Monday, June 23, 2008

The Truthiness about Santa and Banta

According to Captain Nanu and Prabhu, this story actually happened. Since both of them are not the kind of guys who say just about anything when drunk, I am inclined to believe the 'truthiness' of the story. And as Stephen Colbert never tires of saying, truthiness is more important than truth.

All the people who joined our company through campus recruitment had a common training programme for 4 months. During this time, we used to stay at our company's training centre in, let's say, Bangalore. Life in college hostel had set our bar for 'pretty nice places' quite low. Still, it was a pretty nice place - with landscaped gardens, good food, basketball courts and fantastic weather. The only problem was that they didn't provide internet in our rooms. So to access internet, we needed to go to the computer lab.

Our batch included two sardars - let's just call them Santa Singh and Banta Singh. They are true blue Surds, hailing from Bhatinda and Jalandhar (two of the biggest cities in Canada). Come Diwali and the Surds were feeling quite homesick. With the limited number of leaves available during training, they didn't want to waste time in trains which would have taken them close to 6 days in travel alone. So they decided to travel by air.

However, there was one small problem - all flights to Delhi during Diwali were prohibitively expensive. It was in such a situation that Santa's roomie Prabhu told him that early morning flights were much cheaper than the rest. Santa's face lit up on hearing this and he hurried away to give this info to Banta.

That night, Prabhu had a troubled sleep. He was woken up by Banta knocking on his door at 3 am. This was followed by Santa and Banta loudly discussing how to go about executing their strategy of procuring cheap tickets. Having come to a conclusion by 3.30 am, they both proceeded to the computer lab to book their flight tickets. Poor Prabhu, little did he know that Santa and Banta would confuse 'early morning flights' with 'flights booked early in the morning'.

Of course, Prabhu came to know about this only when a tired and frustrated Santa returned to the room at 6 am and shouted angrily, "Oye! I tried all night, but the flights were all the same price as before."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Lost and Dusty Mughal

There is a certain book that has been lying around on my table for a few months now, gathering dust and refusing to shift to make room for other stuff. It goes by the name of ‘The Last Mughal’ and it’s one of the best history books I’ve laid hands on (the other history books in the list being my CBSE History textbooks from class 6 to 10).

I’ve read only about three-fourths of the book and I don’t know when I’ll complete it. It’s very hard to go back to a book that you left halfway through – every passing day makes it a wee bit harder to get back. But let me assure you that the neglect is not due to lack of interest on my part or lack of interest-worthiness on the book’s part. It’s just plain lack of time.

However, the book did come handy to complete Rada’s tag. Thanks to him, I got to dust the book and put it in back on the cupboard where it deserves the space it currently occupies between two great books which I’ve not read (yet) Joseph Shigley’s ‘Machine Design’ and Richard Dawkins’ ‘The Ancestor’s Tale’. I know, even I’m surprised that I was allowed to design vehicles without reading Shigley ;)

So here are the rules of the tag:
Pick up the nearest book.
Open to page 123.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the next three sentences.
Tag five people, and acknowledge the person who tagged you.

Page 123 takes me to the Chapter named ‘The Near Approach of the Storm’ which outlines the conditions in northern India before the outbreak of the 1857 Mutiny/Rebellion/War of Independence. The fifth sentence is an excerpt from a letter which Lord Canning (the Governor General) sent to Simon Fraser (the Resident at the Mughal court) dismissing Fraser’s suggestion that the Mughals were still popularly perceived as the rulers of the land although real power had shifted to the British.

“The presents which were at one time offered to the King by the Governor General and the Commander in Chief have been discontinued; the privilege of a coinage bearing his mark is now denied to him; the Governor General’s seal no longer bears a device of vassalage; and even the native chiefs have been prohibited from using one. It has been determined that these appearances of subordination and deference could not be kept up consistently with a due respect for the real and solid power of the British Government. This may also be said of the title of the King of Dehlie (sic), with the fiction of paramount sovereignty which attaches to it.”

Who do I tag now? In confusion I turn to my secret Random Tag Recipient Generator (RTRG) and it throws up the following names: Mathew (Spark), Zahra, Karthik, Thomas and Sid

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Obama for President

For an event that is likely to affect the lives of people in many countries at least for a few years to come, the US Presidential Elections (whatever of it that has transpired till now) largely passed me by. Although I used to read an article here and there and watch a speech on YouTube once in a while, I was not really into it (unlike the rest of blogosphere which just seems to have been possessed by the elections). From whatever little I knew about the elections, though, I'd deduced that Obama would be my man for the hot seat. However I wouldn't have fretted over it too much as long as it was a Democrat taking oath on Inauguration Day.

That was until I watched this video:

[Click here if the embedded video doesn't work.]

This video turned me into an unequivocal supporter of Obama. That the man is way more intelligent than the average American president is obvious. But the kind of clarity of thought and insight he has on issues is just amazing! After 8 years of evangelical right-wing rule, America (and the world) deserves a US President who has the ability to think. He may not have the answers to all the questions that presidency may throw at him. But he possesses a brain which thinks right and takes refuge in reason. He may make mistakes, but unlike leaders fettered by dogma he will have the courage to correct his mistakes.

"Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation, at least not just – we are also a Jewish nation, and a Muslim nation and a Buddhist nation... and a Hindu nation and a nation of non-believers."

Aah! A warm fuzzy feeling filled my heart when he said that. If I were an American citizen, I'd make sure I'd vote for him on Election Day – come rain, snow, cyclone or diarrhoea.

But the best lines in the whole speech for me were these:

"Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific values...It requires that their proposals be subject to argument and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice I can't simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke god's will. I have to explain why abortion violates a principle that is accessible to all faiths, including those with no faith at all."

There is hope yet for the world. Go Obama!

[YouTube link courtesy Pharyngula]