religious sentiments of Indians, you’ve made light of the sweat, blood, and tears of her doctors that strive to serve their nation (and who have migrated to other nations, including *gasp* the United States and serve Americans), and you’ve implied that India is some backwater country without any sort of facilities. Sure, India is no United States and it has a long way to go, and even though you may have the right to say whatever the hell you want, it’s really, really bad form to make fun of a country and her people. You xenophobic, ignorant, douchebag. I find it surprising that even you would stoop this low for ratings.

You sir, are an asshole.

Telengana

I was reading the BBC on Thursday and was surprised to find that India is going to create a new southern state out of the existing state of Andra Pradesh. I knew that at least one new state had been created in the last decade (the actual number is 3: Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, and Jharkhand). I didn’t think much of it, but my interest was piqued and so I read the article. To be completely honest, I don’t have a strong opinion on the subject, except for one thing: Hyderabad is going to be the capital of the new state. Hyderabad is a very important Indian city. It’s kind of like an Indian Silicon Valley and several Fortune 500 companies have their offices there. It’s a prosperous, modern, and hi-tech city.

Now some background. After reading the article about Telengana on Wikipedia, it seems that when the states of India were being re-organized along linguistic lines by the State Reorganization Committee, they were not in favor of merging the Telengana region with the Andra region due to economical disparities. The Central government decided to ignore the SRC recommendations and performed the merger anyway (perhaps using the reason that both areas spoke Telugu, and so there was no reason to split them). As was to be expected, over the past few decades, the Andra region has prospered whereas the Telengana region is still economically underdeveloped.

It would seem that in principle, there needs to be a separate state. However, I’m not so sure of the wisdom of handing over Hyderabad to a fledgling state. It will take time to create a new state-machinery and I think that Hyderabad could suffer in the process. In addition, the city is going to a state with an untested and nascent administration (obviously, because it’s a brand new state). So… maybe not such a great idea. On the general topic of creating more states in India (as a result of the imminent creation of Telengana, many other groups are agitating for their own states) I don’t really have a well-formed opinion. Maybe it’s a good thing – you can have more focused state-administrations and better management. However, the side-effect is increased fragmentation. The last few governments in India have been coalition governments formed with the support of regional parties. Creating more states is probably going to create even more regional parties and it’s not going to help the situation.

The Problem with Shaadi.com

Arranged marriages are common among Indians. I’m not going to go into the merits and demerits of it; that’s not what this post is about. What I want to address is the problem with sites like shaadi.com that supposedly make it easier for Indian people to arrange these marriages. Now don’t get me wrong. There are many people who have met their soul-mates through shaadi.com (and similar sites). My sister met her husband through that. But the problem with these sites is that they are not geared towards the individual. Before I elaborate, we need to talk about what arranged marriages are, and why they are arranged.
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Change

Sorry about not writing for so long. I was slowly getting back to “normal life” and I felt kinda apathetic about writing. Then when I actually felt like writing, my internet connection went down. It’s a long story, and I’ll talk about it later, but basically I have no more static IP’s. But I’m so glad there’s this.

My whole vacation was about “change”. Scratch that. Going to war, coming back, and settling into normal life has been about change. Usually I’m averse to change. Yeah, I’m that guy who orders the same damn thing everytime I go to a restaurant. Mostly because I really like the dish. It’s not so much I like being in a rut (I don’t), but it’s more that once I am comfortable with something, I don’t like changing it. Change makes me stressful and agitated and I usually don’t like it. I like to have a handle on every aspect of the situation and I hate “unknowns”. But if anything, I think I’ve learned how to deal with change.

I find myself thinking of the “good old days” a lot. I get patronizing scoffs from older people (people in their 40’s or 50’s) when I say this, but seriously; it’s true. After college, a lot of things changed. I started working, I got a house, and then I went to war. I listen to music on the radio, and I say “What is this shit? Music was so much better in the 90’s!”. That’s also when I realize that I sound like my father (of course, he claims music was better in the 70’s). But again, it’s more than that. I think I’m in that gray area when you realize that you’re actually starting to become a “grown-up”. Some people say it’s because you lose the clichéed “innocence of childhood”. But I think calling it the “ignorance of childhood” is more apposite, and as we all know, another cliché tells us that “ignorance is bliss”. My view of the world has become significantly grayer and duller over the years by layers and layers of cynicism. I don’t mean this just figuratively. No, really – I distinctly remember the days being brighter when I was younger. Is that what happens when you “grow up”? I remember wonderful summers in India, when I was seven or eight. There is this tree in our backyard that we children would play around. The sunlight was brighter, and butterflies would be flitting around us as we played. I didn’t see that many butterflies when I went to India this time, or the last time for that matter. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough.

