Tuesday, September 26, 2006


For lootenant Usha, who, in spite of a marked lack of stiffness, is the right sort:

1. Are you happy/satisfied with your blog with its content and look?Does your family know about your blog?

With Blooger Beta, looks & usability have certainly improved. I'm, at best, satisfied with the content; there are only a handful of posts that I'm happy about. I'd definitely like to improve the variety of the content. My wife knows about this blog, & married me in spite of it. Baba, I think, does not know what a blog is though he'll pick it up in a second if I told him. Maa, the last we spoke on the topic, was still unsure what exactly a phone has to do with the internet.

2. Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog or you just consider it as a private thing?

I do not publicize this blog. So those who know, also know me in person. And to that extent, I think it is slightly private. Since the digital world is a small one, I'm sure there are people whom I do not know who read this blog. I know this because a large percentage, & a very small number, of the traffic to my blog are returning visitors. So while I'm not embarassed by this blog, I do not rave about it either.

3. Did blogs cause positive changes in your thoughts?

I've never thought about that really. And I do not post very regularly or attract a lot of discussions. However, reading in general has, I believe, played a part in shaping me (& yeah, the shape was rather round until recently!) so I reckon blogging is part of that whole.

4. Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or you love to go and discover more by yourself?

I read the blogs listed on my blog & primarily of those who comment on Usha's blog. If I chose to open the blogs of folks who comment on my posts only, I would not be reading too many blogs. :)

5. What does visitors counter mean to you? Do you care about putting it in your blog?

Yes, I like to know, objectively & numerically, how badly my blog is doing. That apart, web analytics is of professional interest to me as well.

6. Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?

No, in general. I know the ones listed on my blog, for the most part. Perhaps, they have, or have access to, my pictures which aren't exactly exhibition material. But that is categorically the photographer's fault.

7. Do you think there is a real benefit for blogging?

What is a real benefit, anyway? It is fun, while you're at it. It develops into a community, if you're active & good. I sometimes read my old posts, & would have turned the colour of a ripe tomato, if my skin permitted.

8. Do you think that bloggers society is isolated from real world or interacts with events?

I do not think blogging implies separation from the real world. If some bloggers are such, then that is the way they are, whether they blog or not. So to an extent, blogging could be a result of separation not so much the cause of it. And hey, I wonder how long can we isolate the digital medium from the real world. For all we know, digital medium could very well integrate into the real world sooner than we know.

9. Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it's a normal thing?

I do not know if annoyance is the word. It's more like, "Oh rats, why didn't I think of that?" I try not to take it too seriously.

10. Do you fear some political blogs and avoid them?

No, I'm more of "Bring it on!" All kinds of isms interest me.

11. Did you get shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?

I did not know that arrests had happened. However, I think cybercrime is a reality & the internet will need policing continuously particularly because it serves as a platform beyond blogging & such services, usually construed as harmless.

12. Did you think about what will happen to your blog after you die?

If I live the average Indian male lifespan, I think by then blogging would have been replaced by some other cooler technology. Besides, lately I have not felt like dying, so I have not thought about it either. But I think the answer that this question seeks is that I'm not too concerned about the obscurity of this blog in the event of me popping off.

13. What do you like to hear? What's the song you might like to put a link to in your blog?

This one is easy. There is this one song which, for me, epitomizes "the drift" - the theme of my blog. It is a Dylan song & here it is:

Mr. Tambourine man

Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Though I know that evenin's empire has returned into sand
Vanished from my hand
Left me blindly here to stand
but still not sleeping
My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's
too dead for dreaming.
Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship
My senses have been stripped,
my hands can't feel the grip
My toes too numb to step,
wait only for my boot heels to be wanderin'
I'm ready to go anywhere,
I'm ready for to fade
Into my own parade,
cast your dancing spell my way
I promise to go under it.
Though you might hear laughin', spinnin' swingin' madly across the sun
It's not aimed at anyone,
it's just escapin' on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facin'
And if you hear vague traces of skippin' reels of rhyme
Tune your tambourine in time,
it's just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn't pay it any mind,
it's just a shadow you're seein' that he's chasing.
Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time,
far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees,
out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach
of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea,
circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate
driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

You can listen to Dylan singing it here. The Byrds can be heard singing it here. Please ensure that you have a fast internet connection.

Finally, I'd like to tag Doozie & Manoj.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The cult

Jeffrey Sach's book "The end of poverty" talks about, among other things, how developing poor countries is in the social & economic interests of developed countries. At the time when I read it, it looked like a very plausible & no less noble idea. He built his case around, very convincingly with well-argued cases, that economic development & opportunities will definitely eat away at the roots of criminalism, & make the world, including developed nations, a very safe place.

