Saturday, December 15, 2012

Nukes in our bedrooms...

Since yesterday I am feeling a kind of unexplainable anger, something that I have never experienced in the past. I feel like taking a baseball bat and beating up someone till I fall down with exhaustion. But the obscenity of this anger is that I want to do this to a dead body, the corpse of the lunatic who in cold blood murdered 20 innocent children yesterday in Connecticut. The more details I read about it, that all those children were six and seven years old, that they were shot at with a rifle, and that they were shot multiple times, the more it boils my blood and makes me want to do this. And then the critical thinker in me takes over and starts looking at the incidence analytically to find answers to questions like why this happened, how did we get here, how can we stop this from happening again.

I looked up some statistics on the web. From the time the two nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, within a few months roughly 240,000 people were killed. The number of deaths in the United States due to guns every year is roughly 30,000. This means that every 8 years we are dropping two nuclear bombs on our own homeland, perpetrating that tragedy on our own people. As it relates to the current crisis in Syria, I hear it being said often that if the current Syrian government uses chemical weapons on the rebels (during the war), that it will be a red line crossed that will result in an intervention by outside forces. Isn't the use of assault weapons in the kindergarden classroom of a quiet and peaceful neighborhood equivalent to using chemical weapons during a war? Haven't we crossed a red line here that should result in some serious intervention?

Do we talk about allowing any nation to develop nuclear weapons, legally, if they meet some criteria or can possess some license? No. We talk about rigid non-proliferation, regardless of who the nation is that tries to do so. Then why do we have a different set of standards for guns in our bedrooms? (or what  I call Nukes in our bedrooms based on the above statistics). We never talk about giving such nations a second amendment right to have those weapons for self defense!! The logic is very simple, the more the number of guns around, the more will be its use.

Growing up in India, where gun laws are very stringent, I don't remember such incidents happening what we witness here in the United States. I am sure that the number per capita of people with psychological disorders is not less there than here. If you do some search about gun related deaths all around the world, it will take you just a few minutes to learn how exceptionally gun crazy are we. I don't believe in taking a moderate stand on gun rights that says ban assault weapons, but allow others, that people who are sane and want to have certain types of guns should be allowed to. The reason is that it is practically impossible to track the use of that gun given to the sane person once it reaches their bedroom. Statistics indicate that about 33% of inmates that are in federal prison for homicide using a gun got that weapon from a family or friend, who had obtained that gun legally. The horrific incident of yesterday was no different. I rest my case there on that argument.

Over the course of the years, our statistics on guns and related violence have steadily become more appalling. If a person makes a mistake once and realizes it, he/she deserves a second chance. If the person does that again and is more repentant, he/she can be given a benefit of doubt. But if after faltering on the same thing scores of times the person does that again and is hurt, he/she deserves it. I believe we as a nation are at the same point when it comes to making a choice between clinging on to a right that was given when colonialism and war was a way of life, vs. letting it go, when today when most of us in our entire lifetimes don't come across any incident that calls for use of a box cutter for self defense, let alone a gun. If we choose to be like the person above, we deserve to bury more of our innocent young fairy-believing princesses with our own hands.

I hope Buddha can guide the next policy decision on gun control.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Remembering the friends from NCSU



Today on my way home I went to get some groceries at the wife's request. As I was waiting for my turn at the register, I heard some young boys talking enthusiastically in the familiar Indian accent in the aisle behind me. I turned around and observed what they were doing while I waited. There were exactly 10 of them, probably came over in two cars belonging to two helpful seniors who would have volunteered to take the rest eight to the grocery store as part of their once every two weeks routine. On that note I want to take the opportunity to thank all of our senior friends at NC State who always helped us for such grocery store trips. I saw what they had shopped, and it all was so similar to our list from 10 years ago. Eggs, lots of cans of kidney beans and the black eyed peas, 4 packs of sugar, 3 packets of bread, lots of cheese, ketchup, flat bread, veggies galore, juices (the largest size containers), and a lot more. The only thing they had which we never brought into our vegetarian household was a Turkey....they sure seemed to have gotten into the American culture faster than we had back in those days! I still distinctly remember those days not so long ago when we packed a trunk full of grocery so we didn't have to bother another senior car-owning friend for at least two weeks. Upon reaching home it would take two trips to the car for all five of us to unload that grocery, and then not an inch of airspace was left out in the refrigerator. I turned around as my turn had come, and looked at my short list of items. I have a car now so can go to the grocery store several times a week. I had organic stuff as I no longer have student loans to worry about. I now seem to have a problem with tap water and drink only fresh spring water - collected at the source - because I can afford it. Such contrasts always cross my mind when I see people who I once was like in different walks of life. Times change I guess, and so do people, just that the nostalgia remains the same :-). To all my friends from the NCSU days, had a great time being with you in zip code 27606. We should plan to meet again.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Time is flying by...

