Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Madness of King George III

King George III of Britain ruled for 60 years (1760-1820), longer than any other King of Britain, and is considered good king by many historians. George III was very popular in the masses. He was the only British king who did not take a mistress and remained loyal to his only wife (the king and queen had 15 children - 9 sons and 6 daughters). He spent large part of his personal money on art and charity. He was devout to religion and prayed for hours. For most part he acted like a constitutional monarch supporting the initiatives of parliament though also playing power politics. Early in his reign, Britain defeated France and became dominant power in North America and India. Afterwards Americans battled their freedom and became a nation which caused great frustration to him. Later in his life, King George III suffered from some illness which affected his mental balance. 

The movie 'The Madness of King George' shows some of the realities which he had to face even after being a king. When the king goes ill, doctors try methods like bleeding and blistering him as a cure. When he appears mad, he is pushed to ground and sat over by servants, chained in a chair to restrain him, isolated in a castle, and he is treated like any old rag on the street - but perhaps as a method of treatment. His son tries to capture power and the parliamentarians openly ridicule him as a lunatic. 

It shows how life is unfair in a way; how life is a great leveler; how people respect your position and not really you; how relationships change when situation changes...


© Rahul



Wishing Merry Christmas

In our last call before client (from a western country) went on year-end vacations I wished her Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance. She said, "Well I do not celebrate Christmas. But thank you." What was my reaction? First reaction was of surprise. But what was I surprised at? I think I was surprised at her frankness, honesty and speaking straight. Now is that something alien in our country? If you wish someone in India "Merry Christmas", and one replies, "I do not celebrate Christmas", I guess you won't judge the person kindly. But if we judge the statement factually and impartially, there is nothing wrong in it. Very often we find people in Western countries open, frank and honest about whatever they do or don't do. In India we beat around the bush. We call it composite culture may be to envelop our insecurities into something of higher purpose as a form of justification. Is it our politeness, accommodating nature, tolerance or conformism and lack of confidence in our individuality which make us not frank and honest about what we do or don't do? I think it is just our lack of thought... I think we are a rushed society with no time to think... 

And btw, Merry Christmas in advance :)

© Rahul

Friday, December 19, 2014

God Speaks

I looked at God as if asking why there was so much pain and misery in this world? It appeared God did not say anything. But He was looking back at me. I got the answer - God wants us to solve all problems. Who says God does not speak? It is us who have forgotten His language!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hindu Temples I have visited (Part-6)

Shinde Chhatri Mandir in Pune. This is a Shiva temple built by Great MarathaMahadji Shinde in 18th century. It was beautiful experience to worship the holy Shivlingam in the temple. Late Sri Madhavrao Scindia of Gwalior who was a descendant of Mahadji Shinde built the hall and samadhi outside the Shiva temple in memory of his ancestor. The hall has paintings of Schidia/Shinde family members including Late Madhavrao Scindia. The design, architecture and art are extremely beautiful and this remains one of the finest Temple complexes we have seen so far.


Kondhaneshwar Mandir near Pune: This Shiva Temple is inside Singhgad Fort near Pune. The statue of Nandi outside the temple indicate the wear and tear due to weather and destruction: 



Mahabaleshwar Temple in old Mahabaleshwar near Pune: 



Sri Panchganga Temple in Mahabaleshwar. Krishna river originates from inside this temple: 




Jagannath Mandir in Puri, Odisha: It is one of the four sacred Char-Dham pilgrimages. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu or Krishna, the temple was built in the 12th century atop its ruins by King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva of Eastern Ganga dynasty. The temple is reported to be invaded and destroyed 18 times. In 1360 AD Feroz Shah Tughluq invaded it from Delhi. In 1509 AD, Ismail Ghazi, commander of Sultan of Bengal and in 1568 AD assistants of Sulaiman Karrani, the Afghan Sultan of Bengal invaded it. Thereafter several invasions and plunders on the temple happened by his successive rulers namely Bayazid, Daud, Kuya Khan and Kutlu Khan Lohani who ruled over Orissa one after another. When Ramachandra Deb established an independent kingdom at Khurda in Orissa, the temple was consecrated and the deities re-installed. Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh had donated massive amounts of gold to the Jagannath temple. The temple is famous for Rath Yatra. In our visit we could see preparations going on for next year's big event and festival. We also liked the temple surrounding and items being sold nearby. Also visited beautiful Puri beach...


