Posted in Politics - General

The fine line…

You know the fine line between fanaticism and adulation?

Sometimes, we human beings cross that very easily. We cross that line from adulation/admiration to hardcore fanaticism. I also think people from the Indian subcontinent cross that line more often and more easily than others.

Point in case is the Rajdeep Sardesai episode outside Madison Square Garden earlier today in New York City. (Sep 28, 2014).

The apologists of the guy, who slapped or punched Sardesai, actually have the guts to come out in full force and claim that Sardesai deserved that slap because he invited the reaction by asking questions about Modi.

I don’t know how different the Sardesai slap apologists’ reaction is from let’s say a rape apologists’ (who tend to blame the victims for dressing in a provocative manner).

Sadly, this is what we have come to.

Sadly, this is what the Indian sycophancy has come to.

Sadly, this is the danger of letting admiration and adulation cross that fine line.

Note: I am not a fan of Sardesai. I don’t even know him well as I don’t live in India and have never followed his news programs. I know him as a reputed journalist. That’s all. And his profession needs respect. And he as a human being needs some respect. Like you and me.

So. Please stop justifying what happened today.

PS: (Added on Sep 29, 11:20 AM Eastern Time)

Also, by now most of you must have read the “supposed first hand accounts” of what really happened.

When you have a moment, if you are objective enough, please read this. For the record, this is also a first hand account.

http://www.firstpost.com/living/attack-on-rajdeep-sardesai-eye-witness-account-from-madison-square-garden-1735471.html

This is exactly the India  I am afraid of…
An India that encourages mob attacks.
An India that ignites itself to violence based on emotional outbursts.
An India that cannot stand itself to be objective.
Then how different can India claim to be from the other side of the world, that Indians are so trying so hard to criticize with a ‘holier than thou’ attitude?

PPS: (Added on Sep 29, 11:00 PM Eastern Time)

Here is the other video clip which claims this is what happened:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=477128325760154

If the above clip is the entire episode, which I don’t believe it is, then Sardesai did punch first. So my argument above doesn’t hold much strength. But at the end of the day, the mob mentality of the crowd was in full force and there can be no two ways about condoning that behavior.

Now, with this video, it is clear, I also have to question Rajdeep Sardesai’s motives here.

Why would a reputed journalist like him put himself out there? Was he really expecting to get out that mob without getting physically assaulted after asking the kind of questions he did (which by the way is his right to do so as a journalist)…?

It shouuld have been a simple matter of acting sensibly by keeping a distance from that mob. And better yet, stay away from asking provoking questions in a political rally which has clearly gathered there in support of the Prime Minister. Almost, seems like he was expecting a reaction like this from the mob so that he could be part of a big story.

 

Posted in Miscellaneous

My Horrid Meijer Experience

So there I was – On my way home but had to mail something quick. I work near Bingham Farms and live in Novi, Michigan. So the easiest thing (and the quickest) is to stop by the Meijer store which is located on 12 Mile/Telegraph, and has a USPS counter. I have been there before and have mailed a few things, without much of an effort. Not exactly a typical USPS set up but you could get by using this place for things that don’t involve geographical or scientific questions, which the Meijer clerks are not prepared to handle, perhaps as they are trained to, since this involves USPS and they would much rather take the ‘I don’t know..This is not our problem. You check with USPS’ attitude.

On 08/26/14 – sometime between 3:45 PM and 3:50 PM, I walk into the store carrying a few books which I had to send to Memphis. I walk to the USPS counter inside this Meijer and the clerk there is absolutely nonchalant to my presence. I knock on the counter to grab her attention (after waiting for her to serve the customer ahead of me who was returning a previously purchased item). She acknowledges me and I ask her if she could give me some packaging supplies to send these books, as they are a bit bulky.

She: Almost ready to explode at me..”Why do you ask me? I don’t have any packaging supplies here. I don’t sell them. Go buy them from the store..”, in a rude tone.

Me: “Where..?”

She: “..there..”, pointing in the general direction where office supplies are sold.

