I get loads of bright ideas. In fact, I'm famous for them, but there are so many things I begin, but don't continue. I have a game plan which seems to be working somewhat. I have stopped beginning stuff that will need effort over time to flourish, unless I work out a time plan on how that effort is to be acheived.

Slowly, I'm integrating stuff I've abandoned into this time plan as well, so that my back log of wannados goes down. Of course, I don't really deal with everything. I simply chuck a lot of stuff which still sounds tempting, but there is no way I can fit it into a 24 hour day with other priorities already making demands.

This gets my life mre organized, and surprisingly, I'm acheiving far more than before, but with much less stress. I'm pretty sorted on what I should be getting into when I have some time free, as well as stuff I need to drop all I'm doing and get down to, so that I don't miss it.

Things I have managed to deal with successfully:

  1. Improvements on website: I have created a schedule for stuff like writing, improving/editing, creating graphics/fiddling with templates, link building, ads and other money making things, and so on. I have also created a sequence fort he sites I own, so that I don't end up doing one area everytime and ignoring the others. Plus, I can now do as little as one page every day and pick up where I left off on the sequence rather than making numerous new beginnings.
  2. Blogging: I have created a variety of blogs for a variety of interests. They are really things I want to write about, but its never going to be good blogging unless I can get some kind of a rythm to it. I now have scribefire installed on my Firefox, which lets me easily publish to any of my many blogs anytime from my browser itself. Needless to say, its a handy reminder that I should be writing, and I end up writing far more.
  3. I take some time every day for my work related emails. Its not a fixed time, but depends on the mails that have come in, but a minimum of twice a day is routine.
  4. I take time off for physical work and home related stuff which I make sure I do everyday, and also make sure it doesn't intrude on other times. Keeps the home and business neat and well-tuned and actually lets me have more time for creative stuff.
  5. I take time to fool around. General forums, discussions........surfing around for stuff that interests me... and I combine it with my blogging time sometimes when something inspires me and results in an immediate post through scribefire.

Needless to say, my life is getting more and more manageable, and I hope I don't take this for granted and slip unnoticeably into the old chaos and hurry and panic routine.

105

Yesterday, my mother-in-law got a phone call from "Bajaj Electricals" which is a well known company in India. She was asked three questions (which she answered wrongly). Her answers were declared correct and she was invited to claim a gift vouchers from some "Bajaj office" in the evening. It sounded like she was getting to select from a variety of goods up to a value of Rs. 4,000/-. She was busy and my husband and I went instead. What we found was a royal scam.

We were supposed to land up in the basement hall of the Great Imperial Palace Hotel in Teili Galli in Andheri (6th Sept 2007 - in case anyone wants to investigate this further). We entered to find a variety of couples engaged in different degrees of conversation with salesmen of varying degrees of aptitude.

It all began with a smooth talking salesman writing a lot on bits of paper creating flowcharts and lists and sweeping them away to create more on new pieces of paper. We were explained how Bajaj has plenty of ventures like Electricals, motors and god knows what else, and now there is a new one - Highland Holidays. This of course was total bull shit, as none of their papers had anything to do with Bajaj beyond its being the surname of one of its founders.

I think its an obvious scam when the name Bajaj Electricals was directly used by them to generate a sense of credibility. Then came too good to be true offers on holidays (which may or not be real, but certainly smelled like a rat). We were offered 8 days a year for 10 years for an "initial investment" of Rs. 42,000/- Needless to say neither of us were about to part from our cash. which eventually got negotiated to a "mere" Rs.14,000/- for 6 days for 5 years.

