Monday, April 06, 2015

Simbly Venting

Reading this new report on our government's "great", "insightful", "inclusive", "development oriented" plans  I had a couple of  quick thoughts run through me (with a good measure of sarcasm). So now that we have executive orders/ordinances in place to overcome environmental regulations, next in agenda is more structural and policy-level changes  in order to lead us (quickly) to that promised land of #achedin.

To begin with, additional clearances will be done away with (the aim is obviously “speedy development”). Heck, if the government had its way, it would implement and then inform its people. We are not quite there yet. When that happens we can enjoy "achedin" in a nice, blissed out, totalitarian environment.

There are  plans to redefine the  legal definition of forests. Now who is redefining it, what is the new definition? Who knows? But that is irrelevant. Imagine the real estate prospects here!! Gold! I mean don't we all aspire to live in a  gated community, in a sprawling bungalow, in the middle of the Western Ghats!. Imagine people...just imagine! Ah! "achedin" indeed!

Private sector to be involved in afforestation practices. Meaning how? Financial support or actually deciding what trees/plants to grow where?!?. So here is how I imagine it- Mrs. Ambnani glides into her husband's gold plated suite ( my head the super rich glide and live in gold plated rooms) and goes -"suniya jee--wouldn't it be wonderful if we planted conifers in that large tract of forest land, down south, in Kerala, on that site the minister jee had mentioned. It will be just like Europe and those who cannot afford to travel to Europe or way up North can get the feel on home turf. Wouldn't that be a win-win? And Mr. Ambanani goes- "sure darling - what a thoughtful, brilliant idea!". And Mrs. Ambnani giggles shyly.
Now you decide if this is a funny or a frightening scenario.

The report talked about two step changes planned - “mild changes” during the current session and “radical changes” in the next. Someone explain mild and radical please? I thought things were pretty radical enough. And I  don't think my poor self can handle anymore radical changes.

And last but not the least – the government is all set to overhaul environmental and forest regulations but no plans to enhance monitoring. Excellent! This is like the government being an indulgent parent where the petulant child gets his/her way whom they neither care to monitor and nor do they want to spend on a nanny. 

Venting over, looking for aspirin.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

No "Reservations"?

A conversation among friends on reservation for minorities lead to a comment on vote banks and corrupt politicians. The point asserted was the need to get rid of policies that foster minorities, creating a level playing field, thus reigning in corrupt politicians and their dirty tactics. This led me to think-----

Political parties may manipulate community groups and rely on vote banks to acquire or retain power and continue on with the cycle of corruption. This is definitely not good. But we cannot tackle the issue or outsmart corrupt politicians by simply getting rid of policies affecting minorities  and artificially creating a level playing field. Creating a level playing field is a great idea but not easy as one may think. The reason being, its not just economic disparity that is  in play here when we think of minorities and think of creating a level playing field. The social-cultural disparities are more deep rooted and tougher to tackle. The kind of mind set that still prevails (overtly or covertly, blatantly or subtly) towards the minorities, to say with the least bit drama is that it is shocking! Having had  lengthy conversations with my Dalit/minority/tribal friends, and when they talk about the prejudices they encounter in their daily lives it's not just difficult but inappropriate to think of quick fix solutions, especially the type that calls for doing away with policies that favor them. I draw parallels to the African American communities in the US. One would imagine as a progressive, developed society opportunities are found in a fair and square manner and that its a level playing field. But no, the truth  is far from it. When social prejudices remain deep rooted, it becomes tough to seek out opportunities even if the law prescribes all are equal and therefore all have equal opportunities.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I Need to Get Away from Academics

The more I stick around the academic environment, the more I am convinced I must get away.  Here is the thing- There is nothing wrong with academics or sticking around in this environment. In fact it is a great place to formally acquire skills and knowledge that prepares you to understand the problems of the world and formulate solutions in a more balanced, structured, productive and effective way. But, once you feel you have acquired the skills then it’s important to decide whether to continue in the same environment or move to an environment that is more suitable to your goals and aspirations. This is a valid question one must ask oneself. The most natural transition (based on my observations) is to continue on the familiar path of academics, especially if you have spent a substantial amount of time in it, receiving formal training and receiving relevant degrees. I am such an individual who decided to continue on the journey just because the opportunity came and it seemed like a natural transition at the time. However, since then I have had the time to think and reflect and I have come to realize this is not what I want. I have enjoyed academics for the purpose it served- to help me develop skills and/or develop a sound theoretical base on the area that interests me. Once that has been reasonably accomplished (which is when you are generally conferred the degree) then how you utilize that knowledge is based on what drives you most. I have come to realize that I am a purpose/cause driven person. I feel motivated with the idea of using my skill/knowledge to be of use to someone and in situations where the outcome is more tangible and meaningful.