When you grow up there are a lot of new things you learn, things you wished you didn’t know. You are expected to take part in “grown up” discussions and things like that. Stuff that’s really tiresome. Sometimes I feel that everyone talks, but nothing gets done. That’s really frustrating for an engineer, who’s whole life revolves around solving problems. I’d say for the most part of the eight years since I left highschool, my life was constant. But I think it was the going away for a year that made me realize how much had really changed. Being out there for a year made me re-evaluate so many things, especially my personal relationships (these especially for the better). I think part of it was because I was a passive spectator to my own life, one that was moving along without me. I mean, life wasn’t really “going on” for me. Life for me, was Arizona and I sure as hell wasn’t in Arizona for a year. It’s funny when I try to place things or relate to things and I realize that my point of reference is from two years ago. It’s very disorienting to immerse yourself into an environment that’s a year ahead of you… like stepping into a moving train.

One of the major “changes” I’ve had to deal with is my little sister’s marriage. I knew it was going to happen one day, but it was more of an abstract concept than something concrete. But yeah, my baby sister is getting married – later this year in fact. It’s a happy occasion, but still different than what I’ve been used to. Some changes haven’t been so happy. It’s sad when you look at an old photograph and realize some of the people are no longer around… and that some of them won’t be around much longer. I wonder if cynicism is the inevitable consequence of knowledge and adulthood. I do find myself looking at a lot of things through jaded eyes. Somewhere along the way I lost the sense of wonder I had during my childhood, or even in my early college-years. I guess I still believe in the goodness of things, but more often than not I am surprised by it.

I think it will get better though. Being in touch with my family, being around my family, and in the company of old friends helps it out quite a bit. Just like anything else, it’s always only a matter of time…

I’ve got a few pictures here from my trip in India. There are a few missing which I will upload later. There are also others that I lost when the drive on my laptod died (this always happens to me). I’m going to try and salvage what I can from it this weekend and see if I can get the pictures back. I’ve got pictures of my highschool teachers and highschool principal here. The feeling I have towards them can only be called “reverence”. In Hinduism they say that the Guru (teacher) is equal to God. Nothing could be further from the truth when describing my teachers. I would not be where I am today, without their help.

Acha
Acha

Amma
Amma

Big Doggie
A Newfoundland I met at JFK.

Honeymoney
The cutest doggie in the world.

Mr. Andrews, Mr. Dogra, and I
Mr. Andrews, Mr. Dogra, and I.

Mr. Bhatnagar and I
One of the most amazing persons I have ever known.

Mr. Joy and I
My old class-teacher, Mr. Joy standing in front of good old 12 A!

Mrs. Ghosh and I
Mrs. Ghosh, my old Ibri house house-mistress. She never actually taught me, but that seems irrelevant. I still remember reciting a piece from G. B. Shaw’s Pygmalion for the House Recitation compeition.

Mr. Srinivas and I
I certainly wouldn’t have understoon Electricity and Magnetism if it wasn’t for Mr. Srinivas. One of the most interesting and engaging teachers I’ve had.

Mr. Stanislaus and I
Mr. Stanislaus wouldn’t let me synthesize RDX in the Chemistry Lab. That was probably a good thing. It’s also because of him that I can still amaze Chemistry Geeks with my random bits of Chem knowledge.

Poochas
Our cats in Muscat. Thomas, Sundari (meaning “pretty one” in Malayalam), Karamban (meaning “black one” in Malayalam), and Tiger Poocha (literally translated, “Tiger Cat”. It’s a name I made up).

The Worst Journey Ever. The Best Vacation Ever.

I finally got some time to sit down and write about my leave. I have been rather busy. Our days are long, and after I get back from work, I don’t have very much time and I’m too tired to sit down and write a journal entry! Well, anyway… here it is. Be warned… it’s pretty long!

