March 25, 2007 @ 9:55 pm
Landed here and just realised that I have nothing much to say.
Will be back later.
Landed here and just realised that I have nothing much to say.
Will be back later.
Last week, on March 15th to be precise, I was a part of a 10 member team representing India in the World Bank Institute’s conference on “Partnering to Combat Corruption and Improve Governance”.
This was a 24 hour conference and Asia was given a 3 hour slot. The countries that participated in this leg of the conference included Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia, China and India.
Our focus was on the role of the private sector in combating corruption and improving governance. A brainstorming session led to more than 20 points and areas wherein the private sector could play a major role.
Indonesia’s focus was on the role of Government and how it could have better processes and systems in place to ensure a cleaner system. It was a little amusing to see that the members of the Indonesian panel stating that India has achieved a phenomenal economic growth despite the huge corruption issue and they asked us how we were able to do so. I myself have been clueless about that question for quite some time, so I didn’t expect any one of us to give any insightful answer to the Indonesians on that one.
After much deliberation, we narrowed down our recommendations to 3:
1) Private sector can set an example for the public sector in terms of governance. During the Nehru and Congress era, the public sectors led the country and showed the private sector how growth was achieved. In the current era, the private sector is much better equipped to take up this role now. A very good example is the NISG (National Institute for Smart Government).
2) The role of technology (this had to come up from our country, it being the technology haven and all). The main idea is that lesser the intermediaries, lesser is the corruption. Technology leads towards disintermediation and thus helps in curbing the menace.
3) Empowerment of the corporate entity. I found this a little vague but went ahead in voting for it anyway. It referred to how each corporate entity could actually lead the way in improving governance and combating corruption.
I am pleased to inform now that out of these recommendations, the second one has been selected for presentation at Brussels.
Hoping to look forward to a lesser corrupt and more efficient India in the years to come, I sign off for the day.
Going through a Pak news site, I came across this link.
The excerpt that makes you sit up and wonder is this:
In Multan, hometown of Inzamam-ul-Haq, many young persons came out on streets and raised slogans against him and demanded his dismissal from Pakistan cricket
Death to Bob Woolmer (the coach), death to Inzamam, death to Nasim Ashraf — police should arrest them”, the mob shouted.
And you thought it was just a game.
With a dwindling interest in our nation’s favourite game, I decided to watch our first match of this year’s World Cup on a big screen. I settled down to watch the match after Sehwag’s dismissal, fully aware that I had not missed anything save for some euphoric Bangladeshi celebrations.
Ganguly was still there and nothing else was needed to keep me glued. One Bengali on this side of the fence was going to massacre eleven Bengalis on the other side. As the drums rolled on and the Indian flags covered most part of the stands, I had reason to believe that the juggernaut had arrived and the big roller was not the only thing that would be flattening the pitch.
Another Indian wicket fell. Robin Utthappa wasn’t really the big hope of this match anyway. Let Bangladesh celebrate a little more before we go back to our dressing rooms for a chilled beer and focus on the other more important matches. Commentators were using phrases like “this will be a good experience for Bangladesh”, “they have much to learn from this tournament” and so on.
Balderdash of that sort merely made for light listening while the sound of popcorn kernels in your mouth dimmed your hearing.
The rest, of course, is history. Some Indian fans might also prefer to term it mythology, a term which carries the privilege of not being real when convenient. Bangladesh romped home in style. Probably someone had forgotten to switch the roles. It should have been the team in green that should have been wearing the blue colors and not this way around.
Highlight of the evening – The amusing and indefatigable Charu Sharma along with his “beautiful” companion Mandira Bedi. In fact, of all the performances that India put up on screen last evening, Mandira was the best. And then we had Ayaz Menon. I am not quite sure what it is about most Indian sports journalists that they are unable to write or think about anything beyond the ordinary which in fact every non-literate cricket fan will also be able to tell you.