I walk over there. 4-5 minutes of analysis later, I pick an envelope that I think would work for what I want to ship. I come back to the counter. I see her chatting with a gentleman (no business transaction but a general, casual chat). I patently wait for 2-3 minutes for her to finish her personal conversation and then start walking towards the counter, thinking that they don’t know that I am waiting. The woman, who can clearly see me, as I she is on the other side of the counter facing the customers, continues to talk to him, pretending to ignore me, while the man realizes my presence and starts walking away.

Me: “Can I get an address label that goes with Priority mail?” (Note that this is something they definitely carry in the postal counter there, as I have used this before).

She: “No..”

Me: “But..I normally get it here..”

She: “No. I don’t have no address labels”..(in an irritating voice).

Me: “I am concerned that if I write the address here..” pointing at the place on the envelope where one is supposed to write the To address, “It won’t be legible. So I prefer an address label”.

She: “I told you..I don’t have address labels. Go get them..”

Me: (Ready to write the address on the envelope as I was running out of time to go pick up my kids from the summer day care facility)..”…Ok..I will write the address on the envelope..”. I start searching for my pen which I normally don’t carry in my pocket, but on occasions when I remember I need a pen, I grab one from my office bag and keep it in my pocket. Apparently I didn’t do that on this occasion. “Sorry..I don’t have a pen. Can I borrow a pen?”.

She: “No…”, in a loud, rude, irritating and a hateful tone.

I start thinking if she is being racist. If she doesn’t want to serve me because of  how I look.

Me: “..Just want it for a couple of minutes..”

She: “No. I don’t give my pen away..”, again in a disdainful, hateful and almost an annoying voice.

Me: “Can you check if there is any other pen..please..??”

She: “You can go buy a pen..”.

Me: “I have enough pens in the car..But I am in a hurry and all I need is a pen to write these 4 lines of address..” (knowing very well that walking back to the car is an option but it would add an extra 5-10 minutes to my commute time as the car is parked far away from the store entrance on a wide parking lot..).

She: “No..I don’t give my pens. There is no other pen here..”, she pretended to search but in reality she was in a mood to see me go.

Me: “I see a pen there..”, as I spot one at the far end of a table.

She: “That’s mine..I can’t give it to you as you won’t give it back..”, implying that I am going to steal the pen and run away.

Me: “Oh, sorry. Can I borrow it for a minute? You can stand here while I write and watch..”…

She: “That’s what they all say…”.

By now, I am pretty sure she is being discriminatory and even racist.

Me: “Seriously? So you are implying that I am going to steal the pen and run away..?”.

She: “That’s what they all say..”, nodding quietly and agreeing with me that she implies that I won’t give the pen back intentionally.

Me: “Really? I can’t believe this..I just want to borrow your pen..and you could have said no in a different way..”.

I was quite annoyed by then. So much so that I decided to walk away – Without quite taking note of that particular clerk’s name.

—–

I ended up going to the post office in Novi, after I picked up my kids and in the process had to wait for almost 90 minutes before I could send the books out. That there was an unusual thunderstorm that evening passing through Novi, during this wait and how the roads were a mess due to a power outage & how much it affected my evening plans and all are a different story all together.

In the meantime, I tweeted about this incident through a series of tweets..and pleasantly, I saw a response from @meijer saying they were sorry.

Then I followed it up with more details on the incident and also letting them know, that I failed to take note of the clerk’s name.

They say they would follow up with the store.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 6.20.19 PM


Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 6.20.09 PM

Nothing happened for almost 24 hours (or at least no one got in touch with me) and I tweeted again the next day.

@meijer started following me and they asked me to send my contact details.

I started following @meijer immediately and I DMed them my personal email id.

14 days later – till today. There has not been a single response from Meijer.

All I wanted was Meijer to act on my complaint and take a disciplinary action against that clerk.

Dear Meijer,

If you can’t care for your customers, then you are in the wrong business. The clerk needs to be fired from that job. Period.

In addition, she needs some coaching for her racist/discrimnatory behavior, which I feel is the root cause of the poor attitude.