Ok, so this last month (May), I went on leave. My leave date was the 8th of May. Little did I know that this day would be the beginning of what I would like to call…

The Worst Travelling Experience Ever

We meet our hero at BIAP where he is waiting with his fellow soldiers to get a flight to Kuwait. It is around 8 in the morning, and the day hasn’t gotten hot just yet. Everywhere there are Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Seamen and Civilians sitting and waiting. Some are playing cards or talking amongst themselves. Others are listening to music, or watching movies on their laptops, or reading books. Still others are sprawled out on benches or on the dusty concrete floor, sleeping, using their luggage as pillows. At about 9 in the morning, a formation is called. As our hero hurries and falls in, he looks around and notices Captains, Majors, and Sergeant Majors also in formation. It strikes him as a little funny since he usually sees them in front of a formation, and not in one. Leave – the great equalizer. Somebody comes up to the front of the formation and informs everyone that there are two flights leaving Baghdad. The first one leaves at 12 noon, while the second one leaves at 10 pm. However, there are personnel who have been waiting at BIAP since yesterday, and therefore, they will be given preference for the 12 noon flight. Our hero hopes and prays that there is enough room on the flight for him. However, he has been in the Military long enough to know that expecations are rarely met, and Murphy’s Law holds sway most of the time. Sure enough, there isn’t enough room on the flight and he has to wait for the 10 pm flight. He settles in for a Long and Boring day.
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Laloo Prasad Yadav is a retard

India is the world’s largest democracy, and Indian politics is interesting. It’s amazing that anything actually gets done. The government is a bureaucracy-choked mass and moves like drunk tortoise wading through tar, whereas at other times it surprises everyone by flashing by like a hyperactive cheetah on speed. But anyway, that is another issue.

A fucking retardIndia has some amazing politicians, but it also has some real rotten ones – ones that abuse the system. I’d like you to take a look at the picture at the right. Look at that face. Personally, I think it would look much better with a baseball (or cricket) bat being smashed against it, or even better, with a spear through it. That man right there is Laloo Prasad Yadav. This stinking pile of crap has an entry in Wikipedia – so go ahead and read it to get the backstory on him. He is one of India’s most infamous and reviled politicians. Anyway, you might be wondering what instigated this rant on my part. Well, this morning, I read this article from ExpressIndia. Here are some snippets from it:

Laloo a pain in the neck for UPA

Posted online: Friday, May 13, 2005 at 0920 hours IST
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2005 at 1234 hours IST

New Delhi, May 13: Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav has turned out to be an all around grief for the Congress-led UPA government and for India as a whole with his shenanigans making institutions of democracy crash to a virtual standstill.

… institution to come under assault was the Election Commission whose two commissioners B.B. Tandon and N. Gopalaswami were deliberately targeted by Laloo…

After Laloo’s accusations Prime Minister officially backed the Election Commission saying it was an institution to be respected. But, this in turn made Laloo see red and the entity that he attacked next was that of the Prime Minister.

Laloo went to the extent of defying the PM when he met Manmohan Singh and still asked for the heads of both the commissioners, thereby taking the fight straight to the top. HE did the unthinkable in a Parliamentary democracy by defying the PM.

His presence has overshadowed the state of Bihar too. His ability to retain power here, whether as Chief Minister, married to CM or even merely as head of RJD, has ensured that Bihar remains a troubled state.

Also, as Railway Minister, when the Sabarmati Express crashed in Gujarat, Laloo at once turned all the attention away from the accident by targeting Modi. His car was stoned and he blamed Gujarat CM Narendra Modi for instigating it.

In short, what is clear from Laloo’s actions is that he will take any and all steps to save his skin.

Laloo Prasad Yadav, for India, is like ozone layer [sic], he has caused a huge hole that is making the UPA government to burn out. Is the same happening to India? What we are looking at, on a national scale, is the gradual Biharisation of India.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what this man is doing to India. He is a retard. Retarded dumb-shits like these make me really, really angry. Personally, I would like to see him in front of a firing squad. Perhaps that’s too extreme. How about solitary confinement for the rest of his life? That would be good too. It is beyond me how such an obviously corrupt and pathetic man (who is barely literate) can become the Railway Minister. But as they say… “It happens only in India”. I hope he suffers an accident or something soon. Like slip on a banana peel and hit his head and go into a coma… for a long, long time. Am I going to hell for wishing all this on him? Nah… I will be doing the world a favour.

