Monday, July 31, 2006

Black Heart Scarring Darker Still.....

Will she be there when I'm gone?

Heck, I sure as hell don't wanna find out this soon. Went to the Bodies exhibition in NYC. You know, the one with actual dissected human bodies. And the difference between a 'healthy' lung and a smoker's lung was something beyond even my wildest imagination. I mean I know cigarettes contain tar, but I certainly didn't expect to look at a pair of lungs that seeemd like they had been dipped in molten tar.

Just as well that the previous night at Horus, this Hookah cafe in downtown Manhattan, I had decided to quit smoking. The decision stands reinforced.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pictures from the COMPEL conference

Here goes..

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I DO speak English, Mr Cab Driver

Warning: This post contains use of expletives and offensive language. If you are offended by such, read no further!

Imagine. You are late to work. So you call a cab. The cab driver seems to have a major problem with your paying with a credit card. "I can't call the card number in while I drive." So stop and do it you fuckwit! I never fucking asked you to take your fucking eyes off the fucking road now, did I? Then he goes like, "You people, you foreigners have more money than Americans, why can't you pay in cash?" Heh? What follows is worse. In a mock foreign accent, nowhere close to mine, and almost Eastern European, he goes, "Which count-ree are you from?" I kid you not. The 't' in 'count' is a soft 't' and the 'r' is clearly an Eastern European 'r'. I am like, "I am from India." "You from India (soft 'd' sound), so you Indian?" By this time my patience is starting to wear thin and so I go, "Yeah, that's what people from India are called, you know, like people from America are called Americans?" Then he goes, "We American good at fucking girls, you Indians not." Huh? Where the fuck did that come from? And what's with dropping verbs like you are trying to communicate to some English-challenged person? He then starts talking about how women are trouble. Finally he says it's good he doesn't have a squaw now, but he'll get one soon. I am not sure I hear him right, so I am like ,"What??". He's like, "Squaw. A woman. Geez you people don't even know English." Really, you mother fucking piece of shit? So, next you are gonna go around calling African Americans n****rs? I do know what squaw means, perhaps you don't know that it's an offensive and derogatory term. And don't even fucking think about putting your English up against mine. I'll fucking whip your sorry ass till you are so old you can't get it up for your "squaw" anymore.
It is the first time in my two years in the US that I have observed racial overtones to someone's behavior. Those who know me will definitely vouch for the fact that I am the absolute last person to ever accuse anyone of racism. Also, although just a tad more xenophobic than Troy, the people of this city have been very nice. These two factors have caused this incidence to come as a bit of a surprise, but I'll let it be.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Under The Bridge-Part 2

Struggling to find the answers. That's where I left the last post. Sanity has now more or less prevailed and have decided to stay liberal in this regard for the time being. Am sure Spielberg's awesome storytelling in Munich has had a part in this.

Some quotes from the movie by the Israeli PM Golda Meir...
"..we say to these butchers, you didn't want to share this world with us, then we don't have to share this world with you. There's legitimacy for this, am I correct? Ambushed and slaughtered again.."
"..These people..just want to destroy us. Forget peace for now. We've to show them we're strong. We have laws. We represent civilization. Some people say we can't afford to be civilized; I've always resisted such people. But I don't know who these maniacs are, where they come from..."

That was 1972. Look where that's got us. In a never ending cycle of vengeance and retribution. It's never going to work. And although I am not a left leaning liberal by any stretch of imagination, I would suggest the contributors at Little Green Footballs would do well to remember this.

A counterpoint can be found here in an article from the Washington Post.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The sordid tale of Dalmiya and Ganguly

Just when you thought the matter was dead and buried, in come reports of Ganguly coming out openly against someone who was supposed to have been his mentor all these years. I don't know whose version of the story to believe, but I would like to believe Ganguly rather than Dalmiya. One's a cricketer, the other a pimp. I hope I am not mistaken on that one.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Why I LOVE the English sense of humor...

From quote..unquote on Cricinfo

"In the circumstances, I felt I should oblige. She was a lovely mature lady, and quite ample. In fact, Muttiah Muralitharan would have had plenty of room to sign his name."
David "Bumble" Lloyd was rather taken aback when a former Sussex Ladies cricketer asked him to sign her cleavage with a felt-tip pen. Apparently, if he agreed, she stood to earn £200 for charity

Nonchalant. Just like that.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Cold Playboy

Frome quote.. unquote on cricinfo..

"A few years ago, I was chatting up a girl in a lift and she was not having any of it. She thought I was too tall and geeky and all that and I needed a wing-man. In walked Shane Warne and he was the best wing-man."
Coldplay front man and international heart-throb Chris Martin shows his gratitude to the original player

It's fucking hilarious. My fondness for Warnie just keeps growing. Pure genius at cricket and a complete nutjob when it comes to women. Warnie, don't ever retire, you are the greatest entertainer in the world today, on and off the field; and with the amount of shit happenin' around us, we need the enetertainment. I know I do.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Under the bridge

The Red Hot Chili Peppers once sang.

Sometimes I feel
Like I dont have a partner
Sometimes I feel
Like my only friend
Is the city I live in
The city of angels
Lonely as I am
Together we cry

My Mumbai. My friend. My love. What did they do to you? 1993 all over again. It's at times like these you wish you were back in Mumbai. In the middle of it. Like you were in 1993. The 8th grader who sat on the window sill in his bedroom as the Shivsena Bhavan bomb went off. The 8th grader who felt a hard slap of debris and dust on his face. The 8th grader who still didn't feel enough then, who played cricket on the streets just because there were no vehicles on the street. Who did not know how to do the right thing. And now when you do, you are not there.