Get it?

It’s probably too late now for Meijer to easily pacify me or convince me that they acted on this quickly.

Thus proving that Meijer is yet another stereotypical Midwestern company that believes in treating its customers who look different in a discriminatroy way and that they have no problems condoning the behavior of their staff who exhibit racist behavior while on job at the stores and especially while serving their customers.

Shame on you Meijer. In this day and age, in a region where you operate, where I am sure a good chunk of your profits come from customers (who look different) like me, you have no problems in accepting this kind of disgusting behavior.

I am not done yet. I just want to collect my thoughts and post it here before I forget them.

I may continue my rant in this blog again or not, depending on how Meijer responds.

 

Posted in Books

10 Books – Keeping the chain alive

A fancy idea to record my list here on the blog instead of doing it on Facebook. The problem is that I am very bad – like really really bad, when it comes to making lists of my favorite things. Not just books. Food, Places, Movies and even Music. So, I already know by the time I complete my list here, I would be thinking of a dozen (if not more) that should be in this list but are not here, because I simply didn’t think of them. The list is not in any particular order and is being created merely based on in what order I remember them.

Anyways, here goes:

Thirukkural திருக்குறள் (Thiruvalluvar)

It’s one of those books that made an impact on me much later in life when I was no longer forced to memorize these couplets. Even when I am writing about this, I am overwhelmed by my appreciation of the author for his ability to convey a world of wisdom (some of them I don’t see eye to eye with) through 7 words – 1330 times.

The Famous Five (Enid Blyton)

Sounds silly to add this to my list – but today when I look back, I think this series was perhaps the earliest influencer as far as my reading habit goes. I don’t read much but the pleasure I get from whatever little I read and the general imaginary world one gets transported to while holding a paperback in hand (or kindle these days)….you know what I am talking about! – It all started with this collection. Even before I started reading, I do remember a cousin narrating these stories to us during our summer holidays with so much passion & clarity. For a then 7 or 8 year old like me, gazing the stars on warm & humid nights, lying down on an open concrete terrace along with some cousins of my own age, it was surreal to see these characters appear on the sky solving mystery cases one after another, one night after another.

The Adventures of Tin Tin – Collection (Herge)

I don’t remember when I read my first Tin Tin comics. But when I was 17 and then again when I was 19, I was on a mission to read the entire collection as many times as I could. The real reason that I couldn’t read this sooner in my life was because I simply didn’t have access to this growing up, where I grew up. I bought this collection recently for my kids to cherish. Not in the original size though.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)

This is one book that will always find a place in my top 3 list. I heard about it and started reading this when I was in Pilani. But didn’t complete the book till after. Not that the book needed that much time but it was my own struggle to appreciate the nuances of the book.
Douglas Adams: One day..may be even just for only one day…I want to write like you 🙂

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson)

I like Bill Bryson and love everything about him, his life and especially the way he writes about how his life is. I picked this book from all his works because this has a bit of nearly everything – Science, Travel, Food and Humor included.

 The Millennium Series (Steig Larsson)

Ok. This one pretty much covers for all the mystery thrillers I must have read. I picked this because this probably was the latest thriller (series) I really enjoyed reading (read it about 3-4 years ago). Cheesy? Yes. But the setting made up for everything else. The Swedish legal system, The drugged & the tattooed world of a generation that sometimes one fantasizes about, etc. etc. Above all, a mystery series that lives true to its genre.

The Glass Palace (Amitav Ghosh)

I read this book about 10 years ago. I can’t say enough about what a complex story this was to be told in a book format. The story and Ghosh’s narration literally transported me to a world that I am absolutely unfamiliar with. Burma, Rangoon, The Rubber plantations and etc. etc. – I get the chills as I try to recollect the book now.

Chinaman (Snehan Karunatilaka)

I had reviewed this book recently in my blog. In this list, this is my most recent read. I love cricket and there have been very few cricket books published for whatever reasons. But this one deserves a place in the top 3 cricket books of all time, around the world. I know that’s an ambitious call. But if you happen to read it, you hopefully will agree with me.

