Sunday, December 18, 2005


Somebody told the kid finally that nobody believes him. "What? I am the most powerful man on Earth. How can people not believe me? Do they even have a choice?". Or maybe they told him his approval ratings were tumbling, and everybody had to see his face for dinner. George W. Bush came on TV to address the nation, the StrangeLand. It was incidental that I caught him speaking, cos I was only looking for an episode of the Family Guy, when instead the quitessential family guy himself turns up from the cosy interiors of the Oval Office. To talk about 'Eye-Rack'.

The 'Begin by Backing Off' Strategy

He begins by being candid and admitting that there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. But, no, he wont say it straight out. He winds around long before he finally says it. "We had reason to believe". "We were not the only ones who believed". "We know he turned down requests from UN officials for inspections." "Saddam had the potential to use them". And, finally, "We were wrong. No WMDs were found. Except signs that they had the nuclear know-how to do so." Well, Mr Bush, you were the only one to believe they had WMDs. Tony Blair just tagged along and he got reprimanded for that from his own nation. And, what a way to admit a mistake. You never fully admit, it do you? And this was THE reason to march into Iraq. Of course, later it was re-monikered a War Against Terror.

Must say though, smart move that. All those who were willing to take his side, actually took it at that time. Cos he also said, "I am your president, and sometimes I must do what I believe is right, and be prepared to accept the consequences." Its an endearing statement, made to sound like it comes from a man with a deep sense of patriotism and responsibility. However, doing what ONE believes is right is called dictatorship, or atleast misuse of power. And what consequences? He loses the next election? What about the consequences of a whole nation, one that goes by the name of Iraq, one that has a history of its own much longer than this BushLand has?

The War Against Terror

I'm never gonna buy this one. In Saddam's regime, he might have been the terror, but there were no terrorists or insurgencies. Cos he would squash them. They are his enemies after all. The fact is, the terrorists and extremists who are waging a war against the US will walk in wherever there are US troops. And with Saddam gone and US troops all over Iraq, that's exactly what they did. It wouldn't have been difficult to recruit fighters either, with all the discontent that the youth will have pent up inside; given some nation, especially the US, is controlling their destiny.

For Bush, its a war that he's winning. For me, the war was over in the first few days when he took out Saddam. Fighting insurgencies is not war. If that's the case, India has always been at war in Kashmir. Thank God, my Prime Minister doesn't come out at dinner time to tell me 'We are winning the war, dude.'

Push Iraqis to the forefront

He wants to train Iraqi soldiers and policemen so they can handle the terrorists themselves, and so that he can reduce the troop count. Dude, this is the shit you created. Now, you throw it up at the fan and run? He talks as if he's empowering them. They didnt ask for anything they are getting. I agree Saddam was a bad influence. But, I am yet to be convinced they are better off right now.

What is victory?

In this self-defined war, what is the milestone for declaring victory? Setting up a democracy in Iraq? Setting them on a path to continued development? Or will it be decalared right before the next presidential elections in US? Or maybe, when they have divided Iraq into three parts, one for the Shias, one for the Sunnis, and one for the Kurds, cos no one would accept the draft constitution that didnt support their interests. "Let's have 3 constitutions then", the kid declares. "No matter what, I always win. Cos I define victory."

If US walks out with the job incomplete - and so Bush fears - they will lose the credibility they have today in the eyes of the world. No one will ever trust that they can do something right, he says. Here's some news. You have already lost credibility. The whole world insisted you dont enter Iraq in the first place, but you had your own games to play.

What now?

Bush also said that the troop pull-out decisions will be made by Generals and the President and his staff after careful considerations of the situations on the field, and will not follow "an artificial timetable", one which politicians in the Senate want. Coincidence then, that earlier today, V-P Cheney said the exact same words - and I mean exact - on his short visit to Iraq. I insist they use different speech writers, atleast when they speak on the same day. Or maybe Bush forgot CNN can bring Cheney's voice from 6000 miles, on the same day, using something called Satellite technology.

More deaths, more killings, an extended stay, one which Bush didnt plan for. The result is still shady to me. But, Bush is confident. Not optimistic. Confident. As for the parents of young soldiers who are fighting a war they dont understand, and the soldiers themselves, I only have sympathy. 2,515 is the US death count they tell me. Nobody shows the Iraqi civilian death count on CNN. Cos it would tick more faster than they want everybody to see. Its always hard when a kid gets a lot of power, nothing makes sense. But, someday he will be tired of this game and find something new to play. That's our only hope.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Let the Freeze begin

Man, am I excited or what! Yeah, you can tell from the upsurge in the frequency of my blogs of course. But, today’s the first time I’ve experienced temperatures below zero. In 25 years. Wow! I know it sounds stupid, but this is one of the things I did want to experience when in StrangeLand. Still waiting for it to snow though. Remember my Boston trip, where I had the best opportunity, but the weather didn’t shake-up enough?