Lingaraj Temple at Bhubaneswar, Odisha: Bhubaneswar is mentioned as Ekamra Kshetra in Brahma Purana. Historians say the temple was built first by the Soma Vanshi king Yayati Kesari in the 7th century who shifted his capital from Jaipur to Bhubaneshwar. Parts of it were added in 11th century and it displays Kalinga Architecture. Lingaraj means "The king of Lingam", the symbol of Shaivism. Shiva was worshiped as Kirtivasa and later as "Harihara" and is commonly referred as Tribhuvaneshwara (also called Bhubaneswar), the master of three worlds - heaven, earth and netherworld. His consort is called Bhuvaneshvari. It is a Shiva temple but Lord Vishnu is also worshiped here (Harihara = Vishnu + Shiva). The temple complex has 50+ other shrines inside it. Once a year, an image of Lingaraja is taken to the Jalamandir in the center of the Bindu Sagar lake. It was wonderful and is one of the biggest temples visited...





Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Everything we see is a perspective

Some months back I posted this pic on facebook. I got so many 'likes'. I loved this image because of three reasons: 1. Wisdom in its quote, 2. I am a big fan of Russell Crowe 3. In my wildest fantasies sometimes I fashion myself as a warrior :) But blinded by these reasons, I did not notice what was there on Russell Crowe's shoulders :) Many months afterwards when I realized that there was a dead animal on his shoulders, I said Yuk!!! I wanted to be a warrior but not one who carried dead foxes and wolves on his shoulders! Because after all "What we do in life echoes in eternity"! So I searched for his image without a dead animal on his shoulders. And I don't find one... So what is the message? I see it as a dead animal, he saw it as utility. Marcus Aurelius said, "Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."


Monday, December 15, 2014

Perspectives





"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein





"Do good and feel good. Do bad and feel bad. It is that simple."




Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Who is Anti-Women?

Saw some random posts on facebook, where women wrote anti-men posts and got 100+ likes (it's sure way to get fame). But I think I subscribe to an old practical wisdom which says that "women are women's worst enemies". Let us discuss some of the most serious problems women protest about.


Dowry: if you observe, most serious and adamant dowry demands come from mothers-in-law and not from fathers of the grooms (fathers being worldly wise demand it when they know the other party can pay while mothers are often ruthless and merciless on such matters); women's celebrated infatuation towards gold and jewelry is also a reason why dowry system continues to live. Women rule the house - is a widely known fact. But since mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law fight for power, the later suffer in the beginning while the former suffer in the last days. Some families don't educate their daughters beyond a limit - because girls become too 'demanding' and insist on 'equal' match ('equal' boy means 10 times wealthier), which poor families find difficult to court. Solution - women should stop looking at potential grooms as 'ticket to good days' and should accept them as 'human beings' who got feelings. It is the mothers who treat their sons preferentially, like feeding them better, since they believe boys have to do more work. Such differential upbringing makes boys respect girls less. The fact is that most fathers love their daughters more than they love their sons. (Many mothers love their sons more than daughters.) Most brothers will go to any extent to protect their sisters. (Most sisters will side with their husbands than with their brothers when time comes.) A husband even ignores parents many times to support wife. (Many times wives treat husbands merely as cash-cows) But what do men get in return? Loads of abuses. From women, who have to complain since it makes them feel great; and from men, who have to be biased towards women in order to appear unbiased towards women.

