Thursday, September 28, 2006

Change of Room

Hi folks,

I have moved to a Room on the roof of blogsource. Click this link and its doors will open for you.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Oil World To Water World - Click this link for the design of the water engine.

I read somewhere that an engine that can use water as fuel was invented during the 1960s itself. But the oil companies some how repressed the invention. We can see the result now. A world moving around oil. Two wars fought and won by a superpower powered by oil. - Click this link to read about the water engine that was patented in 1982.

There are other results as well. The whole world has been polluted. The world is warming and in the next 40 years all the low lying areas of the world will be claimed by the sea. That will include cities like Mumbai and New York and entire states like Kerala and Goa.

If water engine had become popular, I am sure about one thing. Our roads would have had to be much wider and stronger because more of us will be buying automobiles. But, is there anyone who won’t like to own their own means of transport? Hey, I would like a personal jet.– Check this link. It will lead you to a page where the details of water engine are given. I wonder why automobiles companies don’t dare make water-powered vehicles. Many more will buy cars and automobile industry would become even larger.

They say that India and China cannot be at par with the US because there is not enough fuel in the world to power such gigantic economies. Therefore, the only solution is to look for another fuel and if water can be used as a fuel, why do we have to fuss so much about oil?

Well, I think that the US can’t be a superpower without control over oil, which is a fuel with a very centralized source and distribution system. And centralized distribution systems give power to those who control them. The power requirements for a household can be met through non-conventional energy sources such as the Sun and the wind. And if the household has a little land, even the food they need can be grown. In short, a household can be self-sufficient. In the 70s, there was a move towards self-sufficient households in the US, but it was crushed; just because self-sufficient households are not dependent on a centralized distribution and are therefore independent. Independence can lead to independent thinking and that a threat for the nation state and all the centralized power it represents.

The UN agencies lament that over 50% households in Kerala do not have water coming to them through pipes. For the UN agencies, piped water is a sign of human development. But, when you can dig your own well and be self-sufficient, why do you need water coming through pipes? Most households in Kerala have a well. But wells do not mean that their living standards have risen. They need to have water coming to their house through pipes to make sure that living standards have risen. That is a lousy standard.

If water becomes the main fuel, power will be decentralized on a global basis. Then, countries like India won’t have to depend on US controlled oil. If sea water is used as fuel, there won’t be the danger of fuel needs clashing with need for drinking water.

But, will the superpower and its oil companies and the nation states of the world allow that?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sky High Rents And A Clueless Migrant

Who is to blame for the sky high rents in Mumbai? I think estate agents are the ones to blame. More rent, more the share of the agent. Ideally, an agent’s fees should be fixed, regardless of the amount of rent. Well, if they think the rent is low, they just ask for two or, even three months rent as their commission. But if the rent is really high, they won’t reduce the commission.

Well, the rents have sky rocketed everywhere in Mumbai. I have heard rents are low in suburbs beyond Dahisar. But I will have to survive commuting in those crowded trains if I choose to live there.

The result: I have decided I won’t settle down in Mumbai. It is not that I can’t afford it. What is the point in staying in a congested apartment in a perennially congested city paying such a high price?

Then you will ask why I came to Mumbai in the first place. Well, that is a question I am asking myself all the time. I don’t know when my foolish brain conspired with my stupid heart and decided Mumbai is the right place. Well, I always had this blindness towards the advantages of my present situation. But I am like a hungry owl when I spot the disadvantages. Well, now you will say, it is common human behavior. But in my case it is a bit exaggerated.

In Bangalore, there is a weekly called Admag. It and its kind allow people to publish ads for free. Almost all people who have a place to rent/lease/sell advertise in these papers. We just have to take down the numbers and call them. No brokers, no brokerage, and no hassles.