India’s Greatness

“India is Great” and “Avoid AIDS”. This is what the lorry in front of me proclaimed. “Horn Please, OK?” it also said.The lorry driver is sure that India’s greatness has everything to do with avoiding AIDS and sounding the horn at appropriate times.

Hulk Hogan towers over me on a billboard, advertising a Sari.

A serene cow and a beggar walk into the road. The beggar holds up his hand and traffic obediently stops while he crosses. Who needs traffic lights? The cow chews her cud and looks at the vehicles with her large, wet eyes before finally deciding to move on.

I love this place. I really do. Life is everywhere. Everything is Alive.

India

I am in India right now. It’s been great!

I got here on the first. The very next day, I left at 3:30 am for Trivandrum. I got there at around 8:00 am. I got myself a hotel room and met up with Sadhana, Vibha, Rachna and Prakash (Suraj’s brother). It was weird meeting them there – “incongruous” is the right word. Kerala is so far away from our usual haunts in Arizona.

We went over to Gouri’s place and hung out there for a while. We had ambitious plans to see all kinds of stuff. A waterfall in Tamil Nadu and a Dam where we could feed fish. Eventually we ended up just going to Kovalam Beach. My driver is not very familiar with Trivandrum so it was kinda hard for him to figure out where these places were. He did know where Kovalam was though. We made my poor driver go all around Trivandrum. I am sure he thinks we are all positively insane. We had a ton of fun at Kovalam. We waded in the water and got drenched. After we got back to the car, I was appointed the foot-dusting-person. Mostly because I didn’t want sand in the car. Ani (my driver) handed me a duster, which I used to dust Sadhu, Rach and Vibha’s feet. And to think I wasted my time getting a degree in Computer Engineering.

The next day was Gouri’s wedding. Sadhu, Rach and Vibha took a million years to figure out how to wear their saris. Eventually we made it to Trivandrum Club (where the wedding was supposed to take place) and an aunty there fixed the saris for the girls. Prakash and I sorta hung about sticking out like sore thumbs. The wedding itself was a very short affair. Malayalee Nair weddings always are. The sadhya (feast) was awesome. Gouri was looking positively resplendent in her outfit. I have pictures and I will post them as soon as I get back to Arizona. That won’t be until early September though.

After the wedding, we went back to the hotel to change into more comfortable clothes. I then had to get Sadhu, Rach, Vibha and Prakash to the train station so that they could catch the Anandhapuri Express to Madras. This proved to be easier said than done. What followed was a veritable drama which involved Kerala Tourism, the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation – similar to the FBI of the United States), the local Superintendent of Police, the Assistant Director General of Tamil Nadu (or more affectionately known as “Santu Mama”), the conductor of the Train, and of course Your’s Truly, and his friends Sadhu, Rach, Vibha and Prakash. You see, Kerala Tourism booked Rach’s train ticket for the 4th at 4:00 pm instead of the 3rd. To correct this, we had to involve all the aforementioned people. Eventually, Rach ended up on the train. I had to wait in the train with Vibha while all this was sorted out. We wondered what would happen if the train left with me. I would have to explain to my mother and my grandparents what I was doing on a train to Madras instead of coming back home. That would not have been a very pleasant conversation.

I was a little depressed on my way back home because it was kind of a downer. We had hung out a lot over the past two days and had had a lot of fun. However after I came back home, I felt much better.

I haven’t been doing much at all in Chendamangalam. I’ve just been hanging out, playing with my dogs, and watching TV. I brought my Gamecube here, but I was an idiot and I blew up the AC adapter. It has an input voltage of 120V and everything here runs at 220V. The result wasn’t pretty. My Gamecube is fine. I doubt the adapter works though. It was pretty dumb of me to overlook that rather significant fact of “voltage difference”. You see, my camera adapater works over a range – 110V to 220V. The Nintendo Gamecube adapter doesn’t. Oh well. I am exploring other avenues. I found a site that ships the adapter to India. I am also going to check out stores in Ernakulam.

Other than that, nothing much is going on. Just chilling and relaxing and enjoying great food. My access to the internet is pretty limited. I have to drive (or take an auto-rickshaw) a little ways to get to the Cyber Cafe. But it is worth it! They have broadband at 512 Kbps! That’s awesome!

Anyway, that’s it. I will be back with more updates as soon as I can!

Vacation

I am going to India and the Middle East for two months! Woohoo! I will be back on the 2nd of September. AT was fun. I might be getting a medal!

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