The Build-up

I got hints about the temperatures dropping drastically today from people at work yesterday, and when I woke up this morning, it was dark and dull outside. No, I didn’t wake up too early or before sunrise to be precise. It was very cloudy and there was a stiff breeze too. Every morning, I hear my favourite radio jockeys, Mike and Jason on 101X (Austin’s new rock alternative), tell me the temperatures – current and forecast high/low. I missed that today cos apparently I brush my teeth too loudly, although my gums are still intact.

So, I turned on the TV and tuned into the Weather Channel, and they forecast a chill accompanied by rains in central Texas, and other parts of the country I don’t care about. I was elated cos finally, this was really gonna happen. Everyone on my way to work had something to say about the chill. “I’m gonna stay indoors and make hamburgers.” “My wife insists I be home before 5pm”. “Your car rental contract needs to be extended”. Well, not quite everyone.

The real deal

People rushed out early from work and wherever cos rains were forecast for 5pm. And every kid who never went to school knows that when it rains and its below freezing point, the water freezes too. Those who did go to school think about how the volume of water decreases when it freezes and cheerfully imagine smaller puddles as a result. I had a meeting starting at 4:30pm and there was no way I was gonna miss this opportunity. I mean the opportunity to experience freezing cold and drive back home on ice!

It isn’t really fun to tell you the truth. There’s frost on the road, on your windshields. You think it’s just water and turn on the wipers, only to hear a loud creak indicating your wipers slid over the ice and you still have a blurry view of the world. If you peek at your rear-view mirror, your car looks either like its on fire or like the world’s most polluting vehicle, with all the usually invisible vapours turning into a foggy smoke. When you hit the gas right when the lights turn green, the car waits a second before jolting ahead, as if the fuel pipes were frozen from the idling. People are driving at 20mph on the freeway where they usually blast by you at 80mph and you are driving slowly to avoid hefty tickets. Today, you are king and you whoosh by all the others. At 35mph. Wherever water was dripping, you now see ice. Even the wind that hits you when you step outta the car feels like its carrying ice.

Yeah, it ain’t fun. Its kinda like wanting to rummage though garbage even though you know it ain’t fun, but you gotta do it cos you’ve never done that before. What? No, I meant cos you lost your credit card bill in there. In the end, I’m glad to be back in my hotel room, with the heater turned on and hot soup cooking on the stove. But, you still haven’t experienced this, have you? VIRGIN!!


Yesterday was Monday, not very interesting. Tried some Lasagna for lunch, hoping I would love it but I didnt. It also kicked off an emotional rollercoaster in my head cos its hit me now that I live alone, work 7 days a week and miss my family. Yesterday is also the name of the South African movie I just finished watching. Maybe it was because of the state of mind I am in, but I have not felt as touched by a movie ever before.

Thanks to HBO for airing foreign language Oscar nominees. I really needed some amazing cinemawork to take my head off the normal lonely chains of thought. I had seen 'Maria, full of grace' sometime back about a Colombian girl who is coerced into carrying cocaine in her belly. But, I got lost in the pretty eyes of the actress and missed the whole movie! Yesterday was instead simple and frank and didn't ever attempt to pass on any message. It was all about the life of a woman called Yesterday. Depicted as is.


Well, you don't watch enough soccer for sure, or don't keep a tab on African news, if you are suprised by that name. Missionaries did convert ethnic Africans into Christians, and taught them English. But, no one told them Yesterday, Sunday, Tomorrow aren't names of persons, but days. Her daughter is called Beauty, and here's the winner - her husband is called John! Can you beat that?

Why am I going ga-ga?
Like they say, 'This movie has Oscar written all over it'. However, I dont think it won the Oscar. It's about a village lady living somewhere remote in South Africa with a sweet little daughter who can't stop asking innocent questions. Daddy lives far away in Johannesburg and both hardly see him. It all looks so real, when Yesterday walks for hours to see a doctor and the doctor is too occupied with other patients to see her, and she has to walk back. And then, when its pretty late, the doctor diagnoses her with AIDS. The hubby's got it too, from some other woman apparently, so Beauty's safe.

The movie is all about how Yesterday dreams of sending Beauty to school and she makes up her mind to see her in school before she succumbs. Simultaneously looking after her daughter, tending to the fields, doing the housekeeping, managing the grumbles of the village-folk, she comes out to be a lady of admirably strong character. When an average person would give in to the disease, she stands up and decides to do what she has to.

Some of the parts are ultra-touching. For example, when the villagers dont want the husband in the village anymore, she tries getting him into a hospital in the city. But, there's a waiting list there too and she decides to build her own hospital bed, far away in the plains, for just her husband. She does it with her own two hands and sees him pass away in that hospital of hers. And the motivation coming from the fact that there was news from the neighbouring village about a girl being stoned to death cos she had the virus.

