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Archive for January, 2009

By now we all are well aware of the shameful Mangalore pub incident. Enough has been said about it from both sides. While well-known bloggers are writing against such horrific acts being committed, a few creepy rediff-readers are commenting (on rediff, where else) that these girls deserved it, they had it coming. That they had no business of being in a club and being obscene. That it is not our culture to go to a pub(like molesting and raping is ‘our culture’). That ‘things’ always happen in a pub. Well, guys, you need to really open your eyes wide and step into a pub to know ‘what goes on’.
The Urban dictionary defines a pub as ‘Commonly used shorthand for “Public House”. Pubs are non-membership bars serving all sorts of alcoholic beverages’.

  • A pub is NOT a place where promiscuous men and women go to get laid, it is merely a place where people go to sit, talk and have a few drinks with friends.
  • A person who drinks is not necessarily looking for sex with strangers. He/she might just be hanging out with friends after a hard day at work.
  • Drinking with a person of another religion does NOT mean I am going to convert.

AGAIN, a pub is NOT a place where promiscuous men and women with a loose character go to find each other, that place is called a BROTHEL. Leave the pubs in peace. Leave the women in peace.

If it is not my culture to go to a pub, it is also not my culture to harass women, beat them up, the least to molest them. Pubbing is NOT going to stop because of your cheap antics.

The so-called Ram Sena should be ashamed of itself. The day this incident happened was a sad and shameful day for Indian men. The day should be marked in calendars as the day of collective shame.
If a woman cannot go where she pleases, with whom she pleases, without the watchful eyes of a creepy man; if she cannot get a drink without being dragged by her hair; if she cannot go alone without curious hands groping her; if she cannot do what she pleases without someone judging her, we have no business being called a cultured, let alone a developed, society. I hang my head in shame.

Updated to add: A commenter, @lankr1ta reminded me that promiscuity never harmed anyone, and is a purely personal choice.
So here goes, Ram Sena molesters, even if the women were indeed promiscuous, its NONE of your damned business to go about beating any random woman you please.

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O for…

I picked up this tag from NRIMaami. Write about ten things that you are passionate about, starting with the letter ‘O’. She also assigned me ‘L’, just in case ‘O’ became too tough. Well, I like a good challenge(lol), so here goes:

1. O for OM
It is auspicious, it is powerful, and it is divine!

2. O for Oxygen
Not the channel, but good old Oxygen, the element. The element that enables life on earth. What would we all do were there no oxygen?

3. O for Osmania University
My Alma mater. My undergraduate university. Where I found my life partner. How can I not be passionate about this place?

4. O for Organic
The first organic grocery we regularly used was milk. This was thanks to The Corporation, which shows how cows are treated in common milk farms, how they are given growth hormones so they are produce tens of gallons of milk everyday. It also showed that cows that stop giving milk are sent to slaughter houses. Organic milk comes from cows that are not given any growth hormones and are raised on organic, normal produce, unlike cows in normal farms that are fed meat. Slowly we started venturing into organic produce also. Unlike their non-organic counterparts, organic produce is smaller and tastier(at least we think so.)

5. O for Oprah
This might sound shallow, but I ‘heart’ Oprah. I admire her for what she has accomplished in her life, in spite a not so great family background. I love watching her show, not for all the mushy mushy stories, but for her trademark verve and enthusiasm.

6. O for orkut
Haha, a shallow passion again. I am hooked to it. Status updates, photo updates, testimonials, scraps, the whole shebang! My sister and I communicate via Orkut most times and both my parents are on it too.

7. O for Organizing
I love to think of myself as the Monica of Friends, only sometimes. When the Monica bug bites me, I am on an organizing spree. More than anything, I love organizing the folders on my laptop!

8. O for the Office
One of our friends lent us his copy of a taping of the BBC series, the Office. By then we were already watching the American version on NBC. We were a little unimpressed by the way NBC was handling it. Most episodes were repeats, even though they were very amusing. The BBC version was remarkably fast and we were hooked. We watched the whole series in a day and were also humming the song all day. The humor hits home hard and it has become one of my favorite humor series!

9. O for Oranges
Not the American ones(which are actually Mosambis), but the Indian ones(which are called Tangerines, here in the US.) I can have lots of them at one go(and I mean LOTS.) Whenever we got a box of these, we are on an eating spree. I like eating mine completely cleaned of the threads and the inner part of the peel that sticks to them.