© Rahul

(All personal opinion based on observations - no claim to be holier than your opinion :) 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Uber Banned in India for Right Reasons

In India, because we were ruled by corrupt parties/politicians in the past, we developed an attitude which said, "if govt has done something, it must be wrong." This theory explains why as soon as we heard about any decision made by govt, our first reaction was, "it is wrong". After recent crime in Delhi by its driver, govt banned Uber. Since Delhi is under central control, opposition got chance to target BJP/Modi govt over it. But if we care to read the news, Uber was banned for right reasons.

Uber does not even have a call center. No emergency number passengers can contact. Also no police verification for drivers. No permit for rent-a-cab. Uber also violated RBI's guidelines on its payment service. The only problem is that it was not banned before and banned only after something horrible happened.

Delhi is too important a place for Govt not to be knowing about this service. They should have banned it from the beginning until it complied with the rules. And we should thank govt for taking actions like these - if govt continues like this, all companies will become responsible in maintaining safety services for us. This ban shows, that govt is decisive, it took big decision to ban companies because of one incident of rape. In the past what was govt's attitude? "It is only one case", "it is exceptional case" etc etc..  and now? We shall ban a company if they fail in maintaining safety features for women. We should note this change in attitude by the govt and we should appreciate it.

And if we think that only a poor and uneducated country banned it in one state - we should know that others like Spain have done it too for same reasons:

Uber banned in Spain & Thailand, sued in Portland, hassled in Rio
On Tuesday, both Thailand and Spain banned Uber. You know the drill by now: The company’s drivers don’t have taxi permits and/or insurance, and the authorities have had an earful from furious cab drivers who do have to pay for such things. Yesterday it was authorities in Delhi that told the firm to stop operating locally, after an Uber driver allegedly raped a passenger. Meanwhile, the cities of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and Portland, Oregon, have also told the firm to stay off the roads (via police complaint and lawsuit respectively), and an Uber driver in San Francisco has been charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for driving over and killing a six-year-old girl.
https://gigaom.com/2014/12/09/uber-banned-in-spain-thailand-sued-in-portland-hassled-in-rio/
Also at: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30395093

Also, I wonder why we (people like us) also did not notice the potential threat. Many people in our office were using this service; they were giving away some code to get Rs 300 discount on Uber app; no one thought that absence of an emergency number or even a call center could be security threat... Uber's marketing was so strong that people did not doubt it or expected anything wrong from Uber's part.. Media was busy writing articles about Uber's Mercs and BMWs and at the most about its payment service which saved customers' credit card numbers (as if we did not want to burn calories in swiping our cards every time). If this is to indicate, we must do safety audit in many other sectors and services too...


Monday, December 8, 2014

Grandpa and the Kid

Saw an old man carrying his small grandchild in his arms while they returned from a temple. Perhaps from a Shiva temple as the child had mark of white bhabhut on its forehead. Ever wondered what a kid would learn by visiting temples? A child does not know about gods, bhakti, karma, religion, or anything! I think the idea is to do indirect teaching. We don't learn most of the things we are taught (otherwise all of us would be Einsteins) and we learn most of the things not taught to us (like all the bad things mothers complain about). So let the child learn indirectly by observing what we are doing.

Now this is scary from the point of view of those parents who think the kid is too small to learn anything and hence they could do anything in its presence! Like arguing, watching excessive TV, smoking, or being lazy!


If the kid is watching you - you have to be worthy of being watched by an innocent cute kid!

© Rahul

Image below just for a change; credits mentioned:


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Anatomy of a dream

This morning I saw a dream - that I am an Indian soldier on the run while some Pakistani rangers are chasing me. It is happening in the snow clad mountains... I know that it is Wednesday. I have been running since Monday and in the dream I know that I have to run till Friday. So I am running; trying to outsmart the enemies.

Now, this Monday-Friday schedule indicates that in the dream Pakistani rangers must be work-related stress/challenges and I must be waiting for the weekend so as to avoid those. It should be mountains because running is tough there and it must be snow because in the morning my blanket must be off and I must be feeling cold in reality while sleeping.