Today after the little over three year old Aanvi was done with her dinner, as I removed the tray that locks her into her high chair, I saw her just step down from the chair like we adults do, without having to think about it or make any effort. Suddenly my thoughts went back to a day not so long ago, when after she was done with her dinner, I had removed the locking tray on the same high chair, and told her that on that day I was not going to put her down and that she had to do it on her own. She had never been successful in doing that before. Everytime, after a lot of jostling around, she would end up clinging to the chair with her legs hanging in the air looking for the floor to put them down, and then we would have to help her down. On that day as I gave her that challenge and stepped into the kitchen to put her dish away and get her some water, she managed to do the impossible!! Her feet found the ground they had been looking for for many days. She ran to find me in the kitchen, jumped on to me, hugged me tight, and made a grand announcement..."Dadda, I did it!".


Today, she just stepped down and went on to do her thing. I thought to myself how fast this change had come about. Then I thought that it won't be a long time before in the same manner she would pick up the keys to her car and drive away without looking back at us. I am sure at that time I will remember the days when I had to put her in the car seat and buckle her up, or the time when I had to carry her out of the car seat, and the little Aanvi, deeply asleep, would give me the best hug.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Back again...

I told my wife sometime back that I am going to start blogging again...when I read this line today, I thought to myself that if I don't put this on the blog, I would have missed a golden opportunity to restart. So here it is, continuing the 'on-liner' series. This line (there are more lines worthy of mention, maybe in a later post) from Warren Buffet's letter to Berkshire's shareholders in Feb 2009:

The First Law of Corporate Survival: Modest incompetence simply won't do; it's mindboggling screw-ups that are required

(Warren's way to potray the utter helplessness of the federal government in letting huge financial institutions fail, unfortunately)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Finally.....

.....I manage to get some free moments to write this. Its been a few long, eventful, busy, fast flying months. Many things happened, met many people, done a lot of work, still more pending. But in the past weeks whenever the thought came of writing something, the voice within me gave me the same answer every time....to write about this thought that has stuck to my mind.

On a business trip I met this person who has a disease for which there is no cure. The disease shortens the lifespan of the person it afflicts. I can't describe the feeling I went through when the person stated this fact to me. He said it is a strange experience to live when you know you have a terminal illness. That reminded me of a line which I read somewhere....WE ALL HAVE A TERMINAL ILLNESS - ITS CALLED LIFE!!

Ever since then this phrase has stuck to my mind. I find myself saying it time and again to myself. I observe people around me, critically look at the way they behave, and I see that most of the times people live as if they are going to live forever. Often times when I analyze my own behavior I find myself doing the same thing. I wonder what it would be like to live with the realization that you are for sure not going to be around after a certain period of time. I wonder what it would be like to live if you know for sure that you are going to live for eternity. I wonder where the beginning is, and where the end, and what's the purpose, or if there is even one!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Identity theft!!


Since a few weeks we all have witnessed the commercials of Lifelock where the CEO Todd Davis announces in public that his social security number is 457-55-5462, and then confidently says that their customers' identity is absolutely safe under their watch. They also mention that every 3 seconds somebody's identity is stolen and used for malicious purpose. Although interesting, what I want to talk about here is not the theft of one's identity defined in terms of alpha-numeric characters, but rather the loss of one's identity as defined in terms of aspirations and dreams.