What got me itchy and suspicious and getting on google search immediately on returning home were these things:

  1. The phone call itself pretended to distribute gift vouchers for Bajaj Electricals for three correct answers, but offered them even when the answers were wrong
  2. We are not listed for any schemes, contests or anything, and the organizers had no clear answer for how they got our number.
  3. Nowhere on the location was any banner related with Bajaj (which is the name we were expecting to find) to be found. We honestly stumbled upon the event while enquiring about it.
  4. Bajaj Electricals, the name used to draw unsuspecting people to the event - was in no way related to it, nor were any gift vouchers from Bajaj electricals distributed.
  5. For a company that seemed to have gone through great effort to book a venue and organize individual presentations for participants, there was not a single piece of printed paper they actually gave anyone. No visiting cards, no printed documents of schemes, no nothing - not even mobile numbers.
  6. It was clearly specified that the "outstanding offer" was open only right then, and the answer had to be yes or no on the completion of the presentation - no going home and taking a day to think or anything (more likely - no investigating this company for reliability)
  7. The "gift vouchers" were for a holiday for two at one of some specified locations, where we still would be expected to be paying money.
  8. The "presentation" itself was more like street haggling, where you are offered higher investment opportunities and when they are refused, cheaper ones come up.
  9. Why would any reputable company have an investment opportunity open for an evening where a decision is to be made without looking at any offer document, without any verification, office address, official representatives, or even simple visiting cards? The way I see it, if they can't afford a basic official set up, my investment is unlikely to be safe with them.
  10. Strangely, even their "managers" who came in to dramatic effect with approvals of surveys, and special offers, etc. didn't even bother to provide surnames. I have yet to see any professional investment related thing being presented or negotiated without any written documentation or proposal of the exact offering and terms for consideration before investing in it. No official venue, no visiting cards, nothing.
  11. For an investment related event taking place in a hotel, not even tea or coffee was offered. We were asked if we wanted water.
  12. In short, they were simply trying to his susceptible people and get money out of them as fast as possible.

The sad part is that I found some middle class couples and one really aged one taking these offers very seriously. I hope for their sakes that this offer goes against all logic and turns out to be genuine.

PS: A reader Kalyana has shared this link to an article from the Deccan Herald where Holiday Homes was asked to refund payment by the consumer court.

An atheist was walking through the woods one day in Alaska, admiring
all that evolution had created. "What majestic trees! What a powerful
river! What beautiful animals!" he said to himself. As he was walking
alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him.
Turning to look, he saw a 13-foot Kodiak brown bear beginning to charge
towards him. He ran as fast as he could down the path. He looked over
his shoulder and saw that the bear was rapidly closing on him. Somehow,
he ran even faster, so scared that tears came to his eyes. He looked
again and the bear was even closer. His heart pounding in his chest, he
tried to run faster yet. But alas, he tripped and fell to the ground.
As he rolled over to pick himself up, the bear was right over him,
reaching for him with its left paw and raising its right paw to strike
him.

"OH MY GOD! ..."

Time stopped.

The bear froze.

The forest was silent.

Even the river stopped moving ...

As a brilliant light shone upon the man, a thunderous voice came from all around...

"YOU
DENY MY EXISTENCE FOR ALL THESE YEARS, TEACH OTHERS THAT I DON'T EXIST
AND EVEN CREDIT CREATION TO SOME COSMIC ACCIDENT. DO YOU EXPECT ME TO
HELP YOU OUT OF THIS PREDICAMENT? AM I TO COUNT YOU AS A BELIEVER?"

Difficult
as it was, the atheist looked directly into the light and said, "It
would be hypocritical to ask to be a Christian after all these years,
but perhaps you could make the bear a Christian?"

"VERY WELL." Said God.

The light went out.

The river ran.

The sounds of the forest resumed.

...
and the bear dropped down on his knees, brought both paws together,
bowed his head and spoke: "Lord, thank you for this food which I am
about to receive."

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So we now have a woman president. That's nice. Honestly, I don't care less if the president is a man or a woman, as long as they take the country into better days. I'm not really into preferring either male or female in most situations.

However, considering the long drive for women's empowerment in India, I guess this can be seen as a shining star in its cap. Like my neighbour hastened to point out - "Not even the US has ever had a woman president - we are even more modern that them in some ways". While I don't understand the immediate need to compare happenings in India with the US, she does have a point.