The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

Read this book in 2003. I haven’t seen the movie version yet. I picked this book only for one reason – Because the story made an impact on me. I have read Khaled’s second book as well. I won’t call him a great writer for his writing skills but will do so only because he is someone who has got some really good stories to tell.

The God Delusion (Richard Dawkins)

Well. This has to be in this list. Those who know me, know why. This book wasn’t a turning point for me from that standpoint. I had long reached that “point of realization” much before I started reading this book. But this is a must read for everyone. No matter where you stand in your belief system.

PS: After I completed the list, I realized there are quite a few books that I have wanted to read (in some cases have already bought the books) but haven’t read them yet.  Good reason to do something about it soon.

PPS: I realized I actually created a list with 11. So I decided to remove Sherlock Holmes which was in the original 11.

Posted in AR Rahman, Movies - General

The Hundred Foot Journey

The Hundred Foot

Call it Serendipity or what. But I watched “Chef” and “The Hundred Foot Journey” in a span of 7 days. Totally unplanned but I did watch the second movie before the taste of the first one could leave my mental palate all together. If one were to point out how the stories of these two movies are so entirely different, I definitely won’t argue with them. Instead, I will focus on just one point. Food. There is plenty of food and food related discussions in both those movies that I wonder how anyone could walk out of these movies not feeling hungry.

‘Chef’ was a heart touching movie whose story is all about one Chef and his passion for doing something unique & how he finally ends up chasing his passion, as opposed to compromising.

‘The Hundred Foot Journey’, even though at the outset is certainly all about a clash of two cuisines, I feel the crux of the movie again lies in a Chef finding where his passion really lies and accepting that chasing it means compromising some grander opportunities.

My biggest gripe on the THFJ is the screenplay. I haven’t read the book but from what I have heard, the screenplay of the movie doesn’t do justice to the book. But that is a common complaint one hears when a book gets adapted to the screen and the book lovers typically have a negative view of the screen adaptation for multiple reasons.

For me ‘THFJ’ starts off beautifully, the plot thickens at the right place with the perfect tempo during the first hour or so. All the necessary ingredients and spices get added during this time. And then, quite unfortunately,the pot perhaps boils too quickly and it almost feels like the director and the writer wanted to simmer the pot for some time, before serving the climax for the audience to taste. In the end, what gets served during the climax, though tastes exactly like what the audience is expecting all through the movie due to the nice aroma arising out of the first hour or so, the extra 10-15 minutes of screenplay which simmered the plot a bit too long, kills the appetite a bit.

My biggest pride of the movie is of course AR Rahman’s OST. I actually started listening to the album with closer ears after I watched the movie. It may have helped me appreciate the music more. ‘The Gift’, ‘The Village of Saint Antonin, ‘You Complete me’ and ‘New Beginnings’ are quite the new experiences one gets out of a new AR album, while ‘The Clash’ stands out as an absolute masterpiece, especially in the context of the film. ‘My mind is stranger’ and ‘Afreen’ are two voice based songs that appear in the album, with the latter finding place during different parts of the movie and the former not finding a place at all (I wonder why and I hope it was a a problem with the screening in my theater).

Helen Mirren delivers a character what she only can – That of an unrelenting, brood French Restaurateur/Chef widow. And Om Puri portrays a stereotypical middle aged man embellished with his family of 3 sons and a daughter, quite well. Manish Dayal, who plays Hassan, does deliver what is expected out him. But I actually rate Charlotte Le Bon’s Marguerite character a few notches above Dayal’s Hassan.

Overall, I am glad Lasse Hallstrom did this movie – A very healthy recipe of French and Indial cultures served with some stereotypes of both cultures, which could have been avoided, but then perhaps are necessary for a neutral & an unaware audience.

A few months from now, when I think of this movie, I am pretty sure Madame Mallory and AR Rahman will be the only two faces that will smile at me, as I expect the taste (and the after-taste) of the movie to be long gone from all my senses. But then, that wouldn’t necessarily mean that I didn’t enjoy the taste all together.