To put it in simple practical terms, I want to be out there with the people, on the field, facing issues head on, trying to  design and implement solutions, and experience the outcome process in person. I am not cut out for operating in a sterile, detached lab environment where your only access to the problem is through data sets and you ponder day in and day out on what to do with it, how to analyze it and what ideas or solutions can be generated out of it. My problem with this is not the process per se ( since it is integral to any research based solution), but how in the long run it gets reduced to the business of data collection, analysis, publication, citations, impact factors and h-indices. It becomes a rat race of career goals and moving up the academic professional ladder.  With the  occasional opportunity to teach a bunch of students, which perhaps gives you the chance to satisfy the notion of giving back or to be of some service, the academic environment does not evoke any desire or drive in me that makes me want to stay. I need to get away. *sigh*

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Annoyed and Reflective

So I  started watching the documentary "India's daughter" and could only do so for 15 mints. Too disturbing and I don't want to hear anymore the rapist asshole describing what he and his asshole buddies did to the poor helpless girl. I don't even understand why there is a stay or a debate on what to do with these animals. Just castrate them and hang them. As far as their defense lawyers and others who are arguing that the girl asked for it can take their moralistic fundas and shove it up their ass.

Now that my outrage is slightly under check I am in a self reflecting mood. I am in North America working in a research lab trying to understand and be part of solutions to local environmental problems (which I could also argue may have positive externalities with benefits beyond the immediate local). And yet, I feel this is not what I should be doing. My heart is totally elsewhere..elsewhere in terms of physical location and the kind of work I should be doing. Let me try and explain- Academics is great as you have a closer and quicker access to learn of a problem. It also helps you to think beyond the  immediate problem  and connect the dots; see the bigger picture or see how it's all connected and understand how prescribed solutions must consider both short term and long term benefits as well as consider its ripple effects. Now the trouble or rather the frustrating part is the time it takes from learning about the problem and understanding it to suggesting solutions that may potentially fix the problem. I just don't seem to have the patience for that. Also, you very rarely get to be part of the process of implementing your prescribed solutions. This makes me feel I am not contributing to fixing anything because by the time solution for one has been figured out a new problem has already cropped up. I suppose my point is I am not the kind of person to be sitting long hours reading, data crunching and analyzing, and just figuring out solutions. I am the restless kind who needs to be out, in the middle of the problem, working with the stakeholders, implementing the prescribed solutions in trying to fix the problem and perhaps use my academic background to evaluate and make improvements to the implementation process or provide more informed feedbacks. Despite having it all figured out in my head, I feel tied down and I don't know why.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Come Back

Hi! whoever is reading this. I don't know how many come backs I have made to this blog but here is to another attempt. Lack of motivation and general laziness are the two reasons why I take these looong pauses. I am done with formal schooling (for the time being) and feel grown up enough to be formally employed, draw a (small) salary and receive some decent benefits. Having said that I do miss the carefree days of being a student. Yes, interestingly those days seem carefree in comparison. Anyways long story short, I have relocated to a new place, working and interacting with a new set of people and so far its been good. I hope to be creative, constructive, cooperative and collaborative to the best of my ability. I am also hoping my income remains decent enough that it allows me some pleasures and indulgences and ultimately I am happy along with the rest of humanity and the world. Ah! simple wishes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

An Expedition Video

Speaking American (or I suppose the Valspeak ) - I like find this video so inspiring and so cool! Like, totally :) :P

Thursday, May 15, 2014

India Counting

Or I suppose is almost done counting and power shifts from "the parivar" to the "Sangh parivar"( as suggested by certain journalists). Also to be noted- all the pre-ordered laddoos have not gone waste and in fact, going to taste sweeter for a few.

Image Source:


Wednesday, May 07, 2014


These words resonated with me..

"My soul is impatient with itself, as with a bothersome child; its restlessness keeps growing and is forever the same. Everything interests me, but nothing holds me. I attend to everything, dreaming all the while...[..]. I'm two and both keep their distance- Siamese twins that aren't attached".
Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disqueit

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Mid Week Blues and Cookbooks

Since the "dull week" refuses to end, I decided to venture out of the house and spend some time at one of the local book stores at the mall. Two hours of reading, three book purchases and a Peruvian plate lunch later I was back home feeling rather pleased with my accomplishments of the day.
Here is the evidence..