Women in positions of power was not really a very big problem in India, its the everyday life of the common woman where the fight is. We have always had loads of them from warrior rulers and politicians, to social reformers, activists and educators and all other influential areas too. The percentage of women isn't the same as men, but I can say with all honesty and pride that they are plenty and well respected too.

What I find remarkable in having a woman president, is that a president in India is the top. So its a pretty symbolic and powerful position for a woman in a society that is serious for women's empowerment. Its a statement of trust and belief in capability. Symbolic matriarchy. I like that.

I think this is not really a statement in terms of "woman-president" but actions speaking louder than words in the field of women empowerment. We have a person capable of leading the country well. That person becomes president. It happens to be female. So what? It's that "so what", so easily typical of India, when it has accepted an idea that's the beauty of it.

With due credit to our neighbour, Mrs M, she has an important point as well. I did promise her that I would mention it in my writing. I don't think she understands how ordinary a blog is - she thinks I'm writing important stuff that will stay on record for all time. In a way she's right, but well.... its still ordinary in these times.

She wants to point out (rather triumphantly) that it is America speaking of womens rights and empowerment and all that, but have they trusted their country into a woman's hands? Indian women are meek and mild, so they are easy to bully in some cases, but in other cases, they are just quiet and that is not a bad thing. When the time is right, see what is happening. An Indian woman is president, and the country is very happy about it.

I think this is pretty much the gist of what she is saying. While I don't necessary with the "meek and mild and naturally quiet" parts of it, I guess she's saying it like she sees it. I think she's just not seeing all the bold ones out here, including me. For her, the typical Indian woman is still the one who's quietly efficient, modest, and designed to drive me nuts through sheer lack of open communication.

Whatever, we have a new president, and I have duly celebrated the fact that she's female. Now let's watch and wait to see where our journey of development as a country leads.

I was sitting at my computer, working on a couple of programmes coming up, when I got a call from my husband, Raka. Picked it up to find him a bit on the worried side. He told me that there had been blasts in trains in Mumbai and he didn't know much, but asked me to tell my mother-in-law not to go to Virar, as she had planned that day.

I put the phone down, and conveyed the message to her, idly surfing Google news for more information. The time of the blasts stopped me cold - my brother-in-law had left for the railway station perfectly in time to be in the wrong place in the wrong time. Worried, I dialled his number. The lines were jammed. My worry mounting, I kept it on auto-redial and it was almost an hour before I got through to him.

He was safe! He had been there when the blast happened, but he was on Platform 1 and the blast happened on platform 5. He returned home pretty shaken up. He had rushed to help what he could, in bringing out people from the compartment. He helped carry around 8-10 people, not knowing if they were unconscious or dead. Some were obviously dead. People walked around in a daze looking for help, wounded, confused and panicking. A lot of the crowd ran out of the station with nowhere to go.

It was over 20 minutes before any help arrived. News channels arrived almost at the same time, speaking of the blast and asking the survivors questions and one of them almost got beaten up for asking the obvious, when he probably knew more than anyone else by now. "If you can't help because you're busy talking, then at least don't interrupt us from seeing where we can be of help". Everyone had their own priorities, a lot of questions, shock and were on edge I guess.

Meanwhile, at home, the full horror was becoming apparent as the numbers of the blasts grew from one or two to a mind-boggling seven blasts within a span of 11min. The trains are the life-line of Mumbai, and the crowd in the rush hour is only to be seen to be believed. Further statistics came up. The blasts had all been in first class compartments on trains on the fast track.

The blame game started. Everyone who could possibly be related with the blasts was in the suspects list for the police, while the civilians were deciding from emotion.

We came to know that an eighth bomb had been found and defused about the same time as hospitals put up lists of the victims that were under treatment with them. People frantically called up to know if others they knew were safe, while more people lined up at the hospitals to donate blood in this time of need. Later, the hospitals had to send people back, there were so many. People were frustrated, wanted to do something and the only thing possible was donating blood and rescuing victims.