We all have numerous identities given to us with reference to the people around us, and each of these identities require us to do things in order for us to do 'justice' to that identity. As a good son I am expected to behave in a manner that keeps my parents happy. As a good son-in-law I have to fulfill the social obligations that come along with that role. The day I deviate slightly, I stand a chance to lose that identity, or at least face the trial for not having given 'justice' to that identity of mine. I am also a husband, an employee, a manager, a nephew, a brother, a brother-in-law, a friend, etc. etc. etc.

All too often I ponder that does not all this end up stealing my true identity? The individual within me has some aspirations, some expectations from my own self that need to be satisfied. But in the process of doing 'justice' to my other identities, I sometimes seem to lose the identity of my own self. Though I have never explicitly spoken to them, when I look at all the people around me, I feel they are all the victims of that same identity theft to a lesser or greater extent than me. I also do sometimes curse my own self for using this excuse to cover up my own laziness, cowardice (or dutifulness, however way you might look at it), and non-action. Many times I console myself by saying that we ought to be practical, or we have to accept the reality, or may be some day....., or we have to keep the right balance.

In the end, the fact remains that almost every human being is a victim of this identity theft. And considering that there are approximately 3 births every second on earth, the rate of this crime is 9 times as much as that advertised by Lifelock. Unfortunately, I don't think there ever will be a corporation that can save us from the identity theft that I am talking about. I only wish that some day human civilization will evolve enough to notice this gruesome crime and prevent it from happening. In my lifetime, I only wish that I always live with the consciousness of this crime, and not myself afflict anyone around me with it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Death

I am scared of discussing this. Not because I am scared of the phenomenon called death, but because almost every person I know is very sensitive about this topic. Nevertheless, after a lot of holding myself back, I decided to face it once and for all.

In the past few weeks I got the news of deaths of people that a couple my acquaintances were very close to. I felt very uncomfortable facing those acquaintances because the way I perceive death is so not normal. I will attempt here to put down in words how I feel about death (especially when it comes to the death of somebody very close to you), and would welcome views that are in agreement or otherwise.

As for death in general, I simply see it is an end of existence. I look at the human body in the same light as the body of any other creature including animals, plants, insects, microbes, etc., and hence don't find any difference between the death of the latter or former. There are many related topics that I would like to write on at some point of time, like analyzing human beings and their actions after accepting the fact that all humans are but members of a species called homo sapien sapien, just like tommy next doors is a member of the species canine familiaris. For now, bluntly, death is an end of existence.

Now, things get complicated when you bring into picture the emotional aspect. The person who is no longer alive would have been somebody's spouse, somebody's parent, somebody's sibling, etc., and all those "somebodys" have emotional ties with that person that are difficult to let loose. All those "somebodys" are going to miss that person. All those "somebodys" are deeply hurt by the absence of that person. I do fully understand, accept, and respect these emotions. What I don't understand is that was it the intention of that person to give so much pain to all those "somebodys"? Or more importantly, will seeing all the "somebodys" in grief make that person happy at all? The conclusion that I come to personally is that if one really, and objectively, cares about the opinions of the dead person, he/she will start leading the normal life immediately. He/she will celebrate the life of the person, cherish the fond memories with that person, try to imbibe the qualities of the person that he/she appreciated, do everything that had the person been alive, would have made the person happy. Most people behave in the exactly opposite manner (except the imbibing of good qualities part). This is not because they don't care about the opinions of the dead person, but because they are not objective in the process. The shock and sorrow takes over the objective sensibilities, only for them to come back with time, sooner or later. The question I always ask in my head when facing such circumstances is: why not sooner?

