Sunday, June 25, 2006

Of Telegraphs

This is a tale of the times of the British annexation(?). (please fo excuse the fact that I'm not quite conversant with the details of the story.In essence, it is right.) The British government had in its employ a certain Sir Charles Napier, who was the incharge of the attacks in the North West Frontier Province and the Punjab region. When he succesfully attacked and conquered the aforementioned regions, he was supposed to telegraph his superiors in London. He penned one of the most ingenous telegrams ever.* "Peccadive",quoth he. The Latin past tense of the verb, 'to sin'.(for those as slow as me: I have Sinned).

Just plain beautiful.

I got this off a Wonderful book which i read while in college, 'Bully to Brontosaurus' by Stephen Jay Gould. I have been meaning to recommend it for quite a while now. Its a collection of superbly written and fascinating scientific essays. Some (such as The Panda's Left Thumb) are a brilliant and interesting read. Do give it a shot if you can.

*Oh yes, another of my favourites is the one exchanged by Victor Hugo and his publisher. When Les Miserables was published, Hugo was in France, and wanted to find out how it was faring in England. He telegraphed his publisher with a "?". His publisher replied with a "!".

Monday, June 19, 2006

Meri Dilli, Meri Jaan

Home is where the heart is, or its where the hearth is; take it how you will. It is when I come back on vacations that I realise how completely I belong to my city. A certain fat man I know keeps insisting that Delhi is full of obnoxious snobs and is an awful place to live. Despite a great temptation to stick my tongue out and say, "pffffbbt, thats what you think" I generally desist from retorting, since I think its of no great consequence. But after having spent the better part of the day roaming around the rather obscure parts of Delhi, partaking(?) of all the forms of public transport you can think of, my love is just about bubbling over.

The Bus, and other Assorted Transport

Oodles has been written about the Metro, and the DTC, and whatnot. But to someone who has travelled in Delhi in the pre-Metro, BlueLine phase as well as the Post-Metro, CNG Bus phase, no amount of writing can suffice to explain the difference. I took the 620 from Sangam cinema today to go to Rail Bhavan. It was one of the new funky buses, the double buses. It was as comfy a ride as I've ever had...anything that can lull me to sleep after a nine hour night the night before, is worthy of praise. I got off, walked a measly 1.5 minutes to take the Metro to Vidhan Sabha(at which point, I got thoroughly disturbed cos the first thing that sprang to mind was Vidhan Soudha). I took the rickshaw from there to wheer I had some work, then took pretty much the same route back. Not once was there an unnecessary delay, the rides were always smooth, and every now and then people stopped to help me out.(reaching Jhugli Hall requires help, so stop mocking). Despite constant diatribes about how Delhiites are rude and boorish, all I could make out was that the men who stopped to help me out might have been talking in a funny Haryanvi accent that I had trouble understanding, but of their own accord they stopped and directed me via the shortest route. And, they all spoke Hindi!

Moments of truth

At lunchtime, I somehow ended up at the Lhasa-Buddhist monastery market. Its this obscure place near ISBT, which sells a lot of shoes, a lot of cheap clothes, and some decent food. In the first floor of a "Shakura Restraunt", with seedy looking men looking in my direction, and staring down in consternation at the uber-oily food served to you. Thats the only way to have a lunch out in Delhi. With "Bela Mehka re Mehka Aadhi Raat Ko" playing in the background, I could not help but feel indescribably in love, except I don't know what with...though I do consider that there's no better place to fall in love than the whole North Campus area, it was something more than that. An all encompassing and almost unbearable lightness of being(yes yes, with all due references). Do go that side sometime when you have time on your hands, it'll make you at peace with the world.

Hehe. I realise how random this post must read to anyone who doesn't know me, so I guess I'll stop here. Just some random thoughts. I finally did see Rithala, if only for the heck of it. I had Maha Nimbu Lemon at PPC one misses the good ol' days(nostalgic sigh). I can cook enough to garner a good match now. I hate ambitious work plans, especially when I make them. It is very difficult to release the clutch at the right speed. Nothing quite beats a mango sandwich at home. And lastly, panna is quite heavenly.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

How to tackle reservations

In the reign of her royal bitchiness, Indira Gandhi, personal and corporate income taxes for people who actually earned money were raised to between 70 and 90 percent. When it becomes infeasable to succeed(I mean, for god sakes, what's the point of making money if the government is going to take it all), what the great indian people have done then is to instututionalise cheating. The government has as it is said that the laws of the land and constitution can be disobeyed, whoops, I meant amended with wild abandon, so why should we be far behind.
Anyhow, to the point. In a similiar vein, as tax evasion was instututionalised in one Gandhi's time, caste fraud probably will be institutionalised in her Daughter-in-Law's reign. Here's the deal. When the marginal cost of forging a caste certificate (in terms of both economic and moral/legal cost) becomes less than the marginal benefit of actually getting a seat in college, something that is most definitely about to happen, when reservations become 50% of seats, it becomes economically rational to forge a certificate for yourself. As more and more people start getting a fake certi, the market for the industry will grow, resulting in cheaper and more widespread availibility of fake OBC certificates, made even easier by the fact that there is no definitive list at the center for what an OBC is. At any rate, this is all just feasability. The point is that you're going to have another Telgi for OBC certificates, and I would fully advise it. Instead of protesting within your constitutionally provided rights to a government who doesn't give a flying fuck about the constitution, play with their own tactics. When you can't win, cheat. When enough people get an OBC certificate, you recreate merit, albiet with an added layer of corruption. In one scenario, some government will realise that this has happened, and things aren't exactly working out, and will roll back the reservations, as is what happened with the prohibitive personal income tax policy. Alternatively, a new merit system, where meritious "OBC" candidates will compete with fake certis will be created. Such is life.

At any rate, when you come down the the practicality of it all, reservations aren't going to help the people they want to help, and the people of our good land, much used to a government interested in screwing them over, will discover new ways to cheat that very governement. At the end of the beaurocracy and government, everyone's pleased because there's an added layer of corruption with with they can line their pockets.

Sorry for being a bit cynical about it, but at the end of the day, that's pretty much that.

On a brighter note, you can check out some of my snaps from Manila on my flickr account, where I have uploaded it.

Now, I must run to go buy vegetables. Sigh...the domesticated life I lead.