The roads were jammed with traffic, with people offering rides to strangers, even trucks and other transport vehicles pitching in to help people get home - it is no small matter for the bulk of the train commuters to land up on the streets for transport. Meanwhile, residents of the areas near the main roads had taken to the streets offering food and water to the weary crowds trying to get home.

In a couple of hours, the trains were running slowly again (after extensive checking). The railway lines were repaired overnight and the damaged compartments carted off into a yard for further investigations. Today, schools were on, people were back to work, and the trains were running only a little behind schedule.

Long live the spirit of Mumbai. We got back on track as a city faster than it must have taken the terrorists to hurt us. I think this is good that we did not let the shadow of fear paralyze us and reclaimed normalcy ASAP. There were no riots, nothing. Nothing to mark the horrendous acts other than lives lost and lives changed forever - touched by the ugly force of hate.

At a time like this, one looks at the people whose lives were damaged in this happening and wonder how they will get on track, IF they can. I have been wondering about what these messengers of terror want. It makes no sense. Are they so insane to risk their lives and the comfort and honour of their loved ones (if they got caught) for a disruption that the mighty spirit of Mumbai stumbled over, but didn't even stop for? Hurt a random bunch of people they didn't know? Just because they could?

I refuse to believe that these chaps never themselves benifitted from the safe and fast convenience of the trains that are constantly there for every one regardless of caste, creed, religion, or even profession (I terrorism would be a profession for some).

I have given this a lot of thought, and it makes no sense no matter how you look at it. People died, but it didn't damage the service noticeably. The people who died were not anyone with any clout to get demands agreed, nor would their deaths and injuries be remembered by anyone except their families and the injured who lived.

I think that we all have only one life and no spares to count on. It is up to us if we choose to make it worthwhile, or harm victims and loved ones alike with the consequences of our actions.

This terrorism thing is stupid. Helps no one, decays all it touches.

An old post. Please note that this is not a comment on BJP today, but an incident from 4 years ago. Bringing it up in the shadow of M F Hussain's death to make two points. 1. There are others being targetted too (and they are alive, so we can change and make a difference), and 2. This boy had not painted naked goddesses, but still got the brutal. So let's not pretend that it is about defending religious figures or something. It is plain old moral policing. We need to grow up. ASAP.

 

The point here is not to bash any political party or anything, but to look at the problem and see what needs done clearly.

This time around, its art. Apparently, the erotica that has always been a frank element of our culture, is also now about shame. An art student's work is put up for exhibition, and he gets arrested. Why? What is this new brand of moral policing? And what is it about Hindutva they are protecting? Why does a government need to interfere with an art student's work?

The uproar hit the ceiling when the fellow students of the arrested Chandramohan organized an exhibition of Indian erotica. Vice-Chancellor Manoj Soni, living up to his reputation as an RSS stooge, took the decision to seal the department after BJP municipal councillors complained about the erotica exhibition. Oh really! Give me a break. Nudes are a staple of fine art education and study of anatomy. Good work elicts admiration, bad work elicts criticism, but arrests? Shutting down of a fine arts department?

I wouldn't be surprised if owning a copy of the Kama Sutra became illegal in Gujarat, or if Khajuraho itself got destroyed after this. What are we, the citizens doing, allowing such insanity to rule our country?

Nudity exists. Acting holier-than-thou doesn't change what the mirror shows us as we change clothes. It doesn't stop minimal clothing and erotic films from being best sellers. It doesn't stop people from seeing the beauty of the human form, and finding appeal in it. Where is the shame in erotica, a student's art, or Indian erotica? It is not like they are exhibiting these on the street. People walking into an exhibition are well aware of its theme and what to expect. If they don't like it, they can stay away. What is this with arresting artists?

What do we do about Indian artists who have already painted plenty of nudes in the history of India? What is this new overgrown morality being imposed on people?

So what's next? Will love matches and dating be banned and offenders arrested if they are seen together in a public place? Are we India of the Kama Sutra, or are we Saudi fucking Arabia?