The one thing that I don't like at all about such situations is my loved ones insisting that I talk to the person who has lost a dear family member. The fact that I have never called that person in my life tends to exacerbate this dislike. Just think about it, I have never, I repeat emphatically, never, called a person in my life. I only meet this person on social events, maybe once a year or less. Today I hear that the person's father passed away. I do sympathize with the person, I understand that he is in grief. I know that that is all I can do. There is no possible way in which I can help the person, nor can I be a shoulder to cry on because I am not very close with the person (or the other way round). So what should I do? My loved ones are of the opinion that I should at least once call the person up and say words like "I am sorry to hear about your loss" or "Let me know if I can help in any way" or "Everything will be OK" or "It happens, what can we do". I say to myself, the person already knows all this. I am sure the person is trying to cope up with the situation, let us give him room to himself to do it. Is the constant reminding that he has lost his father going to be of any help to him? It is like a person who is repenting on a mistake and trying to correct it, while everybody else just keeps reminding the person of how bad he/she is, or what a terrible mistake it was, or if nothing else point a finger and say "you are a sinner!". I have never found myself at home when I see the way the majority of people behave when there is a death, and everytime I have come across as a insensitive stone hearted person to most of that majority.

Maybe with time I will learn how to perform my 'duty' of talking to people in such circumstances. Or maybe I will not. The one thing I know is that whenever I become a victim of such times, I would like to accept the fact, move on with life as I will have to sooner or later, and pay homage to the person no more by trying to live in a way that would have made him/her happy. If a couple of week later I have to attend a wedding, birthday or baby shower, I will gladly go there and enjoy, because I know that if the person would have been alive, he/she would have expected me to to exactly that. All the people who do call me, though I don't believe in that, I am glad you feel about me. All the people who don't call me, I know precisely why you didn't!!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Truly Intriguing!!

The headlines for today: Exxonmobil posts the largest profit in corporate history. According to this report on CNN, this translates into a profit of $1300 per SECOND!! I thought of putting this into a different perspective - how does this per second 'profit' compare to the per capita income of India? This world bank statistic puts the real per capita income of India in the year 2006 to be $820. WOW!! It means Exxonmobil makes more profit every second than what an average Indian makes in an entire year!! Also do note that we are talking about the 'profit', the comparison will be even more shocking if we take into account the 'revenue'.

Take this a step further. Convert this profit and per capita income to find out how many people of India can Exxonmobil support if it were to donate its profit away. Do the math and then look at this table that shows the population of the states of India. Imagine this, if Exxonmobil were to donate away its profit, it would be enough to support the population of Gujarat!!

When I hear such stories, I find myself torn between two thoughts - Is this fair or such profits are crossing the threshold towards being called criminal? On the other hand, how wonderful is the business model than can generate such profits? Is this capitalism at its worst or at its best? Intrigued I am :-).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Taare Zameen Par

It is exactly 3 months since my last post. Looking back, I can't think of a reason convincing enough for myself to have not written for such a long time. The only thing I can do it try and not be the same for the coming 3 months. On the flip side though, there cannot be a more apt reason to come back than Taare Zameen Par!!!


I am sure there will be tonnes of raving reviews about the movie all over the place, and I am only adding a drop to the ocean. But if I don't do it, I will feel that I did not give vent to the numerous emotions that the film aroused in me.

Not very often do you come across a piece of art that touches your core to an extent of leaving a permanent mark on it. Not very often do you see people standing spellbound to watch the ending credits till the screen is switched of. Not very often do I have to throw my handkerchief (I still use one in the US!!) in the washing basket after coming home from the movie theater. It rarely happens that you don't want to discuss or write about the specifics of a film because you feel that your limited writing ability will not do justice to it. How many times has it happened that a movie makes you feel that your existence is so shallow and meaningless, and your aspirations so animal-like - devoid of any purpose. How many times do you like a 'movie' so much that if somebody tries to make a mockery of it you for once want to forget all arguments about open mindedness and freedom of speech, and smack the person on the nose. How many times.....not very often!!

Do yourself a big favor please, don't miss out on this one.

Friday, September 21, 2007

One Liners

For many years now, I have observed that random one-liners from people I come across in daily life tend to stick to my memory and keep coming back in my conscious thought process periodically. Yesterday while thinking about this I decided that I should keep a log of these one-liners. So here it is, a new section dedicated to one-line (or maybe sometimes more than one!) quotes from some well known and some not known at all people.

I met this cousin of a friend of mine a couple of weeks back. We were going over various business opportunities and how one should look at entrepreneurship in general. He said this one line that I can't forget:

"What is the enemy of GOOD.....
......BETTER!!!!"