Books to read @ the Store
    Images below from Gwyneth Paltrow's Book-It's All Good

   Cook books @ the Book Store
 Images below from Rick Stein's book "India"

The final purchases

I never realized reading/going over cook books can be such a delightful experience. Most of the recipes are quite doable but more than that the images are incredibly gorgeous and beautifully styled! After approximately two hours of drooling (literally) I left the store famished, looking for food.
Regarding my purchases-I really wanted to buy the "India" book but at $40 it was rather expensive. The ones I got were on sale and has a good collection of easy recipes. Next POA(plan of action) - enter the kitchen......... :P.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I  am in the middle of one of those slow weeks, where good ideas elude you, boredom drops in unannounced, time and surroundings feel like a drag and your general disposition is depressed and hopeless. During such times I try not to surrender to it completely. Instead I push myself and look for inspiration. Something creative, something uplifting, not necessarily something I would or could have done (because it then defeats the purpose), then stare at it in wonderment and allow all the positive emotions build up inside. Emotions synonymous with amazement, excitement, hopefulness, pride, nostalgia, energy, and positivity. Well, too many adjectives there but I am certain at least some of them will be accomplished. I personally think it as a good exercise.

For instance, today was a particularly bad day, because not only was I in a sour mood, I also snapped at a good friend (although not entirely my fault :P) and ended the conversation rather abruptly and unceremoniously ( as in no 'bye' or no 'catch you later' etc..).  So to get myself out of my mental rut and rather dull, irritable state of mind I went in search of something, anything "uplifting"and this is what I found. A video clip by my favorite wildlife photographer/film maker Sandesh Kadur).

I love everything about this video, the message it conveys (about his work, the nature of his work, the space, the thrill, the excitement, the tremendous hard work and patience that I can only imagine and, ofcourse, the larger purpose or the ultimate goal of the film), the visuals, and last but not the least the background score , all of which evokes an overwhelming emotion of nostalgia and excitement. It filled me up with renewed energy and faith and I feel like singing this now (and also pack my bags and take off somewhere :P).

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I wish for the days when you had to wait for the mail to arrive (delivered by the postman/woman) to receive any kind of news. It took a few days and until then you waited, patiently. The key being, you were patient- a calm patience, where you don't think about it until the news reaches you, taking its time. Instead, now, with the possibility of instantaneous communication, you would think how convenient it makes everything - no waiting and no worrying. Well, I am not so sure. I feel the reverse. The fact that communication has become so quick and convenient has made me more impatient and to some extent neurotic or obsessive compulsive, where every five minutes I am tempted to check my email or incoming messages, especially if I am expecting something. It makes me restless and worry unnecessarily and sometimes even imagine the worst possible scenarios when I do not receive a response or a message sooner than later. Simultaneously, I also feel pressured to respond immediately assuming the person at the other end is going through exactly the same emotions as I was (neurotic/obsessive compulsiveness). And for what ever reasons beyond my control, if I am unable to respond immediately I tend to be over apologetic for the "delay", feeling guilty to have put the other person through such an emotional ordeal. In retrospect all of it always feel utterly ridiculous and exhausting.

Hmm...just some musings.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Wishful Thinking of a Secular, Fairly Informed, Politically Engaged Citizen

The major threats to democracy are

(1) Pseudo seculars
(2) gullible tards, who blindly believe any propaganda without bothering to find the truth, and
(3) politically indifferent citizens.

These are not my lines but lines posted by an fb "friend" who is a hard core right wing supporter, an ardent Modi fan and a dedicated  campaign volunteer for the saffron colored Party who takes his task very seriously and therefore keeps updating his fb timeline with propaganda material issued by the Party, either glorifying the saffron clad saviour, all set to "transform" the world's largest democracy or trashing "the family" and its scion (who obviously bunked career counselling in  school and is now stuck in the wrong profession) or nitpicking on every move made or word uttered by the maverick activist turned politician.

Given this context, when I found his recent post on his fb timeline I was left a bit dumbfounded! Did he not realize that the three points he listed reflected no one but himself and his like minded pals? I mean, when you think about it -is there anyone more pseudo secular than these saffron flag swaying groupies of a party based on Hindutva ideology who are preparing to govern a secular and pluralistic nation? can there be anyone more gullible than these tards/ party followers who devour the Party's propaganda material and out of sheer ignorance label anyone who comes out with a decent informed piece of writing as pseudo intellectuals (this is writers like Ramachandra Guha, Arundhathi Roy! )? and can there be anyone more politically indifferent than these citizens who claim to be "upto date in Indian politics" but clueless on the policies or how skewed its outcomes are or going to be?

On a more serious note- I don't know what the fate of this "Democracy" is going to be but I really wish people made more informed decisions and those literate enough to read, read works of genuine scholars, whose scholarship is based on facts and reflective thinking and inclusivity and not doctored, propaganda material.

Hmm..I wonder if all this is wishful thinking on my part?

PS: Post written out of sheer anger and feeling of utter hopelessness.