I have seen a few movies dealing with AIDS. Philadelphia comes to mind. From Bollywood, My Brother Nikhil and some Shilpa Shetty starrer come to mind too. But, they were pretty melodramatic. They tried to be phony and at times pushed the limits a bit. Such stories are meant to be made simple without the salt or sugar or whatever they add. It makes you feel like you know the people in the movie and makes you yearn to help them.

What am I doing?
It also made me think about my futile life. I'm into money spinning like everyone else. Chasing the buck. No, not black buck like Salman, please..I'm an animal lover. Millions of people out there toil even with deadly diseases and handicaps, while I lay back, sip my cocoa and watch TV and then decide to write a blog about it. Its not an easy decision to get up and go out and do something notable, but I wish it weren't as hard too. I'm gonna goto sleep and wake up tomorrow as if nothing really hit my mind last night, or in other words, Yesterday. But, someday, I pray, it will be different. I'd been talking about my destiny earlier and how I didn't know what I wanna do. Sometimes the answer's right in front and you can't see it. Is that the case here?

All I have learnt is I need to strive to make Today better, so that Tomorrow I can say Yesterday was good, I did something worthwhile. Yesterday says in the movie too that her dad named her Yesterday cos he always felt, Yesterday was better than Today.
Its a recursive formula guaranteed to make your Today awesome. Think about it..

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Fear Of The Dark

When the light begins to change
I sometimes feel a little strange
A little anxious when it’s dark

Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
I have a constant fear that someone's always near
Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
I have a phobia that someone’s always there

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, my cousin brothers extracted a lot of fun out of scaring my little sister Yera with an Ouija board, the one where you sit in the dark and place a finger over a planchette and it moves signalling that you are talking to a spirit. To me it immediately sounds a load of crap, cos obviously they are moving it with their hands, either with intention or not. But, I can imagine myself being 13, and I bet I'd be scared as hell too. She had a hard time sleeping that night, and it kinda led me thinking about the Spirits and the Ghosts.


Why are ghosts considered bad? Why have we always been taught to be scared of them? If a ghost is simply a soul from the body of a person, there have to be atleast as many good ones as there are bad ones.

Why are ghosts only found at night and rarely at daytime? Why do they hide in dark places? From what I have heard, they are ultra-powerful cos the rules of this world don't apply to them. If so, what's with the guerilla warfare? Is one of them watching me right now and smirking at my ignorance? Are they gonna get back at me for this blog?

Another theory I've heard very often is that if one believes in angels, then one must believe there's an opposite too. It may come as no surprise, but angels are as much a myth to me as ghosts. For me, both ghosts and angels are too stereo-typed to be true.

Watching horror films the night before
Debating wiches and folklore
The unknown troubles on your mind
Maybe your mind is playing tricks
You sense and suddenly eyes fix
On dancing shadows from behind

Isn't it true that we 'sense' ghosts more readily right after watching a horror movie, or being told folklores about them? Mere hustles in the curtains and the shadows of trees on windows suddenly come to life. I remember one of my friends returning home after we all watched a late night show of The Sixth Sense. He headed straight for the loo, and poor thing, the lights blew on him when he was inside. What timing! All I'm saying is - Its All In Your Head. Just needs a trigger.

Growing up with ghosts

We are all introduced to ghosts by whoever, when we are kids. What a kid learns at that young age, always sticks. I dont think I was scared when I was 2 or 3 and left alone in the dark. Yes, I missed my mom and cried, but that's different. As I started being introduced to the spooky stuff, I would be scared to enter a dark room, turn off the lights myself before going to sleep. The seeds had been planted for a lifetime.

To make things worse, there were some ruins next to my school and..surprise, they were haunted by ghosts! I could see them from the balcony of my house and I walked past them many a time - only once at night, with my mom. My dad knows how much this bothered me. I would have a hard time even going to the balcony at night. And he was the one who helped clear the mysteries of ghosts and spirits in my head. The interesting thing is that last time I visited Hyderabad, one of my friends who knew how much I was scared of these ruins, invited me to go see them again, in the dark. He had a naughty smirk on his face. I think he was surprised how I readily agreed and actually enjoyed watching them from up-close, in the faint moonlight. Dude didnt know I am over it!

What I Believe

Every religion has its own way of explaining life after death, which to me is a way of comforting a person who has lost someone close. Knowing that they live on, not in this world but some other, and that we will join them soon, is a soothing thought. Somewhere down the line, this was twisted and there were exceptions to the rule. Some souls missed the bus (or is it the boat?) and stayed back cos they had unfinished business - like haunting for example? We have all wanted to do that, haven't we? In the Hindu philosophy, the soul is always stuck in the cycle of karma and may not leave the earth till its time has come and it has done enough good. It has to be re-born in another form. The good thing is they never asserted the souls are bad.

I believe that ghosts do not exist and I won't till I see one myself. And even if they do exist, they are not all bad. Most of these ghosts are my ancestors and they are protecting me, if anything.