I think there is great scope for such a weekly in Mumbai. Or is it already there? I am yet to see one.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Squeezed Mangoes

I was reading The House of Blue Mangoes by David Davidar. It is an epic novel spreading over four generations of Dorais. After finishing the novel, I felt there was something lacking in Nilam Illum. David Davidar seems to have tried to infuse magical realism with realism. Those parts where he tried magic, it obstructs the flow of the story. It does not add anything to the story and stand out as what it really is, a device of story telling used in the wrong way at the wrong place.

Davidar has described the lives of Dorais dispassionately. Telling us about their triumphs and losses in the same tone. But somewhere in the middle, he seemed to have felt the need to infuse some magic, or may be it was premeditated. The result was that the story became dispassionate reports with magical interludes sticking out.

I don’t know if it is overzealous editing by the publishers. The House of Blue Mangoes gives the feeling of looking at a manufactured product, designed in a certain way, so that it would sell. It lacks the freshness of a properly ripened mango. I would compare it with a mango ripened by squeezing.

I read the whole novel, but I felt I never really got acquainted with the characters. Chevathar and the blue mangoes, the common points around which the epic is built up, failed to evoke much feeling in me. Normally, a story based around returning to the roots would have evoked nostalgic thoughts in me, but that did not happen this time.

I have a feeling that Kalam by M.T. Vasudevan Nair is a much better novel of the same genre. When M.T describe a summer afternoon, you can feel the heat, the afternoon wind, the smell of dried up fields and the lassitude. That is the mark of great novels. You enter the world of the novel and the events in it start haunting you.

The House of Blue Mangoes, at times reads like a report. May be it is due to Davidar’s journalistic background. Hemingway was also accused of journalistic writing because of his use of short words and short sentences. But, you can read Old man and the Sea any number of times and experience a new perception each time.

Well, what I would like to think is that the very thing which makes a novel novel is absent in The House of Blue Mangoes.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Watching The Matador On A Saturday

Saturday was a busy day for me. My lead was threatening to ask me to come and work on Sunday as well, if I don’t finish work by the end of Saturday. I worked at a mad pace and some how finished it by 715 PM. While on the way back in the staff bus, the Saturday ghost haunted me. It is a Saturday and I am supposed to do something outside routine and here I am going back home where there was nothing to do. The bus neared Goregaon and I decided I will get down there and watch a movie. I remembered seeing an advertisement of ‘The Matador’. The movie had been screened at two or three film festivals.

At the moment I am reading a book on writing a screenplay. I had read it in about various techniques involved in making a film dramatic. One of the techniques is subversion of expectations. Simply put, it means the audience expects something and it doesn’t happen or something very different happens.

The entire movie was a subversion of audience expectations. The tag line reads, a hit man and a sales man walks into a bar and…

I won’t bore you with the story and I believe film reviews should not give out the story line. There should be a law against those reviewers who just tell the story, give out the climax and then bash the film. They should be charged with attempt to murder.

I remember the scene where Julian Noble is going to kill an old man when Danny Wright asks him to facilitate the old man’s trip to eternity. Everyone, the audience and Danny Wright, expect Julian to kill the old man, when he, knife drawn, kicks open the toilet door. But Julian does not kill him. This is a perfect example of subversion of expectation.

We expect a hit man to be soulless, conscience less, remorseless and in short someone who lacks the standard human qualities. But Julian Noble proves us wrong. It is his birthday, which he had forgotten and when he remembers it he desperately looks for a friend to share it with. He calls up someone who refuses to recognise him, while he desperately tells him he is Julian whom he met in Portugal. Finally he puts the phone down realising he has no friends in the World.

Julian and Danny are opposites, but a part of them want to become the other and that is where they meet. After meeting Danny, it seems Julian wants to lead a normal life even more and this conflict eventually leads to his burn-out and inability to kill any more people. When threatened by his boss, he returns to the only person he calls a friend.

Danny is surprised to find Julian at his door steps. Here, Greg Kinnear takes out his full repertoire of acting skills. He is shocked at first. Then he is cautious. He is jealous when his wife asks Julian if she can see Julian’s gun. The subtlety with which the attraction between Danny’s wife and Julian is portrayed is unmatchable.