10. Last but not the least, O for Obama.
This was my first election season in the US.
I had heard him speak a few times, during the very first of presidential debates on Fox and I barely saw him, because I was more interested in what Hillary Clinton had to say. The very first time I took notice of Obama was when he was addressing his supporters after he won the Iowa caucus. Since then, I have been hooked to his speeches and his progress in the Democratic race as well as the general election. I have had many arguments with people(that includes my husband) when they have questioned his intents, and made fun of the way everyone was idolizing him. I took it very personally when he was made fun of as a ‘latte sipping, Birkenstock wearing elite’, and was very worried when it was hinted that he did not love his country as much as some of his ‘conservative’ counterparts. But, all’s well that ends well, and now we can all call him Mr. President!

Now, those of you wanting to participate in this very interesting tag, please leave me a comment and I shall assign you a letter. Alternately, if you have an interesting story of your passions to tell by way of a particular letter, do take it up!

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Say no to…

Sanjay Dutt and his two-bit wife have managed to create a never before seen furor in the blogosphere. I have been reading quite a few bloggers posting consistently about his atrocious comments about married women, respect etc and was wondering if I should post about this. Today I am moved to do so. A sort of compilation of most posts about the subject is here. Chandni has a series of posts of her own on the subject, IHM has a couple posts too, and today MM has a post up. Both the MM and Goofy Mumma have urged bloggers who feel strongly about this to post and make their voices heard. So here goes:

Say ABSOLUTELY NO to criminals in politics!

And I add, I refuse to take morality lessons from a suspected terrorist, drug addict, infidel and his moll. Get out of my face you two!

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I got a taste of line jumping very early in my trip. The day after we landed, we were to take a flight from Mumbai to Delhi. I went over to the Cafe Coffee Day counter at Mumbai domestic terminal to grab something to eat. There was one guy who was at the counter, paying for stuff he’d bought, so I stood a few steps behind him, waiting for him to finish his transaction. Suddenly, a very good looking young woman rushed in front of me(she was well put together and spoke English with an ‘accent’), and elbowed the guy out and started placing her order. I was appalled. Last I remembered, people were a little more sensible than that at places like airports. I politely let her know that I was waiting there before her, and she was shocked that someone would say that to her. Needless to say she did not budge, making me more mad. I had many such like jumping encounters but most were at temples where there are all sorts of people, and most do not have enough exposure to understand waiting in a line, but this CCD incident stood out to me because the woman in question seemed like she would know she had to wait her turn.
My next encounter with line jumping that appalled me was at a MORE store in Hyderabad. I picked up a shampoo and stood in line at the check out counter and there was this woman(she was as old as my mom) who this time, elbowed me and dropped her stuff on the scanner. The cashier did not seem even a little bit bothered, and went about his business, scanning her merchandise. This was the limit of my tolerance and I shouted at them both in words that would have shaken any normal human being to shame. Not this woman. She was cool and calm and she quietly collected her bags and left, leaving me standing there, looking like a fool. That made me think. Is it wrong for me to assume people should wait their turn, and not jump lines? Am I a fool to wait in a line? Let me know dear bloggers, especially those of you who live in India. Do you wait in lines or do you scramble to get the cashiers’ attention, like we used to do in the old neighborhood general stores? I am at a loss.

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Narendra Modi for PM?

While I was in India I read this news. I was horrified. Here is a man who might have orchestrated the one of the most heinous rampages in India’s history and these rich men are supporting him to be the Leader of India? What is wrong with these good men? Ambani says “Narendrabhai has done good for Gujarat and what will happen if he leads the nation”..really? What will happen if he leads the nation? I do not even want to imagine the kind of relligious intolerance he would create all over the country. I wish there was some way to let these rich men know how strongly against we, the people, are of this nonsense.

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After a bit of a delay, here is my very first India trip post. I feel severely jet lagged, so the next post might see the light of day only tomorrow.
For readers who do not want to read this huge post, you can directly scroll down to the summary paragraph at the end, for the meat of the post.
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Our India trip started with a United Airlines flight from Washington, D.C. to Dubai. The air hostesses(AH) and stewards were portly, old and rude. One of them said ‘Welcome aboard’ without a smile. No surprises there for me. Come meal time the AH informs us that there were no special meal requests for us(even though we requested vegetarian when we booked the tickets) and tells us there’s no vegetarian main course left. All we get to eat is a salad and a rock hard piece of bread. I was mad. You spend thousands of dollars getting tickets and do not even get a decent meal. And the AHs are rude, as icing on the cake. Fortunately, the 13 hour ordeal to Dubai ended. The next flight was Emirates from Dubai to Mumbai. This one was pleasant. The AHs smiled when we were boarding. They served food with a smile(by this time I was almost dead with shock). The flight actually had steel cutlery as opposed to plastic ones. The food was decent. The only sad part was that this was a 3 hour flight. I would have loved a longer journey under these circumstances. The one thought in my mind was, here is something for the United crew to learn from the Emirates crew. True, United might not be able to afford expensive cutlery and good food like Emirates does, but a pleasant staff is not very difficult to acquire. It seems like United specifically trains its crew to be rude.

