Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Off to India

I am off to India today, for 3 weeks. While there, I shall try to post some of my thoughts/experiences but if I do not, I shall definitely do so on my return. Love you all dear readers! Happy Holidays! Stay safe!

Santa's present for me!

So Santa does indeed exist, only, its not called Santa, its IHM! Thanks to my Santa, IHM for awarding me the 'Bloggers for World Peace' award.

I must say, the post she has awarded me for, was insipired by her and Ritu. I hand't read about the incident until I read Ritu's blog, and then I hopped over to IHM's, all the while fuming over the idiotic remarks! So, in a way, this award is really for IHM and Ritu!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Shopping for lil ones

We are off to India next week, for 2 weeks. So this Sunday afternoon I spent at the mall, going from store to store, shopping for my hundreds of little nieces and nephews, ages ranging from new born to 19 years old! Considering that I have no idea whats out there for kids, I thought it would be easy. Since I didn't know their sizes, I could get some 'cool' toys for the little ones and 'something' a little grownup for the older ones. Would you imagine the state of shock I was in a few hours later, when I had flitted in and out of at least 10 different kinds of stores, armed with tons of knowledge of what different age children like/dislike and whats in and whats not?
When I was a kid, it was easy. I had a Lego set, a few dolls, a 'ghar ghar' set and tons of books. That's it. That was what I played with for a long long time. There were a girl in my neighborhood whose dad had been to the US a few times, and she had a doll House and she would invite us 'lesser children' over for a doll party and would graciously agree to let our dolls sleep over in her doll house. Boy did we feel jealous of our dolls? Well I had a flash of my simple growing up days when I was traversing the aisles of the Disney store in the mall. Confused about what to do, I asked for help. Did you know there are 'Toddlers', 'Pre-teens' and 'Teens' among children?
For toddlers(that's ages 1-3), Winnie the Pooh is really popular and they also like a soft toy thing. One look at the thing (it was an animeish soft toy) and I almost ran out of the store. It had angry eyes. I wouldn't think any human being, let alone a toddler, would like it. Winnie the Pooh I knew so I grabbed a few Poohs. Another toy that is in for little girls is a teeny tiny handbag with a tiny tiny soft-toy dog in it! Kind of like what the celebrities carry!
Preteen girls really like Hannah Montana and there was some other character I now forget. There were also a few toy sets that were called 'My favorite fashion designer' and 'Design a dress'. Really? You expect young girls to have a favorite fashion designer? I was so shocked looking at the kind of things in the market for little girls.
Preteen boys tend to like Lego blocks and Wall-E robots and indoor helicopter are really in. The toys for both boys and girls reinforces the stereotypes about sexes!
I then asked the person helping me, to suggest something for the teens on my list. All she had to suggest was iPods, video games and movies!
Sigh, I miss the simple life!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Egg on his face!

I am sure all my readers might, by now, have read/seen how Bush ducked and missed being hit by an Iraqi reporters' shoes. Some thoughts.
While I appreciate what feelings might have prompted the reporter to do this, what made me gape at the television was how nimble and agile Bush is. Its almost like he knew what was coming his way, not once, but twice. And did you all see how Bush smiles and how Noori Al-Maliki has no idea whats going on and no idea how to respond except put his one lazy hand up in an atetmpt to help Bush? Why did it take the second shoe for the Secret Service to come from behind the curtains? Were they waiting for one of them to find their target? It seems like in this hullabaloo, the President's press secretary Dana Perino got hit by one of the microphones that fell when the shoe hit it.
All the news channels in the US were screaming how throwing a shoe is the ultimate insult in Iraq. Well? Is getting hit by a shoe not an insult anywhere in the world? For god's sake, you are getting hit by something people wear on their foot. You tread all kinds of bad/slushy/muddy places with the shoe and imagine having some of that stuff on your face! Why did they say its an insult in Iraq? I am sure no American I know would like to get hit by a shoe. But then, politicians and media might be a different breed.

The video screamed 'Joote maaro'!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


The American economy is credit based. Credit runs the daily lives of people. People go to a store and swipe the plastic to pay. Then, when the bill comes in at the end of the month, they pay only the minimum and keep the rest of the debt on the card. They take out home loans(or mortgages, as they are called) for hundreds of thousands of dollars(that most times they cannot afford) and then when they need money at a later time to pay for their kids' college etc, they take a loan against that home loan. The result? They owe their home loan, AND the loan on the loan. This results in them trying to pay off their loans all their life. The holiday season rolls in and they walk into the nearest bestbuy or circuit city and buy that huge plasma TV or LCD TV or worse, the home theater, and don't pay a dime at the store because the store is running a 'Buy with no down payment and no payments for a year' scheme. Does that mean they only have to pay back the TV cost later? NO! They have to pay the original cost of the TV AND the ultra high interest rate that goes with it. Result? They owe huge amounts, and continue to charge their credit cards with more 'Holiday Shopping'. Substitute the TV with that awesome, dream furniture and the story repeats. Retail therapy rules people's lives. And all retail therapy is paid for by good old plastic!
This worked very well in the 90s and the early 2000s. Starting last year, things began to change. People who could actually not afford huge home loans were anyway given loans with zero down payment etc. This resulted in the people not paying their monthly payments on time, or in some cases, not at all. The mortgage companies then foreclosed those homes and in a few years, had too many foreclosed homes to contend with, and not many people ready to buy, either because they realised, finally that they could not afford a house, or their credit for so bad that they could not get any good loans. Thus began the great real estate crash.
The same story held true for the credit market. People had too much debt on the credit cards, defaulted on the payments and their credit hurt as a result. They stopped buying as much as they used to, resulting in the retailers' suffering, the credit card companies losing their investment as a result of defaulters and one thing reinforced the other. Thus began the credit market collapse.
President Bush signed an economic stimulus package a few months back, and people got free money from the federal government so they could go and spend that money and infuse some life into the economy. Didn't work! Now we have all economists, politicians, policymakers shouting from their rooftops that people should get out there and SPEND money so the economy improves! So here we are. Go and spend so the economy improves. Then do not pay your debt in full, and rack up your debt, so the credit market suffers again, again go and spend so you can pull the economy out of the resulting slump...and the cycle continues. Has anyone thought about maybe moving away from such a credit-heavy economy?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Oh India!