Anatomy of a dream :)


© Rahul


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Annie Menni Talk


“Hello, Rabbit,” he said, “is that you?”
"Let’s pretend it isn’t,” said Rabbit, “and see what happens.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie The Pooh



"Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that is how dogs spend their lives."
― Sue Murphy



“What's your name,' Coraline asked the cat. 'Look, I'm Coraline. Okay?'
'Cats don't have names,' it said.
'No?' said Coraline.
'No,' said the cat. 'Now you people have names. That's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are, so we don't need names.”
― Neil Gaiman, Coraline



“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”
― Christopher Hitchens, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever



“Women speak because they wish to speak, whereas a man speaks only when driven to speak by something outside himself - like, for instance, he can't find any clean socks.”
― Jean Kerr


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Future

Some rich people made mansions and big strong buildings, so that their future generations could rent those to film-makers to shoot some pathetic horror movies in those; or convert those into hotels so that any Tom and Peter on earth who could afford a few bucks could eat, drink and pee in those for a few days... Point is - you never know what future has in store for all you achieve through so much hard work and money...


Plight of Yazidi Women in Iraq

We were being sold the Globalization and One-World stories; where boundaries were fainting and thanks to internet and social media whole world, as per the theory, had become one global-village. Finally humans were becoming one race... But then something like IS in Iraq happens and you wonder what went wrong? 

Unaffected nations go on partying and conferencing, Noble prizes keep churning out, so do movies, art and literature in rest of the world while some people are subjected to the worst in places like Iraq. What happened to the one-world story? In India, human rights activists are busy promoting public kissing on the streets; women rights orgs are busy talking on television and yet are immune to what happens to other "humans" and other "women". What happened to the great Obama and UNO? 

I think what is happening there has proved that humans are not yet civilized, all humans are not yet equal, women are still livestock, and ancient rule of animal kingdom "might is right" still works..



Friday, November 28, 2014

Recent Book Reads

By: Abhay Nagarajan

Highly recommended – it’s a hilarious story touching real life scenarios…



By: Napoleon Hill

Book has good points but it is written in a language which appears old and uninteresting in the current times...





Sunday, November 23, 2014

Professional Sports and Tribal Wars

When I see professional sports, sometimes I see traces and signs of ancient tribal wars in those. When two teams contest, it is like two tribal groups fighting; may be for food or for some treasure. Goal post is where food/treasure is. Two halves of the playground are their respective tribal villages - they try to storm into the opponent's which try to 'defend' what they got. Bats, sticks, and other sports accessories are like war weapons. In case of individual sports like boxing - it is like two tribal chiefs fighting to settle the matter between them while others watch them fight. The Trophy or the 'Cup' represents the treasure for which they fight. 

Some sports like archery, sword fighting, have remained near exactly what they were meant to be, as have boxing and wrestling - these are actual fights; we have just given away the slay-the-loser part! 

Professional sport brings out same kind of savage passion in the viewers - and as much physical and savage the sport is - so much more passion it generates; so we find two teams' supporters fighting each other even in the stands! 

Teams' uniforms are meant to distinguish one tribal race from the other. Cheerleaders represent the women of the fighting tribes - who can't fight as they have to protect babies, so they cheer up the male fighters who fight also to protect the women. 

To make it more apparent to the naive they also name the teams on those lines - Knights, Riders, Chargers, Tuskers, Warriors; in IPL; Gladiators, Predators, Force, Sharks, Storm, etc in AFL. 

It is no coincidence that military-men do great in sports as compared to civilians, because of overlap in skills needed... :) 

Professional competitive sports can be seen as just a civilized manner to keep the passions of the uncivilized tribal wars alive somewhere in our genes. Don't slay me for this now; even for sport :)

(C) Rahul

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Customer Centric?

