AR speaketh...

The questions, the answers, the thoughts, the ideas and the other crap that make me, well, me.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Foreword: I have recently returned from a 4-week trip to the US of A. This is an account of my impressions of the land of opportunities.

Life is strange in the US. At least that’s what you’d call it if you were from India. Like a friendly taxi-driver described it, it is much bigger there: the roads, the cars, the people, the sun, the moon everything. It is like wearing magnifying lenses. People seem overly polite, carelessly spewing “sorry”s and “thank you”s all over. They hold doors open for you, like you are some sort of aristocrat and smile at you like you are an old chum. They give you way and rarely brush past you, occasionally honking on the freeway when you are too slow for them. Contrast this with what would happen in apna des. You hold a door open for someone, and you’ll probably end up standing behind it for the rest of the day as people flood in, with each one managing to carefully step on your toes on exactly the same corn. Turn to the roads and you’ll probably be deafened before you can manage to get out of your house. So far so good.

Look a little deeper, though, and you’ll realize that the smile behind open door is a little plastic and any routine enquiry would be politely turned down with an apologetic shrug: “Sorry, why don’t you dial the helpline from the pay-phone out there?” The saccharine sweetness is just that, it leaves a bitter after-taste.

While I was there, I continued the rather brainless habit of watching the customary hours of television. In doing so, I happened to watch a number of advertisements (which are extremely lacking in originality, they are all copied from Indian ads) and came upon one for the Ford Motor Company. One Bill Ford appeared on screen to pledge his company’s commitment to “reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil”. Now, if that isn’t an exercise in futility, I don’t know what is! With Mr. George W. Bush taking care of the problem so well, I wonder what old Bill is doing talking about foreign oil in the first place. Isn’t all the oil in the world legitimately America’s? What? You don’t think so? You bloody suicide-bombing fundamentalist terrorist! With Mr. Bush’s vision of the global village essentially comprising of bringing all oil wells under the aegis of the star spangled banner, or Mobil-Exxon (isn’t that the same thing?) I think Mr. Bill Ford could continue making his gas-guzzlers and leave that innovating to the bad Arabs. They are going to need it now.

When I was not watching the idiot box, I was interacting with someone more intelligent, or so you would think. Frankly, I found the average television more intelligent than the average American. But hey, this is not meant to be a jealous lament: if there is someone to be ridiculed, it will be me or mine, in keeping with the traditions of the blog. Speaking of which, I must touch upon the subject of the Indian-Americans. The first thing that strikes you is the similarity of their lives to the so-called crossover movies. Save the odd song sequence and probably the closeted paedophilic tendencies.

When you look closely though, their lives are not all that rosy, between visa expiration dates and the impossibility of getting a green card processed to attending pre-parenthood classes and seeking advice on whether or not they should go in for a second child. The confusion among the kids is even more apparent. I had the opportunity of attending a few family gatherings of the pan-Indians and I found them a singularly entertaining experience. From the typical Indian game of one-up-woman ship (“I like this dish better the way I cook it.”) to the American paediatric psychology (which consists, primarily, of saying, “Good job!” at every act of a toddler) the spectrum of entertainment provided would impress the most seasoned cynic. In one instance, a kid wailed for his mother when a guest’s kid snatched, rather violently, a toy from him. The mother of the wronged kid promptly appeared on the scene and patted the miscreant on his head and scolded the victim for not “sharing” with his friend.

Then there is that rather universal phenomenon of planning for the weekend as if it were some sort of galactic event occurring once in 7000 years. Most weekend plans begin to be made on Monday mornings, in the office. The day itself starts by an announcement to all who care to be in earshot, of the time by which the speaker needs to be home for some work of earth shaking importance, like taking the kid to the park. Not that I’m against this family feeling. By all means, continue with the attitude, its good for the Indian economy. To sum up, I must paraphrase Bill Watterson: Sure, the roads are wider there, but beyond that, I do not recommend it.

Lest I be branded a sour cynic, I should mention the similarities between India and the US that I saw. The one common observation I made was in the taste of orange juice. In neither of the countries, does it taste anything like a real orange. I think this last vestige of the mysteries of modern civilization finally does prove Darwin right. We must have had common ancestors who managed to prepare orange juice without using oranges. And they might well have been monkeys…

Friday, July 07, 2006

In the beginning there was the Command Line

Foreword: I have been thinking of doing this for a long time: almost 3 months now. Finally here it is, Right click on the link and save the zip file on your pc, then open it up read the txt file. It contains the most amazing insight on computers, philosophy, life and everything (sorry, DNA).


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