Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Of all the Presidents

Now, with the presidential elections over a year away, & public memory being typically short (Whatever happened to the outrage over Saddam's execution?) it is very difficult for anybody to hazard a guess as to who would be the next US President.

However, how can you really resist a political position? :) Well, the fact is you probably cannot. The CNN & YouTube debate today was quite outstanding both in terms of the variety of topics that were talked about as well as manner in which the questions were framed. In different areas of the country, there were different reactions to who really won the day, & though, it appeared to me, the media experts took the safe position of rallying behind Clinton, the New Hampshire focus group put her in the 4th position behind Obama, Biden & such.

So beyond what I know & believe about each candidate, I really wish it is Obama who emerges a winner just to prove my own philosophy that History has a way of favouring the improbable. So much for political acumen.

Clinton is doing pretty well herself, but ever so often she answers as the fore-runner. While media experts constantly call this 'showing leadership', I think that it is a bit uncalled for.

I like Richardson & find him fairly precise as well as detail-oriented, someone who draws well from the past without necessarily coming across as blowing his horn. But then again, I might have thought differently if he was the fore-runner. Also, if ever there is a compromise in the future, 7 richardson decides to join either Obama or Clinton as the vice-Presidential candidate, i think that'd really make a winning pair.

I feel sorry for John Edwards. He has constantly tried to take on the front-runners with little success, & even in the way of stirring up controversy, he has done little resorting as he does to often-repeated rhetorical stances.

I guess we'll see.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Obviously, you've encountered that expression before. And probably with an alarming regularity. But no, I'm not writing this to accentuate the difference between types of English, spoken or rolled.

I got into this conversation with a colleague over lunch & talked about gun control, & the state of creationism & the religious right here in the US - you know, the kind of juicy "isms" that make me salivate.

We had many commonalities in our opinions though these were borne out of different experiences;well, I should say that Joe's were experiences that involved real people & mine were accumulated from print & electronic media. What did you expect anyway?

The course of the conversation led JB & me to talk about how religious texts need to be examined in the social context of their origin. I was tactless enough to throw in how all religions really had tribal, pagan origins & assorted ramifications. This, though, isn't correct of all religions, particularly of Jainism, & Buddhism.

The two further extrapolations I had in mind coming from this thread were that pagan, tribal societies had hard, well-defined,value systems (if you're not with us, you're against us etc), & that ambivalence/intellectual honesty is really a modern thing - particularly characteristic, in the US at least, of the generation X - another topic of conversation with JB.

And then I read this.

I was wrong. Again. The rigveda, for a document that predates most known bodies of knowledge, actually is ambivalent about the creation of the universe. Yes, the Vedas talk about Gods before the "trinity" culture became mainstream Hinduism. But even so, for a book that old, if that wasn't ambivalence & intellectual honesty, then.... whatever (ambivalence etc)


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The subcontinental

Invariably, it appears that when Americans are thinking of India, they're really thinking of Chicken Tikka Masala. Or, Tandoori chicken. And some of them think, I'm told, that the Tandoori chicken , owing to its crimson complexion, must be very hot. I've been asked if we eat Tandoori Chicken everyday. I did not have the heart to tell the person that my resources back home are too limited to build out a Tandoor at home. So, I said something to the effect of "Oh no, just on Sundays or some such special occasions!"

Then, one time, I had to explain this whole thing about how usually in a family with both a daughter & son, customarily the daughter gets married first. This led to many hypothetical questions about many-children-families & the associated ramifications about age differences & the like.

And then, making sense of arranged marriage was about the hardest thing to do. Admittedly, it works & has worked for a while & there are possibly good cultural reasons for it. My problem was actually more about explaining the set up process in the process of which I, perhaps injudiciously, mentioned the word "pageant"... needless to say; I could not rescue my explanations from that point onwards.

Americans think of Indian food, Indian traditions & Indian IT.

Indians, to the contrary, think of the Punjabi Tandoor, the Tamil Pongal, the Bangalore IT scene, the power corridors of Delhi, the ever-prospering Gujaratis & do not think at all of the North-Eastern states.

The whole, it appears, could not be farther, in our hearts & minds, from the parts.