As for me, I was dejected and disappointed. I trudged back to my room with a comforting thought that maybe we will defeat Sri Lanka and Bermuda. Later in the night, as I reached for my laptop and looked for our scorecard to do my own analysis, I catch myself pleasantly smiling at this piece of news - Ireland defeats Pakistan. Now, I am a hardcore Indian at heart and nothing would please me more than seeing my erstwhile neighbour also getting the drudging that my country got. My own loss is forgotten and a glimmer of sunshine seeps through the hardened hearts of millions in this country. Suddenly, I see our neighbour as an able ally. My heart reaches out to them. We should collaborate together and share our sorrows.
About sharing of joys, well let’s wait for a while. Bermuda is yet to happen.
Spoiler Warning: The following review makes references to the plot and ending of the movie.
After a roller coaster ride in time of watching good and bad movies, I came across a movie that touches a chord and at the same time doesn’t pull you down a crevice when you least expect it.
Let’s face it. Hollywood has always, in the end, saved us from drowning into the depths of our most feared emotions. The Pursuit of Happyness follows suit. The ending might seem trite and Hollywood-ish, but then, we watch movies to reflect something of ourselves and something of our inner desires. This movie does just that.
Will Smith is a struggling salesman, trying to eke out a living by selling a strange gadget which no one seems to want. His attention, however, is all the time on the upbringing of his son. The love that he has for his son and the frustration of not giving his son the best education or the best environment is brought out very lucidly by Will Smith as he walks his son down to the Japanese playhome every day. The playhome is shown to be a small place run by a Japanese immigrant who herself appears to be strugging to make ends meet.
As the bills increase and taxes and car tickets blast their way into Will Smith’s home, his life falls apart. Being homeless and divorced is not quite a man’s craving while he is searching for a job. Taking his son from one shelter to another, Will Smith decides to enter the stock market and become a stock broker. His journey through a 6-month training program, sans salary, and the act of raising his son in ghettos and railway toilets is one of the moving parts of this film.
The scene to watch out for is when Will Smith and his son are sitting on a bench in the railway station and they pretend that the gadget is a time machine. They continue to pretend that they have been transported back in time and that the dinosaurs are out to get them. To seek safety, they enter a “cave”, which is the toilet of the station. A beautiful rendition of an attempt to see light in the middle of the darkest night of their lives, this scene reminded me of the 1975 movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Jack Nicholson, in a brilliant spurt of acting in that movie, looks at the switched off television set and pretends to watch a baseball match. Everyone joins in and the celebrations go on until the fictitious match gets over. The power that this scene had ofcourse cannot be matched by Pursuit of Happyness, however, it does come close.
For once, Will Smith shows that he can act. He is not just a butt-kicking, gun-yielding hip-hop singer-cum-dancer-cum-actor. He can actually act. I am not sure why he was overtaken by Forest Whitaker at the Oscars. The only reason I can think of is the inertia factor – no one was quite ready for the fact that he could act and hence had probably not given this movie any serious thought.
My recommendation clearly is that this movie is a definite watch. Even if you are a die-hard critic, this movie has a few scenes that can make you sit up and notice your life beyond a bowl of popcorn.
Roundup of a few quotes I came across during the week:
“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.” – Alfred Hitchcock
“People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up.” – Ogden Nash
“Never tell anyone that you’re: writing a book, going on a diet, exercising, taking a course, or quitting smoking. They’ll encourage you to death.” – Lynn Johnston
I love this one:
“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.” – Albert Einstein (who else can come up with something as magnificient as this!)
Quotes courtesy: Quotationspage
Last weekend saw us on the banks of the river Krishna. An impulsive decision to get out of Hyderabad found us on our way to the Nagarjuna Sagar dam, around 3 hours from here. The trip was great and so was the place. I shall let the pictures do the talking rather than a written description.
He walked out into the open verandah and sat down on his favourite arm chair – a 1940 London made resting chair. Gifted to him by his brother-in-law on the day of his wedding, it now occupied a corner of the red-oxide coated floor of the verandah. In its prime days, it had occupied centre stage in the living room and was the prized possession of everyone in the family.
The verandah was a large area opening into the front garden and facing the single creaking gate of the house. It was covered by a sloping roof which was made of layered mud bricks and supported by two metal rods on either ends. The arm chair was on the left most corner and a rice cleaning casket lay fallen at the centre of the verandah.