In addition to flying to and from India, this trip involved a lot of domestic traveling as well. And bulk of the travel was by air. Indian air travel has changed a lot from when I used to live there and travel a lot. Our first domestic flight was on Spice Jet from Mumbai to Delhi. Although it’s a low-cost airline, its crew was remarkably polite and helpful and the whole experience was joyful for us. The journey back from Delhi to Mumbai was another experience with Indian airline customer service. Our originally scheduled flight was canceled due to fog(I have another post lined up on fog in Delhi) and we were given seats on the 9:30pm flight to Mumbai. 9:30pm approached and the flight was delayed by 2 hours. Finally we boarded the plane at 12:00am and it taxied and stayed on the runway for a better part of an hour, during which time we were fed and the crew tried to make us all comfortable. Finally at 1:20am, the crew announced that we were going back to the gate and will try flying again when the visibility improves. When we reached the terminal, the spice jet customer service desk was swarming with rude passengers shouting at them, like its their fault that the fog was so thick. Even then, the crew was very helpful and asked the passengers to remain calm. We were helped by a few people. One spice jet guy walked with us to the other terminal to help us find abother flight. When we said we wanted to cancel this ticket and get one on another airline departing earlier, he helped us do that too without much ado. One person from the airport customer service desk actually walked with us in the heavy fog, to find out which flights are at what time and suggested we stick to either kingfisher or Air India to ensure that the flight actually takes off. We then took a shuttle to departures in order to purchase either an Air India or kingfisher ticket. The AI counter had 2 men who did not respond when we asked if there were any AI flights out of Delhi soon. So we went over the the kingfisher counter and the lady there was as expected very helpful and polite and she got us 2 tickets to Mumbai. The 6:20 am flight eventually took off at 8:00am and we were finally in air, going away from dreadful Delhi. We were dead tired of walking from terminal to terminal and were by this time starving. The food was great and we had a good nap before the place touched down in Mumbai.
We had another pleasant encounter with Kingfisher crew on the Pune-Hyderabad flight, and by this time, we started taking the politeness of the crew for granted.
Our last encounter with airlines began on our way back from Mumbai to the US. The first flight we took was Emirates from Mum to Dubai. The AHs were nice as usual. The united flight from Dubai to Washington DC brought our ‘polite airline crew’ honeymoon to a screeching halt. The AH almost shouted at me when I tried to get up to go to the rest room. As expected, they were out of food by the time our turn came, we again ate some stale non-food and slept.

Summary:
All in all, I think the airline hospitality in India has improved by leaps and bounds from my working days. I used to frequently fly by Indian Airlines or Jet Airways and rude airline crew was a given. The only international flight I took those days was a Swiss air and its crew was nice and polite. Cut to now, 4 years later, I find that most International airlines crew are rude and uncaring. It seems like airline operators know that customers are going to fly even though they are treated badly. Most old people are treated badly. People with special needs are not cared for. Most Indians are treated badly as well. The only people who seem to get some smiles are the ‘gori chamdis’. Even they are sometimes treated like us. There is no hope for the International airline industry customer. So far, the only airline crew that comes close to being polite is Emirates. All the domestic Indian operators are polite(I did not have a chance to travel by Air India but from what my dad tells me, even they have improved a lot from early flying days.) There is a lot that operators like United Airlines can learn from the Indian model. Most airlines employ fairly young staff who seem motivated about their jobs. The average age of the staff seemed to be late twenties to early thirties. They were all good looking(men as well as the women) and spoke good English. The airlines were clean and well maintained. Kingfisher takes the award, in my book, for the best airline experience of all time.

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Back

I am back from my India Trip. Sad and fat. But that’s life, isn’t it? I have lots of topics to blog about. Some happy, some annoying and some just experiences. India has changed a lot since I last went 2.5 years back. I have lots of things to say about those changes. This time we visited the Taj Mahal and I will blog about that too. (I will need a to-blog list so I won’t miss a thing.)
I really missed blogging while away. There were days when I felt, damn I have to remember to blog about this. So this week will be a test of my memory. Will post in a few hours!

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