I think if Pierce Brosnan was not a James Bond, he would have been acknowledged as an even greater actor. After watching ‘The Matador’, I realised this man’s range and depth as an actor is comparable to any of the greats.

We, as Indians, don’t often get to watch three dimensional characters. Main stream Hollywood movies are not much different. ‘The Matador’ is the movie to watch if you want to know how a movie based on an original screenplay and with three dimensional characters will be like. Watch it when you get the chance as I am not sure how long it will last in Indian movie halls. When I went to watch the movie on Saturday, the hall was almost empty.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Where Did Overtime GO?

Globalisation has brought jobs to India. All the IT companies and IT enabled services companies are making money. The employees in those companies are paid reasonably well although they are paid peanuts compared to what people doing the same job in the west get.

Due to the difference in living costs between India and the developed countries, jobs are outsourced to India.

The truth is, businesses give only a fraction of the fee they charge for the hours employees put in to the employees themselves. They end up making huge profits.

I am not against them making profits.

Once upon a time there was the notion of overtime. If an employee worked more than the stipulated hours or on holidays, he used to get paid at a rate higher than for the normal hours.

Where did overtime go?

Today people work for 12 hours, 18 hours, 24 hours, on Sundays, yet the size of their pay packet remains the same at the end of month.

If somebody utters a word about such things, it is considered a sin.

Even the media has accepted this as normal. Not even the media, everyone. Late hours, the sweet name for working till and after midnight has become an accepted term.

When you join a company, it is like you are giving your life to them. You are supposed to spend most of your waking hours inside the work place and if the city is a large one like Mumbai, rest of the time commuting.

Yet, nobody complains. If somebody says anything, he is looked upon as weird.

Well, I am not against overtime or spending a weekend working. When there is a tight deadline and the client needs to be satisfied they are needed.

But the employer profits from that, right? Then why are they not giving a few more peanuts to the employee? Just because they are paying the employees a certain amount of money every month, does it mean that the employer can eat into all the time the employee has?

More and more I think, I feel like leaving this vicious circle and doing something else. Now I know why Government jobs are priced. They see you as a human being as well, not just a resource.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Who Cares? I Survived

On Tuesday a colleague of mine came to me and asked where I was staying. This question was an abrupt one and I asked him why he wanted to know that. He then told me that there had been two bomb blasts in Bandra and Khar railway stations. He told me to stay in the office for some time.

Looking back, that warning was not necessary. All the eight blasts occurred with in 11 minutes.

It took me more than three hours to reach home. On the way our staff bus was mobbed by a group of stranded train commuters. Some of them managed to get in as well.

I was angry with them. But after a while I thought, had I been walking through rain and garbage for hours, I would have done the same.

Despite the blasts, the Mumbaikers in our bus (I am not calling myself a Mumbaiker yet), where not disturbed. In fact they appeared to be in their best mood. They were continuously cracking jokes and some were loudly hoping for a holiday the next day.

It seems the attitude of the rest of Mumbaikers were no different.

The media call that resilience.

A friend of mine, who prefers to call himself a Vasaiker, calls it indifference.

I back my friend.

Mumbai people are not resilient. They are indifferent. They don’t think. They just get on with their lives. They are indifferent to the rich people among them. They are indifferent to the fact that the roads where rich people live are swept four times a day and garbage piles in front of their door step.

Mumbai administration is corrupt. They can afford to be corrupt. They must be super-rich now with the money they stole till now.

Mumbai is not one city. It is a series of small towns strung together by railway lines.

I won’t repeat the facts about how Mumbaikers travel, eat, shit, have sex, because many lines have already been written about it.

Mumbai is called a city that never sleeps. That is not true. It is a city which sleeps forever. The tranquilizer is indifference. Blasts may rip open trains, floods may drown the slums, but the Mumbaiker won’t care till he or his family is in danger. He may make the gesture of helping others, but that is the instinct he carries from the village he is from. He reacts to what he sees in front of him. If he is away from the calamity, and his family is safe, he won’t care.