The year was 2004,and general election in India was just around the corner. The political parties were whipping up a frenzy with the constant drumming of slogans and campaigning speeches. The ruling BJP and its allies(NDA?) has its slogan "India Shining" and were the favorites to win. The congress(I) tried to forge alliances with BSP first then the SP and failed, but were buoyed by new leadership(Sonia Gandhi) and were very excited. Normally, elections would have been a very dreary affair for me, but this was a special year. This was a special year because there were a few new faces among the contestants. Not just new, but young. How young? In the early to late thirties. They were the 'new blood' that congress was promising. Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, Sachin Pilot from Dausa, Rajasthan, Milind Deora from South Mumbai, Navin Jindal from Kurukshetra.(I might be forgetting a few here). It was indeed an exciting time for me because I was closely following the election and was sure I would get to vote for the first time in my life and these young politicians, who were so refined and educated, made me proud. I could not vote because of not having the same residence address for more than a year, but I kept talking to people about elections and monitored the progress of these new pols. Slowly but surely the might of the youth grew and these young men ended up winning their Lok Sabha seats. Now, I thought, would begin a real transformation of India's politics. I was sure these guys will not sit on their butt in the last benches and while their time away, or mouth platitudes in the lok sabha. I knew these guys meant business. Imagine then how my heart would have broken when I saw that Deora was laughed at in the Lok Sabha! According to the TOI 'One of the youngest MPs in parliament, Milind Deora debuted on the second day of the current session with an appeal for reviving the prime minister's grant project set up by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi for repair and reconstruction of old and dilapidated buildings in Mumbai.
But when Deora started making a speech when he was to ask a question, the opposition jeered at his "immaturity" and taunted the Congress about not training its youngsters properly. '
I was aghast. Why are they treating the future of the country like this? Will any of those four new comers ever have the guts to stand up and talk again? The last four years have given me the answer. No. They have not been heard too much. Part of it alteast can be attributed to the way Deora was treated. Part is because they fell into the comforting silence of Lok Sabha. I mean, who was I kidding by thinking that these youngsters were the beacon of light that would bring light to the musty, old world of Indian politics? It is easier to keep your mouth shut and earn your salary than make your presence felt and work hard and earn the SAME salary. Is it not?
Now we hear Rahul is being groomed to take over the party. But what has he done to deserve it? Has he shown that he can implement hard hitting regulation? Come up with ideas that improve the living conditions for poor Indians? Put his foriegn BA, MPhil degrees to any use? If he has, then he sure has a lot of humility and an excellent way to hide his accomplishments. He was appointed the General Secretary of the AICC. Was it because his mom is the President of his party? It certainly seems like that. When will the congress move away from this 'one family rules us' malaise and go out and find a TRUE leader? Agreed, the Gandhis/Nehrus did a lot for the party and this country but should we give them the fruits even though they do not deliver the goods any longer? I, as a citizen, have the right to demand from the leader of one of the largest political parties in India that she show us why her son is eligible to lead us and why the young capital was not utilized the last 4 years. Please Madam. Your turn to speak!

Update: I forgot Jyotiradiya Scindia from Guna, MP.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A note to soothe us

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow
domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought
and action--
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

-- Rabindranath Tagore

Of lipsticks and pigs

I read IHM's blog today and she had a link to this. I was livid. Then I also saw that Ritu had a post about this too. I had to write to vent my disgust at such a farcical statement.
Ritu asks if lipstick makes us less Indian, IHM is livid that all this guy could take away from the poignant protests was how the women were dressed.

Really Mr Naqvi(or Naqli(Nakli) if you will), you are more bothered about why these people are protesting in 'lipstick and powder' and 'suit and tie' and not wearing revered khadi like you do? Also, are you bothered that these people DO NOT take bribes or indulge in corruption like you do in your khadis? Scores of people died, many were injured, the city was attacked, the whole country is scared and enraged and it is only right that you are bothered that these crazy people are protesting against the politicians and asking questions.
How dare the minion common man ask questions about us Khaki-clad leaders of India? Who gave them the right to protest? Why does the media indulge these farces instead of following us like love-sick puppies?

Well, let me make one thing clear Naqvi sahab, we the people of India are sick with disgust at your statements and we also know that your party distancing itself from your comments is also a farce. We know your type. We know you all are shocked that the people are asking questions. Well, guess what, we will probably someday start giving you some answers too. Until that day, do pillage and plunder this country as much as you can, because once that day dawns, the likes of you would be wiped off into oblivion.

People of Rampur(from where he was elected twice), please take note of how much he respects us.