Water purifier had something broken in the inlet pipe so I called up the company’s customer care number and a serviceman came to repair it. He opened up the purifier, removed and discarded the broken part and started putting the machine back as his work was done. I felt like a fool – if it were so simple, I could have done it myself! (I did not realize that the smart companies are making their appliances so simple to maintain, not for us, but for their service personnel to save time!) He said like a monk, “why should we replace this part when we can do well without it? Why spend unnecessary money?” Amusing!

I saw there was a hole left because of the discarded part, so I acted intelligent by asking, “what if a cockroach enters the purifier through that hole?” Smart guy asked me back, “has your house got too many cockroaches?” I said, “Well, what if one is too adventurous?” (Just like all ancient human civilizations settled near rivers, insects choose to multiply near water sources till date! All I am not sure is if they pay premium for ‘purified’ water sources!) On afterthoughts I realized that I was supposed to say “no”, because it was supposed to be embarrassing to say your house had cockroaches!

When he started to plug the hole, good sense prevailed in me and I asked him to leave it. I decided to utilize my 2 year old pink cello-tape for the purpose.

When job was done, the service person gave me his personal number and said, “Call me directly; why waste money and time by calling through customer care?” Was he dishonest? May be, but if Customer Care calls me to ask if I was satisfied, I would say “hell yes!” And if his company has customer feedback as the basis of his performance rating; he surely will get most stars! So he will get salary hikes from his company and also earn personal money through out-of-the-channel work! I think his apparent dishonesty can also be called his ‘customer centric’ approach :)

God save the companies which plan to fill up tanks with holes in the bottom-line!

(C) Rahul

Friday, November 21, 2014

Debating - Then and Now...

Once Adi Shankaracharya went to debate with Kumaarila Bhatta (around 700 AD) in Prayag (modern Allahabad) on their respective philosophies. Kumaarila Bhatt, a Maithil Brahmin scholar and philosopher had defeated Buddhist philosophers and proven their doctrine wrong and is credited for decline of Buddhism in India along with Adi Shankar. Kumaarila Bhatt by the time was doing penance by slowly burning his body in a pyre and asked Adi Shankar to debate with his disciple Mandana Mishra of Mithila (Bihar)... 

So Adi Shankar went to debate with Mandana Mishra who was a great philosopher and believed that life of a householder was far superior to that of a monk. Mandana Mishra's wife Ubhaya Bhaarati was chosen as judge as she was a great scholar herself (tells about women's empowerment in those days) and it was decided that whoever lost debate would become disciple of the other... 

At last Adi Shankar won the debate - Ubhaya declared her husband defeated - although knowing that he would have to renounce the world and become a monk to be disciple of Adi Shankar. Then she challenged Adi Shankar for a debate with herself and asked him questions on relationships, which Adi Shankar a celibate Sanyasi won't know (ladies were tricky even in those days). Adi Shankar asked for 15 days break in debate; (his soul) left his body and entered into a king, learnt the answers, and came back into debate and defeated her also. Ubhaya Bharti also renounced world and took Sanyas like her husband. 

In our time if the debate happened, the two would simply 'unfriend' each other on facebook and go on in their respective lives. Also, the one with maximum friend-list count will get more 'likes' and hence will win the debate!

(C) Rahul

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Reading: Good or Bad?

I am certainly a book-lover; and since it is always fashionable to say books are our best friends I might have said that too sometimes. But at times I feel books have also been my enemy. In my growing years, when I read a few on Psychology for example, books gave me a feeling as if I “knew it all” after reading those. Now I feel books give pseudo feeling that we have become learned after reading.

I like to observe little things. I know everyone claims to be sensitive, since it is good to say so and it is true also to some extent, but does everyone really “care” about sensitivity? Books made me consider all people as reasonable individuals with sensible thinking; but real life has been urging me to “unlearn” these things.

I have so many friends who have not read many books but know this world better than any book-readers. And I respect them for not reading books; most books are anyway second-hand opinion. I guess this is why they made terms like “bookish” with a basic premise that this world is not as they write in books.

I think I love Shahid Bhagat Singh’s view on books best – reading a book is a conversation with the writer. Nothing more than that…

(C) Rahul