Just glad no one I know was hurt. And glad we live in an era of mobile communication. And of blogs and MumbaiHelp. And at the risk of sounding cliched, my heart goes out to all the people of my great city. Those who died. Those who didn't. Those who were injured. Those who weren't. And to all of us, who were just hurt. To my darling, the railway line. The dichotomy of my idealogical and pragmatic mind confuses me. To be a liberal in thought that no innocents be punished in the quest to bring the guilty to book? Or the rightist solution where the ends justify the means? I don't know.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Morals: Part 2

This is a disclaimer, a clarification and a continuation of my last discussion on the issue of morals. First the disclaimer and clarification. This was prompted by a discussion with Kiran Pai, who, I have realized, is bloody good at reasonable debates, when he wants to be. Now, here's the thing: I do not endorse prostitution. Period. The last post was merely a vent to my frustration at most people accepting social mores at face value and not questioning them at all. I am not a social scientist, and am unaware of the relative strengths of the pros and cons prostitution might have on society, and will definitely not be so presumptuous as to make a definitive statement. However, again the point is, THINK people, THINK.

With that out of the way, time for some more intellectual masturbation. This is essentially a summary and interpretation of some discussions I've had with Dave and Kiran since my last post. It involves these questions:
a) Is morality absolute?
b) If not, and it is relative at most levels, is it still absolute at some level?
c) What is evil? Are terrorists evil? Was Hitler evil?
d) What is darkness?
e) Is it moral for a woman to sell her body?
f) Is it moral for a man to be a willing customer?
g) Is it moral to steal?

The way I see it, the answers to the first three questions are intricately linked to the answers of the other questions. They are also the guidelines, to those who will buy the ensuing argument, to answer the remaining questions.

In my opinion, morality can never be absolute. It is essentially a conditioning of the society or "framework", in which you view it. The boundaries of this framework might be confined to a caste, a community, a religion, a village, a city, a country, a whole continent or maybe all of humanity. Some mores have a way of getting confined within the boundaries of a smaller framework, such as that of a caste or a community. Others seem logical enough so that they encompass all the smaller frameworks and become applicable to all of humanity. Hence, premarital sex is immoral in some societal frameworks, but not in others. Killing another human being is universally accepted as immoral, and by universally, we mean within the greatest known framework, that of humanity.

Accepting these basic premises now puts us in a position to answer the question on evil and darkness. Who or what is evil? Is killing another person an act of evil? Are terrorists evil? Was Hitler evil? Dave's take on the matter was that one is evil if he does evil fully aware that his act is one of evil. In other words, if he is immoral rather than amoral when viewed within the framework of interest. So Dave's argument was that if Hitler did not believe in the tenets of the societal framework of humanity, he can only be amoral, not immoral. If terrorists believe what they do is right, then, for all of our hatred for terrorism they still cannot be termed evil. That is one aspect of it. However,I do not agree with Dave's contention that one who knowingly does evil is necessarily evil on an absolute basis. As should be evident, I am a great believer in relativsm and this is how I countered him. Facetious and made up as it may seem, I think it drives the point home. Let us say I am part of some obscure societal framework where it is the norm to beat up your wife each morning. If you don't do it, you are branded evil. I, however, am a very lazy person. I could not be bothered less. It's too much trouble. Hence I do not beat my wife. I know what I am doing is evil, yet I do it and not beat my wife. So am I evil because I do evil when I know it's evil? Or am I good because I don't beat my wife?
I believe this thought on relative morality is important even in daily life because it lets us view things in hues of grey rather than in black and white. Hence, a woman who sells her body might not be immoral. A man who pays for sex might or might not be immoral, even with the small thought at the back of his head (now completely devoid of blood circulation, cause everything's gone to the other head:-)) that he is not sure if he might be exploiting the survival need of a woman. A thief might not be immoral because he might be simply fulfilling his survival need. A murderer might have his reasons. Each of these acts therefore become immoral only within specific frameworks, and the ones we usually consider evil are only those that are immoral within the larger framework of humanity.
But what gives us the right? Do humans really know how the world is meant to function? Are we really sure that we are stting the right bounds on the framework of humanity? "God does not play with dice" is an often mentioned quote by the great Albert Einstein. However, with the inability to unify relativity and quantum mechanics, we are still way off from a cause-effect deterministic explanation of the way things happen or should happen. In other words, we still don't know enough physics. The believers then say that the framework to supercede all frameworks is that of God. That, I found to be a ridiculous argument because there is no unanimity on what is the framework of God. It again therefore becomes a question of man acting as a proxy for God to enforce the tenets of His framework. Again, too presumptuous. In an ideal world, I would definitely love for a deterministic set of solutions to all that exists around us. Extreme phyics, you might want to call it. Where you know exactly how things are meant to happen based on a cause. THAT would constitute the unquestionably absolute framework for all societies, human, extra terrestrial, animal, the works.

As a last thought, an interesting snippet from my converstaion with Dave. What is space, is the question he asked me. My answer was that it is anything in which matter can exist but does not have to. It is the union set of the universe and that "thing" which does not contain the universe. Hence the topic of discussion veered towards the origin of the universe and the big bang theory. Dave is defintely a subscriber to Friedmann's first model of the universe which postulates that the universe started at the big bang and will expand till gravity slows it down and causes a collapse or the big crunch. I am not very well disposed at the moment to understand which of Friedmann's models would most accurately describe the universe, but the first model has interesting philosophical implications. If the big bang and big crunch are inevitable, then, and assuming no singularity, the universe is without beginning or end in time. It is both the creator and the created. It is the Divine being Krishna talks about in the Bhagvad Gita. Krishna is said to have taken the "Virat Roop" in his rendition of the Gita to Arjun, where Arjun sees the universe and space embodied within Krishna. I like to think that Krishna is just a personification of that great divine space.