While this may be true in a large & general sense, I'm currently disposed to think that economics does not apply to terrorism or nations/organizations that seem to propagate it - which right now is the problem of many states, developed or otherwise. I think that Sen's book "Identity & violence" is very pertinent in helping explain certain aspects of the matter. While the case of plural identities & the choice of an individual's identity among all the identities that she can choose is central to the theme of the book, it is one idea that, for me, explains terrorism - not from the perspective of a Bin Laden, but rather from the perspective of those who wrap themselves up with explosives or navigate airplanes into buildings, or, for that matter, shoot children through the eye.

A recent programme on the National geographic looked at these men & women. And you can clearly see what their chosen identity is, & you cannot see any economic reasons for it. And the cult of the jehadi is celebrated all along so much so that instead of hunting for folks who would blow themselves up, these groups regularly reject plentiful aspirant martyrs. Apparently in one such organization, photographs of jehadis who kill themselves are framed on the wall next to a staircase leading to the open skies, or heaven. And there is the internet & the propaganda - all of it to sustain this cult, complete with rituals & rites.

Unfortunately, all this is done in the name of Allah - the all merciful...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

In a General way

The Hindu today published a review of Pervez Musharraf's autobiographical work called "In the line of fire". You can also read a rather insipid review here. The book is out on Monday, 9/27, in New York. As you'd expect, there is no dearth of dramatic material; & from an Indian perspective, some of the colouring that has been used to represent certain incidents is blatantly polemic, to fight the urge of using stronger language in a public site.

Here is one example:

In defence of his oft-repeated definition of terrorists in Kashmir as freedom fighters, General Musharraf declares: "The west rejects militant freedom struggles too broadly. The U.S. and Europe too often equate all militancy with terrorism, in particular equating Kashmir's struggle for freedom in Indian Held Kashmir with terrorism. Pakistan has always rejected this broad brush treatment."

While there may be great differences between militancy & terrorism, like in a dictionary, & while the western view may indeed be reductionist & simplistic, the Kashmiri story is a decades-old tug of war between three peoples - the Indians, the Pakistanis, & the Kashmiris. The political complexities are immense & treacherous acts abound. The history is laced with blood. Describing Kashmir merely as freedom struggle is just as blatantly reductionist & a position-based point of view as any.

State sponsorship of terrorism is a political gambit & particularly in the case of Pakistan, has saved it from an economic collapse, more than once. While the General may be a good story-teller, I wonder how many are really riveted.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Indian Constitution

Jug Suraiya, the eternal secularist, has written this piece. I found it totally hilarious; though certain Indian communities have gotten more publicity than others.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The decision maker

Usually, it is believed that a logical decision maker & an emotional decision maker cannot co-exist. That is not to say that any person cannot be either at different times, but that is to say that you have to choose between a value-system based decision & a rationality/logic based decision when both systems offer you an viable alternative in a typical right vs. right situation. For example, your surplus income could be a contribution to charity (Value-based, small good for lot of people) or invested away with financial institutions (rationality based, or in this case, a non-traditional-value-based decision alternative). Both decisions are right, but you can't take both decisions & thus the exclusivity of the two models.

Interestingly, it appears to me that logic itself has emotional strings attached. Those of us who swear by rationality & are its biggest advocates belong to the cult of logicism - for rights & wrongs are both human creations subject to opinion & debate.

So what makes sense depends on where your sensibilities are.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Blogger Beta

In case you did not come across this yet, Blogger Beta is here - full of exciting new features, & a cool set of blog customization tools. This blog is a blogger beta blog.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The stride

Winding by lanes of 4th T block evenings, strange stares from strangers, two main roads, a nice little park - almost a square -, ghastly statues in the park, couples whispering on the benches, a sometime gang of longtime friends, Carnatic classical meandering through rather conspicuous speakers, children in the play-area, walkers in sneakers & denims.

Running shorts, running shoes, chronograph, warming up, regulated breathing, aerobic running, stupid right-angle turns, slowing down, breathless "excuse me" -s to other 'park'-ers, speeding up.

Wet shirt, something throbbing slowly, painfully by the right knee-cap, glistening skin, heavy breathing.

12 laps, 35 minutes.

Walk back home. Wince on the stair-climb. Swear.

Tracker spreadsheet. Enter values. 390 calories burnt.

Feel your right knee lightly.