He sipped on his coffee tumbler and called out to his wife Sujata, as was his habit for many years now.
But today was different.
“Is the phone ringing?”, he asked towards the kitchen. At the age of 68, his ability to hear had dwindled a bit and his dependence on Sujata had increased greatly.
“No. That’s the third time you have asked in the past 10 minutes”, Sujata screamed back from the kitchen.
“Why do men always treat women as messengers”, she muttered under her breath as she scraped the last remains of the coconut and put them into a cooking pan. A small burst of smoke erupted and vanished in seconds as Sujata covered her mouth with the end of her saree. The crackling of the mustard seeds and the rain outside enhanced the smell of her dish.
“Why can’t he call? She has been in the hospital since yesterday morning, and yet he has not called even once today”, he spoke with an aim of trying to get some comfort from his wife.
“Why are you always so impatient? Why can’t you wait like normal people? Such matters take time”, she raised her voice to conquer the sound of the rain and the cooking.
“What has patience got to do with this? You will never understand. All I am saying is that he should call. Its about time.”
“How do you know its about time? You men are the limit. Expect everything to be done your way”, Sujata stirred the pan with a spoon and put the stove onto a medium flame.
“Can you come out please? I can’t shout all the time in this rain”
“Two minutes and your snack will be done”
The rain continued to fall incessantly as it had done in the past few days. Sujata came out from the living room into the verandah with a plate of snacks.
“Why aren’t you eating?”, he enquired while gingerly tasting the offerings on his plate.
“I will. But later. Only after he calls”, she stated in a manner that made her look like she was admitting to a crime.
“See? I told you. It is about time. He should have called”, after a pause he continued, “If only he was here right now, I would have shown him what responsibility is all about”
“What do you know about responsibility? You haven’t brought back our umbrella from that no-good friend of yours.”
“Don’t talk about Dutta like that. Its not his fault. This rain has prevented me from going to his place to collect it”
“Why can’t he come and return it? Its an umbrella after all, he can surely come in the rain under it!”
“You women will never understand what it is to adjust and compromise for others’ needs. Its always about you and yourselves. That is why so many homes break apart. Learn to adapt and adjust and the world will be so much nicer.”
“So now its Dutta who takes precedence over me? I never thought that would ever happen. Its my bad fate. My father was right. You were never going to be a good family person”, she broke into one of her usual complaining moods.
“See? Again. Again making this whole issue out of nothing. Please check if the phone has been kept properly. Maybe he is trying and unable to get through”
“I checked it when I got out of the kitchen. You think it doesn’t matter to me?”
He kept quiet, deciding that arguing further would be of no use.
The rain clouds were showing no signs of slowing down and the pattering of water on the verandah’s roof created a humming orchestra that filled the silence created by the lack of conversation.
After a few minutes of silence, as he finished the last sip of his coffee, the phone rang. A sudden rush of adrenalin filled his legs and he got up from his chair. Sujata had by then reached inside to the phone.
“Hello Ma, everything is fine. Its a baby girl”, said the voice on the other end.
Sujata smiled as tears of happiness flowed down her eyes and she found herself unable to say anything. He took over the phone from her and heard the news from the voice on the other end.
He had decided he would scold his son for not keeping them informed all this while, but the news overwhelmed him. He was a grandfather now and all he wanted to do was to see his beautiful grand daughter.
“They are coming in two days time. Both mother and daughter are fine”, he quivered and lay his hand on Sujata’s back. That gesture of his hand had been his most explicit display of affection in public towards his wife. She took his hand in hers and said, “Let us get the room ready for them”.
He walked back to the verandah to pick up his coffee tumbler. The rain continued to fall heavily. But the rain drops from the edges of the verandah’s roof fell down at a slow pace. The drops fell at a very slow rate against a back drop of heavy and fast rainfall.
He suddenly thought about his life. It now felt detached from the rigours of others’ lives. From the travails of others’ youth. His life seemed to him like the slow drops falling off the roof edge.
He smiled to himself and hurried back in as Sujata shouted out calling him a lazy husband.